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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Focus on impact measures to build a business focused learning function

At the Learning eXchange, Learning Technologies and Skills exhibition visitors had the opportunity to converse with conference speaker Simon Brown, head of learning transformation at Lloyds Banking Group. The attendees discussed what it takes to build a business focused learning function. Brown summarised his conference session about the two year transformation, including reduction and refocusing of the L&D staff, achieving significant reduction in spending, massive reduction in suppliers and improvements in the utilisation of e-learning and other technology.

The eXchange conversation around leadership and building credibility prompted Brown to explain that it's "taken two years [to transform the learning function] and will take another year or two to get the business impact the leaders want. We needed to get our house in order and costs right. We're starting to get the hard metrics now and over the next year we need to prove the value learning has provided. This will provide the credibility of what we're doing".

Focusing on some of the challenges of the transformed learning team at Lloyds, Brown confirmed that there's a "shared accountability with the business" which led to "challenges on occasion of asking subject matter experts to train, while balancing the knowledge that   we've significantly reduced the size of L&D function".  

This lead to a question from a visitor about whether there was still a role for L&D. Brown said, "yes, there's a volume of activity that we have to do; technical, regulatory, operations, and that will always be there, it's a critical mass that needs to be done formally. Coming to the higher value bit, someone needs to ensure, and be able to demonstrate, how L&D interventions add value and tie into the business. That might not be a traditional role, but it's definitely needed in the future".

Was there any opposition in the L&D team? "We've changed the roles and structure in the L&D department; people have had to change with it. We've got a very strong team now and we are continuing to grow and develop. Having a very good team with the right approach will start to flow through and be visible to the business. The role has changed to be more consultative with stronger partnering. Some people have got it and role model that behaviour, others are building the required capabilities and we are making sure we provide the necessary development opportunities".

A visitor continued the debate to ask about attributes needed in the future. Brown said: "Demonstrate an understanding of the business area. Talk in a business language and translate that in to a learning solution. We need to understand the cost of and when to use different interventions. Another skill is relationships with external providers and partners; we need to partner between the supplier and the business, with learning sitting in the middle".

He talked about the "importance of taking stakeholders with you over the journey" and that this was "not to be underestimated". Finishing the eXchange by reflecting on the personal challenge, Brown talked about the "importance of staying true to the vision for learning, and being prepared for the inevitable issues that will arise along the way when undertaking a major change at pace".

Simon Brown took part in the Learning and Skills eXchange run by TJ and our partner Towards Maturity. You can view other learning eXchnage blogs here: http://www.towardsmaturity.org/article/2013/02/01/summary-lt13uk-exchanges-towards-maturity/


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