A little while ago I attended the latest Learning Cafe in Sydney. The theme this time around was Learning in a cost conscious environment.
We’ve all seen it with our own eyes: when a company hits hard times, its training budget is one of the first casualties.
Bob Spence rightly pointed out that the training function is often seen as a cost rather than an investment. To counter-act that perception, the L&D team must do a better job of demonstrating its worth to the business in terms of performance and, ultimately, profit.
We all nodded in agreement and a lively discussion ensued on how we should go about doing that.
However in the back of my mind I was empathising with the poor bunnies who are stuck now with slashed training budgets. What can they do about their current reality?
Of course the remedy is simple: spend less. The challenge is doing that without compromising value.
While there are many pieces to this puzzle, I think an oft-overlooked one is the exploitation of freebies. Freebies are everywhere, just waiting to be gobbled up. The trick is finding them.
There are 2 broad sources…
1. The external environment
Everyone knows there’s a wealth of free learning resources on the web, and many of them are relevant to the corporate sector.
I’m referring to things like:
- Social networks
- News articles
Why waste money reinventing the wheel?
Whatever topic you care to nominate, odds are some expert somewhere around the world has written about it, talked about it, filmed it, or presented a slideshow about it.
And published it to the web.
2. The internal environment
This one isn’t as obvious, but it’s arguably more important: every employee knows something worth sharing with their colleagues.
Furthermore, I contend they have an obligation to do so.
Our job as L&D professionals is to facilitate that collaboration. I’m referring to things like:
- Discussion forums
- Communities of practice
- User groups
- Brown bag sessions
Why pay for training when you have an army of SMEs at your disposal?
Whatever topic you care to nominate, odds are some expert somewhere in the organisation can write about it, talk about it, film it, or present a slideshow about it.
If that person does not exist, perhaps a number of employees can chip in their nuggets of knowledge and experience, and together make a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.