Cellular carriers spent $44.9 billion during a recent auction of wireless frequencies by the Federal Communications Commission.

The eye-popping bids that blew past even the highest government estimates are a testament to soaring demand for mobile Internet service. These frequencies, also known as spectrum, are needed to expand cellular networks so they can carry more phone calls and data.

The additional bandwidth will help cell customers stream high-quality videos and download apps more quickly. Without sufficient airwaves, wireless networks can become congested and slow.

“The results of this auction confirm the strong market demand for more spectrum,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler commented. “We are confident there will continue to be strong demand for valuable low-band spectrum that will be made available in the Incentive Auction early next year.”

The U.S. government plans to use about $7 billion of the revenue to build a nationwide high-speed communications network for firefighters and police officers. The rest will go to paying down the federal debt.

Published in Latest News

…for Veronica Zaman, Vice President Of Human Resources And Learning At Scripps Health In San Diego, Calif.

How Important Is It For Other Learning Leaders Within An Organization To Get Upper Management On Board With Learning Strategies?

One of the most critical changes learning is facing today is preparing a new generation of leaders and front-line staff to meet the needs of an ever-changing and demanding environment. Leadership and learning play a crucial role in enabling organizational growth, transformation and — ultimately — achievement of strategic goals. The vitality of every industry depends upon its outcomes. Aligning learning as a strategic priority ensures excellent organizational results are achieved. The talents, knowledge and experience of our employees enable us to create an environment of innovation and collaboration to deliver on quality and business outcomes.

What Are The Key Components Of A Solid Corporate Learning Culture?

>>  Organizations must continually focus on the effective developmental activities that are needed to engage their employees in growing the skills and knowledge needed to maintain individual and organizational capability.

>>  They must encourage flexibility, collaboration and a willingness of employees to continue to learn while they leverage subject-matter expertise to drive continuous positive outcomes.

>>  A focused introduction to the mission, vision, values and principles illustrates the key role that each person plays in supporting the strategic growth of an organization.

>>  A culture of learning at all levels is the organization’s leverage to engage staff and leaders across the continuum of their career span.

How Can E-learning Tactics Contribute To The Total  Learning Strategy?

Learning can be used as a powerful tool to create, translate and communicate strategy. By using e-learning tactics, carefully crafted leadership and learning strategies can support the continued gaining of knowledge and knowledge application to ensure sustainability of desired outcomes for success. Learning tactics support full understanding of the issues that are being faced, creating a meaningful message as to why it is crucial to leverage skills and knowledge, thus engaging employees from the front line up to the C-suite in an organization’s success. Through comprehensive opportunities for growth and learning, organizations encourage and invest in personal and professional development at every career stage, thus ensuring a culture of continuous improvement and quality.

What Challenges Do You Foresee In The Future For  Learning Professionals?

In today’s marketplace, maintaining a strategic advantage and a strong corporate culture requires the continued growth of top-notch talent, breakthrough ideas and exceptional services. Learning professionals must build on a vision of innovative, continuous learning in an environment that energizes, inspires and constantly challenges. Innovation in learning requires creativity, engagement and visionary thinking at a time when we are experiencing a variety of generations, each with unique learning needs. A robust, nimble educational presence is crucial in sustaining the return on the investment in learning! Never before have learning professionals been asked to move beyond the “way it was” into an innovative and out-of-the-box learning world!

Published in Insights

To Say It’s The ‘next Big Thing’ Is Incorrect. For Those Who Have Found Out How To Use Big Data, It’s Already Paying Dividends.

By Jerry Roche

Emerging technologies, Cloud computing and the era of “Big Data” aren’t just transforming how we deliver employee learning and development. They’re changing how we lead, organize teams, motivate employees and marshal resources, enabling us to make smarter decisions that drive targeted results.

That shift requires chief learning officers to adapt and innovate how they deliver learning to the organization at large and how they prepare leaders to succeed.

