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Bola Owoade

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How does a learning strategy become lean? – Part 2

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So how does a learning strategy become lean? First it's important to understand what lean is in this context. Lean, we may say is when something is devoid of unnecessary resources. It is simple, not overly complicated and flexible.  Web software developers have mastered the lean concept through developing web applications which contain just the necessary features and a clean interface. For instance Microsoft Word and Google Docs are both word processors. While Microsoft Word has tons of features, Google Docs, a web application has the enough features to make it a functional word processor. The implications of this are that Google Docs is much easier to manage and update. While changes to Microsoft Word can take months if not years, Google Docs can be updated almost overnight. Another example can be seen from the makers of cloud project management software, Basecamp. According to one of the founders, they get lots of requests from customers to put in new features, most of which they refuse to implement so as to keep the software simple, uncluttered and easy to use. In other words they aim to keep it lean. And this has not stopped Basecamp from being a successful software product.

In the same way a learning strategy should be lean. You shouldn't have to spend 5 months creating it. It should be a live plan that can be updated as and when necessary in line with organisational changes, developments and needs. Here is a quick summary of the qualities that make up a lean strategy:

It must focus on what is necessary to the business, not what the L&D team or other people desire.

It shouldn't take long to create (you should be able to roll out a version 1.0 in a month).

It must be managed with an iterative mindset. It's a living action plan which must be adapted in line with organisational changes and development.

It should focus on what L&D will do, not how they will do it (these are dealt with by more operational plans such as policies, traning plans and project management plans) 

Any document created to communicate the learning strategy should not be voluminous. Less is always better.

A lean learning strategy should make the L&D team more efficient, effective and focused. It should also make the team question everything they do in order to make sure that what they concentrate on is what the business needs.

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Bola Owoade

Senior Learning and Development Advisor

Read more from Bola Owoade
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