There’s a lot to learn from learning leaders. Thus, the establishment four years ago of the Learning Leaders program by Bersin & Associates, in partnership with Elearning! magazine.
The 2010 Learning
There’s a lot to learn from learning leaders. Thus, the establishment four years ago of the Learning Leaders program by Bersin & Associates, in partnership with Elearning! magazine.
The 2010 Learning Leaders represent a wide range of innovative solutions to business challenges. The 25 winners were selected by a team of Bersin & Associates analysts from a large pool of applicants who submitted detailed information about their programs and initiatives in the fall of 2009.
A recurring theme among this year’s applicants was how to meet learning and talent management needs in the recession.
“Several of these organizations faced severe workforce reductions last year,” notes Josh Bersin, president of Bersin & Associates. “But their learning organizations were able to focus on the most critical business needs, find ways to adapt to the changing needs of learners, and facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing.”
Listed on below are details about each winning organization, including the category in which they were cited.
Accenture: LEARNING AND TALENT TECHNOLOGY EXCELLENCE
Accenture (www.accenture.com) is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. With fiscal 2009 revenue of $21.58 billion and more than 176,000 total employees, the company serves clients in more than 120 countries. Accenture’s clients span the full range of industries around the world and include 99 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500.
Accenture needed an innovative and easily accessible way to rapidly deliver “hot topic” content. The company’s learning leaders identified podcasting as a low-cost, high-impact strategy for on-demand learning. The program allows employees to record their own podcast via a telephone conference call recording that gets edited into podcast format. This novel program has paid for itself 20 times over and has been expanded to the entire company.
The podcasting initiative was born from a long-standing series of virtual seminars. Accenture’s strategy group needed a fresh way to rapidly deliver high priority “thought capital.” The audience of 2,000 strategy professionals enjoyed listening to the audio of the 60-minute seminars and was looking for similar audio files, but in shorter segments. Simultaneously, senior leadership liked the idea of quickly refreshing on a topic “on the go” via a mobile device or laptop.
Learning leaders compared and evaluated wikis, blogs, e-mail,Webcasts and podcasts. They selected podcasting because it would allow the sharing of content in audio format, anywhere, anytime—and in a timely fashion. The new podcasting program eliminated the 60-minute recordings of the weekly seminars and shifted the content approach to 10- minute custom interviews with practice leads.
RECORDING AND PUBLISHING PROCESS
Podcasts are typically recorded using the Cisco Unified MeetingPlace conference call system. A speaker and the interviewer dial in, and the recording starts. The recording is saved as a dot-WAV file, which the media team edits and converts into an MP3 file.
The edited file is posted on an internal knowledge management system, where it can be streamed for immediate listening or downloaded for playing later. The knowledge management systemis searchable; contains audio, video and PowerPoint presentations; and has a capability that allows users to post comments and ratings for particular files.
Additionally, users can subscribe to an RSS feed and automatically have the files downloaded onto their computer or MP3 player device.
For the audience of learners, the podcast offers flexibility and convenience. Recording is as simple as making a phone call. It is also cost-effective; at the current usage averages, it costs about $3 to $4 per person to produce a podcast. It also appeals to a mobile and global audience.
The success of the podcasting program is measured by monitoring overall usage and usage per podcast, as well as tracking the creation of podcasts over time to determine uptake. The knowledge management system allows for individual podcasts to be rated for quality by users.
Feedback fromend-users has been overwhelmingly positive. Creation of new podcasts and usage has been trending upward every year since the rollout of the initiative. To date, 180 podcasts have been created andmore than 20,000 employees (nearly 11 percent of the total workforce) have accessed them.
The podcasting initiative increases the efficiency of the creation of new content. The initiative cost approximately $25,000 to launch, which included the RSS development by a technical support specialist, the payroll time of the strategy manager, some initial marketing costs, and site management fees.
By comparison, it costs the company about $10,000 to produce a virtual session and $500 for an e-learning module. Each podcast costs a maximum of about
$400 to produce, which includes the interviewer fees, media’s editing time, content development, and the coding and publishing of the audio file on the knowledge management system.
A course calculator, created by the learning organization from an extensive ROI study of its various learning assets, has been used to estimate the added value of learning assets on performance, retention, and recruitment. According to those calculations, the Podcasting initiative has already netted an ROI of $519,948.