“Big Data is a massive explosion, a growth in data being generated and captured on a daily basis,” says Ben Willis, senior director of Product Strategy at Saba. “It’s tempting to blame the bird (Twitter) or social media. It’s the advent of Cloud computing, mobile computing, and all sorts of fantastic new technology. The numbers are staggering. Twitter is generating 1,000 tweets per minute, but it’s not alone. Google records 700,000 searches every hour, Facebook 700,000 status updates every hour — and YouTube reports 600 new videos being uploaded every minute!”

Another staggering statistic: 168 million emails are sent every second, according to Willis.

Eric Bruner, chief technologist at GP Strategies, says that the most current information on Big Data is two years old. “But data is doubling every 24 months,” he notes. “In one business day, you would fill up more than 20 million file cabinets for one company, Walmart.”

The problem for businesses is sorting and analyzing Big Data — and doing it before new data comes in. “Being able to do something with it quickly is one of the real challenges," Bruner further notes.

New Technologies

“Along with mountains of data came new roles and new technologies.” says Willis. “Older technologies were not able to scale up to accommodate all the new data. New technologies like algorithms have allowed us to get smart about Big Data. Computers can be taught to learn on their own with new algorithms. This sounds scary and futuristic, but the reality is that these systems are in use today. One example is spam filters." 

Another example might be IBM's "Watson,” which is being called a cognitive computer that is forging a new partnership between humans and computers that scales and augments human expertise. “Exciting examples of machine learning can be found in the medicine and financial – investing – markets, ” Willis says. The perfect use of big data might be intelligent mentoring.

Each employee would get his or her own personal computer- based mentor that works around the clock, learns from what the employee inputs and what he or she does. Experiences make the compu-mentor “smarter,” and it returns the favor by finding content that the employee needs or likes and locating relevant human mentors to help solve challenges. 

In the corporate/organizational setting, Big Data can assist with career planning, learning recommendations and succession planning, among other functions like learning.

“We can move beyond SCORM in terms of what learning is tracked, where and how,” Willis observes. “We want to capture learning wherever, whenever and however it’s occurring. In particular, your LRS (learning record store) needs to be hosted in the Cloud so it’s easily accessible and hosted on Big Data technologies.

“Learning is shifting toward non-traditional models. You want to make sure that you are positioning things correctly with various stakeholder audiences by communicating actively with them and involving HR and legal teams in terms of how you’re capturing the data and what you’re doing with it. You must use data for positive purposes, [but] it’ll be a process of change.”

Bruner adds: “We have access to learning data that we can correlate to business data, specifically around hiring, engagement, performance and business outcomes. So [learning professionals should] make sure you are partnering with HR and I.T. folks. You won’t be able to convince the CEO to invest in Big Data without doing so. It’s how you leverage the investment. It’s a co-share. Be an advocate for data-driven decisions to business problems.”

The Newest Research

SNS Research’s latest report indicates that global spending on Big Data technology was expected to reach nearly $30 billion by the end of 2014.

Originally used as a term to describe datasets whose size is beyond the ability of traditional databases, the scope of Big Data has significantly expanded over the years. It now not only refers to the data itself but also a set of technologies that capture, store, manage and analyze large and variable collections of data to solve complex problems.

Amid the proliferation of real-time data from sources such as mobile devices, Web, social media, sensors, log files and transactional applications, Big Data has found a host of vertical market applications, ranging from fraud detection to R&D.

Despite challenges relating to privacy concerns and organizational resistance, Big Data investments continue to gain momentum throughout the globe. SNS Research estimates that Big Data investments are expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent over the next six years.

Published in Insights

Today, 61 percent of training hours are conducted virtually or in a blended model. Virtual platforms have evolved over the year to become more engaging, collaborative and fun. But learning leaders want more. What is the next evolution of virtual learning?

More than 90 percent of learning executives are using Web conferencing or virtual classrooms for training and development, according to the E-learning User Study conducted by Elearning! magazine. Eighty percent of virtual learning occurs in organizations with multiple locations. And 41 percent are multinational enterprises. Supporting dispersed teams is vital to organizations, and the more life-like and engaging the virtual experience, the better the outcome.

