In 2001, a group of software developers got together to discuss the state of the laborious software development methodologies of the day. Their conversation led to the creation of the Agile Manifesto, a set of principles outlining a new and lightweight method to completing software projects.

Since that day, thousands of organizations have made the adjustment and harvested the benefits of these lightweight principles. I believe enterprise learning needs a similar set of principles. Adjusting our paradigm is going to be critical in order to meet the needs of our employees.

These seven principles can be used by a learning leader to take their organization into the next era of enterprise learning.

  1. Empower others.

Empower employees and managers to curate their own learning experiences with whatever resources they need. Pressing curation nearer to the learner increases quality and validity, and let’s be honest, they are currently curating from Google anyway. Encourage self-directed learning and sharing amongst teams.

  1. Connect learners to valuable resources.

Connect learners with each other (and to insights and feedback) for exploration, guidance and coaching. While organic connections will happen, you will need to initially engineer useful connections and interactions. In my opinion, this is the underutilized flywheel of employee engagement.

  1. Decentralize

Provide tools to learners where they work. Learning follows the path of least resistance. Speed, simplicity and easy access matter most. So, make self-driven learning meaningful by curating the right resources and tools that are accessible by the employee in their workflow.

  1. Channel curiosity rather than command and control the learning process.

People can already learn anywhere, anytime, all by themselves. So, spend less time worrying about how to manage and track workers’ training and more time figuring out how to channel and feed their curiosity.

  1. Invest in adaptivity, not efficiency.

Let go of the fantasy of one integrated system that does everything, all in a simple, seamless app. We know it’s nice to imagine. It feels familiar, it sounds safe and it would be efficient. But locking all your processes, content and users into one monolithic system won’t help you adapt when requirements and priorities evolve, or when new, better options emerge. And they will.

  1. Shift people’s perspectives.

Efficiency is not the only reason to invest in learning technology. The real goal is making your business and your people more productive, responsive and competitive. There is a large dissonance if your technology doesn’t facilitate just-in-time learning. Think agile!

  1. Dig the data.

Use analytics, data science and machine learning to make key decisions and “of-course” your employees. “Of-course” refers to setting the goal of having employees say “of course” when they carry out an activity (i.e., it just makes sense). It’s much better than “wow-ing” the learner.

All leaders (not just L&D leaders) have a role in impacting change and improving performance and skills across their company. Leaders must balance organizational imperatives with individual goals. Autonomy in learning can be measured against the principles above. As a result, employee engagement increases, workforce skills are enhanced and the learning culture at a company shifts into the modern age. Like the Agile Manifesto was used to change an entire industry, principles of enterprise learning can be leveraged to change your organization.

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