How Your Content Strategy and Learning Strategy Work Together
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How Your Content Strategy and Learning Strategy Work Together

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How Your Content Strategy and Learning Strategy Work Together

March 28, 2017 Mike Erlin

However sophisticated our work practices become, in order to achieve a specific purpose, the objective of business remains the same – to increase profit and reduce costs. Contemporary business cannot achieve this without a motivated, productive workforce which is constantly refreshing itself and acquiring new skills.

Too expensive? Too difficult to achieve? Only for corporates? Think again.

Genuine business growth is achieved because of smart learning practices, not instead of them. When key business goals are aligned with professional development opportunities, magical things occur.

It’s the quality, agility and productivity of your staff that determines the ultimate success of your business. And it’s training them to full potential that gives your business the competitive edge. It’s just a question of finding the right fit between learning and outcomes.

Think of it this way:  A businesses’ purpose and objectives are the ‘Why?; a Learning Strategy is the ‘How?’ and the Content Strategy is the ‘What?’….we can thank Simon Sinek for that analogy….let’s see how we go.

Content strategy versus learning strategy
One of the goals of HR is to identify critical skills needed in the company to drive performance and work out a way to provide them – the ‘How’ to achieve the ‘Why’.

This is done by bringing in new workers with the desired skills for specific roles, or by training up existing staff to fill the skill gaps.

Because skill requirements grow and change, no business can afford to ignore the importance of an overarching learning strategy.

Once the learning strategy is drawn up, the content strategy can follow – identifying the style, type of content and medium of delivery that individual workers need to learn, engage, develop and grow within their roles – the

‘What’ to achieve the ‘How’ .

So which form of strategy is best?
It’s not a question of content strategy versus learning strategy. Why? Because you can’t have one without the other.

Learning strategy
This is the foundation on which you build your content strategy – i.e. the areas training will target to change skills and behaviour of the different people and groups within your organisation to realise the business objectives.

It is the higher-level plan of action about how the organisations needs to change and in what areas to achieve specified business outcomes.

Generally, the Learning Strategy addresses what skills an organisation needs across the different roles, where are existing gaps in the capability, what is the proper prioritisation of skills development to fill the gaps, and the required timelines under which these must occur to achieve the identified goals.  Again, the ‘How’.
 
Content strategy
With that figured out, the ‘What’ can come forward.  This is content strategy that identifies ‘What’ will be best to engage and drive the up skilling and/or behaviour change needed to accomplish the Learning Strategy to
deliver the business objectives and realise the company’s purpose. 

While you may know what learning is necessary, in today’s complex workplace, there are many ways to provide it.  Traditional, structured learning does have a place but it is making way for a multitude of more user-friendly and intuitive options and these are often delivered, if not recorded, via the internet.

Content strategy: Horses for courses
Your content strategy should recognise that one size does not fit all.  We all talk about 70 / 20 /10 as the blend of how we learn.

Today, subjecting a Millennial to a two-hour PowerPoint presentation should not create an expectation that they will emerge zinging with enthusiasm and new ideas. Millennial workers thrive on feedback and interactive learning, so old-school methods are guaranteed to lose them.  To be honest, for this top of the X (or really back of Boom) professional, I pretty much check out if I get too much training like this.   

As a result of this Learner feedback, structured content represents the 10 in the formula: 10% of learning delivered via structured courses & programs. 

The question is:  Why force workers of different learning styles to all persist with lengthy seminars and projectors in classrooms when a group may be able to access a wealth of new and proven learning methods, accomplish the same learning outcome and do so in a much more enjoyable way….welcome to the new world. 

Collaborative & Social Learning
20% of our learning is best and effective when coming through interaction with others.  Today, employees link up across cities, countries and time zones via web-based technology, offering new opportunities for collaboration and growth.  It’s virtual workgroups.  It’s the virtual water cooler.  And it’s getting results!

Growing very quickly in popularity is the social aspect of learning, which embraces a wealth of new learning tools including Skype, digital collaboration tools, social media networking, smart coaching and mentoring methods, user-friendly software and community feedback sessions.

Experiential learning
Finally, the real truth is we learn how to apply our skills best by getting our hands dirty:  Experience represents the 70. 

It’s the informal learning which happens day-to-day, on the job that is a major component of professional development – and one which is only now being fully exploited. Observation, debriefs and teaching moments all play their part.

Engaged workers learn more quickly. And businesses with skilled-up, switched-on staff achieve their objectives more quickly.

Have strategy, will grow!
 

About Mike Erlin
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