Time to win ugly

02 Oct
October 2, 2014

There’s an old sports saying called “win ugly”.  It’s a perfect description of what happened – the team won, but not in as ‘pretty’ a manner as it could have done.  In this week’s short post I’ll ask if perhaps L&D could learn from this.

I’ve been around L&D for far too many years – as my grey hair will testify!  In my time I’ve seen some great interventions and some not so great – we all have.  But what I have noticed is that there are a large number of occasions when the content is ‘prettied-up’ and vast amounts of time and effort spent making something look ‘just right’.

Then there’s the obsession with models – organisations worrying about where they are on the 70:20:10 scale, or if they are in the training ghetto (wherever that may be), or whatever the fad of the day is.  There’s the search for L&D nirvana, the silver bullet or the one-size-fits-all solution.  There’s the misunderstanding that taking a cr*p classroom course and turning it into e-learning means you’ve not only lost a cr*p classroom course but are now the proud owner of a cr*p e-learning course – just with less money in your pocket.

We know that L&D doesn’t always get great press.  We know that Capita reported that only 18% of the businesses surveyed felt they had L&D departments that were operationally aligned to the business .

We know that the same report suggested that as strategic objectives have evolved, close to half (46%) of senior managers report no significant change in the training delivery to their workforce.  Going forward, almost as many (43%) expect no significant change to L&D delivery over the next two to three years.

And we know that the vast majority (82%) of leaders lack confidence that their firm’s L&D strategy and delivery are aligned to the company’s operational strategy.  Half (50%) believe that their L&D function is stuck in a ‘business as usual’ mindset.

Time to win ugly

So perhaps it’s time to make some radical changes.  Perhaps instead of worrying about the L&D models, the musings of the so-called gurus and the sharp-suited sales people, we should start to win ugly.

Instead of faffing about, perhaps we should just go and do great stuff and achieve results for our business.  It’s time to deliver wins – not catwalk shows.

Be brave, be first and be bold.  But deliver the wins for your business, even if they are ugly.


And if you’re wondering why Graham Obree features as the main image of this post then it’s worth remembering that he twice broke the world hour record as well as being individual pursuit world champion in 1993 and 1995.  He was probably best known for his unusual riding positions and for the Old Faithful bicycle he built which included parts from a washing machine.

Graham was a winner – and he typifies the desire and ability to win ugly

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