Services Learning Organization Development
The primary goal of the Esablishment solution set is to put into place the core functions and resources of tge learning and development organization. Processes should follow the universal process model so that they can be repeatable and auditable. Doing so will build the foundation for runing the organization like an internal service business and provide data for ongoing improvements. Establishment processes include:
Curriculum development is an essential function. The process for delivering it should be formalized using industry best practices. We use the ADDIE model, but other methodologies can be utilized. The key, as with any process is that it provides consistency and is effective in delivering a quality service. Since the goal is to lay a foundation upon which the learning and development organization can be run as an internal service business, we recommend that great emphasis be placed on assessments and evaluations.
At this stage, insructor development is focused on the internal learning and development staff. Although there will always be differences in style, the organization needs to make certain that their instructors are effective. Those instructors are often the most customer-facing representative of the organization. They should demonstrate a high level of professionalism, both in their instructional abilities and in their general interactions with the rest of the company. Assuming they are experienced instructors when they are hired on, their development program may be focused on more advanced skills. But, experience is no guarantee of quality. Fundamental skills should be assessed and developed, if necessary, rather than assumed and proven wrong. All instructors should demonstrate sound classroom management skills, be able to deliver in a style that keeps participants motivated and engaged, , and . Ideally, instructors should be able to deliver using a variety of formats (e.g., in-person, webinars, etc.). But that is not required, as long as there is adequate coverage to meet the service demands of your clientele.
Staff management is important in any organization. This is not the place to detail general management best practices. Instead, some important attributes of learning and development staff that affect their management will be noted. Most service delivery staff are highly educated professionals. As such, they are likely to be independent minded; but as educators, they also recognize the necessity of working with a team. Most take great pride in their work and appreciate recognition.
This is the process responsible for managing all logistical aspects of learning and development events throughout their lifecycle. Events are defined as the delivery of any learning and development service. That includes: instructor-led classes, webinars and other e-learning courses, train-the-trainer sessions, releasing training collateral in both hardcopy and electronically, etc. Event management includes, but is not limited to: planning, scheduling, facilities and infrastructure, printing and shipping training materials, travel and lodging, food and refreshments, entertainment, prizes or other giveaways.
Event management is one of the core activities of a learning and development organization. It should not be taken lightly. Being the primary manner in which clientele interact with the organization, it strongly influences perceptions of the organization and its services. Professionalism and meticulous attention to detail will reflect well on the organization, and reduce distractions and irritations that can impede learning.
A service catalog is a structured means of providing information to clientele about all available learning and developemnt services. The information can be made available by whatever means is conistent with the organization's culture and resources. It could be in hardcopy, an electronic file, a database, or web-based. It should include a detailed description of each service, the intended target audience, any prerequisites, the intended learning outcomes, and how to access or register for the service. There shoud also be processes for providing and maintaining the service catalogue, and for ensuring that it is available to those who are authorized to access it.
The most basic, and most common, form of evaluation is to ask for participant's reaction to the service. This type of information produces reports that detail subjective, and typically immediate or short-term, perceptions. This type of evaluation is easy to conduct, and can provide useful information on some topics, such as evnt management and instructor style. Lacking is any specific data on what was learned, how it will change behavior, and what benefits are gained by the business.
All organizational records and data need to be stored and maintained in a learning and development management database. In addition, technology can be used to provide some services (e.g., service catalog, enrollment, self-study materials or course preparation materials, e-learning courses, etc.). These functions can be conducted using different technologies or through a single system. If the decision is to use a single system for all the learning and development functions, there are many good learning management systems (LMS) available. As a word of caution, many LMS applications are very complex and can be difficult to implement. Organizational requirements should be clearly defined before systems are evaluated and all potential options should include a comprehensive implementation plan. It is important to note that the organizational requirements and processes should drive the selection of the technology. So time should be invested upfront defining your needs and processes.
Once the core processes and functioons are established, the learning and development organization can align its services with its customer-base. Alignment includes:
Programs are broader learning and development activities, typically with commenserate larger objectives, than individual session or single topic activities. That breadth typically requires more complex needs analysis, design and development, and management. To be clear, the learning organization does not have to be - and typically is not - solely responsible for all development, delivery, and management responsibilities. Collaboration with the client is essential. But, the proportion of involvement by the learning organization and the client can vary. Some programs are sourced heavily to the learning organization for all components and in other instances the client merely seeks guidance. The typical trade-off is that the learning organization can provide a greater degree of quality control, but the client can bring greater relevance and credibility. A balance needs to be struck between the two.
