To run any successful business, there are a few things that must be done. You need to:
- Ensure you have a product or service that supplies a need
- Focus on production, distribution, and marketing
- Expertly manage your finances and resources
To run a learning department or business, the means for success are the same. Specifically, for the learning business you need to:
- Ensure learning programs respond to the needs and desires of your stakeholders
- Efficiently produce, distribute, and market your learning programs
- Effectively manage the budget and resources needed to produce quality programs
The Discipline of the Learning Business
Business discipline requires strategic thinking. Business professionals actualize their strategic thinking by creating an annual plan including measurable goals, and then executing on that plan. Determining and executing a business strategy is a common practice among all departments within an organization. The learning department should not be an exception.
Many times when people think of the training department they envision the world of “education.” By definition, education is broad. It can be difficult to structure and quantify. Therefore, people struggle to see how learning departments follow typical business practices or contribute to the business discipline.
In truth, learning professionals are well versed in strategic thinking. When developing courses, learning designers need to determine objectives and a devise a plan for students to learn. Every day learning professionals apply strategic skills to create a successful learning programs. They use these same strategic skills to run the learning business, aligning their efforts with the other business units within the organization.
How Learning Meets Needs
To run your learning department like other business units, you start with a focus on the organizational needs that learning can supply (skills and competencies). Learning contributes to the organization by providing skills, learning programs that produce capability is the “product” learning contributes. Distribution of our product and marketing of our products, along with managing our learning resources and budget, are central to our overall business plan .
To ensure learning delivers the needs and desires of the stakeholders, learning professionals focus on the metrics targeted in the organizational strategic plan. When learning creates a business plan they align it with the organizational strategy. They set their plan with the goal of accomplishing the skills needed for the organization to accomplish their strategic mission. With focused goals, and measures to ensure achievement, learning professionals use a disciplined approach to the learning business. They use their resources to deliver the greatest value to the organization.
Professional Skills Drive Smart Business Decisions
Understanding the most efficient and effective means to accomplish goals and objectives is how you make better business decisions. So, adopting methods to measure and evaluate the accomplishment of goals is paramount. Knowing the components (and the combination of components) of the business that work (and don’t work) is vital for success.
L&D literature is filled with information on measuring and evaluating individual learning programs, which is a central part of measuring learning business success. So measuring how well programs address stakeholder needs (by adding the expected capability) is the core outcome from a learning business. Without knowing what works (and does not work) in achieving the outcomes from our product (a learning program), we cannot know how well we run our business.
Learning Pros Deliver Skill and Competency to the Business
The learning business helps organizations understand what skills and competencies employees currently possess and what they need. Using that information to create learning programs, L&D helps businesses fulfill their organizational strategy. If our measurement and evaluation methods do not show us what works and does not work in securing the skills the organization needs, then we cannot efficiently run our learning business. If our measurement and evaluations strategies do not clarify these things, then it is impossible for us to manage our business.
The Data Gained By Measurement
Over the past 11 years our customers gained information on which of their design decisions were effective at adding employee capability. They learned when employees accomplished competency through their learning programs. These professionals know which programs succeeded in creating those competencies. They possess data to show when the competencies gained through their learning programs were supported and retained by the business units they serve. They have data that shows them when newly developed skills were applied, and the organizational metrics that were changed as a result.
If learning professionals want to understand how they are doing, so they can run their learning business better, they need to clarify the intent of their programs and measure outcomes. Measurement and evaluation is not just about “showing our value.” It is also about helping us understand our business.
At eParamus, we help learning professionals master the learning business. Want to learn more about measurable learning and how it applies to the learning business? Then please contact us here at eParamus. We can train you how to create measurable learning programs.
Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to discuss the learning challenges you face.
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