IMMERSIVE LEARNING | 16
Engaging Learners At Greater Depth
DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 34
Enabling Success Through Learning
CASCADING STRATEGY | 46 The Journey To Strategic Alignment
PERSPECTIVES - KE N TAY LO R
TREATING THE TRAINING DEPARTMENT LIKE A BUSINESS IS A GOOD FRAME THROUGH WHICH TO EVALUATE YOUR IMPACT AND SET YOUR PRIORITIES.
As you may have noticed, this issue of our magazine has previously been our annual trends edition, but this year we wanted to broaden the conversation and focus on the business of learning â€“ and tracking trends is one piece of that strategy. As training professionals, we are in the business of learning. We work with company executives to identify the goals and objectives of the business and we uncover problems that undermine the performance of our organizations. We design, develop and deploy training programs to help solve those business problems and increase productivity. Helping employees learn and improve their performance is at the heart of the mission. In this edition of Training Industry Magazine, you will find articles that address the framework necessary to structure training as a business, how we can move beyond levels of measurement and build tangible value through data and analytics, the business challenges associated with digital disruption, and how purposeful leaders can lead our organizations into a prosperous future. Our companyâ€™s annual trends report is also included in this issue, where we reflect on the ideas that have impacted our industry over the past 12 months,
and we look ahead to the trends that will shape our business moving forward. We have seen a dramatic increase in the speed that training departments need to operate with to meet the needs of their organizations. That speed necessitates a change in tools, strategies and approaches to drive organization performance and improve overall business performance. With changes in the market come challenges due to the additional complexity in the programs we develop and manage. And as the expectations of the learner continue to evolve, additional pressure is placed on us to provide the development opportunities they need to progress as a valued contributor to the company. Treating the training department like a business is a good frame through which to evaluate your impact and set your priorities. It is our goal at Training Industry to provide you with insights and tools to manage the business of learning. This edition should provide you with some ideas that you can incorporate into the way your company manages their investment in training employees. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the points of views shared in the magazine. Ken Taylor is the president and editor in chief of Training Industry, Inc. Email Ken.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - BUSINESS OF LEARNING 20 1 7 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
CO N T E N TS
TA B L E O F VOLUME 11
16 IMMERSIVE LEARNING
16 21 24 28 34 38 42
DISRUPT YOUR LEARNING!
THE RISE OF IMMERSIVE LEARNING By Kate Pasterfield
Deliver more memorable and powerful learning experiences with immersive learning.
BEYOND LEVELS: BUILDING VALUE USING LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT DATA By Dr. Kurt Kraiger & Dr. Eric A. Surface
Data alone does not create value, it’s how L&D professionals use it that generates value.
THE BIG THREE PILLARS FOR ACHIEVING CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE By Edward G. Brown
These big three pillars can help improve performance and enhance competitive value.
TRENDS 2018: SPEED IS THE HEART OF THE LEARNER EXPERIENCE By Doug Harward & Ken Taylor
The trends for 2018 reflect the impact of speed on developing effective learning experiences. FACING BUSINESS DISRUPTION? DISRUPT YOUR LEARNING! By Sam Herring
L&D must learn how to utilize modern technologies to face down organizational disruption.
CORPORATE TRAINING IS A BUSINESS WITHIN A BUSINESS By N. Dean Meyer
Tap into your entrepreneurial spirit and start running your training department like a business.
THE CONTENT CONUNDRUM: HOW TO CHANGE YOUR DEVELOPMENT APPROACH TO GET BETTER BUSINESS RESULTS By Carol Leaman
It’s time for a critical shift in how training professionals are developing effective content.
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT JOURNEY: THE SECRET TO CASCADING STRATEGY By Steven J. Stowell & Stephanie S. Mead
Steer your organization in the right direction with this alignment process.
THE CORNERSTONE OF GREAT LEADERSHIP: BECOMING PURPOSEFUL By Matt Norquist & Mark Hannum
Move toward a more purposeful state of leadership by committing to these five practices.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - BUSINESS OF LEARNING 20 1 7 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
I N THIS I S S U E
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PERSPECTIVES By Ken Taylor
Helping employees learn and improve is at the heart of L&D.
GUEST EDITOR By Shelly Wilds
L&D’s brand and reputation can impact its ability to be effective.
SCIENCE OF LEARNING By Srini Pillay, M.D.
Accentuate your business approach to learning using brain science.
BUILDING LEADERS By Sam Shriver & Marshall Goldsmith
The success of training rides on the achievement of strategic goals.
LEARNER MINDSET By Michelle Eggleston
Training is useless if learners are not invested in it.
WHAT’S NEXT IN TECH
By Eric Sharp
By using business best practices, the future of learning looks bright
PERFORMANCE MATTERS By Julie Winkle Giulioni
Elevate performance by treating learning like a consumer product.
Master Electronics built a successful learning culture with partnerships and communication.
Possessing data means nothing without knowing how to effectively utilize it.
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Tech deals reflect growing digitalization among small and medium-sized businesses.
Keep up with the latest in the training industry by reading news from the last quarter.
A B O U T OUR TEAM
STAFF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Doug Harward
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Stephani Mager
EDITOR IN CHIEF & PRESIDENT Ken Taylor
SENIOR DESIGNER & ART DIRECTOR Heather Schwendner
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Michelle Eggleston
DESIGNER Mary Lewis
EDITOR Taryn Oesch
MISSION Training Industry Magazine connects learning and development professionals with the resources and solutions needed to more effectively manage the business of learning.
JUDI BADER Senior Director of Learning Arbyâ€™s Restaurant Group
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MATTHEW S. PRAGER Executive Training Manager U.S. Government MARC RAMOS Head of Education, Google Fiber Google KELLY RIDER Vice President, L&D Content Strategy & Experience SAP Learning & Development
LORNA HAGAN Chief People Officer OnDeck BARBARA JORDAN Group Vice President, Global Learning & Development Sims Metal Management CATHERINE KELLY, MA, BSN, RN, CPTM Director of Learning Programs Brookdale Senior Living ADAM KUCERA Director of Sales Training & Support DISH SHIREEN LACKEY Talent Management Officer, Office of Business Process Integration Veterans Benefits Administration LAURA MORAROS Global Head of Sales Learning Facebook A | S | B | P|E
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GUEST EDITOR SHELLY WILDS
We hear stories about it on the news. Stories of large companies that yield to public opinion because ultimately the public’s perception of your brand dictates whether or not people spend their money on your product. A brand represents everything you do or say and your brand reputation is what people say about you. In learning and performance, our business is helping to shape behavior that improves business results. Everything we do and say creates our brand and our brand’s reputation can have an impact on our ability to be effective.
EACH INTERACTION BUILDS OUR REPUTATION. In 1984, Malcolm Knowles came out with his fifth assumption about adult learners. This fifth assumption was motivation. It states that as a person matures, the motivation to learn becomes more intrinsic. Motivation influences behavior, and if our goal is to change behavior, we must first protect the learner’s motivation to learn. We spend a great deal of time ensuring learners know “why” they need to learn new knowledge and skills at the beginning of each course; however, these learners do not come to class with a blank slate. Unless they are new to the company, they have taken many courses from our department, and
over time, they have built a perception of the learning coming out of the learning and performance organization. This is how our department’s reputation is built. We often address motivation by starting with the “why” and making sure the learning is relevant, but every experience with our department builds on their perception and ultimately impacts their motivation. Whether it is a designer working with a subject matter expert, an instructor delivering a course, or a program manager discussing options with stakeholders, each interaction builds our reputation. Changing someone’s perception can be difficult. This is why learning professionals must pay close attention to their reputation.
BUILDING YOUR REPUTATION It is never too late to build a great reputation for your organization. Step 1: Start by doing an audit of your brand. How is my brand being perceived now? An audit will help you determine the perceptions and feelings about your department and help you plan corrective actions. This process will help you identify areas of strength as well as the weaknesses that need to be addressed. Step 2: After performing the audit, it is time to build a framework of what you want your brand identity to be. What do you
want others to think or say about your department? Be sure your identity and brand are aligned with the business objectives. Step 3: Once the framework is established and you know what you want your brand to be known for, it is time to take what you learned and create an action plan or strategy. The action plan will be a roadmap to improving your brand’s reputation. It should include the issues highlighted in the interviews, the steps needed to improve each issue, the result you expect to see, and finally, the timeline for improvement. Once you have the plan together, it is time to review with your teams and get their buy-in to execute on the new plan.
REALIZING THE BENEFITS Building a brand strategy and identity can be time consuming and challenging, but the benefits improve your ability to be effective and ultimately help the business be successful. To ensure all the hard work isn’t lost, it is essential that you continue to monitor your brand. We survey learners after courses; however, getting the feedback isn’t enough – we must make improvements based on that feedback. Doing this will help you build champions for your department and improve your ability to be effective. Shelly Wilds is the director of learning and performance for CDK Global. Email Shelly.
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SCIENCE OF LEARNING SRINI PILLAY, M.D.
THE BUSINESS OF LEARNING:
PERSPECTIVES FROM BRAIN SCIENCE In order to thrive as a learning provider, it is crucial to understand the business of learning. On the one hand, you want to keep abreast of current trends. On the other hand, you also want to distinguish yourself as a learning provider to maintain your integrity and set new trends. Learning starts in the brain. Understanding how the brain works could revolutionize your learning business. Consider the following principles to accentuate your business approach to learning. MATCH THE STRATEGIES YOU SELL TO HOW THE BRAIN WORKS Up to 98 percent of mental activity is outside of conscious awareness. Hence, most learning is unconscious. That is why learning programs should aim to develop the unconscious brain. And learning budgets should be apportioned accordingly. How to do this: Educate companies that buy learning from you that their money is best spent on targeting the majority of mental activity, which is unconscious. Exercises that stimulate memories, automatic reactions and reflection are useful ways to stimulate the unconscious. While you can never know what is going on in the unconscious, learning needs to take care of the unconscious so that conscious strategies can be embedded in a healthy unconscious brain. ADDRESS ALL PHASES OF LEARNING In the brain, learning involves multiple steps such as attending to new information, storing this information in short-term memory, transferring information to long-term memory, and then retrieving information when it is
necessary. As a result, any information delivered should be engaging and easily stored and retrieved. How to do this: Invest in learning that is shared in a way that is easy to remember and retrieve. Powerful videos and visually compelling content that is digestible will likely distinguish the learning and make it worth buying. Also, follow-up modules for online learning will enhance the investment that companies make in the initial learning. CONSIDER TECHNOLOGY Simply having great content is not enough. In all cases, you want to consider whether the learning can be leveraged with modern technology. How to do this: Ask yourself, “Is the learning you are providing mobile friendly?” Can the learning be enhanced in online community portals? Would gaming enhance the quality of learning? And can augmented or virtual reality enhance the content? Remember, multimodal learning (e.g., learning delivered in image and sound) can increase the brain’s ability to change. Technology also helps to scale learning as individual workshops are often too expensive. This will make the learning more affordable. USE BRAIN-BASED METHODOLOGIES When Gartner examined whether brain-based methods would be part of learning in the future, they reported an exponential rise. In 2011, the adoption of neurobusiness techniques was 1 percent. This increased to 10 percent in 2016, and the prediction is that by 2021, the
adoption rate will be 25 percent. With this meteoric rise in brain-based methods, learning providers should include this content in their product offerings. How to do this: Hire qualified people to use brain-based methods to help buyers learn research-based mindset changes that they can institute. You can hire research psychologists, psychiatrists and brainresearchers, and also help them partner with professional writers to help make the information consumable.
LEARNING SHOULD NOT BE STAGNANT. TINKER DABBLE DOODLE TRY Learning should not be stagnant. Part of your own approach should also involve innovation. Allocate part of your budget to create novel ways to learn. Some element of novelty will keep your brain and the brains of buyers engaged. How to do this: Try out innovative formats for learning. Debates, integrated technologies, artistic vehicles such as music and acting can all help communicate a message. To stay ahead of the competition, we need to practice what we preach and stay innovative. Understanding how the brain works gives you a chance to improve your learning business both directly and indirectly. Dr. Srini Pillay is the CEO of NeuroBusiness Group. He is also assistant professor (part-time) at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the executive education programs at Harvard Business School and Duke CE. Email Srini.
TOP 20 COMPANIES
Check Out Our 2017 Watch List Companies
The Top 20 Companies are a service provided by Training Industry, Inc. Due to the diversity of services offered, no attempt is made to rank the “Top 20s.”
PERFORMANCE MATTERS JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI
IF LEARNING WAS A
CONSUMER PRODUCT In today’s time and attention-challenged world, learning leaders are seeking myriad ways to market training to employees, to engage their hearts and minds, and to develop a deep connection that leads to sustained behavior change. Hmmm… this sounds a lot like the same challenges facing consumer product brands. Perhaps L&D should turn to P&G (and other companies) for strategies to reach their own customers.
identifying a “product manager” for each initiative. They’re realizing value from having one person who thinks deeply about the learning “product” 24/7 and owns the customer (learner) relationships. This level of intimacy demonstrates organizational commitment, enhances user engagement and provides a wealth of information about ongoing opportunities and improvements.
Those who market products to end-user consumers have cracked the code on connecting for mutual benefit. These three specific approaches may have direct application to the training and learning environment.
