Only 8% of CEOs see Learning and Development’s business impact concludes a study conducted by LinkedIn. Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) face increased pressure to deliver learning that engages employees and positively impacts the bottom line. Companies are looking for proof that their investment is paying off in terms of increased workforce performance.

The report revealed 90% of business leaders believe learning and design programs are key to closing skill gaps. Yet, only 8% of CEOs in the report said they saw the business impact of L&D programs. Even fewer (4%) saw a clear ROI.

The disconnect may be access. Only around 60% of learning and design pros have any real say in their companies (invited to the C-suite on a regular basis, in other words) cites the report.  The teams are simply reacting to the demands of upper management.

Discover more finding at: https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/learning/en-us/pdfs/lil-workplace-learning-report.pdf

 

Published in Ideas

While 96% of HR pros agree that managers are vital to driving business success, fewer than half say their business adequately invests in developing front-line managers, according to recent Human Capital Institute research. It’s estimated that half of all workers have left a job to get away from a bad manager. Fight the trend: help improve organizational performance and employee engagement by equipping new managers to coach their people and provide clear feedback. Here are some key activities to set your new managers up for success.

1 IDENTIFY THE SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES REQUIRED TO EFFECTIVELY LEAD TEAMS.

When an individual contributor takes on responsibility for a team, he or she may require entirely different skills than the ones that led to success in past roles. As a manager, people skills may become more important than product knowledge; coaching ability trumps an aptitude for coding software. So make sure that you’re hiring managers who have the skills to succeed in those roles, not just promoting based on tenure or great performance in a role that requires entirely different strengths. Gallup found companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 30% increase in employee engagement and a 19% decrease in employee turnover. Begin helping your potential leaders develop their skills before putting them in a management role.

2 GIVE MANAGERS VISIBILITY INTO THEIR TEAM’S STRENGTHS, NEEDS, GOALS AND GAPS.

Make sure your managers clearly understand the expectations and goals for their teams—from both a project perspective and professional development standpoint—so they can see progress and respond appropriately. Leading a team to high performance requires managers to provide direction and hold people accountable. Make sure that employee’s goals are documented so managers can measure and track progress through regular check-ins. HCM systems that provide visibility into each team member’s goals make it easier for managers to deliver meaningful coaching and feedback.

3 TEACH YOUR MANAGERS TO DELIVER CONTINUOUS COACHING AND FEEDBACK ON PERFORMANCE.

Just 12% of employees grade their managers as excellent at helping staff improve performance and only 11% say their managers excel at coaching, supporting and developing them. This is a huge gap that organizations must fill if they want to retain staff and provide career mobility. Train managers to become strong coaches so they can guide team members—and the team as a whole—to peak performance.

Next, prepare managers to deliver regular feedback and have an ongoing dialog with each team member. Frequent conversations keep employees engaged and lead to better performance, but one study found that only about 20% of workers meet with their manager on a weekly basis. Make sure your managers are meeting with all their people often enough so that employees know how they’re doing. Have employees and managers collaborate on development plans, balancing current job goals with employees’ additional interests. Leverage performance management tools and 360-degree feedback to let both employees and managers know how they’re doing and recommend appropriate next steps.

Managers have a huge impact on the performance of your people—so make sure you’re giving them the tools and training they need to lead, engage and inspire their teams.

To learn more about identifying and developing first-time people leaders, download complimentary research from SumTotal, A Skillsoft Company, at sumtotalsystems.com/managers.

—Source: 1 “Identifying and Developing First-Time People Leaders.” Human Capital Institute, August 19, 2016. 2 “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders.” Gallup, 2015. 3 “Future-proofing HR: Bridging the Gap Between Employers and Employees.” Mercer, 2016. 4 “How Millennials Want to Work and Live.”

Published in Ideas

 

After seeing the many AI-powered toys, consumer products and smartphones at CES this month, it is important to ask about AI's future and security. This week, tech billionaires from LinkedIn and eBay are donating $20 million to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Funds to “protect” society from AI. The Fund will distribute money to researchers working on the tough ethical problems raised by AI.

