Creating a learning architecture

Last week, I promised to take the maturing learning organisation model further and look at ways of creating the right learning architecture in the final blog in this three part series. Learning ecosystem design can feel overwhelming and extremely complicated. Most organisations have legacy systems. There are few suppliers who can cover a whole requirement for any reasonably complex company. Even if they could, organisations rarely have the same needs throughout the company. And even if they did, those needs change. To make this begin to feel manageable, it is best to strip the ecosystem down to three basic elements; the learning portal, course structures and information assets. What happens next is really down to the type of organisation we are dealing with. A way of analysing the needs of the organisation can be achieved by tackling several dimensions; approach to risk, nature of information, rate of change, culture. I am sure there are others. Blog 1 Where a company’s rate of change is very high and knowledge tends to be held socially, then a social collaboration enabler will be vital. So the learning portal will need to access knowledge domains and the network of people, both experienced and novices. The course structures may be evolutionary and highly changeable – so more need to keep them simple and adaptable. And the information assets are more likely to be in the domain of the community so community spaces become more important. Where a company has a high risk profile, the learning portal will probably need to be security focused to specific accesses even within the company, the course structures are likely to be leading towards accreditation. The information assets are likely to be well defined, with clear structures and change managed by the correct authorities. I appreciate this is a simplified view and, of course, most companies have business areas that may be quite different to each other. Simple companies (this does not mean small) will require a more straightforward ecosystem, the more differentiated, the more complex the ecosystem. Embedding evaluation into the ecosystem design and the implementation of that design is essential if we in L&D are to stay on that top company table. One of the neatest ways of achieving this at a strategic level is to use value chain analysis, ensuing the learning interventions that are deployed at each stage of the ecosystem are correctly targeted at the company objectives. The simple example below, borrowed from Fujitsu, uses the sales team objective of increasing the win ratio. Each intervention then will be aiming for a specific outcome, for which there will be assumptions. Interventions then must be measured against the intended outcome. The tighter this can be, the more effective the intervention. This is a somewhat different approach to the traditional Kirkpatrick model – still needed in the right places. Blog 2 This takes us right back to the overall strategic fit of the learning ecosystem in the company design where the governance of the company and strategic direction of the organisation, flows through to implementation via projects and operations, neatly supported by the enabling learning strategy with suitable feedback loops. Blog 3 Copyright WillowDNA 2014