My education and background is in global business.
A lot of what I do as Business Development Director at GoodPractice involves chasing the international dream, and finding the perfect combination of global efficiency and local implementation to take our performance support toolkit to clients in new markets and countries.
As an online company with aspirations for expansion on an international scale, our business model here at GoodPractice has been developed to allow scalability on a global level. In practice, however, life is never as simple as a one-size fits all solution.
To put this into perspective, as we started to explore the possibilities of working internationally, we contacted our multinational customers to determine how best to work with them on a larger scale.
We found that many do not have a global L&D strategy and, consequently, their L&D functions are highly localised operations, each doing their own thing in terms of learning delivery, with limited communication or collaboration between regional units.
Our aim is to take our performance support toolkit to an international audience. These initial findings got me thinking about the things that get in the way of truly global learning, and more importantly, how businesses like ours can overcome them.
At a fundamental level, different languages and points of reference create a challenge when organisations need to deliver a consistent message. This is further complicated when considering the impact of culture and social values on an organisation’s preferred approach to learning.
Cultural differences, such as collectivism, assertiveness and power distance, all have an impact on how people feel most comfortable learning. This manifests in a number of ways, such as the approaches learners will take to experimentation, how reflective they are and their preference for collaborative or individual approaches.
Learning is something that traditionally has been delivered in person in the same location, therefore regional business units are created to respond to localised needs. The resulting approach is one that meets the specific needs of local learners and and their individual requirements.
As learning is often not a priority for many businesses, addressing the potential benefits of a more global solution are often not considered, or at least not afforded the support enjoyed by other global initiatives.
This situation is further be compounded by “not invented here syndrome.” This describes a situation where a global learning solution is perceived as ineffective as it can’t possibly take account of localised requirements. This can result in regional business units activity working against a global solution.
Regional units may be confident that they are providing effective learning in a manner that meets the specific needs of their learners. However, they fail to consider to the benefits that can be realised from a global solution.
Despite these barriers, I do feel optimistic that there are opportunities there for the taking if organisations are up for the challenge (and we most certainly are!).
Our agile approach certainly helps give us an advantage in global markets.
In my mind, there are a number of disruptions which are driving change in the way big organisations view their learning.
Global events are showcasing successful business strategies, approaches to learning and delivery mechanisms. As a global community, we are increasingly open to new ideas and adopting approaches, regardless of where they were invented.
We are seeing more homogeneity of organisational cultures, balanced with increasing acceptance of other styles and approaches to learning. This results in a more collaborative approach to learning, which is reinforced by increasing importance being put on the development of staff.
Last but by no means least, the advent of digital solutions means that, increasingly, learning can be delivered to the end-user regardless of their geographic location. Communities can be created virtually, so that individuals with different backgrounds can easily share ideas and experiences.
What’s more, advances in translation technology and artificial intelligence mean that, very soon, online learning will be tailored to the unique requirements of the individual. All this points to the increasing effectiveness of global learning solutions.
The opportunity for global learning solutions should be growing. However, I suspect we are still short of having a one-size-fits all-solution and, arguably, we never should.
By looking for the efficiency gains to enable us to take a high quality learning solution to a wider audience, as well as sharing our experiences, this is both a challenge and an opportunity.
As GoodPractice continues with its global journey, we are all excited to see how far we can go.