Better Learning

How can a learning strategy improve business success? (Part 2)

December 11, 2022

I can't believe it took me 10 years to read this book. I feel so seen! Yay to harnessing the quiet power of the introvert.

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I'm Sarah, The Learning Strategist and Catalyst. I'm here to help you create high quality workshops, courses, and programmes that get results.  

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Sarah Thinks...

This is Part 2 of a two part blog in response to something I’ve been hearing a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners say in recent weeks which is…

‘I’m having a learning ban next year so I can focus on taking action.’

While having a learning ban might seem like a good idea, I’d like to offer an alternative perspective – that it’s actually harmful, and what you really need is a learning strategy and plan rather than a ban.

A learning strategy enables a company (no matter how big or small) to improve its competitiveness, productivity, and profitability through learning. Making it an integral part of your planning brings you closer to reaching your business goals. 

If you haven’t already read Part 1, which focuses on reviewing and reflecting, you can get up to speed here. Don’t skip reading it as you’ll need the data to help you create your strategy!

First things first, you may ask – why should I bother with a learning strategy? Well, if you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner, a learning strategy can enable you to: 

Boost your productivity and profitability 

Aligning your learning strategy with your business goals can help you to reach your performance goals. Let’s say your business goal is to scale and increase revenue by 30% through creating a digital course, your learning strategy should help you achieve that goal. For example, do you need to learn about curriculum development, facilitation, creating videos, launching?

Facilitate experimenting

Learning is not just about taking courses and not taking action – it’s also about experimentation. For example, you may need to test a new product with a small number of clients and gather their feedback.  When you’re doing this you’re testing hypotheses and gathering data to make more informed decisions as you gain more experience. When you’re experimenting, you’re likely to see many ideas fail. If you can see this through the lens of gathering data and learning to help you improve, it makes it much less painful and much more productive. 

Develop your knowledge management system

Organisational learning is about building knowledge for your company. This means having a system for recording and communicating the knowledge so that if a member of your team leaves, a new team member joins, or you outsource, you don’t lose the knowledge and experience you have, and you can easily share it.

Track and measure your progress

Set specific goals for your learning (that are aligned with your business goals) and give them clear KPIs and metrics. Then keep track throughout the year (see tips below). 

STRATEGISE AND PLAN

Here are four steps to get you started in creating your learning strategy: 

Step 1 

  • Write down your (top) three goals for your business in 2023 and consider how you will know you’ve been successful. 
  • What are the action steps you will take to reach your goals? This is where you break your goals down into manageable and time related steps that will help you to reach your goals. 
  • Now you have your goals and your action steps, consider what knowledge, skills, beliefs, and behaviours do you need to achieve them? On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 not at all and 10 being the highest) how would you rate your current knowledge, skills, beliefs and behaviours? 

You’ve now identified your learning gaps.

Step 2 

In this step, we’ll bring together your insights about your learning habits (from Part 1) and your learning gaps to help you create your learning strategy for the year. 

  • Write down what you’ve identified you need to learn to support you and your business over the year. These are your learning goals.
  • For each of these goals,  go back to your insights from Part 1 of this blog about how you learn best and how you make your buying decisions, and consider:
    • What kind of learning do you need to do to bridge this learning gap in your knowledge, skills, behaviours, or beliefs? 
    • What mode of learning will be most effective for you in the time available? For example, there’s no point in signing up for an 8 week cohort based program to learn how to create your online course if you know you need more personalised support, you only need to focus on a specific area (e.g. curriculum development or audience building), or you’re full-on with client delivery and have no time to learn and implement, so you may be better off outsourcing part or all of your project. 
    • What budget do you have for learning and or support? What do you calculate your ROI to be? 
  • Armed with this information, you can begin to research learning opportunities and be able to make a more informed decision based on needs, goals, and ROI. 

Step 3 

You now have the basics of a learning strategy and plan. When you plan ahead in this way, you are less likely to make impulse purchases and more likely to achieve your business goals in the most productive, positive, and profitable way possible. 

You will likely have methods in place to measure your business performance. However necessary performance goals and KPIs might be, it’s also key to track and measure your learning progress. This helps build self-awareness, a solid reflective practice, and a growth mindset – all much needed for entrepreneurs. 

Carol Dweck, author of ‘Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential’ suggests that at the end of the day you should ask yourself: “What did I struggle with today?” and if your answer is nothing, then you have more to reach for tomorrow, because if you’re not struggling even a little bit, you’re not learning or realising your potential. 

On a weekly basis, you might like to reflect on these questions: 

  • What worked well this week for each learning goal?
  • What did you struggle with this week? 
  • What will you try next, to capitalise on what you’ve learned?

And on a monthly and quarterly basis, when you’re reviewing your business goals, take the time to review and reflect on your learning goals alongside them and how the learning is supporting your business development. 

Circling back to our original question, should you have a learning ban or a learning plan? I hope you agree that getting strategic and intentional about your learning will have much greater benefits for your business and personal growth. 

Want more support to create your learning and development strategy for your business or plan on developing educational products for your business in 2023? Let’s chat – you can book a strategy call here.

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