The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) generally denotes an advanced level of networked connectivity between objects, platforms, systems and ser- vices that enables the exchange of data without human intervention. The premise behind the IoT is that any object, whether natural or manufactured, can gain the ability to transmit data over a network.

>>  International Data Corporation predicts the worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.

>>  MarketsandMarkets gives the IoT market a more conservative — but still lofty — valuation of $1.029 trillion in 2013, increasing to $1.423 trillion by 2020.

>>  Gartner forecasts 26 billion connected objects worldwide by 2020 (a figure that does not include PCs, smartphones and tablets).

>>  IDate projects 80 billion Internet-connected things in 2020, up from 15 billion in 2012. This figure does include PCs, TVs and smart devices, but the vast majority (85%) will be objects like car tires or shipping pallets that may communicate with the Web via an intermediate device. Devices that communicate directly, such as PCs, TVs and mobile phones, will make up 11% of the total in 2020.

>>  Cisco Systems predicts 50 billion things will be connected by 2022, yielding $19 trillion in new revenues ($14.4 trillion of which will ac- crue to private-sector corporations).

—Source: www.emarketer.com

Published in Trends

A new, 12-hour program from Emporia State University offers a graduate certificate in e-learning and online teaching. eLearning is popular in corporate, military and health-care sectors as well as post-secondary and K-12 education.

“For a variety of reasons, more businesses and organizations are moving training and education of employees online,” says Zeni Colorado, chair of Emporia State’s Instructional Design and Technology department. “More schools are exploring and implementing teaching and learning online.”

The Kansas Occupational Outlook Handbook forecasts 24.7 percent growth through 2020 for instructional designers and coordinators. The certificate provides online learning designers and teachers with research-based, best practices in online teaching and learning.

Students can begin this certificate during the spring, summer or fall semester depending on course availability.

—More info: www.emporia.edu/idt

Published in Latest News

Creating Strong Links Between Succession Pipelines And Frontline Managers

Interview By Michelle Maldonado

Human kindness, dignity and stewardship are the hallmarks of California-based health care system’s culture, Dignity Health. Dr. Wendy Combs offers some insights about healthy culture creation and the development of employees who embody skills that make them better leaders and create more caring and sustainable organizations.

Combs has more than 20 years of experience in organizational development, leadership development and training. She is passionate about seeing the potential in others and developing them. She has been a coach, mentor and champion to many who currently serves as the regional director of Organization Development for the Systems Office at Dignity Health. She held management positions at Kaiser Permanente, Cisco Systems and Intel Corpo- ration. With a Ph.D. in policy analysis and an M.S. in clinical psychology, she has authored or co-authored a number of books on leadership, facilitation and change. She teaches at both Drex- el University and Notre Dame de Namur.

Q: What are the challenges facing frontline managers, and what are the common skills gaps among them?

Dr. Combs: Frontline managers are often more concerned with the technical aspects of the job than the interpersonal skills, partly because they feel they have to demonstrate their expertise immediately to establish credibility. When left to their own accord, they end up focusing on the technical side exclusively and muddle through management without formal training. There are many challenges that they face. Perhaps there’s a worry they’ve overlooked something important. The consequences of errors for managers in health care can be life threatening. It is much higher stakes than in other industries. Sometimes they lack the knowledge of how to prioritize vast amounts of information through competing demands. There’s also the issue of dealing with constant change at all levels of the job and organization. We often work through these challenges even when there’s a low level of investment in training for frontline managers and little time allocated for learning and personal development.

This familiar experience is at the heart of many organizational cultures and can lead to a fundamental skills gap. Most basic skills needed today are based on our ability to nurture relationships. It’s imperative that — as leaders — we recognize the uniqueness in employees, but do so in a respectful way. We must strive to reach out across the organization to build relationships and get the work done together. Part of this is having the ability to deliver difficult messages and to manage conflict proactively. Another gap is learning the internal management process — the how and when — and to what level of quality. This also includes good communication skills—especially in environments that are coping with constant change.

Q: What are potential trends or solutions that can help frontline managers?

Dr. Combs: I am a big fan of group learning in the form of mentoring circles where a confidential environment can be created to delve into these challenges. It provides a form of leadership training, reflection, self-directed learning and accountability. It’s often empowering to learn that most managers experience similar challenges and fears. People can learn from — and support each other — under the guidance of a mentor, especially in lieu of a robust leadership development program. There’s an unintended consequence when development isn’t an organizational priority. Without the investment in frontline management, the pipeline of talent becomes very weak, and the emphasis shifts to the need to develop mid-management.

Tips091114

Q: Mentor vs. champion vs. coach: What’s the difference, and what role do they play?

Dr. Combs: One of the best ways to understand the differ- ence is to compare the general role of each and apply them to the organizational need. The chart above illustrates how I break each approach down.

