Business Leader Perspective – Towards Maturity 2012 Benchmark

by | Nov 21, 2012 | Articles

Take a look at out what two senior business leaders, Richard Beaven, Customer Services Director, General Insurance at Lloyds Banking Group and Dr Chai Patel CBE FRCP, Chairman of HC-One,  are saying about the need to transform learning for business advantage. Share the articles with your business leaders. 

Three factors underpin strong business performance in any organisation: an engaged workforce, the ability to continually implement change, and finding and nurturing the next generation ofleaders. 

Success will also be influenced by a forward thinking learning and development function, able to work alongside us business leaders as an integral partner in supporting continual change.

But we cannot build tomorrow’s learning interventions based on the classroom training experiences of our past. The way we access social media and technology and the way that we consume news and information, all influence how we work today. The opportunities that organisations provide for learning must reflect these changes.

As business leaders, we have to let go of our embedded beliefs that classroom is the most effective means of delivering skills. Now, more than ever, we need to be able to access our learning quickly in digestible bite sized chunks and find support as and when we need it. The 2012 Towards Maturity Benchmark provides hard evidence that this type of approach can really deliver.  Facts gleaned from over 700 organisations in the last 30 months demonstrate that technology enabled learning solutions can help us achieve our organisation goals faster. The study shows that it is possible to get staff up and running quicker and new processes, products or systems can be introduced faster and more efficiency. There is also evidence that organisations are also able to achieve higher employee engagement, increased customer loyalty and improved staff retention.

However, this report also highlights that success is not achieved by swapping classroom courses for bog standard e-learning courses (or PowerPoint on steroids!). The Towards Maturity Benchmark has been tracking effective learning practice amongst 2200 organisations over the last 9 years, and it is clear that top learning companies are bridging the gap between learning and work through strong working relationships between learning and business professionals and a collective openness to doing things differently.

It is clear that we cannot afford to continually obsess about the latest learning technology delivery vehicles. Successful organisations are using technology to apply innovative learning solutions to important business problems, opening up new channels of learning delivery and new opportunities of supporting performance when and where it is actually needed.

The best outcomes for learning will be delivered by a learning team who deeply understand business strategy and the required business outcomes. As business leaders we need to work with innovative thinkers who can present us with cost effective, engaging learning interventions that reflect the way in which a generation of staff at work want to learn today. The Towards Maturity Benchmark Study provides an opportunity for both business leaders and learning professionals to uncover fresh thinking that, once applied in our own organisations, can help us implement change and engage our staff at new levels.

I would urge learning professionals to take this evidence outlined in the 2012 Toward Maturity Study and use it to open up new conversations with business stakeholders. Use the study to help you to stay on top of your game through benchmarking with others. As business leaders we need you to make the most of the evidence available so that you can spot the next big thing that will make a difference to performance and change.
This study also has a message for business leaders. A talented Learning and Development function can clearly help us drive performance but they can only do this if they understand our strategies and missions at a deep level. This will not be achieved by sending emails! There are clear advantages available to those organisations that are open minded to learning innovation. The report highlights that, as leaders, we should expect more from our learning teams, encouraging them to look beyond the business and even the sector to continually uncover new ways supporting organisational goals and delivering business value.

Richard Beaven, Customer Services Director, General Insurance at Lloyds Banking Group

 

 Dr Chai Patel CBE FRCP, Chairman of HC-One, challenges business and learning leaders to take action in his foreword to the 2014-15 Benchmark Study.

 

Any organisation can have an aspiration to be whatever it is they want to be.

In our case HC-One was created in just 94 days as we stepped in to rescue over 220 care homes from a provider on the brink of financial collapse. Faced with a legacy of damaged morale among staff, we’ve taken on a pretty daunting, rather ambitious task of wanting to be the kindest care home operator in the UK. You can’t achieve a goal like that without providing the best people with the best skills, the best values and the best approach.

Our goal was to achieve complete transformation and it was imperative that we achieve it quickly. This is why we made learning and development a catalyst for change. In doing so, we’ve shown that modernising learning has delivered results that matter to our staff, to our residents and to our shareholders.

I welcome the findings outlined in the 2014-15 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study because they provide clear evidence that learning innovation has the potential to drive this level of business transformation across any business in any sector.

The evidence for change, gathered from over 600 L&D leaders and 5,000+ learners over the last year, is compelling. Learning innovation, done well, is delivering business impact, improving staff engagement and productivity.

This report highlights that to deliver its full potential, a modernised learning strategy has to focus on outputs first. This means that as business leaders we need to take genuine ownership and allow quality time to the issue of building skills at board level. We need to back our demands with resources. We expect to be able to recruit skilled people and so often we consider internal investment in learning to be a cost. However, for many the education system is flawed and for businesses to be successful we need to take the longer term view. This means a commitment to recruiting the right people and to building their skills. And we must invest in the right tools to meet their needs. An all modern IT platform, new media, resources, online communities and redefined courses, they are all part of the essential modernised learning mix that builds business success.

Modernising learning also demands that today’s learning professionals need to respond faster and support learning and performance at the point of need.

This report shows that today’s L&D professionals are more hungry than ever before to support long term business change but whilst the top performing learning organisations are forging ahead, many are failing to achieve their potential.

I believe that the evidence presented highlights that both business and learning leaders need to challenge their thinking about learning and its role in business transformation.

For business leaders, it is clear that we must recognise that we have to define purpose and outputs at a board level. We need to put effort into making what we are doing at board level relevant at an individual level. We must say to our staff ‘you matter and your contribution matters’.

The Learning and Development team is as critical to you as your finance, marketing and product design teams. We need to hire the kind of L&D professionals who know how to design interventions for modern businesses that work for individuals and deliver real change.

We need to expect more. As business leaders, if we demand that our learning function just delivers courses (live or online) then that is what we will get! Instead we need to keep our focus, and the focus of our learning teams, on critical outputs that are essential for the business. Be clear about what we are trying to achieve but be open minded to the solutions.

To learning leaders, I would encourage you to use the evidence outlined in this report to challenge your own thinking about the critical role that you can play in supporting change and building performance. Build the skills and attitudes within your L&D teams that will help you design and support learning interventions that support individual aspiration and organisational goals. Don’t rely on technology alone to deliver results but focus on outcomes, work with (and sometimes challenge) your business leaders to achieve them.

This report shows that business and learning leaders need to work together and provides an evidence based approach to help us achieve just that. The New Learning Agenda at the heart of this study is a shared learning agenda that sets out a roadmap for both business and learning leaders to make business transformation possible.

I encourage business and learning leaders alike to use the evidence from the Towards Maturity Benchmark Study to challenge traditional thinking about learning, performance, talent, technology and change. But don’t just read it, take action where it counts to deliver lasting business transformation.”

Dr Chai Patel, CBE FRCP
Chairman, HC-One

About HC-One

HC-One provides dementia, nursing, residential and specialist care for older people, with 15,000 staff working at over 220 separate locations. The business transformation achieved has been recognised by staff, by external validation, by UK government (as reported in the Cavendish Report) and by the wider learning and business community, (winning 9 awards for excellence in 2013/14)

Take action now:

 

Registered users of the Towards Maturity Research Community can download Towards Maturity’s Benchmark Report, Bridging the gap, free of charge below once you logged on. If you are not a registered user please register here.

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