“There’s an urgency to ensure that AI benefits society and minimizes harm,” said LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman. “AI decision-making can influence many aspects of our world – education, transportation, healthcare, criminal justice and the economy – yet data and code behind those decisions can be largely invisible.”

Last year, Elon Musk and other technology leaders invested $1 billion in OpenAI.org, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company whose mission is to assure safe and secure use of Artificial Intelligence.  OpenAI’s mission is “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return,” according to their website.

Musk has been critical of AI and its potential harm.  “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So, we need to be very careful,” said Musk. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Musk will be co-chair of the non-profit with technology venture capitalist Sam Altman, who has backed Reddit. Similar initiatives are being funded by IBM, Google and Apple.

 

Published in Ideas

 

Most people think of leadership as an occupation or a person who is formally in charge of others, but leadership is really the mechanism that enables a group to perform better. Specifically, leadership is a process of influence that enables a group of people to function as a team to achieve more than an individual or a badly led group. Leadership, then, is a resource for the group, and the critical issue is not what the leaders look like but how they influence the group.

The good news for those hoping to automate leadership is that its scientific study is well-established. Indeed, 100 years of academic research have enabled us to identify the key ingredients of leadership, so it is now possible to predict with a relatively high degree of accuracy whether someone will become a leader and how effectively they will lead if they get there. And once we are able to decode a phenomenon to break it down into its core components, then it is feasible to automate it. As Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics and a pioneer in robotics, noted: “If we can do anything in a clear and intelligible way, we can do it by machine.”

Unlike human leaders, a well-programmed robot would be selflessly focused on advancing the interest of its team

For example, a crucial component of effective leadership is technical expertise. Unsurprisingly, leaders make better decisions than their subordinates when they have higher levels of domain-specific knowledge and sometimes higher general intelligence than them. To the degree that this knowledge can be reduced to a fixed set of rules and facts, it would be hard for even the most experienced leader to compete with a machine.

Furthermore, while the logical and reasoning capabilities of humans tend to peak by the age of 30, intelligent machines can continue to learn and get smarter and faster as they process more data. Of course, a robot leader will not be able to replicate human intuition, but there is no real evidence that intuition – feelings about facts – makes leaders more effective. On the contrary, when intuition is not grounded on data it can produce toxic ideas and undesirable behaviors, such as prejudice, unconscious bias and discrimination.

Another key component of effective leadership is integrity, which involves putting the team ahead of the leader and displaying consistency between one’s words and actions. There are two main reasons for the importance of integrity in leadership. First, integrity is linked to trustworthiness and unless groups trust their leaders they will not be able (or willing) to perform well. Second, when leaders lack integrity they could engage in a range of unethical and counterproductive behaviours that harm their teams.

Given the frequency with which these toxic and destructive behaviours are displayed in leaders, including highly qualified and talented individuals at the top of successful and global organisations, it appears that the honesty bar is fairly low, so it should not be difficult to design robot leaders that outperform most of their human counterparts on this score.

Needless to say, unlike human leaders, a well-programmed robot would be selflessly focused on advancing the interest of its team – that would be its only agenda. In contrast, even when people lead effectively they tend to be driven by selfish and narcissistic desires (eg the need for status, recognition and power), which explains why they often derail. Indeed, one study estimates that up to 67%  of managers can be expected to fail.

A third critical element for effective leadership is strategic self-awareness or the capacity to understand how one impacts on others. Self-aware leaders are able to examine themselves from other people’s perspective. They are alert to feedback and able the gauge how their acts and intentions may be interpreted by others, which enables them to proactively manage their reputation.

Although self-awareness might appear to be a human characteristic, it can be modelled in robots. Indeed, most AI systems comprise a feedback loop that enables them to adjust their decisions on the basis of environmental inputs (eg thermostats, chatbots and wearables). Meanwhile the technologies for identifying human emotions from audiovisual content are advancing rapidly. And again, it is not that this ability is particularly refined in leaders, which is why billions of pounds are devoted each year to executive coaching designed to help leaders increase their self-awareness.

