A Basic Overview: Steps to Create a Learning Strategy


Creating a Strategic Learning Focus

We all know that having a plan or map, or a guide, is helpful when navigating new territory. This is also true for learning development and delivery. Creating a learning strategy that defines goals and determines overall learning needs of employees and the organization is the first step to set your direction.

When you’re ready to strategize an approach to learning and development, keep these questions in mind to help guide planning.

  1. What organizational goals can be reached with learning programs?

  2. How do various offerings and learning options across the organization blend with one another?

  3. What role does HR (other business units) have in defining, implementing and managing learning?

  4. Can HR be proactive in driving the learning goals of the organization?

It’s important to create an organization-wide learning strategy that includes currently available learning programs and considers the organization's goals and future needs.

Proposed Development Process

Plan a minimum half-day brainstorm meeting to identify and create a learning and development philosophy and strategy. Invite all stakeholders to participate. This includes any departments currently offering ad hoc learning or training programs. Outlined below is a sample agenda.

  1. Get input from all meeting members - concerns, feedback, interests, and challenges.

  2. Identify organizational goals (current mission statement).

  3. Determine expected learning / business outcomes from learning.

  4. Identify type of learning deliveries that are available (classroom instructor-led, virtual classroom, webinar, elearning, other).

  5. Identify end learners individually and by groups (job function, skill sets, other) and their learning needs.

  6. Determine if specific programs will be required.

  7. Identify tasks / actions to reach outlined goals, and expectations.

Questions to Consider

  • How can learning across the organization (IT training, HR processes, current off-the-shelf elearning courses, others) be integrated under one umbrella?

  • What is the organization's learning policy? Is it promoted, supported, encouraged?

  • Who manages and directs learning?

  • Can anyone in the organization identify a learning need or gap and develop a course?

  • Is informal learning encouraged?

Areas to Consider

  • Create a process for internal development of learning, including the development environment, a review and approval system for course content, standards of delivery, and ultimate oversight of learning development and delivery.

  • Identify and create opportunities for knowledge sharing to capture staff knowledge and how to share it.

  • Identify use of informal learning to improve and promote collaborative working -- how to share individuals' internal knowledge, experience, and know-how.

Benefits of a Learning Strategy

Following the brainstorm session there should be a clear path of the tactical steps to reach identified goals and a better understanding of the following:

  • An organizational learning and development strategy and / or policy.

  • An outline of how to repackage current programs under one umbrella and a name/ title for it.

  • Areas of focus for L&D programs.

  • Prioritized list of areas in most need of learning.

  • Outline of available learning programs (tools) to meet identified needs.

  • Action items.

  • Next steps.

  • Timeline for 6 - 12 months.

Capturing the above information and documenting the ideas is the baseline development of a Learning Roadmap. The learning roadmap can be used to guide the organization in new strategies and processes for learning.

The value of a documented learning strategy is that it provides the organization a plan to work from. With identified goals established and steps outlined to reach them, learning leaders can implement processes that encourage a learning environment and capitalize on staff interest and excitement to be part of it.

Call Ruth Kustoff, Principal, Knowledge Advantage @ 860.256.7879 to learn how you can create an organizational learning strategy to help improve employee performance.

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