For the first time in its history, L&D has real competition for its services. Like any consumer, employees are comparing offerings and making their choice based on a few key criteria:
I’ve said before that L&D has done a good job in the last decade delivering services and products efficiently, all while working within tighter and tighter budgetary restrictions. But trying to satisfy the above qualitative measures, and compete against commercially available options, and do so using the same, tired, approaches to top-down training? That’s a losing proposition.
Monopoly vs. Competition Mindset
Getting to a win means changing the mindset from monopoly, to competition. It means tearing down the assumptions of what L&D thinks employees need, and find out what participants actually want out of training. Designing formal training is too slow a process to meet the overwhelming majority of the workforce’s needs. L&D can keep pace by changing their mission to provide curation of valuable content, provide insight, and continue to offer skills development services.
If you’re working on a Learning Model Canvas, particularly on a transition to a new learning model, consider the above when filling in the Design, Delivery, and Key Resources components. Are the traditional instructional designers on your staff prepared to take what they know and apply it to the tools employees are using in the new ecosystem? If not, then any attempt to move to a more responsive, flexible learning model will just look like cutting and pasting formal training modules into shinier packaging. That’s not what participants want, and it certainly isn’t going to be enough to compete with the outside world.
Fortunately, you do have an advantage on the app makers and tutorial writers: You have direct access to the workforce. You can create participant-centric learning experiences using insights from the ground level. All you need is the data. Fostering and tapping on SMEs can feed you important context and first-person views from the front line.
Meanwhile, you should also leverage the xAPI with an LRS to track how and where your employees actually learn. With both qualitative and quantitative measures in hand, you have the opportunity to develop skills and learning experiences that are far more relevant to the workforce than any off-the-shelf solution.
So, yes, competition is here for L&D, and it isn’t going away. But you don’t need to take it as a threat; you can take it as motivation to innovate and transform L&D’s purpose. What do you think the industry’s competitive landscape will look like in a few years? Leave a comment below or drop me a line.