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When it comes to L&D, what topics (or clients) are off limits?


“Are there any clients, are there any jobs you wouldn’t take? What’s off limits?”

This week, two different people asked me some version of these questions. At the heart of the answer is the question: what kind of a job is a learning and development job?  

I thought about the question for a moment. Why wouldn’t I take a job? Why wouldn’t I help a client create a better learning experience? What in the world would be off limits?

“What if, say, ExxonMobil wanted your help?” one of my friends asked. [For context, I live in Seattle, a city that prides itself on being progressive and environmentally friendly… and for some, ExxonMobil symbolizes the epitome of corporate greed and environmental destruction.]

“Yes,” I replied. “Of course I’d take on a project if ExxonMobil wanted some help on a training project.”

The thing about learning and development projects – whether I’m developing a sales program for a Fortune 500 client or an elearning module for a microfinance organization focused on improving the economic situation of women in Latin America – is that every one of these projects is a social mission. Every one of these projects has the potential to boost someone’s quality of life.

We spend more waking hours at work than with our families during the week. If a training program is effective in helping someone – regardless of their industry – do their job better, more efficiently or helps them solve a problem, it can boost their job satisfaction and thus their quality of life. And when their quality of life at work goes up, it can extend to their family life as well.

I can think of few other jobs that allow someone to boost others’ quality of life on such a regular basis.

As for the folks at ExxonMobil… what if a training project there helped embolden someone to make a suggestion to their boss or simply come up with a new way of thinking of energy? What if a training program inspired someone to develop a better source of renewable energy? What happens when a training program simply opens minds to new possibilities?

I’d love to hear from others. Are there topics or clients that would be off limits to you?


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