5 Phases of Grieving Your LMS and Building a Case for Change

Remember the initial excitement when your first implemented your LMS? All the planning and promise of tracking courses and assessments, reporting on compliance and certifications, and increasing employee productivity to boost bottom-line results…but here you are, still wanting, and at various phases of grieving for what was ‘meant to be’.

In many cases, the issues stemmed from an early miscommunication or misunderstanding of what is really needed from your learning solution. But by the time this misalignment is recognized, you’re already heavily invested – personally and financially. That’s when the ‘5 Phases of Grief’ set in.

changing your lms

Even though you know the system in place isn’t working, you don’t want to believe it because the idea of change comes with its own list of challenges and obstacles. You see hidden glimmers of hope buried in clear indications that it’s time to consider a new solution. So, against your better judgment, you can’t help but entertain illusions of things somehow working out…

“Maybe I can develop a workaround for that issue”
“I hear there’s a new feature being developed to address that”
“Everyone is dealing with the same issue”

changing your lms

Anger can manifest in many different ways…

anger at your vendor, “Why are they taking so long to fix this %&^$ issue!”
anger at the universe, “Why can’t this just work the way it’s supposed to?”
anger at your employees, ”If they would just engage with the content!. Grrrr

changing your lms

Bargaining often goes hand in hand with denial. Bargaining can be looking for any possible way to make your current LMS work through vendor negotiation, stretched scenario-based resolutions, and quiet prayers to the LMS itself, whispering silent entreaties through gritted teeth,  – but to no avail…

“If you could just fix this one issue, then I know we’ll win them back…hello?”
“I really want this to work; maybe it’s just me; will you work if I just do things a bit differently?”
“I’ll try this; try that; reboot?” 

changing your lms

Depression, like anger, also surfaces in many different forms. For example, disengaging from the issues at hand, consciously ignoring the reasons why you started investigating change in the first place. Instead of focusing on an objective business case to justify change, you venture dangerously close to pervasive complacency.

“That’s just the way it is, so why push so hard for change?”
‘There’s nothing better out there anyway.”

changing your lms

Acceptance never comes suddenly; it happens gradually, interspersed with revelations during other phases. But through this experience, you gain acceptance for what you actually need from your learning solution—not what you thought you needed. You have clarity on priorities and critical requirements. You have an understanding of the costs and resources involved in the operation and maintenance of your current system, and can provide a grounded point of comparison.

From this informed position, you can build a risk/benefit analysis that lays out the positives and negatives of staying with the current system and those associated with moving to a new system. By recognizing and acknowledging each phase of grief, and identifying the pain points and wish-lists during each transition, you can actually leverage your current frustrations to zero in on a learning solution that better meets the needs of your evolving organization – and build your business case for change.

Written by Sabrina Prudham

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