If the way you prioritize your learning priorities feels more like a drive thru than a deliberate business prioritization, try using a learning steering committee.
Aligning learning goals and initiatives with business priorities is critical for learning success. Improving business alignment was the #1 priority of learning leaders in The High Impact Learning Organization research study from Bersin & Associates.
Having a Learning Steering Committee is an effective method for making sure you have this alignment. Using business leaders as committee members, you can discuss and prioritize learning initiatives that are most critical for business success.
Here are 3 milestones for a getting your steering committee up and running:
1. Approval for the concept – get commitment for the committee
Meet with your senior business leader to present the steering committee idea. If this isn’t possible, try meeting with his/her direct reports. Make sure that this person is a decision maker. Provide the following:
State the purpose and benefits of the committee:
- Purpose – helps identify and prioritize learning and performance needs that will have the biggest impact on business results
- Benefits – helps make sure there is alignment with learning and changing business needs
Provide people and time commitment estimates:
- Size – committee is comprised of 3-8 members
- Frequency – meets 1x per month to start (more or less frequent depending upon your situation)
- Duration – meetings are short and focused. 1 hour to begin and then reduce as your committee evolves.
Ask for commitment:
- Make sure to get commitment for moving forward
- Ask for committee member candidates (be prepared to provide suggestions if asked). Committee members must be decision makers that own the business results or the outcomes of the behaviors impacted by learning
- Find out how this senior leader would like to be updated (via meeting minutes, committee members, ad-hoc, etc)
2. Kick off – get committee members in agreement for how the committee operates and begin prioritizing.
State committee purpose:
- Set strategic direction and priorities for learning and performance
- Provide guidance for learning services to be offered
- List member expectations
- Provide a list of current and future learning topics/initiatives to be prioritized based on business priorities. Include the following information for each:
- Topic/Initiative name
- Strategic alignment category – what strategic category does this topic/initiative align with best (e.g., people, customer)
- Strategic alignment – how well does topic/initiative support your strategic goals and objectives (e.g., none, moderate, directly)
- Performance improvement potential – what is the confidence level that this topic/initiative will improve performance (e.g., low, medium, high)?
- Work effort – how much work is involved? Include estimates for both learning team and business team or SME (e.g., low, medium, high).
- Current status – what is happening with this topic/initiative right now (e.g., idea generation, ready to implement, in development)?
- Dates – list milestone or due dates of importance. Is there an urgency to complete the topic/initiative within a timeframe (e.g., 1st QTR, 2ND QTR, year-end)?
3. Leading the meetings – things to help for successful outcome.
- Before the meeting:
- Know what you want from the committee for the meeting
- In the agenda, include a “What I need from you” column for each agenda item. This helps the committee focus on what you need from them for each item.
- Send the agenda to attendees at least 1 day prior
- During the meeting
- Quickly get to the point
- Don’t spend time providing updates unless asked. Remember that the purpose is to prioritize and make decisions.
- Document the action or decision for each agenda item
- Following the meeting:
- Send meeting minutes as soon as possible
- Include action items with dates
- State the decisions that were made
- Provide date for next meeting
What about You
- If you already have a steering committee, what would you add or remove from these suggestions?
- Is a steering committee the best method for prioritizing learning? What other methods have you used?
- If you tried the above suggestions, what went well and what was challenging?