Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
LMMatters Leadership and Management seminar and showcase, London, UK, June 15, 2011
Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 10, Issue 6
Laura Overton revealed “the death of the eLearning sandwich” as she unveiled results of Reinventing Leadership Development, the Towards Maturity research into the effectiveness of technology-led leadership and management development, at theLMMatters annual leadership seminar in London. In other words, e-learning has moved on from being just a pre-course, cursory introduction, followed by “the real deal” (classroom training), with an e-learning top-up afterwards.
Modern solutions required
Modern leaders and managers want modern solutions to their learning and development needs – and the classroom alone no longer cuts it. As Overton –managing director of benchmarking organization Towards Maturity – revealed more results, what was illuminating was that when asked to list preferences for learning for different levels of leaders and managers, research participants did not list “the classroom” in their top three.
Digging deeper into the research, which had been backed by LMMatters, study participants did mention the classroom as the fifth favorite learning method for busy senior executives – but this lagged behind paper, online resources and mobile learning. The classroom did not appear on any other top five lists, for learning delivery preferences for middle managers, supervisors, or new talent.
Overton was keen to point out that “one blend doesn’t fit all.” So, methods for middle managers, for example, were different to other management “layers”– mobile learning; virtual learning environments; and video of best practice from outside of the organization were considered to be the top three preferred methods for those in the “middle.”
Mobile learning in practice
This drive towards e-learning – and mobile learning in particular – was illustrated perfectly by Tim Drewitt, eLearning advisor at leading law firm Eversheds in his presentation at the LMMatters annual leadership event. Drewitt explained that the law firm had calculated that staff were spending a significant period of time a year traveling or waiting (at train stations, etc.). This waiting time provided the perfect opportunity to trial mobile learning, alongside other learning technology methods – especially as employees were actually asking how they could learn while on the move.
Industry commentator Bob Little afterwards commented on his blog: “Rarely has any company – let alone one from the legal profession – permitted an insight into its learning practices as Eversheds has. The company’s strategy of enhancing productivity by using its staff’s inevitable waiting time to enhance their knowledge and skills via mobile learning is a shining example which other companies – particularly large ones – should take to heart and try to emulate.”
Evaluation key going forward
This type of evidence is indeed fantastic, but Laura Overton had one word of caution – L&D professionals need to do more to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership and management development. Considering that spending in this area of learning technologies in particular is set to rise, it is vital that investment in leadership and management development is seen to effect overall business results.
Commenting on Overton’s research, Martin Baker, CEO of LMMatters – the UK partner to Harvard Business Publishing – pointed out that before this study there had been little or no research into the effectiveness of online leadership and management development – despite the fact that (according to previous research by Towards Maturity) 50 percent of all leadership and management programs are now e-enabled.
According to Baker, this research, which LMMatters hopes to build upon in the future, shows that “It is undoubtedly learning technologies that are enabling leaders and managers to access knowledge immediately, effectively and seamlessly, where and when they need it.”
For more information
The executive summary of the research study can be viewed at: http://lmmatters.com/docs/Reinventing_Leadership_Development_Executive_Summary.pdf and the full, complimentary Reinventing Leadership Development report can be downloaded at http://lmmatters.com/docs/Reinventing_Leadership_Development.pdf
Susie FinchEditor and media consultant, specializing in learning and development