About This Book

Why Is This Topic Important?

In most organizations learning is not managed as effectively and efficiently as it could be. Consequently, the investment in learning and development (L&D) is not producing the return it should be, and L&D is often the first area to be cut in tough times. Even in good times, the mismanagement of the learning function contributes to the belief that learning is not a strategic contributor to an organization’s success, leading to sub-optimal funding levels as management directs scarce resources to areas perceived to have greater returns. It doesn’t have to be this way. Learning professionals need to adopt a business mentality and apply business and economic concepts to the learning function. The opportunity for improvement in effectiveness and efficiency is huge and immediate. This is the only way to realize the full potential of an organization’s learning expenditures and the only way for learning professionals to win a “seat at the table.”

What Can You Achieve with This Book?

By learning the concepts and following the recommendations in this book, you can dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your learning function. You will achieve much more for the same expenditure, and, better yet, it will be directed to the highest priority needs of your organization and aligned with the expectations of your senior leaders. Through the creation of a business plan for learning and disciplined execution throughout the year, you will manage the function more effectively, deliver enhanced value, and gain much needed credibility. Although this book includes some theory, it is a practical guide on how to manage a real learning function with all its day-to-day complexities. The goal is to provide you with enough concrete recommendations, checklists, examples, templates, and tips so that you can immediately begin successful implementation

Who Can Benefit from This Book?

This book is written for three groups. First, it is for those managers in a learning function who want to learn how to run learning more like a business in order to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. These managers may be experienced learning professionals who want to learn business and economic concepts so they can apply them to learning, or they may be experienced business professionals who now find themselves managing a learning function and want to know how to apply their knowledge to learning. Second, the book is written for those at a university who want to learn how to manage the learning and development function. Third, it is for executives who want to improve the bottom-line impact of their investment in learning.

How Is This Book Different?

This book provides the most comprehensive treatment available on the topics of running learning like a business. Not only does it provide significantly more detail than others on topics such as business fundamentals, strategic alignment, governance, and the business case for learning, but it also describes in detail how to create a business plan for learning, including a thirty-six-page sample plan. It breaks new ground by applying economics to learning to answer questions about program selection, size, and duration, as well as the effects of scale on cost. The book contains more than 180 tables and figures to clearly illustrate the concepts some of which are available online as templates. It also provides detailed checklists, time lines, scorecards, sample meeting agendas, and templates—everything needed to implement all the recommendations.

How Is This Book Organized?

The book is organized into five parts. Part One provides all the business basics you need, a comprehensive discussion of learning costs, and the business case for individual learning programs. Part Two covers the strategic alignment process, the business case for the learning department, and the creation of a business plan for learning. Part Three addresses ongoing management of the function throughout the year, including governance and the use of measurement and scorecards in execution. Part Four focuses on improving efficiency and provides an economic framework for making decisions about the level of investment in learning. Part Five pulls it all together. The book is designed so you can access any chapter directly for reference.