The most popular content for virtual learning is compliance training (56 percent), soft skills training (54 percent), sales and product training (47 percent) and on-boarding new employees (36 percent), according to the study. Recruitment (4 percent) and job fairs (3 percent) rate lowest on the list.  The broad range of applications means that virtual tools need to support live demos, chat, forums and archives for attendees to access pre-post and on live days.

The Next Virtual Learning Platform

Surprisingly, 44 percent of these respondents are actively sourcing new virtual platforms. What is driving this change? The top business drivers for investment in new learning technology are: Improving Employee Engagements (68 percent), Increasing Collaboration for Learners (46 percent) and Increasing Collaboration across the Enterprise (44 percent), according to the study.

Learning executives require more capabilities than the typical Web meeting. The next virtual solution must have 24/7 access to the content, resource library of materials, access to on-demand sessions after live sessions, and engagement indicators measuring learner involvement, according to the study.

To fulfill these requirements, professionals look to more robust virtual learning environments. Intercall’s Virtual Environment host all these capabilities. The platform offers:

>>  a one-stop seamless home for multiple educational sessions, videos and resource library,

>>  active engagements with live chat, blogs, forums and social integrations,

>>  customized environment to extend your branding,

>>  robust tracking and report- ing of learners activities, and

>>  multiple language support. Intercall’s Virtual Environment is used by blue-chip companies like Novartis, Fortune magazine, IBM and CapGemini. Use the platform to host global supplier education sessions like IBM, Corporate University curriculum like Cap-Gemini, or product training like ACS, a Xerox Company.

Published in Ideas

You’ve probably heard the old expression that goes something like this: “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” Whether that old management school saying is true or not, it’s pretty clear that we can’t determine how much we’ve improved if we can’t measure the area we are trying to improve. And for many organizations, leaders and learning professionals, soft skills training falls into the “you-can’t- measure-it” category.

The difficulty with measuring the impact of soft skills training probably stems from agreeing upon a definition of the term “soft skills.” The challenge with this apparently simple task is that there are so many conflicting definitions.

One thing is certain: Nobody can provide a clear, easy to grasp definition of “soft skills.” Instead, it’s more of a concept that most of us recognize when we see it, but we cannot always succinctly articulate what it is.

Most traditional training programs focus on hard skills. Programmers learn a new language. Accountants exhibit better balance sheet skills. Analysts deliver more accurate financial models. Engineers deliver better designs. Architects design more effective and efficient structures. Processes improve in speed, output and safety. Hard skills training is safe, and we can measure impact directly from easy-to-see outputs.

Hard skills are important; but today, the single skill or competency that drives career success isn’t a hard skill at all — it’s emotional intelligence. In the article, “Emotional Intelligence - EQ,” author Travis Bradberry reports that 90 percent of top performers across all industries in every job category scored high in emotional intelligence. It is the single most important factor in driving success for our highest- performing employees at every level — including leaders and managers. However, unlike hard skills, emotional intelligence isn’t easy to define clearly, nor do we generally see organizations linking improved performance in this area to improved organizational performance.

Intuitively, we know that improved soft skills matter. It makes sense. If our employees communicate more effectively, aren’t we more likely to see improved sales and customer retention? Will our customers be more satisfied? If our managers learn to listen more effectively and delegate more efficiently, doesn’t it follow logically that their teams will be more engaged and perform at higher levels? So why do we not connect the dots from improved performance in soft skills areas (caused by soft skills training) to improved business results?

In order to build a system to measure the impact of your soft skills training, you have to start with a clear understanding of the strategic goals of your organization. Those form the strategic shape, and they mold the foundation for you to build your training efforts. But it’s not just the goals. Once you’ve set the goals, you have to understand the performance gaps between your organization’s current level of performance and the desired level of performance needed to achieve a specific goal. And it’s improved performance in these performance gaps that we measure to show the impact of soft skills training.

