Successful companies all have a clear Value Proposition that guides their decisions and resonates with their customers. Similarly, L&D needs to have and promote a Value Proposition to operate at a high level within an organization as well as justify its budget. In the context of the LMC, the Value Proposition helps set the long-term goals of the learning model, emphasizing both benefits and challenges. A clearly stated Value Proposition aligns stakeholder expectations for what a learning organization can accomplish.
Unaligned expectations of value can have significant implications for your organization. Your L&D unit might value supporting workforce performance with complex, automated productivity tools. But if executives see L&D’s value as reducing HR costs and delivering training as efficiently as possible, then any discussions of needed resources or desired results will always lack crucial points of reference.
It’s possible to present different value propositions to different customers, as long as it’s clear to each party what L&D can reasonably offer. If you are promising highly complex and resource-intensive skills development to one customer, be careful that you aren’t also promising a lean, cost-efficient L&D unit to another. As with the other sections of the LMC, Value Propositions are about identifying and accepting the tradeoffs and compromises that are required when implementing a learning model.
Stating your case
The Value Proposition is a high-level statement of L&D’s worth to the organization. It isn’t meant to be a detailed roadmap to specific policies or actions, but sets the tone for the Customer Relationship and hints at the type of Business Results the customer can expect. How explicitly you decide to state your Value Proposition to customers is up to you, but be sure that internally, members of the L&D team have a clear understanding of its implications.
There are many ways to craft a Value Proposition, and I’ve compiled just a few here to give you an idea of what they can look like.
Performance – Our value is improving employee performance through on-demand learning at the moment of need. Our motto is “to support learning directly in the workflow.”
Cost Efficiency – Our value is discovering and implementing the most cost-effective methods of training delivery. Our motto is “we are a lean, mean fighting machine.”
Risk Reduction – Our value is reducing company risk through compliance-related training. Our motto is “not in our house.”
Skills Development – Our value is developing the workforce through immersive learning experiences using innovative tools and techniques. Our motto is “practice makes perfect.”
Revenue Generation – Our value is generating revenue for the overall organization by selling learning products and services. Our motto is “we are a profit center.”
Creating value for the business builds L&D’s credibility and cachet within an organization. Learning leaders that can deliver on a Value Proposition will be able to take a more proactive approach to training. Rather than being stuck in a vendor-type Customer Relationship, L&D will have the stature to identify challenges and develop solutions in line with the desired learning model.
Connection to the Learning Models
Because Value Propositions are broad statements of organizational direction, they don’t necessarily dictate a chosen learning model, but they do influence the ultimate decision. For instance, a Performance Value Proposition suggests a Performance Support learning model, whereas a Cost Efficiency Value Proposition often implies Mass Distribution. They key is that these Value Propositions don’t bind you to a specific policy, but they do communicate to executives what L&D intends to offer. You want to make sure that, whatever model you eventually choose, you are able to follow through on realistic promises of value to the organization.
Value Propositions may sometimes seem like over generalizations of L&D’s mission, but they have real, long-term effects on the success of the organization. In next week’s Saltbox Savvy, I’ll start looking into the more technical, practical details of learning model development in the Design section of the LMC. If you have questions about Value Propositions or would like more information about completing your own LMC, contact us or leave a comment below.
Use your Value Proposition as a way of prioritizing training requests from the field. If you’ve crafted your proposition appropriately, your learning model should have been built around whatever your L&D unit does best. Attempting to deliver training outside the scope of your value proposition, while certainly not impossible, can still be a drain on limited resources. If you’ve communicated your value to your customers, they should have your expertise in mind, and ask for more than just quick training fixes. Again, it’s preferable to be a consultant in the Customer Relationship, rather than a vendor.