To me, it comes down to this issue: Are we using technology (trends) to support our L&D strategy? Or, are we letting those trends drive our strategy?

Maybe your company is shouting for mobile – maybe you are. Let’s say you champion mobile all the way to fruition, only to realize no one uses it because employees didn’t need access to information anytime and anywhere. Now you’ve just wasted time and money, and you may even feel like you made a fatal career mistake.

So how do we plan for and champion the trends within L&D that our business actually needs?

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  1. Understand what your organizational needs are. Our group, the Fredrickson Roundtable for Learning Leaders, recently discussed L&D Trends. A key takeaway for me was to look at which business needs caused which trends to emerge. When considering whether or not to pursue a trend, ask “Does the business need which created this trend match my company’s business need?” If the business needs don’t match up, the trend you’re considering is probably a poor choice.
  2. Is the trend you’re considering the only (or best) solution to your business need? At our Fredrickson Roundtable meeting, we organized industry trends into the business needs they emerged from (see table). And, for every one business need, we found multiple trends. So, ask yourself, “Is the trend I’m considering the best one to meet this business need?”
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    Business need Trends emerging from that need
    Access anytime, anywhere Mobile, cross-platform design, performance support
    Find what you need Organization and curation, Content Management Systems – LMS, TMS
    Capture knowledge & connect Social & collaboration, video and media
    Go global Translation & localization, cultural competence
    Educate everyone Off-the-shelf course catalogs, MOOCs

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  4. Is my organization ready to support the requirements of this specific trend?” Finally, there is a huge need for us to determine if and how our organization is ready to adopt new trends. Ask yourself, and your company, certain questions: Can we afford this trend? Would our employees actually utilize this trend/technology? How would implementing this idea contribute to the company – will it help to bring in revenue or reduce expenses? How else might it serve to support or achieve the company’s business goals?

Let’s return to our example about your company shouting about mobile. Before you dive in feet first as the champion, what are some of the questions you should be asking? If you follow the model, some of them might be:

  • Do employees truly need access to information anytime and anywhere. If yes, which ones and why?
  • Is mobile is the best option?
  • Can we afford this?
  • Would our employees actually use it?
  • Do we buy them all tablets or should they use their own smart phones?
  • How am I going to show that by doing this, I’ve helped the company achieve its business goals?

There are a lot of questions to ask. But, if you ask the right ones – in the right order – you can be sure your business will be supported by a trend it actually needs.

Closing question: What’s one way you make sure trends support your L&D strategy?

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