A couple of weeks ago I ran across a great People Management news video from this spring. In it three learning and development pros comment on their biggest challenges and one makes some interesting observations on trends.

In this People Management HR Talk news video made in April 2011, three learning and development pros comment on their biggest challenges and one talks about trends. (Skip the first 40 seconds to get to the best part.)

The challenges identified were (I am paraphrasing):

  • Making sure learning and development activities work in various countries (Shaqibah Sheikh, HR Director,YouGov PLC)
  • Improving how much people remember training over the long term (Sam Pokarel, L&D Specialist, Heathrow Airport)
  • Providing highly interactive coaching during L&D. (Julie Rowlett, DPG)
  • Prioritizing L&D needs within the workforce; there are competing needs and there is a cost to meet each one. How can we do more for staff, working with the budget we have? (David Adekitan, NHS East London)

How to prioritize?

When it comes to prioritizing, my thought is to first ensure people “get” financial decisions and financial reports. This means having a firm big picture understanding of business dynamics.

One “do it yourself” way to develop solid business acumen is to spend 10–20 years running a business. That takes a couple of decades and may involve heartache and bankruptcy, though. So I suggest investing in a business acumen simulation like Income/Outcome. It offers the experience of running a real company, making real business decisions, and succeeding (or failing, but without the heartache and bankruptcy attorneys!).

There are many business simulation options available: board games, computer, or web-based. They can have a format for individual, multi-player or team competition. There are many ingredients that go into making simulations engaging and there are no absolutes for choosing the most effective solution.

However, there are many ways that business simulation training can fail. Make sure your simulation includes:

  • A focus on your industry instead of your specific company. Your people should gain insights into the overall competitive environment. Then they can better see why your company’s strategy makes sense and how competitors might react in the future.
  • Learning through playing and doing. It’s tough to build intuition with abstract or passive learning. An experiential component allows the learning to sink into the participant’s bones.
  • Complete financial statements. That’s what people will be seeing after they leave the training, so use them in your training to develop real business savvy. The simulation should use complete, but simplified, financial reports; this provides the foundational understanding needed for dealing with real world reports in more detail.
  • Make Training Stick! Make sure people can apply the learning. Use follow-on tools like theCompany Board™ to help your people apply their new business knowledge in their daily decisions.

Does this help you set priorities for 2012 learning and development activities?