Future-proofing leadership development training and learning experiences

Britney Cole

Associate Vice President

Read more about Britney

Britney Cole is the associate vice president, solution architecture and innovation strategy at The Ken Blanchard Companies®. As an engineer turned corporate learning strategist, Britney brings an analytical and pragmatic lens to employee performance and engagement. With more than 15 years of experience in working with Fortune 500 organizations, Britney focuses on human-centric solutions, bringing design thinking to her work and clients to create innovative, relevant, and meaningful experiences that create business impact.


Prior to COVID-19, the topic of future-proofing leadership development was a “someday” thought in the minds of leadership and learning development executives. The need for such a strategy was not due to a global crisis, but to the evolution of business itself: global, matrixed organisations, the high cost of travel, the inability to reach and scale training, and the shift in learner preferences to more self-serve, on-demand content.

The past few weeks have exponentially accelerated that timeline—especially for those of us who relied primarily on face-to-face interactions. Suddenly, we need an immediate answer to evolving organisational and learner needs and desires.

At The Ken Blanchard Companies®, I recently re-opened my “strategy on a page” to determine what is still relevant given the huge impact COVID-19 is having on our business as well as everyone else’s.

Our digital strategy included the following components:

  • Transform into a Digital Content Leader
  • Deliver High Impact, Modern Learning Experiences
  • Create Innovative Leadership Development Offerings

The strategy still applies. I want to share how we are adjusting to this changing world in the hope it may help you in your organisational adjustments.


Transform into a Digital Content Leader

The term digital learning conjures up a variety of images and experiences. Digital learning can encompass nearly anything online, whether it’s basic eLearning, collaborative and social MOOCs, recorded webinars and videos, or a blend of articles, podcasts, and tools served up over time via a learning experience platform.

It can also be polarising. On one end of the spectrum are those who say “FINALLY!” and are excited about the prospect of offering content and experiences to their learners on their own time and meeting them where they are.

But others are rightfully concerned about their place in this new world of virtual classrooms and online programmes. Where is the human element that is so crucial to building connection and supporting deep skill development? How does the role of facilitator evolve to leading in a virtual workplace?

It’s important that this not become an either/or debate. It’s also important to take stock of what we have. L&D tends to have a build-first approach, where the answer is to create more content. But in this case, plenty is out there, whether it’s utilising internal assets already built, breaking down larger assets into shorter, more manageable ones, or curating from what’s available through public and licensed content libraries. At Blanchard, we are working with clients to leverage what already exists.


Deliver High Impact, Modern Learning Experiences

We all seek to create learning experiences so compelling and relevant that participants not only rave about the experience but also demonstrate new behaviours that drive results. We also hope to create cultures of learning in which people are free to share and collaborate and are curious to learn and adopt new skills.

To get to these outcomes, a seismic shift must occur at all levels of the organisation. High quality content is just one element. In our work with clients, we focus on five factors for maximising training impact.

Although a grassroots approach is a great way to gain attention and traction when piloting or testing new modalities, new technologies, and new ways to interact with others, it’s essential to ensure each of these five factors is considered and addressed.


Create Innovative Leadership Development Offerings

When I first wrote this part of my strategy, it was on the topic of innovation and how to build integrated learning journeys across different levels of leaders in an organisation—whether they be individual contributors, new leaders, experienced managers, or senior executives. This is still a key part of our strategy as we consider how to leverage our existing content in new ways to better serve customers.

So, for us, future-proofing was taking a good look inside, knowing we’ve been doing the right things for a long time. Now, it’s re-orienting from a programme and product approach to a more integrated journey.

As you look to future-proof your learning organisation, consider how you can meet leaders where they are while allowing for more choice, flexibility, and opportunity to build new mindsets and skillsets so they can inspire others.

Here’s a simple example of a journey for someone who is looking to be a more proactive self leader:

This is how we are future-proofing—and we believe it’s how other L&D organisations can do the same. Consider how your company can transform into a digital content leader that delivers high impact learning experiences and creates innovative leadership development offerings. And let us know if we can help!

The Ken Blanchard Companies®

The Ken Blanchard Companies® is the global leader in management training. For more than 40 years, Blanchard® has been creating the best managers in the world, training over 150,000 people per year. Blanchard® is the expert in management training across all levels of an organization and is the provider of choice by Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium businesses, governments, and educational and nonprofit organizations.

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