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When Deloitte surveyed several hundred business and HR professionals in 2017, corporate L&D received a net-promoter score of -8. That’s as bad as it sounds, a score only a golfer could be proud of.

At the root of the problem is the Learning Management System (LMS), perceived as far too slow and formal for the modern workplace. Most leaders in 2018 want cutting-edge technology that engages teams and brings instant improvement. Evidently, not many believe the traditional LMS is up to the task.

Here are the five reasons it is being left behind.

LMS learning is a mandatory, negative experience

We increasingly hear that employees don’t use the LMS unless they have to, which is a major concern for any CEO. Leaders are well aware that without employee engagement their organisation’s overall performance will suffer.

Indeed, renowned learning analyst Josh Bersin argues:

The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture.

A CEO is the curator of culture. If you provide an innovative learning platform that teaches the right skills at the right time, rather than just implementing HR practices, employees become engaged and motivated. They can see the instant benefit and they want to learn.

An example we are proud of at Hive Learning comes from Halma plc, a FTSE 100 company with operations in 20 countries. They have used our digital learning platform to produce tens of thousands of interactions between hundreds of leaders across 50 businesses in a matter of months.

According to Jennifer Ward, Group Talent and Communications Director at Halma:

“We’ve realised that the real power in coming together is by learning from one another and stimulating each other’s growth agendas.”

These are leaders learning because they want to, not because they have to.

a phone showing a network of people connected

LMS learning is impersonal

We speak to CEOs whose main gripe is that their LMS learning modules are little more than a tick box exercise, a means of proving to regulators that they are taking their responsibilities seriously. They feel that they are learning for the powers that be, whereas the latest corporate learning platforms put employees in charge.

That’s not to say that the themes being pushed by the LMS aren’t important, just that they aren’t obviously helping the CEOs to get their jobs done.

As CEO John Barrows wrote recently for the Harvard Business Review, ‘shelve the ego — and communicate’.

Leaders want faster, personalised learning and are willing to learn from others.

LMS learning is way too time-consuming

LMS courses are far too involved for execs whose daily diaries are more congested than the M25 in rush hour. Lengthy articles and 10-minute videos are an instant turn-off; most learners won’t watch videos longer than four minutes.

According to Deloitte Consulting, an online article has between 5 and 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention before they click away. The content needs to be ‘BLUF’ (bottom line up front) and even then there’s no guarantee it will hit the target.

It’s not mobile enough either. One CEO told us that their LMS was pretty much the only thing in his quarterly schedule that had to be done on their office PC.

Being able to learn digitally anywhere, anytime is essential for leaders who are severely pushed for time.

However, when we surveyed 50 organisations, we found that just 3% of them have a fit-for-purpose mobile platform for learning.

animated graphic showing a group of business people scrambling against a clock

LMS learning is a lonely experience

The traditional LMS learning platform lacks interaction, and offers few opportunities to engage with — and learn from — peers.

We find that the social element of modern digital learning platforms like ours is a major draw for CEOs, particularly in global businesses where it can be tricky to engage with employees who operate in different continents and different time zones.

This has clear benefits for both sides; the senior leaders become more accessible, and in turn develop a better understanding of issues their teams may be having.

The importance of this cannot be understated. A 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association found that trust and engagement accounted for more than half of the variance in employee well-being. Workers reported having more trust in their companies when the organisation provided opportunities for involvement and communicated effectively.

As Seth Godin points out, if you want to build a vibrant learning culture, you must lead by example. ‘People might hear what you say, but they always remember what you do.’

Modern learning platforms enable the boss to go first, and the learning culture to stick.

The LMS has a chronic image problem

The LMS is known to test factual knowledge, rather than drive everyday habits and behaviours, and nowadays that knowledge can become obsolete within months anyway.

Leaders want to learn rapidly and regularly, and they want content that provides instant answers to problems. They want to boost employee engagement, drive innovation and change behaviours.

The LMS has a reputation for undermining these values which explains why LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report found that only 8% of CEOs saw the business impact of L&D programmes. Even fewer (4%) saw a clear ROI.

What to do about all this? Find a way to tackle these five issues. If you’re a large company you’ll likely need an LMS for a small amount of what’s required in compliance etc. But don’t attempt to use it more broadly, start experimenting and exploring more modern, social, mobile solutions. You can always integrate them with your LMS in the end if you want to.

In the meantime, until you can demonstrate that your digital learning experience works, don’t expect your CEO to react enthusiastically when you ask, “What do you think of our new LMS?”

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