Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Corporate learning success stories. Universal or far too specific?


The year 2013 seems to offer a lot of opportunities for corporate learning and leadership development initiatives. It's not just about this year, but the rise of companies's investments into the trainings and capabilities to manage their leaders, is palpable as still higher number of companies has been releasing announcements on leadership development activities. However, such trend appears to me as rather striking than predictable according to numbers from 2012 studies.


Having said that, inside every executive's mind, there should be a warning sign which would indicate that in order to improve the performance of the business, he/she needs to improve, engage and learn his/her employees. As in other aspect of life (not just in the business), failure to plan means planning to fail. Therefore, the development of any corporate learning strategy has to have milestones and ultimate goals that would steer the corporate learning strategy in precise and comprehensive way.

Incentives to adopt corporate learning within one's firm, or to allocate money internally is one thing. Another one represents the strategic approach to training or learning that should those involved in learning follow. This is the phase when analysis and design are incorporated on a corporate-wide scale to determine the specifications of criteria needed for particular organization. But are there any programs or systems that would serve as a benchmark, no matter what kind of analyst you are using? Can we consider the success story of one company as a model for another to adopt? Does every company has its own specifications which would not be addressed by using only one model?

I've discussed the outlined trends with couple of companies' HR leads and I think they've made their point clearly. On the one hand, they've recorded significant spending increase in learning technology and performance consulting. On the other hand, as budgets are still below pre-recession levels, they're trying to do more with less. When it comes to the learning educational techniques, it turns out that there is huge potential in developing methods, for effectively delivering learners what they need. In addition to this, they reported that they see potential in integrating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) which would involve the majority of learning being conducted online, access for students to course materials, and the students being probed and encouraged to discuss with fellow learners as well as the professor. As I explored it further, there are several elements particularly fine-tuned to corporate learning & development:

  • most MOOC allow students to go through the course as a part of “semi-synchronous” cohort of learners (the same assignment of readings, lectures etc. but each member completes them on his/her own);
  • flipping the classroom: most of the learning happens not through a professor lecturing but by giving students access to course materials and having them study at home;
  • certificates of completion, and a system of credits which helps to legitimize and formalize the learning

In fact, I find this more than interesting, however it's merely a prediction of the future, not the strategy currently used on a daily- basis. It's funny to observe how reality differs from the future in the mindset of the people responsible for organizational development and learning capabilities that could modify the components of learning within an organization. Well, the risk of falling behind still persists but what is there to do in order to move away from inefficiency? Will a MOOC scheme be the one that revises the notion of corporate learning? The topic is broad and answers are plentiful. However, I believe that I just may have found an enlightening insight on the Corporate learning & leadership development webinar, which will cover the best practices from award-winning companies.

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