MANAGE THE LIFECYCLE
CREATE COMMUNITY Some of the most successful consumer brands are highly effective at creating and managing online communities. These social networks are generally part of an overall customer relationship strategy and are designed to support marketing, grow sales and drive SEO. Learning functions can realize similar goals by more proactively and deliberately connecting people with each other and with the learning “product.” Creating user communities leverages social media, a structure that people are familiar with and use in the non-work parts of their lives. It can generate enthusiasm and energy by amplifying positive messages. It can also offer help, support struggling learners and diffuse negative or ambivalent feelings in the same way product marketers address customer issues or complaints. As a result, many learning organizations are beginning to experiment with
No learning initiative operates in isolation. It’s generally part of a broader ecosystem of knowledge and skills required for ever-increasing levels of capacity and contribution. Product-oriented companies understand this. If customers are purchasing this item today, it’s likely they’ll need this other item tomorrow. This understanding can be profound. In fact, Target’s exceptional predictive analytics made news several years ago when it identified a customer’s pregnancy before others in her life knew about it. The L&D function can certainly anticipate key events in the employment lifecycle and proactively support workers through key transitions. For instance, if the organization knows that employees typically resign after two years, what interventions could be offered at the 18-month point?
informational notifications based upon their understanding of the needs of the individual, or that target audience of one. And even when these communications are sent to large audiences, they have a “just for me” quality about them. The L&D community might benefit from a similar approach. For instance, upon completion of a workshop, post-session emails or texts to the individual could build upon what’s been learned with supplemental reading or suggestions about complementary webinars. Upon logging into the intranet or LMS, learners could receive personalized recommendations. And when an opportunity arises for learners to put new skills into practice, contextual reminders could be used to support application.
CONSUMER PRODUCT COMPANIES PERSONALIZE COMMUNICATION.
As the L&D function becomes increasingly vital to organizational success, the pressure to deliver results will only become greater. Lifting a page from the consumer products playbook may be just the strategy to elevate performance – not just for the function but for every employee it touches.
Whereas learning and training departments tend to communicate with broad audiences, consumer product companies have figured out how to target their audiences down to the individuals and personalize communication accordingly. They push product and
Julie Winkle Giulioni has 25 years of experience working with organizations to improve performance through learning. Named one of Inc. Magazines top 100 leadership speakers, Julie is the co-author of the bestseller, “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.” Email Julie.
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BUILDING LEADERS SAM SHRIVER & MARSHALL GOLDSMITH
TRAINING IS WHO WE ARE If you ask Hall of Fame caliber coaches in competitive collegiate athletics to reveal the secret of their success, literally all of them will respond by saying one thing: “Talent!” No matter how much coaching-related knowledge you have accumulated — or skill you have developed — it is impossible to win games against quality opponents on a consistent basis without talent. If you ask elite teenage athletes why they opted to accept a scholarship from one university over all the others they could have chosen, their answers consistently sound something like this: “It was obviously a very difficult decision, but at the end of the day, I feel my choice provides me with the best possible chance to reach my full potential.” If you dig a little deeper in these situations, you understandably find out that “reaching my full potential” translates more to athletic advancement than it does to academic excellence. It is also largely a function of the track record the coach and the university in question has established for winning national championships and developing players of distinction. With all of that in mind, it’s probably no surprise whatsoever that year after year, the football program at the University of Alabama (UA) and the women’s basketball program at the University of Connecticut (UConn) consistently welcome elite recruiting classes. To the contrary, it would be an anomaly of
sorts if they didn’t. What does any of that have to do with the business of training? In a word, we would suggest, everything! While most organizations across industries place some degree of legitimate value on training, there are a few that have found a way to leverage their training function as a genuine source of competitive advantage. If you qualify as a potential recruit with these organizations and are lucky enough to land a job, you will be thoroughly and intentionally tested. Goals will be set for you that will demand a level of short-term effort that renders work-life balance akin to “mission impossible.” You will stay up late and get
TRAINING ISN’T SOMETHING TRAINING PROFESSIONALS DO – IT IS WHO THEY ARE. up early. You will experience incremental success and unavoidable frustration. You will periodically question if you have what it takes, and you will somehow persevere fueled by an inner strength you never consciously realized you possessed. You will be guided on your learning path by credentialed training professionals who are the equivalent of the strength, conditioning and position coaches at UA and UConn. They will unapologetically
ask for more when you have given everything you thought you had to give. Those trainers and coaches will also somehow magically appear when you find self-doubt creeping in to assure you that you never would have been hired in the first place if you didn’t possess the potential to make your dream a reality. These companies (big and small; for profit and nonprofit) measure success by whatever is the business equivalent of winning national championships. Championships and the consistent display of excellence in every imaginable way is not only their focus, it is their collective passion. In that regard, they view training as the fulcrum around which their competitive advantage revolves. It is inextricably tied to their ability to “stay out in front.” Training isn’t something they do; training, quite simply, is who they are. And while the organizations they compete with typically invest significant dollars and resources measuring the return of investment of one program or another, these organizations tend to measure the effectiveness of their training function by the achievement of their strategic objectives, and little else. Marshall Goldsmith is the world authority in helping successful leaders get even better. Sam Shriver is the senior vice president of commercial operations and product development at The Center for Leadership Studies. Email Marshall and Sam.
The Rise of Immersive Learning By Kate Pasterfield | 16
EINSTEIN REPUTEDLY SAID, “LEARNING IS EXPERIENCE. EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST INFORMATION.” THESE SAGE WORDS HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE PERTINENT.
New technologies are creating opportunities to make immersive learning more experiential, creating the opportunity to “transport” people into an environment or situation where they are enveloped and engaged at greater depth than previously possible. And the technology is poised to make the leap into workplace learning, as factors conspire to bridge the gap between possibility and practicality. More deeply
immersive learning is now possible, and it’s bringing with it a powerful tool for delivering more memorable and meaningful learning experiences.
A New Generation Up until now, creating an immersive experience within workplace e-learning might have meant leveraging
approaches such as storytelling to place the learner as the actor within a story, or encouraging real-time decision-making and experiencing the consequences of their choices. For those with the resources, simulations offer greater immersion by providing experiences that closely emulate a realworld situation and enable practice physically within it, in real time. Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest that experiences gained during a simulation can be committed to memory as if they were real.
New technologies are creating the opportunity to transport people into an environment where they are enveloped and engaged at greater depth than previously possible.
But there are some limitations with these approaches. E-learning doesn’t have the same experience of embodiment as a simulation; meanwhile, a simulation is often highly complex and therefore comes at a higher price tag. Such costs may be suitable for certain missioncritical skills practice (such as flying a Dreamliner), but for the majority of work skills, the cost makes them non-viable for many organizations. Simulators are also major pieces of hardware, not something that sits easily with the increasingly agile, personalized requirements of today’s global workforce.
AR (computer-generated interactive enhancements layered on top of existing reality) is all about giving people information when they need it, so it actually takes away the need to memorize everything. A lot of workplace mistakes are caused by people not being able to remember exactly what they learned in their training, so AR has a tremendous amount to offer as a performance support tool in reducing errors at work. AR can be incredibly simple at the point of delivery.
However, there is now a new generation of immersive technologies, including interactive 360-degree video, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and, a little further down the line, haptics, which hold exciting possibilities for bringing deeper immersive learning into the workplace. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most talked about technologies.
The mainstream market isn’t focused on whether technology is new, but on whether it’s better.
VR (computer-generated recreation or 360-degree video of a real-life situation) builds an environment that simulates a real experience without the risk, difficulty and cost. It also enables trainees to make decisions safely and to learn from their mistakes. And it allows for practice. The most often cited uses are simulators that allow learners to effectively “road test” machinery such as cranes and forklift trucks. Any job that’s potentially dangerous would see great benefit in training that includes VR.
Emerging now is volumetric film. This relies on light-field captured footage that produces 3D images of the surroundings. What this means is that within a VR experience, the “flat” nature of the video will disappear, and you will be able to move around the actors within
the space. Early examples include films shown at this year’s Tribeca VR festival, “Hallelujah” and “Blackout.” This will increase user adjacency in an immersive experience, and later – with the addition of haptic feedback introducing the sensations of touch, heat and enhanced spatial awareness – simulations will become as close to reality as you can get. This has real application for learning in vital areas such as the emergency services, military and mechanics. Great examples are firefighting training and surgical procedures for medical learners. Immersing people in a life-like situation using interactive VR or AR works equally well with soft skills. Customer service or crisis management are great examples where staff can be placed in positions of potential conflict or tension, where they are able to make decisions about what might pose a risk. By tackling scenarios in an interactive environment, the learner develops the skills to resolve issues in an appropriate way. This really is learning by doing, in context. But immersive technologies can do even more than this. They can help organizations choose the right job applicants. By putting candidates through their paces at the recruitment stage, they can gain the best possible insight as to their skills and suitability. And it gives the potential new joiners a chance to “try out” the job in advance. It takes some of the guess work out of the selection process and increases the chances of both employer and applicant
technology is new; it’s about whether it’s better. So, what’s the evidence that immersion is better for learning? A recent study sought to compare mobile VR learning against two other learning methods. In the VR case, 100 percent of learners said they could apply the learning and 90 percent said they would feel valued if their employer offered VR. Compared to other learning methods, mobile VR delivered greater learning satisfaction, was significantly more enjoyable and easier to concentrate on. making the right decisions, saving a whole lot of time and money.
Converging Factors We’ve reached an exciting moment in the rise of immersive learning technologies as several factors converge to change the landscape. First, VR has evolved from a PC-based technology to a mobile one. This means that an immersive experience is now achievable simply using the same technology we carry around in our pockets – our smartphones. And, thanks to web-based VR, it eliminates the need for apps to be installed on personal devices. Add to this the emergence of affordable VR headsets like Google Cardboard and other hands-free equivalents, the investment needed to provide the experience is much more accessible to companies. Further, the technologies needed to create the experience itself are also more affordable with more consumer 360-degree video cameras arriving on the market all the time. So, the stage is set for immersive learning to enter the workplace learning ecosystem. But there’s still a chasm to cross. In his book, “Crossing the Chasm,” Geoffrey A. Moore identified the conditions that enable a disruptive technology to move from innovation to mainstream adoption. He observed that the mainstream market (the early majority) isn’t focused on whether a
And even more than this, learners who encountered the VR experience scored an average of 94.5 percent when tested on the learning objectives, compared to the average scores of 87 percent for a text document. More research is being carried out all the time, amounting to a growing body of evidence that suggests immersive technologies can make learning more memorable and meaningful.
A Turning Point in Learning If futurist Gerd Leonhard is right in his prediction that we’ll see more change in the next 20 years than we’ve experienced in the last 300, then those who are responding now will have a head start. These changes will revolutionize the jobs we do and the way we work, and technology will be driving many of these changes. Immersive learning is only going to get bigger. We’re reaching a turning point in learning, and there will be no going back. The question organizations need to ask themselves isn’t, “Why should we be doing this?” but, “Why aren’t we doing this?”
TAKEAWAYS IMMERSIVE TO DATE • Storytelling in e-learning, interactive video and branching are limited by lack of deeper immersion or a feeling of “embodiment.” • Simulations and simulated training experiences are limited by high costs to produce and suitable for specific learning needs.
THE NEW IMMERSION • The availability of mobile VR, AR and 360-degree filming is enabling immersive learning within the workplace. • Applications include practical and soft skills development as well as recruit testing and onboarding orientation, providing utility throughout the career development lifecycle.
WHY IT WORKS • Evidence shows that virtual experiences are committed to memory as if they were experienced first-hand. • “Learning by doing” is a powerful learning method, enabling people to experience and make decisions in real-time and see the consequences of their actions. • Immersive VR experiences have been shown to be more enjoyable and satisfying than other learning methods.
Kate Pasterfield is head of innovation at Sponge UK and a double award-winning learning technologies designer. Email Kate.
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Beyond Levels: Building Value Using Learning and Development Data BY DR. KURT KRAIGER & DR. ERIC A. SURFACE
FOR MANY LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT (L&D) PROFESSIONALS, TRAINING EVALUATION PRACTICES REMAIN MIRED IN THE MUCK. WHAT ENDS UP BEING EVALUATED HASN’T CHANGED MUCH OVER THE PAST TWO OR THREE DECADES. WE ALMOST UNIVERSALLY MEASURE WHETHER TRAINEES LIKED THE TRAINING, MOST OF US MEASURE IF THEY LEARNED SOMETHING, AND BEYOND THAT, EVALUATION IS A MIX OF “WE’D LIKE TO DO THAT” AND, “WE’RE NOT SURE OF WHAT TO MAKE OF THE DATA WE GET.” PERHAPS MORE CRITICALLY, IN ONE RECENT NATIONAL SURVEY, NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF L&D PROFESSIONALS DID NOT SEE THEIR LEARNING EVALUATION EFFORTS AS EFFECTIVE IN MEETING THEIR ORGANIZATION’S BUSINESS GOALS. It was probably mystery writer Rita Mae Brown (and not Albert Einstein) who first defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. But the logic still holds, when planning a training evaluation, L&D professionals typically think first about what to evaluate, and then think later (perhaps too late!) about how to use evaluation results to demonstrate the value of training. Training evaluation
and learning analytics should be all about creating value throughout the L&D enterprise. When consultants are approached to provide training evaluation help, the request is often framed as follows: “We are already evaluating Level X; we need help in evaluating Level X+1.” When asked why Level X+1 is valuable, the answer is invariably, “because we are
already evaluating Level X!” It’s time to think beyond levels.
