Jenny Senneck

Managing Executive and Junior Partner

Learning Management Systems to handle high stakes

Learning Management Systems to handle high stakes

Human error and regulatory non-compliance can be hugely costly. Capitalise on technology by implementing a robust LMS to elevate performance and mitigate risks.

You have probably read about the human and environmental catastrophe that happened in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, when British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded due to a Macondo well blow-out. Eleven workers died, and billions of cubic metres of oil spilled into the ocean before the well could be capped. The consequence for BP, too, was monumental: the company ultimately paid $18.2 billion in criminal fines and financial settlements, and its market valuation halved within two months of the event – and had still not recovered five years later.

BP’s culpability was clearly detailed in the company’s own accident investigation report, which included damning phrases such as ‘The failure of the rig crew to stop work on the Deepwater Horizon after encountering multiple hazards and warnings…,’ and ‘BP’s failure to have full supervision and accountability over the activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon was a contributing cause of the Macondo blowout.’

Deepwater Horizon is often referred to as a Black Swan – an extremely rare, near-unpredictable event with drastic outcomes. Actually, it is more like a Grey Rhino, a newer name to describe glaring risks which are nevertheless either entirely ignored or only partially addressed. The risk consultant who coined the term, Michele Wucker, points out that dealing with a Grey Rhino requires “skills in leadership, risk management, cost-benefit analysis, and decision making.” And, I would suggest, access to trustworthy data.

How can, and should, an organisation buffer against the kinds of high-consequence risks embedded in many industries, including but not limited to aviation, chemicals, construction and utilities?

Unquestionably, an excellent learning and development (L&D) programme and a rigorous learning management system are fundamental. But let’s take a step back, and into a different context.

Imagine for a moment that you are the HR practitioner at a giant mining enterprise. Your legal department is pressurising you about the need for updated compliance training. Your L&D colleagues admit that training is overdue in many aspects of the business, involving all levels of seniority. This would have been done about a year ago, but for the finance department’s concerns about the incompatibility of your learning and training platforms with other key business systems.

This is a headache you don’t need, and one that the company cannot afford were it to slip further out of control. Financial results cannot be compromised by the possibility of disruptions; so, having immediate access to training records is vital to prove a state of compliance for the regulatory authority. Even more critically important, lives cannot be at risk due to even the remotest chance of problematic safety protocols.

The gist is that the company’s very existence may be threatened if operations are forced to cease due to regulatory noncompliance.

An LMS can carry some of this load

Where mistakes may have major consequences, mitigating risk is business critical. Human error, design flaws, or systems malfunctions can never be completely eliminated. However, a robust learning management system (LMS), facilitating the monitoring and reporting within complex organisational structures and deploying content to continuously upskill employees, helps to cultivate a disciplined mindset, to identify underlying causes of talent-related problems, pinpoint where training or knowledge gaps exist, and to close those gaps as fast as possible.

The power of a rigourous, optimised learning platform is its ability to provide a high-level view of the business’s talent, and to drill into the granularity of crucial aspects affecting operational risks – or, strategic issues such as transformation, diversity, and employee wellness.

Back to the dilemma facing the head of HR at the mining company: training, learning and development gear a performance culture, but a leading-edge LMS does more than that. It will help solve related issues that involve the gathering of data, interpreting it meaningfully – and fast. If the legal department, needing a rapid response to an incident, calls for training records and reports to provide proof of disciplined management and employee behaviours, these are on hand. The company’s operating license may hinge on that.

Learning Management Systems people on balance tilts

Lever of performance

But the behaviours, protocols and problem-solving capabilities that come with a best-in-class LMS also reap operational efficiencies and high-performance gains. When employees work according to appropriate disciplines, when they are well-trained and have a curious, growth mindset, then productivity is proven to be improved – regardless of industry. Simply put, a company’s high-performing talent pool is the best buffer against risk, but it is also a competitive differentiator in an increasingly complex and uncertain business landscape. Whether mitigating for Black Swans, Grey Rhinos, or more commonly named risks, the right learning management system is a critical component of an organisation’s talent arsenal. It will weigh the odds firmly in favour of preventing error. But, when major issues do arise, an agile and upskilled workforce will be far better equipped to minimise the fallout. To find out how LRMG can implement and support your learning management system to achieve the highest degree of compliance, strategic risk mitigation and performance – anywhere in the world and whatever your organisation’s size – contact Jenny Senneck at

The LRMG group of companies specialises in igniting the high performance of people. We have a 25-year track record in partnering with high-consequence industries.


  1. Market capitalisation had not recovered over five years later. 9 September 2015 ($103.03bn) was 46% lower than 20 April 2010 ($189.35bn):

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