Published in Ideas

By Tatiana Sehring

Morris Koffa, an American Public University graduate, has helped establish a non-profit organization, Africa Environmental Watch, whose purpose is to educate African citizens on environmental issues such as toxic waste, hygiene and beyond. In this article, he discusses his group’s work with local governments in Africa to provide better education and leadership re- sources for its citizens, help- ing prevent events such as the Ebola crisis.

Q: What Is The Africa Environmental Watch, And What’s Your Role Within The Organization?

Koffa: I am the co-founder of the Africa Environmental Watch, which was formerly the Liberia Environmental Watch. Our initial purpose was to deal with post-war environmental issues following the 14-year civil conflict ending in 2003. There were many serious environmental and humanitarian issues in Liberia; today, this includes the current Ebola contagion. We also include issues impacting the entire African community — and we’re continuing our mission by providing environmental expertise on protecting human health and the environment through educational awareness. It’s our hope to create, lead and maintain safe living environments and a sustainable future for all of Africa’s citizens.

Based on our longevity in leading regional awareness, we’ve received support from Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency. What we didn’t realize at the time is that the agency was very much incapacitated. Rather than see it as a barrier, we felt there was an opportunity to provide leadership. So we started by arranging international environmental conferences. The last one featured many leading environmental organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As a result, some tangible results were strategized and then delivered to Liberia.

Q: Tell Us About Your Personal Background And What Inspired You To Help Others?

Koffa: I had a civil and construction engineering background. I decided to enroll at American Public University to complete my master’s in environmental policy and management degree, and then another in emergency and disaster management. I developed a strong interest in my studies [as] the crisis in Liberia developed. I was selected to go with a Liberian delegation to travel to West Africa to participate in a conference, and I saw many environmental concerns. My professors motivated me to make a difference. And we founded the Liberia Environmental Watch. Since then, the issues we’ve addressed have developed into a broad scope of environmental activities. Then, the Ebola crisis hit, and we are currently working toward resolving the efficacy issues that surround the Ebola outbreak.

The Ebola virus outbreak is a crisis that has risen to a level that no one was fully prepared to manage. Historically, Ebola originated in 1976 from areas of South Sudan and what was Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It then subsided to the point that no one paid much attention to it. Last March, in an area near the Guinea and Sierra Leone border, the virus developed, spreading into Liberia. The model of transmission between humans is through contact with bodily fluids and secretions. When this happened, it was caused by a lack of education. People were not following the right procedures to contain the virus. The virus was spreading due to an African tradition in that when someone dies, everyone tries to touch the body. That’s how it got disseminated through many communities. In the broader scope, the death toll and the growing numbers of cases is alarming.

From an environmental perspective, this is also a serious concern. When someone passes away, the body is supposed to be cremated, but because Liberia doesn’t have the capacity to do this properly, it conducts mass burials. When multiple bodies buried near wetlands decompose, it poses a serious threat to the water sources. More than 75 percent of the population in Liberia has no means of getting water except from natural creeks or wells, which may become contaminated. So when people drink the water, it’s a major environmental concern, so we engage in educational awareness in these communities.

Q: What Is Your Approach To Leadership, And What’s The Impact You’ve Experienced As A Result Of Your Work?

Koffa: When I meet with leaders, I share a clear sense of direction and leadership — much of which I learned during my studies at American Public University. I find there needs to be passion for your work. Passion inspires leaders to make a difference, therefore driving protocol,which is how you create a level of connection with the people and the causes you support. Leadership is about how effective you are in creating new relationships and building upon established ones to bring together the science, policies, procedures and awareness that’s needed to solve problems. So I talk about the need for creating partnerships as well as for education to drive worldwide impact.

I emphasize education, because there is a deficiency. Working with the Liberian EPA, I found that about 90 percent of the agency’s 150 employees had less education than a high school diploma. It’s difficult to solve technical issues with this lack of training. We volunteered our time to educate people, starting with how to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA). That worked well, but we also wanted to ensure the next step was addressed, which was leadership training.