GOT VALUE? The goal of establishing value should always be the primary concern of L&D professionals. Just as good instructional designers should focus on L&D efforts that solve practical problems or address known competency gaps, evaluation
THE GOAL OF ESTABLISHING VALUE SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY CONCERN OF L&D PROFESSIONALS. should be planned based on knowledge of how to best measure and convey value to multiple organizational stakeholders. L&D can be seen through the lens of transactions. Organizations (and learning enterprises) expend resources to acquire, develop and deliver learning content. Managers lose team member contributions when they send their staff to attend training. These days, many learners give up family time or sleep to “learn anytime, anywhere” online. Learners, their supervisors and the organization benefit (gain resources) as a result of L&D activities. Evaluation data can quantify resources expended and gained. If we think of evaluation as making judgments about data – value judgments – then we must begin by asking not, “What to measure?” but, “What is of value to whom?” Value is created by using the data. Data remains data unless its acted upon in intentional ways. Data does not create value, it’s how you use it.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Answering “of value to whom?” introduces the concept of value from a human capital perspective. How does the development of individual skills and competencies relate to the resolution
of performance problems? How does this development affect the potential of the organization for effectiveness and growth? Addressing “of value to whom?” recognizes that subjective judgments of value differ among stakeholders in the organization. Too often, value is defined from only a single perspective in traditional evaluation frameworks. Perceptions of value may differ from the perspective of learners, trainers/ facilitators, instructional designers, training managers, CLOS and C-suite executives. Each of these stakeholders in the L&D process play different roles, hold different objectives for L&D, and should expect different data tailored to them to make judgments about L&D value. All stakeholders require relevant, timely data to perform their roles effectively and create value or to improve outcomes and create more value. The data needed to support each role should be the focus of the evaluation, not measuring levels. When we understand the ways in which stakeholders see their work and its contributions to organizational outcomes and the ways in which L&D affects those contributions, we can work backwards to design data collection to support the contributions of all stakeholders. The L&D professional is uniquely positioned to support and drive reflection on value added by multiple stakeholders.
POWER OF TWO While different stakeholders contribute differently to the organization and interface with L&D in different ways, they all have the same two questions to answer related to how evaluation data can impact their role in the L&D process: “How well did I do? How can I do it better?” But, consider the types of questions that keep different stakeholders up at night, and how what data holds the most value differs by stakeholder. • The learner is concerned about their immediate performance and/or their potential for growth. A sales trainee
MEASURING & CONVEYING VALUE Value has little to do with ROI. The value of something derives from its importance or worth in a transaction – what we expect to gain when we expend resources (money, time, effort, and so forth). • Value must be understood from an individual perspective: You may be willing to pay $10,000 for a rare baseball card, but another fan may not. You may be willing to stand in the rain to watch your child play soccer, but another parent may not.
• Value can be defined in monetary and nonmonetary ways. Value can be created through L&D by decreasing time to effectiveness, increasing effectiveness, increasing efficiency, decreasing barriers, etc.
Value can also be created by contributing to a value chain. For example, a newly learned skill may not have direct impact, but create value as it is honed or paired with new skills of other team members.
generating data, affecting decisions, adding value and moving the organization toward its goals. Notice the adjectives we used: good, reliable, straightforward, clear and ongoing. We didn’t write: outstanding, beyond dispute, incredibly detailed, or magical and mystical. We find that when L&D professionals worry that they aren’t doing enough, or wonder if they could be doing more, they instinctively look first for “better” measures. We believe that when L&D professionals find that they are not having impact, their minds go to thinking about the “next” level (e.g., If this reaction and learning data is not convincing anyone in my organization, I guess I should be measuring behaviors).
DATA DOES NOT CREATE VALUE, IT’S HOW YOU USE IT.
might want to know, “Do I know everything about our products and services? How could I change my presentation to close more sales?” • The trainer knows that he or she helps trainees acquire the skills and knowledge to do their job. They need the data to determine how well they are doing and how to improve. They may wonder, “Are we giving our trainees enough practice and feedback to help them master job skills?” • L&D managers or CLOs are responsible for obtaining resources and allocating them efficiently to maximize the performance and learning potential of the organization. Doing it well is about “moving the needle” as efficiently as possible. They may wonder about bang for the buck: “Could I have more impact on organizational processes if I move all my training online or mobile?” In the C-suite, executives are responsible for having a vision, setting a strategy and ensuring organizational capabilities are aligned and moving in the right direction. It’s a myth that all (or even most!) top executives want to see a return on investment estimated for L&D.
L&D impacts the people part of an organization’s capability. Thus, what is of most value to top executives is data to show that the organization is hiring and keeping the right talent, preparing them effectively to do their jobs, and preparing the current and next generation of leaders to succeed in their roles: executing on business objectives. Just as the typical sales trainee will not be interested in knowing that the organization has developed a leadership bench for the future, C-suite occupants probably don’t need to know that 95 percent of trainees found the training enjoyable or interesting.
KEEP IT SIMPLE There are many components of an effective evaluation system, including: • Good, reliable measures of what is valued, or the levers that impact what is valued; • A straightforward research design that isolates the impact of L&D; • Clear ways to display data to enable informed decision-making; and • Ongoing feedback loops that the evaluation system as designed is
Instead, we need to always return to the question of value and an understanding of our stakeholders. Remember, evaluation data only have value when the data are used by a stakeholder to create it. Who has asked for this evaluation? Who might be viewing our results? Who could do their jobs better if they knew the impact we were having? By identifying stakeholders, by having conversations about how they add value to the organization, and by framing the questions of “How well did I do?” and “How can I do it better?” into a framework of value added by stakeholder, L&D professionals can conduct evaluations that build value through learning and development data. And “good, reliable, straightforward, clear and ongoing” might be just good enough. Dr. Kurt Kraiger is a professor of psychology at Colorado State University. He is also a co-founder and principle psychologist for jobZology, a career development company. Dr. Eric A. Surface is the co-founder, president and principal scientist of ALPS Solutions. He is launching a new company, ALPS Insights, to provide learning and development analytics, insights and solutions via their SaaS software platform. Email Kurt and Eric.
Creating an environment where employees can thrive even when they encounter a competitive marketplace of wrenching change is the primary reason to train them. To create such an environment, your people need to exhibit what we call CPE – consistent performance excellence. If you are investing time, money and effort in training but you’re not getting CPE, you are probably missing one or more of the big three pillars for achieving consistent performance excellence: 1 Proven best-practice content 2 Practice, practice, practice 3 Aligned and targeted coaching
As an avowed training idealist, I find it painful to admit what everybody knows: way too often, training is not taken seriously. Certainly not by culture change ninjas who sometimes greet an upcoming training session by rolling their eyes (“Waste of time – I already know how to do my job.”), or who can be heard telling others, “This is great, two paid days with no obligations.”
PILLARS FOR ACHIEVING CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE BY EDWARD G. BROWN
Sometimes, even management doesn’t take the training seriously enough. When this happens, does your executive team go about scratching their collective, puzzled head asking, “We trained them on what to do, so why aren’t they doing it?” If so, the front line and their managers must reconsider, especially if they believe that training is a crucial component to performance excellence, higher profits, better service, increased customer retentions and increased brand recognition. It’s not mysterious – there is no great secret. It’s pretty simple, really, if not easy. If your training is failing, fading or just not taking root, it’s because of the inadequacy of at least one of three things: your content, practice or coaching. That’s it.
CONTENT Developing and acquiring the right content is sometimes challenging. Knowing that the content must be customized for our clients’ needs, we always talk to senior management about what their goals are for training; and they might say, “Sales! We need to increase our revenue by X percent on this product and by Y percent on that service. We need more sales to current customers.” But then they ask us to provide leadership training. Okay, we’ve delivered some great leadership training in my day, but that was to produce great leaders, not to increase sales. Your training content needs to match your needs. Or we might tell senior management, after we’ve done some discovery work amongst the salespeople, “Your salespeople are well-schooled in product knowledge, but very few of them exhibit the communications arts and skills that lead to sales effectiveness – such as tone, tempo, smile, listening, sincerity and confidence.” But often, senior management will say, “No, we just need them to get better at product knowledge.” No matter how well-schooled your salespeople are with respect to product knowledge content, they have to become equally schooled with respect to the “style” of content presentations, as customer buying behavior studies demonstrate that a customer will more readily buy from a seller who is credible, likeable and consultative. Since credibility is the sine qua non of consultative selling, the use and application of sales training scripting clinic formats is recommended. In a scripting clinic, the facilitator works interactively with the customer-facing personnel to develop the best practice content and then uses role-playing for developing the best practice style techniques so that salespeople learn not only “what” to say but “how” to say it.
Unfortunately, it is also not unusual for training content to be selected solely because it has sold well and not because it has been proven in the field with companies whose needs resembled yours. There is no substitute for checking out the experiences of others who have invested in the content you are considering. If they got great results, you should, too – if, that is, your people have the right foundation for it. If others did not get great results, why would you hope to? And finally, the concept of “leader led.” To maximize the best quality content and achieve positive behavior change, leaders (versus training professionals) should deliver the training. The leaderled concept ensures the accountability and positive reinforcement necessary to increase the motivation needed for your trainees to change behaviors and succeed, let alone achieve CPE.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PERSONAL OBSERVATION. When managers facilitate, the training culture change ninjas, whose favorite motto is “Don’t worry, this too shall pass,” can’t misbehave or underperform your training outcome expectation unless they’re planning an early retirement. This is true even when as little as 20 percent of the training is delivered by leaders.
PRACTICE Nobody ever got excellent at anything without practicing it over and over. The biggest stars in the NBA practice
free throws every day. The number one tennis player in the world studiously hits for hours every day – not just fancy shots but the most basic forehands and backhands. They want that muscle memory that allows them to execute the perfect shot under the most grueling, testing, competitive conditions. Opera singers don’t just drill the hard parts of arias they learned years ago – they start by practicing their scales. They do that because they would otherwise experience what we call the Rubber Band Principle. It’s normal for a rubber band, no matter how long it’s stretched, to snap back to its original form when it’s not tested. It’s normal for human beings to snap back to old behaviors if they have not sufficiently drilled on new, replacement behaviors. Why would it be any different for great salespeople? A lot of what they learn does not come naturally. For example, what to say when a customer says, “You’re being pushy.” You can tell them what to say when that happens, and they can watch a video of somebody saying it just right. But if you don’t drill them on what to say and how to say it, by just winging it they are going to make a meek apology, or worse, they may say, “They make us do that,” and they will fear putting themselves out there again in the future. But if you do have them practice on what to say and how to say it sufficiently, they are going to be delighted to hear any objection the customer might make because they know exactly how to respond in a way that converts that objection to a positive response. Instead of fearful, they will be avid, confident and energized, like athletes who truly can’t wait to be tested in the arena. Practice turns fear into self-confidence. This is where what we call the OffBroadway Principle comes into play. Theater producers launch shows in small venues of less sophisticated audiences so they can make their mistakes away from the bright lights. Practicing the
newly learned behaviors of critical skills in a safe environment before they have to use them with high-valued customers allows salespeople to make their mistakes, be coached on improvements, and eventually do both the what and the how to perfection. They are now ready for the bright lights of Broadway.
NOTHING WASTES YOUR TRAINING INVESTMENT LIKE THE FAILURE TO EMBED.
COACHING There are three essential elements of great coaching – that is, coaching that leads to CPE. It must be observational. It must be targeted. It must be aligned. Otherwise, it’s more like cheerleading, scolding, or just repeating instructions. Never underestimate the power of personal observation. When you’re dealing with trained salespeople and trying to lift them to a truly superior level, general coaching is a waste of time. They need highly specific advice on precise skills performance, and you’re only going to know what advice and skills if you personally observe them in action. As for targeting, your people have different foundations and different responsibilities. If a business developer’s performance is coming up short, you will want to target your coaching to the specific needs of that particular job. But if it’s a service specialist, you’re going to want to adapt your coaching to that set of responsibilities. There’s no value in generalized coaching. If a golfer is having trouble with his backswing, it doesn’t help to coach him on his putting; he needs specific advice on the backswing. Different associates are going to demonstrate different deficiencies that need coaching. You want to align your coaching accordingly. If you have a great communicator who is timid about certain objections, he or she needs coaching on dispelling fear and then probably on overcoming objections. If you have another who knows exactly what to say for every
objection, but comes on too strong or forgets etiquette, that’s a completely different coaching session. Coaching them both in general terms helps neither of them. Without observational coaching, how will you know which person excels here but is deficient there? Who tends to snap back to old behaviors? What’s hard for your team to learn? That’s one reason managers need to learn the training content well enough to teach it and coach it. The other reason is that only managers who remain on the scene after trainers depart can make sure the training is actually embedded through a combination of accountability, reinforcement and positive motivation. Until they’re embedded, the newly learned behaviors are always at risk of being left behind when people go back to their jobs. Nothing wastes your training investment like the failure to embed.
In summary, if you combine observational coaching with leader-led training, there’s no way that you will fail to achieve training and behavioral embedding results and increased overall CPE. Furthermore, if you develop your top performers (which generally are 10 percent of your population), they will motivate the next 80 percent (who are the fence-sitters), and the bottom 10 percent (the ninjas) will either get with the plan or be gone. And that’s the truth. By carefully developing your content, practice and coaching to meet your goals, you can expand your topperforming group beyond 10 percent and realize great competitive value. Edward G. Brown is president and cochairman of Cohen Brown Management Group. He has 38 years of experience creating training programs that help executives solve their most pressing challenges and is the author of, “The Time Bandit Solution.” Email Edward.
