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Corporate learning and development is in the initial stages of a major transformation. Over the past decade, while digital has infiltrated every other aspect of business—and while the half-life of skills has become remarkably shorter—L&D has not quite kept up.

As the pace of business accelerates, and as more companies adopt digital strategies, corporate leaders are realizing that providing a powerful digital learning program is critical to success and that traditional approaches alone don’t address the needs of today’s workforce. Work has changed, and learning should too.

Indeed, there’s a new urgency for companies to assess and overhaul their L&D strategies—according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, it’s the second most important topic for CEOs and HR leaders. The modern workplace is now running on business applications like Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce. And because these cloud-based solutions automatically update and provide feature enhancements, keeping talent productive is a huge undertaking for any training department.

Recognizing urgency does not automatically translate into action. Implementing an updated L&D approach will require new technology, time, effort, and significant culture change—much like what’s involved in a companywide digital transformation. This digital transformation is an ongoing process that requires a blended learning approach to accommodate an enterprise of diverse workers. Organizational change management must become part of the L&D strategy to integrate learning with the roadmap of the future.

Implementing an updated L&D approach will require new technology, time, effort, and significant culture change

How can organizations get started?

The first and most crucial step is to determine a strategy. Learning transformation is not simply delivering the same content with new tools. It’s a shift in thinking, in design and in delivery. The questions learning leaders need to answer are:

  1. Who is my audience, and what are their technical competencies?
  2. What do they need to keep them productive? Where do they most often get stuck?
  3. Which blended learning options are the best fit for our employees?
  4. How often do employees currently refresh their skills? Is it built into their jobs, or is it regarded as an occasional aside or perk?

This process needs to extend across the organization and include every department for a realistic assessment. It requires the buy-in of the key stakeholders and it must be mapped to the change management strategy. Learning leaders can then begin to formulate an approach and hash out the particulars. Here are four ways to begin an L&D transformation:

  1. Evaluate the current system and determine how it can fit into a broader digital approach.
  2. Identify updated content and new delivery methods that should be put in place immediately, and those that can be added over time.
  3. Incorporate a system for collecting feedback, and a plan for acting upon it.
  4. Manage what you measure to constantly—“sharpen the saw”—and make the learning fresh and dynamic.

These initial efforts create a foundation for the transformation to follow.


In the coming weeks, we’ll dig deeper into key issues influencing learning and development today—everything from the evolution of work and learning over the last decade, to different types of learning (macro vs. micro) and best practices for organizations to use as a guide as they transform. Stay tuned.

Image: Designed by Evening_tao / Freepik

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