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The Modern Learning Organization

The Modern Learning Organization

In a recent TrainingPros Learning Views webinar, The Modern Learning Organization, I discussed the concept of Modern Learning and the shifts required to move from traditional training to Modern Learning. According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD,) US companies spend over $165B annually on training and development related activities. However, according to the 2017 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, only 8% of Executives say that their company is achieving impact from employee development. In fact, adoption studies show that current approaches have a learning transfer rate of only 10 – 20%. This means that for every 100 people that take a class or on-line learning module, only 10 – 20 people will do anything new or different on the job. I think we can all agree that this is an unacceptable state of affairs. I outlined how Modern Learning can address this issue.

Modern Learning provides way of thinking and a set of capabilities that both increases impact, and meets the demands of the modern workplace. During the webinar, I shared 5 key shifts organizations can make to advance their practice and jump on the journey to Modern Learning.

Shift 1: From training loosely tied to business goals, to learning and development driving business key performance indicators. Aligning training goals to business goals is not new. Many organizations can demonstrate the link between business objectives and how training supports those objectives. The question becomes whether this is a passive or active relationship. In an active relationship, the L&D organization can “close the loop” and provide insights as to how demonstrated skills and behaviors are correlating to progress on key performance indicators (KPIs).

Shift 2: From training events, to learning and talent development as a process. Developing new behaviors and skills requires a process of learning and doing over time. For L&D professionals to deliver a process solution, they must shift their practice from course and curriculum development to what I call, “Development Process Engineering”. This involves moving beyond course objectives to the behavioral and business objectives of a development journey or pathway.

Shift 3: From “content is king,” to environment rules. In my work, I have found that the “engagement and performance environment” has the biggest effect on development impact. Some of the biggest environmental factors that drive learning transfer include connecting to purpose, manager engagement, peer and subject matter expert partnership, transparent feedback, accountability, and engagement approaches such as gamification.

Shift 4: From “after the fact” evaluation, to embedded measures and “in-flight” improvement. With a process based approach, progress and effectiveness measures can be integrated so that improvement ideas and participant insights can be “fed-forward” in a way that optimizes the experience. Optimization can be in the areas of content and environment.

Shift 5: From hours of prescribed workshops, to meeting the demands of the Modern Learner. Companies today are experiencing a dramatic shift to a new workplace reality. The millennial generation is growing, employees are bringing their own devices to work, and 70% of the global 2000 are using some form of gamification to improve engagement and productivity. The use of integrated technology to deliver on-demand, mobile, and socially enabled solutions is more important than ever before.

The following graphic depicts a holistic model for Modern Learning.

Modern Learning Model

Modern learning model

I presented the following Modern Learning Maturity Model and each participant had the opportunity to assess their organization against the model.

Modern learning maturity model

The bulk of the participants attending the webinar assessed themselves around Level 2. We discussed several next steps these and other organizations can take to advance their practice including:

  • Engage company leaders in a discussion of learning as a process vs. an event to establish a modern learning mindset.
  • Surface initiatives that can be used to show how L&D can be directly linked to business KPIs.
  • Equip managers to discuss the purpose and expectations for all learning their employees are engaged in.
  • Transform course-centric training to development journeys by adding sustainability that includes content refresh and on-the-job application tasks.
  • Break courses into bite sized chunks, define application tasks, and deliver the process over time.
  • Use “buddies” or “accountability partners” to drive higher levels of challenge and support.

Are you ready to take the journey to Modern Learning? Contact Larry Mohl by email or visit Jubi, Inc. online, for more information.


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TrainingPros, founded in 1997, works closely with learning departments of large organizations to identify, attract, and support leading contract specialists for focused training and development engagements.