A final key ingredient for effective leadership concerns good people-skills, often referred to as emotional intelligence (EQ). Leaders with higher EQ are able to stay calm and composed, even in stressful circumstances. They can read other people like a book and are capable of predicting and influencing the behaviour of others.

Although affective computing – the creation of emotionally intelligent systems - is still in its infancy, it is important to note that robots do not need to be able to feel in order to act in an emotionally intelligent manner. In fact, contrary to what people think, even in humans high EQ is associated with lower rather than higher emotionality: it is about controlling one’s impulses and inhibiting strong emotions in order to act rationally and minimise emotional interference.

EQ scores range from very low – with key characteristics being neurotic, hotheaded and emotionally hypersensitive – to very high, phlegmatic, impassive and unexcited, so the real challenge would be to create robots with low rather than high EQ.

Though the idea of a computer-generated manager may seem far-fetched at the moment, robot leaders could start entering the working environment and begin to outperform bad (or even average) human leaders within the next few decades.

By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

-About the Author

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is professor of business psychology at University College London, visiting professor at Columbia University and the CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems. He is co-founder of metaprofiling.com and author of Confidence: The Surprising Truth About How Much You Need and How to Get It.

 

Published in Top Stories

We are now embracing an era when both enterprise and personal technology options are improving almost by the day. So several important considerations must be taken into account to help decide how our organizations will respond and benefit from new HR and learning technologies. Among them: how overall strategy, corporate culture and existing technology will play into future plans.

STRATEGY:

Strategy is both a key component when it comes to a technology environment and a significant opportunity; for instance, more than 40 percent of organizations are looking at improving or developing a new enterprise HR systems strategy this year. This is a key issue for most organizations.

For large organizations (more than 10,000 employees), the goal is most often to transform the technology environment, creating a more modern architecture that can support new user experiences, mobile access, and full-data analysis requirements. Research has shown that organizations are taking multiple pathways forward and are leveraging this opportunity to rethink their enterprise view of HR technology.

Among mid-market (2,500 to 10,000 employees) and small businesses, HR technology adoption has become a key to success. Organizations with higher-than-average HR technology adoption in these categories saw almost double the revenue per employee, and a 12 percent increase in their overall HR, talent and business outcome metrics. These organizations also are 75 percent more likely to be viewed as strategic partners by their business leaders, and they are 10 times more likely to be in the top 10 percent of organizations when it comes to social responsibility initiatives.

CULTURE:

Three specific HR outcome models — talent-driven, data-driven, and topperforming organizations — can alter decisions. In a world of constant digital change, organizations need to completely rethink their perception of technology investments. In today’s Cloud-based environments, organizations have shown that continuous change management models improve decisionmaking across the entire organization.

Cloud-based technologies also allow organizations to develop more valuable relationships with their workforces, clearly defining their expectations and the employee value proposition in a tailored employee experience.

TECHNOLOGY:

Now that there has been a shift both from vendors and buyers toward Cloud/SaaS HR solutions, foundational technology questions are refocusing. This year’s survey shows a 25 percent increase in organizations evaluating Cloud solutions for non-HR technology, and an increase in large organization initiatives to integrate both HR and non-HR technologies. The key questions for many organizations come down to cost, security and long-term value propositions for a full Cloud solution.

The new non-negotiables are focused on user experience, roadmap strategies, and tailored relationships. For instance, there has been a 40 percent increase to 66 percent of organizations that identify “poor user experience” as their primary reason for giving vendors a low satisfaction rating.

The next generation of technology is meant to be invisible and ubiquitous in our lives, and it’s expected to perform as an intelligent system. More than 5 percent of organizations are already using some form of machine learning, wearables and sentiment analysis tools as strategic parts of their HR systems strategies.

