About This Research
Our Learning Organization Operating Model research began in 2019 as a follow-up to our 2016 High-Impact Learning Organization research to understand how learning leaders are approaching learning and development (L&D) for future organizations. Our High-Impact Learning Organization study identified strategies for L&D to redefine itself and achieve maximum impact on business and worker-related outcomes. Our new research seeks to understand how these strategies are executed through learning operating models in a way that ensures alignment to business strategy and creates value for both workers and the organization.
This study leverages multiple forms of research methods to explore the topic differently from our traditional approach, which usually consists of a full survey accompanied by interviews.
We conducted this research using the following methods:
- Literature review
- Conversations with members and other organizations
- Qualitative analysis of project deliverables from Deloitte Human Capital projects
- Survey development and analysis
- Quantitative analysis
- Validation and storytelling interviews
We began this research with a literature review to stay current with changes in how L&D functions operate and to identify any adjustments to the operating model that is common throughout organizational learning. The sources in the literature review include publications from academia and other consulting organizations and professional associations as well as Deloitte Insights research. To synthesize these materials, we conducted a mind-mapping exercise to visually render the various elements at play across the operating model research. We later incorporated the results of this exercise into the survey design process.
Conversations with Members and Other Organizations
We conducted in-depth interviews with learning leaders and leading consulting practitioners to understand their efforts in creating effective learning organizations, the current limitations of the learning operating model, and the challenges of implementing some of our findings. Through these interviews, we also sought to identify the driving questions these organizations had that related to the future of learning (or L&D).
To obtain a descriptive account of what individual organizations are doing across different parts of the operating model, we leveraged the consulting arm of the business to access information on the challenges organizations face. To ensure confidentiality, all identifiable information was anonymized and removed from the results. The analysis pulled information from over 80 individual artifacts to summarize key themes across dimensions of our research on an organizational level. The resulting thematic summaries were compared across cases as well as within each organization to determine commonalities, differences, and dependencies among the factors in an effort to help understand the effectiveness of the operating model.
Survey Development and Analysis
Based on our literature review and interviews, we conducted two highly targeted surveys (pulse surveys and leader questionnaires) separately between February and June 2020. To minimize the survey burden on each audience and gather more actionable insights, we utilized different target audiences.
The pulse survey was designed for people in managerial positions linked to L&D or otherwise and consisted of 12 questions, including some related to demographics. The intent of this survey was to capture the perspective of learning consumers and how they perceive the effectiveness of both the learning function and individual learning within the organization.
The leader questionnaire was designed for leaders of learning (or L&D) and consisted of 20 questions. The survey was designed to investigate learning operating models from the perspective of the leaders who design, implement, and govern them. Survey respondents completed a set of items that expanded on the driving questions for each area related to the operating model, shaping a more comprehensive view on decision-making, structure, offerings, technology, and the intentions of value behind learning.
The final cleaned survey data consisted of over 60 respondents from a range of industries and job levels. Nearly half the respondents were director-level or above, with another quarter each at a managerial or individual contributor level. Just under 40 percent of respondents came from outside the Americas.
The final data set used in the analyses included responses representing a cross-section of workforce levels, geographies, and relationships to the L&D function (see Figures 1 through 3).
To assess whether there might be significant changes to our existing Learning Organization Maturity Model, we compared the responses to both surveys in this research as well as to the High-Impact Learning Organization data collected in 2017. We identified all items included in the study from 2017 and our Learning Organization Operating Model pulse survey. Then, we compared the means and standard deviations of the items that appeared in both surveys using an effect-size calculation called Cohen’s d. Cohen’s d reports effect sizes that allowed us to determine the size of the difference. Additionally, we conducted t-tests between the distributions of the items to identify whether any of these differences were statistically significant. This analysis identified consistent patterns in responses from our 2017 survey and the more recent pulse survey, reinforcing the relevancy of the existing maturity model.
Validation of Findings
We conducted in-depth interviews with learning leaders and consulting practitioners to validate our qualitative and quantitative findings and to collect specific examples of effective learning operating model elements identified in our analyses.
Vice President, Learning & Leadership Research Leader
Senior Research Analyst, Workforce Experience Research Leader