New Learning Agenda part 2: Learning Transformation – turning talk into action!

by | Dec 11, 2013 | Articles

In November Towards Maturity Launched ‘The New Learning Agenda’ outlining recommendations for the business and L&D professionals as a result of their 2013-14 Towards Maturity Benchmark. In the second of three articles, we look at learning transformation and why we have to turn talk into action.

This year, Towards Maturity’s Benchmark celebrates a decade of collecting data and insights into the use of learning technologies to support organisational transformation.  Over the last ten years, I have seen countless presentations and delivered a fair few myself, that discuss how organisational learning needs to change to keep up with the nature of today’s (and yesterday’s) fast paced working environments.

During that time, we’ve seen arguments that the learning department needs to become more aligned[1]- changing from order taker to business partner. We’ve been convinced that delivery must move from discreet face-to-face learning events available to a few to anytime, anywhere learning opportunities for the masses. We’ve argued that we need to place as much emphasis, if not more, on supporting informal learning as delivering formal learning (in fact 79% in the Towards Maturity 2006 benchmark agreed that they wanted to place greater emphasis on supporting informal learning within the organisation). Across the last three years, those arguing for the learning transformation story have built on these themes and have widened the scope to include the need to support workplace performance, embrace the 70:20:10 Model and more.

Technology has a significant role to play in this type of learning transformation and ten years is a long time in the technology world. Over that period, we have become comfortable with how technology can enable the delivery of learning and automate standard offerings. As a result, we still have catalogues of courses – only now they are accessed via the LMS and are an hour long instead of a day. We still have lectures laced with PowerPoint but now we can access them virtually. We’ve learned how to bringing efficiency to learning but is this enough?

The Oxford Dictionary defines transformation as ‘A marked change in form, nature or appearance’.  So have we seen a marked change in nature and appearance of learning over that time or has it been mainly talk of change with action on cost reduction? Well, Towards Maturity’s unique data from 2,900 participants over the last ten years provides some deep insights into how learning is changing. Or in many cases, how it isn’t!

Despite the rhetoric and excitement we still find that in 2013:

  • When it comes to alignment only three in five organisations strongly agree that their learning initiatives support the skills businesses need
  • When it comes to using technology to increase learning opportunities, still only 26% of formal learning is e-enabled
  • When it comes to redressing the balance of resource allocation, only 18% of L&D resources are allocated to supporting informal learning
  • When it comes to even the most basic opportunities to support performance, only 26% of L&D teams provide staff with access to job aids online


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Article originally appeared in Inside Learning Technologies & Skills

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