How To Create A Comprehensive High Impact Learning Strategy

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How To Create A Comprehensive High Impact Learning Strategy

  1. 1. May 6, 2008 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy by Claire Schooley for Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Making Leaders Successful Every Day
  2. 2. For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals May 6, 2008 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy by Claire Schooley with Connie Moore, Erica Driver, and Jamie Barnett EXECUT I V E S U M MA RY Training departments in companies of all sizes are revamping their training and learning programs. Why? Learning organizations must develop employee-centric, business-driven learning strategies that guide the successful deployment of learning that is more contextual and more relevant to employees’ work. Workforce quality and productivity remains one of the most vital areas where an organization gets significant competitive differentiation. Over the past five years, we have helped learning, IT, and HR directors examine their training programs and infuse them with online learning. Now, with Learning 2.0 — wikis, blogs, social networking and other tools — coming into enterprises, as well as new, young tech-savvy workers getting hired, information and knowledge management professionals (I&KM) must develop learning strategies that combine multiple learning methods and approaches — including classroom, online, and informal learning. This approach will encourage workers to gain maximum proficiency in ways that best suit them and empower the workforce to drive business success. TABLE O F CO N T E N TS N OT E S & R E S O U R C E S 2 Why Develop A Learning Strategy Now? Forrester interviewed nine organizations, including Best Buy, blurgl, Harley-Davidson, 4 How To Get Started Depends On Your Culture Hitachi, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, And Organization SkillSoft, Subaru, TeleTech Holdings, and 5 Don’t Miss The Nine Critical Elements Of A Wolseley N.A. We also spoke informally to a Learning Strategy number of other organizations with learning RECOMMENDATIONS programs. 15 I&KM Pros: Contribute Expertise And Drive Consensus Related Research Documents “The Workforce Is Changing; What Are You Doing About It?” March 4, 2008 “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Learning Management Suites, Q1 2008” February 12, 2008 “Learning Director: Are You Ready For Your New Role?” April 10, 2007 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Forrester, Forrester Wave, RoleView, Technographics, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. Forrester clients may make one attributed copy or slide of each figure contained herein. Additional reproduction is strictly prohibited. For additional reproduction rights and usage information, go to www.forrester.com. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. To purchase reprints of this document, please email resourcecenter@forrester.com.
  3. 3. 2 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals WHY DEVELOP A LEARNING STRATEGY NOW? You may already have a training and learning strategy in place. If so, you may wonder “Why do we need a new strategy for learning?” But think about it for a second. Your organization is continually striving to meet changing market needs and rapidly evolving customer demands. And your hiring plans may involve bringing in next generation workers who have vastly different IT experience than your current workforce. Given all these changes, is your learning strategy keeping pace with the rate of change in the business? The business requires learning that is delivered to people in the context of their background experience, the tasks they are trying to complete, and their business processes. A clear, concise strategy for improving employee performance helps meet these needs, demands, and pressures. In today’s world, the learning department must assume the responsibility and be held accountable for developing skilled employees who can meet daily and long-term challenges and help increase the organization’s market value. But learning professionals need a well-articulated strategy to execute against. For example, you must make sure your training staff addresses strategic businesswide goals as well as day-to-day learning needs. It’s a balancing act between tactical and strategic learning, and both are needed in a successful organization. Here’s how training has evolved: · Traditionally, tactical learning led the way. Historically, learning departments operated quite separately from other parts of the organization. Training staff provided classes on standard topics like desktop skills, compliance, company-specific applications, and organizational procedures. C-level executives typically perceived training as a cost drain, often providing limited budget to support learning activities, and questioned the value of the training department to the organization. Generally, training experiences focused on tactical topics, answering the question “How?” As in: How shall we train employees on that application? What’s the best way to develop these lessons? How do we use technology to get the best learning results? These are functionally-oriented goals focused on an individual or a department. · Strategic learning is today’s mantra. Today, learning directors are tasked with developing talent to meet organizational goals by providing learning experiences that will give employees the skills that they need to execute on specific objectives, not just this or that software application. For example, if a company goal is to have more satisfied customers who buy more products, then the training department must work with the sales department and develop specific sales learning modules or single concept, short learning experiences. These modules give sales staff more product knowledge and selling skills within a set time period. The sales staff evaluation includes a measurement component that determines the increase in product sales or customer satisfaction after completion of the learning module. We spoke with a learning executive of a major business process outsourcing (BPO) organization who confirmed this approach with the comment, “I must run training as a business with a focus on ROI and direct business results.” © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  4. 