Today, all organizations are under constant stress to reduce costs and maintain profitability. One of the casualties is the training budgets to train your employees.
What might we do to continually improve the learning and development activities of the employees without much budgetary suppport?
Free Training: As a team, decide what skills need to be developed. Then scout for an online course on platforms like coursera or VentureLab and participate in the learning activity as a team (most of these are free and hence no budget limitations). Alternately, create teams and assign each team to attend specific courses and then get them to teach each other the topics they learnt. As they say, learning crystallizes when you teach to others.
Mentoring: Identify a mentor inside your organization or in your industry who can help you acquire the skills. Then use the different ways to learn from the mentor - shadowing, questions, discussions, discourses, etc. Share the learning with the team.
Use Youtube: Identify an expert in an area that you want to develop. Search if there are videos on YouTube of the expert presenting his subject (Could be on platforms like TED(x) or as a keynote to an event or at a university). Watch the video together and have a debate within the team with someone who will speak for the expert and someone who will present counter-argument. You will be surprised at how much you can learn just by doing this.
Use the Library: Identify books that have potentially interesting ideas that you can learn from. Create teams to study the books and present their understanding or the key concepts to the entire team. Have a Q&A followed by a discussion on how can they implement some of the concepts in their work.
Use Technology: Use technology to invite authors or thought leaders in a space that you want to explore or learn more about and disucss. You could do that via a twitter chat or a google Hangout or a Skype conference call or on Facebook chat, etc.
Follow MIX: Follow sites like MIX or other such sites to stay on top of what is happening elsewhere in the world.
These are just some ideas that I can think of to exponentially increase the ability for you to enable learning and development in your team without having to spend any money.