In case you missed it, 360Learning recently acquired Looop, one of the U.K.’s leading Learning Management Systems. As brand new members of the 360Learning team, David and Josh have unique perspectives to share, based on their years of experience working in L&D, including as Looop’s Chief Learning Officer and SVP of Growth, respectively.
In our latest podcast episode, we explored how Looop and 360Learning’s visions fit together, and where there’s still so much room for growth in the L&D industry. Read on for a recap of their insights on the current state of Learning and Development, and how L&D leaders can best support learners through moments of transition and adaptation. Or, you can catch the full podcast episode, below.
David and Josh were clear; there’s still a long way to go in the world of L&D when it comes to creating training programs everyone can get behind. So, what’s holding us back? A big part of it is where L&D leaders are focusing their attention.
Too many companies, explains David, still think they need to rely on in-person training to scale learning. They think they need to mold learners’ attitudes into appreciating this approach, or else they have to lean on more and more content with added bells and whistles to inflate engagement metrics. But fundamentally, people don’t want to be taught. They do, however, want to learn.
Times have changed, and today's digitally savvy employees are expecting more than one-way, lecture-style classroom teaching. The issue isn’t with the learners or the content, it’s with the entire instructional approach; Google and Youtube have irreversibly changed how we acquire new knowledge, empowering everyone to seek out the exact information they need, when they need it, to affect changes that are directly meaningful to them.
Going through the motions of mandatory, “check the box” training once a year isn’t going to cut it. “You cannot transform organizations in a classroom with 12 people at a time. Digital learning cannot be supplementary—it has to lead, but you can't lead with something that people don't want to engage with,” explains David.
Another issue is how isolating standard training programs continue to be. “Learning in a silo isn’t learning,” adds Josh, “it’s just talking at someone.” Both agree: there’s only so much Zoom anyone can handle.
The answer, they say, lies in reframing our approach to learning. “We need to use tech to collectively solve real problems when they occur,” emphasizes David. L&D needs to be a collaborative, digital, in-the-flow-of work exercise. It also needs to get to the heart of real business problems at the right time—namely, during periods of transition.
“If you can, try to have people working together in order to solve collective problems for the collective benefit of the organization. That is using technology smartly.”
If you can, try to have people working together in order to solve collective problems for the collective benefit of the organization. That is using technology smartly.
Learners will be most receptive to the help L&D can provide when they truly need it, and that’s usually in a time of transition. These periods of adaptation might be:
Either way, as David points out, “when there isn’t a concern, people won’t engage” - no matter how interactive, gamified, or fresh your content is. David advises L&D leaders to see these times of transition, and the anxiety they can provoke, as ‘hooks’. “Hang your solutions on these hooks,” advises David, “don’t try and create your own.”
Part of this approach means providing training at the right time - that means, for instance, before a new manager takes up their responsibilities, not after. Similarly, induction training often floods newcomers with more information than anyone could take in, but then leaves them high and dry weeks later when they’re in need of role-specific training.
This question of the specificity of training is crucial. For example, too many L&D teams are forced, through lack of resources, to treat all manager training the same, fooling themselves into believing an IT and a Sales manager can follow the same program and get the same benefits. But this is a mistake, and L&D teams will benefit enormously from developing training that’s role-specific—something Collaborative Learning is uniquely positioned to provide.
Part of the power of role-specific training is that it addresses the particular KPIs that individuals are responsible for—in other words, the metrics their performance is measured against. Josh and David were adamant; when training programs can demonstrably move the needs on these metrics, that’s where L&D can really shine.
This is where the entire industry should be heading. Josh put it like this: “A lot of what we try to do at Looop is just eliminate a lot of the noise and focus on solving problems, on the business problems that learning organizations face—how do we get right to that?”
One way to go about this is to reframe how L&D professionals see themselves. Too many set up systems where they act like offshore providers, when instead, they should be posturing as internal consultancies. As Josh emphasizes, L&D shouldn’t be separate from the business, it is the business.
Integral to this view of L&D is data. Without first understanding the business problems that need to be addressed, and how to bridge the gap with training, L&D teams will be flying blind. “What if we led as product managers,” mused David, “if we sought data. What if we developed relationships, we got close enough to where the work happens, just with data and evidence based practice.”
But this kind of radical change won’t happen without intentionality, and it’s L&D professionals that need to change the conversation. “There is not a single L&D leader who's ever got permission for doing things differently,” insists David. “What they've done is they've had a different conversation at the outset. Instead of ‘yes, how many people would you like to go on that training and do you have a preference for the vendor’, they ask, ‘what would you like to see different as a result of my intervention?’”
Supported by a collaborative approach to learning, intuitive designs and helpful automation, David and Josh are ultimately arguing for a reframing of L&D’s role within an organization. Instead of chasing vanity metrics and acting like an external party, Learning and Development leaders need to follow the data and root their programs in urgent business programs.
When delivered at the right time and ‘hooked’ on pain points born from periods of transition, L&D training programs have a chance to transform from ‘tick box’ exercises to business-critical functions. Now, it’s just up to us to change the conversation.
Thanks again to David and Josh for joining us! If you’d like to learn more about 360Learning’s acquisition of Looop, check out our article here. For more great resources and insights from the learning community, join the L&D Collective!
For more inspiring and actionable L&D stories like this one, be sure to check out other episodes of L&D Plus.