4. 3 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals · Training departments take a higher level view of learning within the organization. Your training staff must step back from day-to-day content development and training schedules and answer the question “What?” As in: What should we be doing to support the organization’s goals for improved performance? What succession plans are in place to keep the organization competitive? What overarching design for learning best matches our situation and our workforce? What software capabilities do we need to best solve our learning and training challenges? What is the best way to deliver informal learning into the Information Workplace?”1 Training activities must support the overall business strategy (see Figure 1). Tactical learning will not do the job alone — strategic learning must lead the way. Figure 1 Learning Becomes More Central To Company Processes Desktop PAST New employee LOB HR computer training skills Classroom Executive training and Finance IT management learning Basic company Operations Marketing, PR Compliance applications PRESENT LOB HR Learning Legal IT skills compliance Finance IT Desktop/ Executive company Business application management skills skills Management Sales and leadership Onboarding Operations Marketing, PR Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  5. 5. 4 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals HOW TO GET STARTED DEPENDS ON YOUR CULTURE AND ORGANIZATION There is no one “right” learning strategy . . . and there is no one right way to develop a learning strategy. The best approach depends on your organizational structure, existing learning program, organizational learning culture, and the value executives place on employee development. The most powerful approach for your organization may be some combination of several options (see Figure 2). For example, an organization could develop a powerful learning program by combining a top- down, business-driven learning strategy with a bottom-up, IT-driven learning strategy, creating significant workforce advantages over competitors. And of course, each approach comes with specific challenges. Figure 2 Learning Strategies Strategy driven by . . . Characteristics Challenges HR-driven learning • Aligned to performance, onboarding, • May become so employee- strategy: succession planning, and career focused that larger business This learning strategy as part of development issues and strategic goals are HR’s overall human capital • Prevalent in organizations that not addressed management (HCM) initiative have a strong HCM initiative • Business units that need specific • Supported by VP for HR training sometimes do not feel supported Business-driven learning • Aligned to larger company goals like • Difficult to get buy-in from all strategy: improved brand recognition or business units for the learning This learning strategy is improved sales of Product A program developed by a corporate •Prevalent in top-down hierarchical • If CEO does not support the learning group that is organizations program, you face an enormous centralized within the business • Supported by a C-level executive challenge (e.g., CEO, COO) who becomes the driving force behind development and implementation of strategy Department-by-department • Aligned with individual department • A long, slow process to reach strategy: needs companywide implementation A bottom-up approach that • A more tactical learning approach • Difficult to get companywide addresses the learning needs of • Prevalent in flatter and bottom-up buy-in for an organizationwide each department in a more empowered organizations with learning management system decentralized or federated local control (LMS), especially if individual model • Supported by manager of the units already have their own LMS specific business unit IT-driven eLearning strategy: • Aligned with IT and HR, an IT-driven • Danger of using online tools A technology strategy that eLearning strategy is focused on using because they are new rather incorporates online learning technology tools for learning than because they are the best and offline approaches into a • Prevalent in organizations where CEO way to learn particular material blended solution is a strong proponent of learning and • eLearning staff may be the ability of technology to aid learning marginalized from more • Supported by C-level executive as a traditional learning unit that separate unit or owned by HR and IT may exist in HR jointly • IT inexperience in eLearning strategies and technology may lead to the procurement of ineffective and unwanted eLearning tools Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  6. 6. 5 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals DON’T MISS THE NINE CRITICAL ELEMENTS OF A LEARNING STRATEGY The bottom line: the training plan you develop, the varieties of learning approaches you integrate into the offerings, and the communication process you create must show results in the form of better performing employees. This is an ongoing journey rather than a process that you start and complete in a few months. The order in which you approach the following learning strategy components will differ depending on your organization’s characteristics. For example, the CEO may already support a strong learning program or the business drivers may be so clearly defined that you don’t need to spend time identifying them. No matter what your situation, make sure you address, in the order most appropriate, each of the following nine key elements in a comprehensive learning strategy including: 1) business drivers; 2) C-level support; 3) vision; 4) needs assessment; 5) business case; 6) plan and scope; 7) technology infrastructure; 8) marketing; and 9) evaluation and continuous improvement. Aligned Business Drivers Best Practice No. 1: Highlight Learning Issues That Align With Goals As one retail learning leader we spoke with succinctly stated, “Your success is based on a learning strategy that not only has C-level support but has linkages to the company’s strategic business plan. Without the latter, you fail.” The most powerful drivers for developing a new learning strategy relate to people engaged in practices or processes that are not working well and could benefit from a learning program. For example, if you are a retail organization and the sales force does not understand the products it sells, improving product knowledge is a strong business driver for increasing product sales. It also aligns with the organization’s goal of increasing the bottom line. Focus on the most significant business issues that learning programs can address, and list them in order of importance to senior management (see Figure 3). To assure business alignment, the learning executive must have direct communication with C-level executives to understand the company’s strategy and highest-level goals and then work with the learning staff to translate these goals into effective employee learning experiences. In organizations that have strong autonomous departments with their own budgets for learning, the learning executive needs continual communication with department VPs to understand each department’s needs and to suggest ways that learning can assist. © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  7. 