Ultimately, I believe that the natural progression is for mentoring or coaching to occur first and then championing afterward, since championing is ongoing and it involves influenc- ing the career growth of an individual over a span of many years.

Q: How do non-technical skillsets such as emotional intelligence contribute to individual and organizational development and success?

Dr. Combs: Self-awareness isn’t necessary for everyone when starting out; however, a desire for self-awareness is. We often hear that self-awareness and reflection are imperative to leadership. I would argue that it starts with the front line. Understanding our strengths and limitations comes with our maturation, level of confidence and experience. Frontline managers often are hired and promoted from within because of their technical expertise — even though they may not have much self-awareness. But as long as there is some understanding of their own need for growth, development and will- ingness, there is great potential. Self-awareness is often the first tool that can help you decipher if others are seeing something in you that maybe you didn’t perceive.

From the moment people recognize that they have strengths and flaws — that is the moment when they acquire some humility and, hopefully, the desire for lifelong learning. Emotional intelligence, relationship building and leadership style all require honest self-awareness. Well-intended feedback from others helps to kick-start the reflection process. Building a safe environment with confidentiality and positivity helps set the stage for self-awareness, learning, increased confidence and practice of new skills.

Q: Are there any unique challenges within health care, for which you’d like to highlight possible solutions?

Dr. Combs: Yes, I think the focus on people skills is more prominent in the health-care industry. Surprisingly, employees primarily receive medical training in preparing to enter the field with minimal focus on management or leadership. Herein lies the challenge for development at all levels. We can address these by developing leadership teams and executives, because if they’re not on a path of serving as role models, then everyone in the organi- zation will fail to live up to their potential. I’m a believer of multiple-strategy interventions that must be integrated into a culture of leadership cascading from the top so the senior leaders have to experi- ence it first. It’s more effective and sustaining getting people to suspend personal judgments and experience the content — that’s when they’ll discover their “a-ha” moment and become the biggest supporters.

—The author, Michelle L. Mal- donado, is a former corporate attorney with more than 17 years of leadership experience in strategic planning, operations and partnership development across the e-learning, technology and online media industries. She serves as associate vice president of corporate strategic relationships for American Public University System and is the founder of its Inspire Leadership Series. To read the full article or to subscribe to American Public University’s Inspire Leadership Series: www.GreatLeadersInspire.com

Published in Ideas

You're Missing The Boat If It's Not Part Of Your Learning Strategy.

By Linda Galloway

When Andi Campbell joined LAZ Parking in 2010 as director of learning and development, she started with a blank slate. The company had few learning resources and no consistent strategy for grooming new managers — a key business imperative, given the company’s rapid growth and commitment to hiring from within. The company’s 7,500+ parking employees, most of whom work out of 1,900 parking locations across the country, had no way to access learning resources or collaborate with each other. Many did not even have corporate emails, although most had personal cell phones.

In less than two years, Campbell found ways to dramatically strengthen employee engagement, improve manager collaboration and processes, and build a pipeline of high- potentials for new management opportunities capable of sustaining the company’s growth — all with minimal financial investment and staff support.

Campbell, who is now vice president of human resources, cites three key ingredients for success:

1 a business-aligned strategy with buy-in from all senior executive;

2 the implementation of an integrated LMS and social networking platform that was very easy to administer and use, was designed to manage all types of resources, including video, and offered an excellent mobile experience; and

3 a reliance on content curation to build out the company’s learning resources and provide a dynamic learning experience for all employees.

Campbell’s team regularly seeks out podcasts, TED Talks, YouTube videos, and other web-curated content to add to the LAZ U Learning Center and to share on the company’s two social networks: LAZ Na- tion Tribe, open to all LAZ employees, and LAZ Parking Manager Tribe, for current managers and executives and those involved in management development. These resources are complemented with inter- nally-created learning objects on topics such as leadership development, business processes and acumen and professional development; monthly virtual, instructor-led classes on a variety of actionable topics, most of which are conducted by company executives and managers; and select purchased courses (on Microsoft Office training, for example).

Campbell is one of many executives recognizing the valuable role of content curation for learning and development and for fostering employee engagement. When content curation is incorporated into a learning strategy, learning organizations save time and dollars, better keep pace with ever-evolving learning needs and business change, offer more relevant, personalized experiences for diverse employee audiences — and gain some much-needed street cred as business and topic experts.

In general, content curation is the process of collecting, organizing and sharing information relevant to a particular topic, an area of interest and a specific audience. In his book “Curation Nation," Steve Rosenbaum talks about a three-legged stool for effective content curation: gathering links and articles from the Web, which are then filtered for relevance and quality; inviting others to share their own content; and supplementing curated content with your own content.

Curated content can be used as resources affiliated with a formal learning program; for discussions and assignments in a coaching program; to keep employees and peers up to date on relevant business events; to capitalize on internal subject matter expertise; for sharing winning best practices. And that’s just for starters.

