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December 2019 |

Defense Acquisition University’s

Jim Woolsey Is the 2019 CLO of the Year

Learning In Practice Awards - Alignment and Agility in 2020 - Content Discovery Evolution AbbVie’s Learn.Develop.Perform Initiative - Design Thinking to Advance Diversity and Inclusion 

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Uncertainty as Opportunity


he three most powerful words in education are “I don’t know.” They’re also the most terrifying. Those three simple words conjure up that helpless feeling you get when your freshman algebra teacher calls your name while you’re idly daydreaming of yourself as Magnum, P.I., zooming down a sun-drenched Hawaii highway behind the wheel of a cherry red Ferrari 308 GTS after another successful caper with your best buds T.C. and Rick. Oh, that was just me? For many, not having the answer is shameful. It means we aren’t paying enough attention or didn’t study hard enough. Worst of all, it may feel as though we’re incapable of learning and too stupid to get it right. But in truth, uncertainty is an opportunity. Those three simple words — I don’t know — are a call to action. They are the beginning of a vital exercise in curiosity. Those three words have sparked countless fruitful experiments and innovations throughout human history. If there’s one certainty, it’s that uncertainty is the path to innovation and forward progress.

time, becoming more and more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. Some organizations deliberately create it by appointing an outsider to run the learning organization. According to our recent research, 1 in 3 learning executives follow that path. They cut their teeth in sales, marketing, operations or finance. They were once consultants, managers and engineers before they became professional educators. For many of the most successful, that lack of learning experience is a strength. Rather than rely on a set of developed solutions, they bring a learner’s mindset to bear. What they lack in efficiency at the start they make up for with effectiveness in the end. They rely on the team around them instead of their own expertise. Jim Woolsey is a prime example. When he took over as president in 2014, Defense Acquisition University — the acquisition arm of the U.S. Department of Defense — was already recognized as one of the world’s top learning organizations. An engineer by training, Jim had little experience running a learning organization. But that didn’t stop him. Under his leadership, DAU undertook an ambitious plan to reinvent how it designed and delivered learning. It would have been easy to stay the course and conFor business leaders, those words are also a potent tinue the path of operational excellence, delivering leadership tool. Leaders willing to say they don’t have courses and content to the 160,000-plus student popuall the answers demonstrate an open mind, show that lation. What DAU did instead was to redefine its purvulnerability is OK and that experimentation and failure pose, moving from a model designed to deliver domain in pursuit of growth should not be punished. expertise to one aimed at serving customers. When not mistaken for insecurity, uncertainty is a That effort resulted in DAU being recognized as the sign of confidence. It demonstrates a willingness and No. 1 learning organization in the Chief Learning Officer commitment to engage in the discovery process and em- LearningElite in 2017 and Jim being named CLO of brace others’ ideas and answers. It’s a signal that there’s the Year in 2019. not one right answer and we’re all on the same path to Learning leaders from outside the organization — finding out more about ourselves, others and the world and successful internally developed ones too — don’t around us. have all the answers. But, like Jim, they are curious. Saying “I don’t know” is a powerful learning tech- They ask questions. And sometimes they’ll say, “I don’t nique. The difficulty involved in grappling with un- know.” Not knowing is no excuse. Uncertainty is the certainty means the lesson learned, knowledge gained key to unlocking opportunity. CLO or experience garnered will be that much more lasting. What comes easy is just as easily forgotten. Long-lasting performance is driven by the laborious process of wrestling with a problem and not taking the easy way out. Embracing uncertainty means you’ve slowed down, engaged with an idea or troubling piece Mike Prokopeak of information and asked questions about it. Editor in Chief Some learning leaders cultivate that mindset over

If there’s one certainty, it’s that the future is uncertain.

4 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

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DECEMBER 2019 | VOLUME 18, ISSUE 10 PRESIDENT Kevin A. Simpson












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DIGITAL COORDINATOR Steven Diemand AUDIENCE INSIGHTS COORDINATOR Micaela Martinez BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION MANAGER Melanie Lee LIST MANAGER Mike Rovello CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Josh Bersin Donald Fan Sarah Fister Gale Todd Maddox Lee Maxey Jack J. Phillips Patti P. Phillips Rosina L. Racioppi Marina Theodotou


CHIEF LEARNING OFFICER EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Lisa Doyle, Vice President, Global Learning, Booz Allen Hamilton David DeFilippo, Principal, DeFilippo Leadership Inc. Tamar Elkeles, Chief Talent Executive, Atlantic Bridge Capital Gerry Hudson-Martin, Director, Corporate Learning Strategies, Business Architects Kimo Kippen, President, Aloha Learning Advisors Rob Lauber, Vice President, Chief Learning Officer, McDonald’s Corp. Maj. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel, (Ret.) U.S. Air Force, Director, Deloitte Consulting Justin Lombardo, (Ret.) Chief Learning Officer, Baptist Health Adri Maisonet-Morales, Vice President, Enterprise Learning and Development, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Alan Malinchak, CEO, Éclat Transitions LLC Lee Maxey, CEO, MindMax Bob Mosher, Senior Partner and Chief Learning Evangelist, APPLY Synergies Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President, The Conference Board Allison Rossett, (Ret.) Professor of Educational Technology, San Diego State University Brenda Sugrue, Global Chief Learning Officer, EY Diana Thomas, CEO and Founder, Winning Results David Vance, Executive Director, Center for Talent Reporting Judy Whitcomb, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Learning and Organizational Development, Vi Kevin D. Wilde, Executive Leadership Fellow, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota James P. Woolsey, President, Defense Aquisition University

Chief Learning Officer (ISSN 1935-8148) is published monthly, except bi-monthly in January/February and July/August by Human Capital Media, 150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 550, Chicago IL 60601. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Chief Learning Officer, P.O. Box 8712 Lowell, MA 01853. Subscriptions are free to qualified professionals within the US and Canada. Digital free subscriptions are available worldwide. Nonqualified paid subscriptions are available at the subscription price of $199 for 10 issues. All countries outside the US and Canada must be prepaid in US funds with an additional $33 postage surcharge. Single price copy is $29.99. Chief Learning Officer,, and are the trademarks of Human Capital Media. Copyright © 2019, Human Capital Media. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of material published in Chief Learning Officer is forbidden without permission.

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2019 10 Your Career Dorie Blesoff of Relativity shares her career journey; DAU’s Marina Theodotou reflects on the Chief Learning Officer Fall Symposium; and people share what they’re reading.

32 2019 CLO of the Year Defense Acquisition University’s Jim Woolsey

Elizabeth Loutfi Throughout his career, Jim Woolsey has focused on progress and moving forward. As president of DAU, he’s continuing this tradition.

56 Case Study A Development-​ Focused Organization

Sarah Fister Gale Through its Learn. Develop.Perform global program, AbbVie has transformed its learning culture.

58 Business Intelligence Cheers to Alignment and Agility in 2020

Ashley St. John CLOs express a positive outlook going into the new year. ON THE COVER: PHOTO BY JEFF MILLIES

8 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

December 2019





Donald Fan Double down on the right problem to yield twice the result with half the effort.


Todd Maddox Scenario-Based Microlearning for Soft Skills

Provider Award Winners AW

Jack J. & Patti P. Phillips Black Boxes and Talent Development


CLO Staff Learning leaders who have exhibited excellence in the design and delivery of employee development programs.


Josh Bersin How Will Content Discovery Evolve?


Practitioner Award Winners


Lee Maxey Reining in Efficiency for the Greater Good


 hief Learning Officer Presents the 2019 C Learning In Practice Awards

CLO Staff Learning providers and vendor companies that have delivered highly impactful learning.

Rosina L. Racioppi Let’s Start at the Very Beginning


Ashley St. John This year’s winners demonstrated leadership, vision, business acumen and strategic alignment.




Design Thinking to Advance Diversity, 20 Embrace Equity and Inclusion






4 Editor’s Letter

Uncertainty as Opportunity

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Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 9


Career Advice From


Dorie Blesoff, chief people officer at Relativity, answers our questions about her career and the time she’s spent in L&D. How did you start your career in learning? My career did not move into the learning field until I realized in my late 30s that I had a passion for working with organizations moving through and adapting to change — and that learning was instrumental to that. I decided to shift my career focus and went back to school for a master’s in organizational development as I also explored jobs within the learning and development field. At the time, the entry-​ level job that made the most sense in the field was in HR’s training and development function. Since then, I’ve held roles in organizational development and strategic HR, which

Director for global leadership development, Federal-Mogul Corp. 1994-1999

1999 1994

10 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

often included creating programs for leadership development or building out corporate learning programs. I also have been fortunate to serve as adjunct faculty since 1996 at Northwestern University’s undergraduate and graduate learning and organizational change degree programs as part of my continued growth. Now I’ve seen how a learning career can evolve. Prior to my role as chief people officer at Relativity, I was a strategic HR consultant there focused on establishing a foundation for workforce and leadership development, which was a long-term investment leaders saw as critical. What attracted you to L&D? In my early career in health care, I started to experience the trend of major strategic and culture changes. I discovered I liked facilitating and communicating change initiatives centered on employee engagement; plus, I was good at it. At one organization, I founded an employee chorus group to highlight our mission, cultural diversity and to build community. To this day, as part of crafting and leading talent strategy at Relativity, I find that engaging people in their own development and helping them connect their passion back to the organization’s vision is energizing and deeply rewarding work.

HR executive, PwC business process outsourcing team for North America 1999-2002


Independent consultant and coach 2002-2013

Chief people officer, Relativity 2013-present

2013 2019



stions. fire que id p a r ers our off answ s le B ie Dor

What was your favorite trend of 2019? I love that so many organizations now view investment in talent development as imperative. We see increasing evidence that today’s workforce looks for organizations that enable their personal and professional growth through a variety of learning opportunities. It’s great to see that sync up with how much we’ve been investing in employee growth and development here at Relativity to ensure we continue to evolve as a talent-first organization.

The most important part of learning is: Being open to adjusting your mental model.

The most overrated trend in L&D is: The belief that personalized, tech-based learning will replace the collective, live learning community.

What lessons helped get you where you are? Understanding it’s never too late in your career to make a change. Having a growth mindset is important to successful development because just as the job landscape is evolving, we as learners and professionals are evolving. I’ve found always staying in touch with what inspires me, coupled with being open to new possibilities, has allowed me to be courageous in asking for chances at new opportunities. Your most important piece of career advice? I have three. No. 1: To view your career as a portfolio and not “a job.” There are many ways to grow, express your passion or make a difference, be it through teaching, mentoring, volunteering or any opportunities that help you grow. No. 2: The second piece is geared to all the women who don’t apply for new opportunities unless they feel they fit 90 percent of the criteria — find the confidence and resourcefulness to try something new. Go for it! You never know. No. 3: Don’t think about everything you can do, think about what only you can do — and focus there! CLO Know someone with an incredible career journey? We want to hear from you. Send your nomination to Elizabeth Loutfi at

Learning is essential to an organization because: The only constant is change and you can’t have sustainable change without also having the new learning that goes along with it — beliefs, habits and norms.

The biggest industry misconception is: That being a passive recipient to new knowledge equates to learning.

I got into the L&D space because: Change is essential and it’s important we provide our colleagues with the right resources to adapt, thrive and continue to evolve in a positive way.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 11


What Are You Reading? The New Social Learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work. By Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner We’re all interested in integrating social learning components into what we do, but getting learners to adopt these new tools can be a challenge. This book is a great “how-to” guide that looks at the barriers to adoption and engagement with social learning platforms and provides practical advice on how to overcome them. [I’m] actively using this as a reference for several projects I’m currently working on. — Gabrielle Bayme, learning and development manager, Alvarez & Marsal

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs By John Doerr Amazing insights on a different approach to setting organization and employee performance goals. [And] a refreshing perspective around the whole performance management debate. — Michael Muema, human capital development expert, HR business partner for Wananchi Group

Your Lion Inside: Tapping into the Power Within By Kimberly Faith This one has been dominating my reading list since I picked it up. It’s been a year and I haven’t put it down yet. I carry it with me. The author, Kim Faith, literally reached into the depths of my soul and helped me reflect and understand how my behaviors were limiting my success — personally and professionally. Then she offered a caring, guiding hand to help gradually shift my “self-talk” to a place that will drive me forward instead of restrain me. — Erika Migliaccio, founder, principal consultant, Upstream HR Strategies Chief Learning Officer wants to hear from you: What’s at the top of your reading list? Send submissions to Elizabeth Loutfi at

12 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient By Valorie Burton It is more of a coaching positive psychology book. It causes you to examine the excuses we make for ourselves and why we don’t achieve our goals we have set for ourselves, then points us in the right direction to achieve them in small chunks. Any book by Valorie Burton I have found to be inspiring, motivational and certainly achievable. Listening to her podcast, “Positively Psyched,” her three-minute YouTube video and reading her book has inspired me to pursue a coaching certification next spring.  Vanessa D. — Morrison, owner, founder, A-Z Résumé and Employment Solutions

Top of Mind Are you ready for 2020? By Marina Theodotou Reflections from Marina Theodotou, director of operations and analytics, Defense Acquisition University.


his past October, I attended Chief Learning Officer’s Fall 2019 Symposium in Chicago. If you weren’t able to be there, I’d like to share 10 practices I gleaned from chief learning officers and thought leaders at the conference for you and your team to consider as you plan for 2020 and the continuing onslaught of change. Use the agile process to develop learning assets. Accenture CLO Allison Horn discussed in detail how using the agile scrum process has accelerated the delivery time and quality of learning assets. Create flat, multidisciplinary teams that include developers, designers, SMEs and testers on the same team to deliver better learning assets faster. Skillsoft SVP Heide Abelli discussed the changing roles of both leaders and their teams. Accenture has also successfully been developing full-stack learning professionals. Use data to drive decisions. AT&T Vice President of HR Jason Oliver cautioned us to never walk in the room without data at hand. This is critical for CLOs and their learning and development teams as it ties with understanding the goals and the needs of the business and aligning learning to deliver outcomes. Articulate the value of learning in terms of the user experience. Molly Nagler, CLO of PepsiCo, advised us to rethink the way we articulate the value of learning by borrowing tips from marketing, such as motivating learners by describing the benefits of learning with moments of truth: “A goal lives inside a person, while benefits live inside a product.” Create a culture of intelligent failure by using candor, framing the work, inviting engagement and responding productively. Harvard Professor and TED speaker Amy Edmondson shared her latest research with the following five tips used by best performing teams.

According to


What has been your biggest lesson learned from 2019?

Get serious about digital skills by creating a self-assessment for all employees to baseline their skills and provide curated learning pathways to help them close the gap. PwC, who recently pledged $3 billion to upskill its 225,000 employees, used an app to enable every employee to self-assess their digital skills and chart a path to close their personal gap to remain relevant. Invite innovators from across the organization to step forward and self-train in Agile and digital to pilot new initiatives and send them back out to transform the rest of the organization, again a practice implemented by PwC. Create platforms for workforce engagement, discussion and problem solving. As Edmondson shared, providing a place for employees to discuss challenges, share best practice tips and support each other can be game-changing. Marina Theodotou Deliver quality learnDefense Acquisition ing at scale by building University your LMS stack. PwC reaches its workforce by adding on top of its LMS a learning experience platform powered by xAPIs and a Learning Record Store. This powerful stack and the back-end data it provides has enabled PwC to drive digital transformation in the organization. Finally, jailbreak data access from IT into L&D to analyze, depict and support the data-driven decisions for business outcomes. Several Fortune 100 organizations, including AT&T, Accenture and PwC, highlighted the importance of understanding the data within your L&D team and being able to tell the story from the L&D angle. CLO These views are the author’s own and not necessarily those of the Department of Defense or its components.

