Learning For Operational Results – eLearning Industry

No One Cares About Learning, Except Practitioners

It’s Never About Learning, Only Business Results!

I’ve not met a learning practitioner who’s not passionate about what they do. It’s always wonderful to see and hear about their learning efforts and experiences. It clearly demonstrates their passion and dedication to the craft. In reality, however, no one else within the organization cares about Learning and Development, especially operational leaders. For them, it’s never about the activity itself; it’s always about the results that the learning promises to deliver to the organization.

Learning’s Value Lies In Operational Results

This is where things get somewhat hairy and tend to fall apart for many practitioners. The common belief is that the value of learning resides in the actual learning elements itself—you know, the design and development of the learning activity, along with what people actually “learn.” Consequently, practitioners also believe that others in their organization need to know this. Regretfully, those expecting and receiving the learning don’t give your efforts a second thought and really don’t care about what they learn. When they “voluntarily” engage in your training it’s to become better at doing something. Essentially, they want to improve their performance on the job.

The learning activity itself is the vehicle leading participants to their performance improvement destination. Practitioners must remind themselves that the learning role is another business activity, functioning within the business and expected to deliver business results. This means while your “learning expertise” is required to deliver impactful learning, it’s the impact of the learning that operational leaders focus on. Operational leaders expect to see their results improve, through better skilled employees, based on what you propose.

Focusing On Operations

Learning practitioners within leading organizations do exactly that: they design and develop learning solely focused on improving operational results or contributing to achieving operational expectations. Here’s an actual example you can relate to.

Try this at your next Starbucks visit. Even if you don’t care for Starbucks, visit one and order one of their coffees. From the time you order one of their (already specialized) coffees to when you receive it minutes later, you have to appreciate the quality and consistency of what you receive. Still not impressed? Then try this, visit another Starbucks in your city, another state, or another country. Order the same coffee. Without a doubt, you’ll receive the same quality and consistency every time (naturally, there maybe some insignificant variations).

If you haven’t figured out what this example is attempting to convey, Starbucks’ quality and consistency is a result of two things: a well-thought-out operational process and more importantly, having skilled baristas. If you’re still not impressed, you aren’t recognizing Starbucks’ intentional focus on learning, central to their success. This clearly speaks to Starbucks’ culturally integrated approach to their Learning and Development efforts.

Organizations like Starbucks become leaders in their markets by executing their operational requirements, that fully align with their mission and vision, well. Within these strategic and operational aspects, these companies focus on value integration. Simply, leading organizations do things that only add value to their objectives, and rid themselves of activities that don’t. Also, no operational activity is an afterthought. Leadership at every level makes deliberate and intentional decisions for their organization’s best interest, ensuring these resource allocation decisions are well integrated into the operational process.

Learning For Operational Results Is Culturally Integrated

What does this mean for Learning and Development? Unlike their wannabe competitors, leading organizations make learning and knowledge a priority. For example, long before their dominant American competition caught on, Toyota implemented a total quality focus (Toyota lean management—TLM). TLM is a culturally integrated model based on helping to identify the key “pain points” in their operations and work to eliminate waste in all areas, while striving to maximize quality as defined by Toyota. Within their management philosophy is the need for a well-integrated learning process. Toyota’s commitment to continuous improvement is fully aligned and integrated within their learning approach. For them, improvement and learning go hand-in-hand, making learning an essential and integral part of the way employees operate.

For leadership within these progressive organizations, it is all about having a culturally integrated learning approach. No one approaches the learning department to “order” training, and those responsible for learning don’t try to justify their efforts by forcing learning onto the organization. Learning is a priority for internal stakeholders, who consider it as having a collaborative and symbiotic relationship with operational activities. But it is just that: a culturally integrated approach, never a “we have to train…” afterthought.

Want To Develop This Mindset?

As you can appreciate, one article will point you in the right direction, but it only scratches the surface of the positive impact your learning efforts can have on an organization. Force yourself to go deeper and grow into the value you know learning can deliver to your business. eLearning Industry is offering a course to accompany you in your professional development. Enroll in their course, “How to Sell eLearning to Internal Stakeholders” at a limited special rate.

Please share your thoughts and feedback with us. We would enjoy hearing about your efforts. And who knows, it may be the topic of our next eLearning Industry article. Also, please check out our LinkedIn Learning courses to learn more about developing business credibility for your learning efforts. Please share your thoughts and remember #alwaysbelearning!