Mapping Learning and Development
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Mapping Learning and Development

A great learning and development (L&D) strategy can serve as the backbone of a successful organization. In fact, according to research conducted by Find Courses, organizations that place an emphasis on L&D are 22% more likely to have satisfied employees, particularly if L&D is tied to a promotion. 54% of organizations believe that their L&D strategy gives them a competitive edge in their market. This might well explain why, despite the current pandemic-related issues, 41% of organizations actually plan on increasing their L&D budgets in the near future.

As these numbers demonstrate, a great L&D strategy is not only good for your team, it’s also great for business. So how do you put together a great L&S strategy? How do you make it more creative and visual? This is where mind maps can come into play.

What is L&D?

First and foremost, it’s important to outline what learning and development actually is.

In short; it’s an education strategy - your organization’s education strategy. It’s how you train, upskill and encourage your employees to develop both professionally and personally.

L&D can be as simple as compulsory training - for example, fire safety and diversity and inclusion - through to courses that are less-geared towards the workplace. This is where the dividing line between a good L&D strategy and a great L&D strategy lies.

What Makes a Great L&D Strategy?

A great L&D strategy is one that is flexible, inclusive, adaptable, and innovative. But creating one that meets these parameters is easier said than done.

A great L&D strategy starts with a great learning culture. This can be enhanced through peer-to-peer learning, something that many organizations with great L&D strategies utilize.

Think of it this way: perhaps you’re looking to upskill your team in a new software program? Maybe you already have someone on your team who is skilled in that particular program? You could ask them to deliver a training session. This approach also works with more fun training sessions.

Getting your team to learn together as one will do wonders for your business. That is why, according to the findcourses.co.uk report, almost a fifth of companies base their L&D strategies around this method.

Building L&D into Your Organization

Building a great L&D strategy takes time - and a certain amount of trial and error.
At the core of every great L&D strategy is learning that’s both engaging and meaningful. L&D mustn’t be seen as but a necessity, but as an opportunity for upskilling, reskilling, and learning.

Great L&D strategies do make you do your homework. You’ll need to start by looking at your team closely. Think about their strengths and weaknesses and their dynamics. Why pour re-sources into L&D in areas where your team already does well? For example, your team might be fantastic at selling. So you might want to invest your L&D resources into something like IT training, particularly at this time where online learning has become front and center. In this example, IT training would also complement their selling strengths.  

But a great L&D strategy also brushes up on the basics along the way. A little communication or soft skills training never went amiss. Whatever and however your L&D strategy helps your team, you’ll need to set out the actual learning in an engaging way.

Mapping Out Thoughts and Ideas

Laying out your thoughts can be extremely helpful. It can be as simple as jotting down a few notes during a meeting through to creating elaborate spidergrams and workflow charts. Everyone has their own method of collating their thoughts and ideas. But, when it comes to brainstorming and innovation, using a more creative approach can be the way forward.

In fact, there’s evidence that backs this up.

According to research published in the journal Creative Education, mind maps allow people who use a variety of collation methods to follow, understand and comprehend the thoughts and ideas of others. By removing that barrier between members of your team, you can help foster a more collaborative, interactive approach to innovative brainstorming.

But the research in Creative Education also went on to find that the more colorful a mind map is, the more effective it can be. The colors, shapes, and lines of a mind map can engage the left side of our brains - the creative side. By engaging both sides of our brains in a task, we can truly put our all into brainstorming, innovating, and collaboratively coming up with ideas and new and better ways of doing things.

A Versatile Tool

As well as encouraging collaboration, easy communication and engaging more of our brains, mind maps are also extremely versatile - far more so than simply writing out lists on a flip chart.

Mind maps encourage colors and visual, literal links between ideas and concepts. By seeing ideas, suggestions, and concepts laid out in this way, you can make links and connections where you might not otherwise have.

Mind maps can even be used to help L&D give an extra large boost to team cohesion. By thinking and innovating together out loud, your team can come up with even better, more robust ideas.

This can help them to truly interact with and digest the education that they have. After all, communication can help us get to grips with even the most abstract and complex of ideas. But how does using mind maps in L&D actually look in practice?

Imagine you run a team at a medium-sized accounting firm. They’ve just undergone some training in relation to a new European taxation law that’s likely to impact many of your smaller customers. Parts of this new law are complex - they repeal parts of existing laws as well as introducing new requirements.

In an afternoon workshop, your team has had to absorb a lot of new information. Some of this new information will impact upon their day-to-day duties.

This is where mind maps come into play: comprehension.

After the training has been delivered, your team can work in groups to map out and detail the new law and how it’ll affect their work. This not only allows your team to correct any miscon-ceptions amongst themselves, but it also gives you the chance, as their manager, to check their understanding of what they’ve just learned. Being able to do this whilst knowledge is still fresh in your teams’ minds can be invaluable.

The Main Points

This article has covered a lot. But you might also just be short on time, so have skimmed through to the end. Either way, these are the main points of this article.

L&D is at-work education. It can pertain to both personal and professional development. The more inbuilt L&D is, the more beneficial it can be to your organization. It can boost your team’s satisfaction and even your business growth. What makes an L&D strategy great is how it marries the personal and professional development aspects.

Building a great L&D strategy for your organization also requires some homework on your part. You need to look at your team and assess where their strengths and their weaknesses lie. This will help you to avoid pumping resources into training for something in which they’re already skilled. But it also helps to ensure that your team gets quality training. This is where mind maps can be of assistance.

By mapping out connections between ideas and concepts in bright, bold colors, you can ensure that your team has fully and properly comprehended what they’ve just been taught. By having such a visual reference point, it can also help them to make links and connections between ideas and concepts that they might not have otherwise made.

In short, mind maps, when used as part of a great L&D strategy, can help to foster and even expand innovation.

About the Author

Luke Sandford is a writer and content producer at Educations Media Group. Currently based in Lund, he is originally from the UK and graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2018 with a BA in Education. He has since written for several outlets and has worked as an English teacher, both at home and abroad. Luke's passion for traveling and experiencing new cultures directly impacts his work as he seeks to create engaging, informative and useful content for a wide audience.

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