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Laura Overton

Learning Changemakers


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Learner-centric strategies for better L&D fitness

With the right approach, L&D professionals can turn their learning vision into reality. This involves the use of learner-centric strategies.
body of water can be seen through the tunnel: strategy and fitness in L&D, enhancing learner experience

Just as our fitness memberships can disappoint when we fail to get personal results, many learning and development leaders can be frustrated over time if their vision fails to get traction and deliver sustainable benefits.

Can ‘normal’ organisations with fluctuating deadlines, time pressures and general learning inertia hope to battle against the odds to turn their learning vision into reality?

This has been a burning question for me in my research which started over 20 years ago in 2003. It continues today (more on that later!) but if there is one thing that my studies have taught me. L&D fitness starts with the basics – the business basics!

So what are successful organisations doing for their fitness?

Business integration

Successful organisations ensure their learning strategy visibly fulfils a core business strategy. Alignment to core business initiatives from the start and continual alignment on a project-by-project basis is more likely to ensure ongoing business impact above any other factor.

Yes, all of the businesses have strategies for integrating e-learning into their overall learning solutions through varied approaches to mixing learning media, and have been doing this for years before the birth of ‘blended learning'.

But, for these organisations, the alignment and integration of the learning with business goals was a fundamental prerequisite for ongoing acceptance and success.

It was also one of the toughest to achieve but they all found creative ways of moving toward this goal.

Over time, though success has bred success and fitness, the reputation and demand for new ways of learning has grown (even for some of the most basic types of e-learning content). In these organisations, e-learning is seen to be relevant and fit for purpose.

Alignment to core business initiatives from the start and continual alignment on a project by project basis is more likely to ensure ongoing business impact above any other factor

Learner centric approaches

We have heard it before but my research has supported it – strategies that are learner-centric rather than technology-centric are more likely to be sustainable.

Successful organisations believe that understanding and developing learner motivation must be treated as a high priority.

Many of us are on a journey when it comes to understanding learner motivation. Few would claim to have achieved 100 per cent this but the learner-centric approach is a core to their strategy.

What’s more, a learner-centric approach absolutely recognises the manager's influence in learner motivation.

Deliver quick wins

Successful organisations find ways of delivering quick wins early in the implementation process of either a major strategy or for an individual project.

They understand the impact on all of the stakeholders of this approach. They actively looked for the opportunity to creatively and clearly demonstrate early successes.

Invest in support

Any new project needs support mechanisms to embed it and successful organisations recognise that.

They harness a range of different support mechanisms to facilitate learning (but only a fraction involves face to face support).

Meaningful measures

Successful organisations all vary success criteria and measurement on a project by project basis but report regularly back to management statistics on the agreed criteria.

Strategies that are learner centric rather than technology centric are more likely to be sustainable

Marketing and communication

A clear finding from the study is that successful organisations invest heavily in communication to all stakeholders. This is both at the launch of a new project and throughout to maintain interest.

All of the participants used multiple forms of communication to inform, motivate and persuade the stakeholders in their business.

Fit for the job - time for action

I have a confession to make. No, this article wasn’t written by chat GPT

But it was written by me…in January 2004! (with exception to the paragraphs in italics which were written today!).

These tips were from findings of my first report (Linking Learning to Business) and have surfaced in pretty much every study since. The language changes – hello alignment, agile, impact, performance support, but the core principles of success have not. 

This is why I believe that getting this right. Before we start working on our tools and techniques, we need to work on our core strengths as learning professionals. They help make sense of the complex environment in which we operate. That way, we can make the choices that really make a difference to the individuals, teams and organisations that we support.

This year, more than ever before, our organisations need a future fit L&D team with a strong core to help them become equipped and ready. 

Are you ready for fitness?

I love the L&D profession and am a passionate believer in the impact and value we bring to organisations not only today but for the next 20 years!! I also believe it is never too late to start work on our core. Here’s a final word from 2004!

This study shows that the simple business principles are the ones that make the difference between sustained e-learning successes or failure – the trick is to find ways of making them work within your own organisation. Today’s business environment is continually changing. We are under more pressure than ever to cut costs and deliver more and our plans need to adapt along the way.

If you enjoyed this, read: How learning leaders can craft the optimal learning environment


One Response

  1. This article on increasing L
    This article on increasing L&D strength and fitness with learner-centric strategies is a must-read for anyone involved in training and development. It highlights the importance of putting learners at the center of the learning experience and provides actionable tips and insights for achieving this goal. By focusing on the needs, preferences, and goals of the learners, organizations can enhance the effectiveness and impact of their L&D programs. Kudos to the author for shedding light on this critical topic!

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Laura Overton


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