Before an organisation starts on the design and delivery of an L&D intervention or process, there are a number of critical questions to be asked and answered by the organisation. The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list but to act as a framework or catalyst to remind the organisation of some important considerations.

Learning and Development Foundations

  • Are the learning implications of interventions ignored or are opportunities to promote and embed learning sought continually?
  • Is the organisation’s learning and development initiatives best described as training initiatives or initiatives to promote learning?
  • Is there discussion with key stakeholders (i.e. executives, managers, supervisors/team leaders, employees, customers)?
    • Learning and development requires a commitment and buy-in from the major stakeholders who can influence and manage the support, acceleration and direction of learning.
  • Does the organisation have a formal, articulated strategy for learning as opposed to a list of training opportunities?
  • What systems and processes, if any, are in place to promote learning individually and team learning (as opposed to the promotion of training events)?
    • How does the organisation use these systems and processes?
    • How does the organisation evaluate their effectiveness?

Assessing the Current Learning and Development Position

Identification and Alignment of Learning with Business Priorities

  • What are the key priorities for the business?
    • I.e. critical drivers in the fulfilment of business objectives or service delivery targets.
  • How can these drivers be promoted by actions to support and promote individual and team learning?
  • Is there a culture of continuous improvement (i.e. the rate of learning must be greater than the rate of change (L>C))?
  • Are there any organisational change initiatives taking place or planned?
  • What opportunities will these change initiatives create for enhanced individual and team learning, and improved learning practice throughout the organisation?
  • What current or additional resources (e.g. time, money and/or skills) will be required to implement any actions?

Learner Preparedness and Motivation

  • Will all learners have the basic capability to take advantage of the opportunities available?
    • Does this apply at all levels and in all parts of the organisation?
  • Are all learners keen to learn and to acquire new skills and knowledge?
    • Are there issues of learner motivation to be addressed at some levels and in some parts of the organisation?
  • How will the organisation ensure that learners have access to opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge?
    • How will this be achieved?
    • How does the organisation know that this has been effective?
    • Learning needs to be continuous, timely and relevant for the people whose roles will present new challenges as the business grows.
  • In general, are learners ready to learn?

Creating a Supportive Environment for Learning

  • Will time pressures act as a barrier to effective learning?
  • What arrangements can, or should, be created for protected time for learning?
    • Should targets be set for the amount of learning time to learn?
  • Would creating learning sets to encourage team and individual development be useful for the organisation?
  • Should the organisation introduce other methods for peer group learning?
    • E.g. immediate feedback and personal reinforcement with support from managers and peers.
  • Are line managers aware of the importance of their role in supporting learning opportunities for their staff?
  • Are line managers capable of giving effective coaching support to individuals and teams?
  • Has the organisation positioned the learning and development function effectively to develop the opportunities?
    • Does it have the requisite skills?
    • It is essential that the learning and development function operates in areas which add greatest value to the business.

A Framework for Implementation

  • Create and communicate a strategy for learning.
    • How will the organisation communicate its intentions to other stakeholders internally/externally to the organisation?
  • Agree the priority areas for action.
    • It is important that these are shared and communicated with other stakeholders in the organisation.
    • How this is achieved will depend on the culture and practice of the organisation.
  • There must be:
    • Shared understanding (of the purpose and role of any learning and development);
    • Appropriate milestones (for individual, group and/or organisational learning); and
    • Control procedures put in place (i.e. ensuring learning is taking place and the effective transfer of learning into the workplace).

Evaluation of Learning

  • Visible behaviour, i.e. what does it look like when it happens on the shop floor?
  • How will the organisation measure the effectiveness of any learning and demonstrate it has achieved its targets?
    • Through the merit of the provision itself (i.e. the input, for example the quality of course content and presentation); and/or
    • By monitoring its impact (the outcomes, for example improved skills/qualifications or enhanced productivity/profitability).
  • Will the evaluation involve formal or informal assessments of quality and effectiveness?

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