This is the final post of a series based on a discussion I had with Scott Robbin, a Senior Content Associate from Argyle Executive Forum, on the link between learning initiatives and overall organizational strategy.
In the wake of economic shrinkage, every penny spent within the organization must be rationalized. As I noted in a recent interview, for the learning organization, that means learning too must be linked directly to organizational strategy. By making this link, learning actually begins to drive business results and emerges as a key part of the organization’s success.
But why is strategy so all-important?
There’s a great article on Harvard Business Online, which does a terrific job of differentiating a corporation’s strategy from its mission, vision, and its value network. In that article, Michael Watkins defines strategy as:
- A set of guiding principles that generates a desired pattern of decision-making.
- A roadmap that helps people in the organization make decisions and allocate resources in order to accomplish key objectives.
And what’s at stake if the link between learning and organizational strategy is not made?
In the past, learning and development may have been a function that was thought to be the first cut made in rough times and the last to be added to when times got better. But when learning is tied directly to strategy and results, it brings obvious value to the business. In fact, the results of our Learning in Difficult Times survey suggest that if companies cut learning initiatives to cut costs, they risk the following negative consequences:
- higher employee turnover
- lower revenues
- less motivated employees
- decreased productivity, and
- sinking morale.
On a brighter note, companies that do tie learning to strategy are improving by:
- strengthening their overall survival strategy
- positioning the organization of both short- and long-term success
- ensuring greater success at reaching customer needs and organizational goals
This thinking makes sense in all economic climates – when times are good and when they’re bad. Strategy is like the spine of the learning organization. For this reason, strategy links directly to the vigor and health of that organization and is truly the secret to learning success.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida