Joining the dots . . . on how L&D can drive impact through continuous development

Implementing personalized employee development programs to boost morale

Do you want to think more broadly and engage more people in the L&D process? Get ready to unlock the potential of continuous improvement, writes Martin Couzins 

Return on investment is the Achilles’ heel of learning and development. It is hard to prove and yet people still talk about it and still want it. Rather than chasing something that is so elusive, try a different tack. Focus on continuous improvement. Why? Because it frees you up to think more broadly and to engage more people in the process. And it has impact.

Continuous improvement is forward-looking and is built on a curiosity and desire to improve how things are done 

This article by McKinsey shows that continuous improvement can have a big impact in a short space of time. According to the authors of the article, the success of continuous improvement comes from three things: 

  • Focusing on innovating how things are done. 
  • Engaging all employees in sharing knowledge and generating ideas for improvement. 
  • Exploring how to improve the customer experience and respond to the external environment. 

So why should L&D harness this approach to achieve better, demonstrable outcomes? 

1 – It provides you with an opportunity to engage stakeholders in the learning and performance agenda.    

What stakeholder will not want to talk to you about how they are looking to improve their part of the business/function/team? 

2 – It enables you and your stakeholders to truly understand the challenges and opportunities associated with making that improvement. 

Stakeholders might not understand the issues that hamper improvement, nor see some of the potential opportunities. 

3 – It helps you identify what needs to change and how.  

At this point ,the solution might not be a learning one. What’s key for you is that the process you have taken your stakeholder through has helped them identify the real problem.  

4 – If learning is a part of the solution, then set out with your stakeholders what improvement you want to see and over what time period.  

Being clear about expectations is critical and it helps everyone shape realistic goals or measures of success. If this type of discussion with your stakeholder is new, then it is an opportunity to educate them in pragmatic approaches to impact and value measures that relate directly to business improvement. 

5 – Continuous improvement is just that – continuous – and that means you have opportunities to share stories of those improvements 

By sharing stories of improvement with stakeholders, you reinforce impact. And this helps elevate your credibility within the organisation. Not only are you introducing a process to identify the real problems, you are delivering solutions that are helping improve performance. 

Next steps

External forces on organisations are driving rapid change and this requires L&D teams to understand the external environment and how to respond to it. Continuous improvement is forward-looking and is built on a curiosity and desire to improve how things are done. It’s a process that can help L&D become proactive partners that deliver solutions that work. 

Martin Couzins

Martin Couzins is director of Insight Media and you can contact him direct at

Martin Couzins

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