One of the most important responsibilities of a training manager is to ensure alignment between the training function and the needs of the business. In doing so, the organization must maintain a critical level of agility to adapt to the changing needs of the business as well as the learner. As agility becomes a more accepted business strategy, the questions of how your training organization becomes more agile continue to grow.
Being an agile organization is about adopting a philosophy of speed and flexibility. Making these concepts a central part of how you design, deliver and administer learning services requires you to rethink your development process. For example, agile design has followed much of the software design industry’s practices by moving from a waterfall approach to content design, to an iterative model where content is developed and tested incrementally to increase speed and reduce errors by making them more transparent earlier in the process.
Agile delivery follows a similar mindset as it involves a new way of thinking about how learners gain skills through experiential learning. Learning content must be designed in the context of how we deliver learning experiences using repetition, reinforcement, feedback and mentorship. The end goal is to help the learner gain the required skills needed for their job as fast and efficiently as possible.
A big challenge for many training leaders is change management – knowing how to lead an organization away from a traditional approach to a new process framework that focuses on speed, flexibility and ongoing improvement. Managing change should be done in an agile mindset. Effective and long-lasting improvement requires incremental changes, flexibility to adapt to missteps, and involvement from your constituents along the way.
Change for any organization is hard but being overly cautious and slow to react only prolongs the process. The transition should be rapid, iterative, incremental and flexible. So, how do we speed the process? How do we ensure that we are well positioned for a shift from conventional thinking around learning design and delivery to an agile approach?
Here are a few ways to develop an agile mindset:
- Seek out experts who specialize in agile transition. There is a growing industry of companies and consulting professionals who have experience in change management and expertise in leading organizations through change. Leverage the talent and resources of experts to increase your capacity to rapidly design and deliver new content when the project requires it.
- Ensure that you and your leadership team have the training and knowledge to understand what it means to be an agile learning organization. Managing change using an agile approach will help you to better design new processes for your future organization.
- Recognize that change must be handled incrementally – not all at one time. Your training organization will not become agile in a day. It takes time to design and implement new processes.
- Partner with suppliers. Consider how training suppliers can help your organization become more agile. Using content design and development companies who specialize in agile learning can help you rationalize old content, transition delivery approaches and minimize early mistakes.
- Leverage new technologies. Agile organizations are excellent at leveraging technologies. Delivery tools such as adaptive platforms, content libraries and content repositories provide learners with easily accessible information to learn more effectively on the job.
From where I sit, the possibilities are endless and the opportunities are great. Becoming an agile organization is challenging, but it will allow you to more effectively manage the changing needs of your business by embracing perpetual change and improvement.