#oeb2009: Relate to business goals for learning to have impact

It has been a week now since I was in Berlin at the Online Educa (#oeb2009). Prior to the conference I said in another post that I would experiment with using Mindmeister as a LIVE online mindmap tool. I wanted to experiment with new ways to create notes and instantly share and connect with others through that.

Well, in the end, Online Educa didn’t seem to be that online at all. Connections mostly were real slow or not available (eg. when attending a session across the street). Therefore at times I needed to get my little paper-notebook and completed my mindmap back home. Well, ok, opportunity for improvement i’d say. I was very satisfied with using mindmaps for taking notes. Next time I would love to connect with a few others to co-create a mindmap and see whats going on else-where.

Main theme

Thinking about main theme’s at the conference I realized that this is very personal and strongly related to my passion, things I’m working on at the moment and possibly also some frustrations:). The main thing that i repeatedly have seen coming back in various sessions is the need to relate to business goals in order for learning to have impact. (and yes this relates to my personal context).

Charles Jennings mentioned as one of the current fundamental changes the movement from learning as an event towards viewing learning as a process. Learning continuously embedded in the work process. I’m not sure if this was his wish, or something he had seen already emerging. In my view, looking for learning to embed in the process is one of the key aspects for L&D to have success. Also, many times, there not being paid any attention to. The reason for this might actually well be, what Jennings calls the conspiracy of convenience.

“A manager comes to a training manager and says ‘I’ve got a problem, I need training’. The training manager says ‘fine, we’ll develop a training programme’. So the training manager develops the programme, delivers it to the business and no-one measures it. The business manager is happy because they feel they’ve filled their requirement, the training manager is happy because they’ve done what they think their job is about, i.e. delivered training, and because no-one measures it, nothing really happens, but everyone’s happy….we need to break that conspiracy.” (quote from Newswire article)

When I talked about this with learning developers, their initial reaction was “you mean we need to do ROI?”. Could be, but moreover I would like a more process consulting approach (see eg. Ed Schein). Up front, try to discover the real need, why is your client or colleague asking for this training? What is the business problem behind this question? Try to actively engage the client/ colleague in the design process. Is training really the means to solve the problem. Afterwards, you can do research and come up with figures on the business impact but it depends on the situation if this is what you want. Mostly, it would be a great start to actually start the process of questioning the business impact (which is different from learning goals!!). Relate to business and help your client in this process of determining the impact of learning intervention.

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