Implement Lasting Change – 8 Keys for eLearning Success
Today, many organizations have already dabbled in the area of eLearning. However, many of these are unable to sufficiently diffuse the innovation to make it an accepted cultural norm. According to Harvard Business Review, about 70% of all change initiatives fail. eLearning change initiatives are no different. How can you improve your odds?
Here are 8 key steps to focus your eLearning change plan
Use a change model like Kotter’s (1996) eight processes for successful change;
1. Establish a sense of urgency
Explain why the change to use eLearning is required and why it’s needed right now. Talk about dissatisfaction with the status quo. Common reasons for the move to eLearning include budget cuts, a geographically dispersed workforce and the need for learner flexibility. Be sure to address why the current issues and urgency matters to all stakeholders, including learners. As more eLearning implementation data becomes available, we could also begin to see the urgency to implement being related to improved outcomes.
2. Create a guiding coalition
Create a team of key organizational leaders and stakeholders to work as a committee to drive the eLearning change forward. Ensure they plan and monitor the change to improve the chances of achieving desired results. Also ensure they buy into the change themselves and are willing to carry the change forward as change agents.
3. Develop a vision and strategy
Create a clear vision or strategy that includes a strong change message. A vision should describe where you want to be 3-10 years from now. It should be succinct, inspiring and align with your organizations values. The most important part of this stage is to create a concrete actionable strategy. Start by choosing areas of focus, write your strategic objectives, and then create a detailed plan with activities, measures of success, owners and dates.
4. Communicate the change vision
Create a communications plan. Share your compelling vision and need for change, ensuring you inspire others to want to achieve it. The rule of 7 tells us that people need to hear things 7 times before it’s absorbed, so be sure to communicate multiple times and in multiple ways. Also, continuously tie all activities in the strategic plan back to the vision and strategic objectives as you execute them. Answer any questions your employees have to clarify the vision and change.
5. Empower broad-based action
Remove any change obstacles like technology infrastructure or lack of eLearning development tools, systems and resources. Provide training to learners, and developers if you plan to develop courses in-house, to ensure everyone has the required knowledge and skills. Also be sure to provide time to learn and adapt.
6. Create short-term wins
Set interim goals and celebrate those achievements throughout the year(s) by publically recognizing or rewarding those who achieve them e.g., the 1st course built, a successful pilot, the 1st positive learner feedback, the 1st satisfaction rate of 80% and so on.
7. Maintain change momentum
Conduct lessons learned and focus on continuous improvement. Measure success against objectives which must include improved learning outcomes to show eLearning value. Also, further prove the quality of your initiatives through external recognition. Look for respected awards bodies like ATD or Brandon Hall. Surprisingly, sometimes it takes outside recognition to get you the recognition you need for internal folks to see the true value fully buy in. Brandon Hall offers 23 different learning awards this year alone. Keep your coalition motivated and bring in new leaders to generate fresh ideas.
8. Make new approaches part of every day culture
According to Diffusion of Innovation Theory, people must feel the innovation will improve their effectiveness and it must be adopted by others in their organization to reach saturation (Rogers, 1995). To achieve this continue to offer ongoing professional development that builds on staff expertise in eLearning. Measure and report out on the clear link between the new innovation and the issues it aimed to address, such as increased flexibility for students. Remember to be patient. Integrating your new eLearning initiative into regular practices, will take time in order to make the significant organizational culture shift.
While all steps are important, Kotter (1996) suggests, the first four stages are the most key and often overlooked. A stronger focus on these initial change stages will significantly reduce resistance issues and improve your outcome.
Now get out there and change the world!
Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations, 4th ed
Kotter, J. (1996). Leading Change