The following story was told by Sherry Engel, a performance consultant with Performance Development Group.
Client: A large financial institution in the Northeastern United States.
Problem: Several years ago (when Engel was the vice president of learning strategies at this institution), the organization grew rapidly through various mergers and acquisitions. When learning leaders attempted to adopt an e-learning platform, they struggled to do so effectively within the expanded company. They realized the need for a concentrated effort from the entire organization to make the initiative work.
Cause: When the organization was smaller, the learning function had been centralized, but after its growth, learning and development was decentralized to each branch. Learning leaders did not know how to roll out major initiatives within the new format.
Method/Tools: The institution hired Karl Kapp, assistant director for the Institute for Interactive Technologies, who completed a pulse check of the organization's learning and development function. He also worked with the CEO to identify who were the most influential learning leaders.
Kapp interviewed the senior business executives—to whom the learning staff was accountable—to learn their strategic business goals and objectives and how the learning function could develop talent to meet those goals.
Kapp interviewed key learning leaders to gauge what challenges they faced. Kapp also surveyed additional learning and development staff to gain comprehensive data about the state of the learning function.
Kapp and Engel worked with the institution's business and learning leaders to create a learning council that consisted of an executive steering committee and key learning leaders. From the interview and survey results, the council developed learning strategies based on the company's primary goals and objectives. They also created a vision and mission for the learning function: The decentralized learning and development partners were to collaborate to achieve the companywide strategic learning initiatives. The council met monthly to drive the learning strategies. The leaders purchased an LMS and LCMS and began training employees on the use of the new e-learning platform.
Results: Mergers and acquisitions create silos, so the learning council helped the institution to increase collaboration. It also saved time and money through the sharing of training resources; reduction of classroom time, travel, and administrative costs; and duplicated design and development expenses. By pulling learning staff from different company locations and holding them accountable to executives on the council, the institution replicated the best of a centralized learning function in a decentralized environment.