While we all curate content to some extent (sharing that New York Times article on Facebook or Twitter counts), professional content curation requires a range of learned skills spanning online research, analytics, technology, informa- tion organization and communication. Curators must have a solid understanding of the topics involved in research, so they can discern relevance and quality and can add meaning-ful context to curated resources. Curators should also have an understanding of the law, ethics and business best prac- tices for content sharing. And, because part of the job should involve encouraging content sharing and commenting from others, curators need to understand the human dynamics involved in information sharing and collaboration.

Following are several basic considerations to keep in mind as you begin to formalize the role of content curator and incorporate shared content into your learning strategy:

>>  Always add context to shared content. Don’t throw out a bunch of article links, podcasts, or Power- Points and expect employees to automatically relate the information to their jobs or the business.

>>  Vary the content you share in terms of content type, source, length and perspective. It’s also a good idea to mix up evergreen content — that which doesn’t go quickly out of date — with news-based content, which typically has a relatively short shelf life. Be sure to include in your content mix internally created content and imagery. By varying content, you’ll establish yourself as someone who has a pulse on the business or particular topics — and you’ll keep your audiences interested.

>>  Filter content for quality and relevance. This is hugely important and one of the primary values of effective content curation. By demon- strating that you know your audience’s needs and interests, you’re saving everyone the time of doing their own wide Web searches, asking around for that sales deck everyone has been talking about, or digging through manuals to find an answer to a customer’s technical question. By focusing on quality content, you’re also establishing yourself as an informed authority. 

>>  Take advantage of content discovery, aggregation and filtering tools. Many free or inexpensive tools can help you find, filter and even organize content finds. Google, Feedly, Newsly, Scoop.it and IFTTT are just a few ex- amples. The right combination of tools depends on your goals and needs. Some tools even automate the sharing of content. It may take you a couple of hours to evaluate the offerings and do the re- quired set up, but you’ll save hours and find content you’d likely never discover on your own.

>>  Make sure your enterprise technology facilitates all aspects of content sharing. Ideally, your LMS and social learning platform make it easy to upload any kind of content — including videos — and don’t restrict who can share. (If upload and sharing rights are avail- able only to administrators, you’ll not be successful in creating a sharing culture.) Additionally, your solutions should make it easy for us- ers to find and filter shared content of all types.

>>  Make it mobile. As you’re planning your content curation and sharing strategy, be sure you include a way to offer an optimized mobile experience for your users. And you yourself will want to have the ability to share newly discovered content from anywhere, at anytime.

This article merely scratches the surface of what is sure to be a very important role for learning organizations in the coming years. Don’t miss the boat. Make content curation — including the development of a content cu- ration strategy and the identification of individuals responsible for managing and performing content curation. — a priority for your organization.

—The author is president of insidHR Communications, a consultancy focused on the corporate learning and HR markets.

Published in Ideas

The Ground-Breaking Web-Based Organization Finds Corporate Learners Of All Ages Shun Time-Consuming, Non-Relevant Content.

By Linda Galloway

Personally, I’m sick of reading about the special learning styles of Millennials.

Of course, each workforce generation has different work attitudes, values and motivators — shaped by factors such as the economic environment and major life events. But, come on: Millennials don’t have special brains that somehow make them learn in ways different from the rest of us.

So when I see an article tying the use of social tools, video, curated content and other “new” learning approaches to Millennial workers, I want to hurl my Olivetti at the wall. (Just kidding, LOL.)

The truth is, corporate learning would be rapidly evolving even without the influx of young employees.

Rapid business change, with demands for faster time to productivity. Increased emphasis on value workers and customer service. Smarter, richer technology experiences at our fingertips. 24x7 connectiv- ity. These influencers impact the learning needs and expectations of all employees — from 25 to 65. They also impact the business’s perception of training and development.

The corporate “Millearnnial” audience is composed of technically savvy workers of all ages who shun page-turner content, clunky interfaces and irrelevant courses. They’ve got smartphones in their pockets and, most likely, a computer or tablet at home. They respond to consumer-like, media-rich, highly relevant learning experiences. And they want answers and guidance on the spot, just like they can get at home to figure out how to adjust bike brakes or find a hotel for an upcoming trip.

Learning and development organizations are affected by Millearnnials in two primary ways:

1) As learning consumers, Millearnnials are typically used to processing information in small chunks and having a variety of resources to choose from — from videos to discussion forums to Wikipedia.

Regardless of their age, Millearnnials place high priority on ease and conve- nience; they want information to be readily available on command.

2) Most business leaders share the above traits. Additionally, they likely see marketing and other departments rapidly churn out new Web content, video demos, and sales and service support tools. Therefore, their expectations for training are colored accordingly, to include: speedy, point-of-need delivery; cost efficiency; and high relevancy to business. Their tolerance for lengthy program development, big investments with long-term paybacks, and general lack of business understanding is low.

