My MBA Journey

Record of my personal journey completing an MBA

OLAD Week 5 – Design and Implementation of an OLAD Initiative

Design and implementation of an OLAD initiative


We now move on to the design and implementation of programs. This involves two basic criteria. The first is to provide solutions to the decision makers. This will in turn solve issues for stakeholders in the organisation and meet the target group’s learning needs. As a result of progressing through the HRDNI we should now be in a position to detail the needs of both stakeholders and potential learners and design a learning program. Such a program will obviously need the support of the decision makers in order to implement it for the learners.

This module focuses on design, also known as curriculum design or development, and how to plan the implementation of the program to meet the strategic objectives that have been established.

In order to achieve this, the Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes (HLO) framework will be used. The framework helps to consider the different learning outcomes prior to looking at the type of learning mode, be it structured or not, to be used to achieve the identified outcomes. Coaching and mentoring will also be considered in how those processes can assist in helping people as both these roles provide great assistance in developing people.

Designing Learning Experiences

The HRDNI is used to provide data so that the design of a learning experience in congruence to the findings and the strategic objectives of an organisation. A clear profile of the learner population is needed so the following can be considered (Delahaye & Choy 2018)[1]:

  • Learning Strategies – these will provide the learning experiences
  • Learning Outcomes – the standard of knowledge, skills etc to be acquired from the training to be achieved as demonstrated by the HDRNI
  • The Learners Themselves – the cohort the HDRNI has identified as those in need of the learning
  • Contextual Variables – these will define the size of learning groups, time for the learning program and other variables that will have an impact on how the learning program is designed.

The notes refer to these components as Outcomes, Content, Strategies and Flow (AIB 2023)

The content of programs, the outcomes to be achieved and the learners themselves influence the design of the program. Then the strategies and the flow affect the implementation stage. The desired outcomes obviously should form the basis for the design of the program. Each stage of the learning process should then provide a path to the outcomes sought. This process is referred to as “constructive alignment” (Delahaye & Choy 2018)[1].

Learning Outcomes

Before designing a learning program, it is essential to define the intended outcomes. These outcomes become the statement of what a learner will be able to achieve having undergone the training. The gap, identified in the HDRNI has been bridged if successful.

Creating Effective Learning Outcomes

If created correctly, the learner will have no trouble in being able to identify what they are expected to achieve through the learning (Biggs & Tang 2011)[2]. The notes from the module pose the following questions below that can be of assistance in creating effective learning outcome statements:

  • **What does the learner need to do?
  • **What level of understanding or performance is expected to be achieved?
  • **What knowledge, skill, perception or belief is to be learned or changed?
  • **In what context must the action be performed?

Alignment of Learning Outcomes to Strategic Objectives

Learning outcomes should always be aligned to the strategic objectives of the organisation. Quality, well defined learning outcomes are the key to success of designing effective programs. The outcome statement is a brief and definitive statement and not a lengthy paragraph explaining all you intend to achieve. The statement should be immediately measuarable against the identified gap and the strategic objectives of the organisation and how they are joined through the learning program.

Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes

Determination of the learning type, instrumental, communicative or emancipatory, assists in identifying what needs to be specified in the learning outcome. The Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes (HLO) model provides a framework to build learning and development programs or paths.

The HLO has five learning categories:

  1. Programmed Knowledge – This knowledge is considered explicit. It exists in texts and journals. It is basic facts and information, including skills knowledge.
  2. Task Category – this category is regarded as having three subgroups. It involves analysis, logistical and implementing. An example here is analysing a problem and using logic to determine the solution and then implementing the solution.
  3. Relationship Category – refers to working in teams and working effectively. Being aware of the communication styles of others and allowing for differences. It focuses on interpersonal, intrapersonal and empathy.
  4. Critical Thinking – this requires cognitive skills and the ability to consider issues objectively when evaluating people, problems and other issues.
  5. Meta Abilities – A catch all for all other abilities not previously covered. Being able to have a macro view and identify new trends and situations. With higher levels of knowledge comes greater levels of insight.

Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes

Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes
Source: Delahaye & Choy (2018) p. 228[1]

Whilst the graphic above comes from the text, the one below developed by AIB (2023) provides a more organisational framework. There is a clear demonstration how the knowledge and complexity levels move with the type of learning.

Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes

Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes 2
Source: Modified by AIB 2023

The notes suggest an article that argues for a virtual first approach first when designing learning programs (Tweedie & Webb 2022)[3]. A significant benefit here is that virtual training programs can generally be delivered in real life but the reverse does not apply.

Recommended Linkedin Course Create great training solutions – 20 Questions to Improve Learning at Your Organization Video Tutorial

20 Questions from Britt Andreatta

  1. What stage of growth is your organisation at? – Recommended resource here is the Greiner method also known as the Greiner Curve.
  2. What are your organisation’s strategic goals?
  3. What are your organisation’s pain points? – There is always more than one. Dig deep.
  4. Who has the power (title) and who has influence (others) in the organisation?
  5. What’s not working now? Any thoughts on why it isn’t working?
  6. What does success look like?
  7. What are your good people doing? You’ve noticed the skills gap in some, but what about those who are performing properly? Where is the point of difference?
  8. What have you already tried? What happened? Why did it fail?
  9. What are the parameters or scope of training? On site or virtual, price points, how many people, how long?
  10. What format will work best? Structured, non structured, combination, self paced, collaborative etc.
  11. What story am I telling? Meet the learners where they are in the beginning and take them on a journey. What is this journey and where is the end? What will be the frameworks and experiences on the way?
  12. What aha moments do you need to create? – Aha insights are critical for transformative learning. They have the potential to change minds because the learner arrives there by themselves. It causes them to think and act differently as a result.
  13. How can you connect to something the learners already know? One way of doing this is to use the “Think of a time when………” and then gather the reflections.
  14. How do you help them get present? – Learners have a myriad of other things on their mind when entering a learning space. Use an activity to break the connections so they are focused on the learning space.
  15. What is your audience showing you? What body language are you seeing? Participation rates?
  16. How can you help people feel safe? Not a term I like as it begs the question as to who it is safe for. Instead, create a [4]
  17. What will get them engaged? Boring sessions lead to failure to meet objectives. Address a pain point and also use activities to create engagement.
  18. What are the key takeaways? What can be immediately implemented on leaving the training? Do a summary of the training and get participants to do an action plan.
  19. How can you extend the learning? Create groups for ongoing implementation, additional reading offered, online assessments, or an assignment.
  20. How do you measure success? You have already asked what success looked like, so has it been achieved? What feedback came from learners? The model from Jack Phillips is recommended for evaluation and feedback. Extend Your Training Evaluation To Include The Phillips ROI Model

Implementation of Learning Strategies

Learning programs can be structured, unstructured and anywhere in between. Whatever the structure, excellent facilitation skills are required to maximise the impact of the learning and achieve the desired outcomes.

Structured Learning Strategies

These processes include:

The Skill Session

When a procedure needs to be learned and there are a series of steps involved, this session is used. The process involves instruction and demonstration by the facilitator of the skill to be achieved. Learners need to demonstrate an understanding of the process prior to attempting the practical aspects of the skill. Reasons for this include that people should never be set up for failure by allowing them to do something without understanding the process. There can also be safety considerations involved.

The Theory Session

Teaching a theory session involves building on the learner’s existing knowledge in incremental amounts. Each level should be reinforced with explanations and activities and possibly repetition if needed until the concept is firmly grasped by the learner.

The Lecture

Lectures contain lots of information and can be delivered to many learners at low cost. They can be useful where the audience is keen to learn, and the lecture is delivered in an engaging manner.

My Sessions

These will be a combination of skill and theory sessions to provide people with practical examples and reference back to legislation and regulations around governance. It will be important to impart the benefits of learning and implementing these skills for the learners.