7. 6 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Figure 3 Examples Of Business Drivers And The Learning Implications Business drivers Learning implications • Compress time to competency or proficiency. The • eLearning presents consistent content to learners time required to get employees up to speed in their in a short time and adapts the pace and level of job takes too long and is too costly. The company content to suit an individual’s learning needs. needs to streamline its processes. • Reduce cost. The high cost of current training • Repeated use of online learning carries fewer methods is not sustainable. additional costs. • Integrate dispersed workforce. The business’ • Collaboration tools, especially those using video, success depends on breaking down cultural break down barriers and allow employees to learn barriers and getting employees across the informally. organization’s different geographies to collaborate, share information, problem solve, and inform others about successful processes and procedures. • Create quick and consistent response to constant • User generated content increases employees’ changes in information. Employees need to stay abilities to share knowledge and participation in up-to-date with the constant changes in the the learning process. organization to be effective in their work. • Learning objects allow easy swapping of new content for old content. Rapid authoring tools allow quick and easy content creation. • Eliminate organizational silos to create a positive • Online communities, such as communities of organizational culture. Communicate across lines practice (COPs), focus on specific knowledge- of business to eliminate duplication of efforts and building activities in the context of day-to-day work drive innovation. activities to promote idea generation, community knowledge, and professional identity. • Develop an efficient, high quality workforce. The • Intranet-based resources that employees can organization needs easy-to-use tools, contextual access informally and on-demand help learners learning, communities, and the ability for keep up-to-date and provide information they employees to learn informally. need to do their job. • Reverse the trend toward flat — or even • Online customer service training provides an declining — customer satisfaction. The business opportunity for employees to apply learning needs a stronger relationship with customers. immediately — on the phone, via email, etc. • Change the dynamics that make a skilled • Excellent opportunities for learning and career workforce difficult to attract and retain. With Baby growth attract new employees, especially young Boomer retirements and the recruitment pools workers looking for advancement. getting smaller, the enterprise must attract new employees as well as retain existing knowledgeable employees. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  8. 8. 7 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Top Level Support Best Practice No. 2: Secure Sponsorship From An Executive Champion Without top-level sponsorship, your learning strategy will not be successful because you will have no budget and no executive encouragement for managers to value and support learning within their departments. The two most common executive support scenarios we see are: · The executive champion who drives the comprehensive learning strategy. This person (CEO, COO) understands the importance of learning and is the motivator behind the learning strategy. The executive believes that a comprehensive learning strategy makes a difference in employee attitude and skills, job satisfaction, and retention. Most likely he or she believes in the intrinsic value of learning and wants to know the results that indicate if employees are taking the training, if they like it, and if they are more effective in their work. But this champion will expect some cost analysis from the learning team before signing off on investments. · The HR executive who champions learning as part of overall employee performance. If learning is managed as part of human capital management (HCM), the HR executive advocates for learning’s role in the talent management system that he or she directs. Learning, performance, compensation, and recruitment are the four pillars of strategic HCM that drive bottom-line business results, with the HR executive both the champion and a member of the C-level management team. Some components of the HCM initiative include onboarding, employee performance, career development, succession planning, and pay for performance. The learning component is the glue that makes the system whole (see Figure 4).2 Figure 4 Learning Is A Part Of All People Development Activities Learning Compensation Performance Recruiting 360º evaluation Job skill Onboarding development Career growth Achievement Succession Training rewarded planning Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  9. 9. 