It is critical for any organization, agency or country as a whole to overcome the lack of training and education. Then you must provide the right leadership skills to actualize the training into results. Only when you have trained, well-qualified people who know exactly what they must do, can you achieve the greater goal. It’s through education, training and effective leadership communication that we can bring change in the traditional protocols to eradicate this crisis.

We’ve helped to create a level of heightened awareness that never existed before. Today, no company does business without first conducting an environmental impact assessment. We’ve also added a corporate social responsibility clause, which ensures that corporations provide incentives for the communities in which they operate, including employment, schools, clinics and more. It’s all about development through education, training and opportunity.

We hope to build on the progress that is under way in hopes we can reach a level in Liberia so (a) it’s no longer considered a country of misfortune, but instead, a country of hope and (b) to inspire positive changes toward worldwide social and environmental impact.

Published in Top Stories

Creating sustainable organization by igniting human potential

BY Tatiana Sehring

Mark Fernandes, chief leadership officer of Luck Companies, has a true passion for inspiring people to reach their highest potential. The values-based leadership (VBL) ambassador was named one of the 100 Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business 2014 by Trust Across America.

Q:When exactly was your “A-HA”moment that helped you transform your mindset and leadership style?

Fernandes: I was basically a big guy with a bad attitude. I got things done without regard to how I got it accomplished. Conversely, our CEO Charlie Luck was my absolute opposite:    a big care bear. And what I value is that he kept hanging in there with me, when I was trying to figure everything out. 

In 1993, I traveled to North Carolina to meet Dr. Gerald Bell, who runs Bell Labs at UNC Chapel Hill and wrote the book, “The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life In Coaching.” Dr. Bell instantly gained my respect. He said, “I’ve interviewed 5,000 executives, and I want to explain how this story is going to end for you. You need to know that you’re going to have a shiny exotic car, a beautiful estate sitting on the hill overlooking everyone else, and a really big house — but you also have to know that there isn’t going to be one soul to share it with if you don’t start figuring this out.”

That moment was the first time I realized that I needed to care and be compassionate. And that was my “a-ha” moment.

Q:Would you take us through luck companies’ JOURNEY OF LEADERSHIP and CULTURE TRANSFORMATION'?

Fernandes: We began our organizational leadership journey in 2003-2004 as phase one. The start of phase two came after we decided to rewrite our mission statement in 2009. We’d done so well establishing our values. We understood the power of leadership, but we learned a few lessons the hard way, and phase one taught us that if there’s ever to be a change in the culture, it’s imperative that the leaders be fully committed to demonstrating the values in everything they do. There’s a level of inauthenticity that associates will notice and it can erode their trust in the leadership if they’re not actively seeing the behaviors exhibited in the actions and words of their leaders. So we developed a mission statement that stated “We will ignite human potential through VBL to positively impact the lives of others around the world.”

VBL, as an ideology and model, was a new concept. We wanted to use what we learned to develop a leadership model to help our associates meet what they’re capable of becoming and then start sharing it with the world. We thought, maybe we’re on to something here.

There are only a few components that serve as the overall responsibility of our VBL team. First is that we model the way. We hold ourselves to the highest standard. When people think of a values-based leader, can they look at us and see what we embrace? The second thing we do is enhance and evolve the VBL model. While it is an ideology, it’s also a set of processes, models, tools and programs that we’re constantly evolving. So we’re modeling ourselves using our actions and behaviors while also continuing to develop the model.

And there are two more imperatives; the first is to bring it to life within the company. This means that we own leadership, development and succession inside the company. Secondly, we’re invested in sharing it with the world through mentoring, speaking, teaching, and consulting across industries.

Q: What are the benifits that come with the applications of VBL from an ORGANIZATION standponit?

Fernandes: We believe that companies exist for two reasons: one is to make meaning, and the other is to make money, because — let’s be genuine — we’re a for-profit company. You can’t apologize for that, because you need to make the money in order to make the meaning and vice versa.

