The Building Blocks for an Effective Agile Learning Culture

While we’ve written extensively about how to incorporate Agile Learning methodologies into individual learning projects, there should eventually be an Agile culture within an entire organization.

Does it seem a bit overboard? It’s not, and it actually is possible.

Let’s have a look at how you can get not only your training team on board with Agile but also your entire organization. Of course, you do not need to carry out all of these steps at once, but where possible, an Agile culture can take precedence.

1. The organization must already embrace a culture of learning.

A culture of learning is not a top-down corporate mandate that is only practiced by a handful of employees.

Instead, a culture of learning occurs when each employee understands the importance of skill improvement and eagerly incorporates a bit of learning into each and every workday.

This is called learning in the flow of work, accomplished with bite-sized, mobile-friendly lessons and short assessments. Additionally, the xAPI standard allows for casual conversations between managers and employees to be counted towards learning.

What does this have to do with Agile? When employees and managers understand the need to have learning as an integral part of everyday work culture, they will constantly be thinking of new courses or updates to existing ones. This will create a steady pipeline of training requests, requiring learning leaders and their subject matter experts to embrace Agile in order to deliver this much-needed learning at scale.

2. Results must be tangible.

Agile Learning works when employees experience the results—and happily share them.

We’ve advocated the need to document results of courses built on Agile. It’s instructive to measure not only the resources used in the development of a course built with Agile, but only the outcomes of your learners from those courses.

The more data you can collect, the better, which certainly makes sense for a new methodology

However, additional data, perhaps qualitative, can assist in your tracking efforts. Ask the managers of your learners whether they’ve noticed a change in the employee’s performance as a result of them attending an Agile-built course.

Even positive word-of-mouth about courses built with Agile will invigorate your learners and make others curious about the interesting course they just experienced. This will make your transition to an Agile Learning culture more certain.

3. Build bridges with departments or teams that already use Agile.

Agile Learning methodologies may be a newer concept for L&D teams, but chance are, several teams within your organization have been using the fundamental concepts of Agile for quite some time.

Engineering teams have long used Agile to build software and services. Such teams can be instrumental in helping you and your team embrace Agile and get up and running.

Project managers—and not just in the engineering department—also embrace Agile methodologies. Seek out project managers through several departments to identify those who can help you spread the good word about Agile.

Such teams can also be helpful in spreading the good word about Agile throughout the organization—and support you in building that culture of Agile Learning that you seek.

As a bonus, software engineers, including their managers, are constantly in learning mode. They will have a newfound appreciation for L&D when they discover that the learning they need is built using the very principles they use at work every day.

4. Engage senior management.

If it works and you have the data to prove it, senior management would love to hear about it.

This is a tried-and-true method for not only surfacing your accomplishments but also ensuring that others within the organization can benefit from your efforts.

While senior management has probably heard of Agile already in use in the organization (see the previous section), demonstrating that it can be used in novel ways will make senior leaders sit up and take notice.

This could be politically effective for you and your team. When you need additional resources for learning projects, you can call on those senior leaders for assistance. They will recall your creative and effective use of a business methodology and reward you.

5. Position yourself as an Agile thought leader.

On top of getting senior leadership on board with your work with Agile, you can position yourself as an expert in Agile methodologies.

You can spread the good word about Agile, pointing to your success in using it to build learning experiences that dozens or perhaps hundreds of employees within your company have utilized.

Several teams or departments will be curious and you can offer to help them incorporate Agile into their processes. You can even offer to train their team.

Of course, you cannot do this alone. We’ve written before on the importance of empowering those involved in an Agile Learning project. Such employees are convinced of the benefits of Agile and can help you spread the good word and build the Agile Learning culture throughout the organization. Reward and give praise to those employees who have helped you tirelessly build Agile-based experiences.

Add an #agile hashtag to your employee bio in your corporate intranet. Join any Agile channels or discussions in your internal Slack, Teams, or communications platforms.

As with anything else, a groundswell is the way to go. While we do advise getting managers and even senior leaders on board with Agile, the best way to build the Agile Learning culture is from the ground up. Your fellow team members, subject matter experts, learners, and Agile practitioners from other departments can all help you to build a culture that prizes continuous learning, rapid development, interpersonal skills, and accountability.

Want to learn more about what Agile can do for your learning organization? Check out this on-demand webinar recording: How Agile Learning Can Power Your Digital Transformation Strategy

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The Building Blocks for an Effective Agile Learning Culture