8 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals The Vision Best Practice No. 3: Paint A Compelling Picture Of The Future State Of Learning A vision statement helps stakeholders understand the depth of the learning strategy and gives them a context for their thinking. At the highest level, the vision statement communicates the desired future state of learning. When creating the vision statement, position the vision in the future tense, and keep it short and simple. Tie the vision statement to any high-level business vision or corporate mission statements and make sure it is in concert with any HR performance management vision statement. The training group should craft a vision statement and test and refine it with the executive champion and other key business stakeholders to make sure that it is realistic. The vision statement may continue to evolve as you begin your needs assessment and business plan development (see Figure 5). Figure 5 Some Examples Of Learning Vision Statements We will provide effective, efficient, and easily accessible learning resources to our organization’s employees. Our learning products will be so embedded into employees’ work that work and learning will become one. Learning will be a way of life in our organization. We will provide a people-centered approach that allows employees to access the learning they need at the time they need it. We will provide learning experiences in short, contextual bursts rather than in long, boring classroom settings. Learning and talent management will be integrated with learning experiences tied to identified performance gaps. Both formal and informal learning will become an expected part of our learning fabric with the learning mode determined by the individual and the job. Employees will have the ability to learn and share knowledge and develop relationships within and across the extended enterprise. Our workforce will gain knowledge and skills through use of collaboration and informal tools such as wikis, communities of practice, serious games, and 3D immersive environments. Our learning program will meet the diverse needs of our distributed workforce. We will accurately target and disseminate information to the correct audience, at the right time, in the right amount, and in the desired format for performance improvement across our organization. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  10. 10. 9 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Needs Assessment Best Practice No. 4: Analyze Your Current Learning Situation The training team must: 1) collect data on the current state of learning within the organization; 2) determine what learning expectations employees have; 3) analyze how well learning supports the goals and direction of the business; 4) determine if the learning methods in use (classroom, mentoring, online, etc.) are appropriate for the employee culture; 5) find out what kinds of training content employees access; and 6) determine what technology and tools they are using (see Figure 6). As a learning executive or learning professional, you must have a rock-solid understanding of your organization’s short- and long-term goals, but you must also know your culture and the day-to-day employee experiences with learning throughout the organization. Use a variety of one-on-one and group discussions, questionnaires, focus groups, and survey instruments to gather information from a cross-section of employees including line workers, supervisors, managers, and executives. Figure 6 Analyze Your Environment Questions for gaining learning insights: • What is the perception of learning by management and directors in different departments? • What is the support for learning among line managers, directors, and senior management? • Do employees perceive learning as a resource that helps them with work, a chore to get done, or an opportunity to learn new skills? Questions about how well learning is related to the business: • How is the direction of your business changing? • What are the causes of this change (technology, new workforce, international competition, etc.)? • How are these changes affecting the learning requirements of the business? • What is the flexibility and responsiveness of learning to changes within your business? • What do your employees need to do differently or better in order to achieve those goals? Questions about learning methods currently used for instruction: • What learning methods are used (classroom, eLearning, blended, mentoring/coaching, on-the job, internships, etc.)? • What is the usage of learning (online and offline) throughout the organization? • What is the perceived level of success or failure of existing learning? • What are employee preferences for accessing learning? Questions about the characteristics of the learning culture: • What are the employees like at all levels of the organization? • What is their openness and hesitation to engaging in learning experiences to reduce pain points associated with their work? • What are the different generations of workers? Are their learning expectations different? • How does gender, race, language, etc., impact your learning needs and environment? • Are yearly individual learning goals tied to the career development process? Questions about the current state of learning content: • What kind of formal courses exist in leadership, management, and other business skills? • What regulatory and/or compliance courses are taught? • What IT and desktop technology courses are standard? • Is any informal learning provided (information aggregated in a knowledge bank, expertise location wikis, blogs and discussion forums, podcasts, communities of practice, virtual worlds, etc.)? Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  11. 11. 10 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Business Case Best Practice No. 5: Justification For Spending Money A good business case must justify the training investment in human capital and technology by showing that the activity or program meets specific business needs in all parts of the organization, even in multinationals with many cultures and different brands. Make the business case meaningful to executives by showing a realistic plan with numbers indicating expected ROI and when this will be realized. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) is one methodology you can use to conduct a comprehensive business case analysis.3 Often organizations already have some kind of learning business case in place but are re-examining this to include self-paced online learning, blended learning, and informal learning because of the cost savings that they provide.4 Some companies emphasize ROI while others emphasize softer benefits. If you can and if this is required by whoever is signing the check, build a model to project real, quantifiable results. Estimate your program’s cost-benefit ratio and break-even point. Model several ROI scenarios including costs and risks and how you will measure the results over time.5 Determining ROI is easier if you are dealing with hard dollars, such as an increase in sales of a product after the sales force has received special training on it. But in general, determining the ROI of learning investments is difficult and many executives accept data on how many people took training, what the drop-out rate was for online courses, and what improvements in work performance are attributable to the learning initiative. Look for ROI numbers in areas like: · Technology (which can provide savings). Show how the use of technology speeds up critical learning efforts, such as compliance and mandatory training, from months to days or hours and helps avoid risk by providing testing, completion data, and the necessary legal reports. Just- in-time sales training using rapid online authoring tools gets sales people trained faster than classroom training and back on the street to generate additional sales revenue. If long-standing courses need updates, new learning objects (small learning segments) can be swapped out for older ones, eliminating the need to develop a whole new course. Using online learning also eliminates costly travel by presenters and employees to central locations for classroom training. Standardizing on one learning management system (LMS) eliminates the cost of duplicate content and learning activities and minimizes contract negotiations, deployment costs, and maintenance costs. The LMS also gives employees a tool to control their learning by giving them more access to information. · Testing out (to mitigate productivity loss). Increase employee productivity by allowing employees to test out of training rather than spending time in unproductive learning sessions going over content that they already understand. By using online learning tests, employees can demonstrate their knowledge of a complete topic or test out of one or two sections and decrease the amount of time away from the work tasks they’re being paid to complete. One learning executive stated, “For my organization, this productivity savings analysis provides a huge benefit and is very compelling to upper management.” © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  12. 12. 11 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals · Worker performance improvements (improved productivity). The business case must document expected increases in employee performance. For example, if customer support personnel receive training on handling customer issues and then have context-sensitive employee performance support systems (EPSSes) embedded in their major customer support application, the business case must show how the formal training (course on handling customers) and informal technology support will increase employee performance and customer satisfaction results. Scope And Plan Best Practice No. 6: How Will You Get From Here To There? Lay out a learning growth story that you will develop with input from key stakeholders and employees. Based on the learning team’s vision, chronicle how the organization will get from where you are today to the future desired state of learning over a three- to five-year time frame. Include technology, culture, and content development as well as governance. Your learning strategy should describe: · The technology you will use to enrich the learning process. If you rely mainly on classroom instruction in your learning program, you should examine options and implement pilots using technology. We’ve developed suggestions for adding technology to classroom-based instruction and continuing to add additional technology approaches based on organizational fit (see Figure 7). · The organizational culture, which can make or break a learning program. If employees, customers, or channel partners don’t feel comfortable with the learning approach, then they will not engage in the learning or will do it grudgingly with constant complaining.6 Anything new requires time for people to feel comfortable. But most of all, you must ensure that people are prepared through pre-training to engage in learning using technology. Give them opportunities to try out the software, ask questions, and begin to see its value to them personally. Often, people from multiple generations work in an organization, and some may not be as comfortable or adventurous with technology.7 Have designated people in various departments or geographic locations who can provide assistance when frustration threatens to boil over. · Engaging content. Whether content is classroom-based, online self-paced, or blended learning, it must be engaging and tied specifically to outcomes that are meaningful to the employees. Boring, irrelevant content is typically the biggest complaint from employees. With content development tools like Lectora, Raptivity, and Captivate, subject matter experts (SMEs) are often tapped to create content. One caution: Make sure that an instructional designer works with the SME to assure that the course design meets adult learning principles for content development. Always design content based on its intended use. For example, if your authoring team is creating a 15-minute training on the features of a new product that the sales force needs to know tomorrow, a PowerPoint slide presentation that shows the most salient points may be the most appropriate learning, especially if the slides are accessible through a handheld so the © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  13. 13. 12 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals sales person can take a quick refresher before talking to a customer. Content that has a longer life and that presents concepts and more challenging learning will need a longer development time, some engaging graphics, and animation to help the learner understand. · The governance board that you will put in place. As you begin the process of implementing your strategy, establish a board of directors from across the organization to guide your learning team along the way. Choose people who know the business, collaborate well with others, add value to decision-making, and guide you along the way. Members should include a high-level executive or C-level champion, the LMS project director, IT decision-makers, HR and training directors, and decision-makers from the business units. At a minimum, this board should meet quarterly with email or teleconferences addressing issues between meetings.8 The learning team takes action items from the governance board, and without appropriate governance, your project is in jeopardy. Figure 7 Add Technology To Learning 1. Classroom. Add interactive tools to classroom instruction, such as a blog or wiki as a follow-up to allow participants to interact, discuss issues, solve instructor challenges, etc., between class sessions. 