Why does this matter and how does this work? We tell companies to think about the difference you want to make in the world (e.g., human potential and how to positively impact lives around the world) and then think about the way in which you’ll strategically see the return on your in- vestment and make money. The way you bring that to life is centered on the reasons why your associates get up in the morning, do what they do every day, and how they make decisions.

So we ask, “How do we get aligned to the mission and the margin and empower our as- sociates the best way possible to make the best decisions? That’s where our values come in. Values ultimately drive actions, behaviors and decisions." While we have mission, strategy, goal, objective, performance and outcome, we also have a set of values. We identified the deepest held beliefs as to what is right and good for everyone in the organization to deliver the mission and the margin. Not only do we have those values, but we have outcome statements that are tied to them. For example, one of our values is leadership, and the outcome we’re looking for is igniting human poten- tial. We want our people to be happy, but we also want them to operate with some shared values and beliefs that are most important to the company. That, to me, is magical.

Q: What advice would you offer others on how to create and maintain a VALUES-BASED CULTURE AND ORGANIZATION?

Fernandes: Okay, let’s assume everyone has clarity about the stated mission — your values, strategy and objectives. Now, how do you bring it to life for the long-term?

The organization’s leaders need to model, as the associates are going to take their queues from leaders.

The next step is to look at the processes, models and tools that we need to embed in the organization to bring values to life throughout the enterprise — and how do we keep it fresh and engaging?

It starts with hiring. At Luck Companies, you’ll take a values-assessment during the interview process so that-right out of the gate. We’re much more interested in who you are than what you know. We can teach all of the technical aspects of the job, but identifying who you are helps us to align the right candidates to our mission and margin.

Next is orientation, and our associates dive into the deep end of the values pool. Associates at all levels participate in a values assessment to understand their personality — and they’ll interact with a senior leader. This process begins during job description, which reflects our values and behaviors just as equally as the technical skills. And we revisit values during performance reviews. We reinforce this in all aspects of training and development through recognition and reward and tying base pay to how the associate is going to show up every day.

We build our succession planning around VBL. That’s the doing good and doing well aspects of business performance that extend to everything we do. This includes rituals. For example, at our plants, we start every day with a meeting where someone reads the mission statement then picks a value and talks about it. So you’ll see these rituals embedded around the company to keep it alive.

Published in Ideas

According to John Ambrose of Skillsoft, the ratio of learning professionals to learners is diminishing, forcing L&D departments to do more with less. Continuous learning is one way.

3 Questions...For John Ambrose, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development, Skillsoft

 1 Recent research has indicated that L&D departments have been changing their focus in recent times.  What changes are you seeing? We've seen the ratio of learning professionals to learners diminish to the point that is less than ideal.  Doing more with less certainly hasn't excluded this multi-faceted business function. But learning professionals who offer a self-service enterprise learning program can be more strategic in their departmental mission and work toward addressing skills gaps and developing succession planning.  According to a recent Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Factbook, "L&D teams should build skills in performance consulting, gain expertise in new technologies including social and mobile, and work to cultivate strong learning cultures within their organizations."  Essentially, learning professionals need to be seen as contributing to the business; increasing the performance of their organization through the performance of their people.

2 How can HR professionals enable continuous learning? 

Without a doubt, a culture of continuous learning must be rooted at the very core of the organization. Without it, you'll lack optimal transfer of learning to the job, delay individual progress,
and hinder organizational innovation. When content is woven into the daily fabric of the organization, employees can get just-in-time assistance to the problems they are trying to solve. They won't have to "miss work" to get what they need, and the concepts they learn can be applied immediately. Get used to the idea that learning isn't an event; rather, learning should be infused in the day-to-day and available anywhere and everywhere employees need it. In working with other business departments, learning leaders will be able to identify skills and gaps
and be able to develop a plan to bridge the two.

3 What advice do you have for L&D professionals who want to be viewed as contributing to the success of the organization? 

