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Change, change, change: in Learning

Training, Learning, Enablement, Talent Development: changes in learning

Lately, I have seen a number of titles for people in the learning field. In the past, we pretty much described ourselves as trainers or as being in L&D. We developed; we trained. Now we do so much more: we enable people, we develop talent, we create a continuous learning environment and develop more than programs. That changes our titles, our reason for being to a greater extent than in the past.

If you are a learning leader, how do you address this change? How do you develop your people to meet the new need? It certainly is more than technology, although that plays a key part. The new learning demands new roles and responsibilities for leaders and professionals. We must adapt to keep a seat at the table.

We have taught change management – we can do it!

The first thing to do is to acknowledge the situation. Our Learners want:

· Fast, easy answers

· A learner centric focus

· The new blend with bite sized and external content mixed with the old

· Content to be curated into easy to use paths

Big changes that require strategic thinking and changes to our content, our user interface and our skills.

The first step in this strategy is to evaluate where you are. What is the status of your content? Can learners search and find answers? Is it assembled in paths that are customized? How does social fit?? What are the priorities? From the transitions that I have seen or managed, the best place to start is the user experience, and thus, technology. That does not mean that the answer is technology. It does mean that each time that I see organizations attempt to change to the new blend using their current solutions, it really does not work.

Fortunately, adding a great user interface is not a major investment financially or logistically. There are a number of great options and I encourage you to research them to find what works for your situation. The best options will allow you to personalize each user group, curate blended content from a variety of assets, deliver amazing analytics and add social learning. Some also make communication easier.

Secondly, bring your team together to create a strategy for the change. (Management of change basics from that course you designed.) Here is where you need some thought leadership and people who know the new blend. Questions like types of assets, responding to needs and more come up.

Next, you need to address your content. Remember, fast and easy. Start a learning path with a moment of need. Drive your learners to use your solutions, rather than the internet. Show them a progression to learn more, past that moment of need. Add in that new blend of assets. As I have said in other posts, this does not mean the end of face to face. It does, however, mean you need to gain their trust with engaging, animated content that comes in bite sizes before they will give you their time.

We have several clients who are reviewing their current content and working out how to change to the new blend. That strategy has become an exercise that requires a strong needs assessment and knowledge of your audience. We back it up with evaluation data, usage data and honest reviews of content. If you have a delivery organization, they can be a strong partner in that process. And an outside, neutral eye helps as well.

We like to set up a framework for the paths. We take a high-level view of the curriculum areas and break down the key topics. Then we address the individual topics, break those into paths and rationalize the current content. We prioritize conversions, new content and what to keep. Then we move to design and development. What is the right length for an asset? That depends on need, but the length must respect the need. If it is an urgent moment of need – short, easy to find. If it is more of a performance objective, then a path with a number of assets could work.

Once again, this is where technology comes in. There are new tools to create engaging content that also make it faster and easier. Your team will need to learn themselves, so create a curriculum for them. That makes great prototypes for the new technologies.

When doing a strategy, I like remember we enable people to learn. I ask why, a lot. I step back and think in their shoes. Learner centric structure, design and thought leadership. We have seen many “sales training” groups move over to sales enablement title. A good trend for all of us. Think about all that means.

Now, lastly, craft a strategy to communicate this great new system. Even more than ever, a good marketing strategy is critical. If your new system includes a social aspect, I find tying in SMEs builds a bridge and creates demand.

This new world has many steps in the strategy: from moving your content to digital, responding to learner needs, building new learning paths, adding external content, addressing the moment of need to communicating and creating social learning.

Moving to digital is not a conversion, it is a whole new strategy.

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