This week I had the pleasure of attending the LINGOS Global Learning Forum in Little Rock, Ark. My first impression of the event was that it didn’t feel like the normal experience – it was almost like family coming back together instead of a group of conference attendees. However, that might be indicative of the group’s target audience: not-for-profits and non-government organizations (NGOs).
The highly interactive sessions, breakouts, and roundtable discussions at the forum ranged from the nuts and bolts of training the trainer population appropriately, to developing a global strategy to improve program impact for millions of people. While some might imagine that non-profit organizations are lagging behind the rest of the world due to constricted resources, it hasn’t been my impression thus far. The audience was engaged, and it was clear each was aggressively pursuing excellence in every area of learning, development, and technology.
Capacity Building and Cooperation
I also learned a lot about capacity building, the concept of helping organizations develop greater capacity to do good around the world, whether through better practices or shared resources. When companies in the private sector might compete heavily for resources and customers, these NGOs are constantly seeking ways to work together, break down boundaries, and serve more people.
It’s a refreshing look at cooperative work arrangements, and it also opens up some interesting opportunities that the rest of the world wouldn’t consider. For instance, would you let other organizations access your LMS to take training your team had developed? Probably not, but several attendees raised that specific issue as a potential solution to limited resources.
Another thing that many organizations take for granted is the environment in which training is being delivered. What if your team had to deliver instructor-led training in a remote part of the world or in a dangerous area? Would the effort be highly effective? Or maybe you’re facing infrastructure problems — that shiny new mobile learning tool you developed can’t be accessed by staff in locations without mobile data access. The solutions are varied and innovative to these types of challenges, and the recent Amref Health Africa case study we published focuses on how the organization was able to deliver mobile training to front-line workers in areas with little or no mobile data.
The NGO Landscape
I spoke with Chris Proulx, CEO of LINGOS, about some of the differences between the private and non-profit sectors. He said that he and the LINGOS team are interested not just in helping these groups benchmark against each other within the industry, but against the rest of the world as a whole. They know that they can’t be satisfied with simply comparing against similar organizations — they need to look at others and see how they can incorporate best practices from a variety of industries and organizations.
Bottom line: this event was phenomenal and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the mission and work these many great organizations are accomplishing.