How L&D departments and their supporting vendors respond to Millearnnial expectations over the next one to three years will likely determine their long- term future.

Facebook: A Brief Glimpse Into Training's Future

Facebook epitomizes today’s relentless business change. In 2011 — eight years after its founding as a social networking site for college students — Facebook was one of the most visited websites in the world. When the company went public in May 2012, it was valued at $104 bil- lion, the largest valuation to date for a newly public company. As of January 2014, Facebook had 1.23 billion active users. But the company’s phenomenal growth has been accompanied by non- stop change. Shifts in user demographics, adoption by businesses, explosive smart-phone usage, and a string of technology acquisitions have opened the door to new markets and revenue streams, while requiring the company to morph at lightning speed to meet ever-changing market expectations. Needless to say, traditional training approaches just don’t cut it for a company moving this fast.

A quick look at how Facebook keeps up with training needs and how its learning professionals are adapting training to the company’s unique culture offers a preview of what’s in store for other companies.

Tom Floyd, global sales training lead for Facebook, has led corporate and sales training initiatives for approximately 15 years, primarily in high-tech Silicon Valley. His responsibilities at Facebook encompass sales skills development, coaching and communications training for the company’s complex sales organization.

Keeping up with the ever-evolving online advertising business is a challenge in and of itself. Floyd also must consider other key factors when developing Facebook’s training offerings and approaches: 

>>  A diverse and distributed workforce. Experience levels vary among the thousand-plus sales professionals located around the world. Some sales reps have years of advertising experience, while others are newer to sales. “Selling in Japan, the world’s second-largest advertising market, is different than selling into an emerging market,” says Floyd.

>>  Multiple vertical teams with very dif- ferent specialties, ranging from retail to entertainment to technology. Each requires extensive knowledge and up- to-date information.

>>  Time, or lack thereof. “Our employees are very busy. Every minute of training is time that could be spent doing other things, so we have to maximize the value of every training minute,” says Floyd.

>>  A company culture steeped in collaboration and sharing. “Our mission is to connect the world,” says Floyd. “Therefore, social networking is part of our company’s DNA.”

Floyd is part of a dedicated training team that includes Troy Avidano, the team’s LMS administrator, as well as a handful of contractors and several vendor partners to deliver all sales training programs. While the team may be small, its accomplishments push the boundaries of traditional training and technology. According to Floyd and Avidano, the team seeks out vendors who understand the company’s culture and its emphasis on innovation and are willing to go the extra mile to adapt their technologies accordingly.

For instance, in March 2014, the team rolled out an online training program for the sales organization. The program incorporates 40 customized learning courses in six areas specific to Facebook solutions. All content was developed internally or customized. Avidano worked with Intellum, the provider of Facebook’s corporate LMS, to support a unique approach to the learning. The LMS was enhanced to “serve up” quizzes in advance of courses, to reset the quizzes each time they’re taken by a specific employee, and to map quiz questions to Articulate- created learning resources. The result is a program that offers a personalized experience for each employee, regardless of his or her experience.

“As you’d expect, we’re a big proponent of tribal learning and capitalizing on our internal subject-matter experts,” says Floyd. “We want to do everything we can to help our people learn faster and have fun while doing it."

The Millearnnial Training Organization

“The major motivators for a learning organization today should be agility, speed and flexibility,” says Todd Tauber, vice president for learning and development research at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “All employees regardless of age are looking for bite-sized learning offered up in ways that align with their own learning styles.

“The only way a learning organization will be able to keep up is by shifting more toward informal learning, by leveraging internal subject experts, and by depending more on employees to share knowledge and provide peer guidance." Tauber points out that Bersin by Deloitte research shows that social and mobile technologies are factoring significantly into training investment plans.

“We’ll likely see a steady stream of innovation — both in terms of technology and in leading practices — over the next two to three years as organizations make this next shift, “ says Tauber.

It’s interesting to note that Tauber’s timeline neatly coincides with the entry of the next workforce generation, yet to be officially named. Regardless of what they’re called — 2Kers, Selfies, iGeners, Tweenials — you can be sure that these youngest workers and the technologies they bring to work will further influence the way the rest of us Millearnnials work and want to learn.

Published in Top Stories

Or, How A Small Team Dealt With Quadrupling Its Number Of Corporate Learners

By Linda Galloway

AT&T closed on its acquisition of Leap Wireless, the parent of the Cricket Wireless, on March 13, 2014. The company’s intent was to merge Aio Wireless, AT&T’s prepaid wireless subsidiary, with Cricket Wireless, which at the time of acquisition had approximately 5 million customers.

A few days later, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, stated that he wanted the acquisition to be “the fastest and most successful acquisition AT&T has ever done." He set the goal of operating as one company within 60 days.

