Article: Scaling up learning

Learning & Development

Scaling up learning

What is the importance of training and learning initiatives for businesses to maintain consistency?
Scaling up learning

Percolating the vision of the company, business targets and processes to the employees needs a formal mode of delivery and training


When businesses scale, organizations are faced with a huge task of maintaining consistency in their business throughout their geographic spread, along with maintaining consistency in their product and service delivery. Every organization needs to deliver its products or services in a uniform manner. With expanding geographic base and increasing management layers, the need to bind employees with uniform practices becomes imperative.

Therefore, the task of percolating the vision of the company, business targets and processes to the employees need a formal mode of delivery and training. Whether in customer service, in performing complex tasks, dealing with reporting relationships, finances, facilities, compliance and risk management or through collaborating teams—speed and efficiency comes through training in standard processes and procedures. Investments in terms of training, standardizing processes and procedures to ensure quality and standards are not compromised is important for businesses today. Juxtaposing this with professional development is all the more imperative. Any organization needs to plan its ‘learning needs’ as it plans for scale.

In the mid-fifties when GE was expanding its operations across the globe, it set up a corporate university which offered its first course that spread over 13 weeks. Today, no executive can imagine spending a full quarter of the year sitting in a classroom. While the courses offered at the university have become shorter, the efficacy of the investment remains unquestionable. The headhunters refer to GE as a leadership factory.

GE is not alone. McDonalds set up its Hamburger University in 1961. When Steve Jobs hired Joe Podolny, the then dean of Yale to start Apple University in 2008, it made a big splash. Apple University drew faculty members from universities like Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford and MIT.

The trend of corporate universities is on the rise. In 1993, corporate universities existed in only 400 companies. By 2001, this number had increased to 2,000, including Walt Disney, Boeing, and Motorola. According to BCG, there are estimated to be more than 4,000 companies with formal corporate universities. A few of the most known are General Motors Institute, Unilever, Novartis, Deloitte, Petronas and many more.

Training & Learning

The need to constantly upgrade business knowledge has become critical. The need to bring people to a common minimum level of knowledge and also upgrading the skills of people in terms of technique, domain knowledge or personal competencies — all require training and learning.   Formal, structured training delivered in a standardized module with certified trainers has been the mainstay of knowledge transfer. Businesses today have the responsibility to ensure knowledge transfer to their employees through process trainings and instructions.  

The need for crafting a learning strategy that changes to reflect the business needs is required to be built into the challenge of scale and speed. Every company does not need to build a corporate university with a sprawling campus, especially if the employee base is not in the same city. It can be a virtual university which caters to employees anywhere and everywhere.


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Topics: Learning & Development, #AQuestionofScale, #LAndDWeek

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