Corral fast-moving learning technology and curation with a governance framework

Drive organizational performance at the same time

Posted by Amy A. Titus, Jen Behrens, and Michelle Weaver on February 21, 2018.

The fast pace of change and development in learning technology presents an ongoing challenge for Learning & Development (L&D) functions. Choosing from myriad technologies, figuring out how to pilot and implement them, working with vendors, training L&D staff and the organization’s employees on their use, curating content—all aspects must be considered and managed. A governance framework can help bring order to this crucial and complicated L&D mandate while also strengthening and sustaining organizational performance.

Empowering and educating a company’s talent is a differentiator for attracting and retaining talent—one way to stay ahead of competition. Being able to bring the right learning content to employees’ fingertips when they need it is critical, not only to keep workflow moving but also because skills in today’s rapidly evolving world have a shelf live. Learning and content curation technologies can be a helpful supplement to internal L&D training efforts, but can quickly get out of control. Too many different technologies from different vendors in use by different parts of the organization is a recipe for inefficiency and costly overlap.

This is where governance comes into play. Governance is a framework that helps support and enable high-quality, consistent decision making for processes and systems, and provides guardrails in a fast-moving environment. It helps people understand who needs to do what, eliminates confusion and duplication of efforts, and breaks down the decision-making process to leverage the right people at the right time for smart use of leaders’ time. In this learning context, it helps companies efficiently procure, curate, and manage learning content so it aligns to business strategy, engages employees, and ultimately contributes to organizational performance.

How do you know when governance is needed?

  • Market demands show learning gaps that should be filled, whether something as straightforward as a need to upgrade existing learning technology or as complex as a learning transformation.
  • Decision making around learning is unclear.
  • Content curation is being launched or has become unwieldy.

Spotlight on content curation governance

The potential benefits of using automated curation are high, as it allows for nimble and responsive learning content that meets end users’ needs. People now expect curated content on personal technology apps, and those expectations don’t change when learning in a professional setting. That said, content curation can quickly get out of control if there are no controlling mechanisms in place— you could be facing the Wild West of technology-curated learning content. Governance can help curation in several ways:

  • Quality—To keep curated content fresh and applicable, it should be regularly culled and vetted. Governance provides a protocol for meeting these criteria, helping to keep content relevant, updated, and flexible.
  • Business alignment—Governance confirms that content, whether sourced internally or externally, is business aligned, and that any content end users are curating on behalf of the business is the right content.
  • Tech leadership—The vendors you rely on for curation should be integrated into the technology ecosystem. Implementing governance processes and including the right people in governance supports this integration. It also allows for more effective vendor management, helping to avoid situations where the same vendor is used in multiple places in the organization or various vendors are used for the same purpose without considering efficiency of scale or cost.

Getting started: When and how

If you’ve identified a need for governance and don’t have a formal governance framework in place, the time to develop one is now! If you’re already in the middle of a project, prioritizing the creation of a governance framework can enable better decision making in the future.

In our experience, governance projects flow more smoothly when you:

  • Plan your strategy—Develop a process that considers all aspects of learning and the technology that will enable learning. For example, you may not have a learning curation strategy yet, but understanding how curation could be incorporated into your organization will set the stage for your future technology needs.
  • Keep it simple—Governance should support efficiency, not hinder it. Ask how governance would improve your current situation. Your answers can help reveal current bottlenecks and understand where governance can have the most impact.
  • Limit decision makers—Designate ONE final decision maker or a small group of decision makers.
  • Socialize and gain buy-in early—Determine the right people to involve, and get buy-in from all levels. Consider people from L&D, budget owners, daily operations/support teams, and members of IT, finance, and HR, for starters.

Learning technology is evolving rapidly, both in terms of learning experience platforms and the content that lives on them. Many learning organizations are struggling to decide the right course for their business and learners’ needs. A governance framework can enable you to keep pace with change and incorporate new technologies while meeting the needs of your learners and your organization’s business strategy.

Amy A. Titus is a managing director, Organization Transformation and Talent, for Deloitte Consulting LLP. She is the co-dean of Deloitte’s Chief Learning Officer Forum and is responsible for helping to bring talent, learning, organization improvement, and change solutions to her clients.

Jen Behrens is a manager, Organization Transformation and Talent, for Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Michelle Weaver is a senior consultant, Human Resource Transformation, for Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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