Solving the Puzzle of Organizational
Learning & Development
As technologies, roles, and industries evolve, learning and development (L&D) leaders are increasingly looking to adapt their L&D functions to better meet the changing needs of the organization. Whether they decide to reorganize the entire L&D department or simply try new tactics, their ultimate goal is to create a stronger, more effective learning organization.
We’ve been hearing some interesting questions that all point to the transformation shift that organizations are making when it comes to how they think about learning and development. So, we decided to have TiER1 consultants weigh in on three key pieces to the puzzle of transforming organizational learning: the performance ecosystem, the strategy of L&D, and the internal branding.
The question: “How do we fit in our organization as an L&D department and deliver on the promise of high performance?”
The long answer: Every organization has a performance ecosystem: the interconnection of the people, resources, processes, partnerships, and technologies that support performance and capability development. Knowing where the L&D function can add the most value can be like finding a needle in the haystack.
L&D leaders have to juggle many priorities, two of which include:
- Working daily on aligning their efforts with existing organizational priorities and pain points
- Making sure that they’re coming up with solutions that meet their performers’ actual needs and desires.
Yet, navigating this tension between various priorities can be a powerful engine for the organization’s overall performance. Dustin Shell, Director of Innovation, says the trick to doing that is to find partners within the ecosystem.
“If one of your value propositions as an L&D function is to provide real-time, personalized resources at the moment of need with a digital content strategy, then you must have a good relationship with the IT function. Why? Because IT is a critical internal partner to deliver on that promise. Instead of thinking in silos in the way you execute on the promise, identify ways to turn IT into a strong ally so that they play to their strengths and you can play to yours.”
The short answer: Live at the intersection of the organization’s priorities and pain points and your end user’s needs. Then create strong internal partnerships to cultivate the whole system to be more efficient, agile, and people-centric.
The strategy of L&D.
The question: “We’ve developed all these learning experiences, but we don’t have a way to communicate why we’ve developed learning in this way. What can we do?”
The long answer: In organizations of 20 people or 20,000, often the key information and reasoning behind those strategic L&D decisions are sitting in the heads of just a few people. When that information is well documented, L&D leaders can easily articulate and demonstrate the value of their approach to leadership or those outside L&D.
Corey Leverette, Principal Consultant, has a great use case for this:
“Every day L&D is approached with requests to create a new course, change something in an existing experience, or deliver something that already exists in a new way. These are all relevant and important requests. However, many times they can quickly lead to tactical conversations resulting in purely tactical actions. When we have design documentation that clearly communicates the why behind instructional systems design, and not simply the what, we can take these requests to a higher level, engage in a more strategic conversation, and truly align decisions to business needs.
“Additionally, the process of creating these documents forces us to think through our decisions with a critical eye to identify native knowledge that may currently reside in the headspace of only a few key members of L&D.”
The short answer: Clearly map out the strategy—the why—behind your L&D curriculum and programs to create a platform through which you can communicate effectively with the organization.
The internal branding.
The question: “We want a new, fresh look and feel to our L&D branding and materials, but we’re having trouble getting our marketing department on board. What do you recommend?”
The long answer: This one is certainly not unique to L&D functions. New products, services, departments, or initiatives are an ongoing part of the evolving landscape within an organization. And, as with any new idea, each one needs to be marketed internally—whether to gain budget, buy-in, or credibility—and, in turn, made to stand out.
Your marketing and internal communications teams will likely have a more universal perspective on your L&D initiative. Often, they have more exposure to the various internal and external initiatives going on at any given time. They are looking at branding efforts holistically through the lens of the external customer (Marketing) and internal “customer” (Communications). Their job is to assure consistency between all brand communication.
Mark Hilvert, Principal Consultant, says that the best way to collaborate with marketers is to start thinking like them, because designing a unique brand for every initiative can create confusion and cause it to stand out—for the wrong reasons.
“The first step in internal branding is understanding that you are part of a larger brand: the organization. Your end user (the employee) wants to be able to contextualize your product, service, department, or initiative. Help them understand how it benefits them and connects to your organizational mission, vision, and purpose (also known as your why).”
The short answer: Partner with your marketing department early on to align your value proposition statements and visual articulation to fit within the larger brand ecosystem within your organization, treating L&D initiatives as part of “the bigger plan.”
What other pieces to this puzzle are you thinking about? Give us a call at (859) 415-1000 or drop us a line in the form at the bottom of this page.