Now for some specific facts and figures, based on Sierra-Cedar’s most recent research:

SPENDING PATTERNS

This year, just 42 percent of organizations believe their spending will increase in 2016–2017, while 7 percent feel their spending will decrease. That represents a slight slowdown in spending plans from last year, but it’s still very healthy when compared with 2013’s spending plans following the recent recession.

Small organizations are the fastest growing segment of “new” HR technology buyers, so vendors will need come to the table with a compelling reason for them to increase spending next year; 57 percent of small organizations are on target to simply maintain their existing HR technology spending. However, each year, smaller and smaller organizations invest in HR technology.

HR SYSTEM EXPENDITURES

On average, total HR technology costs can range from $100 to $500 per employee annually. These numbers change dramatically based on the number of systems implemented, amount of internal resources versus outsourced resources, global scope of an organization, and the complexity of an organization’s service and support needs. These global numbers are generally helpful only as a ballpark figure, but do provide us with a lens through which to review year-over-year annual expenditures per employee — and it might be surprising to note that the total overall HR technology costs have seen a slight decline over the last few years.

HR TECHNOLOGY RESOURCING STRATEGIES

Knowing that spending doesn’t provide the only indicator of what an organization can accomplish when it comes to its enterprise HR systems strategy, a new question was added concerning an organization’s plans to increase or decrease certain roles across their HR function over the next year. Immediately, corporate learning and development initiatives claimed the top position for increased hiring plans for 37 percent of the organizations that responded to the survey — and only 5 percent plan to decrease these initiatives.

Following just behind L&D was 33 percent of organizations planning to invest in hiring HR data analytics personnel. Twenty-nine percent of organizations also plan to increase talent management headcount this year.

IMPLEMENTATION PLANS, TIMELINES, MODULES

Fewer organizations (17 percent) are planning to make solution changes in the next 12 months as compared to previous years, but more are planning movement over the next 24 months. Organizations with low user experience scores are four times more likely to have near-term plans to replace their current vendor.

Once an organization has decided to either replace or upgrade an existing solution, the next focus becomes timelines and costs. Implementation timelines have been a constant challenge for organizations dealing with on-remise solutions, particularly for large global organizations. Two- to three-year implementation timelines for enterprise-wide HRMS environments were not uncommon for organizations, especially when these solutions were implemented alongside other enterprise-wide solutions.

In the last few years, we have seen a decrease in overall implementation timelines, particularly for licensed environments, but also for Cloud/SaaS solutions. Less customization, greater access to APIs, and pre-developed connectors for integration, along with more adequately trained implementation partners, have all led to a reduction in overall implementation timelines over the past three years.

At this point, there are fewer onpremise implementations than Cloud/ SaaS implementations, since very few organizations are aggressively selling their on-premise solutions.

LEARNING APPLICATIONS

Because of complex learning needs, large and medium organizations are much more likely to have high levels of learning application adoption over small organizations. Sierra-Cedar anticipates continued shake up in the learning space over the next few years as enterprise software packages continue to invest in their new learning solutions, and many niche learning players coming out of the consumer learning space (like Degreed) are trying the change the concept of who owns an employee’s learning record.

Although Cornerstone OnDemand focuses heavily on its talent management modules, it continues to be one of the largest providers in the learning space and holds the highest level of application adoption at 19 percent; for large and medium organizations, Cornerstone OnDemand sees an increase forecasted adoption in the next 12 months. Other companies that are expected to grow substantially are SuccessFactors Employee Central, Saba, Health Stream, Oracle HCM Cloud (which is being rolled out separately from the Oracle Taleo/Learn solutions). Moderate growth is likely to come to NetDimensions and SilkRoad.

SumTotal and Skillsoft — now combined organizations — continue to hold large adoption shares in learning across all organization sizes. It is likely that many organizations use Skillsoft as a secondary learning solution along with their primary learning management system (LMS), but decreases are projected in adoption rates for this vendor for both applications.

