5 Reasons You Don’t Have a Learning Strategy

The Brandon Hall Group 2015 State of L&D Study has a phenomenal set of data behind it. For instance, did you know that 41% of organizations do not have a formal learning strategy? This is consistent with the data from our 2014 study, which fell at 40%. This is unfortunate, because high-performing organizations are more likely to link learning with business objectives, and there has been virtually no change between 2014 and 2015.

So, what’s the deal? Why are companies having trouble making this whole “strategy” thing happen? It turns out we have data on that, too. In a recent KnowledgeGraphic, we shared the following insights about the top five reasons companies haven’t put a learning strategy in place.

learning strategy challenges

Bringing Stakeholders Together

The concept of forming a committee has become the target of many jokes due to the thinking that it doesn’t truly solve a problem. The process of developing a unified coalition can be stressful, but it has a few essential elements: determining the right team members, soliciting input, and making decisions. The thing to remember is that this isn’t a lifelong commitment. It’s a learning strategy based on the data and information available on hand and can be revised later if needed. A good change management plan can help identify the proper stakeholders early on.

Taking Your Time

Time is always a limiting factor, no matter the project. There are always more bells and whistles to add, and there never seems to be enough time to make do. However, there are a few ways to ensure that time isn’t a limiting factor in your L&D strategy development process:

  • Make it an iterative process, focusing on the key elements and then adjusting over time as necessary to meet fluctuating demand
  • Plan for smaller time ranges; for instance, instead of developing a 12-month strategy, focus on a 3-month strategy and continue to add on over time.

There’s nothing magical about smarter planning, but it certainly can help to make better use of the available time and resources.

Aligning with the Business

In a recent post on how to select metrics, I provided some ideas on how to align different functions with the overall business direction, including how to select metrics that support those areas. The critical first step is understanding the business goals and priorities and then determining how to best align the L&D budget and strategy to support those objectives.

The 2015 State of Learning survey indicated that only 31% of companies have a high extent of linkage between L&D objectives and corporate goals, which signifies an opportunity for the remainder to improve this vital connection.

Customizing Content

When it comes to content customization, some organizations truly do it well. This recent blog post highlights how Blue Cross Blue Shield used a custom course to teach its employees the essentials of regulatory compliance.

The aforementioned learning study pointed out that nearly a third of the overall learning budget is dedicated to content development or acquisition, with three separate content-related line items making the cut: third-party content providers, procurement of external content, and internal content development. Companies need to consider the sources of content and how much needs to be customized as a part of the learning strategy development process.

Delivering Globally

Developing content for a global audience has its own challenges, but the true test comes in the delivery. Security requirements, language barriers, and other geographic “walls” can be a challenge. This is when it can be especially advantageous to select technology and content partners with global experience to ensure a smooth process.

This case study offers an example of how TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications provider, was able to develop an onboarding program that delivered training customized in a variety of methods, including participant geography. The initiative offered various learning modalities, including mentoring, instructor-led, eLearning, and job aids.

Does your organization have a learning strategy in place? Which of these are most challenging for your organization?

Ben Eubanks, Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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