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Understanding Barriers to CILS Change

CILS (The Continuous Integration of Learning and Strategy) is a process that defines the relationships between corporate learning and strategic planning as fundamental partners.

For a company to become an active learning organization, its management has to recognize the advantages of the integration of corporate learning initiatives into the company’s long-term strategic planning. In large organizations, a Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is the one responsible for this initiative. In smaller organizations, this function is usually performed by various managers, often connected to Human Resources.

If there is one constant about human nature, it is the resistance to change. This is especially true in business, and we specifically mean the barriers to implementing CILS change in an organization. Whether it’s a multinational conglomerate or a corner shop, there are two basic types of obstacles: culture and cost.

CILS Change: The Culture Gap

Successful businesses have built their fortunes thanks to the integrity of their unique cultures. However, for many companies, the concept of a learning organization is completely new. A culture that hasn’t had any development and learning activity has the most significant resistance to overcome.

Success can lead to complacency

Complacency, however, can lead to stagnation, and stagnation can lead to a loss of a number of things, like competitive advantage, market share, and profitability.

This means, when a business is doing well, you have to function even better because if you don’t, someone else will.

Many organizations do not see the need for a CILS effort unless there is a problem that might lead to a decline in market share, profit, revenue, and investor return. Since CEOs and top executives don’t have exposure to learning and development, the CLO has to provide advice on strategic approaches. If this role does not exist in a company, or if it doesn’t have the necessary influence or access, then getting the executive buy-in to implement CILS will represent a significant barrier.

The collective resistance to change also shows on the individual employee level. As changes in development and learning are introduced, staff members are concerned that their skills and capabilities are no longer relevant or adequate. Keeping in mind that the priority for most workers is to keep their jobs and to do them well, along with helping them understand how these training initiatives can support those objectives, is crucial to begin an overall cultural change process.

CILS Change: The Cost Gap

Although CILS will ultimately help a business overcome its financial performance challenges more efficiently, it gets caught in the resource gap when compared to funding options that can produce bottom-line results faster.

The benefits of learning initiatives and CILS, while essential to the future of any business, are difficult to show in return-on-investment money. The time and talent of employees are risky assets that are without an objective value that is found in more concrete assets, such as in marketing efforts or infrastructure. Yet, without the efforts of its employees, no company can and achieve any of its goals and continue to thrive.

Generally, bridging this cost gap demands that management values CILS equally as other corporate investments. All CILS funding decisions fall into two categories:

  1. Those connected to long-term plans with clear deliverables
  2. Just-in-time actions that respond to short-term challenges or opportunities and unplanned events

Both of these sets demand dedicated line-items in the budget for long-term initiatives that are a part of the overall strategy and funding for special projects and situations that cannot be predicted.

Discover the best way to help your employees embrace change, consistently connect with your leadership team, and predictably turn them into highly engaged employees. Call me for some complimentary advice. Book an appointment at or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734