The traditional approaches to training skills analysis or competencies assessments should have been buried alive. Indeed, the titles sound so boring and dry that they should have already been strangled at birth.

The classic time to look at these assessments is during annual appraisals or corporate restructures,  but that process is slow, slow, slow.

Recently, I heard a similar comment about the ‘slowness’ of spreadsheets and business plans. As soon as they’re written they are immediately out of date.

Today’s businesses need to be much more dynamic and faster on their feet than ever before. Think retailers who monitor exactly what they are selling second by second. Think monitoring of social media when a company’s reputation can be destroyed in seconds too.

Leaders in learning and development need to move at the same pace. Perhaps not in seconds, but they have to be much more responsive to the speed of change in their organisation. People need to rapidly be skilled up to meet those changing needs around, for instance, responding to different customer needs faster than the competition.

The normal lead times for developing new training programmes, which often involve a lengthy procurement process, simply mean that the train’s left the station before they even start.

Sebastian Faulks (being deliberately controversial, I suspect) says that today’s generation doesn’t need to know anything. Whatever they need to know involves just one click intoWikipedia, YouTube or thousands of other sources of facts, figures and how to do things.

Learning programmes need to be like that. The standard classroom, PowerPoint and flip chart environment is poles apart from the more instant world we live in. But standard eLearning programmes aren’t the answer either.

To be both fast and effective, current learning programmes need to flex themselves to immediately skill people up. They need to be geared to actions – learning day by day through practice, rather than theory. They need to draw on topical content and encourage participants to share their experiences so everyone learns collaboratively.

Learning and development managers should demand this so that their people can get on the right express train before it leaves the station. Otherwise, their competitors  - who may already have stolen their best ‘eager to learn’ talent –  will be way up the track, whilst they are still standing on the station platform.