Speed to Proficiency     Creating a sustainable competitive advantage



Introducing blended learning? The executive sponsor is key.

sponsor-smallIntroducing blended learning to the organization? Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful.

  1. Pick a high value initiative where there is a clear line of sight between a change in capability and a top or bottom line goal; failing that, alignment with a corporate strategic goal.
  2. Start with the executive sponsor. Make sure that she sees the problem, the cost of the problem, and the opportunity.
  3. Ensure, once again, that you did #2 completely and effectively. This is where I see the root cause of a large number of failed blended learning initiatives.
  4. Clearly agree with the executive sponsor on what you need from her for the initiative to succeed. Examples include her letting managers know that she will be personally attending to adoption and success metrics; partnering with peers as required to ensure that SMEs will be available; ensuring that learners will be released for the time required to participate in the program, etc.
  5. Identify (or develop) performance metrics. Partner with sponsors, HR or line managers as needed, but strive to have metrics in place for a level 3 evaluation. The question “how will we know if learners can apply skills on the job” is pretty darned similar to the basic questions that should be asked in performance appraisal, to create partnerships to address this fundamental issue.

Finally, here are a couple architecture-level issues that should be thought through before moving to the design level.

  • Will the program be cohort-based? Cohort-based means that a group of people will go through the blended learning activities together as a group. The important question here is, will it be important to integrate social learning into the design? For example, in such things as leadership instructor-led training, we pretty much always integrate large group discussion and small group activities such as case studies into the design.
  • Will part of the program be real-time?  You can design a cohort-based program that uses discussion forums for a case study, or you can use a classroom environment. For certain objectives like sales call skills and presentation skills, you almost have to have a face-to-face component.
    In either of these cases, the complexity of delivery goes up exponentially. Learners and instructors need to be scheduled, provision made for learners who cannot attend, and managers cry piteously about learners’ absence from work. This then goes back to #2 above – you need to get buy-in from executive sponsors at the least, and line managers as well in optimal situations.
  • Will you incorporate on-the-job coaching and reinforcement into the program? If so, who will identify appropriate assignments (managers?)? Who will provide coaching (managers? coaches? peers?)? Will there be periodic times when learners share what they’ve learned? Again, this may well drive to proficiency much faster, but will add a layer of complexity you must plan for.

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