TRENDS 2018 SPEED IS THE HEART OF THE LEARNER EXPERIENCE BY DOUG HARWARD & KEN TAYLOR
ith the level of change going on inside every organization, popular theory has been that Wtraining organizations must be able to adapt with the times. Learnersâ€™ needs are changing, technology is evolving, skills are different, automation is altering processes, and globalization is expanding our reach. Our ability to adapt to change often defines our success. But we are learning that speed is now the factor of success. How fast can we design new learning solutions? How fast can a learner access information they need to do their jobs? How fast can a worker learn a new skill? How fast can we change a learnerâ€™s behavior to improve the performance of the business? These are the critical discussions we need to be having with corporate executives. Training organizations that perform at a very high level are those that are deliberate in their approach to improving the speed of learning and performance change. The key trends for 2018 reflect the challenge and opportunity for training professionals to develop learning experiences that enable learners to reach proficiency in the shortest amount of time.
MASS CUSTOMIZATION IS DRIVING LEARNER EXPERIENCE
Blanket, one-size-fits-all training is no longer adequate to meet the unique needs of learners. They expect and require training that is customized to fit into the context of their workflow and meets the specific needs of their job role and function. To do this, learning leaders must shift their focus from creating learning programs to designing customized learning paths that encompass the entire learning experience – from the point of job entry to when the learner achieves expert performance. Adaptive technologies are helping us with how to design content differently, learning libraries provide microlearning elements that can be curated for ongoing access, and social media tools give us the ability to reinforce critical learning concepts while on the job. Workforce learning is not about courses, it’s about the entire learning experience and how we build competencies and skills unique to the individual.
CLOSING THE DIGITAL SKILLS GAP
The shelf life of digital skills is shrinking. As new technology becomes available, old skills quickly become outdated. Skills maintenance in a rapidly changing technological world is challenging to keep up with. Just as employees are mastering a new technology, a new version comes out with added capabilities and features. Learning leaders must ensure that there are resources available to help learners at the point of need. With the rise of the “Internet of Things,” we are entering an era that offers limitless opportunities to connect devices to inanimate objects. This sharing of data creates both risks and rewards. Sharing a vast amount of data creates security concerns, but also offers an immense amount of information about the users. Technology provides insights into learner behaviors and, when leveraged effectively, can create value for the business.
SPEED IS NOW THE FACTOR OF SUCCESS.
GROWING EMPHASIS ON PEOPLE SKILLS
Living in a technologically-driven world has led to a breakdown in basic communication skills. There is less and less human interaction occurring in business today. Phone calls and face-to-face meetings are being replaced by text and email communication. While technology is helping lead innovation, developing our soft skills is necessary to stay relevant, communicate value and supplement those important technical skills. Soft skills such as emotional intelligence, collaboration and negotiation are growing more important as organizations become more global and diverse. This is a call to action for L&D to refine the social skills of their workforce and ensure that soft skills training is on the agenda.
IMPROVISATION IN INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN
Improvisation is the act of spontaneously creating something from whatever is available. It has been used to teach leadership and sales professionals to deal with real-world scenarios. It is also a useful technique for helping instructional designers in reducing design and development time for new courses. It can help designers to be more creative and flexible in their approach to designing learning scenarios.
AGILE IS NOW THE STANDARD
Weâ€™ve effectively reached the end of an era with ADDIE in corporate instructional design. Instructional designers need to move beyond the event and consider the entire learning system for their programs. Agile design allows high-performing training organizations to provide employees with access to more timely training, whereas ADDIE is too time consuming and expensive for short bursts of content. Learning solution design looks more like agile software development or scrum design theory. These approaches change the way the designer thinks about the program. T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - BUSINESS OF LEARNING 20 1 7 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
THE INSTRUCTOR AS COACH
Through the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, L&D can better understand learner behaviors and predict needs by recommending and positioning content based on past behavior. Adaptive learning that is personalized to the individual is a powerful way to engage today’s workforce. The challenge for L&D is making sense of all the data and leveraging the insights to drive business value.
LEVERAGING TRAINING AS AN EMPLOYEE BENEFIT
Training is quickly becoming a key differentiator between companies competing for talent. Personal and professional development is an important focus area for modern employees when seeking employment, as well as for deciding to stay with their current employer. They want accessible training to refine and grow their skills. L&D can play an active role in retaining and engaging employees. By providing training and development, employees are more motivated and successful within their roles. Training should be leveraged as an employee incentive and added to existing benefits packages alongside retirement, health and wellness options. Employees who are successful in their current companies tend to stay with their employer for longer periods.
As the classroom size continues to shrink, the role of the instructor is changing from a facilitator for a large audience to a personal coach or tutor. Instructors must move beyond traditional facilitation skills to encompass a range of storytelling and coaching skills to personalize the learning experience. Learners do not want a regurgitation of facts and information from required pre-work; they want stories that make the content relatable to them. Learners want to be at the center of the story and the training experience.
DELIBERATE PRACTICE BECOMING STRATEGY FOR REINFORCEMENT
Transforming the training function from event managers to performance consultants is paramount to next generation training organizations. The focus is on managing the entire learning experience – from the day an employee starts the job to when they reach their targeted level of proficiency. Research shows that the best way for a learner to master a skill comes not from the course or event, but from how deliberate they are in practicing and improving their skills over time. High-performing training organizations focus on competency models as a comprehensive approach to learning design, curating all aspects of learning from onboarding, to structured courses, to on-the-job training, to coaching and mentoring, and to the deliberate practice of skills.
TRAINING SPEND INCREASING
Overall global budgets appear to be on the rise – we expect a 2 to 5 percent increase globally. We see investments taking on a more project feel, with some situations of reducing current investment levels to allocate to major initiatives on the horizon. We also expect L&D leaders to continue the trend of spending more of their total budget internally (new headcount) versus sourcing more of the programs externally. As we move into a new year and continue to analyze the training market, it is our hope that these trends will provide some insight and direction when planning your training strategy. We would love to hear how these trends are impacting your organization. Doug Harward is CEO of Training Industry, Inc. Ken Taylor is the president and editor in chief of Training Industry, Inc. Email Doug and Ken.
adaptive learning Ultimate Personalization â€” Maximum Business Impact No two brains are alike. Area9â€™s adaptive platform combines cognitive neuroscience and computer science with your content to cut training time in half, guarantee proficiency and make lasting impacts on careers and business outcomes.
BY SAM HERRING
One of the most pressing forces of change in today’s world, across all aspects of society, is digital disruption. It’s not surprising that tech claims the five largest market cap companies in the world: Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. But tech disruption is not just limited to the tech titans. Digital is remaking traditional industries like transportation, financial services, health care and manufacturing. Digital is massively restructuring these industries, and companies are facing huge challenges navigating the changes pulsing through them. In fact, a recent MIT and Deloitte study found that 90 percent of companies surveyed believe their core business is threatened by new digital competitors.
Learning has always been a critical enabler of strategic change within large organizations, so it is not surprising that learning leaders are increasingly being called upon to help businesses face the effects of digital disruption. But the digital challenge is unique. What’s different is the nature of the strategic changes that digital is spawning— accelerating speed, global reach and scale across organizations, shifting information flows top-tobottom and bottom-to-top within organizations, disruption of old and creation of new business models, and more.
Dennis Baltzley, global head of leadership development for Korn Ferry Hay Group, describes the challenges facing learning organizations and businesses undergoing transformational change: “Disruption today has revealed profound shifts in how corporate learning must think about development.” Baltzley continues, “The future of leadership is Agility. Not only the resilience to handle many changes, but the agility to let go of the past and pivot to new ways of thinking and working. It was important, it’s now at the top of the list.”
CORPORATE LEARNING ITSELF IS NOT IMMUNE FROM CHANGE. And there’s another catch: corporate learning itself is not immune from change—it is facing disruptions of its own. In addition, the landscape of learning technologies has radically re-shaped over the past few years to include new categories such as learning experience, program experience, microlearning platforms, and more, according to Josh Bersin. Unlike the old categories focused on process automation and content distribution, new learner-first technologies emphasize engagement and collaboration. Some argue that learning is the most important solution to the challenges of digital disruption. In his recent book, “Thank You for Being Late,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes that we have entered a new “Age of Accelerations,” pointing to Moore’s Law - the theory postulated by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that computational processing power doubles every two years - as a core foundation of technology-accelerated change in our world. After explaining the profound impact of exponential processing power, he argues that speeding humanity’s capacity to learn is fundamental to our ability to keep pace with the accelerating rate of technology-driven change. Friedman writes that for millennia, technology advanced slowly and steadily, and people had plenty of time to adapt. For example, it took hundreds of years for the longbow to advance from initial
development to military use in Europe. But, thanks to Moore’s Law, technological change is happening much faster and is beginning to outstrip our ability to adapt. For his book, Friedman interviews Eric “Astro” Teller, the leader of Google X, who posits that the solution to speeding human adaptability to rapid, technology-driven change is 90 percent about “optimizing for learning.” Increasing our capacity to learn as continuous, lifelong learners is the best way for us to keep up with accelerating change, in life and in business. And the new technologies and modalities of the disrupted learning sphere are enabling organizations to adapt to a changing world faster.
From Disrupted to Disruptor A great example of modern learning changing the game for a digitally disrupted business comes from Microsoft. The company realized the disruptive potential of cloud and mobile technologies – both to its business and its customers. When Satya Nadella became CEO a few years ago, he challenged the company to be “mobile-first, cloud-first.” Microsoft’s sales and marketing readiness team knew that its sales professionals faced a steep learning curve as their customer changed from an IT buyer to a business buyer, and their offering changed from on-premise software to cloud solutions. The team envisioned the solution as a “cloud mini-MBA” series of MOOClike learning experiences to help sales professionals master the essentials of selling cloud solutions to C-suite customers. The corporate MOOCs came into being in partnership with elite global business schools such as INSEAD, Wharton, London Business School and Kellogg, with course content tailored to the specific needs of Microsoft sales professionals, and enabling them to apply their learning to specific customer situations.
The response was, and remains several years into the program, phenomenal. Over 80 percent completion rates across rigorous business school courses; rich collaboration evidenced by high incourse discussion forum and peer review engagement; robust sales professional readiness scores as high as any other modality including face-to-face events; and business results exactly the kind you want to see from a sales program: increased sales and deals won, directly attributed to the learning from the courses. All this from programs that, due to workload and sales cycles, are entirely voluntary. Microsoft could tell after the pilot run that they were on to something, so they kept pushing the MOOC modality to expand the social and peer-to-peer learning aspects even more, and today they are running online courses on highly varied topics: business strategy and financial acumen, business value negotiation, high-performance mindset, marketing, and yes, digital disruption! The lesson to be learned for other organizations is that pushing the envelope with online modalities and tailoring them to your audience can help organizations lead disruption, rather than be disrupted.
THE FUTURE OF LEADERSHIP IS AGILITY Dennis Baltzley, global head of leadership development for Korn Ferry Hay Group, describes the challenges facing learning organizations and businesses undergoing transformational change: “Disruption today has revealed profound shifts in how corporate learning must think about development. The future of leadership is Agility. Not only the resilience to handle many changes, but the agility to let go of the past and pivot to new ways of thinking and working. It was important, it’s now at the top of the list.”
Yes, Even Soft Skills
rate of change
WHERE WE ARE: THE NEED TO OPTIMIZE FOR LEARNING
Learning faster and governing smarter We Are Here Human Adaptability Technology
time Source: Eric “Astro” Teller’s idea explained in Thomas Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late,” 2016.
Enabling Strategic Transformation at Scale Think of your organization as a pyramid. At the very top is the C-suite, strategies are devised, executive leadership programs are launched and culture initiatives are incubated—often intended to stave off the impacts of digital disruption. But what happens to these efforts outside of episodic leadership retreats? Too often they fail to make an impact across an organization and enter the graveyard of failed corporate initiatives. One reason they aren’t successful is that while these critical initiatives are high-touch at the top of the house, cascading them throughout an organization is an afterthought at best. But what if everyone at every level of an organization could get the right training for their role, at the same time, from managers on down to the front line? A global consumer goods manufacturing company deployed just such a cascading approach across their workforce to support their bold change transformation vision, to great success. They used high-
SOFT SKILLS ARE CRITICAL TO EFFECTIVELY LEADING RESPONSES TO BUSINESS DISRUPTION. touch, in-person workshops across the top echelon, but cascaded that same information, urgency and mindset shift through blended learning to middle managers, and pure digital learning experiences designed for the rest of the organization. This way, everyone in the company heard the same message, received the right content for them, and applied the objective of the strategic change to their specific work context. The lesson here for organizations is that you can get everyone on the same page when things change, and fast.
The essential imperatives of digital disruption – speed, global reach, user contribution, etc. – combined with ever-more engaging technologies, mean that virtually all skills can now be trained effectively via online modalities. Fortunately for us all, because there are now compelling online learning options beyond point-and-click PowerPoint presentations, soft skills can be learned very effectively online. Which is key, because soft skills are increasingly critical to effectively leading responses to business disruption today. But they are among the hardest skills to learn, and old models have serious limitations. Enter digitally disruptive new learning approaches. Venerable training companies such as Miller Heiman Group, VitalSmarts, Mandel Communications, and more are embracing the latest, most engaging online learning techniques to help their customers develop sophisticated interpersonal and communication skills. VitalSmarts, for example, cites advantages to online versus classroom learning, such as the opportunity for the learner to set their own pace and learn over time, the ability for moderators to provide individualized attention to learners, and enhanced collaboration between learners within a cohort of learners. In conclusion, in this context of accelerating digital change and complexity, learning organizations are critical enablers of organizational success. Learning professionals have an incredibly important role to play helping the people they serve adapt to a changing world faster, utilizing those disruptive modern modalities and technologies to face down the challenges of organizational disruption. It’s quite an exciting time to be in learning! Sam Herring is CEO of Intrepid Learning. Email Sam.
he best corporate training departments operate as small, entrepreneurial businesses within the greater enterprise.
