Solving the strategy conundrum

July 16, 2019

Solving the strategy conundrum

L&D knows that data is critical to successful learning delivery. And it knows that business leaders want to see that data and the ROI of learning interventions, but many L&D departments are still struggling to marry learning spend to data.

Our recent research report, The Insight Edge in Learning: How data can transform learning to deliver future skills, found that in many instances, L&D is not properly aligning its interventions to business strategy and objectives, even though it knows it should be.

The vast majority (90%) of L&D leaders participating in the research think that high quality data is important to improve learning delivery. However, those same leaders revealed that more than a third of learning spend is ‘indiscriminate’ and is not aligned to overall business objectives and desired outcomes. But with an increasing pressure from business leaders to uncover the ROI of learning interventions L&D teams need to deliver on what 73% of business leaders now expect.

L&D has to align to wider business objectives to deliver the appropriate and most effective learning interventions. This can lead to an increase in skilled employees, learner engagement, workplace productivity and ultimately business buy-in. Being more business focused will help L&D to work smarter, achieving the results that benefit everyone – the learner, the business, and the L&D team.

It’s all about assuming more of a business, commercial mindset. L&D needs to be thinking in terms of ROI and it needs to demonstrate the ROI to all stakeholders.

Internal L&D metrics, such as employee engagement levels are still important. These metrics help L&D and business leaders to understand what learning interventions are popular and engaging and what is boosting employee engagement. But these metrics need to be considered in conjunction with more business-specific metrics.

After all, what use are engaging learning programmes if they are not helping to deliver on business objectives? This is a trap many L&D teams have fallen into in the past. Successful programmes that are not aligned with business objectives are only successful in the eyes of the learning team.

So what data points can L&D start to use that will help build alignment with the business? One area is productivity. In our research report, L&D: Agents of Productivity, more than half (53%) of L&D professionals state that productivity is a significant priority for their organisation, and 39% said it is a moderate priority.

Moreover, 82% of managers surveyed said that L&D should be measured against key productivity indicators. The good news is that L&D leaders agree, with 80% saying that they recognise the need to align their efforts to strategic business objectives.

If productivity is the driver for change in your organisation, then this could be the opportunity for you to explore, with your stakeholder, how the organisation can become more productive. With that clarity, L&D can work with the business to agree success criteria.  And once the L&D team is clear on these business goals, it can start to design and deliver learning that is 100% aligned to delivering on those goals.

The good news is that our L&D: Agents of Productivity research showed that 86% of L&D professionals feel that owning productivity will enable the L&D department to increase its strategic value.

With a clear focus on business goals and well-defined metrics, L&D has opportunities to design the learning interventions that they know – rather than hope - will deliver visible results.

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