Chief Learning Officer wants to hear from you: What are you thinking about? Send your thoughts to Elizabeth Loutfi at

My biggest lesson confirmed is that as L&D leaders, we need to embrace digital transformation and focus not only on strengthening our digital skill set (e.g., understanding AI and how to use it in learning) but also focus on the growth mindset.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 13


Let’s Start at the Very Beginning A very good place to start • BY ROSINA L. RACIOPPI

M Rosina L. Racioppi is president and CEO of WOMEN Unlimited Inc.

ore and more research highlights the enduring benefits to both women and their organizations of developing female talent early. Leadership development at the start of a woman’s career is proving to be a major contributor to greater numbers of women reaching the C-suite. A recent KPMG study of more than 3,000 women found that early development of leadership skills boosted women’s confidence and competence. Eighty percent of respondents to the study believe that the most important time to support a woman’s career development is in her 20s. In my years working with major organizations, I’ve found that budgets for female talent development are mostly allocated to the midcareer level. No doubt, it’s needed and warranted because that’s where organizations see a large drain of female talent. However, the need to start earlier is undeniable. As the KPMG study shows, by midcareer, women have formulated points of view about themselves and their organizations that are often hard to undo. So, how can organizations direct much-needed attention to leadership development of early-career women? The following six strategies have proven successful for a wide cross section of corporations. First, formulate a systematic and organizationwide approach for identifying female talent at the earliest career stages. Ensure that these women are aware of their value to the organization through both formal and informal leadership development initiatives. Second, it’s important to involve managers in helping early-career women build their confidence and competence through honest feedback. Numerous studies show that women usually do not receive the same career-​advancing feedback as their male colleagues. Next, help female talent understand early that relationships matter for career growth and development. Research shows that young women are much less likely than their male counterparts to seek out mentors and sponsors. Organizations need to provide their talented young women with strategies for developing these relationships early on, as well as help them understand the differences between mentors and sponsors, their varying roles and how to engage each. Next, ensure more women have positions with P&L responsibility. As Rebecca Ray and Beatrice Grech-​Cumbo point out in their article, “Tactics to

14 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Advance Women in the Leadership Pipeline,” “Once they [organizations] have identified potential future top talent, they can take steps to fast-track them, which can include exposing them to core business functions including operations and finance. These are two areas in which women are less likely than men to get organically exposed.”

The most important time to support a woman’s career development is in her 20s. Fifth, provide stretch assignments. The importance of this strategy is underlined in research conducted by both Catalyst and Korn Ferry. In each survey, high-achieving women indicated stretch assignments were their most valuable development experience. Unfortunately, since women are often judged by performance rather than potential, they are frequently overlooked for these opportunities, especially early on in their careers. Finally, connect young female talent with senior women business leaders. In the KPMG study, 67 percent of respondents indicated they had learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women. Eighty-two percent believe access to and networking with female leaders will help advance their careers. Additionally, numerous surveys have shown that women are more likely to stay in an organization when they can point to other women at the highest leadership levels. At my organization, I see firsthand the value of starting leadership development early. Looking at the graduates of our IMpower development experience for early-career women, a clear majority have displayed greater confidence and competence; developed into more agile leaders and innovative thinkers; and become less risk averse and better decision-makers. Almost 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, making the need to replenish the talent pipeline urgent and immediate. The best place to start is at the beginning — the beginning of talented women’s careers. CLO


Reining in Efficiency for the Greater Good A healthy pursuit has become an obsession • BY LEE MAXEY


avid Elkind writes in his book “The Hurried Child” that society is increasingly rushing children and students through life in the name of achievement and efficiency. Pushing oneself beyond what’s comfortable to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually is valuable. But we’re seeing signs of what happens when a healthy pursuit becomes an obsession. “I’ve inflicted more damage than I could’ve ever imagined,” said actress Felicity Huffman in early September as a judge prepared to sentence her to federal prison for paying $15,000 to have SAT scores corrected for her 19-year-old daughter. The conviction is the first of what will likely be more such decisions in the college admissions scandal. There’s no way to know for sure what motivated Huffman. But there’s an argument to be made that greed and impatience played a starring role. Perhaps with a warped sense of efficiency in mind, Huffman was too impatient to let her daughter find her own way. So she took the reins and bought the score she decided her daughter deserved, maybe thinking it would ultimately bring happiness. In our tap-an-app society, efficiency is creating more impatience and less happiness. According to a report published this summer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of suicide in the United States in 2017 was 33 percent higher than in 1999. The American College Health Association reported that from 2011 to 2016 there was a 12 percent rise in students stating they feel “overwhelming anxiety.” The American Psychological Foundation states the most common stress reported by young people is what they’ll do after high school or college. Efficiency isn’t bad, but it isn’t always good. Some people, schools and companies know how to balance efficiency and quality. They strive to serve others instead of self-interests. Businesses, however, are about making money. But there are successful businesses with a mission and vision that include quality, ethics and generosity. For example, the grocery store Wegmans is routinely named among America’s top five best companies to work for. Wegmans’ mission is: Every day you get our best. Wegmans still believes in efficiency. In fact, a Wegmans cashier is coached to scan a customer’s groceries at a designated “items per minute,” or IPM. But there is a team of people behind that cashier who genuinely want them to be happy on the job,

learn new skills and develop a relationship with the team. Imagine what that same cashier’s work-life would be if they were only rewarded for their IPMs. In the 1980s, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman wrote “In Search of Excellence,” wherein they chronicled the benefits of management by walking around, or up-close management. In their observations of companies, they learned spending even a minute or two with an employee face to face brought outsized returns. With that research in mind, isn’t it possible today to balance quality and efficiency? I personally have a sticky note on my monitor that reads “Five minutes a day.” This is to remind me to walk around our offices and listen to what’s going on in people’s lives for at least five minutes each day.

Lee Maxey is CEO of MindMax, a marketing and enrollment management services company.

In our tap-an-app society, efficiency is creating more impatience and less happiness. An employer could invest the time to develop a groundbreaking product or deliver extraordinary customer service while employing, say, the Toyota Production System. Instead of emailing a newly hired marketing specialist a chunk of attachments to use in learning about a new product, a sales manager could invite the specialist into the field for a few hours to see the product in action. Instead of diving into a lecture, a professor might start class by asking students what they thought of the previous class assignment; by risking some efficiency in slowing down class, a learning opportunity or quality discussion might happen. What are we giving up at home, in education and on the job because we’re slavishly seeking efficiency? Is an email really better than a five-minute, face-toface conversation with a student? What do we sacrifice as hiring managers or admissions officers if we rely on AI to winnow down a pool of candidates or applicants? What damage are we doing as parents by running our children’s lives because there isn’t time for them to learn to do it themselves? CLO Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 15


How Will Content Discovery Evolve? The challenge of guiding learning • BY JOSH BERSIN


Josh Bersin is an industry analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte.

t’s more important than ever to think about how employees will find the content they need. This is how the learning experience platform market came to be. I want to give you a sense of how complex this challenge has become. Google has thousands of engineers optimizing search. LXP companies, which may have 10 engineers at most working on this, have to make some choices. Let’s examine our options for guiding learning. By far the simplest and most useful way to help employees find what they need is to provide them with a learning path. The focus on self-directed learning has gone too far — most of us simply do not know what we need to know. I also believe the LXP market has gotten way ahead of itself. We now have companies building “flea markets” of learning content, making it harder than ever for employees to decide what to learn. But if you take the time to study the domain, you can build or buy a curriculum, learning path or certification program that gets people to where they need to be. The second option is to guide learning according to skills. Some vendors are now tagging content according to skills categories. But there are pitfalls to this approach. For instance, searches on “Java coding” or “Excel” could turn up hundreds of resources. Degreed, LinkedIn, EdCast, Percipio and IBM have started to add skills-based discovery tools into their systems. They use other data to inform as well, such as length, media type and popularity. But with the exception of Volley, none attempt to see how deep or complex the content is, so learners have to guess by title how relevant the content will be. Pluralsight has its own learning portal and has built a skills assessment engine called Skill IQ to match content to an employee’s skill level. IBM, Workday and Gloat try to infer employee skill levels by analyzing job descriptions, emails and other data to recommend content. While this sounds great, it’s very new technology. The third option is to use Google’s idea of page ranking for learning recommendations. Vendors such as EdCast, SkillSoft, Cornerstone, LinkedIn and Fuse aggregate massive amounts of data to recommend learning based on content use. But this approach also has challenges. When a program is widely used, it also then becomes widely recommended and starts to “crowd out” other content that might have more value and credibility. When EdCast started working with NASSCOM,

16 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

its goal was to create faster and better machine learning recommendations. EdCast now does customized recommendations for each client, as do Degreed, Valamis and CrossKnowledge. Fuse lets teams segment themselves into communities so the system can recommend the most popular content within that group.

Don’t let your L&D department turn into the training flea market. The fourth approach to discovery is far more innovative and powerful. Volley, Valamis, IBM and Docebo all offer solutions that actually ingest instructional content (text, video, audio), identify and categorize the instruction contained within it, and then create microlearning and personalized recommendations. Volley’s system can crawl through cybersecurity documentation and “create” training, microlearning and assessments on security procedures for each institution. This approach has enormous potential as its knowledge engine identifies level of expertise and credibility of content through pedagogical analysis. Valamis can fast-forward to a video segment and show you precisely what to watch based on instructional needs. Over time, we expect more learning platforms to do this. But the technology is new and yet to be perfected. The fifth way to recommend content is through human support: Ask the learner. Degreed has worked with clients such as Bank of America to map specific job roles to learning recommendations. IBM’s YourLearning platform does this using IBM’s Watson Talent Frameworks. Filtered’s product Magpie asks employees questions when getting started to inform its engine about the individual. The final approach is to embed learning into mandatory practices at work. Consider programs like sexual harassment training or annual compliance programs. The LXP is not the solution to everything. Creating the right form of discovery is where you earn your pay. Make sure you are creating the right types of discovery for the best content you can find. Don’t let your L&D department turn into the training flea market. CLO


Black Boxes and Talent Development Design for success and measure it along the journey • BY JACK J. PHILLIPS AND PATTI P. PHILLIPS


Jack J. Phillips is the chairman and Patti P. Phillips is president and CEO of the ROI Institute.

irline travel is the safest transportation system in the world and being in an airplane is one of the safest places you can be. You are a hundred times more likely to be struck by lightning on a golf course than killed in an airplane crash. How did it get this way? It happened through the concept of black box thinking. Each airplane has two black boxes, one for systems recording and the other for voice recording. When a plane crashes, these boxes usually identify the cause of the crash. The analysis of data results in changes in design, procedures, processes or training. Black box analysis is required by regulations and standards and is enforced globally. Mathew Syed, in his book “Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes — But Some Do,” argues that black box thinking should permeate the health care industry. With dramatic examples, Syed describes the dire state of today’s health care situation, where errors in the system kill thousands of people every month. This book has prompted many discussions and inspired some action, but, due to resistance, little progress has been made in the health care industry.

It is not unusual to find multiple programs implemented for the wrong reasons. Scott Shackleford’s June 5 article in The Wall Street Journal, “We Need an NTSB for Cyberattacks,” suggested that black box thinking should also be brought into the cybersecurity industry. Shackleford asserts that when there is a cybersecurity breach, it must be investigated, and that investigation should lead to legal and regulatory changes, dramatically reducing the number of cyberattacks. Currently, when an attack occurs, the organization will investigate and adjust, but rarely do these events prompt industrywide changes. The innovation field has adopted a different ap18 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

proach with mistakes. Failures are celebrated and innovators are encouraged to make mistakes. While the intention is good — don’t let failure discourage innovation — some would argue the wrong message has been sent. Recent reports suggest that even venture capitalists think it is ill-advised to celebrate mistakes. A February Harvard Business Review article by G.P. Pisano, “The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures,” commented on the issue, suggesting that mistakes should not be celebrated. Instead, they should be tolerated, and we should learn from them. The key issue is learning from mistakes. Black box thinking is not a new concept. It’s process improvement and has been practiced for years. Unfortunately, people don’t focus on process improvement. When there is a mistake, it is usually ignored, hidden or diminished for various reasons. We have our own track record of mistakes in the talent development field. It is not unusual to find multiple programs implemented for the wrong reasons. Consequently, these programs fail to deliver value. It is not surprising that these programs are not always supported by the management team. That’s why it’s important to begin with the end in mind with very clear business measures. To select the right solution, and to achieve success with clear objectives, including impact objectives. To collect data to make sure a program is relevant to the individuals involved and adjust if it is not. To ensure that learning is applied and delivers an impact in the workplace. And if it doesn’t, to improve it. For too long, learning and talent development teams have been slow to change their habits. We need to design for success in the beginning and measure success along the journey to ensure it is delivered. Remember, we are evaluating the program and not the individuals. If it’s not working, there is something wrong with the program and not necessarily the participants. When this becomes routine, we are optimizing the return on investment in talent development and this makes a great case for more budget allocation. In short, black box thinking is needed throughout the learning and talent development cycle. CLO

Embrace Design Thinking to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion When we double down on the right problem, we will yield twice the result with half the effort.

20 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •



espite best intentions, our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts often fail. Let’s consider two questions: How can we challenge the thinking and assumptions in DEI from past decades to redefine our ways of working to effectively solve problems? And how can we approach our work as a design challenge in this fast-changing digital world? DEI executives and practitioners often want to challenge assumption and inspire innovation. The traditional DEI approach of “best practices” is tactical because of its reactive mode and because it is compliance-driven with marginal thinking. That is why we witness stagnant results and limited value creation in the workforce. Thinking like a designer can help us transform and advance DEI efforts by being more strategic and human-centric. With its signature traits of establishing systemic and growth mindsets, being problem-oriented, and seeking out-of-box solutions and innovative breakthroughs, design thinking can offer us an effective tool to grapple with speedy change and complex problems and can propel our workforce to outperform the competition in the future. Stanford University maps out the design thinking process as shown in the figure on page 22. Let’s follow this road map and examine how design thinking principles can assist us to holistically solve more complex and intertwined DEI challenges today.

1. Research and Analyze to Understand Current DEI State (Empathize) A good design of DEI solution occurs through continuous focus on, and attention to, the people who matter. Because of its human-centric nature, design thinking helps us achieve DEI solutions centered around removing barriers for employees to achieve their career aspirations with fair, equal and inclusive policy, practice and opportunity, and co-creating and co-owning DEI efforts with the internal stakeholders, rather than the traditional top-down and prescriptive approach. Design thinking starts with empathy. The core of DEI work is people. To create value through DEI effort, we must have an in-depth understanding of the needs and feelings of our people. We need to immerse ourselves in their experiences, build rapport, empathize with them and view the world through their eyes, including their pain points, perceptions and feelings about an inclusive environment, learning and growth opportunities, team citizenship and career aspirations. We must maintain continuous feedback loops to have a timely pulse, chart the progress and course correct when needed.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 21

Define: Personas, Role objectives, Decisions, Challeng Ideate: Share ideas, All ideas worthy, Diverge/converge Prototype: Mockups, Storyboards, Keep it simple, Fail Test: Understand impediments, What works?, Role play

STANFORD D.SCHOOL DESIGN THINKING PROCESS Empathize: • Interviews • Shadowing • Seek to understand • Nonjudgmental

Define: • Personas • Role objectives • Decisions • Challenges • Pain points

Ideate: • Share ideas • All ideas worthy • Diverge/converge • “Yes and” thinking • Prioritize



Prototype: • Mockups • Storyboards • Keep it simple • Fail fast • Iterate quickly

Test: • Understand impediments • What works? • Role play • Iterate quickly




page margin to page margin Source:

In-depth metrics like descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analyses help us validate insights collected from our associates and shed light on what barriers to remove in their career life cycles. These analytics also help determine how to cultivate the health of our workforce and what is missing along our journey. The result of the effort refuels our strategy, process and program with innovative solutions. Case in point: The traditional approach of designing a DEI strategy is more pivoting on getting the numbers right and introducing “best practiced” programs, rather than unveiling the core issues and leaning on a few game changers that help solve the question, “What if we removed the roadblocks in our diverse talent’s career life cycle?” This shift in perspective resulted in the relevant achievable goals that would eventually delight our associates and optimize their career journey. Design thinking requires effective leadership to keep efforts on a path to long-term success. When Ben Hasan took on the chief culture, diversity and inclusion, or CDI, officer role at Walmart, he charged the team to deeply dive into quantitative and qualitative analytics from a variety of channels such as listening sessions, interviews, associate resource group meetings and data mining. This beginner’s mindset puts the old assumptions aside. It just engages, listens and asks questions to uncover associate-centered issues and current DEI challenges. Putting ourselves in others’ shoes is hard but lifting the veil of ignorance helps us make fairer and more inclusive decisions. This empathetic effort reshaped Walmart’s DEI strategy and road map and transformed our energy from compliance-based diversity to inclusion 22 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

(everyone included, including white men), from CDIled practices to co-owned and co-created with business partners, and from good-faith efforts to integrating DEI into the talent life cycle. One guiding principle of the new strategy is transparency and data-driven decision-making. By granting business leaders the access to DEI data, coupled with the associate feedback, we enabled and empowered them to become smart with data and make timely decisions to course correct, not depending solely on process changes. In the past, business leaders were not exposed to DEI data; they were “unconsciously incompetent.” By sharing the data and utilizing it as a mirror, the data reflected where they were and what was missing. Suddenly, they knew what they didn’t know and became “consciously incompetent.” After learning from those insights and developing an action plan, they became “consciously competent.” And finally, after practicing it so many times, they ceased looking at it consciously, becoming “unconsciously competent.”

