A Model Proposal

In Running Training Like a Business, we introduced a framework called the Dynamic Business Scorecard (DBS). The DBS was developed by Bill Fonvielle (@wfonviel). Bill saw that while the whole world was enamored with the work of Norton and Kaplan on the balanced business scorecard that metrics were best when the drivers and interconnectedness of the various elements could be made more visible. The DBS also measure the drivers of results, not simply the results themselves made diagnosis and communication a more straightforward affair. People knew how they impacted the overall results and when something went wrong, root cause was easier to determine.

We believe that the new leaders in learning need to be characterized as the experimenters. Those organizations that try, fail and try some more. Those that acknowledge, that in this period of rapid change, the best way to serve their company is to embrace a process of rapid releases and a quick iterative feedback cycle. Not just for the learning but for the learning organization itself. For this reason, we believe the framework by which we view learning organizations must support this as well.

Many of today’s fastest growing startups have addressed this by abandoning multi-year business plans in favor of the Business Model Canvas (BMC). The BMC was developed by Alexander Osterwalder, a Swiss business theorist, consultant and author of Business Model Generation.

The canvas is a powerful tool for focusing, creating a common language, making the system visible and driving stakeholder alignment. The BMC is also flexible, serving as; an assessment tool, an action checklist, a communication tool, and an ongoing scorecard. The BMC is a living document continuously evolving in this fast-moving world of business. Taking the learnings from the BMC we believe a new framework for thinking about a company’s learning organization is in order.

The Learning Model Canvas

Similar to the BMC our Learning Model Canvas is anchored by the value proposition we described in our post on the new role of the CLO. The model contains five core areas and is best developed and described from center (Products & Service) out. For each area, we have provided a brief description and offered a few quick questions that may help you to better understand the current state of your organization’s model.

RTLABv2 Model

Products & Services

This area brings the value proposition to life. What you are offering drives the delivery of the value proposition to your customers and defines what your service delivery model looks like. This area also is not just the product and services delivered but also the management of them including requirements for specifications, quality and impact.

  • What unique value do we offer our customers?
  • Are our products filling a need of our customer?
  • Do our products deliver that value?
  • How are we managing our products for maximum value?


A learnings organization’s customers fall across multiple segments, learners, managers and executives. Each of these segments with its own set of requirements. By focusing on the expectations of each of these customer segments, and the experience they are having, a learning organizations can inform its value proposition, and optimize its channels to learners and improve its products to drive better business results for the whole company.

  • Who are we serving?
  • What do they want?
  • What is their experience?
  • How valuable are we to our customer?

Service Delivery Model

This area describes the learning organization that meets the requirements defined by the value proposition and the customer expectations. This area includes what needs to be done, how it will be done and who will do it. This area also challenges us to ask what new activities, like curation or social media facilitation, not currently encompassed by the learning organization, need to be included based on what our customers expect.

This area requires us to re-evaluate what we do in-house versus outsourcing. When the way in which you accomplish key activities is rapidly changing, companies often push the burden of that change on partners rather than taking it on. A global technology company we worked with had a goal of turning over a percentage of its engineers every year. This allowed them to bring in knowledge of current programming technologies instead of utilizing outside partners to scale up and down and gain access to expertise and experience. Use of partners rather than driving turnover is a much better long-term approach.

  • Do I have the right team to deliver our value proposition?
  • Are we operating at our highest level?
  • Do we have the tools to achieve our mission?
  • Are we using our partnerships to highest value?

Strategy & Governance

Alignment and management of the learning organization is described in this area of the Learning Model Canvas. Through steering committees, KPI dashboards and communication strategies, this area ensures what the company needs are being met in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

  • How is the vision moving the company towards its goals?
  • Have I engaged the right executives?

Investment & Return

This final area captures the value being delivered and the total investment that the larger enterprise is investing in order to deliver on the value proposition. Frequently organizations look only at the direct line items related to learning (payroll, travel, third-party spend) and fail to capture the investment made in the form of SME time, lost productivity by being away from job, and others. In one organization we found that while their training staff to employee ratio reflected an efficient organization, the company was investing more than the entire training department’s payroll in Subject Matter Experts’ time alone.

  • What are we spending?
  • What are we getting for it?

Still Dynamic

Similar to the BMC, a learning organization’s Learning Model Canvas is meant to evolve as the needs of its customer change. Ongoing conversations with customers as well as feedback from steering committees and KPI’s must continuously be used to ensure the value proposition is continuing to deliver unmistakable value.

Author: J.

J. Miguez has spent the last 25 years designing Learning & Development organizations and the service offerings that support them. Learning domain explorer.

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