This story is about how a small team of training and communication professionals pulled off a massive merger training initia- tive that touched approximately 20,000 employees, contractors and third-party support personnel in less than two months.

The initiative was built around many of the latest learning trends —social learning, collaboration, performance support tools and ongoing reinforcements — as well as a solid understanding of the needs and interests of diverse learning audiences and a commitment to reflect and reinforce the legacy Aio business culture.

David Merges With Goliath

“The news of the potential Cricket acquisition was a bit overwhelming, given that the company was many times bigger than Aio," says Michelle Randolph, director of processes, training and communication for Aio Wireless and now Cricket Wireless. “The first thing we did was to sit down together as a team and look at our best practices. We talked about what could scale — and what couldn’t. We also spent a lot of time thinking about what we might want to do differently and better."

The Aio team came at the project with a very modern mindset, one that was fos- tered by AT&T. “When AT&T spun off Aio Wireless, it encouraged us to create a culture that was based on mobile access, emphasized self-serve learning, and supported ongoing business change. AT&T viewed Aio almost as a test lab, where new technologies and practices could be tried out,” says Randolph. 

Consequently, according to Randolph, the Aio culture also accepted well-intentioned mistakes as a part of “selling fast.”

“We know that being wrong is part of the process. When we make a mistake, we quickly pivot," she says

Prior to the acquisition’s official close, the team had limited information about Crick- et Wireless for planning. In any merger or acquisition transaction involving public companies, the SEC prohibits the sharing of operational details until the deal is final. “In order to get started on planning as soon as possible, we made many assumptions. It turned out that many of them were wrong, so of course, that set us back a little."

Aside from the aggressive timeline, the team’s training and communication plan for the merger was influenced by these pri- mary factors:

>>  Most Cricket employees work out of small stores with only one or two co- workers at a time. Therefore, store reps have to be highly self-sufficient.

>>  Cricket employees didn’t have corporate email addresses; in the store, most had access only to mobile phones.

>>  Cricket store reps would be the merger’s primary “customer ambassadors.” Therefore, it was critical that they could positively present the acquisition’s benefits to customers, answer their questions fully, and handle required transactions smoothly.

>>  Training had to be cost efficient. Cricket dealers would not be charged for any merger-related training.

>>  Training also had to encompass approximately 1,500 Cricket customer support representatives employed by multiple call center providers.

The Role Of Social Networking

Since the subsidiary’s inception in 2013, Aio’s culture had always emphasized the importance of mobile technology as part of day-to-day business. Cheryl Milejczak, communications manager for Aio Wireless and now Cricket Wireless, knew early on that she wanted to introduce a two-way communication channel into the company, a channel that would allow people to offer feedback, ask questions, and directly help co-workers.

Milejczak and the Aio team evaluated several networking options. Critical requirements included Android compatibility, excellent support, cost efficiency and an easy-to-use, familiar interface. Employees also wouldn’t need an email address in order to use the tool.

In November 2013, the Aio team launched a pilot of Shout!, a social networking tool based on Intellum’s Tribe offering. Shout! was launched enterprise-wide in January 2014. The team used it for a variety of field-related communications, from breaking news on network outages to product updates and sales promotions. Employees were encouraged to use it to ask questions and to share helpful hints and resources that colleagues would find helpful.

Milejczak admits she was a little nervous prior to the network’s launch: “I was pretty sure our employees would use the network in a professional way while still having fun. But, we didn’t know for sure. Also, I wasn’t sure my team would be able to support the volume of traffic.”

As it turned out, the adoption of Shout! went very smoothly.

The positive Aio rollout gave the team confidence to make Shout! an integral part of the Cricket merger initiative. Cricket employees and other personnel involved in the merger were given access to it almost immediately after the acquisition.

“Because Cricket dealer employees had no way to receive direct company communications before, Shout! was immediately seen as a positive resource,” says Milejczak.

“Usage exploded. Shout! lets us push out important communications and materials to all employees in the field. It’s immediate; there’s no delay and no risk of the information being filtered or perhaps not delivered at all," Milejczak continues. “Plus, it gives employees a way to ask questions and provide feedback, which is especially important for remote workers.” When the team has an important message that needs to be highlighted for a period of time, a “sticky note” can be pinned to the top of conversation for as long as needed.

As part of the merger initiative, Shout! tribes were set up for Cricket store reps, third-party customer support personnel, training contractors, managers and other groups in order to customize communications and encourage collaborations among different audiences. Most of these remain active and widely used for ongoing communications, information sharing and team collaboration.

