Circling back to the beginning, in Part 1, we identified two solutions to engaging learners at the time of need. They actually help us appreciate the difference in the times of need discussed in the previous section.
Technology as a Means to Solve Problems
The first solution is technology. I think technology plays a big part in solving a part of this. We are now only scratching the surface of what technology can do for us.
There have of course been some super exciting developments in technology being applied to a lot of things like driverless cars, and 3D printing, etc. However, in the field of Learning & Development, we are still in the early stages. At Leaderonomics, we have now started to invest in this area to really unlock what else we can do.
Let me use digital learning as an example. Right now, digital learning is mainly a software with a library of content that is available for you to pick and choose from. I must say there are some content out there that is decently good and fun and easy to learn. So, they address the ‘New’ part of learning.
However, there’s still some ways to go. Especially in terms of helping the learners with the ‘recall’ portion of learning and continued engagement. The part that’s done well right now is the ‘More’ aspects – there’s a lot of good content out there. For motivated learners in the ‘More’ phase, that’s awesome. Although again, there could be more done to help recall. I think where we lack is in the ‘Apply’ and ‘Solve’ phase.
Right now, when you are at work and are trying to do something or solve something, it’s hard for learning to be a part of that work that you do.
The second solution is intentional design.
What we find these days is that most companies are not very discerning in putting out their training offerings. Usually they decide what competencies are required and then send various groups of people for training. Sometimes, different groups for different trainings. And every year, there’s often different training. There’s a huge problem with this. Firstly, there’s no consistency in these trainings in terms of how they relate to each other, either between years or between groups. It lacks a consistent point of view.
Point of View
A point of view has multiple angles to it. Learning should be a strategic weapon in an organisation. However, for it to be a strategic weapon, you need to have a strong point of view on what needs to be taught and when it should be taught. So, the methodology should be to start with business goals and to translate that into a people strategy which is then translated into a learning strategy. Once you have this learning strategy, you should then create learning interventions that are consistent.
So that’s the first aspect of point of view. Which requires you to answer this question: Does your learning calendar directly support your people strategy, which directly supports your business outcomes?
The second aspect of point of view is whether you are creating the right learning interventions at the right time for the right level. For example, if you want your organisation to be more innovative, it doesn’t mean you have to send everyone for full on innovative thinking courses. There is no way people are going to become innovative by attending one training like that.
It’s important to understand that it needs to be built up by levels. For example, you may teach a creativity course to the ‘New’ need but teach design thinking for the ‘More’ need. You may have design sprints for those in the ‘Apply’ need. Also, you need to think about different levels in the organisation. Do your execs need to have the same level of ‘innovative’ competency as the senior managers? Perhaps they need to have training on just being more curious? This is what I mean by a point of view.
Read More: Reset Accountability Before Your Next Change Programme
Every Person and Organisation is Unique
I think very often we wind up using something generic or off the shelf to solve our problems. But it’s important to realise that your organisation is unique and that your learners are unique, and your needs are unique. Once we get to that level of custom interventions, I think learning can be a very powerful strategic weapon.
I don’t mean unique in terms of learning styles either. I think it’s important to understand that learning is a powerful tool but shouldn’t be applied in a one size fits all manner. I think that’s where a lot of disappoints come in. I still have clients who insist on having an off-the-shelf topic to be delivered regardless of whether it fits with everything else they are doing.
The ROI on that is going to be very low. It’s important to really think through and design learning interventions to be part of a larger plan. Remember – learning doesn’t happen with just that one intervention. It must be weaved in as part of a holistic plan that involves technology and good design and multiple interventions. That’s when learning turns into a strategic weapon.
By Leaderonomics Media: The Best Way to Learn