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Designing an Integrated Management & Leadership Strategy

Designing an Integrated Management & Leadership Strategy

Return on investment is a critical outcome for any learning and development intervention. Too much reliance on `sheep dip’ training is shown not to be an effective method of knowledge transfer on its own because different people learn in different ways. The solution is to design a bespoke programme with high face validity (realism) which engages participants.

Learning and development needs to be aligned with business strategy and the values and culture of the organisation.

Our systematic approach to diagnosis and design ensures spend is effectively targeted to achieve key objectives. Designing an effective Learning & Development Strategy with tactical plans is a consultative process which engages with key stakeholders to ensure that their requirements and needs are incorporated into interventions whilst at the same time ensuring vertical alignment with an organisation’s business strategy.

Our Leadership Philosophy

Leadership research since the millennium has shifted focus away from focussing solely on leader contribution to influencing others to include network leadership and context in the business. Leadership is now considered to be about leading the business to achieve objectives both as an individual influencer over people and as a business leader.

Interventions Focus on Managing the Enterprise

Thus, individual leadership over subordinates and stakeholders remains important but for most organisations today the emphasis has shifted onto cross functional working; leading using networks and thinking outside of silos. Figure 1 below illustrates this approach.

Leadership is a Critical Element of Culture

The importance of understanding the organisational culture at design stage is critical. This understanding needs be at two levels:

  • Current culture
  • Desired culture

In this way the learning and development strategy can reflect on how the journey from current culture to desired culture can be made.

The Enterprise Leadership Model

Figure 1: The Enterprise Leadership Model

We believe leadership is more than just being about individual leader contribution, and research shows that the debate has moved on from transactional leadership to become more focused.

The Design Phase

learning and development design phase image

Figure 2 above gives an impression of how we approach the systematic design of learning and development strategies.

Three Steps to Maximise ROI:

  • Analysis and diagnosis of needs – at individual, team and enterprise levels. This is achieved through a combination of visionary interviews, critical incident and analysis of business strategy and organisational culture. It should also include workshop data with stakeholders in order to understand needs.
  • Learning & Development Planning – an essential element of the programme is a route map to achieving desired outcomes. This notes development interventions, cost and return on investment objectives. It also route maps the process of how to get form the current state at diagnosis to the desired outcomes.
  • L & D strategy is aligned with culture, strategy and employee engagement needs. See figure 3 below.

learning and development strategy image

Learning & Development Effectiveness

Traditional training is less effective for management and leadership development because it does not effectively address the way many people learn as outlined earlier. David Kolb (1984) offered his learning cycle theory as outlined in figure 4 below.

learning and development effectiveness image

The Kolb learning cycle model lends itself to action orientated learning such as coaching and assessment. Training course unless delivered over a set of well-designed bespoke workshop-based interventions do not provide for the opportunity to support reflective observation or abstract conceptualisation in the same way. Moreover, designing bespoke interventions based on business need and strategy will have a much greater return on investment.

Kolb said that, “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” He goes on to say that learners can enter at any stage in the cycle but that each stage is interdependent on each other. Training alone, therefore, is less effective because it does not address the whole of the learning cycle. The wider Kolb learning styles theory is the subject of another paper.


  • Learning and development planning should be methodical and systematically designed to consider individual, team and organisational factors. Context and situation is an emerging consideration when designing leadership interventions.
  • Clear ROI objectives can be mapped onto the four components of the strategy as shown in figure 3.
  • Always consult upon and include stakeholders in the design process. Their engagement with L&D is a key driver of success.
  • Effective planning and design channels scarce resources to where they will be most effective and maximise the return on investment.
  • Interventions need to address the need to reflect and learn. Training courses, therefore, are not best placed to address these needs unless they are delivered in workshop format and bespoke with content addressing the experimentation between workshops.

About the Author

Matthew Davis MSc FCIPD, Chartered Marketer FCIM is an expert in leadership, business psychology and organisational development He is a part time Doctorial Researcher at The University of Sheffield and a consultant to organisations operating globally.

To Find Out More

To find out how The OPG can help you build a sustainable L&D strategy aligned with business needs contact Matthew Davis at medavis@ramseyhall.com or call 02380 236944.

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