It’s St Patrick's Day weekend and millions of people around the globe are about to get their green on and go “Irish for a Day,” even if they don’t have a drop of Irish blood. Not an issue! That’s part of the fun. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other national day, even in places you might not guess, like Australia, Croatia, Argentina, India, and Japan.
Clearly, much of the planet agrees that green beer, lucky charms, and public singing are good things! How could they not be? This is a holiday most people can really get behind, even if its somber origins don’t at all resemble how we celebrate today. Here in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal, especially in certain cities with large Irish-American populations; cheers to you, Boston, New York, Philly, Chicago, et al. Enjoy the epic festivities this weekend. Erin go Bragh!
This holiday is also the perfect reminder to consider the subject of luck. Some people believe in good or bad luck as facts of life (e.g. “It’s my lucky day” or “I never luck out.”). They accept it as an undeniable, unstoppable force of nature beyond human control.
On the flip side, others believe that “luck” is nothing more than the direct result of previous effort or circumstances. In other words, it doesn’t really exist.
Or, as Benjamin Franklin cleverly said, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
Franklin’s quote seems apropos in how we might relate luck to learning. L&D is full of magical, inspired moments, but it isn’t always skipping merrily through the shamrock field. The majority of successes are the direct result of skillful strategy development, effective technology, and consistent execution.
However, most L&D people would agree to being very lucky to work in a space that’s chock full of creativity, innovation, and all kinds of growth (for learners, for companies, and for the L&D people behind the scenes). And, unlike other professional disciplines, there is a figurative pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The positive outcomes bring your learners and you the riches of satisfaction, accomplishment, and expansion (professional and/or personal).
But, there’s no shortcut to those rewards.
As the Founding Father wisely advised, luck (i.e. success) requires diligence. The outcomes may feel as pleasing as stumbling onto good luck, but it's better in business not to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Why flirt with the whims of fate when you can create your own luck by relying on these proven L&D practices that put the pot of gold right within your reach:
- Align with strategic business goals. This is hopefully an obvious point to begin with, but it’s always good to be reminded that L&D is a strategic vehicle that should drive toward supporting the top-most business strategy.
- Consider customer experience. Training for customer-facing teams should take an outside-in approach, always considering how interactions and processes affect customers. Even employee training for non-customer-facing roles should teach the importance of delivering on the company’s customer experience promise.
- Deliver training in the now. Training needs to be woven into the flow of everyday work via system integration for immediate access. It needs to be accessible anytime, anywhere, and from any device, in digestible, engaging courses and formats.
- Automate everything you can. As training programs become more complex, reaching diverse audiences, assigning varied courses and learning paths, keeping content up-to-date, there’s no reason to try to manually manage anything that can be automated. Make your life and the life of learners easier by letting technology do what it does best.
- Build curriculum by consensus. You can’t create everything for everyone, but getting input from stakeholders is critical to offering training that meets real goals, not those you guessed in a silo.
- Don’t create what you can curate. There’s not enough time these days to build all courses from scratch. It just makes practical sense to take advantage of the many content libraries that offer engaging, video-based, off-the-shelf content.
- Start with the end in mind. Before building any course or content, ask what the end goals are first. If you know what outcomes you seek, you can work backwards from there making sure to include learning content that drives those results.
- Establish performance goals. Putting performance goals for employees in place is still among the most reliable ways to measure if your training programs work. Start by establishing baseline measurements and then compare performance before and after the training. Include learners in the process by letting them know what's being measured and what the new performance expectations are.
- Conduct assessments. Testing remains the most often used and effective method of determining if the learner understood and retained the material. Remember that low scores may not be the fault of learners. You may need to rework the training to make it more digestible.
- Incorporate feedback. Put your ego on the back burner and remind yourself that honest results enable you to immediately identify what’s working and what isn’t, so that you can improve it.