—Research for Sierra-Cedar conducted by Stacey Harris, vice president of Research & Analytics and research consultant Erin Spencer. The “Sierra-Cedar 2016-2017 HR Systems Survey White Paper, 19th Annual Edition” can be found at www.sierra-cedar.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/10/Sierra-Cedar_2016-2017_HRSystemsSurvey_WhitePaper.pdf

--By Jerry Roche

Published in Top Stories

 

The Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES), the world’s large consumer technology event happens this week, and serves the $287 billion U.S. consumer technology industry. Thousands of solutions and exhibitors are on display with the new and the next in consumer tech. But, which solutions will really move the needle for enterprise learning?

While many at CES are focused on autonomous cars and their intelligent systems architecture, there are some technologies to watch for enterprise learning on display. Let’s look at five interesting solutions that offer a mirror to the future…even some may redefine how learning is delivered.1.      

1. HTC Tracker Vive Turns on VR for Everything

htctrackerviveimage

HTC Vive has been called the most immersive VR experience to date. At CES, HTC showcased the VIVE Tracker, a new tracking peripheral that can be inserted into any product to make it work in the virtual world. Image adding the Tracker to your baseball bat to practice your swing in a VR game. Peacekeepers could use the tracker on equipment during fire simulations, police officers for standoffs, and the like. There are hundreds of potential learning applications.

The Tracker transforms any device into the virtual environment. This means any manufacturer can be a VR device manufacturer by embedding the tracker.

 

 

2. First Google Tango-enabled Augmented-reality Smartphone

googletangophoneimage2

At CES 2017, we see a trend of software being embedded in devices. We no longer must learn to code. ASUS ZenFone AR  Smartphone is the world’s first 5.7-inch smartphone with Tango and Daydream by Google. Tango's AR lets you see virtual objects and information on top of your surroundings. And, Daydream is Google’s virtual reality technology.

For enterprise learning applications, AR if great for on-boarding, technical and safety training. The faster these capabilities are pushed to the smartphone and adopted, the sooner users can generate training content to share their native expertise. Learn more at: https://www.asus.com/Phone/ZenFone-AR-ZS571KL/

At CES 2016, we learned the cost of sensing technology has dropped to pennies an axial, and text to voice is now 95% accurate.  No surprise, we see these technologies integrated into some smart devices for home and work.

 

3. Voice is Everywhere: LG, Alexa and Google Home

voiceiseverywhereimage

 

Like VR, manufacturers are integrating voice assistants within devices at home. NVidia plays with Google Home to create smart home devices. LG is using Alexa in refrigerators to track use by dates, groceries to buy and can place the online order via Amazon Pantry.

These solutions are launching at rates faster than enterprises can adopt them. Enterprises are using machine learning and AI to drive business decisions today. We could drive this intelligence to voice commands at the enterprise creating the perfect assistant.

 

4. Concept: Razer’s Project Ariana

razerariana

 

We have heard of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Star Trek’s Holodeck. Now we have seen Razer’s new concept projector, called Project Ariana. Ariana can bring projection mapping to the masses. The system is a giant screen that blends seamlessly when projected across your wall, furniture and tables. Under development, expect to see this projection system engulf an entire room with visuals that simulate being there. Imagine a Super Bowl broadcast that fills the room with you immersed in the sound and visuals. For enterprises, use of live immersive projections like Project Ariana would be great for CEO meet and greets and group wide or global team meetings. See it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3sz0S5PA0

 

5. Cool Tools for the Office

toolsforoffice

 

CES is not CES unless you come back with cool tools you want to take home. Here are two our editors loved.

First, Tickle Sensor is a tool to convert your PC to touch screen. Neonode Airbar is sold for $189 and clips to the screen easily. Learn more at: http://www.neonode.com/

Second, the travel keyboard that folds up to fit in a pocket is a must have. The Kanex Keyboard has a 2-day battery life.  It is Bluetooth enabled and the magnetic case keeps it closed. Cost is less than $100.

Next up from Elearning! Magazine: Key trends and consumer technology market growth reports from CES. Follow us at @2elearning or visit: 2elearning.com.