2. State and Define Key Roadblocks That Hinder Sustainable Progress (Define) The lessons we can learn from the second phase of design thinking, Define, include: • Ask the right questions and spot the right issues. • Tackle the game changer. • Motivate others with head, heart and hand. Research indicates that organizations waste time and energy solving the wrong problems. We must equip ourselves with the ability to ask the right questions, select the right indicators, spot the right patterns and

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come up with the right solution. When we double down on the right problem, we will yield twice the result with half the effort. The insights and knowledge derived from the Empathize phase help properly reframe the perceived problem and gain perspectives, which allows a more holistic look at the path toward the expected solution. While defining the problem, we must put our associates at the heart of the problem-solving process. This effort allows us to create the most authentic and emotionally resonating solutions. Case in point: After analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms, Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology at Harvard University, reported that some of the most effective diversity solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind. Instead, they nurture a trust-based environment where different groups of people are engaged to share experiences and ideas. After defining the barriers that hinder the efforts in fostering a trust-based, inclusive culture, we committed to breaking down barriers in a holistic approach and motivating our associates to actively participate in the efforts. We asked ourselves, “What if our associates feel free to be themselves in the workplace?” We started by offering various immersive experiences that enrich learning and touch people’s hearts. Our design intent is for our associates to internalize the immersive and emotional learning, disclose mental knots, and then become a supporter, champion and leader in cultivating an inclusive culture. Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO, has led by example. Last year, during the busiest holiday season, he led a two-day tour with his direct reports and senior executives in Montgomery, Alabama, visiting historic civil rights sites to learn about racial challenges in the U.S. in the past and today. Earlier this year, McMillon invited our associates at the home office to watch the film “The Hate You Give,” and then leveraged the town hall and team meetings to carry on open dialogues on racial equity. Along with other interactive workshops, gamifications, and resources like the Men Advocating Real Change leaders’ workshop, racial equity training, The American Dream game and the #YourStoryIsOurStory video library, we embrace honest conversations among our associates as a gateway to an inclusive workplace where our associates feel safe and welcome to exchange their unique experiences and perspectives.

3. Intentionally Invite Different Perspectives to Spot the Root of Issues and Options to Tackle (Ideate) Conventional DEI practices tend to react to standalone issues and more focus is placed on the numbers game. 24 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Design thinking advises to adopt a strategic lens, perceive the separate symptoms in a connected web, reveal the root cause of the problem, and intentionally invite and seek out different perspectives to tap the collective wisdom. During this phase, we can first employ divergent styles of thinking to uncover more possibilities, defer judgment and create an open ideations space to allow for the maximum number of ideas to surface. We then apply convergent styles of thinking to maintain an overall direction and purpose by isolating potential solution streams, combining and refining insights, and more mature ideas, which pave a path forward. Case in point: While designing our Inclusion Education Curriculum, we harnessed lessons from failures of traditional DEI training, trying to figure out: “What if we reframed the failure into an opportunity?”

Design thinking encourages a forward look, playing chess rather than checkers. After soliciting feedback and collaborating with our internal partners, we devised the curriculum that helps our associates to bridge gaps in mindset, knowledge and behavior. Instead of taking a top-down mandatory approach, we provided a set of core inclusion training programs, along with a list of elective workshops and courses, so our associates can choose the ones that tailor to their individual developmental needs and enhance their learning agility. Walmart’s CDI Toolbox offers our team leads and managers subject-specific learning materials and sound-bite messaging points for them to carry on the DEI conversations at their regular business meetings. We also explored new technology and innovative approaches to improve the quality of learning. Virtual reality modules and gamification techniques make learning fun and engaging while helping our associates retain and apply new knowledge and skills. The simulation-based and interactive modules provoke rich discussions about the real-life experiences our diverse talent come across and teach how to become an inclusive leader with desired behaviors. DEI continued on page 60


Human-Centered Design for a Brave New Workforce As a younger generation takes the reins of business leadership, can design thinking help ease the growing pains?

Last year, Tom Merrill, a Master Facilitator at ExperiencePoint (a leading innovation training company), began working with a new client. The small American logistics firm was struggling with a major transition inside their executive team; the baby boomers who had founded the company thirty-odd years ago were suddenly retiring en masse. A new generation was stepping in to replace them, but this younger crop of leaders had come of age in a vastly different world and had wildly divergent ideas about company priorities and culture.

When you have siloed structures in place, some of which have been in place for decades, they won’t reflect the values of your new employees. Merrill knew that the challenges the firm faced epitomized what was happening in the workforce at large. “In a matter of a decade or two, you are totally replacing a workforce. Boomer expectations are supplanted by—you name it—Gen X, Gen Y,

Gen Z and everything that’s important to them respectively. When you have siloed structures in place, some of which have been in place for decades, they won’t reflect the values of your new employees,” he explains. The logistics firm enrolled in one of ExperiencePoint’s ExperienceInnovation™ workshops, which teaches creative problem-solving and innovation through human-centered design (HCD). The first crucial step of the HCD process is to figure out what exactly your problem is. That problem may seem self-evident, but Merrill argues that zeroing in on the real issue can mean letting go of a host of longstanding assumptions. Articulating the most essential challenge demands that employees take an unflinching look at the organization and their roles within it. For the logistics company, it led to a rethinking of their very identity. “What ended up happening was a conversation about ‘what kind of company are we?’” Merrill explains. “Do we want our employees to focus on trucks getting from A to B? Or do we want our employees to focus on helping customers have better control over their data?”

Not only did these questions reimagine the direction of the company, but they also created new priorities for recruitment. “By reframing the work around the benefit to the customer and the benefit to the employee, this company went, ‘oh, maybe we need to think less about logistics and hire some serious data people,’” Merrill says.


HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN BUILDS EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION These sorts of unforeseeable epiphanies are one of the reasons Merrill believes that HCD is uniquely suited to tackling employee problems. With the massive generational shift afoot in the workforce, Merrill is convinced that the method is doubly vital. “Every time an employee leaves — that’s a thirty-thousand-dollar hole to fill,” he points out, outlining the various costs of a typical hiring process, from advertising to recruitment to interviewing to finalizing the contract. So when a company has to replace numerous employees simultaneously, ensuring that they retain these new hires is essential. But how can you ensure that? Merrill thinks this is also a perfect problem for HCD. “The question to ask is: How might we help employees find meaningful work at this company so that they don’t want to work elsewhere?” he says. When humancentered approaches become a part of workplace culture, he believes employees feel empowered and lose a grass-isalways-greener perspective. He has defined three employee needs that are critical to retention:

Autonomy Gives employees a degree of self-direction to direct their own work in a way that is rewarding. Mastery Rewards and empowers employees to get better at their work through ongoing learning. Purpose Connects the work of the employees to the work of the company. If these qualities form the backbone of employee engagement, recruitment be-comes easier, too. A company that offers the most compelling workplace culture might gain a competitive advantage when it comes to securing the best candidates, even when they aren’t offering the highest salary or best benefits package. “For me, the winning feature of HCD is the human element,” Merrill says. “If you’re designing anything to do with employees— be it a plan to help them engage with customers or any internal policy— human-centered design is the way to go because it focuses on the person. It focuses on what the benefit to that person is rather than looking at whatever traditional structures are in place.”

ExperiencePoint is the world’s leading innovation training company and the exclusive learning and development partner of IDEO, the preeminent global design consultancy. Our live, digitally-driven workshops offer one-of-a-kind simulations in human-centered thinking, immersing companies in an approach that puts people, and their needs, at the heart of everything they do. We’ve spent the past 25 years helping organizations rethink conventions and blaze paths for record growth.


Giving employees a new lease on LiFE

Case study: FedEx Express and the University of Memphis Global created a successful business-academic partnership designed to reduce attrition and drive growth By: Tim Harnett With low unemployment and flat university enrollment rates, both businesses and academic institutions need new tactics to boost attendance and drive recruiting and retention efforts. This environment is driving the need to new business-academic partnerships to give employees the skills they need to thrive in the workplace. One such partnership is the one between FedEx Express and the University of Memphis Global. The two organizations recently teamed up to create several academic programs that would boost retention rates at the Memphis Hub of FedEx Express and increase enrollment numbers for the University of Memphis. Along the way, both organizations disrupted the traditional models of adult education and tuition assistance. Retention

FedEx Express faced a retention challenge with its employees at its Memphis Hub location. Work at the Hub can be grueling, with overnight hours and harsh outside working conditions—all of which was affecting turnover. It cost $3,500 to replace each employee who voluntarily left the Hub, which affected the bottom line. The higher the turnover, the more money was spent on worker replacement and onboarding costs. To address the retention issue, FedEx Express explored a novel approach: overhauling their tuition assistance program. While there is a positive correlation between earning a college degree and making more money, FedEx Express’ legacy program wasn’t pulling in the numbers. Robbin Page, vice president of human resources for FedEx Express, wanted

to increase the number of employees taking advantage of getting a college degree, with an eye on leveraging a college education as one way to reduce attrition. But she needed a new solution to increase the numbers. Forming the partnership

FedEx Express found the perfect academic partner in their own back yard in the University of Memphis Global. Dr. Richard Irwin, executive dean for the University of Memphis Global, saw the partnership as a win for both parties. “Our president identified UofM Global as the way to grow the university with nontraditional students. I see business partnerships as a major component of achieving that outcome,” Dr. Irwin said. Creating a LiFE

FedEx Express knew what it wanted: reduced attrition among its Memphis Hub workforce. Page outlined the following requirements for her new program:


“Our goal was to remove the barriers to a secondary education, and money is one of the largest barriers,” Page said. FedEx Express flipped the tuition model that was in place at its legacy program—moving from reimbursement to direct billing. Although the requirements were daunting, Dr. Irwin’s team at the University of Memphis rose


to the challenge. In less than six months, UofM Global designed LiFE (Learning Inspired by FedEx)—a custom degree initiative designed with the needs of FedEx Express’ workers in mind. LiFE has two major components: the college track and the Prep Academy. Depending on an employee’s education level: (from some high school to advanced college standing), LiFE has several entry points. Internal UofM Global data revealed that 70% of its students access content from their mobile devices, so it was essential for LiFE content to be responsive and mobile forward. FedEx Express agreed. Having the content accessible on mobile was crucial to keeping employees invested in (and moving through) the program. Since its first iteration in August 2018, LiFE has far exceeded FedEx Express’ expectations. In its first year, LiFE quickly blew past initial enrollment projections and expanded to other

cities and FedEx Hubs beyond Memphis. One of LiFE’s biggest successes is its ability to give FedEx Express workers closure on their education. For example, a long-term employee dropped out of college 25 years ago with 100 earned credit hours. Thanks to LiFE, the employee was able to apply those credit hours toward a fee-free degree and graduate in 2019. By working together, FedEx Express and UofM Global adapted their approaches to education. These changes addressed barriers to education employees might face. The partnership outcomes have been positive for both organizations. LiFE has exceeded FedEx Express’ expectations over the past year, with reduced attrition and a boost to recruitment. Program enrollment has also contributed to increased growth for UofM Global. To read the full case study, visit https://www.d2l. com/resources/assets/giving-employees-a-newlease-on-life/.

D2L is the software leader that makes the learning experience better. The company’s cloud-based platform is easier to use, more flexible, and smart. By using D2L, organizations can personalize the learning experience to deliver real results. The company is a world leader in content creation and curation and enables employers to act in real-time to keep workers on track. D2L is used by learners in higher education, K-12, and the enterprise sector, including the Fortune 1000. D2L has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore.

• Learning In Practice Awards •



Learning In Practice


30 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

• Learning In Practice Awards •


charismatic and passionate leader with fearless vision makes this L&D initiative an example of cultural and change management ‘guts.’ ” “The outcomes prove that the design, deployment and leadership were spot on.” “This sounds like an amazing undertaking.” These were just a few of the comments received from judges of Chief Learning Officer’s 2019 Learning In Practice Awards. This year marked the 17th anniversary of the awards program, honoring learning industry leaders who have demonstrated excellence in the design and delivery of employee development programs through a combination of qualities such as leadership, vision, business acumen and strategic alignment. Judges selected the winners from almost 150 submitted nominations. The winners were honored at a reception during the 2019 CLO Fall Symposium in Chicago.

Practitioners received awards across eight categories in two divisions: Division 1 for companies with 10,000 employees or more and Division 2 for companies with fewer than 10,000 employees. Categories included Business Impact, Innovation and Talent Management, to name a few, as well as the industry’s top honor, CLO of the Year. Learning providers and vendor companies were also recognized for their excellence in eight categories, including Academic Partnerships, E-Learning, Technology Innovation and more. This year’s winners included executives from across the United States, as well as international finalists from Canada, Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Congratulations to this year’s winners for the pursuit and achievement of excellence in the design and delivery of learning! Nominations for the 2020 Learning In Practice Awards will open in April.



CLO of the Year: For the learning executive who is without peer in developing and executing learning and development strategies, marshaling and managing resources, and achieving measurable success. The CLO of the Year award recognizes executives for their body of work over the course of their career.

Excellence in Academic Partnerships: Recognizes accredited academic learning institutions that have partnered with an organization in the past year to develop skills, competency or knowledge in a general employee population.

Business Impact: For learning executives who have implemented a significant measurement or evaluation program that has demonstrated exceptional business impact from their workforce development programs. Potential results may include measures of employee retention, sales, revenue growth, customer satisfaction or cost reduction, among others.

Excellence in Blended Learning: Recognizes vendors that have deployed a variety of tools in support of a client’s learning program that delivers engaging learning combining multiple modalities.

Business Partnership: For learning departments that have partnered in a progressive way with business partners or external organizational divisions and functions such as the sales and marketing department or external customer groups to develop and deliver a targeted employee development program that supports the partner’s goals. Innovation: For learning executives who have marshaled resources and applied innovative practices, processes and/or technologies in a new and groundbreaking way to address a significant business or organizational opportunity. Strategy: For learning executives who have demonstrated exceptional business acumen combined with forward-looking vision to develop and execute a comprehensive learning strategy that clearly aligns employee development with broader organizational strategy.


Talent Management: For learning executives who have developed a program that effectively integrates learning into broader talent management initiatives such as employee engagement, onboarding, succession planning, recruiting or performance management. Technology: For learning executives who have delivered new and unique applications of emerging technology to employee learning and development. Trailblazer: For learning executives who have either launched a new enterprise learning function or completely overhauled existing workforce development initiatives in the past year.

