Learning and leadership webinar

Webinar Summary – Aligning learning needs to business requirements -Insights from the BigBasket culture

Webinar Summary – Aligning learning needs to business requirements -Insights from the BigBasket culture

Learning and leadership webinar
Webinar - Aligning learning needs to business requirements - Insights from the Big Basket culture


Learning is pivotal to stay in business and keep scaling. One of the biggest concerns for HR and L&D professionals is perhaps aligning learning needs to address business challenges. In this webinar, Subramanian Kalpathi, Senior Director – KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre and Author of The Millennials is joined by Hari TN, Head HR at BigBasket, an Indian online grocery story, to discuss:

  • The role of learning in addressing business challenges
  • How leaders can drive learning agility in the organization
  • How HR and learning professionals measure the impact of learning initiatives

The webinar also highlighted the findings of the ‘Bridging the Outcome Gap: Aligning learning needs to business requirements’ study conducted by the KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre

Bridging the Outcome Gap

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 drastically altered the business landscape. Since then, the need to ‘do more with less’ has been deep-seated in business. As businesses continue to look for ways to optimize resources and maximize value, this study looks at the outcomes of this mindset.

52 organizations across 18 industries in India and APAC participated in this study, which focuses on 4 core areas:

1 – Learning Strategy and Training Needs Identification:

Learning needs-1L&D works best when it solves business problems. A 70:20:10 model to learning is what works best, where 70% of learning happens on the job where learning happens by being thrown into the deep end; 20% of the learning happens by insightful conversations and social interaction. Only 10% of learning happens in a formal construct such as the classroom. Therefore, organizations must really focus on leveraging the 90%.

Several organizations, however, make the mistake of focusing on doing the 10% reasonably well, but ignoring the 90%. This is true specifically for fast growing and large organizations – learning cannot be divorced from daily work.

Unfortunately, leadership buy-in maybe largely missing in the learning strategy.

Learning needs-2Pro Tip: A key way of building learning is to invite people from your team into problem solving sessions even if they aren’t required, because that’s a great learning opportunity. Skills such as managing conflict and collaboration cannot be taught in a classroom.

At the end of the day, the effectiveness of these tools is dependent on how committed and imaginative one is in creating learning experiences for their teams.

2  – Linking learning to performance

Learning needs-3There are two issues that L&D leaders need to understand:

  1. A lot of leaders cannot articulate what the training needs are – they would state the training requirement at a high level, because it’s not easy to figure out a causal relationship between training input and business performance.

Pro tip: Figure out what the core problem and exact learning requirements are, through a series of questions. For example,

  • Is the problem that employees need to be sent for a 3-day training or is the problem that a leader is unable to find successors when somebody leaves the team?
  • If the problem is succession planning, do you need succession planning for every role or certain key roles only?

Only by getting to the root problem can L&D teams address how best to address the problem.  This is when L&D teams make themselves relevant, delivering on the current KPIs.

2. Identifying behavioral indicators for each competency helps strengthen the learning process. For example, clarity of thought is a competency. The behavioral indicators for individuals with good clarity of thought are:

  • Will ask a lot of questions
  • Will cut through the smoke and noise, and get to the root of the issue
  • Can define a problem correctly
  • Can break down a problem to its different pieces and figure out the important components to be addressed
  • Will figure out the right assumptions to be made

Determining competency level is based on how well and how often an individual is displaying the behavioral indicators. Having identified the behavioral indicators, it is easy to also outline a learning path to help learners improve their competency level, without having to send them for long-winded training workshops.

Instead, customizing interactions with the individual, and putting them in situations where they need to employ the competency will have them scaling up very quickly.

3 – L&D capabilities in creating a robust learning strategy

L & D learning needsThe most important question here is if L&D comprehensively understands business, to be able to solve the critical challenges it faces. The answer is, not quite.

So, what can L&D teams do to be become real consultants and trusted advisors to business?

It is obvious that HR and L&D need to understand business reasonably well. Otherwise, they end up being nothing more than preachers and professors, making learning very academic, and losing credibility over time.

4 – Measuring Learning Impact

Learning needs-5Learning measurement is a difficult task. A 10% improvement in profitability cannot clearly be tied to ROI from training. There are several factors that are in play. At the same time, learning impact can be measured by behavioral changes that occur post training.

However, behavioral changes are subjective. As long as leaders can conclude that behavioral changes have happened, to whatever degree, then that is acceptable. Behavioral change cannot be attributed by a number or percentage.

At the end of the day, when it comes to measuring learning, L&D leaders needs to be clear about what they want to measure and focus just on that.


You can listen to the complete webinar recording here.

To access the slides presented in the webinar, click here.

The complete findings of this study and their implications can be downloaded here.

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