 

 

 

Published in Latest News

This is the season of gift giving. The top ten consumer gifts are mostly technology-enabled and give us insights into the technologies enterprise learning needs to embrace.  From Apple Watch, PlayStation VR, Amazon’s Echo Dot to Fire TV Stick, we see trends in mobile, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and video streaming. The rate of technology adoption is pressuring learning organizations to adopt and adapt quickly.

How are talent leaders adopting these technologies?

-Virtual Reality is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025 according to Goldman Sachs. We asked four leaders from education, government and corporate enterprises to share how they are using Virtual Reality for learning. Discover their implementations here.

-The User Experience is paramount to employees. With the increase of millennials in the workplace, learning leaders are embracing social, video and mobile to enhanced user experience and engagement. See how Express, Inc. is fashioned for millennials here.

-The 12th Annual Best of Elearning! Awards honors 99 solution providers named by 4000+ learning professionals. See what enterprises are investing in and deploying successfully view the complete list of solutions and what users say about them here.

While technology may be a portion of the story, there are also key behavioral shifts. We are seeing the emergence of the Fractal Organization according to David Coleman, Principal of Collaborative Strategies.  A flat collaborative work structure that may be in your future. Learn more here.

Jeanne Meister, founder of Future Workplace, declares we are in the ‘Era of Serial Learner.’ Discover what it means to leaders everywhere here. Finally, Dean Pichee says “Organizations who deliver the best, most engaging, effective employee training today are going to be tomorrow’s winners in the marketplace.”   Learn more in his ‘Science of Learning’ column here.

It’s time to make that next transition. Take the first step by viewing these articles from learning leaders who have been in your shoes. Create your corporate learning wish list with an eye on your future workforce, their behaviors and toolsets. 

Published in Top Stories

 With the rash of recent appointments by President-elect, Donald Trump, this seems like a good time to ask this question. While there are leadership books abound to attest to the skills needed for successful transitions, change management and leadership development, making the transition from business to government has its challenges.

We can point to a number of successful transitions. Who would have thought an actor from California, Ronald Reagan, would be a successful president? But, we don’t have to go that far back to find successes.

Here are some recent examples of businessmen who have become heads of government in the U.S.:

  • Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
  • Jon Corzine was governor of New Jersey from 2006 to 2010.
  • Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.
  • What kind of conclusions can we make about the effectiveness of business leaders who become political leaders?

    Let’s take a look at a recent appointee.

    President-elect Donald Trump's choice of fast-food leader Andy Puzder as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor is receiving accolades from legal experts. Known to not support the $15 minimum wage initiative, Puzder believes we should focus on driving a $50,000 sustainable wage path.

    "Andy's an excellent choice," says Michael Lotito from Littler Mendelson and co-chair of Workplace Policy Institute. "He is an individual who saved jobs when Hardee's was about to go bankrupt. Andy has also created jobs, but even more importantly, he has created opportunities for people." Lotito notes that most workers rising through the CKE ranks started as crew members, including the current COO.

    It's clear the transition from business leader to government leader may have more to do with point of view and knowledge of the field than just business or government policy making.  What are your thoughts? We recommend reading “Reinventing Leadership” by Barbara Kellerman, which can be found at:  https://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Leadership-Connection-Politics-Business/dp/0791440729

    --By Catherine Upton

     

    Published in Insights

    Is your workforce prepared for tomorrow’s challenges? Maybe you’re thinking -”my workforce isn’t even prepared for today’s challenges, let alone future challenges.” Regardless, providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need has never been more important – or challenging. And the stakes couldn’t be higher… organizations who deliver the best, most engaging, effective employee training today are going to be tomorrow’s winners in the marketplace.

    TODAY’S TRAINING CHALLENGES

    The modern worker has changed. The average worker is checking their smartphone nine times an hour and are typically interrupted every 5 minutes on the job. Since the year 2000, the average attention span of a person has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds – 1/3 of the attention span of workers has completely disappeared (Time).

    The modern workplace is also changing rapidly. We are running our organizations lean and mean… so managers often feel that they can’t afford to have their people “off-the-job” and training for long periods of time. Fitting in training is often viewed as a secondary objective.

