By Frank Russell

If you were a child of the ’60s, you probably recognize the beginning words of this Bob Dylan song that became a battle cry for generational change. Indeed, the quote, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” was also coined during this turbulent era. I believe we are on the cusp of another generational transformation that could be even more profound. Today, the largest age group in America is 22 years old, which means the youngest workers are just beginning to enter the workforce. Many organizations are ill-equipped to manage Millennials, and older workers are delaying retirement while struggling to transfer knowledge to this younger workforce. These demographic changes mean new approaches are needed for mentoring and talent development systems.

Research has shown that effective mentoring programs can yield significant ROI for organizations. However, traditional programs have encountered serious roadblocks for the following reasons:

>> They are challenging to set up and administer.

>> It’s difficult to manually match up the best mentors with mentees.

>> It’s time consuming and inconvenient for busy participants to meet.

>> And often, because of costs, they only reach the top level of employees.

Fortunately, technologies such as mobile apps, social collaboration and virtual mentoring tools are changing the way organizations provide this necessary capability.

These new technologies:

>> Make coaching programs easier to implement and manage;

>> Provide auto match-up features to link the best mentors with mentees;

>> Use a variety of synchronous and asynchronous communication features for convenience and global reach; and

>> Significantly reduce costs, enabling more employees to participate and benefit.

As a bonus, these technologies can also help bridge the communication gap between the generations.

The traditional coaching model, which usually pairs an experienced senior executive with a junior employee, is typically one way, top-down. However, as coaching consultants, we’ve observed that mentors can actually learn a great deal from their mentees as well. This “reverse mentoring” process allows senior coaches to gain valuable insights from new employees who have grown up with social media and mobile apps.

The most significant productivity gains, however, come from systems that are set up for “democratized mentoring,” where anyone who has knowledge or expertise in an organization can contribute, collaborate and share with others.

Studies are now showing that these new social approaches can provide a number of additional benefits to organizations, including:

>> Increasing an employee’s speed to competence;

>> Finding and enabling hidden talent;

>> Providing a global platform for employees to collaborate; and

>> Improving employee retention and engagement.

While not a panacea for all mentoring challenges, social collaboration, combined with virtual coaching tools, certainly can reduce many of the problems that once existed for traditional mentoring programs.

Most importantly, these new tools and approaches can break down some of the bureaucratic barriers that continue to support glass ceilings and perpetuate exclusions for many groups. It can bridge the generation gap, as Millennials and Boomers help to develop each other, and embrace the title of Dylan’s song, “For the Times They Are a’ Changin’”!

—Frank Russell is the CEO of Prositions, Inc., a company that provides consulting and technology-based mentoring solutions for organizations. Contact him via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website

Published in Insights

New Technology Is Making Quantum Leaps In 21St-Century E-Learning.

The motion picture “Gravity” won seven Academy Awards and was nominated in three other categories in 2013. Watching the outer space epic, you would never guess that 95 percent of what you see on the screen is computer-generated. Only the faces and some body movements of stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are real life. Yes, it took the production staff four years to integrate live action with CGI (computer-generated images) and many terabytes of computer memory. But they did it, and the end result is nothing short of amazing.

How does that relate to e-learning? Simple: Creative tools in the hands of creative developers can do almost anything.

Inside this issue, you’ll find the results on the 2014 E-learning User Study that shows the great strides our industry is making in developing highly engaged, virtual and collaborative experiences. E-learning as an industry is seeing steady growth, with predictions that it will reach $220 billion by 2017, a 23 percent CAGR, according to Research and Markets. But how e-learning is created and over which platforms is the real shift.

Prime industry-specific examples of “Legendary E-learning” are offered in this issue’s cover story. Whether a beginner or advanced user, you will find helpful advice and video tutorials here. Going mobile is also critical to the workforce. To that end, a feature on mobilizing learning offers tips and techniques to use when publishing across multiple devices.

We close this edition with Learning! 100 Award-winner Carrington Mortgage Services.

Meet, network and share with this year’s Learning! 100 winners at the Enterprise Learning! Conference, being held, Aug. 25-27, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. Focused on “The Business of Learning,” the conference offers you the chance to meet thought leaders, executives and technologists in a professional, intimate business setting, so make plans to attend now.

With advanced computer systems and software playing a growing role in our lives and businesses — as attested by “Gravity” and the pace of technological advances— now is the perfect time for you to sharpen your skills and start taking advantage of them.

—Jerry Roche, editorial director

Published in Insights

 How Are Organizations Changing Their Approach To Collabrative Learning?

By David Coleman

Last month, I had the chance to look at trends in the collaboration space and market disruptors (by interviewing a number of companies in this area). Although I am still in the process of writing a report, I am already noticing some trends that are currently driving collaboration.

