• Jun 29 2017

Are You Investing in Wasted Learning? To Maximize Learning Impact, Focus on Scale, not Choice

When done right, digital learning offers significant advantages to in-person learning in terms of scale, speed, and learner engagement. However, CLOs need to carefully consider the right deployment strategy to get the most benefit from their investment. In our last two posts, we outlined two key imperatives to find success and avoid pitfalls as a Digital CLO. You need to be thoughtful and strategic in crafting your vision for digital learning, taking a proactive – rather than a reactive – approach to new learning technology. You also need to teach employees how to learn, not just what to learn,  in an overwhelming digital environment by building in time for reflection, lest those learnings get lost in the daily shuffle – or even cause more harm than good.

A third key ingredient is focusing on the scale and reach of your digital learning programs, rather than simply proliferating choice.  If we can use digital learning to expand the reach of high-impact development programs, we can unlock tremendous value for our organizations.

Expand Reach to Boost Impact

Developing a robust strategy for deploying digital learning is crucial, but it comes with challenges. The pace of change and innovation around digital technologies is staggering; it’s easy to imagine powerful learning applications for these exciting new tools and platforms. Many organizations are eager to offer these technologies to their employees, thinking that expanding choice will help scale learning’s impact. In fact, learning leaders tell us that they expect to implement an average of almost 10 new or emerging technologies in the next few years alone. However, not all digital technologies end up having any impact, and the many available choices vary widely in quality. As a result, learning is scattered, strategically misaligned, and ultimately wasted.

At the same time, too few rising leaders are exposed to those learning experiences that do have impact. Of the learning leaders we surveyed, 54% believed they were putting too few leaders through strategic leadership development programs, like HiPo programs. To unlock the value of digital learning for organizations, leaders need to focus less on expanding choice of learning opportunities and more on scaling the best ones.

Instead of focusing only on the high-performing or high-potential employees, broaden the scope to include core performers — all employees at the right level for development. Digital learning programs are particularly well-suited for expanding training to a global, rather than regional, level, which can boost impact dramatically. Companies have also found success taking advantage of team structures, cascading the same frameworks and concepts down through reporting levels.

Start with ROI

It addition to picking scaleable programs, leaders know that they need to make the business case for expanding them. However, few are actually succeeding. Although 89% of learning leaders we surveyed believe ROI measurement is important, only 15% of them use it and even fewer – only 4% are reporting it to their CEOs.

In working with our clients, we’ve found that reporting outcomes that are tangible and financially relevant, as well as communicating them frequently, can help business partners to understand the value of learning outcomes and drive conversations about learning needs. Establish an ROI measurement strategy before programs start, and ask vendors to provide you with ROI information on their content.

To learn more about how ExecOnline can help you use scalable digital learning to expand business impact, contact us at info@execonline.com.


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