How to Anchor Learning Strategically in an Organization

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Recently I joined a meeting with decision makers of various producing companies. They all had something to do with knowledge transfer or learning.

During the round of introduction I was struck by the fact that hardly anybody got top-management support. Corporate learning seems to be the first department on the “shooting list” when it comes to internal reorganizations or change of management.

Corporate Learning seems to be the first department on the ‘shooting list’ when it comes to internal reorganizations or change of management.”

Once an organization realizes the benefits it gains from a structured and sustainable learning program, it should make sure that the topic lasts longer than the next quarterly report or the next change of a line manager.

If you are the one who promotes learning topics in your company, I recommend to secure the topic against any kind of “internal storms” by dropping anchors at various levels of your organization:

  • Try to push knowledge transfer and learning into the corporate strategy or at least in the strategy of your business unit. Implementing a corporate learning program needs a lot of patience, persistence and persuasiveness. Once the topic is included in a long-term strategy, you have somebody from top-management looking at it regularly and demanding actions.
  • Another anchor is to initiate an official company project, with project plan, budget and steering committee. In the best case you have committee members from various levels and departments. If you get a new superior trying to shift the focus of your work your project is still hooked into an official project organization. A strong anchor for the survival of your corporate learning project!
  • Spend a lot of time in how you want to measure the return on invest of your corporate learning project. Some managers will say that the success of such a project can not be measured. But, if you start a learning project in sales, there must be measurable results.

    A cost-benefit analysis can help:
    Estimate how many months and years (!) are currently needed until a complete global sales team is trained on a new product. What if the training part was done after six weeks (due to new online or blended learning training) and the product launch suddenly had a steeper ramp-up curve? That additional turnover is measurable. Your CRM-system will tell you.

    If you don’t think in profitable terms from the very beginning of your project, the next economic downturn might erase your department’s reason for existence.

“If you don’t think in profitable terms from the very beginning of your project,
the next economic downturn might erase your department’s reason for existence. “

You will most likely come up with more ideas how to make your corporate learning project “storm-proof“. By the end of the day, corporate learning needs to add a value to your customer relevant processes. Otherwise it will be a playground for ambitious L&D colleagues, but it will not get management attention on a top level.

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