Excellence in Community Service: Recognizes vendors that have provided significant investment of company resources and time in support of a community service project or initiative. Excellence in Content: Recognizes vendors that have created superior customized and/or offthe-shelf learning content. Excellence in E-Learning: Recognizes vendors that have rolled out an innovative and effective e-learning program or suite for a client. Excellence in Executive Education: Recognizes executive education providers that have delivered a targeted executive education program for a client that has delivered measurable results. Excellence in Technology Innovation: Recognizes vendors that have rolled out an innovative learning technology for a client such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, apps, video, social collaboration tools or games and simulations. Excellence in Partnerships: Recognizes vendors or consultants that have effectively supported a client’s learning and development function to set strategy or establish or implement a program via consulting or whole or partial outsources services. Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 31

• Learning In Practice Awards •

Jim Woolsey Is the 2019 CLO of the Year BY ELIZ ABETH LOUTFI

Throughout his career, Jim Woolsey has focused on progress. As president of DAU, he’s continuing this tradition.


im Woolsey started planning for the future of Defense Acquisition University when he became the organization’s president in January 2014, and he hasn’t stopped planning since. In fact, before leaving his office the day before hopping on a plane to attend Chief Learning Officer’s 2019 Fall Symposium in Chicago, where he would receive this year’s 2019 CLO of the Year award, he sent a note to his team about setting up the next step in evolution they will head at DAU. As president of DAU, Woolsey oversees all acquisition education activities and programs, including online and instructor-led training, knowledge sharing, job support tools, consulting engagement, customized workshops, research and the university’s strategic partnerships across five geographical regions, which support and serve a defense acquisition workforce of more than 173,000 military and federal civilian employees. Over the course of nearly six years, Woolsey has been at the helm of several sweeping changes and has helped launch various new initiatives that have transformed the institution’s learning and development.

32 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

The Right Man for the Job Even before joining DAU, Woolsey already knew the defense acquisition business inside and out, thanks to positions he held previously. But his path was not entirely unusual for a CLO. “When I read about other CLOs, coming from business is not entirely out of the realm, but my background is very analytical,” he said. “I have worked in defense acquisition, so I do understand the business. And I’ve changed jobs quite a few times, and being able to change is a handy habit right now for people and organizations because we all have to be quick on our feet.” Woolsey started his career as a structures engineer for the Navy, his first introduction to defense acquisition. At the time, the thought of working in L&D wasn’t even on his radar. He joined because he was fascinated by airplanes, which he had the opportunity to build — a very satisfying experience, he said. He eventually moved over to the analysis and research side, serving as assistant director of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank, where he oversaw cost analysis and research and served on a defense science board task force. Woolsey then worked for the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics and served as the first deputy director for performance assessment for the office of Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analyses at the U.S. Department of Defense.

• Learning In Practice Awards •


A Quickening of Pace Fast forward to 2014. In his first year as president of DAU, Woolsey oversaw the expansion of its College of Contract Management, in partnership with the Defense Contract Management Agency. Under Woolsey, DAU grew its curriculum from seven courses to 42, resulting in $3.8 million saved in vendor and student/instructor travel costs, 43,000 hours of student/instructor time saved and further support to the Army from the DCMA. Woolsey also helped launch the Services Acquisition Workshop Program that same year, a success for DAU’s overall business performance. These efforts earned him a 2016 Learning In Practice Trailblazer Award and Innovation Award. That same year, Woolsey was awarded the Business Partnership award for developing a learning program for executive training in partnership with the Missile Defense Agency. Woolsey also led DAU in a redesign of leadership courses for the Defense Systems Management College, adopted the use of a new learning management system universitywide and personally envisioned, designed and implemented a new learning model, the Acquisition Learning Model, for the defense acquisition workforce.

“We’re in a dynamic world as everyone knows; it’s a dynamic world for learning as it is for defense.” — Jim Woolsey, president, DAU Right now, defense acquisition is in a crucial time of evolution — a response to a competitive and complex global security environment, as noted by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. For defense acquisition, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord knew this new national defense mindset meant an emphasis on speed and taking more risks, as well as working with a lot of different kinds of people they’ve never worked with before, Woolsey said. “She’s the steward of the acquisition system and has to make it work in the way that the nation and the warfighter need it to work,” he said. Through DAU, he added, Woolsey acts as

Jim Woolsey

Lord’s partner and ambassador for her knowledge and her message to the people who make up the defense acquisition workforce. “We’re in a dynamic world as everyone knows; it’s a dynamic world for learning as it is for defense,” Woolsey said. This year, in addition to being named CLO of the Year, Woolsey also received a silver medal in the Trailblazer category of Chief Learning Officer’s Learning In Practice Awards for his involvement overseeing the Acquisition Leadership Development Initiative, which was based off stakeholder input. “Where [this initiative] really fits in the bigger picture is that at DAU, we’ve made a strategic choice to focus on our customers rather than focusing on technology or efficiency,” Woolsey said. “We’re focused on the people who are doing the learning.”

Always Moving Forward Woolsey said he’s gotten to do all the things he’s wanted to do, and he considers himself lucky to have his current job. He enjoys the successes they have as a team, and when that 20 minutes is up, he said, he’s excited for the next challenge. Right now he’s focused on innovative progress. “We are constantly changing and striving to improve because the workforce that we serve and ultimately the warfighter that we serve have to have that,” he said. CLO Elizabeth Loutfi is Chief Learning Officer’s associate editor.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 33

• Learning In Practice Awards •




BUSINESS IMPACT DIV. 1 KRISTIN CASSINO ► Manager, Learning Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance Global Risk Solutions Many companies are content with finding a positive correlation between learning delivery and business impact, but Liberty Mutual found a way to separate itself from the pack. The learning services team, managed by Kristin Cassino, set out to create an entire methodology to track the relationship between training and outcomes, with hard data to back it up.

Learning Services not only developed an infrastructure able to support the amount of data collected from sources across the company, they also created a measurement and evaluation philosophy. Aligning their own distinct business values with practical data collection tactics proved worthwhile when presenting their findings to business partners. With a new methodology to track effective changes in training and streamlined values across departments, Liberty Mutual can try out and assess new training techniques with relative ease. — Kerry Snider




Mark Boccia

34 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Kristin Cassino



Director of L&D, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Global L&D Manager, College of Business & Commercial Excellence, Cargill

Faced with a swelling number of new hires and the need to upskill promoted current employees, Royal Caribbean departed from their rigid training model of over-the-shoulder, on-the-job training, which had proved an ineffective use of time for both crew members and managers. Mark Boccia oversaw the shift to EMBARK, Royal Caribbean’s latest learning initiative. EMBARK increases job skills proficiency for multiple job roles onboard Royal Caribbean ships by offering short, interactive digital learning modules. Hundreds of modules have been created for different departments, including Food and Beverage, Housekeeping, Lifeguard and Guest Services. The platform offers a clean, mobile-responsive user interface, videos, interactive content, quizzes and practicals.

From their traditional classroom training program in 2012, which had “too much information in too little time” and made learners feel as though they were “drinking from a firehose,” Cargill shifted gears to digital learning. Under Angie Ballinger’s leadership, cost-per-person for the new training dropped by an estimated $4,900, and development for the online program took eight weeks compared with the classroom’s eight-month gestation period.

Consistent from ship to ship, crew members across departments were able to implement EMBARK, access it from any device they wished, both on land and at sea, and provide any feedback they had along the way.

The curriculum’s medium isn’t the only component Cargill tweaked to enhance learning results. Measuring impact through a sales excellence map and rearranging metrics used to gauge outcomes meant both learners and managers could track progress easily and accurately.

— Kerry Snider

— Kerry Snider


The discontent with differing measurements and communication between business partners and the learning services department inspired the need to design a new blueprint to scale how effective learning can affect business revenue. Time savings, cost savings, customer experience, retention, efficiency gained and change in quality assurance scores are all factors now being considered in new programs’ evaluations.

• Learning In Practice Awards •

BUSINESS IMPACT DIV. 2 VICTORIA SPEARS ► Talent Development Manager, West Monroe Partners




Addressing the gap between what businesses expect from consultants and what consultants can provide, the talent development team at West Monroe Partners investigated what shifts in culture and curriculum needed to happen and developed the Value Creation workshop. Managed by Victoria Spears, the Value Creation workshop aligns focus on why consultants are hired for projects, not the different types of projects or skills they possess. By implementing this different mindset, learners at West Monroe Partners are able to track and communicate value to clients at every stage of the project, while assessing client’s needs throughout. The Value Creation workshop was offered 11 times between 2017 and 2018, garnering 54 percent of the target population’s completion. The learners who completed the workshop had the opportunity to submit a case study revealing the effectiveness of the skills and values taught. The top three case studies were presented at West Monroe Partners’ directors retreat, demonstrating the companywide shift in mindset. With 76 percent of workshop participants saying they’d recommend the workshop, value creation has become a fundamental company value. As a result, West Monroe Partners has seen 67 percent growth in revenue since starting the workshop. — Kerry Snider

Victoria Spears, left, and Jennifer MacEachern.

KAMILAH TOWNSEND Learning & Development Manager, Ally To improve revenue returns, Ally tried out a manager-specific training. Borrowing metrics from their department of subject matter experts, learning and development was able to find the best ways to measure impact and the specific traits team leaders would need to expect improvement in returns. Led by Kamilah Townsend, Ally’s learning and development team designed an engaging and results-driven program that focused on participants demonstrating their ability to lead. Those learners rated the new learning program 4.5 out of 5 and showed significant improvement across the measured variables, amounting to an overall higher ROI for training and development costs. — Kerry Snider

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• Learning In Practice Awards •




BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP DIV. 1 WARNERMEDIA ► Transitioning from a regional service delivery model to a global business services model is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why WarnerMedia’s Account Business Services partnered with their People Development team to implement the six-pronged One World, One Team strategy. With interconnected subprojects spanning 12 countries, One World, One Team aimed to expand onboarding new business, while building on their learning program. Three-hundred-seventy-five employees in four global regions participated in the new-hire orientation, manager and mentor development and leadership programs. While the final goal for One World, One Team is a cohesive strategy aligning core values across departments, assessment of individual sections was key for overall achievement. By looking into the strengths and weaknesses of each team, be it energy management or change agility, starting each program from scratch was found to be unnecessary. Addressing individual teams with their own workshops also proved to be an efficient way to solve problems with collaboration. One World, One Team worked so well for Account Business Services and People Development that Finance and Accounting has decided to adopt the strategy as a model for future onboarding.

Lindsey Fenton for WarnerMedia.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, OFFICE OF TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT Amid the opioid epidemic, there’s greater pressure on U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to detect and seize illegal drugs. Previously, there was no process for detecting fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, for both officers and canines. Fentanyl was a particularly difficult substance to train officers and canines to detect because there was no safe placebo and nationwide law enforcement agencies were still looking for safe ways to handle the substance. To help combat the nationwide crisis, the Office of Training and Development produced a fentanyl-training program for CBP, U.S. law enforcement agencies and international partners through resident-based canine training and an award-winning safety video. This new training program has resulted in 1,214 pounds of fentanyl seized with a street value of $204 million. — Kerry Snider

AT&T ▼

— Kerry Snider





With continuous learning and reskilling a top priority, AT&T launched its Future Ready initiative back in 2008. During one of their most transformative evolutions yet, moving from cables and hardware to the cloud, AT&T needs a workforce equipped for the next age of technology. They are currently working to virtualize 75 percent of their network by 2020. AT&T employees have access to AT&T University, which delivers its flagship training program, and the company invests $200 million a year in internal training programs providing about 16 million hours of training a year. They’ve also worked with external partners to create additional opportunities leading to degrees or certifications in specialized fields. AT&T also implemented an online tool where learners can track their progress and plan their own reskilling called the Personal Learning Experience, which had 7 million logins in 2018.

Jeremy Sieffert, left, and Jason Oliver for AT&T. 36 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

— Kerry Snider



LD • Learning In Practice Awards •

BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP DIV. 2 SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP Reaching far and wide for input and collaboration, Sidley Austin created the Sidley Trial Academy for further courtroom training and teambuilding for their lawyers. Researchers asked litigation experts across the country which skills were the most beneficial in the courtroom to implement in the workshop. Four key objectives were developed for the Trial Academy. These included competency-building around trial skills in the context of complex litigations; real-world teamwork and problem-solving; candid performance evaluations and individualized coaching to address skill gaps in real time; and enhanced collaboration among trial lawyers around the firm. The Sidley Trial Academy ultimately became a three-day, in-person workshop where seasoned lawyers serve as coaches for newer team members. Heather Esposito for Herman Miller.

HERMAN MILLER ▲ Sales readiness and sales leadership teamed up to implement Conversational Coaching for Sales Leaders, a strategy designed to teach leaders to demonstrate problem-solving to their team members rather than solve the problems for them. When the teams met to discuss the best way to implement learning initiatives, coaching became their key to success. Aligning themselves with human resources, they found an excess amount of time was being used by sales leaders to effectively develop and lead their teams. They also found the majority of sales leaders were more focused on solving present problems, without thinking about future horizons or improvements.

Participants received masterclass sessions, leading up to a two-day mock trial to test out skills taught in the sessions. All but one of the Sidley Austin Trial Academy participants met up later at the firm’s annual partner meeting to compare their experience in the courtroom after their training. — Kerry Snider

PROCORE TECHNOLOGIES To bridge the knowledge gap for new general contractors, Procore created ConEd, a construction education program that teaches learners how construction works and how their company helps.

One of Herman Miller’s area vice presidents attributes 75 percent of their revenue growth to the Conversational Coaching for Sales Leaders initiative, seeing a gain of $66 million in revenue after the workshop’s implementation.

ConEd started initially as a 14-hour course for account management and support teams so they would have a basis of understanding in construction to better serve clients. The workshop was picked up by a number of departments, from engineering to sales. This signaled a shift in Procore’s approach to construction education — from a department-specific training to a companywide initiaitve, ConEd in June 2017, was integrated into a new 40-hour orientation followed by a 14-hour construction bootcamp. More than 1,000 employees have now completed the program, nearly 70 percent of Procore’s workforce.

— Kerry Snider

— Kerry Snider

The Conversation Coaching for Sales Leaders consists of a three-day, in-person workshop, followed by ongoing opportunities for practice online with the company’s learning community. Instead of forced attendance for the workshop, participants of previous workshops were encouraged to promote to their peers, resulting in 100 percent of sales leaders completing the course.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 37

• Learning In Practice Awards •




INNOVATION DIV. 1 ERIC FUSILERO VP, Global Enablement and Education, NetApp Over the past several years, NetApp had to extend its platform to support customers as they transition to the cloud. Faced with the increasing depth of NetApp solutions, rapidly changing technologies and the emergence of a new type of learner, NetApp needed a fresh approach to learning in order to remain relevant and effective. In 2018, Eric Fusilero challenged his leadership team to take a fresh look at the organization, the longer-term vision, how the team operated, what success would look like for NetApp University — and the strategy and action plan to get there. With input and support from his team, Fusilero crafted a strategic plan that required structural and operational changes. The plan crystalized around key learning goals to be developed and delivered over a 3-year period: democratized learning; learning anytime, anywhere; and modernized learning.

John Kusi-Mensah



AVP, Global Distribution Academy, MetLife

Manager, Alternative Learning Technologies and Programs, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

During a time of company transformation, MetLife needed a more efficient and cost-effective approach for delivering learning that addressed increasing distribution advantage, providing accurate solutions for the right customers, driving operational excellence and transforming the enterprise through digital.

The strategy that Fusilero created and the resulting learning initiatives generated a vision for NetApp University that enabled the organization to step into the future and drive the transformation of NetApp.

The Distribution Academy, constructed by John Kusi-Mensah, created a competitive advantage for MetLife through scalable learning performance solutions that enable distribution and talent development and deliver sales excellence. These goals are achieved through the program by providing a customized learning experience and sales curriculum, curation of external and internal content, one-on-one skills coaching and a device-agnostic learning experience. This program is now considered a crucial strategic enabler by MetLife and is being used as a tool to hire and retain sales talent.

— Yasmeen Qahwash

— Yasmeen Qahwash

Fusilero created three goal teams, each championed by one of his direct leadership team staff. Teams organized themselves around specific goals, formed a vision for each goal, and created long-term and short-term plans for deliverables, execution and milestones. Fueled by input and excitement across the broader organization, the goals came to life.