It’s common sense to view your department that way. Just as you don’t pay your grocery store for its rent and compensation costs, the enterprise doesn’t give you money (in the form of a budget) to pay your costs. You get money to “buy” your services – whether or not you actually charge customers directly. BENEFITS OF THINKING LIKE A BUSINESS Running a training department as a business has far-reaching benefits. To earn a customer’s business, you’d better offer a good deal or they’ll go elsewhere. The business-within-abusiness paradigm induces efficiency and frugality, since employees know they have to remain competitive. Beyond just efficiency, you must offer a range of relevant, innovative and high-quality services. The paradigm encourages innovation and creativity, since entrepreneurs are eager to find new ways to add value and grow their businesses. And, of course, you must deliver impeccably on every promise. Business owners are accountable for results, not just for managing resources and processes. Furthermore, you must build effective partnerships with your customers and contribute to their business objectives. Employees learn to be customer focused. The business - within - a - business perspective also creates empowered, developmental and fulfilling jobs. Employees own their own little businesses and learn to manage them. Virtually every performance objective for a training department is satisfied when it’s run as a business within a business.
SERVICE CATALOGS Operating as a business means that your customers decide what they buy
from you. It’s the opposite of saying, “We serve the enterprise as a whole, and we know what’s best for you.” The foundation is a catalog of well-defined services. Here are some examples: • Needs assessments to help customers define their developmental requirements • Seats in classes sponsored by the training department • Custom course delivery, where the customer supplies the courseware and the attendees • Courseware development assistance (sold to subject matter experts (SMEs) who sell their expertise in the form of documentation and courseware) • Mentor coordination • Professional credentials facilitation What’s not in your catalog are the many things you do to stay in business, like planning your business, developing new services, managing your resources and marketing your services. Entrepreneurs know the difference between “do” and “sell.”
HOW TO MANAGE VENDORS An entrepreneurial training department wants to be the “go-to” place for all things training. You want market share. So, you want to build the habit of buying training through you, not around you.
That means you generally wouldn’t refer customers to external training vendors, especially for topics that are of general interest. Instead, you sell the training internally and use vendors in combination with your internal resources to fulfill those sales. You’re a value-added reseller, not a broker of external training services. This way, whether you “make” or “buy,” you can provide training on virtually
Build the habit of buying training through you, not around you. any topic, and there’s no limit to your resources. Your only constraint is your customers’ ability to pay for the training they want. Of course, you must accept accountability for the quality of your services, even if you’ve hired a contractor or vendor to deliver them. Entrepreneurs manage vendors as part of their staff.
PREPAID REVENUES Treating your budget as prepaid revenues is the essence of internal market economics. Implementing this concept requires four things: • Investment-based budgeting: a budget that describes the fully burdened cost of proposed services, not just what you plan to spend (the rows as well as the columns). • A service catalog with fully burdened rates (typically generated by the same cost model that creates the budget).
• A governance process that decides what to buy with the checkbook created by your budget. • A process for accepting additional money from customers to pay for additional services.
HOW TO TREAT YOUR BUDGET Your budget is the enterprise’s way of paying for your services (not paying your costs). So, think of it as prepaid revenues – money put on deposit with you at the beginning of the year to buy your services throughout the year. Of course, your services have a cost. Those revenues (provided in your budget) only pay for a finite amount of services. This paradigm, described in my book, “Internal Market Economics,” solves many problems. For example, if you’re forced to cut your budget, the enterprise will have to decide which services it will forego. And if customers want more than your budget buys, they’ll have to find incremental money to pay for additional services. Thus, expectations match resources. And while you always strive to be more efficient, there’s no magical “do more with less” in your budget negotiations, or arbitrary limits like last year, plus or minus a percentage. In business, “you get what you pay for.” So, constructive budget discussions focus on the needs of the business, and executives learn to appreciate the value you deliver. Once decided, your budget creates a checkbook. Then, a customerdriven governance process decides which checks to write (which of your services to fund within the constraint of your budget). Customers like being empowered to decide what they’ll buy from you. They’ll naturally buy what they most need, aligning your department with their strategies. Thus, you’ll deliver greater value to the business.
IMPLICATIONS FOR STRUCTURE Perhaps most fundamental to internal entrepreneurship is your organizational structure. Jobs must be defined as businesses (not the traditional roles, responsibilities, processes and tasks). So, what are the businesses within a training department?
There are five types of businesses within any organization, be it a training department or an entire enterprise, defined in my book, “Principle-Based Organizational Structure.” These lines of business, outlined in the sidebar, are “building blocks” of an entrepreneurial organization chart. How do these lines of business apply to a training department? Here are some examples: • Service Providers: course administrators, training facility owner-operators, professional certification facilitators, course sponsors and topic-independent teachers. • Engineers: curriculum design experts and, occasionally, SMEs in the courses that are routinely taught. • Coordinators: professionals providing business planning for the training function itself, standards coordination and enterprise-wide training policy coordination. • Sales and Marketing: relationship managers assigned to each business unit in the enterprise. • Auditors: hopefully, none of these, since judging others is incompatible with serving others. Sorting out the lines of business within your organization chart gives employees a clear focus. It tells them what they’re supposed to be good at and provides the basis for defining each of their service catalogs. (It’s tough to develop a catalog if you don’t know what business you’re in!) It also helps you avoid impossible jobs. You can spot groups that are trying to cover too many different businesses, instead of focusing on excellence in
one thing. You can also see conflicts of interests where incompatible businesses are combined in one group (like a Service Provider who keeps things stable, combined with an Engineer whose job is to drive innovations). Applying this framework to your organization also ensures that every line of business is covered somewhere. Even very small training departments are expected to deliver all the same services as big ones, so they need to ensure that every one of these lines of business is covered by someone (even if it’s fulfilled using contractors and vendors). Sorting out individuals’ lines of business also clarifies teamwork by defining who “sells” what to whom within your department.
IDEAS TO ACTION Getting your employees to think and act like entrepreneurs takes more than arm waving. Systemic change
THE “BUILDING BLOCKS” OF STRUCTURE • Service Providers produce an ongoing stream of services. They keep things running. • Engineers design, build, repair and support solutions. They’re gurus in technologies and disciplines. • Coordinators help stakeholders agree on shared decisions such as policies and plans. • Sales and Marketing build relationships with customers and help them discover how training services can add real value to their businesses (sometimes called strategic alignment). • Auditors inspect and judge others, and sometimes veto their decisions.
in your organizational “ecosystem” is generally required. The two most powerful organizational systems are resource-governance processes (which I call the “internal economy”) and organizational structure (its organization chart and cross-boundary teamwork processes). Other organizational systems include culture, methods and tools, and metrics and rewards. To get started down the path to an entrepreneurial training organization, decide which organizational system to work on first. It’s best to start with one of the two most powerful systems (internal economy or structure), and then adjust the other organizational systems later. This delivers more change early in your transformation process, and reduces the systemic pressures against the change. So, if you are most concerned about your budget (e.g., expectations beyond your resources) or giving clients control over your priorities (demand management), then start with your internal economy. On the other hand, if you’re more concerned about your employees not understanding that they’re in business to serve customers, then start with structure. System change in either your internal economy or structure will help you develop a training department that’s the “vendor of choice” to your customers and the “employer of choice” to training professionals throughout your community. Dean Meyer is an organizational engineer, author, consultant and executive coach. He has advocated running shared-services organizations as businesses-withina-business for over 35 years, and has implemented this paradigm in dozens of corporate, non-profit and government organizations using participative, principle-based transformation processes. Email Dean.
Content Conundrum How to Change Your Development Approach to Get Better Business Results
The world of corporate learning and development (L&D) has made incredible strides in the last decade. In a single generation, technology has transformed the way learning content is delivered—evolving from classroom-based training to e-learning and blended learning, to digital and continuous learning models. Content, in particular, has retained its title as king and its development is increasingly becoming a bigger consideration for modern organizations.
Now, the corporate learning landscape is shifting once again. According to Josh Bersin, organizations are no longer satisfied with simply exchanging the classroom-bound learning experience for an online, desk-bound one. The change might be disruptive, but like anything related to technology, it’s happening a lot faster than businesses realize—and it’s inevitable. However, the new era isn’t just about a shift in technology and tools. It’s about a shift in mindset toward a design that’s focused around what matters most for the success of a business: the employee. It isn’t about squeezing old methods into new technology. It’s about bringing learning to where the employees are (not just throwing learning modules on a mobile device). Most importantly, it’s about leveraging the right technology to fit continuous learning seamlessly into an employee’s workflow. This is a critical shift, and one that modern organizations are getting behind. The L&D industry is over $140 billion in size, however, where it falls flat for a lot of companies is the development of effective content.
BY CAROL LEAMAN
AVOID THE CONTENT OVERLOAD The need for modernizing corporate learning and development practices
for learning leaders is clear. However, depending on the size of the organization, a lot of L&D teams don’t need to start from scratch (although, perhaps some should). Many mid- to large-sized enterprise organizations have mountains of stored content, ranging from new product and service offering information to competency lists and compliance documents. The list could go on. The point is—organizations are quick to overload their employees with information, but the information is just as quick to change. The value of L&D should not be measured by the volume of content created. Businesses are not colleges or universities, and employees are not students. Employees don’t come to work to learn, they come to perform a job. They are motivated to learn subject matter that can directly improve their job function. Likewise, they shouldn’t be measured on test scores or completion of learning modules. They should be measured on their performance and the impact they’re making on business results—that’s what truly counts— and content should be at the center of these efforts.
TOP FIVE STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING MODERN LEARNING CONTENT
Start with the Business Outcomes
Create Agile Content
Make it Micro
Embrace Employees’ Desire to Learn
Pick the Right Development Option
PUT THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE FIRST Businesses need to forget about their massive (and most likely, outdated) content libraries they’ve created and compiled over the last few decades— for just a second—and start thinking about the employee’s needs first. This doesn’t mean existing content should be thrown out or disregarded completely. Rather, a modern organization should look at what business outcomes it hopes to achieve. Then, work backwards to map what objectives employees need to accomplish to attain those outcomes. This mindset shift demands the employee experience be the focus of content development, instead of the content-first mentality that many L&D teams are used to pursuing. If organizations want to develop content that has a measurable impact on business results, L&D must start with re-evaluating their learning content strategy and map it to modern learning principals. Here are the top five strategies to think about when developing a modern learning content strategy.
Start with the Business Outcomes
Again, it’s absolutely crucial to first determine the goals of the business and the type of results that need to be achieved. Then, map the overall content strategy to align with these goals. This requires L&D teams to really think about the strategic development of content in a different way. Instead of trying to figure out how existing content can help train an employee, or creating new content before determining the actual needs of the staff, start by thinking about the individual doing the learning. What are the overall business outcomes that need to be achieved for success? What do employees need to learn?
What sort of content would influence their knowledge and behavior, so they can be successful in their individual roles? How will their success impact the company’s bottom line? This will fuel the overall content strategy and make sure learning objectives are closely tied to the company’s corporate strategy. By having this close alignment, each business goal will be brought to the attention of each employee. They
The new era is about a shift in mindset toward a design focused around the employee. will feel like they have a stake in the company’s success. What’s even better, the development of all future content resources will be more accurately mapped to achieve these clearly defined business outcomes.
Create Agile Content
It’s important for corporate learning and training content to be built in a way that evolves as the business grows, instead of holding it back. The thing about content is that it can expire, and it can very quickly become outdated and irrelevant. But many companies still hang on to resources that provide little value. No need to toss out all of the old content that’s built up over the years. But businesses need to start thinking a little more critically about what’s actually impactful.
All too often, L&D teams get caught up in the accuracy of the content management process, rather than evaluating the value and impact it has. Organizations need to take a hard look at their existing content and plans for future development, and ask themselves, “Does it help solve a problem? Does it align with the new employee experience design?” If the answer is no, then why keep it around?
Make it Micro
Modern organizations recognize that library size doesn’t matter. Instead, leveraging smaller selections of meaningful, high-impact content can help employees and the business achieve goals and drive higher levels of engagement. So, make the learning micro. The concept of microlearning is rooted in brain science principals and backed with proven research and studies. The fact is, people learn and retain information better when it’s presented in bite-sized chunks and spaced out over a period of time. Stand out from the common firehouse approach most companies use. People can’t recall all of the information that was dumped on them throughout their first day, or even their first week. Think about what employees need to know versus everything they could know.
Embrace Employees’ Desire to Learn
Most employees genuinely want to learn. This is especially true for new hires who are motivated to make a big splash as soon as they start. Unfortunately, existing training materials are not built to be engaging enough to sustain this enthusiasm. This could be because clicking through e-learning modules and courses can be a little boring, or maybe the training materials cannot be found or accessed easily. Whatever the reason may be, businesses are looking to modernize. Engagement and retention rates are low, which results in numerous business problems, and this, in turn,
Creating powerful content can be a costly challenge. results in dollars lost. Employees need to see the return of investment for their time or else they’ll disregard whatever information is thrown at them.
