Driving Agility in Learning with Human-Centered Design

There have been many lessons from the past two years and for L&D teams, agility’s criticality has been a clear standout. So many companies were left slack-jawed as the pandemic almost instantly removed in-person classroom training. Even companies that considered themselves extremely change-ready were caught off guard. What followed has been a period of nonstop change and adjustment for the business — and for learning.

A key piece of this lesson in agility has been the need to pay much more attention to the needs of the learners. Any effort to address skills gaps or change performance that doesn’t take into consideration what we know about learners is destined to be anything but agile. It becomes a one-size-fits-all environment with only a faint hope of success. This is why agility starts with a human-centered approach. A recent Brandon Hall Group study found that only about 43% of companies say they are well familiar with the personal and professional growth objectives of their learners. 

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Preferred Provider DelphianLogic are strong believers that the kind of input provided by a human-centered approach allows them to leverage more design thinking and agile approaches to creating learning programs. Starting in the design phase, they take in everything they know about the stakeholders to help shape the program. This brings them much closer to solving the challenges on the first try, leaving subsequent iterations to improve more granular elements. By not taking this approach, companies are setting themselves up for learning programs that miss the mark and take much longer to revise and improve.

DelphianLogic Senior Learning Architect Anjali Kolhatkar refers to this as the “empathy stage,” where they get to know as much about the end-user learning audience as possible. One of the challenges with this approach is getting learners to open up about their needs and objectives. This is often a result of years of never being asked. Once you produce these human-centered programs and learners begin to see the relevancy and results, it gets easier for them to open up. It is completely worth the effort, though. Putting people at the center of the learning process is what ultimately drives agility. As needs, skills and behaviors change so, too, can the learning programs.

To hear more about this human-centered approach, listen to the HCMx Radio podcast with Anjali Kolhatkar here.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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