38 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

After facing a multitude of challenges with training delivery and refresher content, as well as poor user learning experiences on mobile platforms, Moore recognized the need for a companywide shared service that provided alternative learning technologies and programs (ALT + P) across Gulfstream’s platform. Due to the lack of tech-enabled and self-guided training delivery methods, Moore established an ALT + P team to create sustainable content delivery. The team was responsible for meeting user expectations with training delivery methods that had a natural feel to the user learning experience. The mobile-first design thinking focused on delivering maximum functionality within the restrictions of mobile-browser content delivery that also functioned properly on less restrictive desktop browser platforms. After extensive testing with targeted user profiles across upcoming generations to enter the workforce, there was consistent improvement. Now, the previously unsupported demand for sustainment and refresher training is fulfilled across the enterprise for the first time. — Yasmeen Qahwash

• Learning In Practice Awards •



Executive Director, Organizational Development and Learning, Boston University

Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Children’s National Health System

With Boston University’s several campus locations and diverse grouping of operational organizations came difficulties in providing opportunities for staff development. The university lacked relevant and engaging development opportunities for staff populations with diverse needs. The Organizational Development and Learning team, led by Ann Marie Sidman, wanted to expand the reach of its programming by delivering new learning opportunities in ways that would impact more learners while also aligning with the university’s strategic plan. The team recruited a group of leaders across the organization called Learning Leaders.

With the health care industry’s complex environment, Children’s National Health System needed to invest in its management team to maintain their clinical excellence. Improving the skills and engagement of its leadership team and providing an increase in support in their positions was critical. As a result, they implemented a multifaceted approach that improved the working environment. The organization established a leadership development capability in the Children’s National Leader Academy. This program includes 21 courses that consist of classroom and e-learning modules and a custom senior leader curriculum. The new platform gave the Leader Academy team’s curriculum the ability to expand into web-based learning modules. Children’s National was named one of the Top 5 children’s hospitals nationwide in the 2018-2019 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. Additionally, the Children’s Neonatology ranked first in the nation for the second consecutive year. — Yasmeen Qahwash




After identifying the need to offer development opportunities for all types of staff across multiple campuses in a flexible format, the team created Choose to Learn Live. This program is comprised of live and virtual sessions that feature internal and external experts focusing on relevant business topics. The session recordings allow this program to be used time and again as a refresher, part of a team discussion or a larger department initiative. This connection has created opportunities for more programming, making Choose to Learn Live an effective foundational program on which to build further programming. — Yasmeen Qahwash

Michael Byars Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 39

• Learning In Practice Awards •




STRATEGY DIV. 1 SAMANTHA HAMMOCK Chief Learning Officer, American Express During a period of business transformation, American Express has been executing against a multi-year corporate strategy that addresses external and internal business challenges. Increased competition due to technology, regulation and a demand for transparency has created an urgency among the organization to continuously reexamine the business and determine how to offer more services to customers. Samantha Hammock introduced an enterprise view of leadership development in a way that inspired business and embraced new approaches for implementing leadership behaviors across the organization. Due to their strong commitment and belief in leadership, American Express launched the American Express Leadership Academy in 2017, devoted to building a foundation of leadership for all employees. The virtual design allows colleagues to participate in a global community across American Express. The academy blends live, virtual discussions with self-paced modules, allowing participants to connect with global peers to share perspectives and expand their network. The program focuses on learning techniques that enhance work at any stage of their career and developing the skills to effectively lead in anything they do. American Express is now expeditiously building a strong foundation among their next-generation leaders that encourages innovation, speed and agility, all required to succeed in today’s marketplace. — Yasmeen Qahwash





Chris Hall

40 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Tracie Ybarra



Senior Consultant, Talent Management & Organizational Development, Dell Technologies, Services & Digital

Assistant Commissioner/Chief Learning Officer, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection

Dell Technologies has recently gone through large-scale acquisition and integration due to the Dell-EMC merger in 2016, which caused a lot of confusion among end users and stakeholders. This circumstance highlighted their need to integrate distinct talent strategy efforts and initiatives across a variety of business units and needs. Tracie Ybarra comprised a team of three talent strategists to make progress in three key areas, which included leadership development, diversity and inclusion and recent graduates. The outcome helped build strong talent pipelines, inspired leaders, enabled the next generation of talent and built a brand that attracts innovative leaders. — Yasmeen Qahwash

One of the deadliest time periods in Customs and Border Protection’s history was between 2010 and 2012. This sparked a national dialogue regarding the use of force by law enforcement, including when force is appropriate, how it is investigated and how the results can be made transparent to the public. Chris Hall developed a multi-year strategy to reform and improve policies, training and transparency. When this strategy launched in 2012, there were 55 uses of deadly force by CBP agents along the border. Since then, there has been a significant decrease each year. In 2018, there were 15 uses of deadly force by CBP officers. CBP officers have used their firearms 73 percent less. Alignment of resident and field-level training and performance-based training that was implemented at the Field Operations and Border Patrol Academies were two key changes that were made to push the culture toward adapting the de-escalation of force tactics. These reforms were recognized by the Department of Homeland Security and the White House. — Yasmeen Qahwash

• Learning In Practice Awards •




Vice President, Leadership & Organizational Development, McGraw-Hill

Managing Director, Connected Learning & Change, ATB Financial

Industrial Training and Education Manager, E. & J. Gallo Winery

To navigate the changing landscape of the financial industry, ATB Financial began to focus on connecting their employees to people, information and experiences that would help them evolve, which in turn benefited their customers. Instead of looking at change as something to manage, they began to think of change as a constant, thus building adaptability into the foundation of the organization.

Before 2017, E. & J. Gallo Winery had no established learning and development departments at the Fresno Winery. The organization decided to establish training departments throughout the production sites in 2014, which led to the development of a new learning and education organization that developed and standardized training programs.

In order to transform McGraw-Hill from a traditional textbook publisher to a digital learning technology enterprise, they needed to realign the organizational culture to a new business strategy. The first step in this transformation was conducting a leadership development program and then amplifying the desired behaviors throughout the organization. This was encouraged through their new core values that were introduced in 2017: Speak Out, Stretch Forward, Own It, Deliver Value and Win Together. Of the core values, Stretch Forward was key for McGraw-Hill because it encouraged employees to step outside of their comfort zones, take calculated risks and continuously learn. The Stretch Forward initiative was designed to help employees embrace iteration and implement a learning culture across the workforce that would result in greater innovation. The program provided webcast presentations, learner self-assessment, interactive webinars, personalized learning plans, e-learning, on-the-job learning, meetings-in-abox and mentoring. Stretch Forward made substantial progress in implementing McGraw-Hill’s new core values, helping employees invest in their own learning and creating an advanced learning culture. The program increased career planning and development activity and sparked manager-led team building. It has also established a strong base for the change within upcoming management work to support the recently announced merger. — Yasmeen Qahwash

Meriya Dyble led the strategic shift from traditional learning and development and change teams to a connected learning and change team that provided these connections for employees. The team focused on creating a system that could react efficiently to changed circumstances. ATB launched Degreed to support this strategy. This created a personalized and adaptive learning experience that helped employees thrive through change. Degreed allows employees to control their learning, highlights peer-to-peer learning and provides the opportunity to learn in whatever way works best for them. — Yasmeen Qahwash



Once the Fresno training team was established, a five-year plan was built to align with the organization’s strategic and operational goals. To supplement adopting the Training Within Industry methodology, on-site training facilities that offered programs with fully integrated TWI practices were established. A computer lab was also created to support the development of e-learning courses and make training more accessible to employees. In addition, two training professionals were hired, which resulted in high-quality training programs, higher retention of employee learning and a decrease in work-related costs. By 2018, the Fresno Training Department had one of the most effective training organizations. The team at E. & J. Gallo Winery continues to collaborate with other departments for progressive approaches to learning and development. — Yasmeen Qahwash


Roshni Rupani, left, and Melissa Janis. Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 41

• Learning In Practice Awards •




TALENT MANAGEMENT DIV. 1 ARNOLD DHANESAR ► Group Chief Talent Officer, Zurich Insurance Co. Customers demand more from their insurers in the digital era. For the industry to adapt to these changing customer needs, so must talent adapt. That’s why Zurich Insurance developed a 10-point plan to appeal to the talent it was seeking. Led by Arnold Dhanesar, this strategy was designed as a holistic approach that would take into account talent identification, readiness and development. The 10-point plan included developing Talent Acceleration Centers to deepen the overall talent pipeline, launching a training program for all senior leaders and upskilling managers with a new, global program. The learning strategy was tailored around a few design principles. Zurich would leverage the employee’s own motivation, tying these programs to career advancement, which would naturally reinforce employee engagement. It also invested in a culture of continuous learning and provided regular training opportunities where employees got time away from their day jobs to focus on training and reskilling. Zurich’s high-potential development strategy led to many promising outcomes. The globally consistent, leadership-based strategy has accelerated growth in the leadership pipeline and made it stronger. The insurer is seeing higher employee engagement and retention of top talent. Also, after first deploying this strategy in Latin America and North America, Zurich has been able to expand it into other countries. — Andie Burjek





Arnold Dhanesar



Divisional Vice President, PSAV

Director Talent Development, AbbVie

Under Derek Blake’s leadership, events experience company PSAV revamped how it deals with career development for both individuals and specific roles. This strategy aimed to accelerate the careers and increase the confidence of all employees at PSAV, and leaders at the company believed this would lead to higher employee engagement, better business results and better customer service. One major part of this strategy was streamlining L&D into a single LMS platform. PSAV ultimately chose to partner with SkillSoft and SumTotal Learning Management. With its new LMS, PSAV can now deliver learning anytime, anywhere, and employees can use it to work toward their career goals at their own convenience. As a result, PSAV delivered 218,000 learning hours in 2018. More than 11,600 employees use the career development program to set their career goals and work on acquiring the skills needed to accomplish those goals. Further, employee engagement scores have gone up 6 percentage points.

Michael Poll

42 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

— Andie Burjek

While managers and people leaders at AbbVie knew what the best practices were to raise the bar on performance and have honest conversations in performance reviews, they were often intimidated to use those best practices and have real conversations with direct reports. Michael Poll created an approach to support people leaders in improving their performance management processes. He developed a learning method that integrates behavior role-modeling of talent management practices with the focus of getting people leaders to take action through needed conversations with direct reports. Now, people leaders indicate they have the confidence and skills while direct reports say they’re experiencing greater and more transparent talent practice conversations. — Andie Burjek

• Learning In Practice Awards •




Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Children’s National Health System

CHRO, Vulcan Inc.

Director, Ally

The health care industry — and the task of leading its workforce — is complex thanks to many different factors, including health system mergers and acquisitions, changing regulations and labor shortages. That’s why Children’s National Health System began a program that would help it keep and develop top talent. In 2014, the health system began reducing the size of its leadership team. Other challenges it faced were management turnover, faltering staff and leader engagement and no leadership development capabilities for the time being. Leaders were being asked to do more with less and had fewer potential peer mentors to provide them guidance. In this changing industry and business environment, the employee experience became inconsistent and employee engagement was threatened. The organization developed the Children’s National Leader Academy in 2014 to address its various challenges. These courses focused on building leadership skills and reducing leadership turnover. With only six courses in its first year, the program has only grown over time as more resources have become available, now including 21 courses via classroom and e-learning. Further, Children’s National also added more to its leadership support system in 2017 by spearheading an organizationwide effort to define the health system’s core values and behaviors. After a four-month process, including focus groups and senior leader board reviews, those values were defined as compassion, commitment and connection. Defining why staff did what they do helped leaders gain support from employees.

Tim Mulligan set out to make Vulcan an employer of choice, not by borrowing other organizations’ best practices, but by creating their own. Whenever Vulcan rolls out a new HR program, policy or employee engagement initiative, it has to be forward-thinking, cutting-edge and different from what other organizations are doing.

Ally Auto used storytelling through computer animation to show what the organization does and how exactly employees contribute to the company’s success. The video, “Ally Auto Overview,” shows employees a car and how it moves from the equipment manufacturers to the dealership to the person who buys the car.

Looking to improve its performance management function, Vulcan designed and launched a continuous, unique performance management program with Saba TalentSpace. This helped the organization create a culture of constant feedback for its workforce.

Employees had previously indicated that they wanted to gain a stronger understanding of the big picture of what Ally Auto does. Janiece Ziegler understood that when considering all types of employees — from virtual to field agents to onsite — a video could reach everybody. Further, the video is designed to appeal to many audiences, like recruits, new employees, seasoned employees and leadership.

Surveys show that employee engagement and employee satisfaction are high, and that they find the platform easy to use and are easily able to track their goals and performance. They also know this platform isn’t just another off-the-shelf program, but something created just for them with the Vulcan culture in mind. — Andie Burjek



The video, available to 5,000 Ally Auto finance employees, has led to cost savings of about $425,000 compared with ILT, the previous learning method offered. It has also helped improve employee engagement survey results. — Andie Burjek


Children’s National has seen promising results from this initiative. Compared to 67 percent in 2014, staff engagement improved to 81 percent by 2019. Manager engagement increased from 75 percent to 85 percent in that five-year period as well. Annual leadership turnover improved, from 12.6 percent in June 2014 to 8.4 percent in 2018 for managers. — Andie Burjek

Michael Byars

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 43

• Learning In Practice Awards •




TECHNOLOGY DIV. 1 MOUMITA DUTTA ► Senior Technologist, Yum Brands Restaurant company Yum Brands was faced with a challenge: how to maintain consistent, high-quality and standardized training across its 48,000 restaurant locations and for its global workforce of 1.5 million associates in 145 countries. The restaurant industry giant is well known for its brands, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. With the help of Saba Cloud, Moumita Dutta was able to guide the company in adopting digital badging and gamification as a scalable and engaging learning delivery method for its employees companywide. Eight-hour, instructor-led training courses were replaced by shorter e-learning sessions through Saba, which allowed for more employees to benefit from the training while also cutting costs. On the Saba platform, Yum employees onboard and take online programs and specific training courses that are unique to each of the three Yum! Brands. Upon completing a course or class, users earn a digital badge or points. In just six months, Yum saw its employee training completion rates go from 15 percent to 79 percent with the help of the Saba platform and gamification. The company is currently exploring additions to the platform to enhance user experience, including more capability in course creation, new reward features and stronger analytics to assist learning and business leaders. — Elizabeth Loutfi




From left, Christine Shrader, Michael Cannon and Jennifer LeBlanc.

44 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Robert Belsjo, left, and Murika Matz for Moumita Dutta.



Global Strategy Lead Knowledge Cycling, Genentech Inc./ F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG

Senior Director, Red Hat University, Red Hat

Three to four years ago, the most medications Genentech Inc./F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG needed to file per year to health authorities was five to ensure patients were accessing and trying new therapies. Today, the company submits nearly 40. Realizing they were operating at a much slower rate than other companies in the market, they began searching for a solution.

Software company Red Hat has grown a lot since its inception, and they expect to grow even more in the coming years. To ensure company expansion continues smoothly, senior leaders knew they needed strong managers. The current manager development program, M-Series, had been outdated by the rapid growth. Three weeks of instructor-led training courses spaced over 12 to 18 months wouldn’t cut it anymore. More than half of Red Hat’s current managers weren’t completing the program.

They partnered with the Faster Finding team at Knowledge Cycling, and Hold led the implementation of a new digital learning and knowledge sharing platform at Genentech.

These challenges were addressed by a complete overhaul of the M-Series program, overseen by Michael Cannon. The result was a program that sped manager development using social learning and technology platforms such as VR and simulation-based learning.

Genentech has data that reveals filing readiness is on the rise, and Detlef Hold and his team created solutions that are closing gaps across the board.

By the end of its first year, participation in the program exceeded the company’s intended goal, with more than 600 people managers enrolled in the program and seeing positive results.

