At GSK, I recently led a team who introduced a new, easy to access Business Skills curriculum, which is now globally available to all of our 100,000 employees in 10 different languages. It replaces a plethora of courses and resources that had built up on our LMS over the years by different local business units, which had become overcomplicated and potentially inaccessible to all but the most persistent and resilient learner.
The business case was clear, and last year the time was right to take the opportunity for improvement in learning in the company. However I found that simplifying years of accumulation, as well as introducing something new on that scale was not easy, and so I thought I’d share some must do learnings that I gathered through this experience that may be useful if you are endeavouring to do something similar in your organisation
- Be Brave. A change of this size will not be in everyone’s interest, so be prepared with a solid business case, and with support from good champions and sponsors, since vested interests and general inertia can kill a change project like this before it starts. With the nature of learning changing on almost a daily basis, it will pay to be brave with the approach you take now, to future-proof your solution. So be bold and implement an approach which meets the current and future needs of your organisation, not yesterday’s needs
- Switch off before you switch on. Adding a new curriculum, even a good one, without stopping existing provision is a route to failure. Without removing the temptation to return to old behaviours and perceived, easy options, it will result in poor take-up of your new curriculum and ultimately may stop it ever embedding fully. At GSK we switched off hundreds of courses, and were very worried about the uproar we would unearth. In reality many people never noticed, and those who did, we talked with quickly.
- Manage the change. Switching off the old is just one part of the change management strategy you will need to ‘signal’ your intent. Learning is often emotive for many people, and therefore failure to understand the decision-makers, the vested interests, and have senior sponsorship during the hard times is to fail. At GSK, my team and I had hundreds of ‘interested’ people to manage, and whilst you cannot incorporate every idea or challenge, the conversations were well worth the investment
- Friends and family count. Engage, embrace and pilot with your own Learning and HR teams before going wider. They are your closest friends, but have the potential to seriously derail you if you do not embrace them enough during design and delivery phases. ‘The change begins at home’, and getting early adopters, enthusiastic champions, and testimonials will be critical in getting your curriculum used and valued
- Adapt and adjust. Even if your solution is a world-class, award-winning piece of work, there is always room for change, and responding rapidly but thoughtfully to customer feedback is crucial to getting buy-in during those early days. Ultimately you need to be able to demonstrate the return on investment of your efforts, so get out there, get real live feedback, and be prepared to make changes to drive real value into your organisation. Oh and take a deep breath and smile.
Don’t miss Joe’s session on How to create an agile L&D function at this year’s World of Learning Conference: 09:10am on 19 October as part of the Platinum conference stream.
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