Interview with Tony Reilly, GP Strategies by Dani Greening

Whilst settling into my new role at GP Strategies, I came across the topic of Transforming Learning Services. With questions mounting, I thought the best person to provide insight on this would be our EMEA Vice President, Tony Reilly.

The Learning Journey

You’ve been in the Learning Industry for over 28 years, what are your thoughts on learning?

Development is increasingly viewed and measured in the workplace from a business and personal perspective. More and more press is devoted to the value people development has in the future of learning.

Learning Curve

In my experience over the last 15 years of providing transformational services to companies within a global framework, few have the ability to take a holistic view on how they transform their learning function. If you look at it as a curve, where the top of the curve is a fully transformed learning organisation and the bottom of the curve as the start of the journey; I believe that most companies are at the bottom half.

This isn’t through choice but influenced by the speed of change most learning and development professionals and entities goes through.

Few companies provide a learning service that encompasses everything that has been addressed within the transformation journey (the original coming from Deloitte). But in doing so, they are not taking advantage of what’s available within the market place; you don’t know what you don’t know. The typical starting point is the decision to investigate outsourcing their learning vendors, which is a start, but possibly not the most efficient route to recognise and measure savings.

Transforming Learning Services Model

A customer once told me they measured spend in the learning division as blue money and green money. Blue being indirect overhead costs, and green being direct spending on learning services such as vendors, associates and public course fees. The reality is that all of these costs should be considered when reviewing current spend and potential savings.

View the Transformation Learning Services Model.

So do companies generally have an idea on how much they spend on Learning?

I would say that most don’t. They tend to think they have a good handle on the spend but can typically identify 60-65% of their vendor spend. When we talk to customers about how much they spend, they rightly say it’s hard to pinpoint. They typically use Vendor Management, which on its own is the least successful savings stream evidenced in Deloitte’s independent research.

What we should consider when reviewing Deloitte’s research is that few are in a position to transform their learning model in a single wave of a wand. It’s really about the awareness of what’s available and the skills to make the changes, and of course to have a more effective, technology savvy, culturally aligned and efficient learning capability.

As we know The Kirpatrick Model is the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. However, the measurement is most misrepresented and, Kirkpatrick aside, the change is experienced at the delivery point.

My experience is that companies spend less time on the outcome and the value to the company than almost every other aspect of the learning experience.


What do you advise companies?

To take a step back from Vendor Outsourcing as the 1st port of call, at least use the slide attached to consider where you want to be. Look at everything and develop a vision of where you want to be in 5 years. However, bear in mind that the drivers in a company are ‘spend’ and how much money you are saving, and it is difficult to measure the outcome. Use the market to identify subject matter experts to support the transformation journey.

So how do we make learning measurable for companies?

As mentioned before, companies find it difficult to measure the value that learning/training adds to the company. What we do is measure the output in order to show the value and present year on year reductions where required.

"There are no definitive models that companies should use for measurement, because each company is different."

Some focus on quality, some on cost, services etc. So the strategy of each companies’ business will be different. However, with this model we can potentially transform a learning environment. It’s not easy or quick, and it’s not without its complexities, few companies achieve it all.

Can you explain how the Transforming Learning Service model works?

The model is really a mixture of everything; it’s about organisational learning structure, Learning Management Systems, how to manage curriculums content and manage and report on the big data phenomenon, and of course how you deploy your people, how you design/structure everything, who does it, how you manage your vendors, and what your infrastructure looks like. This diagram builds you a picture of what you can do and how to do so, and this creates the strategy.

Organisational Design

If we refer to the diagram, ‘Organisational Design’ and ‘Processes’ are two of the biggest factors in the Learning Transformation spectrum. Why are they so crucial?

Well that’s really about what you want your learning people to do. If you talk to 100 HR managers, my experience is that more than half would say there’s more admin than HR in their role. The question is; do you want highly paid HR managers to be running a training course for you when they could be doing something else? Of course not.

What would GP Strategies offer with implementing the Transformation of Learning model?

We would offer to support the transformation of learning which would be cost effective, quicker and most importantly be measureable for the customer. However, it is all about how we would tailor this model to your business based on where you are on the transformational curve.

Time to transform your learning? Contact us and find out how GP Strategies can support you.

Write for us printed on a typewriter