1) Availability of information. Information is plentiful to overwhelming today, rather than it being scarce like a decade ago. This abundance is driving the pace of change, and also the pace of decision-making. Since most people want to make informed decisions, this means they need access to accurate and timely information. It also means they need access to people (with specific knowledge or expertise).

2) Integration of collaboration into everyday work. In the past, collaboration was considered a feature and benefit on its own (i.e. a video-conferencing system, or an online workspace), and generated a marketplace of siloed applications and islands of information. Today’s business landscape no longer looks like this: we are awash in information, and collaborative tools (if they are good) are helping to break down these silos. But it is the incorporation of collaboration into everyday processes where we see the biggest change. No longer is it about a room-based video-conferencing technology, but it is about the budgeting process, and the video-conferencing meeting is just part of this process, and a way to make the process more effective.

3) Rapidly changing organizations. Many of the executives I spoke to had noted that there are more geographically distributed teams than ever before. That there is a greater use of the freelance economy (both inside and outside the organization), and the realization by top management that a business is much more like a network or a community than a monolithic, hierarchical structure. Many of these companies are focusing more on project teams than specific roles.

4) More realistic view of “enterprise social.” Last year, the number of managers that were beginning to understand “enterprise social” was up to 60 percent (from 10 percent five years ago), and I think the trend is accelerating. We are also seeing more engagement by management. In the collaboration game, “do as I say, not as I do” does not fly any more in a more transparent organization. Leaders have to be part of the change, and most likely leading the charge!

For more information on these and other trends and disrupters, download the report at

—The author is founder, managing director and senior analyst of Collaborative Shift, San Mateo, Calif.

For more info:


Published in Insights

 Calculations Are By No Means Rocket Science, But It Might Pay To Involve Your Finance Or Accounting Staff.

By Joe Didonato

T he U.S. Department of Labor estimates that organizations spend about $1 billion a week to compensate employees for safety-related job injuries. Beyond this financial burden, organizations can also face litigation if they don’t train their employees on job-related safety issues.

Yet with all of these consequences looming, the learning organization is sometimes faced with the daunting task of creating an ROI for safety training in order to get the budget approved. In this column, I’m going to take on that task and give you a head-start on how you might go about putting that ROI together.


 The basic strategy I would suggest for this ROI is based on a reduction of lost days of work. The other part of the ROI would be an estimate of the lost production incurred as a result of these lost days of work. So the way that we could approach this is to look at injuries by department, manufacturing location, or overall. If it’s by location or department, then it’s going to be easier to prove the ROI. You simply do a training intervention and measure the results after that training occurred.


 Let’s make some assumptions to show you how we could approach an ROI formula:

Let’s assume that the total employee base in a car manufacturing company is 100,000 workers, and that the count is equally distributed in four plants. Let’s also assume that Plants 2 and 4 are showing the highest injury rates:

>>  Injury rate of 15% in Plant 2; and

>>  Injury rate of 18% in Plant 4.

Let’s define “injury rate” to be the number of lost days, with each employee working 250 days/year.


>>  Lost days in Plant 2 = 25,000 employees x 250 days = 6.25 million Work Days x 15% = 937,500 Lost Days;

>>  Lost days in Plant 4 = 25,000 employees x 250 days = 6.25 million Work Days x 18% = 1,125,000 Lost Days.

Calculating the direct cost for those lost days would be done as follows, if the cost of each employee was $200/day (or $25/hour):

>>  Direct cost of lost days in Plant 2 = $200 per day x 937,500 lost days = $187.5 million

>>  Direct cost of lost days in Plant 4 = $200 per day x 1,125,000 lost days = $225 million

Next we need to calculate the cost of the “lost production.” This would be equal to the “total production output capacity per plant,” expressed in a dollar amount. If we multiply 100,000 employees x $200/ day rate x 250 days/year the total labor costs are $5 billion — not including fringes. If labor cost is 25% of the total cost of goods produced, then the total cost of goods produced for all of the plants would be $5 billion divided by 25% or $20 billion. That’s $5 billion per plant.

Next we calculate how much production we’ve lost in these two plants by multiplying their injury rate times $5 billion:

>>  Lost Production in Plant 2 = $750 million (15% x $5 billion); and

>>  Lost Production in Plant 4 = $900 million (18% x $5 billion).

Now to complete the calculation, we need to estimate how much a training intervention could reduce the overall injury rate. Here you would probably want to find data that show which activities are creating the most injuries and determine what type of training would likely reduce that injury rate. It would help to compare those injury-causing activities by plant, to see how another plant may be avoiding those causes.

So now we’re ready to produce the ROI. If we estimate that a particular training intervention could reduce the injury rate by 2.5%, then the ROI would be obtained by multiplying 2.5% times each of the above lost production results, and adding that amount to the total savings in lost payroll costs:

>>  Total cost savings in Plant 2 = $4.69 million in payroll costs for lost injury days (2.5% x $187.5 million) + $18.75 million in lost production (2.5% x 750 million) for a total of $23.44 million; and

>>  Total cost savings in Plant 4 = $5.625 million in payroll costs for lost injury days (2.5% x $225 million) + $22.5 million in lost production (2.5% x 900 million) for a total of $28.125 million.

