Leadership Practices For Learning Technology Strategists
During the recent pandemic, we saw several mid-scale organizations thriving profitably and making revenues at a surprisingly high rate that was never possible before. But, at the same time, we saw thousands of large vintage businesses collapse. One particular thing that differentiated the successful businesses from those that shut down was their ability to quickly leverage a range of learning technologies flexibly to continue enabling employees in the field even during the lockdown. These organizations strategically deployed and leveraged learning technologies, among other kinds, to increase the speed of employee development, which, in turn, accelerated innovative solutions into the market. This technology-driven success has proven one important thing: when organizations have strategic learning technologists or learning technology strategists (LTS), they can ensure that their employees have access to the most effective and revolutionary learning experiences supported by their technologies and infrastructure.
Above all, a learning technology strategist can help ensure that an organization’s learning technology (LT) strategies are truly strategic and built for speed. In turn, this allows other functions to institute initiatives that are effective, efficient, and aligned with its overall strategic objectives.
The Landscape Of Leadership Practices For Learning Technology Strategists
As the digital learning landscape is changing rapidly, the old skills do not hold ground anymore. To become a successful learning technology strategist, you need a combination of skills and expertise in several areas. As a learning technology strategist, your leadership practices need to be different compared to other organizational leaders. The following seven practices could shine your leadership abilities and make you successful in this strategic role:
1. Change Management
Some learners, and even leaders, hesitate to use new technologies; similarly, some stakeholders may also resist investing in new eLearning technologies or platforms. However, the reason is that it is not always about technology. It is about the frustrating unstable and less-than-pleasant experience that comes with any new technology. If you do not demonstrate a perfect change management regime for any new change, you will continue to experience this challenge.
Thus, your utmost focus will be on change management. Change management is unavoidable, given the technological space you are in. Unlike other leadership roles, your role requires faster and more profound change management. How well can you communicate the benefits of certain learning technologies to stakeholders across the organization and build buy-in for new initiatives, even in the face of resistance or skepticism? This single, most critical factor will make or break your success as an LT leader in an organization. You will need to manage the transition to new learning technologies while ensuring that employees are adequately trained and supported during the process.
2. Agile And Adaptable
While other leaders talk about being agile, you have to live it day and night. Agility and speed will be the key determinants of your life as an LTS. The critical thing about agility is how, as an LTS, you stay focused on the speed of innovation and Human Resources development in your organization. Among the other metrics, time-to-proficiency will be your core metric to impact. You will be able to quickly pivot and adjust the eLearning strategies and initiatives based on changing needs or new technologies.
3. Focus On Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement will be the first on your agenda because the shelf life of technologies will always decrease. While you are testing one technology, the market may have already moved to the next one. The time-to-market for most new revolutionary technologies has been reduced to 3 months post-COVID. In the AI era, the time-to-market is further shrinking to a few weeks.
How fast can you implement your technologies and stay on top of improving them on par with the pace of innovation? For this, you need to focus your leadership on unconventional, high-speed, and continuous improvement. You will regularly evaluate the effectiveness of new and future technologies and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that learners are getting the most out of their learning experiences.
4. Focus On Learning Outcomes
You will be less concerned with the traditional measures of success, such as profits or revenue, and more focused on ensuring that learners achieve their learning objectives and acquire the skills they need to succeed. By keeping your leadership practices revolving around learning outcomes, your initiatives and programs will never go wrong, and you stand a chance of always being able to defend your budgets and plans to your executives.
5. Learning Technology Expertise
Unlike other leaders, you will deeply understand learning technologies, platforms, and best practices, and their potential impact on learning outcomes. You will be able to provide leadership in the selection, implementation, and integration of learning technologies in an organization’s learning initiatives. You will make informed decisions about learning platforms and strategies. While all leaders must be technically strong in their functional areas, you have to remember that any organization will have a handful of LTSs, you being one of that small group. That also means that your role is going to be unique. So, you cannot afford to be average in what you are being known for.
6. Instilling A Learning Culture
Learning is an undeniable foundation for corporate innovation. In fact, a large part of your time will be spent on building this culture. Unlike other leaders who may focus primarily on business objectives, your primary focus as an LTS will be on Learning and Development for the organization’s employees. As a result, your leadership practices will emphasize the importance of creating a culture of learning within the organization. You will do anything to ensure that learners have access to the resources and support they need to succeed and that the organization values and prioritizes ongoing Learning and Development.
7. Emphasis On Collaboration
One of the biggest challenges you may face is the lack of understanding and support from other organizational stakeholders. As I said, your learning and technology expertise are unique in the organization, making you one of a kind across the organization. However, some stakeholders may not understand the benefits of the learning technologies that you propose and others may be resistant to change, making it challenging for you to implement effective technologies. That also means that you may face a limitation of resources, such as funding, staff, or technology, making it difficult for you to implement learning initiatives effectively.
Thus, your leadership practices will emphasize collaboration and teamwork. You will work closely with departments and stakeholders across the organization to ensure that your technology strategies are aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives. Your leadership will be far different from other leaders in this domain, simply because technologies implemented in your organizations have to have a longer shelf life and far-reaching impacts across business units and the company. Due to your boundaryless influence, you need far more developed skills in seeking and establishing cross-functional collaboration.
While other competencies may continue to be in line with any other senior role in an organization, the above leadership practices and strategic thinking skills are the ones that would make you stand out from the rest of the executives in the organization.