Pick the Right Development Option
Instilling the right mindset behind a content strategy is only half the battle. Creating powerful content can be a costly challenge. The number one reason companies use third-party providers is due to a lack of internal capabilities, according to the Brandon Hall Group. Many organizations simply do not have the bandwidth, expertise, or resources to develop learning content in-house. However, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. L&D has the option to leverage the expertise of other industry experts. They can do this by purchasing strategic content from content marketplaces. Depending on the vendor, this kind of content can be strategically developed using modern learning principals based in brain science, such as microlearning,
spaced repetition-based questions, gamified learning, and so on. By purchasing content from larger, more established brands, smaller companies can take advantage of existing expertise. This can also help L&D gain access to resources quickly, so they can proactively roll out content while adapting to the changing objectives of the business. Has content been dethroned at your organization for other competing priorities? If businesses can once again accept that content is indeed king, then it should also be accepted that its function is to serve the people. Throwing some content into a platform and having employees click through modules isn’t enough anymore. It’s time to reimagine the entire development approach behind content and leave outdated methods where they belong— in the past. Carol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify, Inc., a disruptor in the corporate learning space and innovator behind the world’s first Employee Knowledge Platform. Email Carol.
If You Want Your Best Employees Around in the Future, Give Them One Cornerstoneâ€™s software helps the worldâ€™s leading organizations to realize the potential of their people. Find Out More at csod.com/training
STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT JOURNEY
BY STEVEN J. STOWELL, PH.D. AND STEPHANIE S. MEAD, MBA
question that senior leaders and CEOs often ask is, “How do we get people more engaged with our strategy?” Research indicates that most employees want not only to understand the strategy but to contribute to it. This notion of cascading a strategy throughout the business and engaging others in its execution seems simple enough, but as many executives soon discover, simple is hard. However, we’ve found that with a process, strong leadership and consistent followthrough, cascading strategy to all levels of the organization can be done efficiently and, more importantly, done well.
PEOPLE BRING STRATEGIES TO LIFE.
As most leaders know, even the best strategies won’t gain traction or deliver desired results unless everyone understands the strategy, aligns with it and actually does something about it. Fundamentally, successful implementation is largely determined by the degree to which people buy into the overarching (“core”) strategy of the business. Unfortunately, many senior leaders tend to focus too much on the formulation aspect of strategy and too little on cascading and operationalizing it. If a strategy is to produce meaningful results and competitive advantage, the people behind the strategy must be aligned, and the process of achieving strategic alignment has to be thoroughly, thoughtfully orchestrated. Naturally, this means that everyone in the organization needs to understand how they
fit and why they matter when it comes to the future direction of the organization. Leaders are the catalysts of the cascading process in the organization, yet many don’t realize the impact they have on strategy being pushed down and throughout the organization. When leaders can help people see the organization’s vision and enroll them in the process for reaching those goals, the business transforms and truly becomes a place of hope and promise for all stakeholders. With that said, let’s take a deep dive into a process for cascading organizational strategy: the “Strategic Alignment Journey.” This process is built around a series of “Strategic Connection Points.” Take a careful look at the five stages of this process to discover how it can lift and drive the execution side of your organization’s strategy.
STAGE 1 Stage 1 is centered on the senior leader of the organization and his or her leadership team. Obviously, the task of leaders at this level is to formulate a clear and compelling strategic direction for the organization. This requires leaders who are passionate, determined and clear about what the future of the organization should look like. This includes long-term goals and objectives, as well as the big things the organization must accomplish to ensure a secure future. In simple terms, it is a “plan to win.” With a clearly defined strategic direction, senior leaders can establish for the whole organization what winning means and the initiatives and maneuvers that will be needed to cross the finish line. What often gets overlooked in this stage is “strategic teaming.” Strategic teaming involves getting the leadership team unified and helping them to feel greater ownership over the organization’s core strategy. Too often, senior leadership teams are a bit dysfunctional. Many teams display siloed thinking and destructive competition between members of the leadership team itself. Left unchecked, dynamics like these can quickly kill a strategy. In the alignment meeting, the senior leadership team learns how to overcome these challenges and have robust discussions using the “Discuss – Decide – Support” approach. As they work through any formulation issues, a core strategy will emerge that can be shared with the organization. This is the first Strategic Connection Point that triggers the cascade.
STAGE 2 In Stage 2, each member of the senior leadership team mirrors the
alignment process that occurred during Stage 1, but for the area of the business they lead (division, profit center, geographic area, or business unit). The first task in the strategic alignment meetings that take place in Stage 2 is explaining the core strategy so everyone can understand and commit to it. The next essential task is for the team to identify which parts of the core strategy the division will contribute to directly. In other words, if the core strategy has seven or eight major initiatives or priorities, each division or business unit decides which of those they can contribute to and then formulates a unit or division strategy with their own supporting priorities. These are places where the division’s strategy intersects with the organization’s core strategy. At each stage, the team has to think like a business and figure out a strategy within the business’s larger strategy. This process comes with a natural rhythm, as each stage builds on the one that came before it. Here again, strategic leadership and strategic teaming are critical; leaders must allocate essential resources and remove any obstacles that could derail the entire process.
STAGE 3 Stage 3 of the Alignment Journey occurs at the department or functional level where the organization’s core strategy, as well as the division or business unit’s collection of strategic initiatives, is shared. Function or department leaders then identify Strategic Connection Points within the division’s strategy and formulate their own initiatives and plans that individual departments will own and execute. This breathes life into
LEADERS ARE THE CATALYSTS OF THE CASCADING PROCESS IN THE ORGANIZATION.
the strategy as departments look to operationalize the priorities that the division has chosen to focus on. As with the other stages, it requires leaders who are willing and able to think ahead, see the connection points, and be change agents.
STAGE 4 Stage 4 is often missed by organizations, yet it is central to this dynamic process. At this stage, each leader and team within the department needs to have a line of sight to the strategies above. Leaders must advocate and be a voice for strategic transformation as they determine how they will map their work to the core business strategy. As teams go through their own alignment meetings, the strategy begins to pick up serious momentum and penetrate all parts of the business.
STAGE 5 Stage 5 is arguably the most exciting part of the process. This is where each person defines how they will contribute to the strategic priorities of their team and department by creating their own “strategic road maps.” It is invigorating and motivating for people on the front lines to know how they fit, why they matter and how they can contribute. People bring strategies to life. Strategic alignment ignites the energy of all leaders and team members, unleashing discretionary performance and creating the slight strategic edge businesses need to compete and prosper. Clearly, the engine of the cascading process is the alignment meetings that occur at all levels. But the engine can’t produce results without monitoring and tracking
the performance of the interlocking plans and agreements that flow out of those alignment meetings. The strategic plans, objectives and road maps need clearly defined actions and owners. This is how the strategy becomes operationalized; without a plan for operationalization, the strategy is doomed to remain nothing but a concept, hope, or dream without legs.
FOLLOW-THROUGH Once cascaded strategies are in place, organizations should use a “results forum” as a mechanism for reporting on progress, getting realigned as new opportunities and threats surface, and holding everyone accountable for results. A results forum should occur at every stage of the Alignment Journey. During the forum, individuals share their progress on key initiatives and problems. Accountability for the cascading process flows in the opposite direction, from bottom to top. This “reverse cascade” continues up and through the organization until reaching the CEO and the senior leadership team (the ultimate owners of the core enterprise strategy). Unless there is a follow up at regular intervals, you are unlikely to see much progress. So, if the alignment meeting is the engine of the cascading process, the results forum is the fuel that moves you forward. However, people can become demoralized and frustrated if there is a lack of leadership courage or the discipline to hold people accountable for following through. Why does this happen? Leaders get busy. Dayto-day responsibilities, short-
term demands, emergencies and routine tasks all need attention, and leaders often take care of these items to the detriment of their strategic initiatives. Unless leaders are willing to tame these demands, there will be little room to operationalize strategic intentions—and that puts your future at risk. This alignment process has been used successfully with hundreds of organizations and at all levels, and it’s a marvel to see it all come together. Businesses have a lot of moving parts; finding these Strategic Connection Points is the unifying mechanism that brings focus, action and results. Any organization can begin a transformational journey if there is leadership, determination, a process to cascade the strategy down to all levels, and the fortitude to stay the course through the up and down cycles of business—and the chaos that inevitably comes with daily operational life. Remember, one of the most important jobs a leader has is to set direction and secure the future. Cascading strategy and achieving strategic alignment is one of the best ways to make that happen. Strategy can be electrifying, and with this process, you can proactively steer your organization into the future and engage the workforce in capitalizing on the exciting challenges and opportunities that await you. Steven J. Stowell, Ph.D., is the founder and president of CMOE. Stephanie S. Mead, MBA, is the executive vice president of CMOE. Email Steven and Stephanie.
BY MATT NORQUIST & MARK HANNUM
Is it possible to define, in systematic terms, what fuels the effectiveness of great leaders? Is there a magical predictor of success? A specific recipe that, if replicated, can always produce a leader who delivers optimal results?
As leadership and talent professionals, we know that we need to look beyond charisma, raw ambition and oratory brilliance in search of specific, measurable qualities that can predict the level of positive impact a leader will have on their organization. Are there certain attitudes, principles and actions that will determine whether leaders are good, better, or the best? We each define what it means to be a great leader differently. Maybe your vision is based on a great coach you had growing up. Maybe you are fortunate to have worked for a company whose leader made you proud to work there. Or perhaps you call up an iconic figurehead who rose to fame during an inflection point in history. Chances are, however, the characteristics that make up our collective vision of the perfect leader tie most directly to the person’s ability to project a sense of purpose in everything they do.
PURPOSE MATTERS At first blush, choosing “purposeful” as the defining characteristic may seem to be patently obvious and oversimplified. Recently, we assessed and analyzed 30 years’ worth of more than 1 million data points collected from the leadership assessments of hundreds of thousands of leaders worldwide (including leaders from Fortune 1000 enterprises, startup companies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and more). We made some powerful discoveries that form an empirical basis for what makes a leader most impactful, according to the stakeholders around them. Once distilled, the data led us to a combination of five core commitments that the most effective leaders make and keep; five critical factors that characterized the leaders rated most highly by their managers, their teams and themselves. First, the most effective leaders – where “effective” is defined by an organization’s
THE FIVE CORE COMMITMENTS OF THE PURPOSEFUL LEADER 1. INSPIRE those around them to join the pursuit of a common vision. 2. E NGAGE every team member in meaningful activities. 3. INNOVATE the organization’s products or processes. 4. A CHIEVE significant results by organizing people. 5. B ECOME more self-aware in their ability.
themselves and their organizations: they inspire, engage, innovate, achieve and continuously become better in their capacity to lead. A person’s ability to sustain and grow with these commitments is what defines their maturity as a purposeful leader. The presence of the commitments not only predicts greatness, but also differentiates the authentic leader from the accidental leader who, by circumstance rather than intent, may have been falsely identified as great by the annals of history. Let us look more closely at how the five commitments of purposeful leaders take shape.
3 | INNOVATE A leader who innovates eschews the status quo in favor of exploring new opportunities, altering the fundamental nature of the game and putting real changes in place. Leaders who embrace innovation challenge their team members to make new connections between ideas and events, and empower them to find better solutions to common problems. Innovation requires that a leader must have enough objectivity to understand that legacy and opportunity may, in fact, be mutually exclusive. It also demands confidence because there is a risk if innovation requires the leader to severe ties with an organization’s, and even their own, legacy to think in favor of future opportunity.
1 | INSPIRE success in terms of financial performance, competitive differentiation and employee engagement – hinges on the leader having a personal conviction to accomplish something that matters to them. We call this a “Personal Why.” This passion can take many shapes, noble or ordinary: the youth sports coach who is driven to ensure kids simultaneously learn the skills of the game and how to excel as a teammate; the founder of a company with the goal of financial exit; or the CEO of a publiclyheld corporation who is accountable for increasing shareholder value. Then, they are able to translate this personal drive into a vision that their teams want to pursue and that is aligned with organizational goals. We call this an “Organizational What For;” a broader vision and message that teams can rally around and support.
FROM PURPOSE TO ACTION The most powerful discovery here is not that great leaders can do this. Rather, it is the remarkable similarity in how the best leaders go about turning their purpose into action. In short, these individuals make five commitments to
A leader who inspires creates hope and optimism for the future by directing energy toward a clear and attainable outcome. The core practices demonstrated here are creating vision, communicating evocatively and providing goals and direction. A strong leader must be certain to create a view of the future that is not only inspiring to others, but also distilled into actionable messages that will galvanize support.
2 | ENGAGE To engage refers to a leader’s ability to create an atmosphere that is energizing and motivating to bring out the best in their team. Success on this front means demonstrating that the work at hand is meaningful. The leader understands the strengths of and cares about the team members who are striving to accomplish the work, and identifies opportunities for team members to grow. Diversity of thought and inclusion are important, as well as the ability to create a certain psychological safety. Successful leaders are not only able to clearly articulate a vision, they successfully create an environment in which teams want to commit themselves to push beyond limitations.
A LEADER WHO INSPIRES CREATES HOPE AND OPTIMISM FOR THE FUTURE.
4 | ACHIEVE To achieve is to drive outcomes that deliver on the articulated vision. Leaders who demonstrate achievement favor progress over effort and outcome over process. Achievers ensure successful implementation by building and connecting processes within the organization, and the most successful leaders go even further; they carefully match goals to the capabilities of the team enlisted to reach them, and understand how far the team can stretch before it breaks.
THE POWER OF PURPOSE IN ACTION When Sonya Jacobs was named the University of Michigan’s first ever chief organizational learning officer, it came as no surprise to those around her. Sonya’s staff finds her inspiring because she is not afraid to present big challenges, and she always lays out a systematic, accessible path for the team to conquer them. She excels at engaging because she spots and draws the talents out of each individual, which empowers her team to use their personal gifts to find answers on their own. Sonya encourages her team to innovate by challenging them to make new connections and empowering them to find solutions to common problems. She sets her staff up to achieve. Everyone who works for her knows their goal, but is never spoon fed the steps to get there. Instead, Sonya provides a roadmap for everyone to contribute to the best of their abilities. She puts the right people on the right projects, and then takes an active role in clearing obstacles. Finally, Sonya is always learning and looking to improve her capacity to lead. Her role requires her to be in a constant state of becoming more courageous, being able to walk fearlessly into new situations, say what needs to be said, and do so in a way that adds value.
