Growing Interest in Strategic Learning

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A wide range of organisations have started to latch onto the idea of strategic learning. Much of this interest has come from the public sector.

Following publication of Ian Cunningham’s paper on the subject for the NHS Training Division, some managers in the health service have clearly realised the need to shift the NHS’s traditionally more tactical piecemeal approach to learning into one that responds strategically to the massive changes being faced by the NHS.

The King’s Fund Management College has asked Ian Cunningham to contribute to its ‘Sustainable High Performance’ programme on both occasions that the programme has so far run. HR Directors attending the programme have had a chance to work on ways in which they can develop their strategies in order to put learning at the core of their activities.

Local authorities have also been looking at integrating strategy and learning. A one-day conference entitled ‘Strategic Learning to Perform Effectively’ was held on September 28th at Bognor Regis under the auspices of the Policy and Performance Review Network. The morning session was addressed by Chief Executives from East Hampshire, Epsom & Ewell and Reigate & Banstead. Ian Sumnall the Chief Executive of Arun District Council, chaired the day and emphasised in his opening remarks the importance of people learning while they are working. Ian Cunningham made a presentation linking strategic learning to SML and showing how local authorities needed to learn to work in new ways in order to make the fundamental changes required of them.

In the afternoon, Marcia Fellows, Deputy Director of Corporate Resources at Arun, ran an option session on how her organisation had been experimenting with SML for some of its managers.

An impressive feature of the day was not just that busy Chief Executives gave up time to talk about learning, but that they also acknowledged that they needed to model being good learners and that they needed to share their learning more effectively with their staff.