All-round Agile: How to Develop an Agile Learning Culture in Your Organization

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So you’ve decided that you want your learning and development team to adopt Agile Learning and incorporate its methodologies into your course development.

While we’ve provided tips on how to get started with Agile, there’s more to consider. Embracing Agile should represent a pursuit among not only your team members but also your subject matter experts and other professionals across the organization who help you build your learning experiences.

Organizations that embrace a culture of Agile Learning on both sides of the fence are more responsive to change. They perform better and experience a higher level of synergy between learning design and business performance.

Let’s have a look at some steps you can take to create an Agile Learning culture across your organization.

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Building an Agile Learning Culture in your training team:

It’s a fairly common challenge when implementing Agile methodologies to meet some resistance or skepticism from employees. You’re often asking them to drastically change the way they work. So, it’s vital that you give it time and patience; Agile Learning won’t happen all at once. 

But there are some other tactics you can use to help fuel successful Agile implementation on your L&D team.

Learn from others who have successfully completed Agile projects

A great way to adopt an Agile Learning culture is to speak with other teams who are already doing it. For example, your IT/Engineering team would be an excellent place to start. 

If a team within the organization has already adopted it successfully, they will be able to provide tips or frameworks that are both broad enough to be used outside of their department yet specific enough that they can only be used within your organization. 

Consider creating some micro-learning modules along the lines of a “How to Work with Agile” for your L&D team. These could be accessed as supplemental content to formal Agile training to reinforce the basics. They’ll also help to spread the good word about Agile Learning amongst the wider team.

Learn from the industry

Agile Learning methodologies are derived from those used in the software industry. So there is no shortage of online courses available to bring your team up to speed on Agile.

A quick search on “Agile” on online learning meta site Udemy returned 1,817 results:

Small investments in external courses could make sense for you and your team when adopting agile for learning projects internally.

If some employees are resistant to adopting methodologies used by software development teams, keep in mind that Agile is also widely adopted by the project management industry. Introducing or teaching principles from project management may ease the pain a bit.

Seek feedback from learners and measure outcomes

You obviously want to know whether Agile works well. The fact that you built a course quickly and under budget matters little if the course proved ineffective.

As another metric, tag the courses your team developed with Agile methodologies. Then, benchmark these against courses built with ADDIE or other frameworks. This will give you much-needed insights and can prove the effectiveness of Agile across your organization.

If you can show your team the time and resources being saved and the increased benefit to learners, their resistance to an Agile Learning framework for course design will quickly thaw.

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Fostering responsive, Agile Learning amongst your learners:

But what about an Agile Learning culture in the wider organization? It’s important to provide your organization with the tools they need to remain flexible and responsive to market changes. 

On the L&D side, this means rapid course creation and changing the way training projects are managed. On the learner side, it involves fostering a culture of continuous and responsive learning. So, how can you do that?

Learning agility drives your culture of Agile learning

Wait, is there a difference between Agile learning and learning agility?

Absolutely. And employees with learning agility can fuel your efforts to create a culture of Agile learning.

Agile learning is the application of Agile philosophies to the learning design process. It focuses on speed, flexibility, and collaboration.

Learning agility, on the other hand, refers to characteristics held by individual learners. Learning agility is the ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations, learn quickly, and in a mostly self-managed way. People with high levels of learning agility can approach unfamiliar situations by quickly connecting past experiences with present problems to make sense of them and find solutions.

Recognizing these learning agility skills not only in your team but also in your subject matter experts can go a long way towards adopting Agile. Those with learning agility can help people anticipate the twists and turns. They can serve as guides to ease other team members into Agile by preparing folks for sprints and rapid turnarounds.

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Promote continuous learning 

Aside from the fact that learners actually want to learn independently, promoting continuous, independent learning goes a long way towards helping employees to learn on the fly.

Many companies are creating and promoting “just in time” learning in their organizations to help learners access the training they need at the moment they need it. This type of rapid response training is at the core of Agile Learning cultures. 

Make training accessible with mobile learning

You can’t expect learners to be agile in their response to market forces if their only access to training is through instructor-led sessions. 

Creating online learning experiences that are accessible through multiple devices encourages learners to engage. Mobile learning, or meeting learners where they are, enables the type of responsiveness that is characteristic of an Agile Learning culture.

Build microlearning into your design process

While your courses may be highly accessible through mobile learning, it’s also a good idea to break down courses into microlearning wherever possible. The benefits of microlearning as it pertains to an Agile Learning culture are:

  • Learners may only need a highly specific skill or piece of knowledge in their moment of learning need 
  • They might not have time to sit through more than 5-10 minutes of training
  • Microlearning courses enable your Agile Learning project teams to turn around course design that much faster

Keep an open dialogue

Just like you need to show the benefits of Agile to your L&D team to get them on board, the same is true for your learners. In order to encourage an Agile Learning culture, they need to understand the realtime benefits of continuous, responsive learning.

That’s where a synergy between the learning team and employees comes into play that can catapult the success of your Agile Learning culture implementation.

The learners are the ones with their ears to the ground on the frontline of the business. They are the first to see, hear, and feel the effects of market forces. So, keeping an open dialogue between L&D and employees is imperative. 

By making Agile Learning culture a two-way street, L&D will be creating training for topics and skills that are having a direct impact on business performance. In turn, employees will be more likely to engage with continuous training because they are directly experiencing how the training produced by Agile Learning teams is helping them to perform in their roles and overcome challenges.

Want to learn more about how to manage change when shifting towards an Agile Learning culture? Download our free ebook,
It’s Time to Change How You Design Training“!

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