How do L&D and Continuous Improvement fit together?

Over the last few months our company is taking a more pro-active approach in Continuous Improvement. We are a manufacturing company with a headcount of just over 250 employees.

The company has always tried to push CI initiatives but they have always fell flat or fizzled out for one reason or another.

As we all know there are many benefits with implementing Continuous Improvement initiatives and like L&D it is not a one size fits all approach.

Within my role of L&D manager i have always supported the business with continuous improvement training and provided people with the grounded knowledge and experiences in order for them to use CI within their daily tasks. Our Lean training programme covers all the knowledge behind Lean methods and even gives mentor advice through 3 projects that need completing post the initial learning.

From a L&D point of view, i believe we have a great programme in place which bridges the gap between the actual and desired skills for Lean. Do we stop there?

The curveball that has come out of nowhere is that our company sees L&D and CI as the same thing. CI projects are now owned and accountable for completion by the L&D team which is causing friction between teams as we are more involved in improvements than learning now.

After much thought and communication with other experts, my opinion is that they are linked. "Both support business improvement" but, and this is a big but, they are completely different approachesand do have a negative affect when combined.

  • CI will improve processes and even support improvement in culture if used in the right way with collaborative teams.
  • L&D will improve people skillsets and behaviours so they can make improvements.
  • L&D focuses on more than the improvement.
  • Combining the two sends mixed messages about what function both have to the business and its employees.

As part of my role i am now more engaged in CI activities than L&D activities because of this cross over of "both support business improvement". I still need to use all of the skillsets i have attained as a L&D professional but i am more focused on improvements than learning needs.

Has anybody else come across this sitution within their work environment? How do you approach CI and L&D? Do you think they are the same thing or do you have seperate departments for it?

It would be great to hear your opinions and approaches to this subject.

Many thanks,



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