Agile Manifesto In The L&D Arena
- Individuals and interactions over process and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Do any of these values speak to you? Designed from a software development perspective, agile principles are equally valid in the L&D space. Even though I can quote examples for each of the values, the one that jumps out at me is “responding to change over following a plan.”
Change is integrally embedded in the agile mindset. Rather than explaining what this value represents, let me quote an example to make a case.
Anticipating a new campaign in the third quarter (Q3), one of my proactive clients placed a learning request early in the year. Pulling from last year’s content, as an L&D project manager, I developed the project plan, statement-of-work, and high-level design plan early and got sign-off. 200 plus slides with content were handed down to us which made it easy for us to draft a design plan and negotiate a training solution upfront.
Knowing that the corporate healthcare space is dynamic, I anticipated change and knew the content would need to be tweaked as we got closer. Little did I know the level of change coming our way. As a project manager, it is my job to navigate the landscape of change and prioritize accordingly. We lined up resources and started design in Q2. End of Q2, the client acknowledged that standard operating procedures (SOPs), software talking points, etc., were still being drafted, so our original project plan, design solution, and content may need to be revamped.
This also uncovered that training was informed about changes after the fact or as an afterthought. For us to pivot and keep pace with the changes of the business, we regrouped and came up with a game plan. This included meeting with the client twice a week to discuss SOPs and software changes, then prioritizing design changes accordingly. The lag created between Q1 and Q2 needed a lot of refactoring and clean-up. We had collected technical debt which caused us to recreate the wheel.
Meeting twice a week in addition to daily stand-ups with the design team worked well. We could prioritize training solutions based on business needs and pivot without collecting further technical debt for the remaining Q2 and Q3. The training solutions were also split into two based on the makeup of the audience. The audience was trained based on their tenure rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. We came out on top at the end.
Agile values are equally relevant in the L&D space. The big lesson here is responding to change over the original game plan. Even today, the innate designer in me gets excited when content is made available upfront. Despite that, what’s more important is having a seat at the table with key clients so that I can help my organization get ahead of the curve and position training solutions accordingly.
My experience, like many others, is not unique. There are many instances of lack of response where L&D lags behind the pace of the business. Training in this day and age still seems to be an afterthought. The message here is that organizations can reach newer heights of performance if L&D is considered a critical partner and has a seat at the table to respond to change. This will allow organizations to align and prepare employee performance with the blue chips of the company.
In the end, I’d like to leave you with a few questions. In addition to sharing my experience, I also hope to learn from yours.
- Which agile value speaks most to you?
- How many L&D teams readily use agile strategies in the purest form?
- Do you feel the need to tweak agile processes to fit your needs?
- On a continuum of novice to highly experienced, where does your team fall in adopting and using the agile mindset?
- When have you had to pivot and make drastic changes to the training solution?
- Which agile methodologies did you use to pivot in real time? Were they successful?
- Which agile values do you successfully use within your team?
- In your opinion, can an agile mindset be implemented in the L&D space? If so, how?
- Share your success criteria and lessons learned.