Design Thinking Revitalizes Corporate Learning
February 3, 2020 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

If you want to generate value from investments in corporate learning, use design thinking to select and deliver your content.

Disruption is occurring in the learning and development space. For decades, L&D was the lonely step-sister of HR. Learning programs were often underfunded and underused—the first departments to lose resources when budgets were cut.

But in today’s talent-driven economy, reskilling has become a popular buzzword.

According to McKinsey, 82 percent of executives at large companies believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half of the answer to addressing their skills gap. And 74 percent of recruiting firms say reskilling is an effective strategy to combat skills shortages.

The push for reskilling will see the L&D market hit $446 billion in 2020. Most of that growth is coming from increased investment in training.

With all the increased interest and investment, you’d assume that learning programs were delivering huge value to businesses and learners. That isn’t the case.

Employees are largely unimpressed with the learning offerings their companies provide. A report from Degreed found their employees’ Net Promoter Score (NPS) for learning and development across organizations is -25. In other words, only one out of five employees would recommend their organization’s L&D offerings.

It’s a troubling statistic given the rise in L&D spending, and the growing faith that upskilling will solve business woes.

What can account for this discrepancy?

According to a recent article from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the problem could be rectified with design thinking. Author Kiara Graham, a learning-strategy consultant at D2L, points to data that shows employees aren’t learning in “the moment of need,” that they aren’t attaining job-relevant skills and that the skills they do learn are quickly forgotten.

She argues that the problem is the lack of user insight in the selection and deployment of these training investments. “It’s all about deeply understanding your audience so that you can develop solutions that truly meet their needs,” she writes.

In other words, successful training programs start with design thinking. “This process can help L&D professionals make the most out of corporate investment in learning by designing programs that are more impactful and relevant to workplace learners.”

In the article, Graham outlines the five basics of design thinking, (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) and offers tips on how to apply them in a learning context. “Design thinking can be a valuable tool in helping you understand workplace learners and design engaging, meaningful, and lasting learning experiences,” she concludes.

Read more about design thinking and upskilling in our post on human-centered mindsets and the future of work.

Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale or download our free ebook Design Thinking 101.

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