Getting started: Identify top learning needs and develop a plan

By Ruth Kustoff, Principal, Knowledge Advantage

As a guest blogger here, I will be writing several posts that I hope will help both new and existing LINGOs member agencies. We will take a look at how to plan a learning strategy, and start learning with LINGOs courses.


So, how do you begin to identify top learning needs and develop a plan?  This will vary by organization, but in most cases, you can start from the organizational mission and strategic plan already in place.  Recognizing the goals of the organization, ask yourself what are the specific skills, or knowledge requirements for any of your staff in order to contribute to those goals? For example, are these areas important for job success? 


  • project management
  • management and / or leadership skills
  • meeting facilitation
  • communication skills – written and oral

You may want to look at the different job functions in the organization to determine where gaps may exist between identified requirements and current knowledge levels.

Another consideration as part of the first planning steps is to determine the scope of the assessment. Do you want to assess the entire organization’s learning needs, or break it into smaller groups?  You may want to select a specific job type or function within the organization as a pilot group, or choose a potential group of learners based on priority and need within the organization.

Role of Senior Management

Before moving ahead too much with the planning process, you’ll want to get senior management support that there is a need for a training plan, and the recognition it will require staff resources. Additionally, senior management should identify at least one individual to spearhead the planning, and allocate time for this to be completed. Prior to approaching senior management, you may want to outline the high-level steps required for the plan, and what type of review and approval process will be in place.

Since the learning plan will be based on organizational strategic goals, leadership may be interested in revisiting strategic goals prior to pursuing a learning plan. They may also like to explore how learning and knowledge align to organizational goals. One way to do this is to complete a SWOT analysis. This process takes an in-depth view of internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats) that impact the organization. This exercise, if carried out completely and given the time and thought it requires, can shed light on creating new processes for growth and success in the organization.

Leverage learning in the community: Join the June 16 LINGOs Member Virtual Coffee Break to discuss this further. Peter Balvanz of FHI will share his organization’s recent planning and pilot process, and Guest Blogger Ruth Kustoff will be on hand to participate.  

Please click here for Virtual Coffee Break details, including the login link.  Read about FHI’s pilot in our January 31 post.


3 thoughts on “Getting started: Identify top learning needs and develop a plan

  1. Getting buy-in in advance of setting out corporate directives IS crucial. Besides getting senior management buy-in, it’s not a bad idea to have some transparency at other levels, and let the people who will be involved in the day-to-day implementation know where the organization is planning activities. I think the ability to listen from all constituents is a key leadership skill, and preparing everyone for what are going to be future priorities will ensure success when in comes to implementation.

    I enjoyed seeing the Virtual Coffee Break recording of this session, and look forward to updates!

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