— Elizabeth Loutfi

— Elizabeth Loutfi

• Learning In Practice Awards •




VP, Franchisee Onboarding and Learning, Choice Hotels International

Head of Sysmex Academy, Sysmex Europe GmbH

Senior Manager, USA Today Network

Opening one hotel, let alone several hundred hotels each year, can be a complex and tricky process, but Choice Hotels International decided to make a new learning tool that would make the experience not only easier, but also more transparent for its new franchisees. The span of time between when a deal is struck and when the hotel first opens its doors is crucial, with more than 15 milestones and critical points to meet from start to finish. Feedback initially gathered from new Choice Hotels International franchisees revealed that while they felt supported, the rest of the current hotel opening process was often difficult to follow and left them feeling frustrated. Feedback was also gathered from the hotel opening team. Building on the company’s existing learning management system platform, Tim Tobin and a solution design team created the Choice Hotels Opening Portal. The portal has been integrated with the company’s learning program, Choice University, and gave new franchisees learning content that helped them through every aspect of the opening process.

The challenges Sysmex Europe was facing with its customer education program pointed to a selfpaced, online learning solution. For a while, face-to-face training on Sysmex’s products worked, but the spike in product popularity demanded a different solution. Sysmex needed to figure out a way to centralize its training, resolve language barrier issues with customers and address inconsistent messages during product introduction. The company also wanted to start providing further access to scientific information that to better help users understand the products. Sysmex partnered with Eurekos in part due to their learning management system and a “modern, appealing” experience for users. They designed the Sysmex Academy Portal, which included a personalized user dashboard, social learning communication tools and an entire coursework catalogue of relevant content and multimedia courses.

The USA Today Network is known across the globe for its brand, as well as 109 local media companies in the U.S. and Guam. The company was looking for an updated learning solution for talent development in accounting and sales. Deciding they needed more than just a learning management system, Craig Lutz and his team decided on Saba Cloud. It was a “unified system” that allowed them to load their own content and create workspaces and customized learning journeys for users through the selection of courses and curriculums.

Sabine Lindner, head of Sysmex Academy, said SAO is doing very well. As a whole, the company feels like it’s found a way to successfully be a go-to knowledge provider for users.

The USA Today Network was able to create a unified learning tool for its account and sales teams. Since launching this new approach, the company has seen an increase in user sessions by 143 percent.

— Elizabeth Loutfi

— Elizabeth Loutfi





The portal went through a two-month pilot period, in which they introduced it to new hotel owners who were starting at the time. The Opening Portal was also introduced to Choice Hotels’ opening services coordinator team through multiple training sessions and shared across franchisee owner boards. Almost 100 new owners started using the Opening Portal in the first month, and this number grows every week. — Elizabeth Loutfi

Patricia Winchester for Craig Lutz.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 45

• Learning In Practice Awards •




TRAILBLAZER DIV. 1 JOHN RHODES Director of Group Learning Strategy, TechnipFMC Learning and development wasn’t a top priority when FMC Technologies and Technip, an oil company and a gas company, merged two years ago. When it was brought up, leaders from the two companies, now together named TechnipFMC, realized they were going to have to merge two very different learning strategy styles together. John Rhodes and his team were on it. One company’s L&D model was fully centralized but had an “overabundance of prescribed training,” and the other was decentralized and access to learning solutions was inconsistent. Roughly 20-30 learning catalogues between the two offered more than 20,000 courses and sessions, many of which were duplicates or near duplicates. The goal was to create a unified program in which learners had ownership over which courses they took, one that was also easy to access, even while home, traveling or away from the office. In the span of a year, Rhodes and his team were able to do a complete overhaul of all the material and fit it into a single learning catalogue. The result was a unified learning platform that serves roughly 37,000 employees globally in 48 countries. In just six months, 93 percent of employees had accessed the learning platform. — Elizabeth Loutfi





Traci Weiss, left, and Summer Davies. 46 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Jim Woolsey



President, Defense Acquisition University

Global Senior Manager, Talent and Leadership Initiatives, Mars Inc.

The U.S. Department of Defense had a challenge for its acquisition business, the Defense Acquisition University: After concluding that technical expertise alone is not enough to prepare a leader for success on the job, officials determined there was a need for more leadership training and development.

People leaders at Mars have a new leadership development program. The team partnered with BetterUp to create coaching and leadership training for its 11,000 managers around the world.

The defense acquisition workforce has a lot of responsibilities, namely negotiating prices, enforcing requirements and managing delivery on acquisitions, as well as addressing issues regarding interoperability, sustainability, cyber protection and supply chain security. Every year, these could be added to, removed or subject to change by Congress.

Mars had been looking for a way to make its managers more successful faster. Training and coaching couldn’t scale at just a classroom-level, which made Summer Davies think their solution was going to be a virtual one. The solution also needed to be accessible at different times for different types of managers.

Jim Woolsey identified changes DAU needed to make to its business model and worked with his team to devise the Acquisition Leadership Development Initiative, a redesign of the university’s leadership training framework, based on stakeholder input.

Davies came across BetterUp, and with its technical support, Mars was able to successfully create a development and coaching platform, the Great Line Manager’s Experience Program.

— Elizabeth Loutfi

— Elizabeth Loutfi

• Learning In Practice Awards •

TRAILBLAZER DIV. 2 MERIYA DYBLE Managing Director, Connected Learning and Change, ATB Financial




ATB Financial felt a responsibility to help drive its employees’ skills and professional careers toward success. To fulfill this goal, the company realized it would need to invest in a new learning initiative that would help its employees continuously grow in the face of automation and other talent-facing challenges. Meriya Dyble led the company in reconstructing what was once a traditional workplace learning and development team and strategy into a more connected, personalized and strategic learning experience. Dyble began by consulting company stakeholders, as well as industry leaders, when seeking out their options. She wanted to find something that would align with their business goals and create the most positive employee learning experience possible. She guided and ultimately decided to rebrand the Learning and Development and Change teams into the Connected Learning and Change team. Then, they focused on developing learning content that would continuously improve employee experience and help achieve personal and professional goals.

Stella Cannon



Talent and Organizational Development, SAC Wireless

Senior Manager of Learning and Development, SolarWinds MSP

For years, new hires at SAC Wireless had to go through a long and expensive training program that was disjointed from the actual work environment. In 2018, the company hired Stella Cannon as head of talent management, learning and organizational development, and one year later, the training program had done a complete 180. Cannon built out an entirely new L&D function for the company, which included more efficient new-hire training. SAC’s new L&D function includes six training centers across the U.S. that train work crews to successfully deploy 5G towers across the country.

In order to boost sales and support business consistency across the globe, April Gross, senior manager of learning and development at SolarWinds MSP, helped launch a new learning function, Sales Enablement. It was determined in 2017 during a companywide engagement survey that training was a top opportunity area for the sales team. However, at the time, the team had yet to adopt any standardized learning tools or processes.

With Degreed, ATB employees can have access to learning at any time, and on any device, during the work day.

Cannon also formed a team of 12 professionals to help oversee learning, performance management, employee engagement, change management and leadership development for the company’s 2,300 employees spanning 26 different locations.

Gross first identified what gaps they had. With the help of stakeholders in the company, she was able to lead efforts in designing a new-hire training program, which is comprised of 10 courses and on-the-job activities for learners to complete.

— Elizabeth Loutfi

— Elizabeth Loutfi

— Elizabeth Loutfi

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 47

• Learning In Practice Awards •

EXCELLENCE IN ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIPS PARTNERS IN LEADERSHIP ► Richland Community College was facing a number of challenges that were hindering its ability to operate at full potential. The institution lost more than 22 percent of student enrollment over six years. The student retention rate was even lower at 46.24 percent for next term and 8.46 percent for fall to fall. Departments were functioning in silos with minimal collaboration. Employees were unclear on the institution’s goals. A division between the faculty and staff was apparent. Ownership was lacking on all projects. To create a learning strategy that would develop a workforce based on accountability and employee engagement, RCC brought on Partners in Leadership. In 2017, RCC launched its initiative on personal accountability utilizing the Accountability Builder program. The workshops and assessments were designed to help break down silos, encourage collaboration, and get employees personally invested in the specific goals of the organization. A group of four internal volunteers became the mentors and champions of Partners in Leadership’s models and methodologies. This group acts as the liaisons between the institution’s daily practices and implementation of Partners in Leadership’s curriculum. Supervisor training was also implemented.

CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY Daikin Industries, based in Osaka, Japan, has experienced rapid global growth over the past several decades, especially in the U.S. This growth led to several key challenges: How could Daikin continue to grow while still retaining a strong, values-based culture with people at the center? And how could they ensure that leaders were equipped for current and future challenges? Daikin’s CHRO worked closely with the Center for Leadership to develop the Daikin North America Leadership Program, an initiative designed to build strategic capacity, drive development and effectiveness using multimodal learning, and energize the organization, starting with core leaders. This collaboration resulted in the creation of a rigorous developmental program with sessions led by seven subject matter experts and Daikin leadership. The program design emphasized practical application and practice sessions as learning mechanisms. The use of experiential as well as classroom learning was critical to ensure the sustainability of learning and equipped participants with strategies to share out to their teams upon return to work.

Today, RCC is surpassing its three key results: improving enrollment, employee engagement and economic sustainability.

The program design included a robust evaluation protocol including various surveys and evaluation forms. In their overall evaluation of the program, ninety-four percent of participants rated it as “very good” or “excellent.” One hundred percent agreed or strongly agreed that participating in the program will help them become better leaders for Daikin.

— Ashley St. John

— Ashley St. John

48 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •




Cristobal Valdez for Partners in Leadership.

PENN FOSTER EmployBridge, the U.S.’s largest industrial staffing company, wanted to drive retention and address growing skill gaps. They decided to do this in two ways: through upskilling by equipping those who are unemployed or underemployed with the most in-demand skills, and by working with current associates to provide education and training, helping them achieve promotions, pay increases and full-time employment by IRS employer partners. But they needed to implement a scalable, effective way to achieve those goals. EmployBridge partnered with Penn Foster to launch Better WorkLife Academy, a library of 21 different courses available to all EmployBridge associates and colleagues. The academy includes career-oriented courses in fundamentals (safety, warehouse basics, production basics, Microsoft Office) and more advanced topics (electronics, welding and mechanical maintenance). Each course, which includes short videos, quizzes and support materials, is available 24/7 and can be accessed via mobile device. Currently, the academy is optional. EmployBridge wants learners to choose their own educational pathway. However, some employer partners create their own programs and incentivize associates to complete the courses. As of mid-2019, almost 40 percent of the total eligible EmployBridge population was active in the Better WorkLife Academy. — Ashley St. John

• Learning In Practice Awards •





Michael Kester for The Regis Co.

THE REGIS CO. ▲ BNSF Railway operates about 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. In 1995, the company developed its Leadership Model with a consistent set of principles to distinguish it from competitors. The desire to explain and reinforce the five tenets of the Leadership Model drove the creation of People Leader Training in 2000. Each year, the PLT focuses on one of those tenets. The tenet “Lead More; Manage Less” was established as an area in need of focus in 2016. The specific behavior selected to be developed to support Lead More; Manage Less was titled Leadership Is Situational. Data analysis indicated a need for leaders to be more flexible in their approach. Because leading more and managing less involves complex social behaviors, such as coaching, teaching and enabling others, they needed the learning to be more than a typical instructor-led class.

ENTELECHY With 70,000 employees globally — including 7,400 leaders at a variety of levels — the leadership team at Thermo Fisher Scientific has huge responsibilities. Given the size and scale of the organization, a targeted program was developed to fully prepare a select number of high-potential employees for more senior roles by providing them with the skills and experience needed to operate at a more advanced level. The original iteration of Developing Emerging Leaders had been in operation for a number of years. Then, in early 2016, the Global Talent Development team conducted an assessment of the program and identified several areas of opportunity. Meanwhile, Thermo Fisher Scientific was growing rapidly outside the United States, and more than half of employees are now millennials, so it was even more critical that the program be refreshed to be more relevant to the target audience. Thermo Fisher Scientific and Entelechy worked together to design the current iteration of Developing Emerging Leaders. The foundational concepts of Developing Emerging Leaders are: know yourself, master your business and lead others. The two- to three-month journey includes self-paced prework, self-paced e-learning, two virtual instructor-led training sessions, a three-day instructor-led classroom training and management reinforcement. Ninety-nine percent of participants agreed that they would be able to immediately apply the skills and knowledge learned during the program to their jobs. — Ashley St. John

EASYGENERATOR Before adopting a blended learning strategy, home appliance company Electrolux relied almost entirely on face-to-face training methods and some amount of e-learning that was costly and time-consuming. The very idea of going digital was daunting because the organization’s culture was deep-rooted in traditional training methods. But with several thousand store assistants and service technicians spread over dozens of countries, the old model was not sustainable.

BNSF had partnered with The Regis Co. in 2015 to create a simulation learning experience situated in the fictional railway town of Mainville. The 2015 PLT program modeled the mechanics of how the railroad is run. Incorporating this with its 2016 goals, The Regis Co. and BNSF designed a simulation that modeled what it takes to run the railroad business, from customer order to customer delivery. The result was a unique learning experience for leaders designed to reflect the real life day-to-day of the railroad industry.

The sales and services training team at Electrolux turned to Easygenerator to help launch a blended learning program. As the primary tool for launching the blended learning model, Easygenerator was able to meet all the company’s needs, including supporting mobile learning, providing cloud-based instant access and distribution, enabling collaborative creation, creating engaging content and more.

— Ashley St. John

— Ashley St. John

According to the sales and services training team, switching to a blended learning model has resulted in greater scalability, improved ROI and a more personalized learner experience.

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 49

• Learning In Practice Awards •

EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE SWEETRUSH ► For more than a century, the American Association of University Women has been working to close the gender pay gap in the U.S. Five years ago, they began hosting Work Smart workshops, in which women are taught to understand their own value and learn salary negotiation skills.




AAUW felt they were reaching thousands of women with these workshops, but they wanted to be reaching millions. They decided to adapt the workshop into an e-learning format, but they needed a partner to help see the idea through. That’s when AAUW discovered SweetRush Inc. Since 2001, SweetRush has been helping businesses create custom online training and e-learning solutions that help drive talent engagement and success. SweetRush allowed AAUW to turn their workshops into a free, learner-centric experience using storytelling, live and interactive video scenarios featuring a “diverse and relatable cast of women,” interactive learning components, and self-reflection and assessment. So far, more than 10,000 women have registered for the course, reviews for which have been consistently positive. AAUW plans to have 10 million women trained on salary negotiation through Work Smart Online by 2022.

John Cleave for SweetRush

D2L ▼ After many years working to support different humanitarian aid initiatives, ICF needed to refresh its training courses to meet the needs of volunteers being deployed to humanitarian aid organizations across Europe. The organization realized the training was often a stumbling block for aid organizations, in particular when it’s actually time to respond to a disaster.

— Elizabeth Loutfi




ICF began contemplating solutions and decided that a learning management system platform would be the best tool for what they wanted to accomplish, which was a fully designed and improved course with streamlined course administration. They discovered a flexible, customizable platform in D2L’s Brightspace. ICF worked closely with various European aid organizations to learn about project management, intercultural awareness, safety and security, advocacy and communications, as well as psychological first aid, in order to develop 12 course modules. With D2L, ICF is able to provide knowledge and support to humanitarian aid volunteers across Europe, including those who volunteer through the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. In the less than three years since the launch of their new training program, ICF and its partners completed 14 training cycles. In a survey done, 90 percent of individuals surveyed gave the course the highest possible approval score.

Will Campos for D2L.

50 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

— Elizabeth Loutfi

• Learning In Practice Awards •

EXCELLENCE IN CONTENT SWEETRUSH Tasked with making a funny, innovative and, above all, captivating program to increase the Bridgestone sales team’s understanding of Bridgestone tires, SweetRush created Consumer Tire Education. By gamifying Bridgestone’s original learning portal, SweetRush was able to make teaching selling skills an engaging, intrinsically motivating experience.




