Learning. It’s something we tend to take seriously on Prophet’s Learning & Development Team.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Chief Learning Officer Symposium in Chicago, where I heard from chief learning officers at AT&T, FedEx, Accenture, PepsiCo, Nationwide, AbbVie, JP Morgan, and more. From these talks, it became clear that organizations – regardless of size and industry – are facing similar learning challenges amidst transformation. That being said, organizations are up for the challenge – investing in building Learning & Development (L&D) programs that empower and upskill their employees.

Here are some common challenges that learning organizations—from tenured to just starting out and big to small—are tackling right now.

Common challenges organizations are focusing on to improve L&D programs:

  1. Reducing frictions getting in the way of learning. For example, CLOs must continually think of ways to protect the time and energy required for their employees to have protected space to learn.
  2. Understanding future roles in order to start upskilling employees towards those. Organizations are proactively building out skills matrices to imagine what future roles within the firm could require of employees down the road.
  3. Creating virtual learning experiences that are just as engaging and impactful as in-person sessions. We’re living in a world that is more and more on the go, virtual employment is on the rise, and learners expect materials to be available on demand. Formal classroom-style learning is no longer always the best option. Leveraging new technologies allows us to meet the learner where they are without diminishing impact.
  4. Building a Learning Management System that is personal to the organization and to each individual employee. Sophisticated learning management systems should have the right level and amount of content while leveraging the “Netflix” model of curated content for learners.
  5. Measuring ROI – every CLO panelist emphasized the difficulty in measuring ROI from learning initiatives; however, they all agreed that connecting learning initiatives as closely as possible to the broader goals of the business, pointing to L&D success through the progress made towards those goals, ensures continued executive-level support for future initiatives.

So where do you start? Here are the best practices I took back to our team as we plan for upskilling Prophet in 2020 and beyond.

Best practices as we head into 2020:

  1. Approach learning like product and experience design – Create archetypes for the different types of learners within your organization, then design your experiences to cater to those.
  2. Aim for Pull vs. Push learning – Find the point where the learning need of your organization intersects with the passions and interests of your employees. By targeting internal motives, you’ll fuel “pull” learning where the learner wants to pursue the topics and content you’re directing them to.
  3. Remember marketing is half the battle – Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling to rally people behind a learning initiative. Building content is half of your strategy, creating a campaign and selecting delivery channels will make or break the experience.
  4. Encourage just-in-time learning – Strive to deliver perfectly timed, micro-learning opportunities that are immediately relevant to the learner, shifting away from a more formal classroom-style setting.
  5. Focus on application – It’s not just about the content, the end game is applied learning. Getting there requires frequent reinforcement of learnings and support of on-the-job learning.
  6. Be scrappy – Every L&D team is being stretched to do more with less, so identify key impact initiatives by looking at what ties closest to the major goals of the business. With those in mind, be creative, while remaining flexible.

Final Thoughts

Learning is a rising player in transformation and leaders around the world are hopping on board. In a world of constant, rapid change and uncertainty, a company’s learning capabilities could become its competitive advantage. Organizations that can learn better and faster… could win.

We see the need for learning experiences popping up more and more in the Organization & Culture work we’re doing for our clients. Contact us today to learn more.


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