2. Off-the-shelf content. Examine predeveloped content available from content vendors that employees can access via a URL for learning on topics like desktop skills or basic business skills. Use the content providers’ LMS to record learning activity. 3. Custom content. Create organization-specific content using a rapid and easy-to-use tool (no code expertise needed) in areas like compliance. 4. Virtual classroom. Use synchronous technology to present a live online session with screen data and phone or VoIP discussion, or focus on collaboration, discussion, and targeted learning activities. 5. Blended learning. Provide an online self-paced learning module as prep for a face-to-face classroom session. Follow this live experience with periodic meetings online (virtual classroom) to discuss learner issues and experiences as participants implement learning from earlier sessions. 6. Informal learning. Examine some of the informal learning approaches (also called Learning 2.0) like a COP for employees doing related work in dispersed locations, expertise location to find the expert when one is needed, wikis for harnessing collective intelligence on a topic, or virtual 3D worlds for learning games. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 Technology Infrastructure Best Practice No. 7: Maintain A Strong Partnership With IT The architecture framework must be an open, standards-based model that scales and supports interoperability among different vendor solutions. These solutions must support interoperability standards as defined by organizations such as The Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) and Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). Make sure that the IT staff is represented on the learning governance board. IT must understand the importance of technology in the learning program to provide sufficient support. To make sure you make the right technology decisions, determine: © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  14. 14. 13 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals · Any duplication of technology. To reduce costs, eliminate duplication, and streamline processes, create a consolidation plan if multiple LMS applications are in place across the enterprise. This is often a difficult process because each LMS has its loyal users. · Portal needs for people to access learning. People typically access content from a learning portal, which allows consolidation of information, formal courses, informal events, documents, and videos into one easy-to-find location. People can personalize their individual learning page, receive alerts of new learning modules appropriate for them, and also view the courses assigned to them as well as those they have elected to take. · Networking requirements. Make sure your network has capacity to handle bandwidth surges as people access rich content like videos and serious games. Identify the necessary infrastructure components, like a content delivery network (CDN), to support high-usage and rich-learning content like interactive simulations and gaming, which most likely will be components of employees’ learning futures.9 · The LMS with the right components to manage your learning process. An LMS is the basic application that allows registration, tracking, and reporting on employee learning. It is part of a suite of components that users gradually add to their LMS application. These include learning content management systems (LCMS), which allow management of content as learning objects; virtual classrooms, which are a synchronous learning component provided through integration with a vendor; and collaboration, which allows discussion groups and informal interactions.10 · The content development and assessment tools to integrate with the suite. Learning departments often create custom in-house content, and they need eLearning content creation tools. Some LMSes have a built-in assessment component, but many learning departments integrate other assessment products depending on the level of testing that they wish to conduct. Make sure that these tools conform with AICC and SCORM learning standards. Marketing Best Practice No. 8: Getting The Word Out . . . Continually You are going to have to market quality learning offerings to the workforce, and keep the lines of communication open between business units and the learning department. Continue pushing the envelope and encouraging managers and employees to try new approaches and give feedback. One learning retail leader we spoke with said, “Marketing is one of the most important success drivers. A wonderful strategy will go nowhere unless you get the word out. Market! Market! Market! Never underestimate the value of continual marketing, communication, and education.” You can market your learning program by: · Creating the final learning strategy document in a slide presentation format. You want the presentation to catch people’s attention. Make the writing crisp, and keep words to a minimum. Create a deck of approximately 25 to 30 slides using visuals, tables, and animations to explain © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  15. 15. 14 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals ideas. Add an audio track so a variety of stakeholders can use the presentation package. This format invites dialogue and interaction by encouraging feedback and input. Put the most critical information in the body, and leave the rest for the appendix. · Creating a communications plan and getting the word out to all employees. Create posters, podcasts, blogs, and emails describing the learning strategy. Make it concrete with examples of learning situations, especially the online learning that may be new to some employees. Continue the marketing as some of the first products are announced. Have “lunch and learn” sessions to introduce new content and, if this content is technology-based, help employees learn how to use it. Train a resource person in each physical location who can mentor or coach others. · Engaging your PR and/or marketing department in developing ongoing publicity. Have material accessible in a consistent location like an intranet site, enterprise portal, or Information Workplace and in heavily trafficked physical locations. Make these the employee locations for information on learning. Put learning samples online, publicize them, and ask for feedback through an interactive forum site. