How to LAND your L&D Strategy
L&D (Learning & Development) is a hugely misunderstood function within HR and one that is routinely treated as an afterthought.
Yet for companies that need to innovate to grow, or that need excellence in their people to maintain competitive advantage, Learning and Development offers a range of longer-term benefits including:
· boosting and maintaining employee engagement
· enhancing collaboration among individuals, teams & functions
· developing your future leaders, and
· building deep capabilities
Given the importance of L&D within organisations, we thought this post might help companies ensure they get L&D ‘right’, and make landing Learning & Development strategy super easy.
How to LAND your L&D Strategy
It’s key to recognise that L&D strategy is not just a sheet a paper. The only way L&D strategy is ever effective, is when it links seamlessly all the way from business vision, to business strategy, to HR vision then HR strategy, all the way through to execution. This is a ‘chain link’ that needs to be in harmony with all the parts in order to be effective.
To explain the components of this process simply, we’re going to use the metaphor of a jet liner. If you’re in L&D, you’ll want to make sure all these stages of the flight are covered if you want to land your L&D strategy. Have a look at the graphic below:
50,000 feet At 50,000 feet we have the business vision. Where does your business want to go? How does it see itself in the future? If you are in a larger company, this will be articulated by the Board. Have they done so?
40,000 feet At 40,000 feet we have the HR vision. Where does your HR want to go? How does it see itself in the future? Is its vision aligned to the business vision? In my experience, it’s amazing how often large companies neglect these two vital stages of the flight.
30,000 feet At this level we have the company’s strategy and (hopefully aligned to it) the HR strategy beside. Business KPIs and HR KPIs need to be aligned. Again, in my experience I find it amazing at how rarely that happens! Suffice it to say, if there is a lack of alignment here then you’re going to be hard-pressed to create any meaningful L&D strategy. Why? Because you will struggle to get demonstrable ROI at the end.
20,000 feet Here’s where the L&D strategy starts. I think we can see now why landing an L&D strategy can be so challenging in most companies. So much has already gone on before crucial to the success of the L&D strategy. If these stages of flight have not been covered, whoever is tasked with the L&D strategy will struggle.
At this level, you will want to make sure your strategy works backwards from the customer elements of the HR & Business strategy, and delivers on the business requirements there. A well thought out L&D strategy will anticipate clear ROI factors and have a scoreboard as part.
10,000 feet Here, you want to create a rollout or delivery plan for your strategy. This may include a portfolio of learning experiences, but ideally would be 360° in scope. You’ll be populating that delivery plan with ‘content’, and linking the plan to target stakeholders across a timeline.
The money’s in the execution…
RUNWAY to Liftoff Finally, this is where the money is at! Will all the effort that has gone before result in adoption and change among target stakeholders and participants?
It’s amazing at how rarely in the strategy crafting sessions ‘higher up’ this process of ‘landing’ and then ‘taking off’ is ever considered. But execution is where the L&D strategy is at, and the whole purpose of it is to enable others to reach liftoff, whether that is a change, capability-building or leadership development programme.
So next time your L&D strategy doesn’t ‘land’, here are some questions you may want to ask:
⊕ Do we have a clearly-articulated business vision? HR vision? (50-40K)
⊕ Are both visions clearly and realistically linked to the business and HR strategy? (30K)
⊕ Do KPIs align to the strategy? (30K)
⊕ Is there a clear imperative for learning and development? (The difference the people can make to the business, and the cost of them not doing so) (20K)
⊕ Does your L&D strategy deliver that change? How do you know? (Data, ROI) (20K)
⊕ Is what you propose in the delivery plan realistic to deliver, given resources (inc learning tools, budget and facilitator capabilities), participant time, and simplicity of the plan? (10K)
⊕ How have previous strategies fared at rollout and liftoff stages? What’s the learning from that?
We’d love to hear your views on the above and experiences with L&D strategies in the past. Please feel free to add your comments below!
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