How Home Makeovers are like Building a Learning & Development Department

By Anna Cale
Senior Learning Development Consultant
CopperPoint Insurance Companies

I’m a home improvement television junkie. It’s my go-to happy place, especially after a long day when I need to de-stress. I love watching all the home makeover shows and seeing the clever and inspired designs. Usually an entire house is completely made over, not just one or two rooms.

These shows have inspired me. I’m now working on my house one room at a time, or so I thought. Interestingly, I’m experiencing “remodeling creep.” This is my need to go into the adjoining room to paint, change the baseboards, put in the same new flooring and other tasks that will make the rooms match and the whole house cohesive.

Project managers call this “scope creep.” The “one room” project is turning into an entire house remodel. It’s chaotic, messy and stressful. It’s going to take much more time, energy and money than I thought. But where do I stop? How do I set priorities? I think it’s time to call the remodeling experts!

This same remodeling creep is happening to me at work. We’re building a new Learning and Development Department almost from the ground up: finding a Learning Management System, performing intensive needs assessments and recommending training interventions. Doing this is, of course, causing us to initiate talent and organizational design work projects, such as change management and succession planning. In other words, it’s a complete “remodel” of our training and talent areas.

As I look at internal surveys, analyze data, and talk to more and more people, I am finding more needs and work to be done. Where do we stop? How do we set priorities?

This analogy brings forth an issue that many of us have when we see the need for change in our organizations. We get that sinking feeling that uncovering one need will cause another to be uncovered. And being the super industrious workers that we are, we want to accomplish it all and be the heroes in our organizations. Is this possible? Not always. So, we have a choice to make:

1. Maintain the status quo

2. Prioritize the top three initiatives for both the short- and long-term and achieve success so we can move on to the next initiative

3. Try to do it all and live in a complete “remodel” mess for a very long time

My choice is Option 2. I don’t want to live in chaos and subject our employees to it either. I want to work hard to produce results so that I can feel I’m accomplishing something for myself, the team and our employees. I don’t have unlimited funds at work either, so being prudent and setting goals is critical.

It’s working for me at the office. If only I could do the same thing at home.

Anna Cale is a Senior Learning Development Consultant at CopperPoint Insurance Companies, a multi-line commercial insurance company.

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