5 Things Learning Managers Should Do to Build and Sustain Competitive Advantage
Organizational learning, and not just only the product innovation, determines the success of the organizations in the long run. In the era hyper-competitive market, innovative features and benefits are not enough to differentiate an organization from its competitors. The features can be imitated in no time. Several examples of corporate failures and success remind that corporate learning is required not just to improve productivity and reduce errors, but to survive and build and sustain competitive advantages.
For instance, after a first mover advantage, Nokia lost its market share to newer players like Apple and Samsung. Similarly, Google captured a significant market share in the Internet search market, and it has still sustained its dominance for an extended period. Organizational learning or lack of it is one of the major factors for the result in both the instances.
Thus, management must inculcate a habit and culture of lifelong learning in the organizations. It may be easier said than done to develop a habit of learning on a large scale. However, Learning Managers can use the power of iteration and continuous improvement to build a strategy that induces lifelong learning habit in their organizations.
Here are five things, Learning Managers can do to develop a culture of learning:
1) Realize - Training is not Learning
Learning is more complex than training. Today, a majority of the organizations have some training programs. Although training is a crucial and unavoidable element of corporate capability development process, not all training programs succeed in delivering the desired learning outcomes. Thus, Learning Managers need to put their undivided attention in capability enhancements and organizational learning.
2) Develop a Need-based Learning Strategy
In the absence of a formal learning strategy, people help each other in doing the jobs effectively. Thus, they learn from one another. This is suitable for small organizations, but it is tough to scale this strategy to meet the goals of larger firms. Also, it requires that senior people have all the knowledge to spearhead the organization. Thus, the capability enhancement of the company depends on the experience of top people.
Ideally, you should have a sound learning strategy which can be scaled with the growth of your organization. To develop a perfect learning strategy, research the competition and develop a model for measuring the corporate capability of your organization. The capability measurement technique must be unique to your organization. However, you should also be aware of best practices followed in the industry.
- Conduct a need assessment and find out the capabilities required to push the organization to the next level.
- Define the qualitative and quantitative learning goals and break them down into several milestones.
- Set a deadline for every milestone and ensure that the targets are achieved on time.
3) Make it Social
In the era of social media and interconnectivity, Learning Managers should also consider making their training programs more social and personalized. Social learning programs help people learn from each other. It achieves what a formal training program by itself fails to accomplish - creating synergy at the workplace.
4) Incentivize Learning
Any knowledge is of no use until it is put into action. Training becomes truly effective when workers in your company are able to implement the newly acquired skills, knowledge or techniques at their job. And applying learning doesn’t necessarily meaning using it right; people also learn from failure. Let your employees take calculated risks and experience the failure. Reward them for learning, new initiatives and not just for the success of the efforts and the performance. Make learning and development an integral part of the KPIs. Encourage people to do regular things in newer ways even if it means temporary failure.
5) Ensure continuous amendments in the learning strategy
Measure the success (or failure) of your learning strategy. Learn from your mistakes and use the power of iteration to develop innovative learning strategies. Review and optimize the plan periodically to accommodate recent developments and address newest challenges.
Excellence is the result of persistent efforts and continuous learning. While most of the organizations keep themselves busy in making significant efforts to deliver outstanding performance, they tend to ignore lifelong learning. Efficient Learning Managers fill this gap by creating a habit of continuous learning through a sound learning strategy and its flawless implementation. The points mentioned in this article will help you move in the right direction.