Last month I wrote a big picture perspective on change management when introducing technology (e-learning) into a learning strategy (see Part 1) . Today is the second of 5 posts on this topic. I will share some things to think about from an organisational perspective – covering Corporates, Not-For-Profit organisations and Training Providers.
We’ll look at it from three perspectives:
1. Making business sense: Analyse ‘hard facts’
Sometimes e-learning is seen as the ‘panacea’ – the cure for growing training and administration costs, a way to train staff faster, a means to gain competitive advantage and so on. These desires are noble but often intangible – too broad and vague, based on ‘gut feel’, assumptions and the motivation of a few. The reasons behind implementing e-learning needs to make business sense. It needs to be based on hard, measurable facts and information.
Change management tips: Become part of everyday business thinking and processes. Conduct a thorough investigation and analysis to gather ‘hard facts’; such as training statistics, business driven efficiencies, technology user audits and projections, competitor analysis and staff workflow trends. Generally speaking, that which is measured and reported upon gets done, so be sure to align your success criteria with the business, and plan how this will be measured. Use your success criteria to inform your learning technology options (i.e. e-learning courseware, performance support options such as Apps and video, online communities, webinar etc)
If you’re a Not-For-Profit organisation or Training Provider, it is still wise to bring a corporate business perspective into your decision-making. Implementing learning technologies is commonly a labor-intensive two year journey of a very steep learning curve.
2. Technology capability and ownership
An obvious impediment to implementing learning technologies is the state of the technology infrastructure. Chief Information Officers are increasingly losing their centralised function as different parts of the business demand niche solutions that were never predicted or forecasted. Consider the social media demands of marketing and the business analytics demands of CEOs wanting to tap into today’s customer information.
It is likely your training function will be just one more new demand on a dwindling centralised IT administration. With niche demands come decentralised responsibilities. The learning and training functions are expected to have a grasp on IT systems such as compatibility requirements and systems implementation methodologies.
Change management tips: Build your relationship with IT early, and become proactive in understanding technology rather than acquiesce responsibility. Immerse in authoring tools and social media platforms. Read up on usability ‘rules of thumb’ when making platform decisions. More often than not, IT will be happy to be consulted but will look for clarity in relation to learning technology roles and responsibilities. Give IT the assurances they require. Be realistic in the effort required to implement technology properly, and adopt the processes that already work well for your IT colleagues (e.g. helpdesk protocols, IT implementation methodology).
If you’re a Not-For-Profit organisation or Training Provider, you may not have the luxury of a centralised, multidisciplinary IT function. This can make you particularly vulnerable to choosing the right solution to meet your needs and the needs of your target audience. Be sure to get really clear on your requirements, get independent advice, and understand what you are compromising when making your technology selection. Additionally, your learning technology users are unlikely to share a standard operating environment (being outside of your organisation). This is an additional layer of complexity in making sure your technology solution works.
3. Culture and climate
Take a serious look at how your organisation currently perceives the following parameters:
- Technology: Are users frustrated with the current technology? Is it difficult, unreliable and slow to access?
- Learning: Is learning a priority in your organisation? Is it talked about in corporate and informal conversations?
- Training function: What is staff perception of the training function? Does it have a history of meeting expectations and business requirements?
- Learning self-management: Are staff in a habit of managing their own learning, or do they expect training to be handed out to them, with little personal responsibility? Do managers encourage learning self-governance?
The current state of these four parameters will impact upon the success of your e-learning strategy and implementation. Be sure to assess these parameters carefully. You may need to start conversations and build relationships around these parameters before embarking on an e-learning strategy. Build staff excitement and need for change to the current status quo. Generally speaking, the greater the perceived need by staff to have access to e-learning, the less effort is required to implement and sustain the change.
If you are a Not-For-Profit organisation, your issues may be similar to those above. If you are a Training Provider, you are required to manage not only for your own business culture and climate, but to cater for the culture and climate of the businesses you are selling your solution to. You are once removed from the end user. If a client purchases your solution for their end users and it fails due to poor needs analysis or change management by them, this experience will erode your business credibility to meet market requirements.
In this next instalment of this change management series, we will look at managing change from a Human Resource/Learning function perspective.