Session 2: Creating a Learning Strategy

While building your training matrix is about matching content to qualifications, creating a learning strategy focuses on creating effective training by mixing modalities, timing assignments, and using the right delivery technologies.

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Hey everyone, Kent Malmros here, Senior Director of Vault Training at Veeva Systems. I’m once again joined my by good friend John Constantine, SVP at Orchestrall, for our virtual fireside chats about critical topics in life sciences learning. And today is something we are both very passionate about, largely because we think it’s very important, but also because we know it can be very confusing, and that is creating a learning strategy. And John, I think we should get right to this topic, because maybe starting with a definition about something confusing is a good place to start. Since it’s so often misunderstood, why don’t you tell everyone what you think a learning strategy is and how it should be defined?

Yeah, so a lot of people think strategy is reserved for the C-suite, but really it’s not. Anybody who has any long-term responsibilities needs to be more proactive and less retroactive than we generally are. It’s very understandable that people are caught up in doing what they do best, and that’s delivering on a daily basis. But it’s really important with a learning strategy, particularly in the regulated space, to have had a plan beforehand on how you might respond to future events that are pretty predictable in a life sciences area, as audit inspections are pretty predictable, so what is it you’re going to do now to set yourself up for success in the future?

Right, and so when you boil that down to how you develop a learning plan, everyone has a slightly different approach, but I think, clearly, you referenced it, it includes things like: what are the key topics on which you’re training? And how are you actually going to structure that learning plan? And being proactive around that. And that often then includes questions such as how I’m going to develop content and where I’m going to deliver it. So let’s go there. Where do you think you should start? Do you start with the strategy around your training development and delivery processes, or do you start with the technologies and means you need to build and deliver them?

That’s a great question. I think the right way to start is with your business process first. A lot of times, because the business process has been siloed, or business processes have been siloed, you have multiple systems that have been purchased at companies to support a smaller business process, as opposed to the end-to-end business process. And so if you have the ability to step back and look at the end-to-end business process of compliance and then fit your systems into those processes, then you avoid that sort of promulgation of multiple systems at a company that need to be harmonized and/or integrated in the future, so if you start early and think strategically about the business process of compliance, then you have less of a need to do that integration in the future.

Yeah, and learning strategy gives us the opportunity to, frankly, get into all the other topics that we plan to discuss, so we’ll save learning technology maybe for a separate conversation, in fact let’s do it in the next one, but something else we plan to discuss is some of the modern frameworks that have become popular, and how we can apply them. We’ll get into those a little bit more deeply, but I’m curious how the proliferation of things like microlearning and the changes to evaluation have maybe shifted the way you think about and help your clients develop a learning strategy. How has that impacted your thinking around a proactive approach to developing a learning plan?

Well, we’ll start with microlearning. It is a buzzword with legs, because… It has legs because it’s not really a buzzword, it’s actually founded in really good learning science, and people’s ability to learn is much more enhanced by getting small doses of things that are reinforced over time. And in the compliance space, that means having as understandable and easily digested SOPs as possible. It means that you deliver the learning to people when they need it, where they need it, and not in huge bulks of downloaded training all at once, and then just keeping the records, the records themselves are a piece of compliance, but the learning and comprehension is a really important piece too, and microlearning definitely adds to that.

Great, so I think that’s clearly a topic we also want to get into, but what I’m hearing you say is you consider the use of microlearning, its efficacy, and you can then create a learning strategy where maybe you are shifting modality, right? So you combine short digital work instructions with a related SOP. You consider, in fact, applying certain strategies to the SOPs themselves, because historically they might be long and undigestible, and if you want to make them shorter and more consumable and more effective, that can impact how you actually structure the strategy upfront, so I think that’s great advice. Excellent work, I think we can close down this topic and think about moving to our next one, we already referenced it, implementing a learning technology, so we’ll get back together and talk about that topic, but before we leave, John, any last words of advice on creating learning strategy?

No, I think, whenever you are sitting down and doing a learning strategy, if it’s forward-looking it’s always good. When you think about starting from now and doing a strategy for the future, sometimes it involves not retrofitting what you’ve done in the past and just doing something different from now on. I would encourage everybody to do that.

Great. Thanks, John. Really appreciate it. Look forward to talking to you again, next time, about these key topics of life sciences learning. Join us for that.

Thanks, Kent.

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