First off, if you are a learning professional not devoting at least half of your budget to e-learning, you are missing huge opportunities to be more productive and more efficient. The enterprise-wide scalability is well suited for skill development and transfer. Three more pieces of advice:

1) Be prepared. Get in front of your skills gaps before they get too big to fill. Not just for the sake of continuity, but for the sake of innovation for your organization. We already know that we're going to see a big dip in numbers when baby boomers retire. Why not get ahead of that? Additionally, offer a variety of learning asset types that meet the wide range of all five generations in the workforce.

2) Take advantage of the benefits of new and emerging technology, such as mobile access. Employees are busy and on the go, so getting content into their hands when and where they need it increases the chances of learning transfer in the moment; not having to wait until they return to the desk per se. Look for ways to promote and encourage learning on the go.

3) Lastly, social is huge. It will transform the way that people learn. Flows of information and the amount of it that each employee can contribute are important. Having a forum for employees to share ideas, ask questions, be seen as experts, and be viewed as learners is an invaluable piece of the learning culture that is necessary for optimal organizational success.

—Source: "The Corporate LearningFactbook 2013: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market" by Karen O'Leonard, Deloitte Consulting LLP, January 2013.

Published in Insights

In 1920, the DuBois Soap Company's motto was "Sell – Service – Satisfy." While that motto is still a viable formula for success, the challenges of driving sales and revenue growth in a highly competitive and uncertain global market can be daunting. Sales leaders at DuBois (now DuBois Chemicals) soon began to see effectiveness gaps in their organization, including the need for:

>> Structured performance feedback process for managers.

>> Standardized coaching methodology, in order for managers to help under-performing reps.

>> Consistent use of the CRM system for pipeline management of sales teams.

>> Additional opportunities for sales team members, with a focus beyond 90 days.

Aligning All Levels

Doug MacRae, president of the Industrial Division at DuBois Chemicals, had benefited previously from CCI's performance improvement services. CCI showed MacRae the signature high-performance sales management system, Pathways to Growth: 9 Disciplines to Create Sales Breakthroughs in Turbulent Times. This system provides clear steps, along with support and measurement tools, to align sales reps, managers and execs around the strategies that matter most.
After some review, DuBois Chemicals decided that Pathways to Growth was the solution to address their challenges.

A Collaborative Implementation

In February, a team of CCI consultants began meeting with key senior leaders at DuBois Chemicals. The leadership team included MacRae, the sales director and three hand-selected sales managers. Together, the group customized a plan using Pathways to Growth and put it into action.

Over the first week, the number of past-due opportunities dropped significantly, and the sales funnel was cleaner. Within a month, sales leaders were using information generated as a result of the program to forecast more effectively. CRM adoption and best practice skills also increased dramatically.

With more sales managers slated to go through training in the coming months, the future looks extremely bright for DuBois Chemicals.

A Unique Approach

CloudCoaching International (CCI) designs and deploys performance improvement systems for every level within an organization. It helps companies improve sales and service performance by integrating strategy, process, learning and technology. CCI, which has served more than 50% of the Fortune 500, has more than 30 years of proven experience.

—More info: www.cloudcoachinginternational.com

Published in Ideas

 

Here’s A Sraightforward Formula  To Ensure  Business Impact.

By Kieran King

We hear a lot of talk about getting more learning out into the business. That’s a given. What the industry really needs is more business in learning. After all, learning is a business process. Never thought about it quite that way? Well, it is.

A business process is a series of logically related practices that perform together to produce a result. In learning, the result is quantitative and qualitative business impact.

To get better, a business process must optimize its practices and abandon any efforts that distract from the core result. In order for an organization to attain a stronger result with any business process, each component must increase its efficiency and effectiveness. Within L&D, this translates to a perennial commitment to continuous improvement. But what’s really important to pay attention to?

While the Cloud-based industry doesn’t lack for guidance on what good looks like, it can be confusing to sift through the clutter. The most successful organizations don’t get caught-up by tangents. Instead, they apply unwavering discipline toward optimizing the four elements of the learning business process, which are:

1 Engagement

Effective engagement is demonstrated when L&D teams have a systemic process for staying close to the needs of the workforce. The days of the annual training-needs analysis are long gone. A more nimble approach involves continual application of three essential practices:

>> Employ a formal performance consulting procedure to unearthing talent gaps and assessing the impact of closing those gaps across the enterprise.

