Taking the Next Step

Change. It happens in big ways and small ways. In great disruptive events and in gradual shifts. It is part of the human experience and is a natural part of work, just as change management is a key component of this profession’s work.

If you were to hold up a map of the world as it existed in 1943 when ASTD was founded and compare it to a map of the world in 2014, you would see many changes, large and small. New countries exist, borders have shifted, places once considered remote are now reached by modes of travel that were unimaginable 70 years ago.

And just as the world has changed, so too has the world of business. The economy is truly global and interdependent. Technology eliminates boundaries of time and space and allows us to connect and collaborate more efficiently and effectively, and with more people than in the past. Today’s knowledge economy brings new opportunities for developing a workforce that can innovate. Multiple generations in the work place create new paradigms for learning.

Our profession has evolved to meet the dynamic requirements of a changing world and a changing business environment. When 15 men—all involved with the petroleum industry—sat down to create this society, they did so because they saw a need and filled it. Back then, in the early 1940s, training was essential to meeting U.S. business ambitions. Industrial production was ramping up to support a world at war. Workers called to military service left jobs that needed to be filled quickly to keep up with production demands. These ASTD founding fathers had a vision. They wanted to raise the standards and prestige of the [industrial] training profession and to further the education and development of those responsible for training others.

Throughout the more-than 70 year history of ASTD what has remained constant is its purpose: developing people – developing their knowledge, skills, and capabilities so that they can achieve their potential and in so doing, contribute to the achievement of the strategic goals and success of their organizations.

Together we are empowering professionals to develop knowledge and skills successfully. This is ASTD’s mission and it is accomplished by each of you, your colleagues in the profession, and others responsible for developing talent.

ASTD has been and always will be here to support the critical work that you do. As the needs of organizations have become more complex, so too has the scope of training and development. When ASTD was first created, we were known as the American Society of Training Directors. Today, ASTD’s membership and the entire profession have more influence and impact than those early founding fathers could ever have imagined. ASTD has never stopped serving training directors, and we too have evolved to connect the global community of learning professionals.

As you know better than most, your work is so much broader than training alone. You take the talents and capabilities of others and develop them to their full potential. As a result, organizations can prosper, and the world does indeed work better. It’s more than a mindset or an approach to how you do your jobs. It’s the very fabric of the profession.

Whether you are a new trainer, designing e-learning, involved in a MOOC, developing curriculum for a sales team, coaching a CEO, or working in any of the many other facets of the field, you are developing talent. And in this generous profession, you share. You share content across the entire global community and exchange ideas and practices. You understand—and you demonstrate to peers, senior leaders, and clients—that positioning organizations for success starts with highly skilled and capable talent.

Those outside the field see it too. In article after article, headline after headline, senior executives and the most respected thought leaders in business understand that your work encompasses so much more today. Many of those thought leaders feel that the term “training” doesn’t fully recognize all of your contributions.

It’s clear that the scope of this field has broadened tremendously and the impact of your work has expanded across organizations, communities, regions, and entire nations. From ASTD’s first international partnership in Japan in 1957 to where we are today: 41,000+ members in 127 countries on six continents, our community has grown. Through your work and with your leadership, we are a global network rich with expertise, with like-minded professionals who have a deep thirst for knowledge and desire to share their insights.

And so we stand looking at a new horizon.

For the past several years the ASTD board has reflected on the expanding scope of the field, the transformation of learning to being a true business partner, and the impact of the profession’s work globally. The question they asked themselves was: How do we—as your professional association—represent the change and development of the field, and the tremendous impact that your work has today and will have in the future?

The answer to the question was that it was time for ASTD to change to better demonstrate this profession’s work and the impact you have that reaches far beyond training.

A new journey begins today. This is a journey of redefining our brand, changing our name, and widening the path to a future that will be determined by the work you do developing the talent of today and tomorrow. Training and development is absolutely at the core of this new identity. It’s the foundation of the profession and the basis of ASTD. We recognize that the scope of your work and its impact is so much broader than what our founding fathers imagined for the society in 1943, and that now is the time for ASTD to adapt to meet you where you are.

One step on this path is a new name, which is the Association for Talent Development, and our acronym is ATD.

As the American Society for Training & Development transitions to the Association for Talent Development, our service and support to all of you will increase. This organization is changing to reflect the work you do and will do, and becoming even more inclusive for everyone who develops others.

While May 6th is the day that ATD is introduced, it is just the beginning. Over the next year you will see changes to the website, to the logo, and to the branding of our products and services. You will also see an even greater commitment to our current offerings and the trusted content and research you have come to expect and on which you rely. Our education programs will still feature the vast array of workshops and certificate programs you depend on for your professional development. T+D magazine will become TD magazine and it will continue as the flagship publication for this profession. The CPLP will still be the premier credential for practitioners in this field. And, you will see new things in the future: new communities of practice, new content, and new resources.

We will keep you informed of the changes in branding, new services, and tools that emerge. We are developing a host of resources for our local chapters, international partners, suppliers, and more. We are dedicated to partnering with you as we all take the step on the journey of ASTD to ATD.

It is a privilege to represent the work of this profession, and we will continue to work with and support you as the scope of your work broadens and the impact of this field multiplies.

In 127 countries on six continents, you are building the capability of the workforce so that individuals develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities, organizations grow, and society flourishes. And with your passion, commitment, and ability to help people realize their potential, together we are creating a world that works better.