Even though it’s been on nearly every “top trends” list for Learning and Development in the past two years, business-centric learning isn’t a trend, and we should stop thinking of it that way. Rather, it’s an entirely new framework for thinking about organizational learning – a somewhat radical shift in how we prioritize L&D initiatives in companies.
What is business-centric learning?The concept of business-centric learning arose in 2014, when a Brandon Hall Group survey reported that 40% of learning and development executives design learning that is aligned with business goals. The majority of the survey respondents (60%) reported developing learning initiatives that are content- and learner-focused – a much more common way of framing learning needs and delivering training. And yet 60% was a surprising dip from previous years, sending L&D experts to speculate that business-centric learning was quickly emerging as a new paradigm. The bottom line is a question of what is prioritized: business needs or learner needs.
Why the hype?In some ways – perhaps because nearly two years have passed since the Brandon Hall Group survey came out – a business-centric model doesn’t sound so radical anymore. It makes a good deal of sense, after all, to let business objectives drive learning objectives. If your goal is to increase sales by 10%, then you’d want to develop training that enhances your employees’ ability to deliver that goal – for example, an online module or workshop series called Closing the Deal. But that’s actually not traditionally how learning in organizations has worked. Brandon Hall learning analyst David Grebow describes content- and learner-centric models as the previous golden standard that drove all L&D initiatives.
- Content-centric is “just-in-case” learning, a standard approach to teaching something “in case you might need to use it someday.” Canned tutorials for various software and processes make up this category.
- Learner-centric is “just-in-time” learning, in which delivers information when and where (and often how) learners need to receive it. Learner needs and preferences are put on center stage, and all developmental and delivery decisions are made around them.