Where to Start An Audit of Your Learning Operations

My analysis model for looking at any organizational entity – has 14 sets-of-processes – which I call Areas of Performance – AoPs – that I start with. How is this accomplished in the Enterprise, I ask directly or snoop around indirectly.

My goal is to convert my mental model, made tangible, with other Analysts-in-Training – and perhaps Certification. So I committed it to paper – back in the day – and wrote about it, presented on it, and trained others to use this as their starter – for either analysis or design – of organizations and jobs and multi-job/cross-function process performance. The toughest (worst) case is a complicated organization with many routine and non-routine process-sets – and the easiest is a straight-forward simple set of routine processes. Your analysis framework needs to be robust to both uses.

In the Learning & Development realm – as with any other function – I’d start with the Core Processes and Products – the reason for being – those outward facing Processes that serve external Customers with Products. Our outputs are their inputs. I start my analysis there in the Core of the model.

Then after that – it depends.

It depends on what I have learned/uncovered in the Core areas.

I’d start with those three – in the Core – even though “bucketing” them into three might be initially deceiving – for you’ll see that there is a great deal of complexity in these three. As there are in the other buckets as well.

There are 14 Buckets in my mental model/framework for analyzing an organization – here it is applied to an L&D operation – for the range of: the lone person, the team, a department, a function, or a vast empire.

The complexity of your empire can be captured – as well as the simplicity of your Texas Ranger’s approach to getting the job done (one riot, one ranger).

But start with the Core AoPs the reason for being – for your Learning & Development organization. Start with those Product producing Processes.

Yours – may already be broken.

CORE – Curriculum Architecture Design

Your L&D Product and Service Line Program Management Processes may be broken if:

  • Projects undertaken by the L&D system are not the most critical to the Enterprise.
  • Return on investment and economic value add forecasts do not exist, or suggest a low-payback for the efforts.
  • You’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop/acquire generic content, e.g., time management and communications skills, when strategic and/or critical Enterprise initiatives have been under-resourced in the past.
  • No project management portfolio exists for the critical Target Audiences.
  • The Portfolios are not aligned with the business’ or the L&D organization’s strategies.
  • The Portfolio is not logical, and it doesn’t align with functions and/or management’s model of business; it’s not an engineered architecture – it’s a list of courses.

Your Service Line Design Processes may be broken if:

  • Portions of the Enterprise are complaining of a lack of needed services from L&D or are recommending/demanding them.
  • L&D service efforts are “one-offs” and not part of a comprehensive effort to understand the total, critical needs of targeted audiences, and then address and meet those high-payback needs with services on a priority basis. Perhaps you could offer coaching – but cannot afford to do that too!
  • L&D services don’t directly target high pay-back performance improvements.
  • Service offerings don’t align with critical, high-payback business/ L&D strategies and needs.

CORE – Modular Curriculum Development

Your Product and Service Line Development and Acquisition Program Management Processes may be broken if:

  • You can’t measure positive return on investment and economic value add actuals against plans for products/services.
  • Product and service development is being done because someone internal to the L&D system thinks it’s a good idea—the portfolio is not being managed.
  • Products and services developed aren’t maintained due to resource constraints.
  • Resources are not reallocated as needed based on changes in business direction.
  • You don’t know what to work on next if a project is completed early.
  • Projects are not sequenced to take appropriate advantage of synergies (e.g., similar content/subject matter experts between projects).

Your Modular Curriculum Development Processes could be broken if:

  • Your content does not meet the established objectives for transferring awareness, knowledge, or skills to the Target Audiences’ jobs.
  • Your content development efforts are somewhat ad hoc, not in control, and not predictable in terms of their eventual costs or cycle times.
  • Your content development does not design and build appropriately reusable “chunks” of content for sharing with other Target Audiences.

Your Purchased Product Acquisition Processes may be broken if:

  • L&D bought often doesn’t make the grade in terms of creating the awareness, knowledge, and skills as measured in the Target Audiences during/after the L&D deployment.
  • It takes too long to evaluate and decide on which L&D you should purchase.

Your Purchased Product Modification Processes may be broken if:

  • You have/have had any legal issues (lawsuits, complaints, or future risks) resulting from making modifications to copyrighted materials.
  • The cycle times and costs for making modifications are not reliably predictable.
  • Content bought and modified often doesn’t make the grade in terms of creating the awareness, knowledge, and skills as measured in their Target Audiences during/after the deployment.

Your Existing Content Maintenance Processes may be broken if:

  • Products are still being deployed or accessed that are in need of updating.
  • Updating cycle times and costs cannot be reasonably predicted.
  • You never stop updating.
  • Maintenance is not a planned, resourced or prioritized project effort.

CORE – Curriculum Deployment  

Your Master Materials Storage and Retrieval Processes may be broken if:

  • It is too difficult to retrieve material masters for updating or deployment purposes.
  • It is too difficult to access current content to attempt reuse.
  • Materials are used in deployment when the intent should have been to make them unavailable during updates.
  • There is no version control of material masters that ensures all materials are up to date.

Your Master Materials Change Management Processes may be broken if:

  • Outdated materials are still being used in deployment after updating.

Your Scheduling Processes may be broken if:

  • There are complaints from the Target Audience about availability of your offerings.
  • Seats (or site spaces) go underused or seats/spaces are backlogged.
  • Materials are overstocked or under-stocked (unavailable) when requested.

Your L&D Facilitator and Coach Development and Certification Processes may be broken if:

  • There is an insufficient number of staff to deploy L&D per the demand.
  • Evaluation feedback identifies any problems with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes/demeanor of the facilitators, coaches, or other support staff.

Your Facilitator-led Deployment Processes may be broken if:

  • Feedback from delivery evaluations (learners, instructors, administrative, etc.) suggests problems from their perspectives, with things other than facilitator credibility or content accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness, but including non-content items such as the room, facility, and equipment issues.

Your Self-paced Deployment Processes may be broken if:

  • Feedback from evaluations suggests problems from the learners’ perspective for things other than content accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness, including items such as availability, timeliness of receipt, or accessibility.

Your Coached/Mentored Deployment Processes may be broken if:

  • Feedback from delivery evaluations (learners, instructors, administrative, etc.) suggests problems from the learners’ perspective with things other than coach/mentor credibility or content accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness, including non-content items such as room, facility, and equipment issues.

Your Individual Development Planning Processes may be broken if:

  • There are no individual-to-group-to-Enterprise roll-ups of the participation plans. They are all discrete and not linked.
  • Individual plans are not used and/or no common format exists.
  • No one has a realistic clue of the future demand for development products and services.
  • Seats and sites are under-filled or sites are underutilized for many deployments.
  • Seats and sites demand outstrips availability.

Your Ordering and Registration Processes may be broken if:

  • Customers complain that their “orders” are not being filled in a timely manner or are being filled incorrectly.
  • Expediting orders is usually necessary and taking a lot of people’s time and attention.

The School of PACT 

My new – 2011 – book covers all of this and more – on all 14 Systems/AoPs…

Now available as both paperbacks and Kindles – here – along with 5 other books in the “From Training to Performance-based Training to Performance Improvement Consulting” book 6-Pack

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