A lot of curriculum development occurs outside of the learning and development organization. Some of that may be seen or be reviewed by the organization. Depending on the size of the enterprise, some may never be seen by learning professionals. The quality of those materials is variable. To improve the quality and establish better quality control, the learning and development organization now expands its curriculum development services to the enterprise. To be clear, the intent is not necessarily to develop all the curriculum in the enterprise. It is to provide elevate the overall quality of the materials being developed through guidance and oversight.
Receptivity to review and assistance may not always be welcome. The first task of the learning oganization is to market their services effectively and establish credibility. If not skilled in marketing, the learning organization may want to seek assistance with it. Executive sponsorship can be extremely useful, if not necesary. It may be useful to adopt a phased approach, working with select departments or programs to demonstrate.
A challenging assessment task can be just identifying all of the material being developed. Again, effective marketing and executive sponsorship will help; but, identification is likely to be an ongoing challenge and should be treated as such. Strategically, it is best to consider education as a core element of enterprise curriculum development. The capacity of the learning organization services is likely to be limited when comapred to the enterprise need. Educating and training the enterprise on best practices in curriculum development will improve the overall quality of all materials and help the learning organization establish itself as a valued service. In addition to direct curriculum development services, others will include:
Curriculum templates: These incude not only content areas but the rationale.
Suggested exercises and activities: These should also include the rationale and detailed instructions.
Workshops, webinars, lunch-and-learns, and other outreach activities on curriclum development: These may be single or multiple sessions. It is also highly effective to be working sessions in which participants bring materials they are working on. Alternatively, follow-up individual consulting can be built in or arranged as needed.
Individual material reviews: From our xperience, this is often one of the most well received services. Review services can be requested directly to designated learning organization staff, or materials can be submitted through an online system and put into a cue for assignment to a developer
Essentially, the rationale for and challenges of instructor development are the same as for curriculum development; and we refer you to the above section for that information. Important to note in instructor development is that the enterprise clientele, as a group, are likely to be much more variable in their skill level; and many may be unskilled instructors or at a rudimentary level. Consequently, enterprise instructor development services will likely need to be expanded to include beginner levels. We have found that two areas frequently in need of special attention in enterprise instructor development are questioning skills and facilitating participation, and activity or exercise maangement skills. What the two areas share is the need for well crafted questions or instructions, and patience to sit with silence or let the activity unfold. Iy is also useful for the learning organization to promote a culture that supports best practices and ongoing personal development in instructor and presentation skills. That can be accomplished through internally developed programs or by supporting external programs such as Toastmasters.
A change is an addition, modification, or removal of anything that could have an effect on the learning and development services. The scope should be defined to include include changes to: all instructor and participant materials, instructor delivery, scheduling, resources, processes. A schedule, with metrics or milestones, to track the change should be established, with related documentation. Change management is the process for controlling the lifecycle of all changes, enabling beneficial changes to be made with minimum disruption to learning and development services.
Some requests may be for what are categorized as a standard change. Standard changes are pre-authorized because they are low risk, relatively common, typically not resource intensive, and follow a well-defined procedure. For non-standard changes, the change management process is initiated by a formalized request for change. The change request includes a high level description of the new service or significant change to an existing service, along with a corresponding business case and an expected implementation schedule. Change requests are reviewed by the change management team or designee for its potential impact on other services, on resources, and on the overall change schedule. The request may be authorized, denied, or modified and returned to the requestor for approval.
This is the process responsible for ensuring that the internal and external assets required to deliver learning and development services are properly controlled, and available when and where they are needed. Assets include service (i.e., development, delivery, and event management) staff, technology, materials, and facilities. The management process also includes accurate and reliable information (e.g., staff professional profiles, instructional manuals, etc.) about the assets.
This process is responsible for ensuring that the learning and development organization can always provide the minimum agreed upon services. It does so by managing the risks that could seriously affect the provision of services and planning for how services can be quickly recovered when there is a disruption. Some of the factors to be considered in continuity management include: safeguarding the interests and needs of key stakeholders, the reputation and brand of both the learning organization and the overall enterprise, and prioritizing the value of activities
At this stage, evaluations focus on participants' improvemens in their knowledge, skills, or attitudes as a result of the learning and development activities; and reporting always follows the data gathered. This is a significant advance from the reaction data and reporting previously conducted, as it demonstrates a measurable impact that can be tied to the initial objectives for the activity. Such data is the foundation for making the business case for learning activities, and will significantly elevate the stature of the learning and development organization.