Semi Structured Learning Strategies

These types of learning strategies include:


This process takes into account the learner’s knowledge and the facilitator’s skills to generate discussion around a topic. From a structural perspective, the facilitator needs to keep the group on track and leading them towards the desired outcome. The unstructured component involves using questions, conversations, recordings, and summaries of knowledge discussed.

Case Studies

The process revolves around utilising a specific case to be considered and reviewing the actions that occurred. This is done via questions and discussion intended to lead to the desired learning outcome. It is best if these are real life situations and not fabricated. They should also be intellectually challenging to the level of the learners.

Role Play

Similar to a case study and anecdotally one of the least favoured means of learning by people. By vicariously having people adopt the roles, they have the opportunity to explore different responses to situations.

Experiential Learning

Many scenarios exist here and all will encourage action from the learners to engage. Following the activity, a period of reflection and discussion takes place on what has been learned.

Unstructured Learning

Here, the facilitator manages the process, but the learner manages the content.

Problem Based Learning

Using problems that can be faced in the environment being trained for is one way that learners can acquire the knowledge of handling them in real life. This type of learning develops both critical thinking and problem solving skills. The process should commence with a problem which is novel and where the learner is not sure what to do next, therefore having to work it out as they proceed.

Contract Learning

A learning contract is negotiated with the learner and sets out what content is to be studied and the processes involved. The contract should include a plan including reviews as the journey progresses. The journey should also be documented and the learner supported in the process.

Action Learning

Action learning is self directed where the organisational environment becomes the classroom. Learners in this environment learn on the job but there is a reflection component to consider what actions have been taken and their impact.

Action Research

Action research is a viable option when change in an organisation is the desired learning outcome. The process involves researchers and learners in order to bring transformative change to organisations. It is a valid method of doing change and transformation with people as opposed to doing it to people.


Virtual programs can be extremely useful in the learning process but design and assessment need to be carefully considered. Virtual learning should not be a poor, cost-cutting method to substitute quality learning and needs to meet all the needs of quality adult learning to be effective.

Blended Learning

Creates an ideal combination of virtual learning and face-to-face learning where the virtual learning can be reinforced and discussed. The face-to-face could be by webinar too although still not as effective as real life.

Coaching and Mentoring

This falls into the category of unstructured learning and is explored further in the next section.

Coaching and Mentoring

Some general comments on these two systems before exploring them on a more individual basis. Both have become an essential part of training in organisations of all types and are instrumental in developing skills and abilities by (CIPD 2021)[5]:

  1. Emphasising the development of particular skills that benefit the organisation as well as the people.
  2. Developing innovative thought processes that help people solve problems and develop their path through having relationships with more experienced people.

The following provides a suggested yet incomplete list of where coaching and mentoring might be of assistance (CIMA 2008)[6]:

  • senior managers who are unlikely to benefit from conventional training courses
  • managers who need the space to develop or improve new or existing skills
  • those on a ‘fast track’ career programme
  • staff who need to focus more on their career paths
  • managers who have reached a career plateau and want to progress, but do not know how to
  • anybody developing a new career
  • staff or managers who want to change career direction
  • employees returning to work after a career break
  • staff wanting to improve their skills and abilities
  • individuals who respond better to alternative learning methods
  • mentors and coaches themselves
  • staff or managers working through difficult issues.

Coaching and mentoring enjoy lots of flexibility and many models are available for consideration. Importantly however, sessions and frameworks should be structured to provide the structure in which the coaching and mentoring will be delivered. This is of benefit because:

  • establishes clear learning outcomes and objectives
  • documentable framework for planning actions, recording progress and milestones
  • different models provide flexibility to draw on these to meet particular needs for the person being coached or mentored.

Coaching and mentoring can be not only organisationally specific, but also individual specific. If not tailored to those needs it could well be doomed to failure.


Clutterbuck and Megginson (cited in CIMA 2008)[7] refer to coaching as being related to improving performance in specific areas where the term of the coaching is usually short. The goals would normally be set by the coach, but the individual would have ownership of achieving them. The coach, on the other hand, has ownership of the process involved. Coaching would normally involve the coach providing feedback to the individual on what they have observed.

