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Leveraging learning technologies for business impact

Summary of Retirement Villages Association Financial Sector Forum, October 2015 Presentation

Recent research holds that Learning and Development has become a critical tool in meeting the global challenges in talent development.[1] We see common challenges across all sectors driving this; the need to adapt to change, retain staff, reduce cost, and find new revenue streams. These are challenges that learning solutions are well positioned to address.

Innovative learning technologies are a key part of the solution. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) can change the game in terms of reducing administrative cost, providing development opportunities and expanding access to learning. However if you try and implement them out of operating budgets you’re likely to take years to get the value. It’s no longer about an annual spend to attend external training in the hope something might change back on the job. It’s too important for that. It’s about investing for return.

So how do you maximise your return? Here are some of the strategies we see industry leaders putting to good use.

  1. Don’t take an ad hoc experimental approach to getting your LMS going. An enthusiast with a narrow focus might eventually get traction, but as others come on board it’s likely to get messy and you may well end up starting again. You don’t build a house by seeing if a bedroom works on its own.
  2. If the system is going to deliver value across the whole organisation, get all senior stakeholders engaged early. Each organisation has their own unique requirements, but there are clear value propositions for different stakeholders. Human Resource managers are looking to engage, develop and retain people. Line managers are looking for KPIs in their areas of responsibility. Chief Financial Officers are often looking for cost efficiencies and opportunities for new revenue streams. Chief Executives are looking for brand position and strategic partnerships. Flush these out early and make them the vision for the technology.
  3. Plan for social learning. The 70/20/10 model[2] suggest most learning (90%) happens either through experience on the job, or through peers. Only 10% happens through structured training – the workshop, eLearning module and so on. You can debate the numbers but make no mistake, informal, on job experience is huge. Social learning simply means people learning together, not on their own. If you can shape the experience of what people learn when not doing formal training, you’re onto a winner.
  4. Mobile learning does not simply equal mobile phones. It is the learner that is mobile, and what they access depends on their situation. Small, granular communications that motivate and engage are proving successful. But so is print. Printed quick reference guides are durable and work offline. Don’t be seduced by the idea of a technology. Ask yourself, what will be the most effective for my learners.
  5. Measuring the impact of learning can be tricky. That’s no excuse. If you’re going to invest, you have to be able to measure impact. Learning Management Systems will tell you who engaged in formal learning, and report on who passed assessments. They can also build collaboration and shared knowledge across groups. The real riches though are in what people do on the job. For that, you need to speak to them and their managers. More importantly though, you should have decided on the change you were looking for before you even began training. That is the conversation to have.

[1]Global Human Capital Trends 2015 – Leading in the new world of work. DUP 2015

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70/20/10_Model

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