    Finally, the shelf life of knowledge and skills has shortened dramatically. Today the shelf life of knowledge is much, much shorter with technological changes and other factors. Experts believe our knowledge and skills must be updated roughly every 18 months or we risk extinction. It’s never been more important for workplaces to use technology to blend learning new skills into their employee’s jobs and create a culture of learning.

    ENTER MICROLEARNING AND LEARNING TECHNOLOGY

    Thanks to YouTube and other streaming video platforms we now understand that not only do employees desire to learn, but their preferred format for learning is video. We also know they prefer shorter videos to longer ones. Research shows the ideal length of an online training video is 6-7 minutes. This type of microlearning creates 50% more engagement than other training methods.

    Microlearning also works well because the programs offered by many online training providers today are designed for any device and any size screen. This is important as many organizations and industries need training available in remote locations where a traditional computer setup is not available or feasible. Fortunately, most of us carry our little video players (aka smartphones) at all times. And since we’re checking them nine times an hour on average, training has never been more convenient!

    LEARNING RETENTION AND SCIENCE

    So you’ve found an online training partner with a large library of microlearning content and you’re working on a marketing initiative to roll it out to your employees. Great! Isn’t that all you need to create the behavior changes and performance improvements your organization expects to see? Unfortunately no, research by neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists tells us that no matter how great our training programs are, employees will forget about 70% of what they’ve learned within 24 hours of learning it.

    Don’t throw your training plan out the window just yet, however. Let’s talk solutions – solutions based on what science tells us about learning and retention.

    It turns out that testing knowledge isn’t just a way to measure how much your employees know, it’s also a great way to increase their learning, and their long-term learning retention. When the brain is asked to retrieve information, it tags it as important and is less likely to forget. In practice, asking employees a series of quiz questions and other memory “boosters” related to the training they have taken, spaced out over strategic intervals, can increase learning retention by as much as 300%!

    THE RIGHT MIX

    We certainly have challenges as HR and workplace learning professionals today. Combining a library of microlearning content that is curated and updated, and a post-training reinforcement plan is the perfect foundation for your training program. Get the mix right and your on your way to preparing your workforce for tomorrow.

    --Dean Pichee, Founder and President of BizLibrary

    Published in Insights

    Many of you have never heard of fractal organizations. I hadn’t until I talked to a colleague working on the Hyperloop project, which was described as a “fractal organization.” The fractal organization may be your future collaboration ecosystem. Most organizations today are top-down command-and-control hierarchies that have to grow through acquisition rather than expanding from within. Oracle is a great example of this (having just recently acquired NetSuite). In nature, mathematical constants are both random and scalable. Look at the leaves of a fern, or the organizational patterns on some seashells. Even vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli. Fractals are often thought to be infinitely complex, because, at all levels of magnification, the pattern is the same.

    With about 100 years under our belts around command-and-control hierarchies, we know that they might work well for the Army but are not agile or stable enough to work well in today’s chaotic business environment. On top of that, they tend to create “silos” and foster miscommunication, and in essence are not great for collaboration no matter how good the technology.

    Hierarchical organizations create harmful stress and internal competition, because there are only so many spots at the top of the organization. This causes the members to hoard information. I witnessed this directly in the big five consulting firms when I did research on them around collaboration in their organizations. The stress can cause absenteeism and employee turnover, and creative individuals got tired of corporate politics and found more creative environments.

    FRACTAL SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS

    Author Janna Raye identifies the properties of the fractal system:

    1 Emergence: Agents in the system interact in random ways. Interaction patterns emerge from these behaviors that affect the agents in the system as well as the system itself. A good example of this is a termite hill.

    2 Co-evolution: Systems are in their own environment, as well as being a part of another, larger environment. As the larger environment changes, the system does also, but because it is part of the larger environment, it also changes the larger environment. For example, think of a person as a system in a larger system (environment) called a business. As a person changes his or her behavior, it also changes the behavior of the business, showing a co-evolution of these systems.