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement Best Practice No. 9: A Continuing Journey A learning strategy is a far-reaching document that details how the organization is going to facilitate continuous improvement in its employees. Work does not end with completion and acceptance of the strategy by the management. The strategy is an ongoing effort that will change and grow with the business. IK&M pros must be flexible to meet needs as the business shifts. As one high-tech VP for learning expressed it, “The goal is to support the employees and give them the expertise that allows them to provide direct benefit to the business. That’s the bottom line!” Use these suggestions: · Stay informed six to eight months ahead of any new initiatives. This will enable you to develop appropriate training programs to support the new initiative. Some will be small like preparation for a new application and some very large like integrating a new workforce after an acquisition. The governance board and C-level sponsor work to keep lines of communication open. · Talk directly to business units to evaluate the success of existing training and future needs. Use surveys and questionnaires but be aware that candid discussions with directors, line managers, and employees themselves often provide more useful information and direction. Keep up an ongoing dialogue so you become a person that the business units know and think about first when training is the issue. · Assess employees’ satisfaction with the training. A telephone employee satisfaction survey of a few employees in different units often provides great anecdotal data. Take a look at those who did not finish courses and find out why (see Figure 8). One learning executive said. “Data, data, data. We can all argue about exactly how to measure performance accurately, but if we are not gathering and analyzing data, we will not learn and improve our learning program.” © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  16. 16. 15 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Figure 8 Summary Steps In The Learning Strategy Development Process Identify the organization’s priorities. Define the people requirements needed to support these business priorities. Understand the current learning programs, including support systems, technology, culture, management, and learning content. Align the business goals with the learning processes. Define a training plan that will guide and develop employees to deliver on business priorities. Create a business case for implementing the learning solutions. Implement the solutions with support from a high-level champion, an active governance board, and a strong training department. Evaluate the results, re-assess, and be flexible as the organization’s priorities change. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. 45598 R E C O M M E N D AT I O N S I&KM PROS: CONTRIBUTE EXPERTISE AND DRIVE CONCENSUS While your knowledge of the learning field and the relationship between learning and performance are critical, I&KM pros also must take on the role of selling ideas, counseling others, and influencing business decision-makers. Generic benefits of learning are not enough; you must show positive business return. · Identify a few important business drivers that the learning strategy will address. Choose those business drivers that relate to specific business processes or practices that will benefit most from more effective training. Recognize opportunities where formal or informal learning can help remediate. · Secure strong executive management support before you build the learning strategy. Whether you start with executive management support or have to secure this champion’s support based off your learning department’s vision, don’t move on until you have a C-level © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  17. 17. 16 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals executive who will go to bat for you and who believes in the importance of learning within your organization. · Make sure your business case is rock-solid. Make sure you have your business hat — not your learning hat — on when you prepare the business case. Business acumen is important since this is a document for management. Include the purpose and benefits, the risks, and the cost-benefit analysis. · Get IT support right from the start. Make sure IT is a partner. With the increase of informal learning tools like blogs and wikis and the use of the Web for eLearning and collaboration, IT needs to provide input on the existing infrastructure and changes needed to meet the learning goals. · Make learning an integral component of any talent management program. Work with HR to seamlessly assess employee competencies and job performance, and then give employees learning experiences that will increase their job performance. Talent acquisition and rewards strategies must be part of the HCM equation as business executives and managers beef up strategies to attract and retain employees. · Lay out the future state of learning. Clearly articulate what your organization’s learning will look like three to five years from now. Address the role of informal employee-centered learning using a variety of technology. Discuss the integration between learning and work and on-the-spot access to short snippets of learning to assist in the work process. · Revisit and refine your strategy document annually. The document will change as business conditions change and force the tweaking of an organization’s goals and objectives, which will affect the learning content. The desired future state of the strategy document must have built-in flexibility. Be willing to adjust as learning becomes more integral to the organization, as technology advances provide more options, and as employees become more used to directing their learning. · Assure that the learning strategy is aligned with the IW strategy. An IW strategy delivers a seamless work experience in a digital work environment that is contextual, visual, and individualized. Make learning an integrated part of that work environment. This learning alignment enables higher levels of information worker productivity and creativity. · Engage your learner population in a dialog so they are part of the creation process. Don’t forget to consult the learner — whether an employee, a channel partner, or a customer — and find out what works, what needs changing, and what suggestions the learner has for making the process more effective. Give employees opportunities to pilot and help refine learning approaches. © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  18. 