>> Define measurable objectives up front with the initiative’s key stakeholders. Since budgets and resources have limits, stack rank the impact of addressing the initiatives.

>> Encourage active sponsorship at the middle management level so those managers appreciate the performance gains learning provides and will support their team’s participation in the learning programs.

2 Alignment

According to the U.K.-based research organization Towards Maturity, seven habits emerge when describing top learning companies exhibiting tight strategic alignment. Well-aligned L&D organizations:

>> Actively involve business leaders in learning decisions

>> Use strategic business objectives to determine learning priorities

>> Focus on results

>> Integrate with HR and talent strategy

>> Demonstrate business value

>> Ensure staff members understand their contribution

>> Enjoy proactive management commitment

In its 2013 benchmark study, Towards Maturity found that organizations scoring well in the Alignment Index are more likely to report that managers agree that online learning delivers a range of business benefits. Compared with those in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile are at least four times more likely to deliver:

>> Increased organizational revenue

>> Improved productivity

>> Improved staff engagement

>> Reduced staff turnover

>> Decrease in their training costs and delivery time

CloudFeature

3 Adoption

Just as Cloud-based learning is not measured in the same manner as classroom learning, it’s vital to also recognize that the former is not consumed in the same manner as the latter. One of the key propositions of Cloud-based learning is that it’s “just for me,” where learners can participate in the resources that relate to their unique needs for as long or as short as they wish. This is not possible within a classroom construct. Technology is the only way to enable this high degree of individualized tailoring while simultaneously achieving greater scale.

Cloud-based learning adoption success looks like:

>> Repetitive use by the target audiences

>> Embedding learning into the workflow of the most pervasive enterprise applications

>> Active promotion of targeted content throughout the employee lifecycle

>> Unencumbered access to discover and launch learning resources

>> Mapping resources into other talent management processes such as performance appraisals and succession planning

4 Value

For decades, the limiting belief that learning’s value cannot be measured has left too many leaders with no data for decision-making. There is no need for that mindset to paralyze measurement progress. Again, this is where we need to remember that learning is a business process. While causal relationships of any kind are revealed through deep scientific evidence, most organizations don’t find that depth necessary. Most business functions operate successfully by applying “roughly reasonable” estimates toward their own business processes. Think about how this plays out in other functions. Are revenues not forecasted by your sales team? Are budgets not based on approximations? Of course they are. Business decisions involving investments are routinely made by applying estimates and learning is no different.

Also keep in mind that Cloud-based learning’s value is built, not born. That’s precisely why objectives should be clearly outlined through your engagement efforts at the front end, not assembled after the fact. If you find your organization frequently scurrying to quantify value of its learning solutions after roll out, that’s a warning signal that there is a major flaw in your learning business process. That type of activity is akin to setting out on a journey without a compass and attempting to define your destination depending on where you happen to be.

While charting value objectives upfront, plan to evaluate results through the three lenses that apply to all other business processes — efficiency (how much), effectiveness (how well), and outcomes (so what). As you weigh what to measure, there is a lot to consider. Does the metric help monitor employee agility and productivity (outcome)? Does the data you are collecting help identify under or over-investment (efficiency)?

Does the data help identify strengths and opportunities (effectiveness)? The efficiency, effectiveness and outcome data you collect should inform future business decisions. All other data simply satisfies a curiosity.

If your organization is focused on optimizing its efforts across the four building blocks of Cloud-based learning success — engagement, alignment, adoption, and value — there is no doubt your team, and in turn your enterprise, will be more successful.

—Source: Towards Maturity  (“Aligning Learning to Business” report, May, 2014)

—The author is the global vice president of Loyalty Strategy at Skillsoft.

 

Published in Top Stories
Page 8 of 10

 


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