Some tribes were global and open to anyone involved in the merger. For instance, the “Launch Q&A” tribe was cre- ated to specifically address questions and answers related to the launch of the “New Cricket.” This tribe was monitored from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET for approximately 60 days following the acquisition close. While the Aio team members had overall responsibility to ensure questions were answered, very often Cricket and Aio employees would jump into conversations to help their colleagues. In fact, Milejczak says that this tribe largely became self-sufficient within a few weeks.

Today, approximately 20,000 people are members of various tribes on Cricket’s Shout! social network. It has emerged to be an essential communication and collaboration tool for Cricket’s diverse and distributed workforce.

Training For Quick Success

The Aio team identified five primary audiences for merger-related training: employees of company-owned stores, employees of dealer-owned stores, Cricket customer support reps, Aio customer support reps, and other Aio employees. Tad Kozak, sales training strategy manager, and David Dayton, customer support training strategy manager, recognized immediately that the only way to approach the training initiative was by developing core content, tools, and resources that could then be easily customized to meet the needs and interests of these diverse audiences.

The merger’s success largely rested on the shoulders of employees (the face of the new company) to present the benefits of the business change to millions of customers. Therefore, the merger training had to help employees quickly get up to speed on the differences between the AT&T and Cricket networks, learn how to migrate customers from one network to the other, and handle all associated transactions. But, just as importantly, the training had to address questions and concerns regarding the merger and introduce employees to the new company culture, inherited from Aio Wireless.

“Everyone on our team had been through multiple AT&T mergers before,” says Kozak. “We took lessons learned from each and combined them with new, mobile technologies to tackle this training challenge.”

The team designed an aggressive, three-stage training strategy, which was presented to the Aio executive team prior to the acquisition close and to the Cricket executive team immediately after. After fine-tuning the content, the team tested the training with pilot audiences in early April. The merger training components, all of which were tailored to different audiences, included:

>>  One day of instructor-led training focusing on the new Cricket brand and culture. To supplement its small internal instructor staff, Aio worked with an outside vendor to hire 38 contract instructors, many of whom were associated with Wounded Warriors. “We wanted instructors who would really connect with our audiences and had the personal experience to present this change in a positive light,” says Qioni Green, associate director of training. To provide ongoing support to contract trainers, the team scheduled conference calls, set up a telephone help line, and created a Shout! tribe to reinforce key points, answer questions, and share best practices and successes.

>>  A mobile performance support tool designed primarily for employees to use on the sales floor to rapidly access (within three clicks) the information and guidance needed to handle real-time customer questions and issues. The tool provided high-level product and network information and step-by-step guidance for all major system transac- tions. Since the merger, this tool has been modified and enhanced for use as an onboarding support tool.

>> A library of WBTs, simulations, and detailed documentation covering compliance and privacy issues, network and device training, point of sale system guidance, and customer support. All of these detailed training resources are housed and managed in Cricket’s Knowledge Base (built on Intellum’s Exceed LMS technology). All content is also optimized for mobile access. During the merger initiative, employees were directed to these resources through postings in Shout!, which is seamlessly integrated with the Cricket LMS. Employees could simply click on a link and they would be automatically directed to the appropriate resource in the Cricket Knowledge Base.

As the merger training rolled out, Aio team members closely monitored Shout! to see where training reinforcement might be needed. “The postings and questions on social media gave us valuable insights. For instance, if we saw recurring questions regarding a particular topic or issue, we could jump in and schedule an ad hoc webinar to provide more guidance,” says Dayton. “In my world, it’s common to look at metrics such as call durations, first-call resolution, and overall satisfaction and indicators of training success. But Shout! was an excellent, real-time indicator of how the merger training was working.”

COLLABORATION  STARTS AT THE TOP

Randolph is quick to praise the teamwork for all involved in the merger training. “We’re a small but mighty team,” she says. “Because we work so closely to- gether, we’ve never developed silos and we naturally keep each other informed and aligned.”

Interviews for this article surfaced many specific examples of teamwork: taking turns monitoring Shout! during off hours for urgent problems; proactively working together to ensure a product update is accurately reflected in all training resources; collaborating to create content and tools that could be easily and efficiently customized for sales or customer support.

“Collaboration has to start at the top, Randolph says. “You can’t expect employees to collaborate and support each other if you don’t set an example for them. We’re proud of contributing to the building camaraderie we’ve seen throughout Cricket nationwide over the last few months.”

—Linda Galloway is president of insidHR Communications.

 

Published in Top Stories

EdTech Europe has announced the initial results of its “EdTech 20” ranking, unveiling the top 20 e-learning companies in Europe in terms of innovation, scale, market impact and revenue growth over the past year. Judged by an industry-leading panel including representatives from TSL, Pearson and Emerge Education, the entries from 15 European countries, highlighted a number of key trends in the education technology space, including the rise of the virtual classroom, language learning and tools for enhancing workplace and professional industry training.

