Value For Money In Learning & Development…?

According to “The Future of Leadership Development” (HBR april 2019), there’s only a 10 % return in investment when it comes to the learning outcome from money spent on training and learning activities in the L&D programs. Simply, the traditional leadership development is not meeting the needs of training people for the challenges of today.

Here Are Some Suggestions To Why

- The programs are not creating the soft skills needed.

- There is a transfer problem from the program to everyday work life.

- And thus, the company that pays does not get enough value.


As learning and training providers, we basically need to cut costs and deliver more value for the same budget. At the same time, we need to deliver more workshops and related learning initiatives to the organizations that we serve.

As CEO of Actee, I suggest that we solve this issue by adding more smart technologies to our learning programs in order to meet the requirements of delivering higher value at a lower cost. But just adding technology for the sake of using technology and to scale up the reach of the learning is not the answer to the problem.


Only 10% - How can we change this for the Better?

The finding emphasized in “The Future of Leadership Development”  that only 10% of the $200 billion spend on corporate training in the US results in an actual value and learning outcome doesn’t sound satisfactory to me.

Maybe we have to reconsider the role of the L&D in our organizations…? I find the high amount of different technologies already used to be alarming – and I don’t think we benefit from juggling an even higher number of technologies and systems that don’t really talk together.

Therefore, I think that the role of the L&D professionals should be more as strategic advisors of learning activities in a fast-changing world. If we really want to support our organizations, we need to focus on the value we create for the business. If we don’t do so, I predict a scenario where L&D will end as a sub-department of IT where L&D professionals are the admin people of the applied learning technologies (learning hubs) in the organizational training programs….Not a role I fancy, how about you?  

Thus, I keep asking myself if we, working within this field, can fulfil the role of strategic partners to the businesses in a setting where we have 22 different technologies represented!

I do see some options to retain and reclaim the real role of L&D by changing our approach to the traditional way of training our skills in the organizations.

Here is a list of my personal professional suggestions

1. Enable people in the line in the organization to access training systems themselves – and thus to avoid being the admin-wall in these matters. Let go of your control. You will not find any value here.

2. Let participants contribute to the content design and see the technology as an enabler and not as a control system for L&D. People will learn if they need to. To create the need.

3. Any vendor coming through your door shall only be allowed as a partner to you as L&D department if… and only if the system they want to sell will provide a solid API (Application integration protocol). Ask IT and be demanding here. In a practical everyday work-life it means that the vendor wants to share their system and allow your organization to integrate with one or more of the 21 other platforms or systems you have in your possession in L&D.

4. Make sure you get a foundation content package covering the basics of your needs, which at the same time allows the learner to contribute and share the content. Focus on UX here.

5. Secure that the learner can share content findings and results to all your internal communication channels. But even better if you can open it up to the public social networks. You become cool by doing so… not only out there but even more amongst colleagues.  

6. Allow the learner to reject the learning hub, but also acknowledge that any learning technology must be managed. This means that someone has to improve the design and also take responsibility for pushing awareness of the system out in the world. It won’t happen by itself. Despite the fact, the LMS vendors tell us so!

7. If you invite consultants in, ask them how they will use one of your 21 technologies in their design. Pay attention to what they suggest out of the workshop arena. (702010)

8. In dialogue with consultants, be specific on the maximum of 10 retention activities you can make. If they can include colleagues you win the time you need to form the learner. Look at Actee for inspiration on how.

If you play by the by above rules, a range of studies shows that it will create good results. Just having a model to follow will give a basis for creating a better outcome and add more value for the business.

Last, I would also like to share the notion that there often exists a clear gap between the L&D idea of the need for technology and the learner’s perception of the need for using technology. When asking the learners about their preferred learning tools they use the widely popular: Google and YouTube.  

When I look at studies, asking L&D about the most used technologies it’s funny that these technologies are not even represented on the list. There we have a pretty obvious gap, I think!  In this matter, I would like to really emphasize a final statement

“Learners seek information when they need them using the technology at hand”

This is obviously not in the LMS or LXP or any other fancy AI software!

And if we understand this – perhaps a pretty simple fact, we are so much better braced for solving and working with the learning needs in reality in our fast-changing and technology-driven organizations.

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