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Capability Building

Why Are Individual Online Courses and Exercises Useful for Building Organisational Capability?


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Individual online courses and exercises are training activities that learners undertake in isolation. They can be used to develop specific capabilities in individual learners as part of a broader capability building strategy. 

Why are individual online courses or exercises good for building organisational capability? 

Individual online courses are ideal for building or reinforcing a specific capability, most beneficially technical capabilities that are subject to technological changes.  

Consider a graphic designer taking a course on an emerging design software. While the course bolsters their singular skillset (meaning only that role will need to undertake it), the outcomes contribute to broader organisational capability. Think organisational capabilities like innovation, learning culture and talent agility that impact ways of work, productivity and talent mobility. 

Long-term, individual online courses or exercises can make for more digestible and accessible learning experiences. When accessed as learners need—say, throughout their workday as knowledge gaps arise—they can more naturally apply training. Studies show that breaking long programs into small but increasingly challenging modules results in better retention. Repeated visits to topics or content in different contexts also helps circumvent poor knowledge transfer or irrelevant training.

You can provide learning like this with a performance learning management system (PLMS). A PLMS is a learning platform that does away with the mountains-of-content style of learning in favour of the quality of content, empowering employees to become the high-impact players driving business performance.

What are the challenges of using individual online courses for building organisational capability? 

See, this is where we hit the challenge with online courses for building capability versus solely developing technical skills. As a reminder, we work to the definition that a capability is a combination of personal and technical skills, knowledge, processes, tools and behaviours that are critical to an organisation’s success and future needs. 

Building organisational capability is not a simple beast to tame. And with this complexity, plus the challenges of individual online courses such as technical issues, diminished social aspects and all the distractions of today’s world, some learners may inadvertently get left behind and feel exasperated. Therefore, individual courses should form part of your L&D mix for capability building but more, say, as the bridesmaid than the bride. The challenges are not easy to overcome, but online courses have proven ROI so ultimately are not to be ignored.  

What is the impact of not using individual online courses for building organisational capability?

Organisational capabilities rest on employee engagement in turning their individual capabilities into business strengths. Part of that is allowing employees to seek out innovation and impactful ideas, but it cannot be done without individual learning experiences.  

Say you’ve got a whole library of individual online courses within your learning platform. Employees are free to complete any and all that they wish to. Engagement goes up, completion rates skyrocket, and your learning culture is self-sufficient, meaning that your workforce almost automatically buys into your capability strategy.  

Now say you don’t have that library and learning is tailored solely to the needs of your career pathways. While this is still an important use case, it means that employees aren’t being given the tools to seek learning when they need. That means that they may look elsewhere to solve a problem, and the content they do come across may not match your organisation’s capability or competency needs. At a high level, it’s also a waste of whatever money you put into your platform and the coursework you do offer—so you can say goodbye to a chunk of your ROI, too.  

By not including individual online courses you are robbing yourself of the opportunity to build one part of a complex capability, in a format that employees know and are proven to respond to. 

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