Of the three, skills can be the more difficult to evaluate because they require either testing or tracking of work behavior. Skills testing is often resource and time intensive, and there is frequently resistence to it. Depending on the skill in question, tracking work behavior may be more practical - assuming there is a tracking system already in place.
Once aligned with the larger enterprise that constitutes their clientele, the learning and development organization can further refine and expand their services to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Optimization is focused on:
The process responsible for sharing perspectives, ideas, experience, and information. It includes processes for capturing that data, and for ensuring that these are available in the right place and at the right time. The knowledge management process enables informed decisions, and improves efficiency by reducing the need to rediscover knowledge.
Learning and development should be an ongoing activity for employees. Doing so helps improve performance, reduce turnover, and maintain motivation. It also allows the enterprise to develop internal talent for promotion. Supervisors play a critical role in this process through annual, or whatever periodic, employee reviews. Learning and development should also be involved through:
Educating supervisors on how to identify and communicate development needs, and develop professional development plans
Directly helping employees establishing professional development plans and providing agreed upon development services
Contracting with external service providers
Much of the role of learning and development in the talent management process is formailzed in and made available to the enterprise through the service catalog.
The service level management (SLM) process is responsible for negotiating achievable service level agreements and ensuring that they are met. SLM is analyses all other service processes and the underpinning agreements to determine whether they are adequate for meeting the agreed upon objectives and other service level targets. Service level management monitors and reports on service outcomes, holds regular service reviews with customers, and identifies required improvements.
The SLM process starts with a service request, which is a formal request from a customer for something to be provided. Service requests may come through a standard, possibly automated, process or be made directly to a service provider. Service requests may be linked to a request for change. If a standard - meaning pre-authorized - request, they are transferred directly to the fulfillment process. If it is not a standard request, it must be approved before being assigned to a service provider for fulfillment.
Once the request is approved and transferred for fulfillment, a service level agreement (SLA) is established between the learning and development service provider and the customer. A service level agreement describes the service, documents the objectives, describes the service, and specifies the responsibilities of the learning and development service provider and the customer. The SLA should also include service level requirements, which are determined by the customer's business objectives and used to negotiate measurable service outcomes. The service valuation, which is a measurement of the total cost of delivering the learning and development service, should also be calculated and included in the SLA.
Availability management is the process for ensuring that the existing learning and development services can meet the current needs in a cost-effective and manner. It considers all the resources required to deliver services. Then an analysis is conducted to determine whether staff skillsets, staffing levels, processes, facilities, technology, tools, and other resources are appropriate to meet the service level agreements.
Capacity management is similar in many respects to availability management. It differs in that capacity management is focused on ensuring that future services needs can be met. It requires conversations with learning organization customers about future needs and requests, and an assessment of the load that can carried by existing resources. An effective strategy for many learning and development organizations is to establish relationships with outsourcers so that can they can be readily available to provide additional bandwidth when necessary. The results of the capacity management analysis can be used to negotiate future service level agreements and change requests, and included in budeget requests.
Financial management entails the finctions and processes responsible for managing the learning and development organization's budgeting, accounting, and charging requirements. The ultimate goal of financial management is to secure an appropriate level of funding to design, develop, and deliver services that meet the strategy of the organization in a cost-effective manner.
The business impact of learning and development services boils down to two questions:
What performance improvements have been gained from the service?
What was the cost of the service?
Integrating the learning and behavior change reporting previously enacted with the learning objectives and service valuations in the SLAs, a true ROI can be calculated. Analyzing all that the impact of the the learning and development services on individual performance and the business as a whole can be measured. That information can then be used in subsequent discussions and management decisions to determine additional resource allocations, better value services, and negotiate service agreements.
The processes detailed above are core to the successful development of a learning organization. Each individual item above has embedded in it underlying skills and processes. Additionally, the specific items within a given solution set tend to develop in tandem, not in isolation. Success in one is often contingent on development in another. For example, service level management requires defined services and processes, financial and budgeting skills and processes, negotiating skills, and project management skils.
It's important to note that our model is a guide, not a prescription. It is used for assessment and planning. By identifying gaps and understanding the interplay of processes and skills, we can help you create a development plan that maximizes both effectiveness and efficiency. You can read more about our developmental model and the benefits of using it.
We provide services to help you develop any of the processes listed above, as well as strategic consulting services to help you develop your learning organization and run it like a business. We also provide specific freelance services (curriculum development, instructor preparation, teaching, etc) to augment the current offerings of your learning organization or fill any gaps.
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