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New models of learning to support business agility

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22nd Jul 2015
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Laura Overton publishes her final piece round this year's Towards Maturity Benchmark.

In the previous two articles in this series on using evidence to drive change within L&D, I looked at delivering an L&D strategy fit for a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world and how L&D teams can align with the business and at the same time satisfy learners’ needs. In this final instalment, I look at the most effective approaches to learning that will support organisational agility. 

A culture of learning is at the heart of all new models of learning. Think 70:20:10, the model that works along the premise that 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experiences, 20% from relationships, networks and feedback from people and only 10% from formal training such as courses. 

Formal learning plays only a small role in people’s training now. Instead, organisations need to foster a strong culture of continuous, sustained learning. It’s about enabling people to learn at the point of need. This is the way for individuals and organisations to ensure skills and knowledge are relevant and up to date in today’s fast moving business landscape. Agile businesses need agile learners. 

Is L&D delivering these new models of learning? According to our research, Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, just two out of five organisations are looking at new models for supporting learning directly in the workflow. And only one in four agree that their L&D staff keep up to date with the latest research into learning theory. Even more surprising, 47% of L&D leaders still regard the course as being the main option for building skills and performance.

If L&D is to design modern learning strategies, ones that focus on and support business agility, then it needs to follow three key elements of our New Learning Agenda. They are:

  • Transform training – by applying new thinking to the way formal programmes are designed and delivered
  • Develop a learning culture – by supporting learners at the point of need
  • Integrate learning and talent – by considering new ways to support staff as they join and progress through the organisation

Obviously, the course still has its role to play. In order for formal learning to be effective and relevant, we think there are four aspects that need to be considered: stakeholder influence in design, instructional design, recognition and reward and academies and MOOCs. When it comes to designing online content, fewer than half (49%) of organisations reported lacking the skills needed for instructional design. Only 31% have the necessary skills in-house for digital content development and 28% agree that L&D staff are confident in incorporating the use of new media in learning design. 

Good instructional design is essential to support the effective transfer of learning and engagement, but L&D is slow to take advantage of the various tools available that make content compelling. Top learning companies are much more likely to incorporate a wider range of techniques, such as interactive methods, games, best practice videos and storytelling. 

Live online learning has increased significantly this year, with 77% of respondents using virtual meetings, such as Webex and Livemeeting, and 46% using virtual classrooms. However, only 34% of organisations have the skills in-house to deliver via virtual classrooms. What this says is that L&D must start building up basic skills in these areas.

How does your strategy compare with the top performing L&D teams? Use the Towards Maturity 2015 Benchmark to find out your alignment and engagement index. It is free to use until 31st July.  

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