At the heart of any organizational learning program is the desire to improve the performance of employees and the business. But in most cases, there is very little connection to either when it comesto how learning is created, delivered and measured. Fewer than half of companies in Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Strategy Study say their learning strategy is well-aligned with either business or learner objectives.
On a Scale of 1 to 5, To What Degree Does Each of the Following Apply to Your Organization’s Current Learning Strategy?
Essentially, learning programs are created in a sort of vacuum, where they are solely focused on the outcome of completing learning; performance is not part of their DNA. This means learning’s impact on performance is random at best, with no real way to measure it. Companies are building programs blindly, with no insight as to which approaches make the most sense for their different audiences and the subject areas they need to learn.
Today’s learners require — and expect — much more from their learning environment. For learning to have an impact on their performance, it must be engaging and relevant and support them in their day-to-day work. A completely event-based, formal approach leaves learners susceptible to the effects of the Forgetting Curve, where they forget most of what was presented to them in a matter of days. Frontloading an employee with as much information as they can take will not support or improve their performance years, months or even weeks down the road.
Despite being more than 20 years old, companies are still figuring out how to incorporate the 70:20:10 model into their learning programs. Despite knowing that most learning is either experiential or informal, most of the time, available money and energy are spent on formal learning.
The lack of alignment with desired outcomes combined with the outmoded learning environment leads organizations to subpar results and inability to demonstrate learning’s value to the business. When outcomes are unmet, programs are scrapped and the process starts all over again because companies have no idea what worked, what didn’t and why. Even if outcomes are achieved, learning teams have a hard time claiming any responsibility because they cannot draw a straight line between the outcome and their approach.
Companies that build a strong alignment between their learning strategy and learner and business outcomes are far more likely to say their strategy is effective in helping achieve those outcomes.
How Effective is Your Learning & Development Strategy in Helping Your Organization Achieve its Business Goals?
How do we align learning with business outcomes?
How do we build outcome-focused programs?
How does the 70:20:10 framework fit?
How can we ensure we’re on the right path?
The Learning-Performance Convergence Model
BUSINESS PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES
To use the model as a foundation, organizations identify the business performance outcomes they seek to improve with the learning initiative. There must be a business reason that a learning program exists. Perhaps it is to improve sales skills to boost revenue. It could be safety training to reduce accidents and ensure compliance. However seemingly small the learning initiative is, it should be based on business needs.
LEARNER PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES
To improve the business outcomes, learners should be expected to reach their own performance outcomes. These outcomes are based on specific behaviors that make the business outcomes possible. Organizations should be able to identify the specific behaviors or skills employees must exhibit to improve performance.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES IDENTIFICATION
This is where most organizations start, without ever thinking about learner or business outcomes. Organizations must develop specific outcomes to the learning initiatives that point directly to the desired behavior changes or skills acquisition. For example:
• Demonstrable knowledge of a new sales technique
• Ability to identify all features of a new product/service
• An understanding of the use of a new software platform
LEARNING SCENARIO CONSTRUCTION
This is where learning becomes as much art as science. There is no single formula, regardless of the 70:20:10 model. Instead, organizations must use the knowledge that people learn in different ways to build programs that make sense based on their outcomes and objectives. A program can include elements of all three learning types, or maybe just two. Some programs could require almost all formal learning, while others can focus more on experiential. Each of the learning types should be at the organization’s disposal and each type can andshould overlap, rather than one preceding the other.
LEARNING MODALITY ASSESSMENT
Measuring learning’s effectiveness has always been a challenge for organizations and adding new learning experiences can complicate it further. However, by using the construct laid out in this model, companies have a relatively direct line of sight as to how effective their learning scenarios or blends are in achieving the goals. Using the knowledge gained through measurement, blends can be adjusted over time to better meet the needs of the business. Across all of this are other influences, including the audience, the subject matter and the required time frame. These will have an impact on the type of experiences and the blend.
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