Amway: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
Amway (www.amway.com), a leader in the global direct-selling industry, reported sales of more than $8.2 billion in 2008. Established in 1959 as a seller of household cleaners, the company expanded and diversified over the years and today is a leader in health and beauty markets.
In May 2008, a new director of global talent development realized there was no process for building the entry-level bench strength for the executive succession management process. Part of his solution was an executive development program aimed at creating teams of global top performing junior executives capable of solving a real business challenge.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Amway’s overall leadership development strategy has two components. One is focused on identifying leaders capable of leading the corporation into the future. The second is built around providing these leaders with the appropriate development opportunities, both on-the-job and formal and structured learning experiences.
For the first component, Amway attempts to identify leaders across a broad spectrum of the enterprise, including the executive level (defined as those at the director level and above — the top 250 leaders globally) and the non-executive level (leaders below the director level).
For the second component, Amway has adapted a Global Leadership Development Model with four levels, or “turns:”
>>Turn 1: From individual contributor to managing others;
>>Turn 2: From managing others to leader of managers;
>>Turn 3: From leader of managers to functional leader; and
>>Turn 4: From functional leader to enterprise leader.
For each critical leadership turn, programs have been put in place to address the global core, common and critical changes in knowledge and skills, time orientation, and work values of each level.
LEAP LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Leadership Acceleration Process (LeAP) program addresses Turn 3, from leader of managers to functional leadership. The seven-month action learning program was designed to provide the next generation of Amway executives with the capabilities to lead within a global organization. Participants are nominated by senior regional human resource executives.
Designed in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the LeAP program requires participants to address an actual business challenge with recommended solutions presented to the highest level of management within Amway.
At the cornerstone of the LeAP program is the integration of an actual Amway business challenge with no known solution. The executive sponsor is required to select a challenge that is business critical, globally relevant and is “Google proof” (that is, solutions not readily available online).
The LeAP program is divided into three phases:
Phase 1 consists of the orientation, prework, assessments, and a week on the campus of Thunderbird School of Global Management. Topics include global strategy, innovation, global mindset/cross-cultural acumen, and executive leadership. Participants are split into global virtual teams and given a high-level overview of the business challenge at the end of Day 1, giving them the rest of the week to begin forming as a team and discussing the challenge.
Phase 2 requires the participants to work in global virtual teams to solve the business challenge. Teams are largely self-directed throughout this four-month phase. Participants focus on researching, drafting, piloting and polishing their solutions. The only set program requirement during this phase is a monthly update meeting via phone to keep the teams on track and give Amway and Thunderbird an opportunity to provide guidance and support.
Phase 3 concludes the program with classroom sessions and presentations at Amway headquarters, in Ada,Mich. Each team is given 20 minutes to present its recommended solution to the business challenge to the top 30 leaders at Amway. Attendees are asked to hold all questions until after the presentations, when each team is allocated 40 minutes to answer questions and provide support and justification for their decisions.
In the first year of the LeAP program, the quality of each of the solutions was so high, the company’s CEO immediately allocated financial and human resources to oversee the implementation of all three of the proposed solutions.
According to KimLamoureux, principal analyst for Bersin &Associates, LeAP is a great illustration of Amway overall leadership development strategy.“The robust curriculum touches every level and turn of leadership,” says Lamoureux.“We were also very impressed with Amway’s multiple learning approaches, assessments, diverse global participation and outstanding executive engagement.”
Amway’s leadership development encourages the pursuit of high performance by providing leaders at each level with the core, common and critical skills needed to be successful at their stage of advancement. By focusing on providing leaders with the information, resources and tools they need to be successful, Amway is improving individual and team performance and ultimately, the performance of Amway as a whole.
AT&T: OPERATIONAL TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
AT&T Inc. (www.att.com) is a premier communications holding company. AT&T BusinessDirect, the company’s award-winning self-service customer portal, helps hundreds of thousands of users in more than 90 countries manage their network services online to improve productivity, increase the speed and accuracy of their network transactions, and optimize network efficiency, all while reducing costs.
The company’s research has shown that increased training—both for internal personnel and customers—is directly correlated with increased usage on AT&T BusinessDirect. The objective of AT&T’s learning initiative was to increase the number of users who received training on AT&T BusinessDirect and to promote customer adoption of applications for tasks such as placing online orders, reporting service troubles and handling their billing online.