5 | BECOME Among the five foundational commitments for effective leadership, becoming more purposeful is the cornerstone. The ascent to great leadership is a journey more than a destination. It is the purposeful leader’s process of learning how to use their strengths most efficiently, and how to recognize and improve their weaknesses. Purposeful leaders understand that the journey requires both patience and perseverance to continuously evolve, knowing there is never finality in the process. Becoming
THE ASCENT TO GREAT LEADERSHIP IS A JOURNEY MORE THAN A DESTINATION. reflects the commitment to the ongoing learning journey of a leader. When they commit to becoming more purposeful, leaders earn the perception from their superiors, peers and team members that they have balanced selfawareness, respect, humility, courage and fairness to feed the other four commitments of purposeful leadership. For Sonya Jacobs, the chief organizational learning officer at the University of Michigan, her personal rise and the success of her programs can be traced to purposeful leadership, and her ability to amass respect and admiration from many around her, consistently buys into her vision and her actions to make it so. People respect her input. She has influence and she gets things done because she infuses everything she does with an extreme sense of purpose: to produce equity and inclusion within diverse populations by helping them advance into leadership positions. It would be disingenuous to propose that a leader – any leader – lacks a
sense of purpose in what they do. They would not be where they are without it. However, it is the degree to which a leader is able to uphold specific commitments to support their purpose that determines their success in reaching their goals, and their ability to engage others in this pursuit. In closing, while the effort is more of a journey than a destination, every leader can move toward a more purposeful state of leadership through guided introspection, practice and sustained attention to the five commitments. Perhaps most important, through adoption of purposeful leadership behaviors, every leader, from the most effective to the least, can continuously and consciously improve for the benefit of themselves, their organizations and the marketplaces in which their organizations operate. Matt Norquist is president and CEO of Linkage. Mark Hannum is senior vice president of research and development at Linkage. Email Matt and Mark.
BUILD IT AND THEY WON’T COME: THE SAGA OF ESTABLISHING A LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT BY THOMAS SHAYON HARRELL
Building a learning function from scratch for a 50-year-old-startup is like turning Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship. It’s more than a business maneuver; it’s setting a direction for an entirely new learning culture within a company. Let’s examine how Master Electronics built a successful learning culture from both pitfalls and triumphs. THE BEGINNING Master Electronics, founded in 1967 by Syrian immigrant Ike Nizam, consistently outperforms its competitors in the electromechanical parts distribution industry. The company has won numerous awards over the years from suppliers and end-customers alike while increasing company profits yearly. Like many companies, Master had a colloquial learning culture. This is an important note because saying there was no learning culture is a misconception. Master’s president, Riad Nizam understands that people are one of the company’s chief assets. In 2013, he began imagining how Master
could become a Best Places to Work organization with a world-class learning and development (L&D) department. Two years later, he hired a talent development specialist (Thomas Harrell) to make his vision a reality. The new specialist immediately began visiting sales branches to get his finger on the pulse of the company and to build relationships. Harrell noted firsthand how the new culture could be implemented, but also invited branch managers, frontline salespeople and warehouse team members to share their ideas on establishing a learning function. Two months after being hired, Harrell targeted the sales team as the first population for the effort. At that point, Nizam and Harrell developed a committee comprised of branch and operations sales managers that later included frontline salespeople and the HR director. The next partnership milestone Master tackled was external. Since they had already experimented internally with a learning management system (LMS) and it had fallen flat, the new marching orders were to find a modern LMS that
made learning easier to engage with and fun. That meant partnerships with other organizations. PARTNERSHIPS ARE KEY After months of research, the talent development department decided to use Adobe’s new LMS, off-the-shelf (OTS) learning content and the services of a learning consultant. Without the following partnerships in place, progress may have stalled at Master, or even halted indefinitely, especially since their talent development department consisted of only one person. • Adobe Corporation via their Adobe Captivate Prime LMS • BizLibrary, a learning content provider, offers more than 6,000 video courses • Envisionary Development Consulting (EDC) for learning and organization strategy and custom e-learning development WHAT IS A “BUILD, BORROW, BUY” APPROACH? Master Electronics used a build, borrow and buy (BBB) approach to make learning content available to team members.
BUILDING A LEARNING CULTURE IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. BUILD: Master’s leveraged partnerships to build e-learning. EDC began laying the groundwork for L&D governance and workflow documentation. They also helped guide long-term strategy ideas and timelines. EDC built custom e-learning for the Master sales team. BUY: Master’s agreement to buy licenses with learning content provider, BizLibrary, immediately extended the learning content they could offer team members. This included diverse topics from Excel courses to managing team member disagreements to creating healthy office environments and building leadership skills. BORROW: The borrow concept included sourcing free content available online via YouTube, blogs, white papers, etc. Build it, then market it. LEARNING LEADERS ARE MARKETERS New marketing efforts like these were used to generate excitement about the learning opportunities available in the newly minted Master Electronics Training Academy (META): • Bi-monthly articles in the company newsletter prior to the LMS launch. • Four-week sales department email campaign explaining the BBB approach, what to expect in META and live workshops.
in place, staff were still not availing themselves of the opportunity to learn.
HAVING A MARATHON MENTALITY IS HEALTHY
It was obvious the return on investment (ROI) for the company was less than optimal. Lesson learned: If you build it, people do not always come.
When this journey began, in many respects, it was approached as a project having a definite beginning and end. However, Master’s learning leaders discovered that building a learning culture with that mentality is a disservice to all interested parties.
The next challenge was to implement vigorous marketing and consistently communicate the availability of the learning system to team members. This also included coaching executives on the criticality of continued communication directly from them. Marketing and communication elements embraced by the SVP: • During bi-weekly calls with direct reports, discuss key talent development department events and efforts and what learners can expect. • During bi-annual company-wide virtual town hall meetings, discuss the importance of the learning function and stress how vital it was to participate. Marketing and communication elements carried out by the talent development department: • Announce courses using META’s announcement feature to pique learners interest in courses appropriate to their position. • Assign courses monthly and based on learners’ position.
• Scavenger hunt based in association with the campaign (winner receives $100 cash).
• Advertise by running ad broadcasts to the entire company in other learning delivery modalities.
• Reiterated during live workshops at sales branches.
• Implement recognition by periodically recognizing and awarding the top three learners with the most number of completed modules.
Less than a year later, the next step was to roll out the program to nearly 40 percent of the company’s team members across various departments. However, usage remained flat. But, here’s the kicker – it wasn’t enough. Even though the platform, communication and marketing were
To other learning leaders in a similar state as Master, the lessons of partnership and marketing offer insights to our third and final point. Building a learning culture is a marathon, not a sprint. Buckle up for an exciting trek.
When the new LMS system approached its first birthday, sprint-running and project-level thinking were abolished and the learning function reset with a three to five year view in mind. Doing so relieved pressure to deliver a final product now. CONCLUSION In 2017, because of the vigorous marketing and communication plan implemented, Master Electronics saw a 138 percent increase in learning modules completed from January to May (with 882 modules completed), and from June to September (with 4,791 modules completed). Lessons learned: • Forge both internal and external partnerships early as you begin to formulate your learning function. • Over-communicate using a variety of communication channels and ensure staff knows executive management is leading the way. • Boost your sanity, energy levels and enthusiasm by looking at the long game. Thomas Shayon Harrell’s tagline for the learning function at Master Electronics is “Helping you. Learn. Grow. Master!” His responsibilities include learning content design, creation, delivery, LMS administration, and learning and development strategy, as talent development specialist reporting to the company president, Riad Nizam. Email Thomas.
MEASURING I M P A C T
EVALUATING TRAINING IMPACT: GETTING THE RIGHT DATA, AT THE RIGHT TIME, AND KNOWING WHAT TO DO WITH IT BY LESLEY ANN HARRISON, MS, PHR
THE RIGHT DATA MUST BE COLLECTED AND ANALYZED BEFORE TRAINING IS SUGGESTED AS A SOLUTION.
When faced with the task of evaluating training, a common approach is to solicit feedback using smile sheets â€“ post-training satisfaction surveys, which gather data about the training content, the instructor and the immediate reaction to the training sessions. This data is useful for the providers of learning and development (L&D), so that they can improve how they administer training courses, especially during pilot programs for new content. However, when training is delivered in nice, comfortable training classes by skilled and experienced training professionals, and the training content itself is purchased off-the-shelf from established and validated providers, this data delivers few surprises. The training professionals themselves often value this type of data to confirm their skills and proficiency (and perhaps to stroke their egos). But how valuable is it to the organization when analyzing training impact? It can be argued that this data does little to communicate the level of performance improvement participants may have on the job. And it is not data that can be presented to senior leaders to show return on investment (ROI) for their significant training expenditure (a
concern if you are facing the threat of future cuts to your training budgets). IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT DATA So what data is the right data to gather? To answer this question, you can research articles, studies and white papers, finding lots of information about different evaluation methods and data sources. For example, many discussions about evaluating training impact include Donald Kirkpatrickâ€™s widely utilized model, first developed in 1959, which outlined four levels of training evaluation: 1 | Reaction 2 | Learning 3 | Behavior 4 | Results Dr. Jack Phillips and his wife, Dr. Patti Phillips, offer a five-level framework as part of their ROI Methodology: 1 | Reaction and Planned Action 2 | Learning 3 | Application and Implementation 4 | Business Impact 5 | Return on Investment
Both methods of training evaluation include the smile-sheet surveys, measuring satisfaction and reaction to the training itself. The data collected at these levels can be extremely beneficial when your goal is to improve training delivery and focus on what happens within the classroom itself. Historically, many L&D professionals have stopped here, checking the “evaluation” box as the necessary final part of training provision. Models such as Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels and Phillips’s ROI Methodology advocate the continuation of evaluation beyond the classroom, to gather impact data that indicates actual learned skills and their subsequent application after the training has ended. Phillips and Phillips go one step beyond Kirkpatrick, in fact, to provide a framework and methodology for gathering tangible data, which, when converted to monetary value, can indicate significant financial impact of training provision. WHEN TO EVALUATE TRAINING In addition to knowing what level of data to collect, an L&D professional must understand when to evaluate training impact. This is where having a clear plan for evaluation can prove extremely useful. Project management tools such as a Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), or the Gantt Chart, are useful ways to track when and how evaluation should occur. In addition, administering both pre- and post-training surveys and skills tests are also great tools to determine if learning and improvement has occurred. Lastly, post-training surveys can require participants to estimate their likelihood of use and performance improvement, directly related to the skills and knowledge learned from the training
(Evaluation Levels 3 and 4 of both models). These surveys can also include key performance indicators, such as business strategies or competencies, and ask participants to estimate the impact the training will have on these metrics. They are followed up with another survey 60-90 days post-training asking the same questions, but this time requesting actual use and impact data. This approach is another way for L&D professionals to evaluate training, using the data collected to present training impact in a credible and quantifiable way. But what if the data shows no significant impact? What if, after all that effort to evaluate the training, the level of onthe-job application and performance improvement data indicates no justifiable ROI? Here lies one of the biggest quandaries facing training professionals today, and is perhaps one of their biggest oversights – providing training that is either unnecessary or does not address an identified skills gap. CONDUCTING A NEEDS ANALYSIS In early instructional design practices of the 1950s and 1960s, practitioners such as Thomas Gilbert and B.F. Skinner realized that even the most well-designed training programs can fail to have a measurable impact on an organization’s or an individual’s performance (if a performance problem is not due to a lack of skill or competence). Despite this revelation, we still suggest training as the preferred solution for many performance problems, and then seem surprised when it fails to hit the mark. Best practice should include an understanding that the right data must be collected and analyzed long before training is even suggested as a solution. This data forms part of a comprehensive
and systematic needs assessment: a strategic planning effort to identify what an organization needs in order to be successful now and in the future, and analyze the organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This needs assessment data could identify a workforce of skilled and competent employees, making the need for training unnecessary. The potential for high performance and/or production amongst these employees may actually be hindered by a lack of communicated expectations, procedures, out-of-date tools and resources, or other environmental obstacles preventing success. There are many great evaluation methodologies available to us as L&D professionals. If training has been identified as a necessary and needed performance solution, it is possible to evaluate its impact by ensuring that we define measurable and specific objectives. We must also plan how we will evaluate training impact, when it will happen and what data will be important to communicate to each stakeholder. We must, however, be extremely diligent in our use of training and be willing to push back to those who request it as the go-to solution to problems and/or opportunities. Otherwise, the training evaluation data we collect will be weak, and its impact will be a shot-in-the-dark rather than a targeted, intentional and effective bullseye shot. Lesley Ann Harrison is a first-year doctoral student studying performance improvement leadership at Capella University. As a certified and experienced HR professional, Lesley has worked in the field of training and development for many years, and is passionate about improving human capital performance. Email Lesley.
ARE YOU MOVING AHEAD? Gain a competitive edge in your career. Become a Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTMâ„˘) and youâ€™ll gain the L&D certification employers are seeking, and the skills to create alignment between L&D and business goals.
Learn more at trainingindustry.com/training.
