It’s that time of year when we reflect on the last twelve months and plan for next year. Many of us will look to set some new year’s resolutions and most likely in the knowledge that they will be hard to keep.
In 2016 some commentators pointed out the home truth that many L&D teams seemed unable to generate the outcomes they sought, despite having the best of intentions and having – quite often – been prepared to announce these publically. Something, the commentators lamented, seems to constantly hold the profession back from making the desired inroads.
So my challenge to the profession is to make 2017 the year that you try one new thing; and that might be as simple as one project that tries out that one new thing. Keep it simple, start small…but start!
Here are some of my suggestions.
Connect with the business
Take time out to understand your corporate objectives.
Talk to those who devised it or who already implementing in other departments, e.g. finance and ask your internal customers how they are working to do their bit. Look for one single project that is squarely aligned to delivering on one aspect of the business agenda and involve your C- and S- level officials in the solution design.
Be totally clear on the business benefits
Choose one project where you will undertake the most in-depth due diligence ever before scoping out the solution.
Work with the stakeholders and key practitioners in that area of the business to truly understand the business performance gaps that need to be closed or the new opportunities that need to be exploited. Work with finance business partners if the numbers get too complicated and agree tangible and credible measures of success with all parties. Only then should you start the scoping and design phases, but only after introducing a way to reflect on every design decision to ensure that what is developed can be directly related back to the business benefits and will deliver those business benefits.
Give the virtual classroom a go
We still don’t use virtual classrooms enough. So make 2017 the year that you take just one face-to-face programme online.
Look for a programme where participant interaction needs to be high – or even higher than it is now. Challenge yourself to replicate all the interactions in the virtual classroom. With a bit of creative thinking, it should be possible to do most things and there are lots of useful sources of best practice and design suggestions on the web. Look at the feature set of your chosen platform too and consider how that might also support live learning online. Remember the golden rule: design your session so that the learners do most of the talking.
Stop thinking that a course is needed
This year alone, I’ve heard of at least two examples of organisations delivering learning without going anywhere near a “course”. Look for one opportunity next year to support one learning need without developing a course.
Consider whether bringing the subject matter experts together with the target audience in a social learning community might be all that’s needed. It’s working already in some companies. Or think about whether a solution based solely around performance support tools would do the job just fine. Or make this the time you give micro-learning a try-out, building a curriculum out of bite-sized resources, rather than creating longer courses.
Experiment with one new technology
For me, 2016 was the year that VR appeared on the radar for a significant number of L&D professionals. So choose one project in 2017 to try out something new.
Think about how you might use a short 360-video experience to introduce a VR dimension to a blended learning programme. Induction is providing a popular topic for the early adaptors. Or think about how augmented reality could add a new dimension to how you support learners on the job. And look again at mobile learning and find one project where you don’t just let people access a responsive e-learning course on-the-move, but truly create a mobile experience that blends micro learning and performance support on a mobile device.
Ask learners how they like to learn
2016 is when we saw the publishing of a wealth of research that – possibly for the first time – told us what our learners really think about the learning we provide. Make 2017 the year when you place what the learner really wants and likes at the heart of one of your solutions.
Find out what approaches and methods the target audience likes to use. Which forms of learning do they find the most effective and why? When and where to they learn the best? Challenge any of your own assumptions. And make sure you involve the learners in the design process too.
Have a successful 2017!