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8 ways L&D leaders are changing their approaches to learning

Jessie Parker
Jun 09 2020

At Fuse, we were curious about the ways leading L&D professionals were navigating through this incredibly challenging and uncertain time. 

We invited L&D leaders including Rachel Hutchinson from Hilti, TJ from Merck and Topher Olsen and Ryan DeGroot from Alliance Residential to join us for a roundtable discussion. (If you missed it, you can watch the recording here 📹.) 

These innovative leaders have used these challenges as opportunities to accelerate change within their organisations. I’ve captured eight stand-out ways they’re approaching learning in this new age.

1. Test and Experiment. Don’t Be Afraid to Digitise! 

Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical organisations in the world. Digital transformation for companies of this size can take months, even years in some cases. Here’s TJ, Chief Learning Officer at Merck, telling us how her team digitised over 85 complex learning programs within a couple of weeks.

2. Going Digital Offers Flexibility That Real-Life Demands! 

During this pandemic, we’ve all seen examples of policies and procedures changing rapidly. But when you’re in charge of getting that information to your staff effectively and clearly, this can raise real challenges. 

Enter Topher Olsen, Senior Director of Learning and Culture at Alliance Residential Company, one of the largest privately-owned real estate companies in the United States. Here is Topher explaining more about the astonishing moment state policy changed multiple times while he was on a training call. 

3. Perfection Is the Enemy. Content Creation Is King!

One of the big themes discussed by all our speakers was the need to produce content at speed. It’s important that content is created fast, and is accessible to learners in their moment of need. With details changing all the time, content can become obsolete very quickly. Here's Topher Olsen tells us about the creative ways Alliance Residential are taking an agile approach to content creation. 

4. Don’t Just Create. Curate! 

Rachel Hutchinson is the Director of Learning and Development at Hilti, a global construction organisation. During the discussions, Rachel explained that her team see their role as content curators, not just creators. Hilti’s 30,000 staff are in control of their learning, and it’s the role of the L&D team to ensure the content is served up in the most effective and efficient way to facilitate that. 

5. L&D Needs to Act Like a CEO. 

For many years, L&D have struggled to get a seat at the table and have been considered as a support function. However, in recent years we’ve seen a shift with the most forward-thinking organisations recognising L&D as a core business function that drives business results. TJ, from Merck explained how they’ve transformed the role of L&D at Merck to become a critical part of the business, and the impact this has had on results. 

6. Empower Your Staff and the Business Will Follow  

When it comes to L&D, all too often, we think about what the result will look like, rather than what we want to achieve. Here is Rachel Hutchinson from Hilti, sharing more about how her team always start with the desired business impact. L&D will always have a hand in the scoping of the materials, but they empower others in the business to own their content. 

7. Don’t Expect Engagement if You Don’t Understand Your Company Culture! 

Now more than ever, collaborating and feeling connected with others in your organisation has become critical. No one knows this more than Ryan DeGroot, Director of Associate Experience at Alliance Residential Company. In this clip, Ryan explains that understanding who your people are is critical to making social learning work and driving business results. 

8. Take People on Your Journey. Classrooms May Be Gone for Now, but Not Forever.

And finally, a question that’s on all of our minds, will we ever return to the world of classroom-based learning? I think TJ answers this question perfectly, and it’s great to see that Merck will be using a blended approach moving forward as we slowly return to work.  

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