Learning Strategy

5 Simple Ways You Can Level-Up Your Learning Function Today

Let’s talk about some things you can do to scale the level of your learning and performance function.

Do your research 

Explore the industry today to understand what the modern approaches across organisations of all sizes are.

It’s good to understand not only what’s working, but what’s not working too, and why.

When you walk into any new role or are looking to take a new approach to your function, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Not only should you do external research, but you also need to get a view of the land within the organisation. It’s vital to understand what infrastructure is already in place.

  • Get clear on the company strategy.
  • What is your organisation trying to achieve? 
  • What do people need to know and do to help reach this? 

At the end of the day, everyone who’s part of the company is here to perform to provide ROI.

That might sound awful but it’s true.

Getting clear on the company strategy will help make sure you’re focusing on the right things to affect performance and provide value.

Not just doing the same old because that’s what people expect.

Talk to your people

I strongly recommend not to take the easy road of assumptions and siloed conversations behind closed doors with only the chosen few.

To get the real picture of what’s happening across your organisation today, you need to get out and speak to the people. Ya know, the ones who are doing the work day in and out. The view of just senior levels only plays a dangerous game of opinions.

And most opinions are biased and without data.

This is not helpful when trying to build a learning and performance function that wants to enable real value for its people.

A simple action you can take is just talking to people across the org.

Use questions to understand what they like about the culture of growth today, what they like, don’t like and how they approach growth in their time outside work.

Use a data-led approach to build a strategy that actually helps fellow humans get better every day. Not a function that acts more like a McDonald’s drive-thru and peddles the usual junk.

Now it’s key to note here, that this is not a TNA aka a training needs analysis exercise. Screw TNA’s! They’re a bunch of BS in my opinion. Asking people what they want generally turns out to be a wishlist of stuff that they don’t need.

Most of us don’t know what we need to know.

So yes, collect data but ask the right questions. What people want and want they need are often two very different things.


I love to experiment with new ideas and improve upon what’s already in place.

Now I recognise, that depending on the culture of your org and leadership team, it can be difficult to have the space to experiment and change things up. 

If there’s one thing I’ve noted in my 16 years in this space thus far, it’s that orgs like the stability of the good old L&D function.

This stable framework in the corporate space is a spillover of the framework we’ve all experienced through educational institutions.

But, education and learning in the workplace are not the same thing.

Education has always been instructor-led, I speak, you listen format.

Whereas workplace learning is all about adult connections and conversations. Repeating what happens in the education world is not going to enable the same benefit in the world of work.

If anything, it’s going to damage it.

So look to try out new things, but also respect the things in place now and look to improve on these.

And, we must not forget, that in our experimentation it can be incredibly useful to connect and learn from the world outside learning.

I’ve always found synergy and learnt a lot from fellow humans in the world of tech, product and marketing.

Taking approaches and skills from this world for your development is essential in building yourself into a T-shaped modern learning professional (more on that in a blog post soon!).

Be smart with technology

Now I know learning technology is all the rage, but it’s not going to be your saviour.

Tech (like all things in life) can be valuable if used with the right intent. And intention is the key word here, folks.

Likewise, we should not fear tech either. It’s not going to replace you or your team. Unless you want it to of course!

Instead of me writing a bunch more, here’s something I wrote earlier covering a checklist on what to do before buying any learning technology.

The bottom line is to be intentional in anything you use in your tech stack.

It must have a purpose to fix a real-world situation. Not just we should do this because everyone else does this.

Don’t forget the human 

It’s easier than ever to create a digital learning tech ecosystem.

It’s actually really hard to connect with people on a human level and create meaningful experiences in the real world.

For me, that’s the real challenge today.

Again, I’m not proposing a silver bullet solution here.

Instead, this is all about continued exploration across the culture you find yourself in and striking the balance that works for your community.

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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I’ve heard many people say that 2020 has been a lost year.

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