Two Keys to a Successful Learning Strategy

By David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

When was the last time you drove somewhere you’d never been before — without punching the address into your GPS or map app? Or you had a human co-pilot (or navigator) sitting next to you, providing directions. Outside of these two scenarios, you probably took a long, meandering ride that didn’t get you where you needed to go.

Unfortunately, this is how many companies approach learning. They know they need to get somewhere, so they jump in the metaphorical car and drive. You can be the best driver on earth, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll get lost. Developing and delivering learning without an appropriate strategy will get you just as lost.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the future of learning and what the learning experience should be. My colleague, Michael Rochelle and I explored this in our Litmos Live Session, The Learning Evolution Revolution.

When considering how learning should be delivered, companies often begin with the technology piece, trying to figure out which set of tools can deliver the ideal experience. But technology is actually one of the last pieces that should be considered. It is simply a tool with which to execute the strategy; a means to an end.

Your learning strategy is how you know your efforts are aligned with the business. It’s how you know the technologies and other tools you use are getting results. It’s the only way to get a true measurement of how effective your learning initiatives really are.

There are really two overarching considerations for a learning strategy and they are laid out in the ebook: Two Keys to a Successful Learning Strategy. It essentially boils down to aligning learning with the business strategy and delivering the correct blend of learning experiences to achieve the business outcomes.

On the alignment side, we found that fewer than half of the companies believe their learning strategy is linked to the overall business strategy and a mere 7% say it is very well aligned. This means that most companies are operating in the dark. Without alignment, there is no way to link learning to outcomes or measure its impact. These are the top two challenges to achieving critical learning outcomes.

Delivering the right blend of learning modalities, technologies and experiences is how the strategy is fulfilled. There must be alignment here, too. A hodge-podge of unrelated technologies isn’t an effective way to deliver learning. The technology ecosystem must be driven by the strategy, the requirements of the business and the needs of the learners. This blend won’t remain static and will shift depending on the changing needs of the business. The learning strategy must embrace this flexibility.

Getting caught up in the dazzling array of evolving learning technologies only serves to make it harder to deliver results. A solid strategy that is aligned with the business will help crystallize and simplify the technology decision.

David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.