How To Leverage The Potential Of Learning Management Systems

Discover The Potential of LMSs
Kutlayev Dmitry/
Summary: The full value of Learning Management Systems lies in their potential to holistically support the performance and human systems that provide for sustainable organizational success and health. This requires an understanding of these systems as well as an adjustment of focus, mindset, and approach.

Discover The Potential Of Learning Management Systems

Technological advances have enabled significant improvements in the Learning Management System (LMS) capability. Given these improvements, there is potential to reposition LMSs as a powerful strategy lever, versus a potent Learning and Development tool. This requires an adjustment of focus, mindset, and approach to LMSs.

The current LMS focus is primarily on capability, and how organizations can use technology to, more effectively and more efficiently, improve knowledge and skills to develop their staff and help them do their job better. Many experts feel that the LMS migration from learning delivery to learning support needs to continue to that of performance support as well. This is certainly a move in the right direction.

However, the full potential of Learning Management Systems lies in broadening our focus to their potential to be highly efficient, effective, easy-to-access, easy-to-use banking systems for organizational intellectual capital. The key to this mindset shift is to allow LMSs to be viewed as strategic investments to be treasured, looked after, and continually evolved.

LMS Capabilities

An organization’s LMS has the potential to be an easy-to-use, fit-for-purpose banking system for the cumulative and collective wisdom of an organization. To be effective, it must record and store how this wisdom iterates and changes over time to support strategy in terms of systems, techniques, processes, capabilities, and ways of working. Most importantly, it should make this wisdom available to support employees at their point-of-need, providing exactly what they need, in the format needed, anywhere, anytime, on-the-go, without leaving the workflow.

Robust disciplines are required to convert and store intellectual capital in the form of institutional capacity and capability, which are cumulatively the currency of organizational performance. The performance systems of the organization, housing the sum of this collective wisdom, can only be used effectively if they are aligned and integrated with the human systems that engage employees to work harmoniously together towards a common purpose. The context for this to happen is provided by the clarity of the organization's purpose. 'Purpose' is the all-important organization compass that informs the clarity of thought required by leadership to confidently develop and implement comprehensive strategic and operational plans.

Insight into the architecture and anatomy of organizational performance and human systems enables the customized structuring of an LMS to support any specific organization's strategy. Strategy translates to the operational plan and informs the specific nature of the constructs and sub-constructs of these systems.

The nature of the performance and human systems of each organization will differ. This defines the approach required to structure, manage, populate and iterate the LMS to provide a unique, strategic, and competitive advantage. Smart leaders understand that if this support and these processes are not systemized, they may not happen or could be random at best. They are also acutely aware that what does not get measured, often, does not get done. To be credible, LMSs must support both of these requirements.

LMS Changes In Approach

To fully leverage the potential of Learning Management Systems strategically, some key changes in approach are required:

1. Position And Design

A change in approach to how we position and design LMSs. Improvements in technology enable the opportunity to systematically provide the processes and support to integrate and align all best-practice solutions for organizational performance and health required to deliver sustainable success. LMSs should be designed to support, integrate and align the constructs of both the performance and the human systems that deliver the operational plan in the context of the chosen organizational strategy. It is essential that measurements and processes are in place to continually evolve these systems so that they remain relevant in these times of continuous rapid change.

2. LMS Curation

A change in approach to how we curate LMSs. In order to achieve this, we need an acute understanding of the disciplines required to efficiently and effectively transfer financial and intellectual capital to institutional capacity, as informed by strategy. Further, we need to understand and apply the pedagogics of developing simple capacity and capability constructs, combining and adding to them to deliver complex capacity and capabilities to support competent complex performance outcomes. This involves a change from the traditional top-down approach to a bottom-up approach to curating LMSs as well as having a more functional classification of capabilities.

The merging of the science of learning, the art of teaching and the power of metacognition provide the insights to facilitate this change in approach. Transfer of learning, multiple scenario reinforcement, and vicarious learning are powerful opportunities that may be ignored as we underestimate the uniquely human capacity to learn through metacognition. A key aspect of knowledge is that it enables people to apply their minds to work (generally) and to tasks at hand (specifically), as opposed to doing them rote or simply following instructions.

The challenge is to engage people in continually thinking about better ways of doing things or applying their minds to new insights that they may gain from a variety of sources, internal and external. This, then, provides the springboard for the multiple benefits of User-Generated Content (UGC). The LMS must provide the platform and the process to allow this to happen as part of a continuous improvement program.

3. Performance Support And Self-Regulation

A change in approach to employee performance support and self-regulation of contribution in the context of the operational plan, as informed by strategy. Current command and control Performance Management Systems no longer work. LMSs provide the potential to align the performance process with strategy and systemize it as well as customize the support and optimize the engagement that drives sustainable performance and health. The opportunity to use LMSs to align and integrate the human systems that truly engage employees with performance systems must not be missed.

The above potential described for LMSs is not a lofty ambition. It is within reach and achievable. However, solutions in terms of models, processes and practices need to be developed to support this journey.