As a learning professional, you have a decision to make. Will you remain a producer or become a partner to the business you serve? Each learning professional must improve their design skills in order to become a business partner A producer transforms programs, but a partner transforms the business. In recent years, there has been a mindset shift. That shift happened in the minds of those who employ learning professionals. They started to be less satisfied with the status quo. They started to make greater demands. They now insist that learning professionals deliver proof. Proof of what? Proof that shows learning supports the business and improves business results. They want learning professionals to help the business grow and thrive. This group is looking for partners, not producers. To survive in this field, you’ll need to make that mindset shift too.

A Brief History of the Learning Professional

The learning profession boomed in tandem with technology. Tech changed the speed and breadth of adult learning. Employees needed much more focused knowledge and they needed it faster than ever to keep up with their jobs. Also, technology allowed learning professionals to create and share learning easier and faster than ever. Because of the burgeoning need, many in our profession, entered the field without formal training in learning development. Most of these early opportunities came with only one basic requirement: Know (in some cases — be an expert in) the content you are teaching. The skill needed to design effective learning programs took a back seat to knowing the material being taught. Therefore, for a long time, focus remained on the delivery of the content itself, rather than the effectiveness of the program design, and certainly not on business results.

Fast Forward to Today

During the recessions of 2001 and 2008, the approach to learning shifted. In fact, this shift happened to every business department. As business expenses were sliced and margins of error became thinner, companies began to insist that every dollar spent showed a ROI. Every department was pushed to show the reasoning and results behind every expense and decision. Training departments felt this pressure. In many companies, training was among the first expenses sliced because proving their ROI was not a skill the learning professionals possessed. Without this proof, learning programs became an easy expense to cut. Fortunately, times have improved and so has the opinion of the need for learning programs in general. Most businesses now recognize the importance of continuous learning among their staff. To stay competitive, they know employees must be ready and knowledgeable about the best and most efficient ways to do their jobs. However, businesses were not willing to return to the old ways of doing things. They wanted something more than mere subject matter experts delivering content. They wanted their training departments to be more than content producers.

The Future Demands On The Learning Professional

Businesses want learning professionals to partner with them. They want focus to be on ensuring programs are designed to successfully produce business results. They want programs that can be measured and improved. Learning professionals can no longer skate by on just delivering content. They now need to know the basic competencies of effective instructional design. They need to know and use the best practices for adult learning. In short, moving from a producer to a business partner requires learning professionals to add competency in instructional design. To be a business partner, learning professionals must deliver programs that clearly and measurably contribute to building capability that drives business success. Learning program designers must know how to create business competency in their learners. They then must be able to measure the behavior changes that improve business results. This shift requires trainers to add expert skills (effective learning design and learning measurement) to their practice so they can effectively partner with business managers to solve productivity concerns. Are you skilled in learning design and measurement? As a learning professional, have you been able to connect your programs to business outcomes? Our Business Impact 2.0 Measurement software gives you the ability and training to do so. If you’re interested in following this path to measurable learning design, then contact us at eParamus. We’d love to work with you. Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD. I’d love to know more about your training challenges.

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