Six Critical Changes to Make Corporate Learning Work

Business Executive education and training is emerging. Corporations, SMEs and startups are increasing their budgets and investing further on education of their employees, from top to bottom. And Corporate Business Learning functions are without any doubt a huge business that moves big amounts of money and it is as well an area under pressure to deliver like never before as organisations, HR teams need to continuously adapt and prepare their working forces to innovation, sometimes disruption and continuous change.

According to various studies compiled in the article Making Corporate Learning Work by the website

“Globally, figures suggest over $200 billion is spent on corporate learning each year and it seems that the general feeling is that over $100 billion of that may well be wasted. Alarmingly, this wastage figure may well be on the conservative side.”

These studies show that business leaders’ satisfaction on corporate learning is as low as 20%, which in a global industry worth $200 billion, is low. $100 billion is a substantial amount. That’s a whopping figure that definately should be optimised for businesses.

Shlomo Ben-Hur & Nik Kinley authors of the book Talent Intelligence: What You Need to Know to Identify and Measure Talent (27 Jun 2013) have been writing and researching about these subjects. Their studies and corporate work have outlined five changes to improve executive education and make corporate learning work.

Their five changes for successful corporate learning are:

1. Focus on behaviour change, not learning.
The first priority is a big, hairy, fundamental one and focuses on the overarching question of ‘What is corporate learning?’ This may sound dull and theoretical, but it has massive practical implications. For the most part, at present people tend to talk and think about corporate learning in the same terms as they talk about traditional, academic learning. It is assumed to be about the accumulation of knowledge or the acquisition of skills.

2. Focus on functional alignment.
The second priority focus is on how corporate learning teams are set up to deliver. Much of the thinking about corporate learning during the past decade has been about how it needs to be strategically aligned with a company’s business objectives. And this is undoubtedly important and critical to the success of corporate learning. But in order to translate such strategic alignment into operational results, learning functions also need to focus on how their internal systems, processes and people are functionally aligned both with their objectives and with one another.

3. Step in and out of the business.
The third priority is to optimise the relationship between learning teams and their customers in the business.

4. Apply market forces.
Corporate learning is effectively a market with competing products and services, and if we want quality, efficacy and efficiency to prevail, we need to apply market forces.

5. Share accountability for learning.
Research into corporate learning has persistently thrown up a critical, but often unrecognised finding: namely, that contextual factors such as the workplace environment are actually more important in ensuring the application of learning than the quality of the learning event. This is pretty staggering when you think about it.

The sixth I will add is:


It does fit with the first point on the focus on behavioral change, but the anchoring is key to make sure behavioral change is embedded, is adopted and doesn’t fade away after a couple of days or weeks.

If corporate learning is not embedded, does not sustainably drive real change, you keep on training and coaching without achieving success.

Are you surprised about the $100 billion waste?

How do you experience corporate learning?