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Unlocking Potential: Releasing the potential of the business and its people through learning


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DateNovember 17, 2016 Posted by: Levi Phillips   Keywords: Towards Maturity Benchmark

Today’s successful workplaces are fast moving, global and digital. Learning innovation, done well, delivers results that can support sustainable, agile workplaces. Business and learning leaders alike need to expect more.


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Why we need to unleash the power of our people

All of the current research with business leaders shows that they are under immense and increasing pressure to adapt, grow and deliver in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

In our recent review of C-suite research, we identified a number of key risks that business leaders are having to deal with [see figure 1]. Their pressure to deliver presents a prime opportunity for people professionals as they step up to the plate. Unleashing the power of their people through innovative processes will be key to future success but business leaders continue to fail to adapt. 

Towards Maturity's longitudinal research has highlighted that, done well, digitally-enabled learning innovation can deliver an impact that helps the C-suite reduce risk and drive their organisation forward. The potential for change is considerable:

  • Improve agility - implement change faster
  • Increase revenue and customer satisfaction
  • Attract and keep the best people
  • Maximise resources

And yet, the C-suite research does not consider that their people professionals are able to deliver or are equipped to deliver - limiting their expectations of help. For example, only 57% of C-suite believe that their academies are "very or fully aligned" with corporate priorities.

It is time for business leaders and learning leaders to expect more. It is time for change.

What you'll learn in this report 

  • Five essential outcomes of the L&D team
  • Skills that L&D professionals need to succeed, not just survive
  • Six Characteristics of the new learning organisation
  • Factors that link to successful achievement of critical business outcomes

Ways to engage with this report


Why we wrote this report

A record 93% of L&D professionals want to integrate learning and work – however, only 15% are delivering on this. At a time when businesses need to respond faster than ever before, this is a challenge that people professionals clearly need to address. 

"The detailed analysis in Unlocking Potential identifies the step-by-step actions that L&D professionals need to take to support the agile workforce needed in the future." 

Although 19% of L&D budget is allocated to learning technologies and organisations have doubled the numbers of technology they use, L&D are still struggling to deliver against their goals:

  • 95% of L&D leaders want to respond faster to changing business conditions, but only 19% are making progress
  • 90% want to play an active role in supporting business innovation, but only 17% report they are succeeding

The slow pace of change has prompted us to develop a new statistical analysis for this year’s benchmark data, which identifies the tactics that are most likely to correlate with successful outcomes for five of the most pressing business challenges: improving efficiency, fine-tuning processes, boosting performance, cultivating agility and influencing culture.

For example, L&D teams specifically achieving the goals related to improving efficiency, use tactics such as:

  • integrating technology into face-to-face training (45% vs 21% of non-achievers)
  • regularly reviewing programmes to maintain relevance (66% vs 35% for non-achievers)

Additionally, the teams successful in achieving goals related to boosting performance:

  • deliver learning in time to meet business needs (71% vs 43% of non-achievers)
  • use activities to practice learning outcomes (66% vs 41% of non-achievers)

About the Benchmark 

The Towards Maturity Benchmark Study is an internationally recognised longitudinal study on the effective implementation of learning innovation based on the input of 5,000+ participants and 25,000 learners gathered since 2003. Towards Maturity continuously surveys and studies how people learn at work and the impact this has on organisational performance. By turning data into insights and insights into action, this research is used to help L&D leaders assess and improve the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of their learning provision.

Research methodology

There are three main sources of data for this report:

  • The Towards Maturity 2016 Benchmark Review with over 600 participants taking part between September 2015 and August 2016, summarised in Figure 5
  • A sample of over 4,700 learners that took part in a learning landscape survey during the same period, described in detail in Learner Voice 3
  • Secondary research referencing senior business leaders from the C-suite

Get started with your own Benchmark

Our confidential Benchmark is free to utilise and takes 60 minutes to complete (just 20 minutes to update if you have completed it previously). Get started here



The Towards Maturity Benchmark has been made available for free thanks to the support of our strategic partner CIPD, our publishing parter Emerald Group Publishing and our Ambassadors, who share our passion for ensuring that great independent research is freely available to all.

Find out more about our Ambassadors at: www.towardsmaturity.org/ambassadors

Towards Maturity Supporters: The 2016 study remains current and vendor neutral thanks to the independent experts, industry communities and membership bodies who kindly offer Towards Maturity their support. Find out more at: www.towardsmaturity.org/supporters

Research team: Laura Overton and Dr Genny Dixon
Publisher: Emerald Global Publishing Group Ltd



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