259 L&D professionals took part in my L&D survey. In this blog post, you will find a link to the full survey results, along with my initial impressions.
Practically every challenge on the list struck a chord with the respondents. Every challenge scored an average between 6 and 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10). I checked whether managers responded differently to the survey compared to non-managerial respondents, but the difference was negligible. The download contains the detailed results along with some explanations.
The survey results guide me on which steps I need to take next. My initial plan had been to interview practitioners, specialists, and gurus about the highest ranking survey topics. However, almost 200 of the respondents were kind enough to add their personal challenges to the list. I divided this input into three categories, and I will dive into each of them separately.
Category 1: Changing the mindset
A substantial amount of the input related the first category: changing the mindset. This was by far the one most mentioned hurdle by the survey participants.
The respondents indicated three groups of people whose mindsets they would like to change: upper-level management, direct colleagues, and employees. It is also clear that the mindset of the upper-level management is directly related to the second challenge: budget.
To me, this indicates that the participants are not questioning whether they need to change the L&D approach from top-down to bottom-up, or whether to use subject matter experts (SMEs) to create content in a smarter, faster way. The real question appears to be: “How do I change the mindset of my manager, my co-workers, and the employees?”
Category 2: getting started
The second category of challenges evolves around getting started. The participants frequently listed alignment with the business as an obstacle. The second obstacle in this category relates to measuring ROI. How do you measure the (business) value of a learning intervention or knowledge-sharing initiative?
Another perceived obstacle is the diversity of the audience. The respondents perceived difficulties with creating learning that fits employees spread out across various countries and representing multiple generations with different learning styles and needs.
Performance support, self-directed learning and social learning tied for first place as the most popular learning approaches. The other four approaches were significantly less popular.
Respondents mentioned seven additional learning approaches besides the top seven listed above. To me, this is a sign that we are still in the early, experimental stages. We still need to gain more experience and data to prove which approach (or combination of approaches) works best.
Category 3: Production challenges
In relation to producing learning, respondents mentioned four main issues. The number one issue centers around the quality of the learning content. More specifically respondents indicated that they find it challenging to create engaging content. Is the created content attractive enough? Is the content instructionally sound? I understand these concerns, and there are solutions which I will write about in a separate post in the weeks ahead.
The second issue concerning the production of learning content relates to tools, technology, and integration. Learning tools focussing on new learning approaches are not as well defined as traditional, formal learning tools. There are many approaches to choose from (or combine). Do you need one size fits all solution or a learning landscape that features multiple tools and components?
Other issues are the competencies of subject matter experts and the amount of time they have. You cannot expect every technical specialist also to be a brilliant author. You need to guide and teach them.
Change of plan
The results gave such clear indications that I have decided to deviate from my original plan. I will be reaching out to a number of the survey respondents and conduct interviews with them. I want to know in greater detail what is holding them back and what the challenge of changing the mindset means in practical terms.
I want to learn more before I start interviewing a wide range of experts. I’m organizing interviews right now. So, I hope to publish a series of interviews shortly. Stay tuned!