Over the past 30 years, I have been fortunate to live and work in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia. The experiences have been enriching and have presented me with the opportunity to work with several global and regional clients as they transformed their learning approaches or developed the operational infrastructure for employee training and learning.
I have witnessed how the rapid rise in global connection (thanks to technology) has forced organizations to adapt and modernize operations to meet learner needs. Even with these changes, we must continue to recognize the cultural and regional differences across the world, and organizations must be positioned to adapt and deploy learning consistently and efficiently. Despite the rapid evolution of learning over the past few years, the foundation for a global learning organization remains the same. Great learning needs require great execution.
5 Steps for More Efficient Learning Organizations
When planning your learner experience, here are five of the most important steps to take to build a learning infrastructure that is efficient, cost-effective, and regionally specific.
Step 1: Develop a Global Governance Framework
When first beginning to build your global learning infrastructure, intentionally create a framework for how you should operate. Consider which operating models are best for your business today, and how best to meet your short-term needs while simultaneously looking at the future. Take time to benchmark and carefully consider an inclusive framework.
You should also seek executive sponsorship. If your regional and global executive teams are not aligned and supportive of a change, you will struggle to implement it. Developing a reference document in collaboration with your business partners that outlines your global governance framework will provide structure and direction as your learning operations expand across regions.
This global governance framework sets the foundation for all future plans and expansions, can help build stakeholder support, and brings transparency to who is responsible for which process and how different aspects of your infrastructure will function.
Step 2: Build in Compliance and Regulatory Requirements
When it comes to compliance, companies now rely heavily on providing consistent, evidence-based learning to employees. This demand for implementing more consistent, evidence-based learning has led many organizations to centralize their learning functions and implement global learning operations.
As you design your global learning infrastructure, recognize that there has been a rise in regulatory requirements. Learning organizations are in a great position to reduce risk for companies and customers, and you should take advantage of this as much as possible. When creating policies and procedures, consider how best to thread compliance into your learning operations. To be purposeful with information security and General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) in your processes and communications, automate workflow to reduce risk when possible.
While global learning operations can bring cost savings and operational efficiencies, we are an agent of change—don’t miss the opportunity to be a strong supporter of the development of global solutions.
Step 3: Avoid Groupthink and Consider Regional Preferences
To prevent centralized groupthink, organizations should be careful when designing their governance models. When a learning team operates centrally, team members often assume they are the experts on delivering learning. While this may be the case, these team members may not have experience in deploying solutions regionally. They also likely do not understand regional resource complexity nor how to navigate purchasing at the regional or country level, both of which have their own set of obstacles.
To ensure the right people are on the governance team, it is important to engage stakeholders in the team-forming process. This helps to build trust and engagement among stakeholders and can lead to cost savings through a deeper understanding of potential purchasing challenges.
Step 4: Consult Your Local Experts and Interested Parties
Although modern technology has made it easier for people to connect with each other, there is still no substitute for firsthand experience living and working in other parts of the world. As an American, my personal experiences in Asia, LATAM, EMEA, and the United Kingdom have provided me with a deep understanding and appreciation for the culturally specific challenges global teams face.
Although it may not always be financially feasible, it can be beneficial to assign team members from the central organization to work in a particular region or to have regional team members join the central team; this can ensure you are building a model that works across the enterprise. A successful global team recognizes and embraces the unique qualities and perspectives that each team member brings to the group.
Allowing flexibility means adaptation—not the creation of a unique model. Build flexibility into your operating model, allowing for certain regions and business units to make their own regional adaptations. Of course, any regional adaptations should be considered through your governance teams.
Step 5: Establish Global Partnerships
A well-connected, effective global learning team can assist the organization in finding and partnering with the right organizations around the world. As different regions develop and grow, so do the local resources available in those areas. It is essential to be selective when choosing partners and to prioritize organizations that complement your areas of weakness or inexperience.
It is also important to consider whether potential partners share your organizational values, have the desire and ability to collaborate and build capabilities that meet your needs, and are willing to work with and across learning providers in your best interests. When you select learning partners, consider their ability to deploy learning where your business operates and their willingness to collaborate and partner with your network of providers.
Experience More Efficient Global Employee Training
It is important to recognize that modern learning strategies can present numerous benefits like bringing savings to your organization. Leveraging shared service centers, creating a cost-effective resource arbitrage, and outsourcing operations are not only about savings, though; they are also key to reinvesting in talent and learning initiatives. They are opportunities to adjust your global spend in a way that allows learning organizations to become better strategic business partners.
How you establish governance and relationships now will have a significant impact on your ability to navigate and successfully respond to future changes. To learn more about learning vendor management or building and maintaining a successful training delivery team, check out our other resources on gpstrategies.com.