The organization uses numerous methods to solicit customer feedback. A representative sample of customers, randomly selected within company size and global geography, is surveyed twice annually. In addition, frequent users serve on formal customer forums that meet bimonthly to provide ideas for enhancements. Focus groups are conducted on a regular basis to have customers preview proposed application enhancements. And both sales and other customer facing employees regularly relay customer feedback to the AT&T BusinessDirect organization for improvement.
The AT&T BusinessDirect portal also offers a chat tool called AT&T Business- Directions. After each session, users are given an optional feedback survey. This feedback is analyzed to identify areas for improvement to the site and the training supporting it.
Based on the research, learning leaders knew they had to (1) make customers more aware of available training; and (2) provide more amenable opportunities for customers to attend training. The company expanded the various types of training collateral supporting the applications to include live instructor-led Web seminars, pre-recorded Web seminars, online tutorials, simulations, quick guides (how to’s), user guides, fact sheets, quick tours and help.
The program is anchored by the AT&T BusinessDirect Learning Center. The learning center is the centralized point where all training material is located. The home page
provides a list of all the applications supported with training. At customers’ request, the training can be selected either by application (such as billing, ordering, or trouble reporting) or by choosing an AT&T service (such as AT&T Toll-Free Service, AT&T Frame Relay Service, etc.).
Marketing programs and other promotions were developed to encourage customers
to take training, and tracking programs were put in place to determine the effectiveness. New methods were implemented to reach a broader audience. In the past, training was often approached reactively. Today, customers who buy new services from AT&T are immediately contacted via e-mail to let them know which AT&T BusinessDirect applications are likely to be helpful with their new service, and training is offered on these applications. For example, a customer who orders a new toll-free network is offered training on the tool that enables customers to re-route toll-free calls to various call centers. Also, new users of AT&T BusinessDirect are sent an e-mail advising them of the spectrum of training options available.
The program was launched and marketed by using a range of vehicles including customer and internal global newsletters, user alerts and sales advisories, and internal emails, announcements and conference calls.
MEETING DIVERSE GLOBAL NEEDS
AT&T BusinessDirect’s worldwide training audience — composed of both external customers as well as internal AT&T personnel — has diverse levels of knowledge. To meet these varying needs, training is modularized. Tutorials, for example, have modules and lessons within each module. This allows audiences to drill down to the level of detail that meets their required depth of knowledge.
Also, in order to meet the needs of a global audience, much of the training and marketing collateral has been translated into foreign languages. To accommodate
the various time zones, live Web seminars were recorded and made available on demand for replay.
The effectiveness of the training program was assessed by evaluating the impact on customer adoption after being trained. That is, benchmarks were set by customers prior to training. After being trained, customer adoption was measured monthly to see if adoption did increase and what trend, if any, was generated. This helped gauge the effectiveness of the training materials and the skills of the trainer. In cases where adoption was not positively impacted by training, additional analysis was performed to determine why it was not effective and what improvement measures needed to be undertaken for future success.
Overall in 2009, there was a 60 percent growth in customers who have received
some form of training on AT&T BusinessDirect, and efforts to improve adoption have been very successful. Email campaigns targeting inactive users led to an average of 10 percent conversion to active users. In addition, there was a 20 percent increase in worldwide adoption of AT&T BusinessDirect tools in 2009.
Baker Tilly: LEARNING AND TALENT INITIATIVE EXCELLENCE
Baker Tilly provides tax, assurance and consulting services to leading companies and institutions.With offices throughout the Midwest as well as New York City and Washington, D.C., the firm delivers practical, customized solutions to help its clients achieve new levels of success.
After monitoring retention data over multiple years, HR leaders in the Washington,
D.C. office (which was known as Beers + Cutler prior to a merger with Baker Tilly in December), were looking for answers as to why the numbers were not improving. The firm provided competitive compensation and benefits, fostered a collegial culture, provided challenging work, and implemented development programs. Yet retention data held constant at around 15 to 17 percent over a three-year span.
A HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPS
The qualitative data resulting from annual performance discussions review with managers and partners underscored the issue. Year after year, leaders were having the same discussions about the same proportion of low performers. It was as if the firm were operating in a bell curve that it couldn’t get out of.