18. 17 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL Methodology Forrester interviewed nine companies who have created or assisted in developing learning strategies. We also had discussions with about a dozen Forrester clients through consulting and inquiry processes. Companies Interviewed For This Document Best Buy SkillSoft blurgl Subaru Harley-Davidson TeleTech Holdings Hitachi Wolseley N.A. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ENDNOTES The Information Workplace integrates “just-in-time” learning into the work employees are doing. See the 1 June 1, 2005, “The Information Workplace Will Redefine The World Of Work At Last” report. In today’s hypercompetitive environment for attracting and retaining talented employees, business process 2 owners must have the ability to seamlessly assess employee competencies and job performance and then give employees learning experiences that will increase their job performance. See the March 30, 2007, “Learning and Talent Management Join Forces” report. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) provides financial analysis modeling. It is a careful study of costs, 3 benefits, risks, and future flexibility options associated with technology investment decisions. Forrester’s TEI approach compares two options, such as the current learning environment and the desired future state of learning. Although this process may take many weeks to complete, it provides a well-grounded financial argument. For an example of TEI used to access value of eLearning versus classroom learning, see the June 22, 2004, “Justifying Technology for Training” report. Self-paced online learning is often referred to as eLearning. Blended learning includes a mixture of different 4 kinds of learning modes such as online, classroom, on-the-job training, and virtual classroom. Informal learning refers to tools like blogs, wikis, communities of practice, and expertise location where employees learn from each other. Case studies of organizations that have implemented eLearning show a significant ROI when the learning 5 is aligned with company goals. Using the sample calculation, firms can enter their own information to generate a company-specific ROI. See the June 22, 2004, “Justifying Technology For Training” report. Training programs often include partners as well as customers in addition to employees. Each group has its 6 own specific learning. Depending on the nature of your business, customer training can help drive repeat sales, and partner training will make resellers, for example, more knowledgeable about a product and more successful selling it. © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  19. 19. 18 How To Create A Comprehensive, High-Impact Learning Strategy For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals Tackling cultural issues requires giving individuals control over how they get and interact with learning. 7 For older generations, employees may be more comfortable taking a blended approach that includes some classroom component for now (indeed perhaps even mostly classroom). Others may prefer something that is 100% self-paced. Similarly, when it comes to collaboration, some are most comfortable reading and participating in conversations via email while other folks might expect to be able to do the same using Twitter, a microblogging tool. It is not technologically complex or expensive to provide a variety of such options, and it is likely to give participants a greater sense of control and lead to much higher levels of participation. The board that is put in place during this learning strategy development should remain intact through the 8 LMS selection, the implementation process, and, ideally for ongoing learning development. See the October 24, 2007, “Put The Right People In Place For A Successful Learning Management System Implementation” report. Virtual worlds like Second Life, There.com, and more business-focused offerings are on the brink of 9 becoming valuable work tools. Major companies and public-sector organizations are investing heavily in virtual world technologies. But it’s still early, pioneering days. See the January 7, 2008, “Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds” report. An LMS is a critical application for today’s online and offline learning. For information on selecting an 10 LMS to ensure that it meets your business needs, see the October 24, 2007, “How To Select A Learning Management System” report. For information on criteria for selecting the right LMS vendor, see the February 12, 2008, “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Learning Management Suites, Q1 2008” © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited May 6, 2008
  20. 20. Making Leaders Successful Every Day Headquarters Research and Sales Offices Forrester Research, Inc. Australia Israel 400 Technology Square Brazil Japan Cambridge, MA 02139 USA Canada Korea Tel: +1 617.613.6000 Denmark The Netherlands Fax: +1 617.613.5000 France Switzerland Email: forrester@forrester.com Germany United Kingdom Nasdaq symbol: FORR Hong Kong United States www.forrester.com India For a complete list of worldwide locations, visit www.forrester.com/about. For information on hard-copy or electronic reprints, please contact the Client Resource Center at +1 866.367.7378, +1 617.617.5730, or resourcecenter@forrester.com. We offer quantity discounts and special pricing for academic and nonprofit institutions. Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent technology and market research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. For more than 24 years, Forrester has been making leaders successful every day through its proprietary research, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more information, visit www.forrester.com. 45598

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