aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Becoming More Mature

Posted by Ellen on March 15, 2008

More than a year ago, Bersin & Associates ( released The Learning Content Maturity Model: Developing a Framework for Integrated Training and Knowledge Management. If you’re not familiar with maturity models, they’ve been around in engineering and the computer worlds for awhile and they essentially set forth a way of assessing how evolved your organization is, usually on a four- or five-level scale. The lowest levels indicate that an organization is at an early stage of development, and the increasing levels suggest the next stages of that development, through to the top.


We used a capability maturity model in the Web company where I worked prior to my current association position, and know they can be valuable for providing a relative measurement of where the organization is along a standard scale.

So I was excited to see that Bersin & Associates had developed a maturity model for the learning organization (if there are others, I haven’t seen them but would welcome hearing about them). Finally, a way to measure how far we have come – how far we have to go!

And it’s a good model, with its five levels stretching from “Traditional” to “On-Demand.” (The report is copyrighted, so I’ll include only the details sufficient to make my point.) Its five levels are distinct and provide a path to follow for developing capacity. On a closer reading, I saw that most associations probably are doing something at every level in the Bersin LCMM. As a matter of fact, most associations probably start at the fourth level – we’re well past collaborative (having mastered that early on in our work with volunteer content leaders) and fast closing in on the highest level (“On-Demand”).

Like so many things based on the corporate world, the Bersin Learning Content Maturity Model just doesn’t quite fit with the association learning environment.

Darn. And we were so close!

2 Responses to “Becoming More Mature”

  1. Jeff Cobb said

    Ellen–Haven’t had the opportunity (or $$$) to read Bersin’s report yet. “Like so many things based on the corporate world, the Bersin Learning Content Maturity Model just doesn’t quite fit with the association learning environment.” Where do you see the gaps? –Jeff

  2. Ellen said

    Hi, Jeff! Thanks for your comment! Perhaps it’s a difference in perspective about where I see value in maturity models, and how Bersin set theirs up. I found ways that most associations are operating at all of their levels (Traditional, Rapid, Collaborative, Enterprise, and On-Demand) at least to some degree. This means it’s difficult to progress into greater levels of maturity in any clear way, which makes the point of a maturity model less valuable.

    Watch for a new blog entry soon with more details about how associations differ specifically — and a proposed solution I’ll offer up for feedback and dialogue.

    PS — I understand about the fees for these reports! I received mine as a thank-you gift from Bersin & Associates. I keep advocating to them about the need to make their research more cost-friendly to non-profits….and I’ll keep at it!

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