Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This is a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) book so one of the key aims of the book is to help students gain CIPD certification. The main goals of this book are fourfold:
To outline learning concepts aligned to the CIPD Learning and Talent Development certification module.
To examine theories that inform the HRD practice.
To act as an academic resource.
To “support a critically informed examination of the theory and practice of HRD/learning and talent development” (p. 4).
This 13‐chapter book is structured into three parts:
the nature, purpose and context of learning and talent development;
the process of learning and talent development; and
the management of learning and talent development.
How does learning and talent development further the organisation's goals? The authors look at Critical and Strategic HRD in light of not just implementing existing learning initiatives but also for “shaping future strategy and enabling organisations to take full advantage of emergent business strategies” (Swanson and Toracco, 1995, p. 11). This book outlines not just the CIPD's learning and talent development theoretical framework but expounds on these concepts through case studies, activities, further research and additional resources to achieve a holistic perspective of the art and science of developing others through training interventions.
There is a clear target audience for this book (the CIPD learners) and this focused approach allows for reflection of their demographics and addresses their specific needs. An example is the inclusion of international and national contexts that influence job accountability (chapter 3). The notion of power and the discourse on professionalism is one “which recognises certain occupations as being special by virtue of their control of specialist knowledge and their rules of treating clients with confidentiality and with discretion” (Watson, 2006, p, 104) assist in understanding the interplay of power with multiculturalism in organisations. This creates the backdrop for developing and understanding complex organisational learning policies and assists talent development decision‐makers in creating enterprise‐wide solutions that directly impact business requirements and goals.
I like the simplicity of the book's structure as it allows for a learner's narrative to flow through from background and theory to illustrations, case studies, and further practice of what has been initially learned. Although I could go without the extensive history lesson on how learning came about to the twenty‐first century, it does assist new learning and talent development practitioners to the world of corporate learning environments and provide them with the foundational models of how learning came to be molded to what they are now. The currency of this book allows for discussions on new learning delivery mechanisms like Coffield's (2008) metaphors of acquisition and participation (p. 8), social learning and communities of practice (Wenger et al., 2002), Evans and Cools's (2009) style differences to enhance learning, Harrison's (2009) six‐stage training cycle (p. 184), among others. Concurrently there are supplemental websites, journals, and other ancillary reading materials peppered throughout this book.
The inclusion of practical strategies (chapter 8) was a good enhancement of this book as it provided suggested steps and approaches both beginners and advanced practitioners can implement immediately. Coaching and mentoring strategies are clear practices that are intertwined with informal learning and a good blend to formal capability and competency development models. The inclusion of the student research project chapter (chapter 12) assists not just the CIPD‐certification candidate but also a thesis‐topic seeker.
This book covers a lot of material drawn from practice and academia. The reader will dig deep into understanding organisations, learning processes, and the overall practice of learning and talent development. The need to have learning practitioners who can link return on investments and speak the language of their business partners are key leading indicators to being successful in this field. This book will help you reach that goal.
In the author's own words
If you are going to write for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Learning and Talent Development module, read this book as it will be a helpful resource. There are many practices cases that you can use not just for personal development but also as a textbook if you teach a learning fundamentals class. If you are writing for another continent's certification program like the Canadian Society for Training and Development, then this may not completely align though it will inform you of the talent development models that will enhance your understanding of the learning industry (p. 6).
About the reviewer
Robin Yap is a Toronto‐based social learning strategist, L&D Executive Coach and Consultant, specializing in developing and implementing Technology‐to‐Training Integration Strategies and Programs, Training Department Staff (Instructors, Instructional Designers, Training Managers), Standards of Practice and Competency Modeling, Social Learning Technology Modeling, Next Generation Human Capital Development, and Certification Programs. Robin Yap's 20‐year career includes working with Global Fortune 500 companies and he has lectured/spoken at Oxford Brookes (the UK), New York University Stern (the USA), George Brown College (Canada), Columbia University Teacher's College (the USA), Universidad de Catalunya (Spain), St Anthony School System (the Philippines), among others. Robin Yap can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coffield, F. (2008), Just Suppose Teaching and Learning Became the First Priority, Learning and Skills Network, London.
Evans, C. and Cools, E. (2009), “The use and understanding of style differences to enhance learning”, Reflecting Education, Vol. 5 No. 2, May, pp. 1‐18.
Harrison, R. (2009), Learning and Development, 5th ed., CIPD, London.
Swanson, R.A. and Toracco, R.J. (1995), “The strategic roles of human resource development”, Human Resource Planning, Vol. 18, pp. 10‐21.
Watson, T. (2006), “Managing to manage, power, decision‐making, ethics and the struggle to cope”, in Watson, T. (Ed.), Organising and Managing Work, Chapter 6, FT Prentice Hall, London.
Wenger, E., McDermott, R. and Snyder, W. (2002), Cultivating Communities of Practice. A Guide to Managing Knowledge, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.