After reading and watching many articles and videos about the disruption in corporate learning and development space, I started thinking, “how do small to medium sized businesses (SMB) make sense of all of this”? Do SMBs really think, “Gee, I really need to understand all of the strategies being discussed by corporate L&D experts before I can train more effectively?”
The answer of course is no. SMBs have a huge advantage over larger organizations. They don’t need to study all the experts and figure out long-term learning strategies. They just need to look at what they do every day, as typical consumers, and the answer is quite simple. Just find a way to develop and deliver training without all the complexity. Think outside-the-box.
SMBs often rely more heavily on face to face (F2F) training than their large corporate brethren. In today’s digital world, with millennials about to dominate the workforce, SMBs want help finding and quickly implementing technology that aligns with the modern workforce. The modern workforce spends the bulk of time in social media, reading articles and watching video on their mobile devices.
How can SMBs offer a rich digital experience, either in place of or in addition to their F2F training, without studying the “disruption” in corporate L&D and becoming experts in all of the new theories? It’s actually pretty straightforward. There are two parts to the solution.
First, SMBs need to think like consumers, not learning specialists. Consumers watch video and read articles. Your goal therefore is to ensure that training materials have lots of videos and simple to read text. Forget about traditional eLearning tools. They were created for people who sat at a desk on a personal computer, not today’s mobile first workforce. No one spends time watching PowerPoint presentations or consuming long “eLearning” courses on their mobile phones.
Second, SMBs need to make training available within their existing technology landscape. Whether you already have a Learning Management System (LMS) or not, what matters is can you make your training materials available without having to go into yet another system. If you don’t already have an LMS, you should not need to buy one.
Developing training materials should be about using as much content that already exists in your company and on the Internet (creative commons can provide a lot of copyright free content https://search.creativecommons.org). You should embellish it with your own videos, links to articles and some simple text that explains your process or product. Get your mobile phone out, record a video and use it in your training. Do not waste any more time creating interactive PowerPoint presentations or trying to learn eLearning tools.
Training is always going to be very challenging to SMBs. Their pool of subject matter experts is smaller, and their time constraints just as great as large corporate organizations. SMBs generally rely on a few “super experts” to both develop and deliver the training. With the right technology you can add a great digital experience to the mix, allowing your modern workforce to get training how they want it, when they want it and in the format they prefer.