Is it time for the Canadian Society for Training and Development to consider a name change?

Back in the 1980’s, I remember telling a Vice President that WATMEC provided training to mid-size and large organizations. He very abruptly told me that, “you train dogs not people”. I admit to having no response for him.

Since 2000, we’ve seen more and more people refer to this as the learning and development field. In fact, we’ve seen the title Chief Learning Officer gain prominence in large organizations over the past 10 years. Naturally we saw assessing, training and development as part of that role.

In my work, it’s interesting to see who is actually purchasing training and development, and whether or not they are comfortable when I refer to learning and development. HR personnel certainly relate to “learning”. But others feel that “learning” implies it will be academically-driven, and they want “skills-building” instead. If it’s Business Services or Plant Management, more often than not, they are talking about bringing in “training” for their people.

This month, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) announced that its name is changing to the Association for Talent Development. While training remains at the core of the organization, they are acknowledging the extended emphasis on assessments, coaching and personal development, and the role played in this organization by the people who work in these areas.

This initiative reminds me of when we explored different names as we moved from the Ontario Society for Training and Development to a national organization.

Along with needing to acknowledge that companies included more than training in the development of staff, we struggled with the recognition of the OSTD moving to CSTD and keeping the alignment with the ASTD. We toyed with the name, Canadian Association for Performance Enhancement (CAPE). One of the board members, Stan White, who was a champion of this idea, showed up in a Superman outfit, cape and all. It was a very funny, visual presentation. But timing is everything, and since Viagra had just been launched, “Performance Enhancement” seemed all too similar to their marketing campaign. So we went with the rather staid name of the Canadian Society for Training and Development.

But all kidding aside, given the move by the ASTD, is it time to open the discussion again and look at a more inclusive, better descriptive name for our Canadian organization?

About Dale

Dale Wilcox is co-owner of WATMEC. Dale is a respected board member, former volunteer of the year, and inaugural Chair of the Canadian Society for Training and Development.