Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Functions or Regions; it's not always about location, location, location

I've worked for a number of different organisations and one thing that seems to be a constant for larger organisations is the struggle between resourcing and 'power' to geographical regions or to functions or streams of work.  In fact you can further push out the model to international companies where the geographical location is the country and the functions, well, they're still the functions.

For me, it's all about what you are trying to achieve and what you are trying to do.  That means I'm on the side of the function in most cases (sometimes, logistically you have to regionalise) as your functions should be driving your strategy rather than the location (again generally - sometimes the location is the strategy).  That doesn't mean there isn't a need for regional offices and regional management, quite the opposite, but the regions are there largely to support the functions and the overall strategy rather than to provide the direction.  Again, whilst acknowledging this is a little over-simplifying of things, but direction comes from your strategy and functions of business (leadership if you will) and the support and management of people will come out of geographical location.
So why does this belong in a learning technologies blog?  In short because your learning technologies are often created to reflect your organisation - particularly your LMS.  Maybe you have control given to different areas or functions, or your courses, tasks and programmes are set up under 'departments' or regions.  Ah, regions.  Yes, here we go again regions v functions.  So when you're setting up your LMS it's really important that you focus on learning strategy and what you're trying to achieve fits in with the strategic aims of the business.  That means your LMS configuration should, if not mirroring your functional setup, at least make logical sense from a functional perspective.  If your organisation is forward-thinking and has the key drivers through the functions this means that your LMS will align with the functions and this should be fairly straight-forward.  It also means that the roles that you give people in the system should flow functionally too.  It's really important to approach the learning system from the perspective of a learner and ask what's logical for them when they navigate the system.  If I want to complete Health and Safety training or get my on-job check completed in Health and Safety do I go to the functional area in charge of that or to Fakecity because that's where I am or the instructor is?

Your LMS in one form or another sits in the cloud too.  Clouds are great because they are not location tied (just look up if you don't believe me and watch them move - unless like me you live in Tauranga in New Zealand because we don't have clouds here).  So the cloud-based system from a user or administrator function has no geographical location (if not, you may want to look at how your system is set up).  This means that your LMS is truly ready for a functional lead rather than a geographic one so we don't have to use the excuse of location when we set up the LMS or the team that administer or use it.  It also means that you can (and should) align your LMS with your learning functional lead wherever possible to maximise its effectiveness.

Finally functions, just like clouds, should spread across all regions and areas wherever possible - the same is true of your LMS if you want it to be truly successful and aligned with your strategic direction.