Rewiring corporate learning #2: how to decide where to begin


Continuing his series on rewiring corporate learning, Nigel Paine, former chief learning officer at the BBC, looks at where to start the process.

How do you decide where to begin? The answer is: gather information. Talk to staff at as senior level as it is possible to get access. Take the information that you receive and reflect it back. Clarify what they mean, and try to get some emerging in targets. Once you latched onto something that will make an impact on the organisation begin making plans and ask yourself three questions:

  1. How will we do it?
  2. Who will do it?
  3. And can the impact of doing it be measured in a way that makes sense to the people I have talked to?

This does not have to be a huge undertaking: sometimes something that can be delivered fast and is small but impactful and will give you the right permissions to move onto bigger projects. Focus on the biggest impact for the smallest resources and do not be afraid to ask for more.  If the business is committing its own resources then the stakes rise and the visibility rises in parallel.

Now set some deadlines and announce what you are going to do and promise to share, not only progress but results. If you have picked the right challenge it should be useful for the organisation in itself but also an indicator of how the future may look.  So take the team with you. Make the case and reiterate the case.

At this stage you are setting out commitments that are crucial and you are setting the learning team up to be judged by the level of success or failure. Success comes from raising the stakes not lowering them so you still have to keep talking and keep on sharing information about progress.

You need to involve and commit a wider group. This is a business venture not a learning event. Go back to the people who were enthusiastic: will they sponsor this? Will they directly join the delivery team; will they help gather the data to measure impact? Share the success story share the glory: talk up benefits to the organisation and talk down the learning aspects they are for the learning team to debate.

Good luck!

Next in the series: Rewiring corporate learning #3: How to focus on outcomes…

Previous articles in the series:

Rewiring corporate learning #1: understand where you need to go

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