Corporate Digital Learning

[Discussion] Organizational approaches to organize L&D & digital learning


[Moved from discussion thread]

Structural approaches

In practice you will find a wide variety of organizational approaches to organize L&D & digital learning. Five structural approaches are often used:

Option 1: Centralized responsibility and operation

There is one corporate learning function across the organization, often organized by job families.

Option 2: Global approach with distributed centers of competence

Can be characterized by a priority for global training offerings and regional field organizations.

Option 3: Centralized management approach with decentralized operating responsibilities

Implentation of the HR business partner model, some additional local training units (academy, team) in business segments, regions, locations, often subsidiaries for training.

Option 4: Decentralized approach with joint activities

Many autonomous training units (academy, team) in business segments, regions, locations. Central training unit for cross-business topics, some joint corporate programs (eg. leadership training). Central responsibilities eg. for infrastructure.

Option 5: Multiple independent centers of excellence

Independent training and education units in a matrix organization.

Now, what fits best? This depends. While I am a big believer in decentralized organizational approaches, I must recognize that a centralized approach (option 1) or a global approach with different centers of competence (option 2) is good for reaching a high proportion of digital learning as delivery method. If the organizational culture is more decentalized, also digital learning should be organized in a more decentalized way (option 3 and 4).

Another view regarding the organizational approaches with more details can be found here:

Designing the Optimal Organization Structure and Governance Model:

Service Portfolio and processes of the learning function

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This service portfolio is from

Schuchmann, Daniela; Seufert, Sabine: Corporate Learning in Times of Digital Transformation: A Conceptual Framework and Service Portfolio for the Learning Function in Banking Organisations. In: International Journal of Corporate Learning (iJAC) 8 (2015), No. 1, p. 31-39: [think this framework is not only appropriate for banking organisations]


over 3 years ago

Thank you for this overview - it really gives a sense of what full coverage of a learning function would be, and can allow us to analyze where we are and where we want to go in our organizations.
Do you think it is necessary to choose one model, or do we actually need to promote hybrid models to meet various learning needs? I imagine for example that in this banking organization, compliance and risk training is handled at a global level in order to respond to across-the-board needs and requirements. On the other hand, specific business lines or regions might have their own training interventions related to local/client issues.

over 3 years ago

Hybrid models can combine the different training needs. The organizational background from option 3 and 4 can be a good basis for hybrid models. But creating a good hybrid model is difficult and it must fit into the organizational culture.

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