Close the L&D “Effectiveness Gap” with Design Thinking

May 18, 2017 | Alan Mellish | HCI
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Learning and development programs can be powerful catalysts for engagement and performance in your organization. But if your programs are ineffective or misaligned to employee needs, you can’t expect to reap any of those benefits.  In a recent HCI research report, we discovered that L&D programs were seen as only about 50% effective.  It’s no surprise that L&D as a function is struggling to remain relevant and potent in a time of massive change and ambiguity. But what approach or technological solution will enable us to align and adapt to the needs of business leaders and individual employees?

We hear a lot about delivering learning when people want it and in a user friendly format. It sounds nice, but how do we go about defining those requirements and addressing those needs? They won’t be the same at every company.  

Enter: Design Thinking

Conceived and adapted for business in the Silicon Valley offices of IDEO, Design Thinking is a methodology promises to transform the way learning happens.  

Shiny and new might be wrong for you.

Instead of gambling on which expensive, trendy learning solutions is least likely to fail you, Design Thinking advocates taking time up front to understand the learning needs and consumption preferences of your people. Ask yourself, “Who is the intended user?  How tech savvy are they? Do they prefer to consume content on a mobile device? What matters to them? What is frustrating about their work?” These kinds of questions will help surface opportunities and limitations to consider when you start creating your next learning program. You might still end up buying that fancy new social collaboration doo-hickey, but at least you’ll have done your due diligence.

Prototype, test, and iterate!

Because Design Thinking advocates prototyping early and often, you can avoid analysis paralysis and relieve the pressure to get it right the first time. Start building and the flaws will reveal themselves. After a few rounds of this, you can start piloting and testing your prototype on a slightly larger scale with the intended audience among your employees. This approach lets you gather valuable feedback and refine your programs without the crushing defeat of a failed major rollout.

Your organization may not be ready for a radical adoption of Design Thinking for learning and development today, but we think the future of work is headed in that direction. The better your organization focuses on creating experiences, tools, and environments that address the needs, interests and values of its people, the better it will be at attracting, developing, and retaining high-performers.

Want to learn more about human-centered approaches to tackle your talent challenges? Sign up now for HCI’s 2017 Innovation@Work Conference.