Learning Strategy

What The CIA Can Teach Us About Building High-Performing Learning Teams

The CIA Central Intelligence Agency is the aggregator of all intelligence for the USA.

They offer world-leading infiltration and espionage training and are on the cutting edge of their industry.

Their purpose is to collate and make sense of all intelligence to give decision-makers the key things they need to make important calls.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Well, that’s because much like the CIA, the central point of intelligence. A learning and development team is central to organisational growth, knowledge and performance enablement.

And being an elite spy unit is optional for us L&D folks, btw.

For the CIA the president is the customer, for learning and development teams its senior leadership teams and the general workforce.

Your customer has to want your product for you to be a success.

So, it makes sense to know your customer!

And we do this, of course, by listening to the people we serve.

Yet, just like the CIA does for the president, we sometimes have to tell our customers things they don’t want to hear.

Commonly in the L&D world, it’s that the thing they think is an L&D problem is actually not an L&D problem.

That’s never a simple conversation, trust me.

However, much like our friends in the CIA, we are a centre of intelligence when it comes to performance interventions and, hopefully, understanding the real pain points in our organisation.

What is the lesson here for us?

That we need to form an elite spy agency to enable us to impact performance? No.

Instead, we can use our own intelligence to better guide our organisations, challenge assumptions and deliver what our customers need, not what they may want.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

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