Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very large organizations (large to me = billion or more in revenue and 10 to 20 thousand people) who are wonderfully talented and really smart but fail to have a strategy in place to help them navigate this learning and performance world. Taking time to develop a strategy is one of the most thoughtful, professional, and organizationally responsible things any leader can do for their organization. Simply put, it allows you to make better decisions and align and link your group’s achievements to the rest of the organization. This makes everything you do within your group more effective and efficient, rather than unorganized and uncoordinated. These are not hard to do….really! However, I will recommend using a consultant organization as they can set up and run meetings, interviews, and group data collection activities across organizations that are sometimes limited by politics and positions from folks who are within the organization. Also, I wouldn’t pay for a lengthy engagement but I would hire a group who has done learning strategy analysis, has a methodology, can show you some past successes, and can get in and get out in a limited amount of time. This article is taken from an opening chapter in an eBook that was published by the eLearning Guild earlier this year. I wrote the opening chapter but you should also take a look at some of the other chapters as they are written by some folks who I consider pretty accomplished and credible. You decide….
You can go download the entire book from our website. Look on the left side menu there is a download button. What I’ve taken from the chapter for this article is some of the background information, intent of the strategy, and what it should encompass.
A learning strategy describes the input, output, and measures of the system and should have organizational, departmental, business unit, and individual references. This should be a far reaching document that details how the organization is going to facilitate continuous improvement in its employees. This implies a focus on the development of a learning culture. To achieve this goal, the utility of knowledge must be increased through three key components:
Capture/creation of data, information and knowledge assets in support of each individual’s performance functions across the organization. Links to knowledge management and document management practices.
Intelligent storage leveraging useful taxonomies, search, and retrieve capability that better manages and improves access to content.
Dissemination/access practices, including but not limited to: e-Learning, instructor-led training, documentation, mentoring/coaching, and outside sources.
Historically, the three components listed above have been critical in research and practice. However, the movement and integration of knowledge has yet to be fully realized within many organizations. A complete system for managing information has been out of reach for many organizations due in large part to the lack of a comprehensive strategy. The measures of any system for knowledge and learning should include the accuracy, specificity, and timely delivery of the knowledge that is received by the user, and how effective that knowledge is in changing behaviors and improving performance. In addition, a key measure for success should be based on how the knowledge feeds back into the system to make it a continuous, accurate, and valuable resource that meets the needs of the user.
The e-Learning strategy lives through the learning strategy, which in turn is deeply embedded in the organizational strategy. This is true for all departments within the organization. In addition, the learning strategy must link clearly to the mission and vision of the organization and the value driven by learning and performance must be reflected across the organization in how people, customers, clients, vendors, and the job environment are perceived.
Ultimately, the process of developing a well-thought out and successful learning strategy will consist of a focused e-Learning Strategy and will provide details around the following:
Defining the initiative and vision around the strategy.
Defining the needs and expectations of executive leadership.
Defining the needs and wants of the users at the organizational, departmental, business group, and individual levels.
Define the technology to support the system.
The strategy will also consist of a process to ensure alignment of each offering to overall organizational goals and objectives. It is highly recommended that the learning strategy consists of:
Alignment of learning strategy goals with organizational and departmental goals.
Ensuring support of executive leadership and acceptance of contributors and users.
Determining baseline technology requirements and capacity to support the learning and e-Learning Strategy.
Partnering with the internal training professionals in creating a plan for roll-out and implementation.
Devising a methodology to evaluate and measure results