HR leaders asked themselves why a fairly significant number of employees did not have the skills or aptitude necessary for them to succeed. One hypothesis was that the firm was not hiring or developing to the right set of skills. They interviewed more than 10 percent of the firm’s managers to better understand the causes underlying the performance issues.
Additionally, they conducted a college recruitment analysis. Under the firm’s staffing model, it brings in a cohort from this group equivalent to five to seven percent of its employee population each year to fill its pipeline of professionals.
The conclusion was that HR did not have a consistent process or approach to identify, select or develop new hires. The recommendation was to conduct a competency study and use the results to integrate all talent management systems.
The existing competency model had been developed more than six years earlier using informal methods, so as they developed a leadership program, HR leaders took the opportunity to conduct a competency survey to better understand the skills required to be successful at each level. The goals for the competency model initiative were to:
>>develop a competency model that accurately reflects performance expectations;
>>identify what it means to be a leader at each level of the firm;
>>use competencies to better integrate talent management functions;
>>incorporate the competency model into the recruiting and selection processes;
>>improve employee performance according to competencies; and
NEW COMPETENCY MODEL
Based on the results of the study, HR leaders validated most of the existing competencies, made some modifications to others, and added two new competencies, Strategic Thinking and Managing Change. They also distinguished Initiative as its own competency and provided greater detail around the behaviors expected within each competency. Current behavioral descriptions were limited and did not accurately or effectively capture the full scope of the competency or, in some cases, were duplicative of behaviors in other competencies.
Finally, the competencies were grouped into the following three clusters: Quality/Knowledge, Clients, and Leadership. This allows HR to better align with its strategy, measure performance, and determine trends and forecasts.
The results provided a foundation on which to build other talent management functions, including recruiting, training, performance management and leadership development. For recruiting, for example, HR managers used the results to construct a behavioral interview guide, reference sheet and updated positions. For the training program, they used the competencies to prioritize content. They redesigned performance management forms and templates to better assess employee performance. Lastly, HR managers used the competencies to articulate what it means to be a leader at each level and build a program around those expectations.
Competencies are now the foundation of the talent management functions. The firm recruits and selects through behavioral event interviews using the established competencies. Competencies are used in all aspects of performance management,
including the 60-day review, engagement reviews, upward feedback, mid-year, and annual reviews. The results of the latter are used to guide development planning, and ultimately an employee’s compensation and career progression.
According to Madeline Laurano, principal analyst for Bersin & Associates, the Learning Leaders judging panel was impressed with the firm’s success in creating highly consistent processes that improve and integrate every area of talent management. “This is the second year in a row we have been ‘wowed’ by this company,” she said, noting the firm’s Learning Leader award last year for its intern on-boarding program.
Overall ratings on annual performance reviews improved from an average 3.3 (out of 5) to a 3.7 from 2008 to 2009. In 2007, average overall ratings were 3.2. Scores on upward feedback have improved, although more modestly, from 3.5 in 2008 to 3.7 in 2009. In addition, qualitative comments have noticeably improved.
Although it’s too early to report with certainty on the state of retention, the firm is being more discerning in its selection process. A major source of its college recruits
come from its annual intern program. In 2008, the firm extended offers to 77 percent of the interns, whereas in 2009, using the new competencies, it extended offers to only 53 percent. The goal is to see performance ratings reflect this in the short term and retention rate reflect this over the long term.
Finally, there is more clarity across all talent management functions around expectations and how to go about meeting them. In addition to clarifying expectations for current employees, the firm is now better able to select employees who meet an accurate set of competencies and prioritize learning and development actions.
Booz Allen Hamilton: LEARNING ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE EXCELLENCE
With over $4.5 billion in annual revenue and 22,000 employees, Booz Allen Hamilton (www.boozallen.com) has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting for 95 years.
Booz Allen believes its most important resource is its people. The staff must always be developing its skills and knowledge, which requires a culture of continuous learning. The firm has built a structured governance process to ensure learning is
aligned with the business and that processes, tools and best practices are shared and used to support an efficient learning function.
Booz Allen maintains both an internal learning organization (a learning and development corporate university) and a client-facing learning organization.
