L&D Best Practices

L&D, as global as possible, as local as necessary – finding beauty in the balance

Read in 5 minutes Modified on

Interview by Jan Rijken, Learning Director at Wiley-Crossknowledge / Visiting professor at IE business school / former CLO at KPMG, ABN-AMRO & Daimler.

Over the last few years Jan Rijken has published a series of articles looking at topics that are fundamental to any L&D department. As the first part of his follow up to these articles and their relevance within the Nordic markets, Jan recently spent some time with Joakim Slorstad Senior VP L&D at Telenor Group discussing the concept of As Global as Possible as Local as Necessary, and what this means for both Joakim and Telenor.

In today’s globalizing business environment it is a risk for the L&D function to hang-on to traditional structures and remain focused on the local business and workplace. There are opportunities in building and scaling-up on local best practices and leveraging these at global L&D level, linked directly to the core business strategy.

In order to achieve this, the L&D organization must find the best possible balance between Global and Local (can also to be read as central<>decentral). The challenge is getting the balance right between local autonomy and global scale and in recent years there has been a swing in balance from local to global L&D. Conversations with 20+ corporate Learning Directors have provided good insights into the pro’s and con’s of centralizing L&D (fig 1)

  • Efficiency – cost saving at global level
  • Scale and consistency
  • Global control
  • Clarity on decision making and investments
  • Quality of technology and content
  • Elevate best practices
  • Vendor sourcing – preferred suppliers
  • Increase of local costs (short-term)
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Loss of local commitment (L&D + sponsors)
  • Loss of local autonomy
  • Standard <> customized solutions
  • Reduced time-to-market
  • Flexibility of local vendors

The Global-Local balance at Telenor

Recognizing that globalizing L&D in a corporate environment is a long and painful journey that should be tuned to both the structure and culture of the business it became apparent that the only answer to where the optimal balance lies is covered by “As global as possible, as Local as necessary.”
This does justice to both the Pro’s and Con’s stated above and provides corporate L&D leaders the opportunity to define the gap between reality and ambition in their business environment.
Before going into the detail of how to manage the global-local L&D strategy, content & technology we’ve asked Telenor L&D SVP Joakim Slorstad to share his experience and views on global <> local L&D.

The Interview

Managing Global-Local strategy, content & technology

A topic that has not been addressed so far is how to find a global-local balance in the area of L&D content management. Based on research and corporate benchmarking meetings with CLO-peers this appears to be a huge challenge, not only in terms of cost-efficiency but also in relation to consistency, cultural flexibility and buy-in from the local L&D community. Let’s explore the (real) case of an organization with 8 different onboarding programs developed and rolled-out whilst there is 1 global business strategy!

A review showed that 80% of the onboarding content was similar but obviously needless time, energy and resources had been invested to design and deploy the 8 programs. The review recommendation was to pull together a global-expert design group from different locations to design a global onboarding solution, leveraging existing best practices. The result of this was an 80% blended onboarding solution which could be launched in every location with the opportunity for max 20% local adaption to realize a perfect culture fit, in terms of language and cases. This approach led to cost-saving, optimal consistency, higher impact and more buy-in from the local L&D staff, who felt recognized rather than neglected!

Based on research and case studies a global<>local matrix framework has been developed (fig 2). This framework enables corporate L&D functions to realize more L&D efficiency, impact and alignment in their organization, related to L&D content & technology. We have pre-populated the framework with examples and invite you to try this based on your specific L&D environment.

For each content area there’s an opportunity to consider where it makes most sense to plot design and delivery in your organization (3 examples):

Global L&D strategy and local optimization are twin goals attainable through exploring the “as global as possible, as local as necessary” balance. Local flexibility drives agility, growth, and L&D community and business sponsor engagement. All these ingredients are necessary to develop an L&D organization that is globally “fit for purpose.”