Agility is creating a learning function with rapid development built in, to meet the demand of changes in the workforce. As such, providing up-to-date, relevant content for employees is a core mandate for L&D teams.
However, there are many challenges that make this difficult, Rachel Kuftinoff, learning consultancy director at KnowledgePool told Training Journal.
“At the World of Learning event, many comments came from delegates about the difficulties of achieving an agile learning function. Budget is one of the more common factors, alongside language barriers. Another is the perception that employees are all doing OK, which leads to a lack of motivation to create change,” she said.
Kuftinoff added that the speed of decision-making within an international organisation is a factor, pointing to Joe Tidman, director of learning capabilities at GSK, who addressed this issue.
Tidman said that not only is the ability to respond quickly important, it has to be a response to the right signals, and what is needed for the organisation.
“Learning and Development departments can sometimes have the culture of order-takers. We are told to do something, and we go and do it. Are we treating the symptom and not the disease?” Kuftinoff asks.
“L&D needs to investigate whether the requests are really learning needs, and whether the action will have any value.”
The value of a ‘global capability model’
Kuftinoff suggests that outsourcing an organisation’s learning budget and implementation of a new, global curriculum can keep track of the management of the learning strategy while moving towards three aims: prioritising what is important, spending time on learning consultancy, and involving L&D within business strategy.
“It is fundamental to introduce a global capability model. Without a single structure it is much harder to measure success, and a range of different models with similar, confusing language means you can’t compare apples with apples,” she said.
“An employee logging on to a learning portal to find hundreds of pages of results for the topic they searched for is confusing and time consuming for them.”
Kuftinoff said that while the resources might be there, they are not easily accessible, and certainly not agile.
“It is not uncommon for the number of learning solutions in an organisation to reach several thousand, and it’s rare that more than 10% of them are actually used,” she said.
“You can increase the credibility of your online and virtual offerings by altering this. The challenge lies in managing these ever expanding libraries to ensure that learners can find the content they need.”
She added that this was achieved at GSK by switching online learning provisions off before re-uploading the relevant content by creating a clear gap and distinction between the old and the new.
“An agile learning strategy must be capable of handling cultural shifts within an organisation,” she said.
“IT provision cannot be taken for granted across the company as bandwidth supply and the availability of devices, computers or even internet cafes must be taken into account. Affinity with technology is not always an age-related issue, but it can be a factor.”
Personalisation is the future
According to Kuftinoff, personalisation is the future.
“Think of mobile phones – we all carry one around – and we are used to it being personalised to our choices, our apps, our preferences and contents,” she said.
“The typical amount of time that an employee can spend on training is one per cent. Employees, especially millennials, expect to be given what is ‘right’ for them.”
She added that employees do not have time to undertake a course that isn’t relevant.
“Personalisation is all about relevancy. As this advances, we will start to see a further shift towards individual role personalisation, but the agile learning and development function must be in place and working first,” she said.