Organising Knowledge and Developing a Curriculum

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Organising Knowledge and Developing a Curriculum

The challenge facing most learning and development organizations trying to be holistic in addressing the needs of the employees as individuals and the organization as a whole is the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills to be managed. All attempts so far tend to either focus on a few areas normally focused on the leadership domain, specifically the behavioral aspect of the leadership domain or specific areas within the professional domain. Most organizations struggle to address the true needs of employees and the organization as a consequence of adopting a restricted focus and prioritized approach to managing the depth and breadth of the leadership and professional domains.

Often this is due to the way the teams are structured. In most cases, talent and/or leadership development teams define their scope of work around the leadership domain only and avoiding any specific reference to knowledge and skills and focus only on behaviors. In the same way, the ‘training’ teams define their scope of work as professional domain only and avoid any specific reference to will and behavior and to some extent even skills, focusing only on knowledge and even that within a carefully defined scope e.g. risk, compliance, sales, specific functional areas, etc.
With both practice areas not fully addressing the skill requirement and given that performance and growth both rely completely on skills, the result is a heavy load placed on the employee to figure out how to leverage the support provided towards performance and growth. Also, the individuals, teams and organizations we are trying to support do not have the luxury to fragment their contribution to strategy execution in the way we have fragmented our approach to support, employees have to be effective across both professional and leadership domains regardless of whether they are C-suite or most junior staff in the organization. The result of the fragmented approach therefore is that we lay on employees the extreme cognitive load of integrating the various individual development experiences from the leadership and professional domains into the realities of their role and leave them to figure out how to address the skill requirements.

We believe the first step to getting a hang of this is to put in place a curriculum taxonomy. Not a competency framework, but rather an intelligent way to organize the various concepts related to knowledge and skills that underpin both professional and leadership domains and is relevant to the organization. Dehumo wrote a blog post on this a while back that talked about using the organization structure as domains of expertise. We will build on that here to illustrate one example of how to approach this in way that informs the integration of your learning and development solutions, provides employees with an effective frame that intuitively shows the interconnection between various experiences using the actions as anchor thereby making it a lot easier for them to integrate and connect with skills2act. The approach also allows the organization to fully leverage internal expertise to respond to the knowledge2empower and skills2act requirements of strategy execution.

The tables below are an example based on the Dehumo’s blog post referenced above (click here to read the blog post): 

Below is our over-arching framework for knowledge, skill and will:  

Below is an example of the knowledge and skill architecture at the highest level of the taxonomy using the organizational structure:  

The core functions and people in them are responsible for developing the organizational versions of the professional domain related principles, processes, products and practices to enable the organization to achieve the goals and value related to that domain. They are also responsible for enabling the rest of the organization through the roles that have the responsibility of performing these activities on behalf of their respective functions e.g. finance has to enable all roles who have financial management responsibilities or make financial decisions on behalf of the organization. In the same way, HR has to enable all roles who have human resource management responsibilities or make human resource related decisions on behalf of the organization.

The nuance here is that these roles are applying the core domain knowledge and skills in the context of their own domain of practice. It is precisely this contextualization that informs and at times complicates the relationship between the core function and the applied domain. The need for the core function to understand enough of the various domain contexts of application to ensure ease and effectiveness of application and the level of knowledge and skills the various roles have of the core domain such that they both able to adopt and apply effectively and have intelligent interaction with the core domain to evolve the relevance and applicability of what they produce to achieve the organizational goals related to their domain. 

 It is important to note that as an organization grows in size, there has to be a conscious effort in core business functions to build more robust systems of operating principles with sufficient depth and breadth. This is necessary for practices to remain effective in managing the increasing complexity that comes with increased size. 

If you have any questions or wish to explore how any of these can add value to your learning, talent and culture development agenda, contact us, will be happy to have a conversation. 

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