How to Build a Training Organization for a 2.0 World

As training budgets continue to get slashed, training directors are scrambling to keep up with the pace of change while still serving their constituents. Like a lot of folks in business today, they're being asked to do more with less -- but with a cruel twist. The organizational model for training is no longer sustainable. The pace of change is here to stay and will only continue to accelerate, so learning leaders need to figure out a vastly different way to design their organizations.

If training professionals want to stay relevant, they need to reorganize their departments and reinvent themselves on the fly. By applying what I call the three Cs -- context, connections, and content -- of the new training organization, learning professionals will be able to anticipate where the business is going and be there when it arrives. Here are some pointers that can help training leaders get started -- and get the support they'll need from CEOs to get it done.

Context: Define the Purpose

The organizational context is the starting point.This is where you need to figure out the culture, organizational goals, and propensity for people development. Design the training organization goals and initiatives to fit in that context. In other words, work with what you have and in the context of your environment.

Connections: Create Lots of New Ones.

Before designing any classes or content, you need to establish connections throughout the organization. Connections that enable people to work with each other, share ideas, and collaborate with each other while they are working. Remember most of what people know about doing their jobs is learned informally or on the job. You should spend time removing barriers to collaboration by bringing down silos and implementing network structures that enable people to easily make connections in the organization. This is especially important in remote working environment.

Content: Speed It Up.

You cannot create content until you know the context in which you operate. Moreover, content takes so long to develop that it becomes obsolete by the time it is delivered. Learning professionals simply cannot keep up.  This challenge can be overcome by implementing Web 2.0 technology. Web 2.0 enables anyone to generate content on the web, and in the training organization of the future, you cannot be the controller of training content that only instructional designers develop. You must apply Web 2.0 principles of user-generated content and enable anyone in your organization to develop learning content. Whether it is using online development tools, blogs, videos, or wikis you must decentralize the content development process and then enable people to user their connections the share and access this content.

Learning leaders need to think differently about how they organization their teams and how they provide support to the businesses they service. Blowing up the traditional structure of training director, trainers, and instructional designers, and implementing the three Cs of the new training organization is a great place to start.


Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at well-known companies like E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable. In his leadership role at Knowland University, Bill focuses on helping clients get the most out of the products and services provided through a combination of guided and self-paced learning opportunities. He believes all learning experiences should be grounded in real-world application and designed to improve sales performance.

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