Creating a Learning & Development (L&D) Strategy is a systematic process. The 8 steps below are a simple framework for working through that process. Some of the steps can be carried out in parallel, and solutions can be built over time once the over-arching strategy is established.
For many organizations the L&D framework has evolved over many years and in some instances, it is like a basement or storage locker. L&D solutions are created, have a use for a time, and then just gather dust. For some organizations the L&D curriculum has lost focus – it is a collection of solutions without a defined purpose.
Taking the opportunity to re-define and refresh an L&D strategy is a good thing.
This diagram presents a context in which an L&D strategy should be considered and defined. ALWAYS start with the organizational context!
For any L&D solution it doesn’t hurt to see if a Kirkpatrick Level 4 evaluation can be applied – what value will this add to the organization’s results? At the very least, any L&D solution should have a Level 3 evaluation built-in – what performance and behavior change will result and how will it be measured. Too many organizations still just use “happy sheets” (Level 1) as the evaluation method of choice.
The 8 steps listed here are a structured approach to developing or reviewing an L&D strategy. The steps might appear elementary, but many organizations’ L&D frameworks do not reflect the rigor associated with them. All L&D functions should be providing focus, strategic relevance, insight, innovation, and cost effectiveness.
- Define the L&D vision, goals, metrics
Ensuring these align with the organization’s strategy and priorities, consult with all key stakeholders
- Inventorize all existing L&D activity:
Name, type, objective, vendor, success measurement, occurrences
- Define curriculum to deliver no. 1 (consult with all key stakeholders)
Based on organizational and role needs (not employee wish list or entitlements), innovative & applied solutions, ROI
- Analyze gap between no. 3 and no. 2 – rationalize curriculum
- Define L&D organization and process to deliver L&D strategy
Roles, HR & business interfaces, LMS, budget, delivery, scheduling, tracking
- Identify priorities, design, select vendors, and schedule delivery
“Low-hanging fruit”, local/global, leaders as teachers, blended, targeted employees
- Establish solutions for full curriculum
- Measure success and update curriculum / content as appropriate
Whether an organization uses the term curriculum, framework, or programs, L&D solutions need to fit within a strategy. Every single solution should have a relevant purpose, target group, and value.
L&D solutions should never be provided for employees because of a “how many days training per year” mindset. Far better to identify L&D solutions related to performance goals – i.e. how an L&D solution will enable more successful delivery and performance.
In addition to personal L&D solutions, there are often strategic programs defined for target groups. For example, leadership or high potential programs. These often serve a purpose to grow the capability of leaders and elevate the succession pipeline. These programs also need an evaluation rigor based on the enterprise’s needs.
Creating a meaningful and high-value L&D strategy is a contribution towards the overall organization’s strategy and value – never let it just be “something that HR does”!