How to Embrace Digital Learning Journeys for Leadership Development

— March 19, 2019

Smart business leaders know that learning is critical for long-term success. In fact, your company’s survival hinges on your ability to continuously develop your knowledge base and skill set and to make sure your team is doing the same. That’s the only way to keep up with the pace of change: by staying ahead of the curve.

Despite this, most business leaders will say they don’t have time for training. But when the question is rephrased: “Do you have time to grow your business by 10 percent? Would you prevent tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes?” Most would answer yes. The solution? Learning.

To compensate for lack of time, learning needs to be more flexible, accessible, and available to leaders at the precise moment it’s needed. Digital tools can provide this flexibility, making the task of continuous learning easier and more effective than ever.

Learning Goes Digital

Today’s digital solutions are far from the clunky models strung together using a cumbersome learning management system that you may recall from the past. For one thing, they embrace simplicity. Using a digital portal or app for the journey gives participants a single destination for managing all of their learning and content needs. These platforms can be customized for the participant’s specific journey and are designed for easy user engagement.

Digital tools’ abilities to personalize the learning journey is another differentiator. Platforms can recommend and personalize content on the basis of a user’s activity, assessments, and score. Leveraging your company objectives as the guiding light, learners will have the right balance of personalization in a learning journey to make strategy personal — and turn the strategy into action.

New digital tools also collect rich data that can be used to assess learning impact and diagnose capability gaps. When partnered with analytics platforms, organizations can link learning impact directly to results. This means that talent and executive teams can target learning with greater effectiveness through better optimizing assets.

Reinforce Learning Through Digitally Enabled Support

Digital learning enables retention through social support. Using a digital portal or app, groups of participants can easily interact with one another throughout the journey from anywhere in the world. Users can share and rate content, as well as engage in gamification, which allows for collaborative-learning and peer-coaching experiences. These interactions engage people in informal learning that can supplement more formal experiences.

In addition to the social support, digital tools also provide reminders and individual reinforcement exercises such as quizzes, go-dos, and bite-sized learning exercises that ensure that knowledge sticks and that track progress and results. The more learners retain, the more likely they are to actually use their takeaways on the job.

Learning journeys drive tangible changes in behavior that lead to business impact. The use of digital tools allows organizations to drive greater impact through increased engagement during the learning journey and follow-through after the program.

The Journey of Leadership Development

Creating successful learning journeys starts with these implementing three steps:

1. Share best practices. You don’t have to create digital learning journeys from scratch. Benchmark with your team and with colleagues at other companies who are using the same programming to learn what has been working for them. This gives you a standard or best-practice journey to start off with. You can better tailor and target the journey to your individual strategy and objectives if you begin with a tested foundation.

2. Start simple. Don’t overload participants with content right away. Learning is a lifelong journey; piling on content just for the sake of having more won’t add value. Provide initial high-impact touchpoints that let users engage as a community. This will give everyone the support they need to start the journey off on the right foot.

3. Test it on the job. After and between the touchpoints on the journey, test material on the job. That way, you can find what is actually proving relevant to your work. Periodically revisit your strategy to ensure that it’s tailored to your team’s real work and the success of your business.

The constant learning required to run a successful organization can be both daunting and invigorating. Using digital tools allows for the right skill development in the moment it is needed. By digitizing your team’s learning journey, you open up a breadth of resources, making learning more accessible, engaging, and impactful for everyone, from the leaders of your organization to the front line.

Want to continue on your own leadership development journey? Try my company’s Business Simulator, which mimics the experience of managing a firm over the course of 25 years.

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Author: David Ackley

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