L&D Strategy Challenges

So, what is your L&D department’s strategy? If you were going to the top floor in an elevator and found yourself face-to-face with the company CEO and she asked you that question, what would you say before the doors opened and you both went in different directions?

Defining strategy is a challenge. We’ve all been there – as some point in time we’ve been part of a team that’s been working hard but in an almost aimless way, working toward department goals that sometimes make sense, sometimes don’t. And a company may have some corporate strategy statement but aligning the learning organization’s strategy can be a daunting task.

Why do we even need a strategy? Some might consider it a waste of time. Often organizations come up with a strategy but then abandon it as they get into the day-to-day work, and that has ruined the idea of a strategy for many.chess-2950293_1920

A strategy that is followed though, should be the guiding principles that direct work and drive goals. As the Japanese proverb goes: “A ship with more than one route ends up on the top of Mt. Fuji.” [OK, I may have embellished that proverb somewhat.] A good strategy consists of a set of guiding principles that allow innovation while giving concrete direction to the work your team does. In general, a good L&D strategy should adhere to the seven rules below.

L&D Strategy Rules

One: It should align with the greater business strategy. If your company is committed to rapid testing and prototyping, so should your L&D efforts. If the business strategy is to be cautious and requires large up-front research investment, so should your L&D strategy.

Two: your strategy should easily relate to those who are not L&D professionals. Avoid instructional design buzzwords.

Three: often L&D professionals get caught up in learning objectives. It’s important to dig to that level, but they should all derive from concrete performance objectives. All learning solutions should solve problems and should not include words like “understand how to …”

fractal-1096039_1920Four: a good strategy in today’s business environment is flexible enough to allow for rapid reaction, even proaction, to market, business, and business application changes.

Five: when you’re finally in the elevator with the CEO and you get a chance to relate your strategy, it’ll leave a much better impression if it includes values already stated by the corporation.

Six: you need to know who your competition is and what they’re doing. It might be as simple as off-the-shelf solutions unit managers would prefer to go with or it might be competing companies selling their Micro Soft training.

Seven: as I already mentioned, all training should solve problems. For example, training about innovation is only useful if: 1) the audience doesn’t know how or why they should innovate; 2) the results of the training imply that more innovation will take place.

Learning Solutions

All learning strategies should make articulate the fact that any learning solution consists of the following parts:

  • Context objects (COs): who, why, when, where
  • Information objects (IOs): how
  • Assessment object (AOs): apply

Additional Reading