LEARNER MINDSET MICHELLE EGGLESTON
GETTING BUY-IN FROM LEARNERS Despite the dedication, heart and hours that learning professionals pour into developing corporate training programs, learners often fail to foster the same level of enthusiasm for training as the developers. Let’s be honest. Learners are not exactly lining up to attend your next training session like devoted concertgoers waiting for tickets to go on sale or tech-savvy buyers counting down the minutes for the latest digital tool to hit the shelf. Corporate training is just not that enticing as a standalone product. Employees need a little more incentive to buy into training. Just like a cable company that markets multiple products to a single consumer for an enticing discount, learning leaders can create unique bundled training packages for learners. In other words, learning leaders can select training programs based on individual needs and market the bundle to employees using a “what’s in it for me” approach to engage and motivate them to take part in training.
WITHOUT BUY-IN FROM LEARNERS, TRAINING IS A WASTE. Showing learners how training will directly benefit them can help make all the hours a learner spends sitting in a classroom or behind a computer worth it. Without buy-in from learners, training is a waste – a waste of time, effort and dollars. Organizations become at risk
for low performance and high turnover without effective training practices. It’s up to learning and development (L&D) to get learners more excited about training – and that starts with positioning training as an employee incentive and effectively communicating how employees can take advantage of this high-value offer. Here are a few tips to get started. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Learning leaders must understand who their learners are in terms of their job role, function and experience level. Every learner must be accounted for to develop learner pathways. L&D must also understand what drives their learners and become advocates for their learning journey.
L&D should take advantage of any opportunity to communicate the value of training. This includes company newsletters, events, intranet, email, videos, etc. Learners must become aware that training is available, how it will help them on the job and how they can access it. LEARNER EVALUATION & FEEDBACK Just like when buying a product, learning leaders should have a plan in place to obtain feedback from learners. They must understand what’s working and what’s lacking. There should also be an adequate evaluation process so that managers can observe and report behavior change. Managers are essential to ensure that training is reinforced and the intended outcomes are realized. THE TOTAL PACKAGE
BUNDLING THE RIGHT OPTIONS Learning professionals must consider all the training opportunities available at their organization. This includes both formal and informal solutions. L&D must ensure that learning is a continuous process throughout an employee’s lifecycle. Formal classroom training must be supported by additional learning interventions like coaching, on-the-job training or job shadowing. MARKETING THE PERKS Learning leaders should embrace their creative side when marketing training to employees. This is your chance to inject some energy into the experience. Even mandatory training can be “spiced up” with a more appealing message.
L&D professionals wear many hats and must be fluent in many “languages.” They must speak the language of business to senior executives, they must translate business objectives into learning solutions, and they must also be well-versed in consumer language to sell training to learners. By marketing the total training package to learners, L&D is positioning training as an enabler to employee growth and advancement. Training has a lot to offer employees and it’s up to L&D to show them that value. Michelle Eggleston is the editorial director at Training Industry, Inc. Email Michelle.
INSIGHTS. ON DEMAND. 40% of employees will leave in the first year due to poor job training.” Kathy Irish, Instructional Design and Project Management
Learning has evolved. Today’s learners decide in 7 seconds if something is worth holding their attention.” Clay Salit, Senior Product Manager
Companies with high levels of trust out perform companies with low levels of trust by 50%.”
Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.”
Jonathon Darville, Master Trainer
Alan Mulally, Retired CEO
TIMELY AND STRATEGIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF LEARNING
FROM THE MOST INNOVATIVE THOUGHT LEADERS IN OUR INDUSTRY
Browse upcoming free webinars or dozens of recorded presentations available on-demand at www.trainingindustry.com/webinars.
WHAT’S NEXT IN TECH ERIC SHARP
BUSINESS BEST PRACTICES FOR
Early in my career, I worked for a midsized, mostly stagnant company. The business had an unhealthy culture focused on margins and cutting costs in some of the worst ways. At this company, I had a coworker, let’s call him Dustin, who would spend most afternoons propped at a certain angle to give the illusion he was working while he took a nap. Dustin had long ago decided that he had reached a level of knowledge where he didn’t need to learn anymore (this is in technology, mind you). I wish I could say that I was able to get Dustin excited about learning, but, unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Recently, I have been reflecting on whether Dustin was failing the business, or if the business was failing Dustin. This person indirectly taught me a few lessons: run learning like a business; treat employees like customers, seek their engagement, plot a strategy of personalization and be data driven to improve continuously. Let’s dive deeper into each aspect of learning that should be treated like a business.
brand, garnering the passion of employees to look at training holistically as part of their career development. STRIVE FOR ENGAGEMENT Gone are the days when posting training materials on a company intranet accompanied by a short email is going to drive employees to engage. L&D would do well to treat learning initiatives as product launches. At Degreed, we evaluated four different clients and their adoption campaigns. Many learning leaders are advised to go small, and to start with occasional drip campaigns
L&D SHOULD VIEW EMPLOYEES AS THEIR CUSTOMERS. due to the low cost and effort. However, the results for our clients clearly showed that the most successful campaigns included broad rollouts tied to a larger organizational goal or initiative. The broad and compelling initiatives served as a catalyst to engage employees, resulting in better usage and higher activations with learning.
TREAT EMPLOYEES LIKE CUSTOMERS When it comes to training and learning, L&D should view employees as their customers. Best practices in business such as user research, marketing and customer development should be key tactics. The brand of L&D will naturally move from a strong corporate brand to an employee-driven and aspirational
PERSONALIZATION IS NO LONGER OPTIONAL The most successful tech companies have learned that personalization unlocks greater value for the user. The future of learning is personalization for the employee. As an employee, I should be able to gain an accurate view of
my skills and provide that as context to a learning platform with the best learning content in the world. The platform can then present me with a personalized experience to help me develop my skills and see opportunities for growth in my company. The personalization will engage employees and result in a huge increase in employee interest in training and learning. DATA-DRIVEN CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Early startup businesses and large multinational businesses alike are using data to drive customer engagement, new products, and more. It is time for learning to also get this focus by identifying meaningful and actionable learning analytics before launching an initiative. Then, over the course of the initiative, proactively reviewing the analytics and iterating or pivoting as needed. In a world where the amount of potential learning sources has exploded, it becomes critical for L&D to be data driven to identify and react to their employee learning. As I remember Dustin, I like to believe that he would have thrived at a company that treated training/learning as a business. Not only would his engagement at his job improve, but his career would have developed much differently. By using business best practices, the future of learning looks positive for L&D and each employee. Eric Sharp is the co-founder and chief technology officer at Degreed. Email Eric.
CLOSING D E A L S INTEGRATING HR AND LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES:
TECH DEALS REFLECT GROWING DIGITALIZATION AMONG SMBS BY TARYN OESCH
At many companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), human resources and learning and development are managed in one organization. These processes include recruiting and hiring, onboarding, managing benefits and payroll, performance management, and training. As businesses look to become more digital and efficient, HR and training technology providers are developing offerings that integrate HR and L&D processes on one platform. Recent funding reflects this trend. In January, Namely announced the close of its $50 million Series D funding round, bringing its total funding to $157.8 million. This funding round was the largest venture capital round in core HR technology in the past year. In October, Personio closed a $12 million Series A funding round, which it plans to use to improve its product solutions and expand across Europe. Its goal, according to CEO and co-founder Hanno Renner, is “to become the central platform for human resources management around all digital HR processes.” Both Namely and Personio were founded by leaders who felt that the HR tools used at their SMBs were inefficient and disengaging. “As a manager,” says Matt Straz, CEO of Namely, “I realized that employee data was not in one, easily accessible spot … I wanted to create an all-in-one platform to help companies make better decisions about people. Beyond that, I wanted to create a platform that employees love to use – one as simple and intuitive as social media platforms.” Along those lines, Namely’s platform manages payroll, benefits and talent management processes such as performance reviews and ongoing feedback. With its Series D funding,
Namely has also introduced time management, managed services and analytics offerings. Straz says Namely’s platform helps its more than 900 clients with employee engagement, organizational culture, and, “most importantly,” making strategic decisions using data and analytics. Personio’s platform, similarly, manages recruiting, HR management and talent development processes, including onboarding, feedback and individual performance goal tracking. When HR and performance management systems are integrated on one platform, Renno says, managers in those departments are able to save time by reducing or eliminating administrative tasks and focusing on other work. THE BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING PLATFORMS Straz says that mid-sized businesses, Namely’s target audience, “are some of the fastest-growing companies in the country, working on incredible things.” They need platforms that will streamline HR processes and scale their infrastructure as their workforce grows. They also “need to provide a best-inclass employee experience,” which Straz believes can’t be done using the current average of over eight HR systems. Personio focuses its product on companies with 10 to 1,000 employees. Renner says businesses of that size “are still served by outdated and disparate systems” and typically have small people management teams. Instead of having experts devoted to recruiting, payroll and talent development, they tend to have more generalists. Because of the diversity of their tasks, Renner says, these HR managers “want a system that combines all these tasks in one.”
“Business is digital,” Straz says, “and HR should be there as well.” Employees – including L&D and HR employees – are increasingly digital people, and the platforms they use should meet their technological expectations. It should also be easily accessible, which is why Namely has developed a mobile app and experience. By going digital, organizations are also able to be more transparent, Renner points out. Instead of having paper files under lock and key, employees can access their information online. ENABLING BETTER ANALYTICS In a June article for Harvard Business Review, Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School, wrote that “for most companies, the challenge in HR is simply to use data at all – the reason being that the data associated with different tasks such as hiring and performance management, often reside in different databases.” Cappelli’s recommendation, after managers have usable data, is to start by looking “at the big picture – graphs plotting outcomes across the organization and then over time.” Then, examine that data frequently. Finally, identify the relationships among the data; how are the hiring criteria you use related to performance, for example? Having employee data in one place means it’s easier to access and analyze these data. Depending on the platform, some of the analysis might be done automatically, as well. Then, it’s up to the learning leader to use that analysis to make more informed talent decisions that will improve business results in the short and long term. Taryn Oesch is an editor at Training Industry, Inc. Email Taryn.
C O M PA N Y N E W S
ACQ UI S I T I O N SAN DPA RTN E R SHIPS WILL Interactive, the nation’s most experienced and highly awarded learning simulation and immersive game developer, has expanded their partnership with OpenSesame. WILL Interactive now offers government HR and training professionals a learning solution that will increase course completions, improve outcomes and raise the performance of their employees and organizations. BTS GROUP AB (publ), a leading global strategy implementation firm, has agreed to acquire Coach in a Box, a consultancy group offering innovative coaching services on a global scale. BTS’s strategy aims to create a broader base for future organic growth while actively consolidating a highly fragmented market. BTS also seeks to serve new and existing customers with innovative services based on next generation, digital technologies.
Serenova, the most globally scalable contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) provider, announced the acquisition of TelStrat, a leading provider of call recording, quality, analytics and workforce management (WFM) solutions. The acquisition plays a ro le in Serenova’s mission of enabling simpler customer experiences that drive revenue, retention and loyalty. Serenova now serves 1,100+ customers and is the second largest independent CCaaS provider worldwide.
Kallidus, a leading provider of learning and talent management solutions, announced that it has acquired recruitment software provider Advorto to support the next stage of its growth strategy. The move creates a best-in-class provider of a complete SaaS (Software as a Service) end-to-end solution for learning, performance, 360, recruitment and talent management dedicated to helping organizations manage the entire employee development life cycle more effectively.
Kaplan Professional (KP) and LearnCore announced a strategic partnership, continuing on their shared mission of providing tailored learning solutions for organizations addressing today’s business challenges. The partnership will immediately make available LearnCore’s video coaching, sales training, content authoring and social accolade capabilities to KP’s clients.
O.C. Tanner, the global leader in employee recognition and workplace culture, has agreed to acquire Accumulate Loyalty Services Limited, a leading Australian provider of employee recognition and incentive solutions. This enables O.C. Tanner to better support its large multinational clients who have employees and operations in Australia, and further expands O.C. Tanner’s presence in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Singapore and India.
INDUSTRY NE WS TECH EDUCATION TO ADDRESS SKILLS GAP
Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak announced the formation of Woz U, a world-class digital institute to help fill the employment gap for highpaying technology jobs across the U.S. Woz U is designed to get people into the workforce quickly and affordably, creating long-term financial stability for a new generation of tech workers while providing prepared hires and training solutions for businesses. MOBILE APP REINVENTS BUSINESS ENGLISH LEARNING
GlobalEnglish, the leader in technologyempowered business English learning experiences, announced a new learning experience with the launch of their mobile app, GlobalEnglish Reach. This represents a disruptive force for GlobalEnglish and how it teaches business English
to millions globally. Reach creates a new, skilled-based approach designed for personalized daily microlearning missions, available anytime and anywhere to complement the proven structured learning applications that serve hundreds of thousands of learners globally. FREE INTERACTIVE MODULES IN ROBOTICS PROGRAMMING
Universal Robots, the pioneer and market leader of collaborative robots, introduced the online learning platform, Universal Robots Academy, to ensure that everybody with a desire to learn the concepts of cobots can master basic programming skills. The company is now expanding the online training, adding three new modules that teach users how to create and work with coordinate systems, variables and conditional statements, and how to use the robot’s wizard to easily create a program for packaging.
A MORE HUMAN SOLUTION TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE
Globoforce, a leading provider of social recognition, announced the general availability of Conversations. A continuous performance improvement solution, Globoforce Conversations™ aligns, connects, and develops people and teams with more frequent communication around priorities and feedback to improve employee and business performance. Conversations is an extension of Globoforce’s marketleading social recognition solution.
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This edition examines strategies and solutions to more effectively manage the business of learning, and includes the following feature artic...
Published on Nov 17, 2017
This edition examines strategies and solutions to more effectively manage the business of learning, and includes the following feature artic...