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The Three Pillars of Learning Governance

  • 3 Min Read

Learning governance improves decision-making and helps align your learning strategy with your business strategy.


Whether you’re building a learning program from scratch or updating an existing one, learning governance—sometimes referred to as training governance—will help prevent your program from becoming disorganized.

A learning governance model is a framework designed to bring clarity to your decision-making. When it’s carefully planned, it ensures that your learning and business strategies align. The governance structure will vary from organization to organization. But in order to ensure that the program meets all of an organization’s needs, there are principles to guide its development.

These pillars are typically connected through a learning council, which is responsible for creating and maintaining the learning governance approach.

1. Clarify Common Learning Practices

When an organization is looking to update their learning and development program, it’s important to ask some guiding questions. Where does the content come from? How often is it updated? Who decides when new content is needed? Ironing out these processes will help to establish consistent guidelines moving forward.

This exercise often leads to learning efforts that are happening in silos across an organization. That fragmentation can mean duplicated work and disconnected messaging. Combined, that can mean inefficient processes and higher program costs.

Consider this example: a gap in employee onboarding prompts different departments to create their own materials. Because defined processes are missing, each department takes its own approach. That can mean that different teams’ new hires are getting very different learning experiences.

But in the process of collecting information on your current processes, you will likely find unique viewpoints and insights across different teams. This presents an opportunity to form a learning council, in which representatives from different departments provide input and guide new initiatives.

Having various departments represented on the council can make underheard teams feel more represented moving forward. It also increases the flow of information back to those teams. That means they have a clear understanding of the logic behind the learning council’s decisions, which increases teams’ buy-in.

2. Find Departmental Learning Objectives

Different departments have different learning priorities. It’s critical that each team has someone responsible for understanding those priorities and figuring out how the departmental and business goals align.

This is another opportunity to lean on the learning council. When the council includes representatives from across the organization, it offers varying perspectives and makes sure that the needs of each department are represented. This can make planning more efficient when all department needs are addressed. It can also improve communication around the long-term vision for the learning program.

From the departmental or team perspective, that means their learning needs are heard and acknowledged. From an organizational perspective, broad involvement in a learning council can improve the overall alignment to the overarching business strategy. That allows the organization to better prioritize the learning needs within different groups.

3. Create a Learning Governance Framework

The learning council should work with your organization’s executives to build a learning governance framework to make sure the learning program meets business strategy needs.

As that framework evolves, it’s possible that the learning program may need to be adjusted based on new needs and priorities. For example, if the organization is experiencing growth and expansion, the learning program may need to evolve. It could begin to provide self-led online learning to support new employees, for example. By bringing a learning council to the table for the long-term strategic planning, the business ensures continued alignment between business and learning objectives.

The learning and organizational business strategies must support each other. Effective and efficient learning programs come from carefully planned and executed governance. Strong learning governance makes for a streamlined learning program. It ensures effective support for learners, while still keeping learning in lockstep with evolving business needs.

Need help establishing a learning governance framework for your organization?

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Table of Contents
  1. 1. Clarify Common Learning Practices
  2. 2. Find Departmental Learning Objectives
  3. 3. Create a Learning Governance Framework