The learning management system (LMS) should be a primary support tool for ensuring strategic execution is successful. A business that is focused on strategic execution needs all people to be working on the right tasks at the right time. The whole organisation needs to know the strategic goals and their role in achieving them. A learning management system, with the right features and tools, is ideally suited to align people to strategy and provide learning support.
One of the biggest barriers to successful execution is people not having access to information and learning to support their work. An organisation with high levels of productivity and engagement does not lose focus by people having to search for information and learning on topics they need to complete tasks. The learning management system should be a key software tool to improve productivity and engagement with learning.
If the LMS is not performing these vital functions effectively then it is acting as a roadblock to strategy execution. How does a well implemented learning management system support strategic execution? Below are some of the ones we have identified in our most recent implementation projects.
Configurable, flexible and scalable organisation structure in the LMS that accurately reflects how the business operates and its ongoing reporting needs.
Ability to support large numbers of users and an extended enterprise. The performance of the LMS should not be compromised when there are large user populations accessing it.
User administration of large populations is supported with the user interface, bulk actions and adaptable configurations.
The LMS includes extensive automated actions and workflow configurations to support how the organisation operates. You should not be forced to adapt your workflows to the LMS.
Reporting must be extensive and flexible. The LMS should provide senior leadership historical and predictive indicators to support decision making.
Integration and data sharing is essential to support the organisation’s information architecture. The LMS should not be an ‘island’ of data.
It is critical that the selection process reflects requirements that are both strategic and tactical. The requirements are best collected and assessed drawing on a wide range of stakeholders in the organisation including the ‘C suite’.
There are just some of the areas that we assess when working on a new LMS acquisition plan with a client. This helps us assess the various LMS software options and vendors that are proactively updating their software to meet changes in the workforce and operating environments.
Are there plans for any mergers and acquisitions?
Is the business likely to open up offices in other locations?
Will be business adopt a remote workforce model?
Does the business currently support a channel or may do so in the future?
Will the business undertake a digital transformation project and will the new learning management system remain fit for purpose?
The value driver tree is a tool used to identify the root cause of an issue. In our case it is used to identify causes of business issues. The value driver tree is also known as a fishbone analysis.
The value driver tree is a very useful model to use when engaging in discovery sessions with prospective and current clients. You should be familiar with the model so that you are able to use it in conversations as a way to structure thinking. The best use case is creating a value driver tree on a whiteboard, computer or paper flip-chart as part of the meeting with clients, prospects and internal stakeholders.
An example of a simple value driver tree is shown above. In this case the issue facing the business is declining profitability.
The next level to the right of the business issue breaks the issue of declining profitability down to three possible solutions. The third level are the actions needed to execute the solutions. A key concept when creating value driver trees is MECE.
The MECE model is used to separate items into subsets that are ‘mutually exclusive’ and ‘collectively exhaustive.’ The MECE model as developed by Barbara Minto at McKinsey and Company in the late 1960s. You can learn more here.
In some cases these actions may directly address the issue or be actions such as research and analysis. In the latter case, this may then lead to a further value driver tree created to reflect the outcomes of research and analysis.
A value driver tree must focus on one single issue. Therefore there may be a number of value driver trees created in the course of a discovery session. It is common to start the process with a value driver tree to determine which of a range of issue should be prioritised and then break that down to individual issues.
The example above shows a value driver tree that will then be broken down into the issue that is considered the highest priority.
The value driver tree helped my client remain focused and not go off in a number of different directions. In my consulting practice, I only focus on one issue per engagement. I have learned this removes the risks of project creep and uncertainty about closure of an engagement.
Once I have worked with my client to create a value driver tree on the challenge with the highest priority, there are two necessary steps before we commit to working together. The first step is gaining conceptual agreement. The process to this point is very positive for the client. Once the person is fully able to identify a business issue there is a sense of relief even before a solution is executed.
The positive state achieved in the value driver tree process is the precursor to conceptual agreement. The conceptual agreement is both parties agreeing that there is a compelling case for moving forward with an engagement to build and apply a solution to the business issue. The conceptual agreement is gained by asking the client whether they wish to solve this issue using you and/or your firm.
When this question is asked, there may be a few responses. One may be related to cost, another related to time, another related to decision making, etc. There is absolutely no point in developing a proposal with costs, activities and timelines until you have reached conceptual agreement with your client.
This is always very hard for my clients to accept. Most people in business to business professional services are using an outdated paradigm wherein the proposal is a huge document that is used to sell an engagement to a client or prospect. This is all wrong. The proposal I use includes seven sections and the whole document is rarely more than four to seven pages. I will cover more about proposals in another article.
For now let’s assume you gain conceptual agreement with the client or prospect. You are now ready to create your short proposal. What about the value driver tree?
The value driver tree is captured and saved. You photograph the whiteboard, photograph and roll up the flip-chart paper, save the digital file or whatever. The value driver tree is your navigation tool moving forward with the the engagement. The value driver tree will set the scope of the engagement as well as define the parameters of the activities that are going to be included in the engagement. I will cover more about using the value driver tree to develop your engagement plan in another article.
As a CEO, entrepreneur and business advisor I understand how critical employee engagement is to developing and sustaining a great culture. Great culture is a huge competitive advantage with benefits flowing from low turnover, higher productivity and levels of innovation.
Engagement is not complex. People engagement stems from the most basic elements of human needs and behaviour. I think businesses should start with the basics and measure the results.
These are 8 actions you can take without spending money to improve your people engagement.
