Learning as a strategy: the secret to organisational success?

Learning as a strategy may be the secret to organisational success. This is the conclusion of new research from Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning.

66% percent of companies that link learning and strategy and see L&D initiatives as critical to success have a stronger market position than their competitors. In the 2018 State of Leadership Development: Meeting the Transformation Imperative (download the full research report here) this is an important differentiator in a world undergoing constant change.

L&D and business transformation

This year’s report is all about the role of L&D and leadership development as it relates to business transformation. This transformation is the “new normal” for organisations in all industries. Of the 734 L&D and line-of-business practitioners surveyed, 32% had recently completed a transformation. An even bigger percentage, 54%, is currently undergoing one.

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Too much change can feel like drinking from a firehose. Organisations must be(come) agile to be able to capitalise on transformation. L&D initiatives should focus on creating and supporting leaders who can quickly and efficiently drive change while aligning employees with the corporate strategy.
Barriers to successful L&D initiatives and leadership development, ironically, have to do with too much organisational change and time constraints. Businesses in the middle of a major transformation should also be focused on L&D, but in reality, these development initiatives are often a low priority because too many other balls are in the air.

How to stay ahead

Poor content, insufficient thinking and expertise from outside sources and failure to create a persuasive ROI are reported as the main barriers of effective L&D. By whom? By our next generation of leaders, Millennials.
Taking these findings into consideration, the study authors developed three areas of focus for L&D professionals to stay ahead of the transformation curve:

  1. Build organisational agility
  2. Deliver learner-focused programs
  3. Expand the definition of partnership

Building organisational agility requires leaders to foster new behaviours and mindsets and streamline capabilities. With these in mind they can develop a new take on teams, with resilience as one of the main characteristics.

Creating learner-focused programs will require L&D leaders to enable experimentation and encourage storytelling, supported by new technology.

Finally, to expand the definition of partnerships, leaders must deliver development programs to front-line leaders closest to the customers, learn from innovators outside of the organisation and stimulate talent mobility.

There is no guarantee that if companies act on these three areas they’ll be leagues ahead of the competition. However, the research shows that it will prepare organisations for any type of business transformation. And isn’t the aim of any business transformation to get ahead of the competition?

See also:
Learning to learn; it’s a journey
The things you see in a high-impact learning organisation
If you can answer one of these learning questions with yes, this is for you

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