    3 Sub-optimal: Fractal systems do not have to be perfect to thrive in their environment, and only have to be slightly better than their competitors. Putting additional energy into making the system better tends to be wasted energy, as these systems tend to trade off increased efficiency for greater effectiveness.

    4 Requisite Variety: The greater the variety in the system, the stronger it is. That is why diversity in our organizations is so important — not just of races, but of thought, approaches to problems, attitudes, etc. Fractal systems have lots of ambiguity and contradictions, but rather than seeing these as “bad,” they are seen as a way to create new possibilities to adapt to a changing environment. Democracy is a good example of this.

    5 Shared Purpose: Like ants, honeybees, geese or schools of fish, all of these organizations have shared purpose and shared values among all their members. These create pattern integrity, and often high levels of participation in ideas and solutions for continuous improvement, which helps with decision-making at functional levels. Leadership is universal, which enables the competition energy to be directed outward instead of inward.

    6 Information Sharing: Hierarchical organizational structures cause information silos. In a fractal organization, all members share information iteratively and make decisions collectively in response to constantly changing conditions.

    FRACTALS AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES

    One major feature of fractals is their “self-similarity,” meaning different sizes of similar attributes within the larger whole, ad infinitum. In nature, you can have individual actors (like a school of fish, or a flock of geese) all working together for the common outcome. Both fish and geese display interdependency, relying on each other. Systems in nature also have scalable structures at every level, and at each level, there is a different organizational pattern. Some examples of this type of system are living organisms, a nervous or immune system. a corporation, and economy or even a society.

    So if this is true for mountains, coastlines, tree bark and even wiggles, why not organizations?

    What this implies in organizations is the application of complex systems theory, with tight feedback loops, autonomous cooperating actors, and a simple and limited set of rules governing the system. This is the basis for the agile movement in programming today. It also seems to be one of the best approaches to how large organizations can stay creative and innovative. Fractal organizations can do so by climbing “the fractal ladder,” enabling the sustainability of innovation.

    According to Raye, a “fractal” is a way of thinking about the collective behavior of many basic but interacting units, and in a macro sense have the ability to evolve over time. A fractal organization is the embodiment of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

    A fractal is a pattern, a form of sustainable ordered chaos, while an organization is “an ordered arrangement of things (people).” Fractals have self-organizing principles, and fractal organizations are seen as “an emergent human operating system that mimics nature in its capacity for creativity, adaptation, vitality and innovation.”

    Switching from a hierarchical to a fractal organization supports more cooperative work, provides better information flows, more room for advancement, lower turnover, and eliminates the view that there is a scarcity of resources.

    People in these organizations are seen as “complex adaptive systems” and emergent behaviors arise out of organizations like this.

    Self-organization is the key to self-adapting systems evolve and adapt to new challenges. In living systems, we see cooperation and symbiotic interactions (like in an ecosystem). We also see that reflected in many organizations today; for example, both Salesforce and Slack have created large ecosystems of developers that add value to the original product.

    Some fractal companies are like Pixar — core leaders in the center — and all firms are arranged as arms around the leader. Then in the arms, each team has a leader, and info is funneled to the center of the organization to the leaders, needs for resources, and then allocated flow back out.

    Although we are just starting to see these fractal organizations as we move from the industrial age to the information age, we are starting to see the demise of hierarchy and the flattening of organizations. One type of these flatter organizations are fractal organizations, which are inherently collaborative. This bodes well for more modern organizations that are adopting the fractal nature.

    —Sources: “Fractal Organization Theory” by Janna Raye, The Journal of Organization Transformation and Societal Change. http://www.fractal.org/fractal-systems.htm

    —David Coleman is the Managing Director of Collaborative Strategies Inc. (CSI), a San Francisco-based industry analyst and advisory services firm. He is the author of “the collaboration blog” and author of four books on collaboration, the latest two being: “Collaboration 2.0” and “42 Rules for Successful Collaboration.” Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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