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Designing Learning for Business Performance: Part II

Roberta Gogos
Aug 26 2021

In part I of Designing Learning for Business Performance, we explored the first of five key guidelines for designing learning that is actually going to affect the bottom line. In this post, we’re going to look at the second half of this ten-point checklist. 

But first, I think it’s important to reiterate just how strongly we feel about learning’s contribution to business performance. Like HR systems and marketing technology (such as marketing automation systems), L&D technology is perfectly capable of being a top driver of profitability, but companies need to move on from looking at learning as a cost centre, and apply the great expectations that come with revenue centre business models. 

As always, we look to the experts in helping to relay our messages, and Charles Jennings explains building L&D capability for business alignment best in one of his recent articles

One important part of this change process, but certainly not the only part, is the need for L&D professionals to develop or improve their business- and output-focused capabilities. Without a performance mindset, together with the tools and processes needed to analyse organisational problems and deliver the right solutions at the right time, and without a set of business-focused capabilities, L&D professionals will continue to struggle to deliver real business value. And L&D leaders will be challenged to align with business priorities if their teams don’t build or possess these capabilities." 

Like we said, expert advice from the best of the best. If your interest is suitably piqued, get your performance mindset on as we explore the second half of our designing learning for business performance checklist. 

6. Learning needs to be measurable

Like any business unit, learning should be tied to revenue and profitability targets. It is absolutely possible to measure the impact of learning on the bottom line and Fuse customers do it every day. 

For example, both Hilti’s sales onboarding time and payback process times have decreased by 80% with Fuse. 

Avon tracked that the incremental increase in monthly visits to its Fuse platform - the difference between low frequency (1 to 2 visits per month) and medium frequency (3 to 4 visits per month) - showed dramatic uplifts of +320% in aggregate sales over a 6 month period.

Our client Joules was able to retire its document management system, and move all documents to Fuse where they could more easily be shared. Joules’ employees were using Fuse as a hub for learning, internal comms, community-building, and wellness support, and that naturally rendered its document management system redundant. The savings on retiring any major enterprise system are significant, not to mention the streamlining of business operations. 

There are countless other examples of measurability in L&D, and you can read more about them in The Top 10 Metrics that Matter for Profitability 

7. Learning should be social 

L&D should absolutely use social media principles to drive engagement and performance. Beyond this, learning platforms should encourage sharing on every level, and commenting, so users are constantly adding and sharing insight into what they’ve learned. 

A big part of successful learning that contributes to business performance is understanding the social element of how employees make sense of knowledge, and how they interpret it and add context to it before they share it back to their role-related communities to encourage further organic learning possibilities. 

All enterprise learning and knowledge systems should be encouraging employees to contribute or make comments on content to give it more context with that enriched information added on to it. 

It’s a great concept and one we explore further in an interview with our very own Sam Lawson, in our post Seek, Sense and Share: Sam Lawton on Why Content Aggregation Needs Context, Collaboration and Community. 

8. Learners need coaches

If we’re putting business performance at the top of the L&D agenda, coaching and assessment need to be priorities. 

Coaching is at the very heart of Fuse. We know that people learn best not by watching a trainer with no real-life experience, but by consuming knowledge provided by somebody who lives and breathes that knowledge. It’s called tacit knowledge and if your coach is a subject matter expert who has created a video on Fuse to demonstrate how to do the things that they do best, then you’re well-positioned to walk away with the answers you need for your immediate questions. 

Our post Tapping Tacit Knowledge at the Point of Need illustrates this perfectly. 

Assessment is another critical part of coaching. Learning without assessment is just providing people with a series of media. Learners need to be able to show or tell us exactly how they have achieved a particular learning objective or outcome, and they need programme touchpoints with people who can act as coaches. 

9. Learners need opportunities and safe places to practice

We talk a lot about knowledge at the point of need, and quite frequently, learners can get answers from consuming knowledge in Fuse that allows them to solve a problem immediately and move on. 

However, sometimes what people learn is more complex and multifaceted, and simply consuming the knowledge and applying it immediately isn’t enough. In this instance, if learners are to gain competence to use the knowledge they consume on Fuse, they need to have safe spaces where they can practice and gain expert feedback (this may be from managers, SMEs and key stakeholders in the business.) 

Think about it this way: when you're learning a new language, it helps to practice with a native speaker. If you are learning a musical instrument, you’re not going to be concert-ready immediately. Learning isn’t a spectator sport, and what you need to actually embed it is to be able to practice in an environment where you feel at ease. 

Blended learning is a key part of this. Fuse offers a holistic learning experience that blends formal training with informal learning on the job, underpinned by access to subject matter expertise, knowledge, and answers that support performance in the flow of work. 

10. Learning should absolutely make the best use of the latest technology to drive business performance 

I know, of course we’d back technology, we’re a learning and knowledge engine provider after all. But these days, every enterprise is a technology company in one way or another, and if you are not making the most of what technology can do to help you accelerate and embed learning in the flow of work, you are missing a trick. 

Ask yourself: does your L&D technology support intelligent search for hyper-accessible knowledge? Is it capable of predictive analytics to recognise learner’s problems and guide them to the exact knowledge they need, in context and in flow? Is it delivering measurable performance benefits by shrinking learning time and supporting performance at the point of need? 

This is what the Fuse platform is doing for our customers, and it’s become a significant supporter of the performance mindset Charles Jennings described in the opening paragraphs of this article. If you want to design learning for business impact, technology, along with people and processes, is usually core to the cause. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Fuse is using AI to help deliver on learning for business performance, download our latest ebook 4 Ways AI Can Power up Digital Learning

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