The 2014-15 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report is a wake-up call.
Of course, there are positives especially the achievements and experiences of those organisations leading the way in learning – the top 10% of performers or the so-called Top Deck. However, Modernising Learning: Delivering Results paints a picture of possible stagnation. The report reveals that technology driven learning innovation achieved more for business in 2009 than it does today and only 30% of organisations are achieving their business objectives compared with 50% five years ago.
The study is a clear call to arms to take action in the areas that matter most. This was underlined in the insightful foreword by Dr Chai Patel, Chairman of care home specialists, HC-One. He thinks business leaders need to expect more and focus on critical outputs. “Be clear about what we are trying to achieve but be open minded to the solutions,” he warns.
It is something the Top Deck organisations are already doing. Nine out of ten report that their business leaders recognise that learning interventions are aligned with the overall business plan. They are supporting bottom line business impact through learning innovation.
So how can we help other organisations to follow suit?
We must do more to provide Learning & Development teams with the information they need to convince their leaders, and indeed everyone in the organisation, that modernising learning will make a difference. This needs to be as specific and practical as possible with both statistical and experiential evidence. Completion data remains a useful metric but it is no longer enough on its own. Pre-learning and post-learning surveys are important as well as satisfaction questionnaires. Supporting an elearning course with a whole campaign of assessments can establish impact over time. At Sponge, we have something called PiPs (Putting into Practice) which are mini-modules or quizzes sent to learners by email to refresh and test their knowledge. It all helps to reinforce learning as an ongoing experience and commitment rather than a stand-alone activity.
One of the recommendations of Modernising Learning: Delivering Results is for organisations to overcome the fear of change and redefine the way L & D adds value to the business. This will require some courage. As learning providers, we have to inspire organisations to take what they may perceive as a risk, and try something new with their learning. By showcasing and sharing the best examples and taking time to work with organisations to allay their concerns, we are well placed to help drive innovation. At Sponge, we have had the privilege of working with businesses hungry to revolutionise their approach to workplace training. One example is Tesco which has worked with us on an innovative campaign called Learning Leap. The programme recently won an Elearning Age award, recognising its ground-breaking approach to compliance.
This involved supporting the core elearning modules with pre and post communications to help motivate staff to do the training, and following up with knowledge checks and reminders. The whole campaign was linked to a dynamic, interactive microsite which plotted learners progress on a leader board, encouraging competition and providing managers with a real-time snapshot of activity. We have also been developing the use of games within elearning and found that some organisations and individuals are willing to experiment and push the boundaries in their quest for learning innovation.
Finally, we need to be put creativity back at the heart of elearning. It can help us find new and imaginative ways to solve problems and create engagement-driven content which is meaningful to learners. One thing is certain - doing nothing is not an option.