How To Stop Buying More Bloated Learning Tech

The mind is buzzing on all things learning technology today.

It’s funny to me how I’ve watched the transition over the last few decades in the L&D industry from ‘we need to have as many classroom courses as possible’ to ‘we need as much learning tech as possible’.

When I spoke at the Learning Technologies conference in London late last year, I shared with the 200 attendees packed into our room that the average organisation has 88 different pieces of digital technology for employees to useThat’s bloody mad, right?

If you think about it, it’s not really that staggering in today’s world. I’ve worked with large organisations that have had 20+ LMS/LXPs and tiny organisations that have nothing but a Google doc.

In a confusing land of boundless technology and pressure from market expectations. We lose our way with acquiring shiny new things when we would do well to step back and figure out what’s the right tool for the job. Spoiler: It might mean no tech.

This week’s words were inspired by other words I wrote on LinkedIn.

I shared a thesis that LMS vs LXP is the wrong question and that the right tool for the job is the better one. I fully expected to be met with hellfire and brimstone. Mainly from tech vendors, (I know some of you are reading this!), but that didn’t happen.

Instead, I saw an outpour of “Yes, thank you for saying this”.

So, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief at least knowing I’m not as crazy as I think on some days. The core of my thesis was L&D teams struggle to get unstuck in what can easily be a confusing land of boundless pieces of technology. Which (IMO) means we would be better positioned to ask these questions of ourselves and our teams before uttering the word’ tech’:

1️⃣ What are you solving?

2️⃣ Who are you serving?

3️⃣ What is the best tool for that job?

The reaction to this post got me thinking.

What tools and insights can I share with you to navigate the often complex field of learning technology in your organisation, and most importantly, if you need it?

After a decade-plus dealing with vendors, L&D teams and senior leaders (I’m looking at you CFOs). I’ve picked up a few useful thoughts and experiences which I hope can serve you well.

1️⃣ The Ultimate Checklist Before Buying New Learn Tech

This is a meaty one which walks through the process I used with a 30,000-plus sized business. The key takeaways are to figure out if you really need anything new and pick partners, not providers. Read the whole thing to learn from my wins and avoid my failures.

2️⃣ The 5-Step Framework To Build Your Tech Stack

This one came from a webinar I delivered for Degreed and their customers.

It’s the same framework I’ve used across enterprise orgs and scale-ups with a few tweaks here and there to avoid costly tech mistakes.

3️⃣ The Learning Tech Decision Template

This is a variation of a template I used with quite a few companies over the last 6-ish years.

It’s short and simple but incredibly effective in encouraging critical thinking on your technology decisions. This is the companion to the above visual and you can get the template here.

Ok, folks. That’s it from me.

I hope these tools and insights serve you well in your own practice.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

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