How to establish your must-haves and nice-to-haves in your learning content strategy

By Kathryn Cornwell

3 minute read

Did you know that roughly 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February and only about 9% of resolutioners make good on their goals by year’s end?

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I sense you saying “Kat, I’m here to read about learning content strategy, not resolutions.” I believe there is a bit of same-same between the two. Stay with me here…

Let’s start with how they are defined:

res·o·lu·tion noun A firm decision to do or not to do something

strat·e·gy noun A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim

Sit in lotus position and repeat after me, “say no so you can say yes.” Having a clear learning content strategy and, dare I say “resolutions”, enable L&D to go from the traditional order taker to performance detective business partner.

New to L&D or unsure what is meant by Learning Content Strategy? My fabulous pal, Najmah Salam, does a fantastic job in this article where she answers the question why you need one and how to develop it using Filtered’s Content Strategy Playbook.

Establishing the Must-Haves

We have found that the full-loaded cost of learning content is roughly 41.8% of L&D spending. That is a massive amount of the budget.

Learning content should be considered a business asset and treated as such. You need to allocate your resources in a way consistent with your priorities. How do you make sure that you are spending on the right content? By getting curious and asking questions.

 Does your learning content fulfil the business objectives? Align with the organisation.

Your learning content strategy should dovetail into your greater organisational strategy. Knowing what skills/competencies have been identified is critical when assessing your learning content against business objectives.

Using Content Intelligence can make clear whether your content is fuelling the workforce to deliver on the BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) of the organisation, in seconds.

Does your learning content meet the needs of the audience? Gain the voice of the customer.

Crowdsource to shape your learning content strategy decisions! There can be a helpful push-pull of information between what senior leaders expect and what the workforce is asking for.

Pulse survey learners asking:

  • where they prefer to learn (desk v mobile)
  • what type of content they prefer to consume (podcast, article, course), and
  • if you took [content name] away, would they miss it?

Are your functional groups on that same page? Make the skills architecture work.

L&D used to have its own swim lane. Today, it needs to be more synchronized swimming amongst the HR function. How are you involving the recruiting team and talent management in your content strategy? What are you hearing from various Centers of Excellence (COEs) and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) regarding content needs?

What is the data telling you? Trust what you hear and check against the data.

Taking time to analyse how, what, when, and where learners engage with your learning content is also key. This will help you validate what you learn from answering the previous three questions.

Does the metadata line up or contradict? Translate the data into something meaningful. Making sure you gut-check against the data on a regular basis is critical to delivering on your learning content strategy.

Discovering the Nice-To-Haves

Once you have rid yourself of the content chaos and established your must-haves for learning content, you may find you have the capacity to take on a bit more down the road. The nice-to-haves should complement your must-haves. So, what does that look like?

What are emerging problems? Evolve with the world around you.

The world seems to be a in a constant state of flux these days. The beauty of “saying no so you can say yes” often provides the bandwidth to help solve these problems (or new opportunities depending on your perspective).

For example, chances are there is an opportunity to refresh conversation skills with so many returning to the office. Remote work has lessened the opportunity for small talk. And while conversation skills may not deliver on the organisation’s BHAG, it would make for a nice-to-have portion of your learning content strategy.

What are the future skills? Continue partnering across the organisation.

Chances are the emerging problems are dictating some of the future skills. Has your organisation set a 3 or 5-year strategy you can build off of? What skills gaps have been identified by those leading intern or resident programs?

Best practices from the 9%

Earlier I shared that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are ghosted in a month, and only 9% succeed. Making a New Year’s resolution is a bit like creating your own personal strategy.

So, what can we learn from that 9% that succeed? Based on what I’ve learned, it boils down to consistency and commitment. Start small with your must-haves, which will eventually allow for you to tackle your nice-to-haves.

Do as the Babylonians

Ancient Babylonians are said to have been some of the first to set New Year’s resolutions. They were the first to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the new year, which was tied to crop planting season (mid-March).

So, if you haven’t set your strategy or find you’ve abandoned the one you had set…do as the Babylonians and make sure you have one planted by mid-March. May your crops, errr learning content strategy, result in a bountiful harvest!

Need some help getting started and making sense of the learning content you have? We’re ready on standby! Book a free 30-minute Content Clinic here


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