Even with recent technology advancements and increasing recognition of L&D’s importance in the organization, training development is not without its challenges. So corporate training teams are always on the lookout for better ways to manage training projects and develop more effective learning experiences.
One solution that is taking L&D by storm is the introduction of Agile methodologies to the learning design process. This application of Agile is commonly referred to as Agile Learning. The benefits of Agile, in general, are widely known. But how do these translate to training development? And how can you leverage Agile Learning solutions to overcome training challenges in your organization?
Keeping up with training demand
The digital age is speeding the world up at an unprecedented pace. We’re more interconnected and interdependent than we have ever been before across all aspects of society, daily life – and business.
With faster changes comes the need for more rapid responses. Marketing teams, sales reps, software engineers, and operations are all learning to adapt quickly to business changes and respond to volatile market forces. And now, learning and development can keep up with the training needs this environment creates by adopting Agile Learning.
Agile Learning solutions incorporate several methodologies, best practices, and team structures. It enables your L&D department to keep up with the demand for training by allowing:
Faster speed to market
By utilizing the fast Sprints and taking an iterative approach to course design, training teams can massively reduce the time to market for their learning experiences.
Improved collaboration efforts
There are no silos or lengthy silences between collaborators in Agile Learning. Collaboration is at the core of an Agile approach. Communication should be open and frequent, so everyone knows what’s going on.
Unlike traditional ADDIE-based course design, Agile Learning takes several iterations in short Sprint cycles. So you can release courses faster and improve continuously.
Working with SMEs and other stakeholders
Collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs) is a common pain point for instructional designers. Learning teams and SMEs can often clash heads on priorities, decision making, timelines, and project leadership.
Agile Learning helps to alleviate this friction in several ways:
Flat team structure
There is no room for egos when it comes to Agile Learning. Although roles like Product Owner and Scrum Master are there to steer the ship, there should be minimal hierarchy or authority.
Weekly or bi-weekly meetings to catch up and discuss project items are often ineffective. People miss meetings, the agenda is unclear, or it goes on for too long and loses focus. Plus, not everyone needs to be present for each discussion. So mass meetings are taking up a lot of unnecessary time in people’s calendars.
One of the misgivings commonly expressed about Agile is that it requires too many meetings. But meetings are just broken down more sensibly in Agile Learning. It’s an approach that values people’s time and prioritizes constructive discussion over longwinded meetings.
High levels of accountability
One of the most valuable tools in an Agile Learning team’s belt is the Daily Stand-Up. If you’re not familiar with the term, it involves gathering once a day, at the same time every day, to give a quick update on progress. It’s not for discussions or decisions, but to encourage visibility, accountability, and forward movement.
So, for learning teams that find it hard to get hold of their SMEs or hold team members accountable for their contributions, a Daily Stand-Up can help exponentially.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
When learning professionals and SMEs come together over a training project, a common difficulty is the question of who is “in charge.” The beauty of Agile Learning is the clear definition of roles and responsibilities.
The Product Owner creates a “Backlog” of itemized tasks, and everyone contributes to their area of expertise. It leaves much less room for conflict over decision making.
It’s deeply frustrating to spend weeks or months building a learning experience only to achieve minimal engagement rates and mediocre feedback from learners. And it’s not L&D’s fault that this happens.
Traditional instructional design models leave very little room for learner involvement or input into the design process. So, if they only see the product once it’s complete, it’s not surprising that a disconnect can happen between what you have created and what the learners would prefer.
With Agile Learning, continuous learner testing of your course design is a core part of the process. It helps your learning team to iterate much quicker on the design and ensures that the customer’s needs and wants shape the Agile Learning team’s activities at all times.
The result is courses that are built for the user, increasing engagement rates among your learners, and more positive feedback on your course design.
And even if you don’t quite hit the mark on the initial release, the iterative nature of Agile Learning makes it easy to quickly take another run at what you missed the first time around.
Contributing to business performance
Another challenge often experienced by corporate training teams is proving and highlighting their contribution to bottom-line results and overall business performance. Agile helps because it involves business stakeholders in the project. They help keep the learning design team’s eye on the prize.
Updating courses that need a revamp
Starting a course from scratch is one thing, but updating existing learning experiences shouldn’t be the highly time-consuming task that it currently is.
When taking an Agile Learning approach, training teams are in a continuous cycle of iteration and improvement. So, once you’ve bedded down the best way that Agile works for your organization, updating old courses should be much more straightforward.
Expensive resources and unexpected changes
Under current processes and typical training project management approaches, L&D can struggle to pivot quickly enough with unforeseen changes. Resource needs can be unpredictable, and change becomes costly.
But Agile Learning solutions means predictable costs and timelines. Every Sprint you undertake is a fixed duration. So, the cost is known and predictable from the outset. Plus, the many iterations that take place with Agile Learning mean it will quickly become easier to estimate the cost of training projects and features.
Want to learn more about innovative ways to manage training design? Check out this free ebook on Design Thinking!
Agile holds the key to many of today’s common training development challenges. All you have to do is pick up some tips for getting started with Agile Learning solutions and you’ll be on your way to a more streamlined, productive method of managing training projects.