What is a learning business and what does it mean if you recognize yourself as a learning business professional?
Understanding the answers to these questions can actually help guide you towards acquiring the necessary skills, mindset, and knowledge to help catapult both you – and your organization – to an elevated level of success.
In this episode of the Leading Learning podcast, Celisa and Jeff define what it means to be in the learning business, the importance of identifying yourself as a learning business professional, and opportunities and resources available to help anyone in this role excel.
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[00:20] – A preview of what will be covered in this podcast where Celisa and Jeff discuss two closely related concepts – learning business and learning business professional.
[00:40] – Thank you to YourMembership, sponsor of the Leading Learning podcast for the first quarter of 2017. YourMembership’s award-winning learning management system, CrowdWisdom, provides organizations with the means to manage all of their educational content formats in one central location, and also provides tools to create and deliver assessments, evaluations and learning communities.
[1:07] "]– YourMembership is also the executive sponsor of our upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) (registration opened today). LTD is an virtual event designed specifically for professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development.
We launched LTD as a successful face-to-face event in 2016 but decided to try it out as a virtual event for 2017. The goal of the event will be the same – to help attendees find new and better ways to engage learners and create lasting impact through the effective use of technology.
The event will take place March 1-3, 2017. You can get our preferred pricing rate – $100 off the full rate – through the end of January. The program will cover topics such as microlearning, social learning, and effective marketing of learning programs.
Learning Business: What It Is and Isn’t
[02:19] – We’ll start by clarifying what we mean by “learning business” and “learning business professional”.
A learning business has to meet two criteria:
- It has to generate revenue through selling learning and education experiences to a target audience – in most cases, this means net positive revenue or profit.
- It has to self-identify as a business – the majority of the people working in the business recognize that revenue generation is fundamental reason for the businesses existence.
What is not a learning business (for the most part):
- Corporate training – while corporate training can and should contribute to business success, it is typically a cost center, and its audience is primarily internal to the company. (Leaving aside the concept of “extended enterprise.”)
- Traditional academic institutions – many public institutions are heavily subsidized and even for institutions that do have to generate at least break-even revenue, whether public or private, it is rare for this requirement to be emphasized/recognized, outside of a small segment of the administration.
[05:32] – Types of organizations that we do feel qualify as learning businesses:
- Continuing education and extension programs in the academic world – these parts of colleges and universities are often run more like private training and education companies.
- Most trade and professional associations – we feel that is true whether an organization is selling education and training directly, or it provides access to learning opportunities – whether formal or informal – as part of the benefit of membership. In either case, learning is driving revenue, and should be treated as a business.
The Learning Business Professional
A learning business professional is a person who works within a learning business and recognizes that she/he works within a learning business. Why does it matter to see yourself as a learning business professional? It’s a very different role from those found in the other types of education and training organizations. And because it is a different role, it requires a different mindset, skill set, and body of knowledge.
Also there is the rub that for the most part, we have not really acknowledged this whole sector of learning and education, and there is no “off the shelf” curriculum or program for training people in it.
What’s worse, many people working in it are not really conscious of their organization as a learning business or of themselves as learning business professionals – and it’s important to first recognize yourself as a learning business professional to then be able to excel in that role.
All of this is a main reason we developed the Learning Business Maturity ModelTM (check out our previous podcast episode on the topic to learn more).
The five domains that people/businesses really need to focus on if they are going to be successful and mature as learning business including:
[11:47] – And the five domains are mapped across four stages of maturity:
- Stage 1: Static
- Stage 2: Reactive
- Stage 3: Proactive
- Stage 4: Innovative
Regardless of whether a learning business professional adopts to the Learning Business Maturity Model specifically, she/he will see their organization in similar terms, and will work to develop their skills across the domains.
It’s a multi-disciplinary approach, and like any area in which a person wants to excel, it takes a conscious investment of time and effort to build the necessary skills and knowledge.
However, there are very few professional development opportunities that really align to the whole concept of “learning business” which is a main reason for launching Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD).
Learning • Technology • Design™ (LTD) is being held as a virtual event this year to try and reach as many people as possible. The program will cover portions around almost all of the five domains from the Learning Business Maturity Model and it will give people a chance to immerse themselves in a multidisciplinary way.
There aren’t tracks for each topic because it is truly a multidisciplinary approach and the learning business professional needs to have a certain level of fluency in all of these domains. And this fluency needs to exist across the organization –which is why many organizations are attending in multifunctional teams.
[17:00] – The bottom line is if you do identify as a learning business professional, you need to be pursuing professional development that supports that identity.
LTD is just one option but you can also use tools like the Learning Business Maturity ModelTM, our Emphatically Recommended Readings™ (something we will discuss more in an upcoming podcast episode), and a wide range of other resources (see our previous podcast episode, Free Tools and Resources for Your Lifelong Learning Business) to help guide your own, self-directed learning.
[18:26] – Wrap Up
Thanks again to YourMembership for sponsoring of this episode of the Leading Learning podcast.
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[20:39] – Sign off