The main challenge lies in creating an engaging program to learn the fine details and minutiae of 40 types of tires. To do so, SweetRush developed Tire Match Madness to create competency through repetition. Using storytelling, humor and animation, Consumer Tire Education built project knowledge for learners while making a new creative challenge for SweetRush’s writers, designers and creative directors. The learning portal implemented allowed associates to view messages, earn awards and badges, and view community events at Bridgestone. Consumer Tire Education is able to build on itself for any new learning content or challenges. To promote new courses and modules, SweetRush designed a branded newsletter for new learning materials arrival. Thus far, Consumer Tire Education has had more than 18,000 learners completing more than 880,000 courses. Ninety percent of sales associates say the training program made them a better salesperson, and 79 percent say Bridgestone’s education was superior to their competitors. — Kerry Snider





Carol Fahy for Zelus Consulting Group.

From left, Susan Gray, Laura Balliet, Nancy Pagel and Diana Fritz for Impact International.



Oshkosh Corp. started with its directors in order to transition to a people-first mindset, first reaching out to Impact International in order to transform company culture.

When EmblemHealth decided they wanted a comprehensive training program to turn their call center into a concierge service, Zelus Consulting Group created PACE.

With an emphasis on the pedagogy of leadership, Impact’s solution architects created a five-month long road map for directors looking to evolve their understanding of how to guide their teams by engaging, developing and connecting.

Focused specifically on demonstrating the intricacies of excellent customer service for professionals in the healthcare industry, PACE serves as both a 10-day, online curriculum and a mnemonic device, standing for proficiency, accuracy, confidence and empathy.

All of Oshkosh’s population of directors, comprising more than 350 learners, completed the Lens in Leadership program, resulting in a strong start for the company’s new frame of mind.

Nearly 99 percent of participants reported that, after taking PACE, they felt empowered to take patients’ calls, while 76 percent of learners said the program improved their confidence a lot when speaking to irate callers.

— Kerry Snider

— Kerry Snider

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 51

• Learning In Practice Awards •

EXCELLENCE IN E-LEARNING DEGREED Before launching their new learning platform via Degreed, accessing appropriate learning at the right time was nearly impossible for employees. They were often frustrated because they could not find content relevant to their learning needs. Poor user experience and lack of a scaled methodology caused internal and external customer satisfaction numbers to decline. Due to increase in competition within the travel industry, new critical skills continued to be added to the roles of team members, and the learning and development team recognized the need for a learning platform that could deliver new learning at the speed of business. A core group from the L&D team worked closely with key members from the Degreed team to design the best approach for To increase accessibility of training, eight content courses were integrated into one platform. These included, Coursera, Udemy, Kaltura, Good Practice, Harvard ManageMentor, Safari Online Books and’s new LMS LearnUpon. The platform provides a feed based on the skills, groups, topics and people their employees follow and allows them to simultaneously search for relevant content. Additionally, it features pathways of learning to guide employees through skill development.  The L&D team has shifted from an instructor-led focus to a blended approach that is comprised of curated online learning, coaching experiences and demonstrations of proficiency designed to improve performance into curated pathways. This new platform allows to have an overview of their learning landscape in order to measure success.  — Yasmeen Qahwash

52 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

ALLENCOMM With a desperate need to rethink its training strategy, Beautycounter partnered with AllenComm to create Counter University, a web-based, mobile-first microlearning platform with performance supports and assets. Before Counter University, Beautycounter distributed dozens of Word documents, PDFs, videos and emails on top of old versions on its training website. Consultants struggled with deciphering whether they were reading the most current documents and lacked the time to search through countless forms on their computers. AllenComm designed coaching micromodules and a searchable and shareable learning catalogue aligned with Beautycounter’s performance objectives so learners could use it as a resource to return to again and again and easily share with their teams as a coaching asset. The design strategy for the web-based training included instructional and motivational videos, interactive activities, resource tools and a searchable and shareable easy-access asset repository that included the coaching micromodules. These assets could be favorited and stored in the learner’s personal learning dashboard, which would also track progress.





From left, Heide Abelli, Cliff Howe and Marienne Bernardes for Skillsoft and SumTotal Systems.

SKILLSOFT AND SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS ▲ Cox businesses were asking for ways to make required content more easily accessible to employees and learners were asking for snippets of learning video, audio and book formats. Due to this demand, Learn@Cox was launched in 2019, delivering an easy, streamlined experience across all four Cox divisions via SumTotal Learning Management.

Due to the accessibility and relevance of the mobile training, Beautycounter has seen a rise in leadership and recruitment and increased retention rates.

The initial design of Learn@Cox focused on bringing together seven disparate learning management systems, converting learning completions, cleaning up custom content and aligning on core functionality. With access to content on a variety of topics, including leadership, business skills, compliance and IT, Cox employees can use this platform to enhance their skills. In collaboration with Skillsoft, Cox developed custom learning paths aligned to Cox leadership competencies and tailored by job level. This solution gives Cox learners an expanded library of books, audiobooks, book summaries and other learning resources in a redesigned landing page.

— Yasmeen Qahwash

— Yasmeen Qahwash

• Learning In Practice Awards •

EXCELLENCE IN EXECUTIVE EDUCATION INSEAD In 2016, Schneider Electric launched a bold new strategy that called its workforce of 150,000 people to lead the industry shift toward digital solutions and services. It was a radical departure from 150 years of traditional engineering practice. Schneider’s top executives realized this shift required a change in business, culture and leadership at all levels. Working together, Schneider and INSEAD devised a combination of face-to-face and digital modules, which applied the principles of digital disruption to Transforming Schneider Leadership, as the initiative came to be called. Built over months of joint design work and delivered across the globe, the product of their collaboration was a multilevel system of leadership development, tailored to the challenges of each managerial level and customized to Schneider’s new strategy and “people vision.”

DAVENPORT UNIVERSITY IPEX ▼ Vast China is the Chinese entity of the joint venture Vehicle Access Systems Technology, or Vast LLC. Vast LLC and Vast China acknowledged that the development of Vast China was critical to the organization’s ability to accomplish its financial target goal for the future. The health of the organization at the executive leadership and senior leadership levels needed to be strengthened. The organization needed enhanced decision-making criteria that empowered leadership to make decisions and hold individuals and teams accountable for those decisions.

Transforming Schneider Leadership’s combination of experiential and online learning has inspired, equipped and supported 1,500 change agents — from the CEO to line managers — to accelerate Schneider’s strategic digital transformation.

Enter Davenport University IPEx, which developed Vast China’s Leadership Excellence Program to grow leadership competencies and enhance company culture. The program’s impact has been a phenomenal improvement to organizational behavior and performance that eliminated deep dysfunction among executives and senior management and promoted cross-functional teamwork.

— Ashley St. John

— Ashley St. John








Dan Riis for The Regis Co.

THE REGIS CO. ▲ In planning for sustained success in new business environments, Abbott identified gaps in the advanced skills possessed by general managers that were not addressed by their existing global leadership development programming. Many of those whom the Global Leader Program serves are newly hired or newly promoted, across all products and markets. Following this assessment, the Abbott team concluded that the GLP needed to be reinvented to create comprehensive mindset shifts in how leaders think about and execute their roles to better prepare them for success in this new environment. The Regis Co. and Abbott partnered to update and improve Abbott’s GLP. This program was custom-created to address business needs by leveraging simulation, 7-S and scenario planning. These strategies have provided dynamic, engaging and cutting-edge experiences with quickly applicable learnings for participants.

Daniel Rundhaug for Davenport University IPEx.

— Ashley St. John

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 53

• Learning In Practice Awards •




EXCELLENCE IN PARTNERSHIP FULCRUM LABS The Aviation Institute of Maintenance chose Fulcrum Labs to design and deliver a certification preparation program to support the performance of AIM students by fully preparing them for the Federal Aviation Administration mechanic certification exam and helping them build the confidence necessary to sit for the exam and pass and begin a successful career as FAA-certified aviation mechanics. This initial project launched in late 2017 and was wildly successful, yielding a 95 percent pass rate on the FAA General written certification. — Ashley St. John

SCRIMMAGE ▲ The Oncology Training & Development department at AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical firm, partnered with Scrimmage to create a modern learning technology experience for 1,600 learners that translated into 98 percent engagement, 50 percent shorter time to sales readiness and more than $1.35 million in cost savings, particularly due to new mobile and administrative and back-end efficiencies.

From left, Katie Burke, Sharon Steeley and Nate Kahl for Scrimmage.


Based on internal benchmarking and industry research, Boeing merged two organizations to improve performance and establish a “One Boeing” approach across learning and leadership. GP Strategies partnered with Boeing to help bring their vision to life, creating a learning transformation strategy and execution plan and aligning stakeholder goals and expectations.

As compensation, organizational structures and performance management systems were changing, new global leaders at Merck needed to shift mindsets, capabilities and ways of working together across the organization. Specifically, they wanted to ensure that global organizational standards around coaching and performance management, innovation, strategy execution and diversity and inclusion were embedded as critical skills for new managers. Merck enlisted CorpU’s cloud-based platform, which stimulates collaborative dialogue around company strategies and serves relevant microlearning content alongside it. The platform also exposes managers to different business leads and contacts across the company through virtual discussion boards and idea tournaments.

— Ashley St. John

— Ashley St. John

— Ashley St. John


54 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

LEARNLIGHT Novartis has offices in more than 90 geographic locations, 105,000 associates from more than 140 different nationalities, and products distributed in 155 countries. It partnered with Learnlight to deliver language training for six languages as part of a digital transformation initiative launched in 2018, reaching more than 10,000 people in four months. This resulted in increased engagement, ROI and training consistency. — Ashley St. John





Jeanne Baron for CorpU.

• Learning In Practice Awards •

GP STRATEGIES Faced with low engagement and completion rates of their seven-week Story Impact workshop, Microsoft reached out to GP Strategies to revamp the optional program for meeting preparation, executive presence and storytelling. Low retention rates pointed to content unaccompanied by support; to fix this, GP Strategies created Coach Alex. With two separate pilot groups, surveys and feedback every step of the way, Microsoft and GP Strategies set out to create a program that would not only encourage learners to finish the course, but also retain information in a meaningful way. The mobile chat bot offers links to additional courses and prompts to complete modules, something learners at Microsoft benefitted from when squeezing in the optional learning course. Coach Alex not only texts learners reminders to finish their course, but it sends TED Talks or Harvard Business Review articles related to the completed courses in the following weeks. Learners who signed up for Coach Alex were half as likely to drop the course as the learners who chose not to use the mobile chat bot, with engagement nearly doubling. — Kerry Snider





EXCELLENCE IN TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION LEARNING TRIBES In preparation for an upcoming product launch in China, L’Oreal wanted a social and mobile learning platform for employees. Enlisting Learning Tribes’ help, L’Oreal introduced Spark to 3,000 employees, doubling the participants’ social engagement. Using an already familiar social platform, WeChat, enabled learners to get a head start on their training modules. Gamifying much of the curriculum, Learning Tribes was able to engage learners with leaderboards to track one another’s progress. L’Oreal isn’t concerned with any difficulties for scaling up and plans on releasing Spark to another 10,000 learners. — Kerry Snider

ALLEGO After a merger and doubling of its workforce, Finastra needed a faster way to welcome new employees while maintaining company values. To streamline learning and communication for their sales reps, Finastra partnered with Allego for a one-stop hub of video-based tools. From perfecting elevator pitches to shortening onboarding experiences, Allego created more than 600 videos. Developed with mobile devices in mind, Allego’s program allows sales reps to record pitches, upload immediately and receive feedback from their managers. Combining convenience and collaboration has saved Finastra $170,000 this year alone. —Kerry Snider

MURSION ◄ To help their front-desk managers avoid accepting blame for elements beyond their control, Best Western created a three-step training program that helps managers practice de-escalating difficult conversations with customers. The second step of the training program was created by Mursion, a startup specializing in building interpersonal skills through virtual reality. Collecting common problems occurring at the front desk through TripAdvisor and Medallia, Mursion was able to pinpoint exactly what customers were looking for in conflict resolution. Mursion’s technology included a human actor working behind the scenes to deliver both the “emotional and cognitive facilities for transformative learning,” something Best Western noticed after its short-term gains in customer satisfaction skyrocketed. Kevin Holland for Mursion.

— Kerry Snider

Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 55


A Development-Focused Organization BY SARAH FISTER GALE


bbVie has defined a radical new approach to live, web-based content that captivates its audience and has transformed the learning culture at the $33 billion biopharma company. AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Illinois, was spun off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013, taking over all of the global company’s pharmaceutical activities. Rather than replicating the Abbott Labs environment in the new organization, AbbVie’s leaders saw an opportunity to create a new corporate culture that reflected the scientific focus of the business and its people. “AbbVie is full of scientists who love to learn,” said Michael Poll, director of talent development. But he knew that if they were just learning for learning’s sake, it wouldn’t help them perform any better. “We wanted to help them improve their learning and development, which would be a lever for increased performance,” Poll said. “Our goal was to create this deliberately developmental organization.”

Humble, Voluntary, Excellent Poll, who was hired to lead talent development when the companies split, believes the goal of any learning content should be to drive better performance. This philosophy led to the concept of Learn. Develop.Perform, a series of live interviews with AbbVie leaders and industry experts talking about skills and how different workplace strategies helped them build their careers. “We saw it as a way to get people thinking about their development in support of higher levels of performance,” Poll said. Their initial goals: “It had to be humble in style, always voluntary and in a format that is easy to access,” Poll said. “It also had to deliver excellent content that would be relevant to everyone.” AbbVie kicked off LDP in October 2016 with a single webinar interviewing one vice president produced in the basement of the AbbVie headquarters. Poll wasn’t sure how people would respond, but when he heard applause outside of his office minutes after it aired he knew he was on to something. That led to an idea for a full day of back-to-back interviews. “These would not be your average webinars,” he said. Poll’s team wanted to create a coolness factor 56 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

SNAPSHOT Through its wildly popular Learn.Develop. Perform global program, AbbVie has transformed its learning culture, getting people actively involved in their development and, in turn, leveraging performance.

around the content and a sense that it was an exciting event. So they created the concept for a 24-hour LDP radio program featuring live interviews with leaders from across the global company, then they plastered offices and cafeterias with signs, stickers and commercials encouraging people to tune in. On the day of the program, the first interview began with a vice president in Singapore (at 2 a.m. Chicago time). Then the LDP team moved across the globe, conducting fast-paced interviews with leaders sharing stories about their own careers and development experiences. Between interviews, a team from Second City did radio skits on workforce development topics. “The whole thing was amazing,” Poll said. Thousands of employees listened, and even though it was planned as a one-time event, the CEO was so impressed that he told Poll they had to keep it going.

‘Nothing is Off Limits’ Today LDP is AbbVie’s signature global development program and an integral piece of the learning and development culture. Open to all employees, it is an annual weeklong series of live, interactive learning events. Employees choose topics from titles such as: “Feedback: What Were You Thinking?” “Why Careers Fail,” “Flex Your Design Making Muscle” and “Influential Leadership,” to name a few. Webinars are then made available for replay on demand. In each webinar, a host introduces a company leader and then asks them four questions — two related to their own development experiences and two related to the specific career topic. Then an outside expert speaks about the topic for 20 minutes, and the session ends with a live Q&A with the audience. “Nothing is off limits in the Q&A,” Poll said.

For the 2018 LDP weeklong event, more than half of AbbVie’s global workforce — 16,000 employees — voluntarily participated in the program, which was almost three times the team’s target goal. The webinars were so popular, many had to be run twice because the network couldn’t handle all the traffic. Employees also organized 405 viewing events where they gathered in a room to watch the live events, and the following week, another 250 replay viewing parties were planned for people who missed the live events. “People gravitated toward the idea that this learning was available, but at their own discretion,” Poll said.