Approximately 70 full-time staff members are dedicated to the management of training- and learning-related activities as part of the corporate university. The university is led by a director who oversees company wide learning and development (L&D) programming. The director is responsible for learning programs that support on-boarding, as well as career and professional development of Booz Allen employees at all levels (entry-level through leadership).
Approximately 1,400 client-facing Booz Allen learning professionals span the firm’s markets and functional areas. The client facing learning organization is led by a vice president who manages the firm’s human capital and learning (HC&L) business portfolio across the federal government. The VP supports the functional growth of the learning professionals and the development of new learning capabilities for
clients. In addition, the VP participates in and manages the external learning
organization’s involvement in a broad range of activities that influence and shape the global learning industry and the development and certification of learning professionals.
COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
To support both the client-facing and internal learning organizations, Booz Allen established a community of practice (COP) known as TEPS (Training Education and
Performance Support). This community is a dynamic, cross-firm virtual organization for Booz Allen’s learning professionals. For selling and delivering learning solutions, TEPS generates value by providing best practices, tools and resources that they can directly apply to government clients. TEPS also complements the L&D corporate university by supporting the professional development of learning professionals in key functional areas including instructional system design, learning management systems, learning tools and technologies, and social media tools.
TEPS has its own operating committee composed mainly of line-of business managers representing multiple lines of business, functional areas and the corporate university. The operating committee guides the community’s strategy by setting its vision and goals, and by establishing and supporting priority initiatives for the TEPS organization to execute. On a quarterly basis, the committee reviews the community’s progress against priority initiatives and ensures that the firm’s annual investment in TEPS is being used wisely. Additionally, the committee regularly surveys the lines-of-business across the firm and the TEPS members for new market and resource requirements, as well as need for new intellectual capital or capabilities.
TEPS maintains a critical link with a learning council established for Booz Allen’s corporate university. One of the members of the TEPS operating committee also serves on the firm’s People Strategy Steering Committee (PSSC), a separate learning council focused on internal people strategy efforts. The PSSC is composed of senior representatives from multiple business groups across the firm, including the internal L&D organization. The purpose of the PSSC is to function as a leadership and advisory board for Booz Allen’s people strategy efforts, which include several internal L&D initiatives. The PSSC sets priorities for people strategy and is briefed on a regular basis regarding results and progress against the priorities.
The TEPS COP established tools to assess the performance of the community, collecting data on a regular basis and maintaining a dashboard to measure return on investment in the TEPS COP.More specifically, the TEPS impact dashboard is designed to evaluate the COP’s impact on business growth, workforce proficiency, knowledge sharing and market-relevant intellectual capital.
Additionally, Booz Allen’s people services organization (which includes recruiting, human resources services, learning and development, strategic people initiatives,
diversity, total rewards, and executive service functions) has a dedicated human capital analytics (HCA) group. The HCA group functions as a center of excellence that provides data archiving and analytic capabilities to people services and the firm more broadly, including the TEPS COP.
Investments in TEPS have yielded benefits for multiple audiences and stakeholders.
For example, TEPS-sponsored community events and knowledge-sharing technology enable a “one-to-many” approach, promoting the dissemination of best practices and innovative solutions across the community. Design Kaizens, for example, are quick solution-development sessions open to the entire TEPS community. Each Design Kaizen tackles a particular firm, client or market learning issue or challenge, leveraging the energy, diverse skills and experience of the TEPS community to facilitate solution development. Similarly, a Turbo Fest is a one-hour meeting with eight mini-presentations that disseminate best practices to a large audience in a short period of time, thereby maximizing resource efficiency.
The TEPS community also functions as an internal testing ground for ideas and solutions. Booz Allen teams can test their ideas with an active audience and make improvements based on the group’s feedback before bringing solutions to the marketplace, increasing the likelihood of market success. In addition, the TEPS community of practice provides instant global communications across its 1400 members, enabling discovery and sharing of intellectual capital and ideas —when needed and where needed.
“Booz Allen is an excellent example of an organization that leverages the best from
both its internal and client-facing learning functions to impact its business in a positive direction,” says Stacey Harris, a principal analyst for Bersin & Associates. “It has created clear business alignment through its governance and measurement practices, and subsequently has provided a learning environment that encourages development and growth in the organization.”
