Where and How Should Tough Resource Allocations Happen in an Enterprise Learning Context?

I heard it again just the other day.

HR making business decisions that the business itself should make. Making decisions on how to address the business’ needs.

When resources are constrained – and when aren’t they – where and how should the decisions about where to put those business resources happen?

The simple concepts of Cash Cows and Rising Stars – when looking a multiple business units – or parts of the business – might help those in L&D. Getting re-positioned with the business leaders to change the status quo may be much more difficult – unless the leaders at the top of the heap also feel that where the resources flow is currently inappropriate – because of their understanding of Cash Cows and Rising Stars.

It should be noted that just as a business unit/entity can be considered a Cash Cow if it is generating tons of cash flow – and the Rising Stars are not but hold the promise of doing so in the future – there is the third category of Dogs – which simply consume cash with little or no promise of ever generating cash for the Shareholders, or to be plowed back into the business to generate more returns.

Placing the Strategic bets of an Enterprise is not an exact science. But allocating resources based on current “cash flow” alone – versus potential/future “cash flow” is short sighted.

Can HR, where L&D is most often parked on the organization chart, do this? Yes, of course. Do they? Not often enough.

Just because an ISD practitioner can identify a valid learning need – does not in and of itself warrant meeting that need.

Only comparative ROI projections – based on valid estimates of Risks, Rewards, and Investment costs for the life cycle of the need – should be the basis for meeting any need, or not.

Good Stewardship in Learning targets analysis and development – and approaches design in ways to increase content share-ability and improve authenticity.

Good Stewards Achieve Significant ROI.

You and your organization cannot simply listen to the squeaky or squeakiest of wheels (requests) – because those requests will come from both Cash Cows demanding their share of the resources that they generate – or from the Rising Stars who won’t rise very far without the boost from more resources than they can generate on their own.

The trick – when L&D Resource decisions are made within the HR empire and not by the business leaders that HR and L&D serve – is to balance those requests for resources – with an eye to the future and not to the past or current state. And taking into account both the significance of the RETURNS and the likelihood of those RETURNS really happening.

I say take the allocation decisions out of the hands of the suppliers and put them into the hands of the business leaders. Put those decisions into a Governance and Advisory System.

Organize your Customers AND Stakeholders – so you can more appropriately get aligned to more appropriate serve the business.  Where? In a forum involving leaders of all of the business units/entities.

How? Using a system and processes similar to how other “strategic” business decisions are made currently within your Enterprise. Perhaps there is a system in place – or perhaps you need to create one.

This approach to a “Governance and Advisory System” is covered in my book: The Curriculum Manager’s Handbook – for CLOs and non-CLO leaders of L&D operations.

Get aligned to both the recipients of your services AND your key stakeholders – and not simply to your chain of command – especially if that chain of command runs through HR.

Not that that will be easy.

Few things that are really worthwhile are really not ever easy.

For more info about this book – available as both a paperback and as a Kindle – please go here.

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