According to David Mallon at Bersin, high impact learning organizations “can affect their organizations in positive and measurable ways to a degree that distances themselves from everyone else, namely their competitors.” Is your organization high impact?
The webinar “How Content Strategy Drives the High Impact Learning Organization,” with Bersin by Deloitte and Caterpillar answered that question and many more. For your convenience, I have compiled many of the great points and key findings in the below blog post. With 97% of attendees rating the webinar a 4 or 5, we’d say this is an event you must see! The full recording is available here. You can flip through the slides here on Slideshare!
So let’s get right into it.
What is it about the best learning organizations that makes them just that – the best? What exactly is it that they do so well?
“The best organizations understand they have to be better at developing their people. It’s not a war for talent but for developing talent, and that means we have to get better at accelerating experience and expertise building,” commented Mallon. “They are better able to affect their businesses.”
For a better visual of this, check out Bersin’s maturity model below. High impact learning organizations are typically going to be at the top of this maturity model, and many companies are at the second level.
This chart essentially gives a quick look inside some of Bersin’s research of high impact learning organizations and where organizations fall on their scale.
But before we get into the strategy behind successful learning organizations, we best define what makes up a strategy, and that is learning content. What is learning content?
Content is a formula; Content = formal + embedded in work +social + business content.
Some of those terms are a bit general, so let’s dig a bit deeper. The formula starts with the formal content – the things that traditionally we in the learning function have created, the courses and the workshops, the materials that might support coaching activities, the lunch and learns, etc. Next in the formula comes corporate communication materials- your white papers, your documentation, your marketing collateral, etc. The social component is what can be found in the online community on blogs, forums and networks. Last but not least is business content, which comes from meetings, in interviews, in reports; essentially performance data that comes from the business.
In summary, in the bigger sense, learning content is anything that supports or improves business performance.
If you think about it, is your learning content doing what it needs to in its ever-important role? Mallon commented that both content and the ability to measure your success are two of the three main things that stand out when determining if an organization was high impact. Luckily, a high impact organization was on hand to give attendees some insight into their situation, process and progress.
Michael Miller, Process and Standards Supervisor at Caterpillar, commented that working from two different templates was getting more and more difficult so they are currently undergoing a huge transformation to deploy new technology and processes enterprise wide which will “unlock” all content and enable it to be served across the board.
“The intent is to start opening that recyclable container so that we can use content multiple times, but then not only use it for our own needs for development, but also be able to tag it in such ways that we could extend it to learners outside of our organization,” shared Miller. He continued, “We’ve realized this content is not just valuable to the learning part of the organization. What about when we’re doing a transaction with a customer on our sales site – could we package some of our learning content with them? So we’re partnering across the enterprise and really showing how it can add value to other parts of the equation.”
There you have it – learning content is becoming a part of Cat’s overall business strategy.
You may be thinking – “we would love to also but how do we get started?” Mallon reported that it’s an approach to culture, and it starts with the people; people with certain skills. For that to happen you will need certain processes and to create the processes, you will need certain technology. This is referred to as a learning architecture = certain people with certain skills -> certain processes -> certain technology = creation of different kinds of content.
Again, let’s dissect the learning architecture. In terms of skills, Bersin reported that high impact learning organizations are typically better at not only the basics (i.e. ID, project management) but also at the new areas that are popping up. Some of these new areas include big data, and information visualization rich media. Having certain processes in place allow efficiencies in product time and establish consistency, which is important at any organization. These types of processes, such as templates and production standards, help make the content discoverable and disputable instead of having to fight a database full of content.
Lastly is the technology. Mallon commented that, “We have this big sea of content, but the good news is that there are technologies and platforms out there that can provide this sort of value chain so that wherever content is, it can be brought into one place.” Furthermore, there is technology like Xyleme’s that can manage the entire content lifecycle so you know when something needs an update, where the content came from, etc.
Michael then gave the team an in-depth look at Cat’s methodologies, but as to not give away any secrets, you’ll have to watch the full webinar.
In conclusion, to quote Mallon, “Learning content is a lot more than formal. It’s a lot more than just the traditional content related to learning interventions. And the best learning organizations have not just realized that fact, they’ve grabbed hold and leveraged it for all it’s worth.”
Some interesting findings from the event included:
- Orgs that are experts at driving high value from profiles and competencies are 19x more likely to be a HILO
- 92% of attendees rated the speakers a 4 or 5 (5 being best)
- When the audience was polled about how much they knew about their learners, the results were that most organizations actually are pretty poor in terms of what they collect about their audiences. This is a key problem because knowing the audience is a fundamental capability of HILO’s. It allows them to be successful with content because they are able to personalize and can match content to the right people because they have learner data.
- Bersin reported the HILOs demonstrate higher effectiveness, efficiency and alignment.
- 94% of attendees gave the content of the webinar a 4 or 5!