Today, organizations are discovering the positive impact that learning has on productivity. This is apparent with the recent inclusion of world-class behaviors and employee development at executive levels. Both trends place an increased importance on the role of human capital and allow corporate learning to be a vehicle for success. Information technology’s growing need to capture and distribute enterprise knowledge and improve the dissemination of processes and expectations can be addressed with the integration of an effective learning program and supporting infrastructures.
Information technology is interwoven into organizational business processes, increasing the responsibilities and exposure of IT management. This integration causes organizational service levels and processes to be dependent on both the human and network infrastructures available within the IT department. However, IT’s ability to share knowledge effectively is hindered by its continuous expansion and high turnover rates. An effective learning program should therefore develop the cognitive, interpersonal and technical skills needed for today’s Information Age employee.
Organizations increase their bottom line by linking strategic learning interventions directly to business processes. According to the Chief Learning Officer magazine article, “Integrating World-Class Learning and Development Practices,” by June Maul (October 2003), a strategic plan must include a clear definition of the strategic focus, learning and development that maximizes the vision and priorities, supporting world-class practices and measurements and communication that demonstrate value. A learning program should also add value to an organization while allowing individuals to explore new contexts and perspectives and stimulate innovation.
In order for Information Technology to thrive, employees need to be able to identify patterns and understand the implications of future decisions. In addition, IT can perform at its highest ability by capitalizing on employee expertise, sharing proprietary knowledge and communicating best practices. The learning program must therefore create an environment that is adaptable to organizational changes and demands, addresses IT’s specific performance needs and supports the organizational strategic plan.
In Information Technology, high costs are involved with new hires or new promotions because employees are not able to quickly learn the unique propriety procedures needed. The lack of available enterprise knowledge directly affects the department’s effectiveness and costs insurmountable amounts of hard and soft dollars. Developing enterprise knowledge effectively is important in producing employees who can perform their responsibilities with an understanding of how the organization and department operate.
An effective learning program should be designed to address Information Technology’s primary responsibilities. Each responsibility should be mapped to definable stages that can be introduced in order of complexity. The appropriate uses of interpersonal and directional structures are also critical components of a learning program. Since strategic learning will not flourish in a vacuum, developing relationships and a contributing environment will expand on the organization’s needed behaviors and qualities.
Cross-training research from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, reported by Doug MacNamera, suggests a least “75 percent of an organization’s value resides in its intangible assets”; which include the “minds and capacities of people and organizational systems.” These assets are developed through training because of their ability to be resourceful, creative and innovative. An effective IT learning program will improve on a department’s intangible assets by maximizing on the quality and sustainability of their people and systems.
Jenifer Dillon has worked in Information Technology since 1996 and has more than 10 years of experience in education. She earned a graduate degree in E-Learning: Global Leadership in 2004, and designed the Effective Business Learning System (EBLS) model based on workplace learning research and personal consulting experience. Contact Jenifer or learn more about the EBLS model at www.jeniferdillon.com.