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Corporate Learning Strategy

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Corporate Learning Strategy (26-slide PowerPoint presentation). Although organizations invest heavily in Learning and Talent Development, most CEOs complain about the shortage of learned managers and leaders. Research reveals that a number of managers consider employee performance to remain the same if their organization's Learning function is totally [read more]

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Although organizations invest heavily in Learning and Talent Development, most CEOs when interviewed complain about the shortage of learned managers, leaders, and skilled workforce.

The capabilities of knowledge workers, not technology or capital, is often a key constraint for organizational growth.  Research reveals that a number of managers consider employee performance to remain the same even if their organization’s learning function is totally abolished.  Studies further indicate:

  • Ineffectiveness of Corporate Learning.
  • Wrong investments in Learning and Development.
  • Lack of linkage of learning with strategic goals.
  • Focus on learning but not on employees’ development.

Investments and efforts on learning are concentrated towards wrong things.  Abundance of online courses and mobile knowledge apps are triggering organizations to revisit their Corporate Learning Strategies.  Utilization of innovative learning techniques—and modes—for leadership development has become the top agenda for senior learning leaders.

Learning and Development is important for organizations as:

  • Employee engagement and leadership sets the right impetus for the organization.
  • Competencies of knowledge workers makes the difference in achieving organizational growth.
  • It delivers value, critical to survive—and outperform—competition.
  • Effective learning experiences engage the emotional and cognitive centers of human brains, making employees appreciative of their organizational learning efforts.

Leadership, today, is more aware of the significance of Corporate Learning in Organizational Development and profitability.  Leaders are now proactively striving to align their Corporate Learning objectives with demands of knowledge workers and strategic organizational goals.

The following learning practices represent 4 key phases of the process for defining and executing a research-substantiated Corporate Learning Strategy:

  1. Formulate the CEO Agenda
  2. Align Learning & Development (L&D) Resources
  3. Gain Buy-in from Key Stakeholders
  4. Activate the Learning Agenda

These learning practices have been grounded on senior leadership interviews and surveys on company strategy and decision-making rationale to develop corporate learning initiatives.

Let’s dive deeper into these 4 phases of Corporate Learning Strategy.

Formulate the CEO Agenda

Corporate Learning Strategy is much more than top management attending training events.  It warrants making the corporate learning agenda an extension of the CEO agenda.  Learning programs typically entail doing a Training Needs Assessment by interviewing mid-level management, who aren’t part of the organization’s strategic management, which makes the assessment flawed.  Outsourcing the training function further compounds the problem.

The first phase of the Corporate Learning Strategy warrants gathering data from company reports, websites, and leadership interviews to enable documentation of senior leadership’s pain points, key issues, and strategic priorities.  Mapping the CEO Agenda—uncovering the leadership priorities—should be the foremost element of aligning learning with strategy.

The step necessitates extensive meetings to identify leadership needs and attributes essential for future leaders and incorporating feedback of business leaders to develop new corporate learning initiatives.  Chief Learning Officer reporting directly to the CEO facilitates the process.

Align Learning & Development (L&D) Resources

The matter as important as creation of a learning inventory is typically skipped at companies.  The executives, there, find it difficult to track expenditure on learning programs carried out by scores of external consultants.  Preparation of a repository of current Learning and Development resources has to be done regularly to make sure that the learning portfolio aligns with the organizational learning strategy.

Business units should align priorities and investment with top-level strategy.  L&D leadership has to ensure that their interventions are tailored to the needs of the business.  There should be regular reviews and calculated reorganization of the development infrastructure and processes (e.g., promotion and succession planning).  The approach should focus towards strengthening the on-the-job learning experience, busting silos, and developing collaboration.

Gain Stakeholders Buy-in

Reorganization of Corporate Learning initiatives necessitates gathering input and support from all levels of the organization.

Interested in learning more about the other phases of Corporate Learning Strategy?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Corporate Learning Strategy here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Organizational theorists differ in defining a Learning Organization. Some suggest it as an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. Others define organizations as Learning Organizations when they [read more]

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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