How Governance Can Help Align L&D with Business Strategy

Jan 13, 2020


As the pace of technology change speeds up, L&D faces increasing pressure to align its services to the business, but too often, alignment falls short. 

In our 20+ years of experience in L&D consulting, the difference between learning teams that deliver strategic value and those that miss the mark is the relationship between L&D leaders and executive leadership. CLOs who take part in executive planning excel. Those who must sit back and wait for orders don’t.

It’s not all bad news. Alignment is increasing.

LinkedIn Learning’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report shows that the percentage of L&D pros working with executive leaders grew from 43 percent to 50 percent from 2022 to 2023, an increase of over 16 percent.The Percentage of L&D pros working more closely with leaders has grown significantly year over year.

Those working with the CHRO increased from 39 percent to 49%.

When L&D doesn’t deliver on business needs, leaders find their own solutions, resulting in a fragmented approach.

L&D leaders need help, and we believe they will find it in their own organizations. The need to upskill or reskill its workforce to remain competitive is a strategy problem that should involve the entire enterprise.

We also believe a viable path from tactical to strategic lies in learning governance, which creates co-ownership between business units and HR/L&D.

The first requirement is a close relationship between L&D and HR, as learning and talent functions are closely intertwined. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge and skills, and the talent functions develop and deploy them. Both are key players in a learning governance framework.

Building a Learning Governance Framework

The context of learning governance is organizational or corporate governance, which is accountable for the interests of stakeholders: shareholders, management, the workforce, customers, suppliers, financiers, government, and the community.

Don’t create a new hierarchy. Adapt it to your existing organizational structure.

The Learning CouncilSample-Governance-Framework

Leading governing framework is a council, committee, or governing board that establishes the strategic plan for learning. The learning plan is an essential part of the strategic business plan, ensuring that the firm has the skills to execute the business plan. It should include a member of the executive planning team.

Engaging stakeholders creates dialogue to generate a concrete understanding that empowers individuals and networks affected by decisions.

Tapping advisors, and internal and external experts, helps the committee form the strategies and methods that will build success.

Steering Committees

You will have functional steering committees that develop policies and procedures to execute the business unit’s strategy. Their responsibility is to determine and govern how learning takes place.

Learning Operations

The operators are the people responsible for executing the policies and procedures.

The Role of Learning & Development

Where does learning fit? It depends on your organization. The CLO may be the leader of the executive group, or may be a tactical leader or expert advisor.

Start from where you are, and let the framework develop. That approach will minimize disruption and enable L&D to develop relationships.

Our sample framework is just that—a sample. It would be a mistake to apply it to your organization without considering how it works in your situation. Every organization is unique. Yours may centralize all learning, and in others, business units could be independent.

So, there is no standard framework—but you can create one that works in your organization. It may take time to get it right. It may not be easy, but the benefits can be huge. Governance will help you:

  • Align learning with business strategy,
  • Assign and track accountability,
  • Prioritize initiatives, budgets, and resources,
  • Drive better and faster decisions, and
  • Facilitate learning transformation.

And here’s the bonus: your learning efforts will be more efficient, effective, and supportive of your people.


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About Pixentia

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results. 

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