Next we would have to gather up the cost of the training intervention that produced these savings to finish the ROI calculation. For purposes of this example, let’s assume that it costs $100 per employee, which accounted for the training intervention and the lost time. That would make it $5 million for 50,000 of the 100,000 employees.

Then it’s simply a matter of dividing the savings by the cost of the training:

>>  Plant 2 would show an ROI of ($23.44 million ÷ one-half of the training costs or $2.5 million) = 937.6% ROI; and

>>  Plant 4 would show an ROI of ($28.125 million ÷ one-half of the training costs or $2.5 million) = 1,125%.

Obviously, the actual calculations are going to be much more involved than this, and your language will also vary from the terms that I used in this simple example. My recommendation is that you should request help from your finance or accounting staff to add credibility to your calculations, but having the strategy in hand will certainly help the conversation and gain support.


Published in Insights

Take a look at new research on E-learning Trends & Practices. Join Joe DiDonato and Catherine Upton of Elearning! Media Group, as they reveal this year's findings on future enterprise learning and workplace technology practices and investments.

In this complimentary session you will learn:
1) The top priorities in learning and development
2) How future practices benchmark to last year
3) Which technologies enterprises are investing in and why
4) How private and public sector behaviors compare
5) What's new in learning and development investments

Attend this free session and receive a complimentary 2014 E-learning User Study.


Click here to watch this session on-demand inside the ELS14 Virtual Platform >>


Published in On-Demand

Speaker: Dr. Vicki Halsey, author of "Brilliance by Design-Creating Learning Experience that Connect, Inspire & Engage" and consultant, The Ken Blanchard Companies

Dr. Vick Halsey will talk about the secrets of creating learning experiences that connect, inspire and engage learners. In this session, Dr. Halsey talks about a completely new instructional design methodology that changes the focus on 'what to teach and 'how' to teach it.

Published in On-Demand

Speaker: Paul Drexler, Account Manager, Global Learning and Development, Bechtel Corporation

This is an interesting case study of how a successful on-line Community of Practice was introduced at a large traditional company, with little executive support or resources. YOU WILL LEARN:  The 4 different roles in a Community of Practice (CoP); practical steps used to build the community; overcoming organizational barriers; and how software can help or hurt your community.

Published in On-Demand

Speakers: Mollie Lombardi, Research Director, Human Capital Management at Aberdeen Group

Mollie Lombardi is the research director of Aberdeen’s human capital management practice, as well as one of our top speakers at our Enterprise Learning! events.  She has surveyed and interviewed thousands of end-users to better understand the key challenges facing today’s HR, learning, and talent management leaders, as well as uncover the Best-in-Class strategies, capabilities, tools and technologies those leaders are using to address those challenges.  Mollie has written and spoken about a wide variety of HCM topics, including learning and development trends and the use of emerging technologies.  Aberdeen and Mollie also collaborates with us in the selection of our Learning! 100 Award winners.  Please join Mollie as she unveils Aberdeen’s latest research on HCM, learning and workplace technology trends. This session is sponsored by eCornell.

Published in On-Demand

Speakers: David Allen, Founder & Chairman, The David Allen Company

Every day, businesses and learning organizations face new challenges and opportunities: talent management, new product deployments, upgrading internal infrastructure, competitive challenges, time to market pressures, and emerging technologies, to name a few.  Any of these can be overwhelming at times, and without an effective method to address these symptoms, it can become costly in resources and human capital, as well as drain an organization’s innovative juices.  In this session David will provide you with a roadmap that will help you increase performance, capacity, and aligned execution, thus freeing up time and resources for innovation and creativity.

David Allen is the Chairman and Founder of the David Allen Company, an international training and consulting firm specializing in the fields of personal and organizational productivity. He has been called "One of the world's most influential thinkers in the field of productivity", designated as "One of America's top 100 thought leaders", and named one of the "Top 100 people to follow on Twitter."  He is the author of 3 books. His international bestseller "Getting Things Done" has been a perennial bestseller and it is now published in over 28 languages.  He is one of the few non-celebrities on Twitter with over a million followers captivated by his wit and inspiration.

Published in On-Demand

Speakers: Chris Bond, CEO, Bluewater Learning, LLC and invited CEOs

What’s next for Learning and Talent Management software? What’s the current state of the art for social and mobile learning networks? Is the Cloud and SaaS overtaking on-premise installations? Join Chris Bond from Bluewater Learning as he delves into these and other topics with CEO’s of top learning companies. These vendor CEOs will cover topics that are designed to help you from making costly implementation mistakes, as well as provide you with tips and techniques from the successful implementations of their own customers.

Published in On-Demand
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