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How to make L&D more strategic



There is no shortage of “Ops” in the business world: RevOps, SalesOps, DevOps. But a new player has joined the game: Enter LearnOps. 

Coined by learning and development software provider Cognota, LearnOps is about making the business case for learning and development and integrating it into the strategy and vision of the company. 

“If you’re familiar with corporate learning and development, the whole industry over the last few decades has really been built around content creation and content delivery, and the operating layer has been neglected for a very long time,” Cognota CEO Ryan Austin told HR Dive. 

Too often, L&D is seen as a cost center that struggles to be seen as a growth catalyst for a company, Austin said. In turning to best practices on how to run efficient and effective operations, L&D leaders can get a seat at the table, he said. 

Austin breaks LearnOps down into five tenets: align, plan, deliver, measure and optimize.


“If you want a seat at the table, first you need to know what’s been discussed around the table and you need to show alignment to that 1-, 3-, 5-year corporate objective. If you can show that you as an L&D function, or an HR function, are going to help propel the company faster towards those goals, then, guess what? They’re going to pull a chair up to that table and say, ‘Sit down, because we need your help,’” Austin said.

It’s about becoming an advisory board member, aligning your work to corporate objectives and making L&D a resource leaders turn to as a solution to problems, Austin said. 


L&D leaders need to create learning programs that support both business needs and learner needs, Austin said. 

“It’s really about getting disciplined on what’s a nice-to-have versus a must-have and investing into the must-have programs that will help drive the business forward and the employees forward,” Austin said. 

For example, if the company’s vision is to get to a certain place in three years but workers don’t have the skill sets to achieve that, the plan will fail, Austin said. It’s L&D’s job to bridge that gap to help the company succeed, he said. 

Deliver and Measure

The L&D team needs to allocate resources and deliver on those training needs. 

“You want to measure the effectiveness of the programs to demonstrate a tangible return of learning investment to the business,” Austin said. 


L&D professionals should gather data from learning programs and operations to improve returns and performance month over month, Austin said. 

Cognota will launch a roadshow in January to share these principles with L&D leaders across North America, in partnership with the LearnOps Community, an online networking space for L&D professionals Cognota created. 

Through a series of on-site and virtual roundtable sessions, participants will identify seven stages for successful L&D operations, assess their own operations against best practices and break into groups to plan one action they can take to reinvent their own learning operations, Austin said.

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