The Structure of Learning and Development
January 10, 2013 1 Comment
How do you structure a learning and development unit for maximum organisational efficiency,
seems to be a question with as many answers as there are organisations and organisational structures. Some argue that it should be part of HR, some that it should stand alone and have its own seat at the big table and a lot just have no idea where it fits. I am not going to get into that argument to, though a lot of you I suspect already know where I stand. What interests me more at the moment is the actual structure of the unit itself rather than where it fits in an organisation.
Essentially there are three models for the structure of L&D
- Centralised – Where all learning and development activities are managed through a single central unit,k
- Decentralise – Where the responsibility for learning is spread across the various departments, units, divisions or regions of the organisation, and
- Matrix – Where there is both centralised and decentralised aspects.
So which structure works the best is there one that has a better chance of maximising organisational efficiency in terms of consistency and cost. I tend to lean towards the Matrix model over the other two because it seems to offer the best opportunity of maximising efficiencies, there is however a caveat that needs to go along with this. It is clearly the most difficult to both create and maintain.
A centralised approach works well in smaller or single site or single ‘product’ organisations but as organisations grow in size and product diversity the challenge for the centralised approached is to be able to ensure that the various parts of the business are getting the training they require and that a ‘head office gets everything attitude does not develop.
Decentralised structures are often found in conglomerate organisations, with very distinct business units or product lines or regions. They often occur as a result of mergers or through the development of new business opportunities. The real issue for decentralised structures is that often economies of scale are not well utilised and consistency of content and delivery becomes more difficult to maintain.
The Matrix model however enables various business units to have a level of autonomy over their training spend and a level of responsiveness which may be lacking in a purely centralised model. It also allows for great levels of control over organisational wide learning activities and programs as well as being better able to respond to issues around consistency of training content and delivery.
Or maybe I just like it because it is the model we us.
I would be interested to hear what everyone thinks, particularly if some is operating in a model which doesn’t match the three I have mentioned above.