Strategic Learning

Strategic Learning

Making the business impact of Learning more visible is what every L&D Manager is challenged with. At last, a solution is now available.


Simran was a very hard-working L&D Manager. Apart from being skilled in effectively leading her team, she was also an engaging Facilitator. However, thinking with an organisation-wide perspective was still something that she was trying to get her arms around.


Business Leaders looked kindly at the Learning Department, but she had to resolve many hard-nosed queries when it came to budgeting expenditure. She struggled to collate all the figures required, and, inevitably, when it came to showing the Return on Investment made into Training, she was clueless over the ways to going about it.


Getting there, but not arriving


Soon, Simran realised that it was not enough for Learning and Development Managers to be good facilitators. They also needed to develop the business acumen to be able to capture the business impact and make more pointed investment decisions. So, she applied the tried and tested Kirkpatrick Model of capturing the business impact of Training. While it is very popular; as all practitioners of L&D know, it is not easy to implement. Level 3 and above in particular, where capturing behavioural change over a given time frame and converting that into business numbers is never easy, and in a system, which does not have robust systems and data in place, it can be practically impossible to use. Not one to give up easily, Simran struggled with the Kirkpatrick method, but at the end of the year, while VoC and Assessments scores showed a positive impact, there was nothing much beyond that.


Popular Learning Strategy Model


The other strategic model for L&D Managers with a vision of growth and delivering learning impact leverage, is the idea of the Learning Organisation. After the publication of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, it has been a rage for L&D Managers with a strategic mind- set to convert their organisations into a Learning Organisation. But, like the Kirkpatrick model, it is easier said than done. The theory of the Leaning Organisation is premised on the Systems Theory, and consequently, a systematic approach calls for collective focus, organisational synergies and robust systems and processes, which may be a tall order to achieve for the L&D function alone and even more difficult on the ground, particularly when the intention is to capture the business impact of Learning. Unfortunately, if one may say so, what is missing in both these popular models is that there is no framework for action here.


A Solution, round the corner


However, for the despairing L&D Manager, there is a new Learning Model doing the rounds, which is less ambitious than the Learning Organisation model and more practical than the Kirkpatrick Model in enabling an integration with business priorities. A recent book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning by Pollock, Jefferson and Wick has come in as a fresh breeze. One of the great positives of the model is that it sees an integration between L&D and business from the beginning and not post facto. The model is divided into six dimensions.


• Dimension 1 (D1): It is about defining the business outcomes that the Learning department is helping achieve. This is a critical step because all the subsequent actions will flow not from the L&D department, but from business goals.


• Dimension 2 (D2): The second Dimension or D2 is Designing the Complete Learning Experience. This is a critical step where a broad level plan is required to envision how the Learning interventions will be planned and executed across the given time frame; normally a year. The finish line could be On The Job Results. This may not work out as planned in its entirety, but it creates a fairly granular plan which works like a reference map and a framework for execution for the department as well as stakeholders outside.


• Dimension 3 (D3): D3 is Delivering for Application. Here, all the deliverables of the plan are planned and then implemented. Make relevance and utility of the L&D interventions clear to the participants from an organisational standpoint and also their personal WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Chances are that you will have a blockbuster level of interest coming your way.


• Dimension 4 (D4): D4 is the step which ensures a second strategic connect with business priorities. It is in this step that Learning Transfer is Driven and it is ensured that Learning is executed as per plan. Here, the Operations Managers too need to be involved. Ways to track accountability must be put in place.


• Dimension 5 (D5): D5 focuses on Deploying Performance Support. The authors rightly recognise that leakage in L&D interventions tends to be very high. Therefore, there need to systems in place to plug the gaps pro-actively, rather than post facto. To ensure greater stickiness, Job Aids need to be provided, such as handouts and Reference material. Additional feedback mechanisms and coaching support could make a significant difference.


• Dimension 6 (D6): It is very important to document all the steps listed here and that is what D6 does. Measure what matters to stakeholders. Use insights to drive continuous improvement and do not forget to market the results well.


There is a welter of models to choose from, not least the Kirkpatrick model. However, the D6 model is a comprehensive execution-based model which convincingly addresses the constant problem faced by L&D Managers, which is a lot of effort, but not enough recognition for the function due to invisibility of the business impact.


Coming back to Simran’s dilemma, once she was introduced to the 6D Model, there was no looking back. At the onset, she planned her L&D strategy with the business goals in mind, and the rest of the steps till D6 were not too difficult either.



0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe