Getting executive buy-in and financial support for a corporate learning and development initiative is never an easy task. Part of the challenge for learning practitioners is clearly communicating a learning architecture to a non-technical audience while describing its value in business terms understood by key stakeholders, including IT, HR and talent management, finance, executives, and end users/learners.
Jennifer LePage, director of elearning design and development for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, has spent her career architecting and building enterprise elearning solutions. She advises corporate learning practitioners to view their learning strategy as an ecosystem in which elements of strategy, process, culture, content, delivery methods, and technology come together to create a whole view of organizational learning.
“Learning ecosystems are more than just the technology that drives the system itself,” says LePage. “When you’re developing a learning ecosystem, what you’re actually doing is you’re embracing as an organization the ability to take learning as a fundamental part of your environment.”
In a webinar called “Building a Learning Ecosystem,” LePage offers up some helpful tips for learning professionals and architects looking to implement a learning ecosystem within their organization, sharing key considerations they should make when articulating the value of a learning ecosystem to various organizational stakeholders including IT, HR/Talent, finance, and the end users, all of whom have their own perspective on how learning happens.
For IT, interoperability with existing infrastructure and other technologies is key, explains LePage. A learning platform may offer the very latest bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, IT folk will be more swayed by a system’s security, maintainability, and role-based permissions.
- How integrated you want the learning architecture to be
- Rules and governance
- Lifecycle of the technology
- The systems and content models you want to use (ie: learning, content, or knowledge management)
- Mobile enablement
When selling a learning ecosystem to the HR/talent management team, process is paramount, says LePage. These stakeholders want to clearly understand how content will be delivered to learners, who has the authority (and necessary training) to author and curate, and how analytics from the system will be received.
- The development of a learning culture and environment
- Social learning
- Formal learning
- Performance support
- Learning design concept
Your finance team will have a pretty distinct and obvious focus when it comes to the implementation of a learning ecosystem. Addressing their concerns, says LePage, will involve conducting a whole system and environment check once you’ve developed your learning ecosystem strategy so you can justify the costs involved.
- How much it will cost to implement
- What you will need to implement
- How long it will take to implement
- And what it will it cost to sustain the ecosystem
Your management team will want to see a direct connection to value, expressed in empirical business terms. At the end of the day, says LePage, they will want to know how your learning ecosystem will impact performance and how you will measure success. It’s about demonstrating to management how your learning ecosystem will ultimately help build your organization’s strategy, business, and culture.
- How employee knowledge and experience will be leveraged
- The impact of the ecosystem on organizational culture
- The impact of the ecosystem on productivity
- Your learning ecosystem roadmap
- Its impact on the future (the net benefit) and your key performance indicators (KPIs).
“If you haven’t figured out what your key performance indicators are, don’t go to your management committee,” says LePage. “You need to really look at the strategic objectives, cultural profile, and KPIs for your organization, and if your organization, in those respects, will support a learning environment, then go for it.”
Finally, when designing and implementing a learning ecosystem, learning leaders and architects should take the perspective of the end user, learners, and try to understand who they are, says LePage.
- Building employee learner personas
- Mechanisms for encouraging learner engagement
- How you want learners to use the ecosystem
“Put yourself in the position of the learner,” says LePage. “How would you want them to describe their experience in your learning ecosystem? How do you want them to use it? What is it that’s going to appeal to a learner in your environment that’s going to suggest to them that they should actually contribute?”
Learn more about building a corporate learning ecosystem.Watch the webinar