8 Actions You Can Do Now to Boost Engagement in Your Business
Write accurate position descriptions for every role in your business. People need to know the parameters of their work and the expectations for the position they hold.
Implement a three phase performance review process. I usually start at a three phase process but ideally it is more frequent. The first phase is goal setting. The second phase is a progress review and course correction as needed. The third session is a performance review that is used to plan development, succession, remuneration etc.
Cascade your strategy by scheduling weekly team meetings between managers and their teams. The purpose of these meetings is to track tasks and activity aligned with the strategic goals of the business. We use a set agenda for these meetings and they are of enormous value in keeping a business on track to achieve its strategy.
The business owner or CEO must be visible to the people in the business. This means the CEO is accessible informally as well as formally. You can learn a great deal about a company culture by the body language of employees when the CEO is nearby.
The business owner or CEO must use a channel of communication that keeps all people up to date with what is going on in the business and in the market they operate in. Some of my clients use newsletters or simple emails. I prefer a video that can be delivered from the company intranet or via Vimeo or YouTube.
People must have access to learning opportunities. Many firms have adopted learning management system to offer online learning for both professional and personal development. Some of my clients have created some very engaging learning using iPhone video, screen recording and other low cost tools. They deliver this video based learning on YouTube or Vimeo. You should at least have a process to encourage people to request training and demonstrate your commitment to training by allocating a budget for this purpose.
Coaching and mentoring will do so much to ensure you do not lose valuable knowledge when people leave your business. Most people really enjoy the opportunity to coach and mentor other people. You must ensure there is a purpose and a pathway for the coaching and mentoring to avoid the program going off the rails.
Celebrate! Celebration is a social activity that is one of the easiest ways to build relationship bonds between people. I always recommend that no birthday goes un-celebrated. You can celebrate new sales, achievement of goals, personal milestones etc. You can also include social functions around the holidays such as Christmas. One of my personal favourites is including your key customers in some celebrations. What better way to forge strong bonds of engagement between your people and the people they serve.
The 8 actions above should be done regardless of whether you see signs of deteriorating engagement in your business. If you are aware of the need to improve people engagement it may be time to get some help.Let’s face it:it always helps having another person to give you perspective and honest feedback.You need to get some advice from a person who can bring ‘fresh thinking’ to your business and get your people engaged and performing at their peak.
Do you need a trusted business advisor, someone who can help you see your business and goals through ‘fresh eyes’?Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.
Social learning is leaving the standard LMS behind.
YouTube is THE social learning platform. The range of learning available on YouTube reflects the growth in informational data being created every minute of every day.
When you are faced with a computer issue, where do you go? If you are seeking to learn a new Excel skill? If you want to learn how to French polish an antique? The same process applies to people in your organization. According to research by Degreed in 2015, respondents to a survey indicated:
Almost 85% search online at least once a week for learning they can apply at work.
Nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week.
53% learn from videos in any given week.
Not much of a mention for the corporate LMS? Social learning is based on speed of access, accuracy of subject matter and easy to apply learning. Does your current LMS and the content offered from it, comply with these parameters?
To address this issue by giving up on the LMS is not necessarily the best way to go. Many LMS platforms have been designed with an emphasis on ‘management’ as opposed to ‘learning.’ Many modern learning management systems include configuration options to support better social learning. It can often mean a change of mindset as opposed to a change in technology to achieve effective social learning outcomes.
You should check out this post by David James of Looop.co that gives an excellent example of how Sanoma Group ‘re-imagined’ L&D and successfully tapped into subject matter experts and created learning content that was easily accessible and improved peoples’ ability to do their work effectively.
If this interests you, get in touch by clicking here. We will share some insights and a case study based on helping organisations achieve better results with ‘grassroots’ social learning.
There is no doubt accounting firms are under pressure for both fees and service delivery. This can be considered disruption. There are a few reasons for this pressure and it will only intensify. Here are some reasons:
* Businesses are questioning the amount of fees they pay annually for compliance services against the perceived value they receive from these services.
* Accounting firms are facing a technology tidal wave that will shift much of the compliance work to ‘bots’ that deliver higher accuracy and cost a fraction of a qualified accountant.
* The complex operating environment facing companies is encouraging them to seek outside expertise to remain competitive and sustainable; unfortunately they rarely look at their accountants to provide such services.
These disruptive changes are compelling proactive firms to focus on developing other capabilities to maintain and grow revenue. The most common focus is on building revenue from advisory services. One would normally think accounting firms are well positioned to delivery advisory services. They may be well positioned, but many lack the competencies needed to uncover opportunities, scope advisory projects and execute the delivery phase for a successful result.
We were engaged to help a firm build an advisory capability without increasing the headcount. Our project including a number of phases that included strategic planning, business model development, behavioural competency assessment, training and coaching. Our process included a small digital transformation with the inclusion of work to improve use of the incumbent information management system, CRM and the introduction of a learning management system, (LMS).
We implemented a learning management system to support our transition strategy as well as sustain competency development across the firm. Below are some of the key outcomes we have achieved thus far with the LMS.
* Communities of practice to foster sharing of ideas, best practices and content.
* Learning linked to performance reviews and career planning.
* Tracking learning and participation in communities of practice.
* Self-publishing content using standard tools like PowerPoint, Sway, audio and video.
* Team publishing by practice teams to share with teams in other locations and colleagues.
Our ongoing strategic focus for the LMS includes:
* Eliminate knowledge drain.
* Replicate the learning across the organisation at lower cost.
* Develop individual learning pathways for advisors based on subject matter expertise and market sector focus.