Listed in alphabetical order, the EdTech 20 are:

>> bettermarks, Brightwave, busuu, Circus Street, Creaza;

>> Dnevnik.ru, Docebo, Educations.com Media, Group (EMG), eduPad, Eliademy.com;

>> eSchools; Immerse Learning; Itycom; KTM Advance; Learning Technologies Group;

>> Lecturio; Quipper; Squla; The Student Room Group; and Virtual College.

—More info: www.edtecheurope.com/

Published in Latest News

Learning Is Just One Important Component In The Quest To Increase Corporate Productivity, Efficiency, Profit And Safety.

By Sam Ponzo And Matt Shallow

High-performing organizations often share a holistic management approach that includes three fundamental pillars: efficient systems and operations, a skilled and capable workforce, and a culture that embraces the company vision with trust, openness and innovation.

At DuPont we have found from our own experience and from working with hundreds of clients globally, that by having such a system in place, organizations are more effective at achieving sustainable growth while eliminating inefficiencies and waste, solving problems, and measuring progress. Integration of technical elements, capability and culture are essential for achieving success.

For existing companies that are already productive, efficient and profitable, a good foundational operating culture often is built around establishing engagement with employees, where employees and unions are working together with management. Defined roles, employee involvement and proper procedures drive quality and productivity. Leadership plays a critical part in modeling desired behaviors and supporting change by demonstrating transparency with their own learning journeys.

Where To Begin

As with most corporate initiatives, changing the culture begins with a baseline assessment, which can help determine the internal climate of a company from a technical standpoint. It also takes into consideration other existing systems and practices already in place that can be built upon. It includes truly understanding the existing culture and inter-relationships between line leadership and the shop-floor level.

This discovery process brings to light key cultural interferences that undermine the potential of the organization. By understanding the current climate, leaders can identify the mindsets and behaviors needed to align cultural norms with the organization’s vision and mission.

BestPractices

Our experience also has shown that people are the key to achieving excellence, and there is no simple solution to building and sustaining a capable workforce — and therefore a more capable company. It is a long journey with the result being a corporate culture based on best practices and world-class performance.

Before embarking on a journey of improvement, leaders must understand their employees and their employees’ aspirations. Only then can a roadmap be designed that will start the entire organization on its way. (We use the word “jour- ney” a lot, because it’s based on DuPont’s own learning, our theories on project management, and getting away from a “check-the-box” mentality. It’s an ongo- ing set of activities to get each and every person in an organization to challenge himself (or herself.)

Lessons Learned

When DuPont undertook such a “journey” a few years ago, we had a number of decentralized initiatives and programs that had existed for 24 years or more. Much of the success we had back in those days seemed to be short-lived. So we decided we needed an integrated approach.

To effect change, we found that our leaders needed to be role models, and our systems needed to support whatever changes we were to make. Employees from the bottom to the top needed to understand where they were going, and then we had to focus on giving them the skills to do their respective jobs.

Too often, corporations like ours take a very project-by-project approach. That means focusing on safety one day, on capa- bility building the next day, on Six Sigma next week. This results in initiative overload with employees and midlevel managers trying to manage multiple programs that are not tied together. It makes the work a lot harder.

Capability Development

The answer to the overload problem is to establish capability building as the goal rather than achieving a specific outcome. In other words, set a clear focus for an organization or jobsite by defining what they’re trying to improve upon and what improvements can occur. That approach has been helpful for us and our clients.

The cultural thrust must be moving from a focus on training to one on capability building. For instance, when you think of training, you often think of a training event. On the other hand, when you think about capability building, your goal is to improve skill level in a specific area. Many companies are focused on training dollars spent and total hours of training, rather than whether their employees actually acquire new capabilities.

BestPractices1

This is where a critical capability development piece can enter the process. For instance, there was a time when our plant managers were overwhelmed with initiatives thrown at them by different people and different departments. We realized that a “One DuPont” concept was needed to help us in terms of leveraging practices and being economical with our resources. We found that we had to create a focus on people, recognizing that they are the ones who drive the engine that makes all this happen. Our people were the critical design element.

We next found that leaders must focus on the shop-floor level where employees can see “what’s in it for them” and feel a sense of ownership. To sustain that enthusiasm, we found that we needed to engage people better, make better sense to them, and be transparent about what our goals were.

Culture Matters

What works domestically doesn’t always work abroad, and vice versa. National culture plays a distinctive role. For instance, Mexico has more of a hierarchy-driven culture. Coaching skills are different, too, which impacts how an organization rolls out a learning strategy.

DuPont Sustainable Solutions is a global organization with consulting experts spread among the four major regions to service clients in all corners of the world. Our clients represent a variety of industries with diverse economic, political and workforce challenges. Organizations in emerging countries are quickly catching up by learning from others in more developed countries and avoiding some of the less successful initiatives tried years ago.

We have to be able to adapt and help tailor solutions for a wide range of client needs.

