Seven Steps to a Better Learning and Development Project

Learning and development (L&D) programs are among the most effective ways to increase productivity, strengthen employee loyalty, and boost profits. Yet, while the benefits of employee training are undeniable, many organizations struggle when it comes to executing an effective L&D project.

With 25 years of learning and development experience, we know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. Here are seven strategies you can follow to develop and deliver an impactful L&D project that will have employees and business leaders asking for more:

Set the strategy.

Before diving into execution, take the time to formulate a strategy with a clear idea of the objectives you want to accomplish and the needs you’re trying to meet. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get you started:

  • What does success look like?
  • What do your learners need to do differently coming out of training?
  • What learning gaps are you trying to close within your team?
  • Who is your audience? Who really needs the training?
  • What is the demographic makeup of your audience, and what format(s) will resonate best with this audience?
  • What are your metrics for success (KPIs)?

When you take the time to dig deep in this step to create a clearly defined strategy, you’ll set a strong foundation for a successful program.

Formally kick off the program.

“I didn’t know!” Sound familiar? In our experience, many projects don’t succeed due to a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities. Start the project with a kick-off meeting that includes all key players. Review the aforementioned strategy, align on milestones, define roles and responsibilities, and set realistic expectations. Get everyone on the same page at the outset of the project.

Account for the unexpected.

Though you’d like to believe all will go as planned, I can assure you there will be some setbacks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—as long as you plan for it. Set realistic deadlines, build a contingency buffer into your scope and budget, and incorporate plenty of time for reviews throughout the process. Think about what information could change along the way or hitches that may arise. For example, if you’re training on a new product, be aware of possible product launch delays.

Guide your resources on the L&D process.

As you engage subject matter experts, IT resources, and key stakeholders, be mindful of the commitment you’re asking them to make—their schedules, their constraints, and their “day jobs.” Encourage them to speak up sooner rather than later if they run into a delay or come up against a conflict. The sooner you know, the sooner you can adjust the rest of your plan. Take the time to educate all project resources on the crucial role they’re playing in the project and be sure they have a clear understanding of the process and timelines.

Ask the right questions during your discovery process.

Your subject matter experts may be brilliant in their field, but chances are they don’t have experience in the learning design process. Educate your SMEs before you begin your project. Have in-depth conversations with them, ask questions and gather all those good nuggets of knowledge from the beginning. You may find they are holding onto information that they didn’t think was relevant to the audience until you took the time to probe.

Involve the right stakeholders early enough in the process.

The most successful projects are those that include a variety of viewpoints. Be sure you engage the right team of stakeholders and decision-makers to round out your project—and do it early.  If you wait until a final review cycle to get buy-in or alignment from the powers that be, you may realize all too late that you’ve missed the mark. Ultimately, your learning and development programs need to support the business vision—and your stakeholders are the key to achieving that goal.

Avoid a breakdown in communication.

Effective communication is key to the success of a project, even more so in the creative process or when developing to an evolving product or process. Leave space for clear communication between stakeholders about new ideas, changes in scope, or any obstacles they encounter. Sometimes a quick brainstorm call to “circle the wagons” can set the project on an even better path than you were on before.

While creating and executing a learning and development project can feel daunting, it doesn’t have to be. With the right level of planning, expectation-setting, and communication, you can deliver a program that exceeds expectations, delights stakeholders, and accelerates business goals.Whether you’re struggling to initiate a new project or looking for guidance on one that’s already underway, Lumious can help. We’ll partner with you to empower your learners to grow through custom learning and development programs and tools that educate and engage. For more information, contact us here.