Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2008 - (Page 8)

EZINE EMAIL Dear Editor: I enjoyed the clear and to-the-point article on “Strategic Alignment: Transforming the Business of Training” by Tracy Hollister in your Summer 2008 ezine. Her research clearly outlines “what” should be done and validates the importance of strategic alignment. But the next question is “how” to do it. What did your research findings say about effective ways to become more aligned? What are others doing to get a seat at the table and communicate the value of learning and development so that leaders can appreciate what we are doing and why we are doing it? Linda Zehnbauer, CPT Senior Manager, Global Talent Development Medtronic, Inc. organization cannot handle their needs, business leaders expect training organizations to be honest about it and find an appropriate partner to do it instead. Being up front and realistic about your training organization’s capabilities helps to ensure that you can deliver on what is promised. Beyond these client-focused service attitudes, being strategically aligned requires at least two more critical capabilities. Diagnostics A “strategic partnership” implies that you take a consultative and diagnostic approach with the organizations you support. Before presenting a learning solution, it is critical to listen carefully to understand the specific department’s or organization’s goals and needs. What are their performance issues, and how can learning address them? Your training organization may need to do formal data collection and analysis to find out what their “true” needs really are. Reporting & Analysis Finally, strategically aligned training initiatives should include metrics and analytics that can demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of the training. How effective was the training in improving knowledge and skill gaps identified before the training? In what ways did the training impact targeted performance issues? Can costs and benefits be reasonably quantified to calculate a return on investment of the training? If you and other training leaders can demonstrate these capabilities, you will be far more likely to get a seat at the table, where you belong. Tracy Hollister, M.A. General Manager, Training Industry Research Hi Linda: Thanks for your practical question. I am sure it is of interest to many other training practitioners. First, let me say that I can’t provide a formula for becoming strategically aligned and getting a seat at the table that will work in every organization. However, I can tell you both what your peers said works in their own organizations and what they value in external providers. Strategic Alignment – or designing learning programs that align with business objectives – is closely related to three other critical hallmarks of great training organizations: Customer Commitment, Diagnostics and Reporting & Analysis. In a nutshell, strategic alignment should occur if leaders of training organization can focus on the true needs of their organization, design training that meets those needs, and then develop measures that assess the impact of their training on those needs. Customer Commitment First, getting strategically aligned with an organization’s leader – whether internal or external – comes from a mindset that puts their needs first. In the survey, training leaders characterize this attitude as a strong customer focus and strategic partnership that is results-oriented, flexible, responsive and willing to customize training to align with business or organization needs. If your training 8 Dear Editor: I found your article “Games & Simulations: Playing to Learn” (Training Industry Quarterly, Summer 2008) quite intriguing, and I completely agree with the authors’ conclusion that such technologies are only learning tools when they actually do more than whip up a frenzy of interest. A learning tool must be much more than popular to be effective. I thought the companion piece on leveraging failure was also interesting and thought-provoking. We’ve just run some role-play exercises in my company as part of an education seminar, and I think the entire audience would agree that the most valuable learning experience in that exercise was identifying when people were saying something incorrect or inappropriate. It certainly solidified the lesson in my mind. What actually struck me about both articles was how universal the information seemed to be. The authors were writing about gaming and simulations primarily, but those same time-tested approaches work for any learning method. The more “real-world” you can make your training scenarios, whether in a game, an e-learning session or a live classroom, the more applicable value you’ll find in the business. I know my leadership would prefer any mistakes are made in theory so they can be avoided in practice. I was glad one of the authors recommended Clark Aldrich’s “Learning by Doing” as a valuable resource. I really think that hands-on approach was largely missing when I was “coming up the ranks,” but I’m glad I’m able to take advantage of action-oriented education for my learners. I don’t have any data of my own to prove that value, but it feels right. John Los Angeles, Calif. What do you think? Do you feel you have a seat at the table in your organization? Should learning leaders be striving harder to earn that holy grail? What strategies are you employing to build closer ties to business leadership? Please do share your thoughts, concerns and solutions with us. Send letters to the editor to OPINIONS WELCOME You’re invited to share your thoughts, concerns, ideas and inspirations with other readers of Training Industry Quarterly. All letters received are subject to publication, but letters will be verified with author prior to publication. To submit a letter to the editor, email us at Training Industry Quarterly, Fall 2008 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2008

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2008
At the Editor's Desk
Ezine Email
Winning Organizations Through People
Before You Buy...
Learning Technologies
Informal Learning: Embracing Web 2.0
Leveraging Cutting-Edge Technologies for Learning
Reshaping the Learning Function to Think and Act Globally
The Importance and Growth of Customer Training
Meet Josh Blair
Meet Bob Dean
Meet Mark Myette
Training America's High-Flying Heroes
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Fall 2008