Video learning is one of the best examples of the differences between developed countries and emerging countries. In some parts of the world, companies are still struggling with video learning because sufficient bandwidth is not yet available. In such places, you design learning with classroom trainers and/or simulations, or add video via DVD rather than relying on the Internet. We’re also finding that every facility abroad doesn’t have the space or equipment to bring employees together to show video, so organizations actually conduct some training on the shop floor. In those cases, smaller bits and smaller packages are important, because the opportunity to bring everyone off the floor and get them in a classroom to view a video is really starting to disappear in manufacturing and other production facilities.

DuPont consultants recently finished a three-year assignment in Russia working with a company that was very rudimentary in its infrastructure, technological processes, and its ability to communicate with employees. We were almost starting from scratch in terms of designing and building the capability program. The company culture was changing from a command-and-control culture management style.

Part of what we learned in Russia is that a company must first understand its culture from an organizational standpoint, and also from a geographic standpoint. In some parts of the world, interactivity is really important, so passive ways of conveying knowledge is less effective. Video and games help keep the learner engaged — essentially just good adult learning principles. We also learned that people also might have less time, so gaining effective knowledge right away is important.

Employees in Russia or other countries around the globe — maybe even here in the United States —also need to know where to access information. None of us finds information in encyclopedias today; we’re used to having information at our fingertips. It’s become less an en- cyclopedia era and more a Google era. So letting employees know where the applicable information resides and how to access it quickly, rather than forcing them to retain it themselves, also is vitally important.

BestPractices2

Sustaining Success

At DuPont, we have found what we call a “tool kit” of best practices. The focus is on keeping human and mechanical assets up and running, keeping leadership and employees engaged, and eliminating waste. We have a package of training — supported by coaching — to imbed best-practice behaviors, which is a different approach than traditional classroom learning.

To get an entire organization to accept a new culture, consultants, coaches and trainers have to meet employees where they work. It’s not about the employee adapting to your style. You have to adapt to them. We saw that clearly in Russia and other parts of the world.

Coaching methodology and follow-up is a critical element in motivating people to change old ways of doing things. You want to be more transparent, give people information they need, and help them cope with problems where they start. The right way to go about building a corporate capability program is analyzing the needs of the customer and building from the bottom up.

This approach has been time-tested across many organizations and cultures around the world, and it has the same universal elements. It works in the United States and also plays out in a global environment.

—Sam Ponzo is global practice leader of  learning and development for DuPont Sustainable Solutions, and Matt Shallow is a senior consultant in the Operations Excellence practice. For more information, visit the website www.training.dupont.com.

Published in Top Stories

 The ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) Initiative’s third annual Learning App Challenge is now accepting nominations. This year, app developers are invited to submit mobile learning apps designed to support education, training or performance. The targeted learners can be adults or students in grades K-12.

The objective of the Challenge is for contestants to create an app that will help students/learners acquire knowledge and understanding by manipulating tasks, simulations, or situations that require students to critically evaluate what they are learning.

Winners will be based on:

(1) how well the app provides a learning solution to a stated problem;

(2) technical quality; and

(3) user experience and usability. Extra points will be awarded to apps that integrate with an existing ADL project, capability or research focus.

Submission deadline is Sept. 2, 2014. There is no cost for entering.

—More info: http://www.adlnet.gov/learning-app-challenge/

 

Published in Latest News

 BY JOE DIDONATO

Jack Welch knows how win, as he proved in his 40-year career at General Electric. So given a chance to hear his view on hiring great people was a real treat. Three things that he said during that interview really stood out.

The first was what he called his three acid tests that we all need to conduct before we even think about hiring someone.

The second was his explanation of his 4-E (and 1-P) framework that he uses for hiring.

And lastly, he answered a real tough question: “What is the one thing you should ask in an interview to help you decide who to hire?”

So what are the three acid tests? Welch described these as three “screens” that a candidate must pass through before moving forward. The first test is for integrity. According to Welch, people with integrity tell the truth, and they keep they word. They take responsibility for past actions and mistakes. His advice was to look for it when you interview.

The second test is for intelligence, and he made a point of not confusing education with intelligence. He said determine whether the candidate has a strong dose of intellectual curiosity, as well as the breadth of knowledge to work with or lead other smart people.

The third acid test is maturity. And that’s not about age. He said what you’re looking for is someone who can take the heat, handle stress and setbacks, and enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility.

The 4-E (and 1-P) framework is about positive energy, the ability to energize others, edge — the ability to make tough yes-or-no decisions — and execution — the ability to get it done. The “P” is the final element: passion.

And what is the one question you should ask? He said if he was only allowed one question, it would be why the person left his or her previous job, and the one before that. That will tell you more about the candidate than anything else.

For more information, Welch’s book “Winning” goes into a lot more depth on all of these areas.

 

Published in Latest News
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