To develop a successful learning organization is to constantly become better at responding to organizational strategies and the individuals needs, ensuring that learning transfer into organizational capabilities in a cost and time efficient manner. At a basic level, there are certain capabilities that the L&D function needs to implement, such as:
- Curating learning resources that meet the needs of employees and the organization.
- Methods for developing user-centric learning experiences (e.g. Design Thinking).
- Create solutions that ensure performance at work (e.g. Performance Consulting)
- Measure and evaluate learning and performance at work (e.g. Analytics).
- Implement an ecosystem of digital platforms. (e.g. Integration, UX design)
- Changing behaviours and culture of learning (e.g. Change management)
- Facilitate and encourage social learning. (e.g. Social coaches)
- Understand, connect with and engage business leaders.
- and more.
It is not just a question of working with new learning approaches. Equally important is to introduce effective ways of working such as “Performance Consulting”. The learning approaches are associated with the learning technology used, e.g. LXP or social platforms.
Organization and governance determine how learning is adapted to the needs of employees and operations how the work is coordinated and becomes effective. To make everything happen, new roles and skills within the L&D function are needed. The most important thing to encourage a change in behaviors is a learning culture. Necessary for the development of all these areas is the learning strategy developed by the organisation.
Developing the new capabilities and achieving a higher maturity in learning takes many years. It requires a strategy, a clear plan, a strong mandate, resources with the right skill and perseverance.
In my customer projects, I often work with helping companies develop their strategy and action plan to create a successful learning organization. Many of the changes to be implemented are often large and time consuming, and planned several years ahead, e.g. 3 years, but detailed for the next 1 years.
In order to develop the action plan, a future state description of how success looks like should be developed. It can be a vision of what learning looks like in the organization in 5 years. The future state also includes what capabilities are needed and clear measurable key results.
To develop the future state, you need to understand how the company’s strategy put demands on learning. The analysis includes understanding both the needs of the business and of the employees needs now and in the future. You should analyse external factors, such as customer behavior, technology and how competition affect the company learning speed. Using “best practices” in understanding which capabilities need to be built up is important. Research from, for example Bersin Deloitte can help.
When the end goal is complete, you need to understand the current state of all the capabilities that you have set as target. Obstacles in the form of existing skills, resources, mandates, attitudes, understanding in the organization, etc. need to be analyzed.
With an understanding of future goals and the current situation, you are ready to develop the action plan on how to proceed. This will include a lot of change, skill development of own resources, but also tactics and questions about how to get the mandates and resources necessary to succeed.
The roadmap and action plan should be developed together with representatives from management. Count on putting a lot of efforts in building the business case, lobbying and engage the stakeholders.