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Working with a Learning Governance Board Coca-Cola Amatil Case Study

Having a Learning Governance Board in place makes my job easier.  In particular, it ensures that the capability development initiatives my team and extended community is working on are aligned with our business strategy and prioritised and resourced by the business. 

I lead technical capability development in Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Amatil.  I have a small team in the Supply Chain Technical Academy, and an extended capacity through close working relationships with Capability Managers in each of our States (i.e. a geographic region).  We do not have dedicated trainers, instead utilising Subject Matter Experts, people who are experienced in their job roles, and frontline leaders to support the development of others. 

My role and team are physically located in and are funded by the business unit whilst being captured under the HR umbrella. This brings many advantages, the most significant being that it makes it easier for us to stay close to our stakeholders and to align development initiatives with business priorities as they have a true ownership of both the cost and the outcomes."

In mid-2013, after 18 months of existence, we reviewed the various forums to which the Academy reported and identified opportunity to reduce duplication, particularly in regard to reporting of project status to multiple groups.  One of these groups was a Steering Committee which met for an hour each month.  Using the 70:20:10 Forum's Learning Governance Board toolkit we reformed this group, changed the meeting frequency to quarterly, and shifted to a more strategic focus.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about working effectively with my Governance Board:

  • Ensure balanced representation from key stakeholders, with a greater representation from the operational customer base/business unit representatives than other support functions.
  • Ensure the Board members have appropriate decision-making authority, and that the mechanism for decision-making is clear.  This includes decisions that may need to be made outside of formal meetings.
  • Educate your Board members about your organisation’s learning framework, or work with them to develop a framework if you don’t have one.  While we had formally adopted 70:20:10 many years ago, the breadth and widespread use of the framework was not well-understood by some Board members.  Sharing and discussing a brief video where Charles Jennings introduces 70:20:10 allowed me to introduce a wider range of capability development options to the Board.
  • Develop a learning strategy.  Include underlying principles about your organisation’s approach to learning – these will guide how you shape responses to business performance opportunities which you are requested to support.  They will also provide a reference point for the Board to use when making decisions. Examples of our learning principles are shown below.

  • Stay abreast of business unit strategy and key initiatives.  Know how they are pursuing their goals, and keep up to date with progress and adjustments being made.  Look for opportunities to improve how you are supporting key initiatives.
  • Have an agreed mechanism to prioritise initiatives.  There are always more requests for initiatives than you have capacity to deliver, so you need a way of assessing and prioritising them.  We use a grid to ‘position’ initiatives into relative business value and relative effort/cost.  While this does not give us a hard ranking it allows an informed discussion of the relative merits of initiatives and decisions on which to invest in.


  • Speak briefly with Board members before you start preparing for a meeting to check what is on their mind in regard to current or potential learning initiatives.  Tell them what decisions you will be asking the Board to make and ask what questions they have about these decisions – then provide answers in the information you circulate before the meeting.
  • Use a consistent structure for Board meeting documents, and circulate these several days before the meeting.  Keep the content brief and high level, and be prepared to provide supporting detail if requested before or during the meeting.  Detailed status reporting is unnecessary and will bog down the precious time you have with these senior stakeholders.
  • Communicate the outcome of Board meetings to all managers in stakeholder business units.

What would you add to this list?  You can post your response in comments below.

Want more information about the 70:20:10 Forum tool discussed in this case study? Member Tool (please sign in to access it) - Toolkit for Establishing a Learning Goverance Board



Michelle Ockers is the National Technical Capability Manager in Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Amatil, Australia.  She has developed and deliver learning strategy and solutions in military aviation, FMCG, financial services, energy and telecommunications industries.  She focusses on delivering business outcomes through learning solutions, and is particularly interested in effectively supporting continuous workplace learning (the 70 and 20 in 70:20:10).

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Thanks for these wonderful insights Michelle,

It is exciting to see how the renewed governance approach provided an opportunity to develop a much deeper and shared understanding of what 70:20:10 means to the Supply Chain business. I'm interested to know if this resulted in the board members becoming advocates, actively leading and selling the strategy and priorities.

Given how precious time is, I really like your approach to positioning key agenda (decision) items in advance, setting the board up to make the most of the meeting time and to sign off on decisions, rather than waste the meeting exploring and problem solving. Do you have any other tips on how to best make use of the board's time and how to ensure meeting time is efficiently and productively managed?

Have you thought much about measuring the success/impact/effectiveness of the board and if so, how are you approaching it? I'm curious to see what the governance board members' expectations were/are versus your own (i.e. speed of decisions, impact on accountability, resourcing and support).

Thank you for sharing,


Thanks for your questions Andrew.  I have next Governance Board in two weeks, and your questions are timely.  The Board Members were selected in part as they were already strong advocates for capability development.  They have helped shape and align specific initiatives with business strategy.  We reworked our overall capability strategy in April/May and included continuous learning for the first time (as opposed to structured evidence based learning programs). I think they get it in theory, but need to see examples of what it looks like on action to really grasp it and start advocating alternate approaches.  So the next Board meeting is an opportunity to showcase some of the new approaches we've started using and get their feedback.

In regard to making the most of the limited time I have with the Board I also put most important agenda items first, and for the first time I will seek pre-ratification of some proposed changes to the 2014 Delivery Plan.  There may be some simple decisions I can get them to make before the meeting.  I'm also thinking about how I can use our Enterprise Social Network to support preparation, conduct or post-meeting communication of Board meeting.

As for measuring effectiveness/success of the Board it's not something I have previously considered.  We do have a measurement process for our Operational Excellence monthly steering committee meetings (that's our continuous improvement methodology). I will see if I can adapt it.  Thanks for seeding the idea,

I'm interested in other questions and/or ideas for making the most of this type of meeting.