Learning from the future

by 11 May 2009

Q. We are currently revising our learning and development strategic plan in light of the downturn. How can I ensure we are making informed investment decisions about our future learning and development?

A. Developing strategy in the context of leading practice provides a frame work, structure and methodology for learning and development (L&D) strategy. In short, good decisions begin with good in formation, and mapping current activity to leading practice provides this focus.

A comprehensive examination of current in dustry trends in learning and development and a review of literature from leading academics in the organisational development space assist in establishing current leading practice and pro vide a point of reference for relevant HR stan dards. This research can be undertaken inter nally and externally and ensures that evidence-based information is on hand.

Internal stakeholders are a vital primary information source that should be consulted to help determine the individual and overall learning and development wants and needs of the organisation. These conversations are integral for ascertaining skill gaps for spe cific operational areas and overall profes sional development required for particular business levels.

The application of the following nine criti cal dimensions assists the analysis of L&D prac tice working to guarantee informed investment decisions are made.

The first of the dimensions is organisa tional alignment, hence a clear link exists between the strategic direction of the or ganisation and L&D – therefore, an align ment with the overall business plan is evi dent. Management and governance follows this dimension with review of the L&D organisational structures and processes with the decision-making authority that have been created.

Learning culture checks that learning is visibly supported everywhere: on the job, in the classroom, over the internet and among peers and this dimension reviews that learning initiatives are part of everyone’s daily work activity.

The fourth dimension, capability frame work involves a comprehensive mapping of skills and competencies that exist for staff. These are visibly linked to broader human resource activities. The next dimension is evaluation and measurement confirming evaluations and associated measurement are conducted on both a short-term and long-term basis.

Supplier management is the fifth dimen sion, making certain that a sourcing and ven dor management strategy for the acquisi tion of learning content and/or services exists and delivery is the consideration that the appropriate delivery methods are selected depending on identified resources, constraints and objectives.

Content ensures that material is visible across the organisation, resulting in reduced duplication of content and more effective use and re-use of learning material.

The ninth and final dimension is technol ogy. This dimension is concerned with the use of technology in an overall L&D strategy and checks that an enterprise-wide learning por tal that provides a single point of access to robust learning practices is in place.

While there is some overlap, each di mension requires individual attention to develop leading practice. These will assist the development of an informed learning and development strategic plan.

By Angie Taras, director, business development, DeakinPrime. Tel: 03 9918 9110. Email: angie.taras@deakinprime.com.