According to Harris, this approach has led to business-focused budgeting and program prioritization, timely and innovative solutions, and a collaborative learning community.
Booz Allen Hamilton: LEARNING & TALENT INITIATIVE EXCELLENCE
Facing rapid growth, Booz Allen decided to revamp its on-boarding program for all new hires. The legacy program had strong components, but it lacked the cohesiveness and accountability necessary for a consistent new-hire experience. The new on-boarding program promotes increased employee participation while creating value for new hires, managers and the organization.
The results of a firm-wide survey indicated the need for greater new-hire engagement, affiliation, productivity and retention. Data analysis of the legacy on-boarding program’s costs and effectiveness, as well as diagnostic interviews with new hire managers, further contributed to needs identification. This benchmark research revealed the legacy program was not equipping staff effectively, and teams were beginning to augment with their own orientation programs, duplicating efforts across the organization.
According to Madeline Laurano, principal analyst with Bersin & Associates, the Booz Allen initiative is an excellent example of how to align on-boarding with overall recruiting strategy. “It engages new hires, ensures compliance, increases productivity, requires accountability for each employee, and is used in every region — truly a best practice initiative,” she says.
The new on-boarding program serves more than 5,000 new hires annually (approximately 20 percent of the total number of Booz Allen employees). These employees represent nearly all of the firm’s job levels and classifications.
Booz Allen has more than 45 offices across the U.S., each of which is characterized by a unique culture and client base. To ensure a consistent experience for new hires across the offices, firm-wide orientation is centralized at Booz Allen’s headquarters
and is followed by customized local office orientation that addresses the particular learning, job, and cultural needs of employees in each location.
The enhanced Booz Allen On-boarding program is structured into three phases: Engage, Equip and Excel.
Engage is designed to excite and prepare new hires for their first year, beginning as soon as an individual accepts an offer of employment. An online portal provides new hires with immediate access to a wealth of information about Booz Allen and prepares them for the firm-wide orientation course they will attend their first
week. The four-day, centralized orientation leverages an engaging discovery-learning model that walks the new hire through the history and culture of the firm, demonstrates core values, and allows new hires to discover more about service offerings and clients. A war-gaming-like exercise provides new hires with a robust simulation of joining a client engagement and solving a problem as a member of a team. Senior leaders speak with the new hires about their own work at the firm and offer tips for success, and critical ethics and compliance information is presented in interactive modules throughout the four days.
Equip spans a new hires’ second week through their first six months and provides them with the tools, skills and behaviors necessary for success. Key program elements within this phase include a local orientation, manager check-ins at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals, and a formal assessment at six months. Check-ins provide new hires with robust, early career support and rich networking and skill-development opportunities. For example, new hires and their managers meet to discuss development goals, review progress against stated objectives, and identify “at-risk” performance.
The six-month assessment serves as an opportunity for new hires to receive formal feedback on their contribution and performance from their managers and peers.
Excel is focused on continued professional development, affiliation building, and embodiment of firm values. This phase spans month nine until the end of year one. The key milestone during this phase is the new hire’s first annual assessment.
Leading up to the assessment, new hires continue enhancing their competencies
through role-specific learning (for leaders), engage with local affinity groups for ongoing networking, and receive a series of monthly communications with just-in time information targeted to their stage of the on-boarding process. The first annual assessment provides new hires with formal feedback from their peers and manager. The outcome of the meeting is a personal development plan that positions the new hires for success during year two.
Other features of this phase include differentiated support from HR for targeted groups.
Immediate results of the new on-boarding program have included improved new-hire job readiness, efficiency gains, stronger affiliation with the firm, and reduced attrition. Surveys and interviews indicate the online portal and the enhanced program curriculum are contributing to increased levels of new-hire job readiness and engagement:
>> Greater than 95 percent of survey participants have acknowledged the program’s positive impact on their impression of the company, reinforcing their decision to join the firm.
>>Course interactivity and networking components have been two of the most commonly mentioned positive attributes of the enhanced program.
>>Ninety-six percent of participants have rated the enhanced curriculum, ROI, instructors and program logistics higher than comparable components of the firm’s legacy program.
The enhanced on-boarding program accelerates new hire time-to-productivity by several days, saving the firm millions of dollars of lost revenue.
