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How Corporate Learning Drives Competitive Advantage

Josh Bersin—of Bersin by Deloitte—has found that corporate learning strategy is a critical component of creating a competitive advantage. If your business is not driving a cohesive strategy to keep employees involved in continuous education, then you are not doing enough. In an article for Forbes, Bersin articulates how a worthwhile learning strategy looks.

Mature Education

Right now, every business wants innovation. Innovation comes from employee capabilities, and capability comes from employees learning. Thus, you want to create a model for corporate learning that embeds learning into the culture of the business itself. This means fostering trust between employees, having a tolerance for mistakes, and creating a value system around learning. Toward that end, Bersin describes a four-level model for corporate learning maturity:

  • Level 1: Incidental Training
  • Level 2: Training & Development Excellence
  • Level 3: Talent & Performance Improvement
  • Level 4: Organizational Capability

The first level generally regards the training and mentoring that staff provide each other on a case-by-case basis. This does not scale well, of course, so the second level institutes “professional training.” Professional training is when a training department examines the specific skills that employees use on a daily basis, and they then craft training/development opportunities that connect to those skills. At this level, organizations are said to maintain a “corporate university.”

At the third level, learning goes beyond just more training. This is the point where disparate training programs across the company are brought together, examined, and compared to how they compare with the business’s current talent strategy. Long-term, deeply business-specific career paths can be developed from these observations, with the payoff being that employees develop needed specialized skills.

The final level is a place few have actually seen. Here is how Bersin describes it:

Here the organization should turn itself inside out: rather than thinking about skills and job needs, they look at “audiences” and “audience profiles.”

What, for example, does it take to turn a good sales person into a leading sales person?  What does it take to develop a good engineer into a great engineer? The answer is not some form of “training” – it is a combination of training, coaching, performance support, and employee assessment. And the answer is likely unique to your organization.

One of the most important tools in level 4 organizations is knowledge sharing and building a culture of learning.

If your business needs a roadmap for how to develop its learning capabilities, this is a pretty strong foundation from which to start. For more information, you can view the original article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2013/03/20/how-corporate-learning-drives-competitive-advantage/

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