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Justify the Learning Ritual, Please!

Chief Learning Officers Be Prepared! You and your team may have to justify some of your most familiar rituals with evidence and business data.

Business leaders and even Boards of Directors are looking for RADICAL shifts in approaches and processes – and learning and training are ripe targets to be examined.

Here are some learning ritual challenges that I have heard in my conversations with senior executives in the past year:

Does Leadership Training Actually Create and Keep Better Leaders – with Better Business Results?

• Be prepared to examine the concrete skills, competencies, and readiness levels that your leadership programs yield.
• Examine the 6-month, 1-year, and 3-year patterns of graduates of your leadership academies.
• Imagine running a 3-level experiment with the next set of leadership candidates: 1/3 go through your current program, 1/3 are given a grant to buy their own leadership programs externally, and 1/3 are not given any program. What are the differences in their performance?
• Consider the TIMING of when a leader is trained (e.g. on promotion, early in their career as a “hi po”, or perhaps 1 year into a leadership role) around their biggest challenges and gaps.
• Ask if you should separate the “induction” dimensions of welcoming people into the leadership ranks from hard core skill development aimed at observable shifts in competencies and readiness.

Does Tracking Learning Help Learner Engagement and Do We Use the Data to Improve Business Results?

• Our learning management systems collect a massive amount of data about what every learner selects from our formal learning offerings.
• BUT, we are not tracking most of the content, context, collaboration, and resources that workers access from other sources.
• AND, most organizations are not using the data from the LMS to radically improve learning options, personalize learning for a specific employee, or compare the impact of one program vs. another. We track consumption but rarely use learning systems to monitor impact.
• PLUS, does tracking the micro learning choices that an employee makes help or hinder their natural curiosity? What if an employee was aware that their bosses were looking at the web searches they did throughout each day? I would imagine that more searches would be made from personal telephones or that workers would download apps to automatically add searches on their desktops that would show engagement or learning focus.
• Be prepared to defend or reframe the role that your learning management systems have in driving business results!
Do Live Webinars Accomplish Higher Engagement and Bigger Business Results?

• Most organizations have a default duration for live webinars, regardless of content or complexity. Most webinars are one hour and have only a few activities that take advantage of the actual live presence of employees.
• What if we substituted asynchronous segments for live webinars? Durations could be stacked for overviews, basics, or deeper content, allowing the learner to select their optimal timing and depth of material.
• If everyone had to answer a few predictive, quick questions to show understanding, how many hundreds of thousands of wage hours would a large enterprise save?
• Once again, imagine a split test project with 3 different versions of content: live webinar, asynchronous only, and a blended model. Compare the participation, retention, and actual business applications/results that each version yields.

Let’s add some more questions that CLOs will be asked to respond to in the near future:

• To what extent are our learning programs used by workers who are not meeting work expectations? Or, are many of our programs attended by motivated and already-engaged workers? What are the demographics of those that participate vs. those that don’t?
• How do we test for potential hires’ willingness to learn?
• What are our metrics for tracking the success (or failure) of line managers in supporting transfer of new skills to actual business practice?
• Who in the learning organization has the analytical data skills to drive shifts in assessment and follow-up strategy?
• How do we actually leverage the knowledge of retiring employees to impact business results?
• What are some non-learning activities that the learning group could facilitate that would drive increased business results in the workplace?

Let’s be ready and open to these questions. They are coming!!!

Justify the Learning Ritual, Please!
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