Formula for Success The enormous success of LDP is due to a number of factors, said Melanie Gonzalez, talent development manager, who helps lead the program. First, sessions are company-agnostic. “It’s always based in an employee mindset rather than an organizational mindset,” she said. For example, a session on goal-setting doesn’t focus on “how we set goals at AbbVie.” Rather it provides advice from experts on how to set goals and stories from leaders on their own goal-setting experiences and how they achieved them. “It has to be relevant to everyone, from administrators to VPs,” she said. Each topic is also carefully chosen to help people improve their own performance. “We don’t just talk about theory,” Gonzalez said. While facts are important for AbbVie’s research-focused employee population, each session includes practical advice on what good looks like, how to know when you are succeeding, and steps you can take today to improve. “It’s all designed to be relevant to the viewer and easy to digest.” Involving corporate leaders and experts together also helps drive engagement, Poll said. “Employees like to hear the VPs’ stories, and to see that they are ‘just like me.’ ” His team coaches each VP before their interview on how to stay focused on the topic and helps them narrow their stories to the best ones. “That can often be the hardest part,” he said. However, having a great host helps. “You have to have someone who can keep things moving,” Poll said.

It Never Gets Old While each live webinar garners an impressive 1,000 or more registered viewers, the content remains relevant long after the interview ends, said Gayle Elleven, director of business HR. All of the webinars are stored on the LDP microsite, along with related articles, development guides, podcasts and other relevant content. Employees can access any of it on their own from their computers or mobile devices, and leaders often include

elements in their team events or in preparation for performance reviews or meetings. “They can easily pull LDP content to highlight or expand on training for their people as they need it,” she said. Each piece of content is tagged and titled, making it easy to scroll through the options or to search for specific webinars or interviews. Elleven believes the just-in-time nature of the stored content can be even more valuable than watching the events live. “If someone is having difficulty with an issue and they need a resource, it’s there for them,” she said. “It provides instant learning gratification.”

“We wanted to help them improve their learning and development, which would be a lever for increased performance.” — Michael Poll, director of talent development, AbbVie

Keeping the Momentum Going Over the past three years, LDP has proven to be a great format for learning, but Poll noted that it won’t be the right fit for every company. “You have to stay true to your own mission and purpose,” he said. It helps that AbbVie’s employees are very interested in learning, and they see value in the storytelling format, easy access and rapid pace of the webinars. “We’ve created a brand around LDP so people know what to expect,” Poll said. And while his team is constantly looking for ways to keep the content innovative and fresh, they won’t use the platform to broadcast other types of more conventional AbbVie-specific training. “We have to stay true to the brand because that’s what people count on.” The webinars are now recorded in a glass studio in the cafeteria, making them more visible to employees. But to further encourage participation, Gonzalez also sends out reminder emails, posts event slides on screens around the company, and puts up brightly colored signs highlighting the next three events along with information about registering. “It is important to create awareness so everyone knows what is coming.” Finally, leadership sponsorship is critical, Elleven said. Along with participating in the webinars, AbbVie leaders actively promote the events and even host their own viewing parties. “Our leadership is at the forefront of LDP,” she said. “They create the momentum, which goes a long way.” CLO Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 57


Cheers to Alignment and Agility in 2020 BY ASHLEY ST. JOHN


et another year is drawing to a close, and it’s time to break out the bubbly and celebrate. As they look toward 2020, chief learning officers are in generally good spirits, at least regarding their outlook for learning and development. According to data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board’s “2019 Learning State of the Industry” report, 71 percent of CLOs say their outlook for the next 12 to 18 months is more optimistic than last year (Figure 1). Twenty-​two percent say it’s about the same as last year, and 7 percent are less optimistic. The Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board is a group of 1,500 professionals in the learning and development industry who have agreed to be surveyed by the Human Capital Media Research and Advisory Group, the research and advisory arm of Chief Learning Officer magazine. This survey was conducted earlier this year. The positive outlook expressed by CLOs is the latest in a multiyear trend. In the same survey conducted in 2018, 65 percent reported feeling more optimistic about the year ahead. In 2017, that number was 59 percent. Taking a deeper dive into survey responses, it seems like much of the positive feeling for 2020 is due to anticipated improvement in alignment and adoption of more and higher-quality content and techniques. Eighty-six percent of CLOs expect learning to be more aligned with company business objectives, 78 percent anticipate their company will adopt new L&D techniques, and 74 percent say they will have an improved catalogue of training options. Sixty-eight percent say they will be looking to develop more custom content, and 66 58 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

percent expect learning to be better integrated into other talent management functions (Figure 2). Budget, as the survey results indicate, is not likely a driving factor behind the optimism. Less than half of CLOs, 44 percent, expect their budget to increase in the next 12 to 18 months, and 26 percent believe it will decrease. This is a very small improvement from last year’s outlook, when 43 percent expected a budget increase and 28 percent expected a decrease. So, where will that budget be directed? Looking at expected use of external vendors is likely a good indicator. The need for agile, rounded leaders remains high in our ever-changing business environment, and executive education and leadership development continue to be an important area of investment: 44 percent plan to increase investment and 40 percent plan to keep it the same (Figure 3). Custom content design ranked No. 2 among respondents for increased investment, with 34 percent saying they will increase investment; this aligns with the 68 percent of CLOs who say they will be looking to develop more custom content. Certification training, simulation design and business skills training also are areas where CLOs indicated there may be more spending. Staying on trend with the past few years, investment in books and printed material is on the decline. This will likely continue as L&D shifts from more traditional, off-the-shelf learning to flexible, customized, personalized content. CLO Ashley St. John is Chief Learning Officer’s managing editor.

Figures’ source: Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board’s “2019 Learning State of the Industry,” N=537. All percentages rounded.

Chief learning officers express positivity going into the new year.



More optimistic



Less optimistic



Executive/leadership development



8% Custom content design



12% Certification training

*N/A responses have been omitted


45% 11%






Simulation design


9% Business skills training



No change


Content authoring systems


Learning will be more aligned with business objectives








6% Informal learning solutions



My company will look to develop more custom content



HR information system









My company will be looking to purchase more off-the-shelf content


20% 9%


10% Online reference ware 15%

My company will be acquiring a new LMS or changing providers



Knowledge management system 17%

My budget is expected to increase




5% IT training

My company’s blend of learning modalities will change






10% Virtual classroom system



Learning management systems 22%





Learning will be better integrated into other talent management




We will have a better-quality catalogue of training offerings



Assessment and testing

My company will adopt new training techniques










8% Books/printed material 12%



My company will be outsourcing more training activities Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 • 59

DEI continued from page 24

4. Design the Program With a Big Picture and Ecosystem in Mind (Prototype) Many of today’s DEI programs are designed with a one-size-fits-all approach and control-and-commend style. They are based on fixing others’ attitudes. Design thinking, instead, pays close attention to users’ needs and their pain points and customization to accommodate differences. Related to DEI, can our programs build up on each other to touch people’s hearts and minds so that shift helps further change their behavior? By understanding which parts work and which don’t, we can deliver a program prototype to test the solution’s effectiveness and relevance. Case in point: The traditional way for delivering a solution is to wait until every component is ready, then assemble them and deliver the total package. We contemplated, “What if the opposite were true?” Design thinking promotes “minimum viable product.” MVP is a part of the agile development approach that delivers the greater value while cutting the product development cycle by accelerating learning, reducing wasted time and delivering the product to customers as soon as possible. When revamping our mentoring program, we delivered several components as a separate MVP: • MentorMatch, a system with AI to facilitate mentors and mentees in finding a right fit. • Mentoring Platform, a mature system to manage mentoring activities and relationships. • Content Library, well-curated digital contents grouped by different DEI topics. These components are dynamically connected and support each other as a total solution.

5. Pilot the Solution to Test Results and Consider the Next Iterative That Builds on the Existing Components (Test) Before rolling out a solution on a large scale, always pilot it with controllable groups to test the results and study the experience. Based on the collected feedback and observation, we have a chance to refine early prototypes into solutions with more promising potential. This is also the right time to think about “what next,” which may reveal new and unexplored courses of action to follow in bringing about ideal status for DEI work. Journalist Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 concept brings the future into the present by asking ourselves, at a moment of decision, how we will feel about it in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. We imagine being accountable for our decisions in the future and this motivates us to get ahead of the game. 60 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Many corporate resources and energies are allocated to developing and executing all kinds of startstop DEI programs. The solutions brought to the table intend to build a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. However, they barely generate sustainable progress and make a desirable culture change since they are designed in a discrete nature and with lack of robust communication and an accountability mechanism. Design thinking is not a sprint; it’s a continuum process. To avoid failure, adopt a cycle of consistent observation, developing a hypothesis, validating it with a broad range of perspectives, piloting and testing the solutions, analyzing the data and formulating new theories and constantly looking out for new tools to boost our efforts. Case in point: Most DEI solutions are shortterm driven and reactive, whereas design thinking encourages a forward look, playing chess rather than checkers. When designing a solution for achieving gender and racial parity at our workplace, we added a critical component — a constant communication mechanism that makes DEI “always on.” We ensure that our senior executives are clear about the explicit vision and aspiration. With a regular cadence of communications with our board, CEO and C-suite, President’s Inclusion Council, HR partners and business leaders, we get together to review the status, discuss the progress and insights, and fine tune a course of action via the customized DEI action plan. This effort makes our key stakeholders co-creators and co-owners of the DEI goals and motivates them to advance our journey sustainably in their business units. Over time, DEI becomes a dynamic part of our business DNA. David Terrar, founder of digital transformation and social business consultancy Agile Elephant, stated: “You don’t have to be a designer to think like one. While learning to be a good designer takes years, you can think like a designer and design the way you lead, manage, create and innovate.” We can learn and apply design thinking to advance our DEI efforts because it teaches science — finding similarity among things that are different; art — finding difference among things that are similar; and design — creating feasible wholes from infeasible parts. Isn’t this the ideal prospect we all want? CLO Donald Fan is senior director, global office of culture, diversity and inclusion, Walmart Inc.

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14. Issue date for circulation data below: July/August 2019 15. Extent & nature of circulation Avg. no. copies No. copies each issue of single issue during preceding published nearest 12 months to filing date a. Total no. of copies (net press run) 17,377 18,776 b. Paid/requested distribution: b1. Outside county paid/requested mail subscriptions stated on form PS 3541 (Including advertisers’ proof and exchange copies) 15,901 17,918 b2. In-county paid/requested mail subscriptions stated on form PS 3541 (Including advertisers’ proof and exchange copies) 0 0 b3. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales and other non-USPS paid/requested distribution 0 0 b4. Other mail classes through the USPS 479 504 c. Total paid and/or requested circulation 16,380 18,422 d. Nonrequested distribution: d1. Free or Nominal Rate outside county included on form PS 3541 0 0 d2. Free or Nominal Rate In-county copies stated on form PS 3541 0 0 d3. Free or Nominal Rate distributed through the USPS 0 0 d4. Free or Nominal Rate distributed outside the mail 137 8 e. Total nonrequested distribution (sum of 15d 1, 2, 3, 4) 137 8 f. Total distribution (sum of 15c & 15e) 16,517 18,430 g. Copies not distributed 860 346 h. Total (sum of 15f & 15g) 17,377 18,776 i. Percent paid and/or requested circulation (15c ÷ 15f × 100) 99.17% 100% 16. Electronic Copy Circulation. a. Requested and paid electronic copies 12,147 11,876 b. Total requested and paid printed copies (line 15c)+requested/paid electronic copies (Line 16a) 28,527 30,298 c. Total requested copy distribution (line 15f)+requested paid electronic copies line 16a) 28,664 30,306 d. Percent paid and/or requested circulation (both print & electronic copies) (16b divided by 16c X 100) 100% 100% ✔ I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (electronic and print) are legitimate requests or paid copies). 17. This Statement of Ownership shall be printed in the December 2019 issue of this publication. 18. I certify that on October 1, 2018, all information furnished on this form is true and complete. Vince Czarnowski, Business Manager.

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Scenario-Based Microlearning for Soft Skills A neuroscience perspective on people skills training • BY TODD MADDOX


Todd Maddox is CEO and founder of Cognitive Design and Statistical Consulting LLC.

ob success requires strong hard and technical skills, and strong interpersonal and people (or soft) skills. Hard and technical skills training involves imparting information, knowledge, facts and figures on a learner. Training an employee on the rules and regulations of appropriate conduct, how to use a new software program, or the technical and mathematical skills needed to conduct data science are examples. Interpersonal and people skills involve a deep understanding of another’s perspective (e.g., empathy) and of how our actions are interpreted by and affect others. How to communicate and collaborate effectively and how to lead are examples. Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching suggests that 85 percent of job success comes from having strong people skills, with only 15 percent coming from technical skills and hard skills. With the rapid rate of change in the workplace associated with digital transformation, people skills are becoming even more important. Therefore, effective people skills training is a must to keep organizations and their employees competitive. It’s no secret that microlearning is popular in L&D these days. From a neuroscience of learning perspective, microlearning techniques are targeted at working memory, executive attention and attention span and lead to effective processing in the cognitive skills learning system. The cognitive skills learning system in the brain recruits the prefrontal cortex, a region of cortex directly behind the forehead that mediates the learning of hard and technical skills. Thus, microlearning can be highly effective at training hard and technical skills. Interpersonal and people skills are much more nuanced and complex. They require not only a cognitive understanding, but an emotional understanding of ourselves, and how we are interpreted by and affect others. They are about behavior: what we do, how we do it and our intent. To train people skills one must engage more than cognitive centers with microlearning — one must also engage emotional and behavioral learning centers. The neuroscience is clear in showing that behavior change is optimized when the behavioral learning system is directly engaged. This happens when learners are in scenarios in which they elicit behaviors that are followed in real time (literally within milliseconds) by corrective feedback. Unfortunately, e-learning platforms are not conducive to real-time interactive behavioral feedback.

62 Chief Learning Officer • December 2019 •

Although behavioral learning centers are hard to engage effectively at scale, when done right, emotional learning centers can be effectively engaged with scenario-​ based storytelling using video or animation. The more emotional systems are engaged, the more the learner is drawn in, and the more they see themselves in the training. Rather than directly engaging the behavioral system through behavior training, scenario-based storytelling engages the emotional learning centers that then indirectly engage behavioral learning centers.

Research suggests that 85 percent of job success comes from having strong people skills. The behavioral engagement levels are smaller in magnitude, but high-quality scenarios prime the learner for behavior change, and when combined with targeted practice for learners following scenario-based training, they can help employees understand how to do the right thing from a people skills perspective. If your organization is considering a people skills training solution, a few considerations are in order. If it is critical that you target behavior change directly, then consider virtual reality people skills training solutions. If VR is outside your budget, look for a vendor with a high-quality and highly engaging scenario-based microlearning approach to people skills training. The quality of scenarios varies greatly across vendors, and a discussion with a vendor’s clients will be informative. In addition, demo the scenarios yourself and have others on your team demo the solution. This may not be the most objective approach, but it is still a useful exercise. Ask whether targeted and well-defined practice for learners is part of the offering. Scenario-based storytelling can prime the learner for behavior change, but targeted practice can develop people skills behaviors. If a specific aspect of behavior change is critical to your organization, such as effective leadership or sales coaching, then explore offerings that combine broad-based people skills training through e-learning with VR training. CLO

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YOU’VE GOT TALENT Bring out the best in it.

Meet Adam Morettin, Senior Director of Clinical Education & Training at DaVita. His team is responsible for ensuring ongoing delivery of Clinical Education, continually upskilling clinical care providers at 2500+ domestic dialysis centers across the country.

“At DaVita, our Villages’ Mission is to be the Provider, Partner and Employer of Choice. Patient quality of life is at the top of our Clinical Quality Pyramid, and I am accountable for ensuring our 42,500 Clinical Teammates excel at improving patient quality of life. We have an appetite to connect our Teammates in a mutual learning environment, while at the same time, solving for some of the travel expense barriers we see today. The virtual connected classroom technology we’ve employed in partnership with DeVry helps connect our teammates to broader development opportunities that they might not have had previously. We want to be a Village that develops our workforce from ‘hire to retire.’ I’m incredibly humbled to be a leader within DaVita…”

We’re proud that our partnership provides an important modality solution to help Adam connect Teammates to development opportunities.


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Profile for Chief Learning Officer

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Defense Acquisition University’s Jim Woolsey: Throughout his career, Jim Woolsey has focused on progress and moving forward. As president of...

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