The Great Training Robbery

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Articles, Featured, General, Resources

According to research published by Harvard Business School (HBS), organisations across the globe are experiencing ‘The Great Training Robbery’ because the correct conditions and culture for learning are not in place. People are not ready and willing to change, and ultimately learn.

HBS report that over $400bn is invested in learning and development interventions annually, with only 12-15% proven to stick. This futile approach to L&D investment is not a new phenomenon, in fact it’s been allowed to grow out of control for well over 20 years.

One of the authors of the extensive research by HBS, Michael Beers, says, “Too often CEOs turn to HR to create a training program when faced with a problem. The CEO avoids opening a Pandora’s box of larger organizational flaws, and HR is happy to comply because it puts the function more at the center of things and avoids a risky conversation with the CEO about why training might not solve the problem.” He goes on to say, “It is threatening, which is why most people don’t want to go through what we call an ‘honest collective and public conversation’ about what’s really going on here…training becomes an easy way to try to fix the problem, even though it doesn’t fix it.”

Today, 99% of leaders who participate in the Towards Maturity Learning Health Check want to drive a learning culture, but less than 1 in 5 organisations manage to achieve one, and of those that do, only 2 out of 3 are able to sustain this status. This really is daylight robbery, because those that do, reap immense rewards for both their organisation and for individuals. Once you hit the jackpot, these rewards just keep on giving and organically growing. These rewards include faster and sustainable growth and transformation, increased productivity and profitability, positive impact on agility, adaptability, engagement, resilience, creativity and more.

When we dig deeper and analyse why less than 90% of organisations reap the benefits from their L&D investments, we find a number of interconnecting factors at the root of the problem. It is no surprise that the dichotomy organisations face is both complex and challenging, especially as very few are brave enough to face up to the real causes. Those that are brave enough will find that all causes are human made.

One of these root causes is that only 31% of business leaders recognise how organisational learning is aligned with their overall business plan. This is significant and in contrast to organisations that are in the Top Deck of our maturity index, who we call High Performing Learning Cultures (HPLCs). HPLCs report that over 90% of their business leaders recognise this critical alignment. I would even go further and say that organisations that integrate leadership development with organisational development are living examples of success and proof that people, and work, can thrive in the flow of life.

Our research has gone much further into the distinctive characteristics of HPLCs. This is a place where people are firmly considered before profit, but where profit is sustainable. People can flourish in these spaces because it feels like a place where they can connect, align their energy with the business plan and grow together. The visual below outlines the model of the six habits we discovered in our investigation into HPLCs. All six are present in all of the Top Deck organisations and we also see how savvy their leaders and people professionals are by continually nudging and guiding these in smart ways. Their edge comes from gathering the right evidence at the right time for their desired outcomes. They start with the end in mind, with people, not against them. Great people create great learning cultures that yield high impact. You will not achieve a HPLC by only investing in machines that tick boxes, but digital technologies can actively support learning when they are set up in the right way.

It’s time to stop the looting and lead your organisation to a better place. Be brave, be different and join our community so you too can finally add more value, gain more buy-in and make more informed investments. We’ve done all the hard work for you, so you can benchmark the health of your learning investments against the top performing organisations. By completing our complimentary Learning Health Check, you will gain personalised evidence of where you are now and advice on how to navigate your journey so that your desired place is real and one that increases your impact.

Our promise is not to just give you fish (or data!), but to instead educate you so you can analyse the critical evidence and use it to your advantage – saving time, cost and resources. Take the next step to drive a high performing learning culture that really adds value with people and for people.

Read more about learning culture in our report, “Driving the New Learning Organisation”. 

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