Coaching is a broad profession, but for the purposes of this module, we will be considering the internal coach and the external coach (Merrick 2014)[8]:

An internal coach could be anyone within the organisation:

  • they will have undergone specialised coaching training
  • champion the cause of coaching and build a culture where people are engaged with their roles and are looking to learn and grow
  • has access to internal information both tacit and explicit
  • coaches are in alignment with the organisational talent strategy
  • they are cost effective and particularly when coaching large numbers of people

Alternately, an external coach:

  • works outside the organisation
  • often has a broader range of experience and knowledge
  • does not always have access to tacit knowledge within organisations
  • can be selected on the basis of particular skillsets
  • often may have fresh ideas and knowledge they can bring

There are a number of coaching models available including:

  • GROW
    • Goal
    • Reality at present
    • Obstacles
    • Will
  • Life Coaching
  • Executive Coaching
  • Team Coaching
  • Brief Coaching or Solution Focused Coaching
  • E-coaching


Clutterbuck and Megginson (cited in CIMA 2008)[7] regard mentoring as nurturing the whole person. These are often long term relationships and goals may change, but these are always determined by the mentee. The mentor may have some influence however in directing thought towards perceived areas of need, but the mentee still owns the process and the goals.

Different models of mentoring exist such as non-directive and sponsoring (Merrick 2014)[8]. With non-directive mentoring the mentor will act as a listening post or sounding board for the mentee and perhaps provide role modeling. With sponsorship mentoring is it more akin to taking on a protégé and supporting their development.

There are not as many models of mentoring as coaching as the approach seems to vary depending on the application. Mentoring can include:

  • Executive Mentoring
  • Reverse Mentoring
  • E-mentoring
  • Diversity Mentoring
  • Ethical Mentoring
  • One on one Mentoring
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Group Mentoring

Return on Investment

Organisations are always looking at the ROI on anything they do and coaching and mentoring are no different. In 2012, the International Coach Federation (ICF) completed a global study that revealed the ROI on coaching was seven times the investment (PWC 2012). Another survey by Deloittes (2012) found retention rates were 25% higher where employees were engaged in company sponsored mentoring programs. Oxford Economics (2014) surveyed 1400 millennials and found they wer 50% more likely to want feedback from managers than other employees (Zeidler 2018)[9]. There are several other studies confirming similar positive ROI.


The most significant component of this module was the Hierarchy of Learning Outcomes (HLO) model and how it is used to design learning and development initiatives. It provides the framework to clearly identify which components of the HLO should be incorporated into the training and development.

This module also considered coaching and mentoring and its importance in the learning environment. Most importantly, there were clear demonstrations in the research of the ROI that exists for engaging in mentoring and coaching. Significantly, the entire module still continued to build on focusing on the organisation’s strategic direction and objectives when building learning and development initiatives.

  1. Delahaye, B & Choy, S 2018, Human resource development: Learning for innovation and productivity, 5th edn, Mirabel Publishing, ., Prahran.[][][]
  2. Biggs, J & Tang, C 2011, Teaching for quality learning at university, 4th edn, McGraw-hill Education, Maidenhead.[]
  3. Tweedie, B & Webb, S 2022, ‘Resetting the learning function to a virtual-first approach’, Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media, 3 March, viewed 31 March 2023, <>.[]
  4. How To Create a Welcoming Space for your Non Profit Board or Committee |Welcoming Space[]
  5. CIPD 2021, Coaching and Mentoring | Factsheets, CIPD, viewed 31 March 2023, <>.[]
  6. CIMA 2008, Mentoring and Coaching, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.[]
  7. CIMA 2008, Mentoring and Coaching, Chartered Institute  of Management Accountants.[][]
  8. Merrick, L 2014, ‘How coaching and mentoring can drive success in your organisation’, p. 7.[][]
  9. Zeidler, J 2018, ‘The ROI of mentoring young talent’, Forbes, 30 August, viewed 5 August 2022,[]

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Ric Raftis

Ric Raftis

Find out more about me on my About Me page.

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