PDG recently published an intriguing new white paper called “Taming the Learning Demand Curve: 4 Smart Steps to Lower Cost and Higher Quality in Corporate Learning.” The white paper focuses on an innovative approach to managing demand in a learning organization and creating a flexible structure to meet stakeholder need. Here’s an excerpt from the white paper:
A few years ago, industry analyst Jack Phillips dealt the training and development field some tough love. His research, completed by polling top executives at large global organizations, told us something we may have suspected: business decision-makers have trouble understanding the business value of corporate training. But Phillips’ research also offered some insight into how to solve that problem. Those same executives said they would see the value when they understood how training and development drove success in the primary goals and initiatives of the business. So all we have to do is demonstrate how learning drives the business.
So how do you do that?
There are many ways, but the first step is to treat learning like a business. And like any business, that means managing your demand curve and your supply chain.
Learning Demand is Predictably Unpredictable
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
Remember the movie Groundhog Day? In the movie, Bill Murray’s character lives through the same day, over and over again. At first he makes the same mistakes each time he lives through the day, but over time he learns the adjust his behavior and changes the way the day plays out. Given the opportunity to learn, he does things differently and creates a better future.
Sometimes running a corporate learning department feels like Groundhog Day. Every year, we try to plan for the learning needs of our organization, and every year we end up feeling stretched as unexpected demands come up, projects shift onto our to-do lists that weren’t there before, or that new product launch that was scratched from last year’s agenda suddenly shows up on this year’s plan. You may find yourself asking, “Why does this happen every year?” But if something happens every year, it means that it’s following a predictable pattern. And once we can identify that pattern, we can analyze it and build a plan for it. That pattern will still have unpredictable elements, but we can build a system that accounts for unpredictability and allow us to deal with it—quickly and effectively—when it does happen.
Getting a Handle on Learning Resourcing
Step 1: Getting Off the Rollercoaster
If you’re like most organizations, your Learning Demand curve probably looks a little like a roller coaster. Periods of high demand for learning resources may be followed by periods where demand flattens out, or even dips… followed by additional periods of high demand. This curve can make resourcing difficult, and create sleepless nights for learning managers. So how do you begin to tame the learning demand curve?
Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group