A four-hour instructor-led class was converted into digital interactive content, eliminating instructor costs, participant travel costs, printing costs and facilities fees—for a savings of $1.2million.Other savings include the elimination of printing and mailing costs associated with the new-hire welcome packet, which is now available online. The automation of new-hire data collection yields process and labor cost savings.
Senior leaders with new hires joining their teams report that the program has accelerated new-hire time-to-productivity. In the longer term, Booz Allen expects the program to impact retention rates and drive increased connectivity.
CA: OPERATIONAL TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
As a world-leading IT management software vendor, CA (www.ca.com) creates enterprise solutions for the management of complex computing environments. Using negotiating power to leverage mutually beneficial deals for both the customer and the organization is an integral component of CA’s strategy.
The lack of a corporate negotiation strategy had, until 2008, inhibited sales teams
from leveraging a set of standardized, bestin- breed negotiation practices. In response, CA’s Employee Education Group created a dynamic, ongoing, results-focused offering to standardize the way sales teams work and to balance the way CA goes to market and negotiates with its customers.
A needs analysis discovery process was conducted to both analyze the competencies of successful negotiators on its account teams and document the gaps in behavior needed to meet organizational requirements. Through a series of interviews and focus groups, these assessments conveyed that the global sales organization faced multiple thematic negotiation challenges:
>>managing customers aligned to buying time frames that did not benefit the
>>dealing with customers who use nonresponse as a negotiation tactic; and
>>responding to customers trained by the industry to expect high end-of-quarter discounts.
Needs analysis also revealed several common missteps that were being made by sales teams during the negotiations process, including getting stuck in the price-playing field and agreeing to customer demands without fully understanding the impact to the organization.
Prior to program design, a learning charter was created and signed by global sales sponsors within the organization to ensure alignment to business needs. It included:
>>business objectives and measurements;
>>learning objectives and measurement strategies;
>>risks, assumptions and potential constraints; and
>>resource and sales sponsorship requirements.
To deliver on the components of this charter, CA Employee Education teamed with business stakeholders to create a comprehensive, continuous global learning and performance program.
BLENDED WORKSHOP AND COACHING
Situational Sales Negotiation (SSN), a two day instructor-led workshop, was implemented to provide negotiators with practical application of a new set of negotiating principles. To ensure content quality, CA teamed with negotiation provider Bay Group International (BGI), as well as various stakeholders.
Prework is used to set the stage for the application and practice of negotiation techniques during the workshop. The interactive, experiential workshop provides
opportunities for working through the stages of negotiating relationships. Internal delivery instructors, who go through a formal “train-the-trainer” process with BGI, have prior backgrounds as front-line sales managers and can offer real-world experience to learners.
All graduates receive a monthly coaching reinforcement message via e-mail for one year after the completion of the negotiation workshop.
To reach negotiating success, sales teams must be consistently coached to reinforce and support the behaviors learned in the negotiation workshop. Sales management
teams are encouraged to assign negotiating peer-mentors to reinforce the workshop’s principles and ensure adoption of the new skills. Instructors serve as field learning consultants to assist in “real-world” coaching and mentoring around opportunities with real customers and deals.
To help managers coach their teams specifically around the skills that they learned in the SSN workshop, CA Employee Education and BGI created the Negotiation Reinforcement Workshop for Sales Management. These sessions motivate managers to reinforce effective negotiation coaches with proven guidelines for effectivewith their sales teams and provide coaching — and the importance of using those guidelines to boost sales team performance.
At the beginning of each month, managers also receive a Management Reinforcement Toolkit, which includes all of the information needed to run a 20- minute sales meeting focused on reinforcing concepts from the SSN workshop.
More than 70 sessions of the course, many in localized languages, have been offered to more than 750 learners since the program’s inception in January 2008 (see Fig. 1 for program results). In terms of learning and behavior impacts, Level III assessments conducted at least 90 days post SSN workshop showed that:
>>99% of respondents reported the workshop had a positive impact on their confidence level when negotiating on behalf of CA;
>>97% of respondents reported positive change as it related to agreeing to customer demands without fully understanding the impact on CA;
>>94% of respondents reported positive impact on their tendency to get stuck in the price-playing field;
>>78% of respondents reported a positive impact in their negotiation planning skills; and
>>73% of respondents reported a positive impact in their ability to “concede only according to plan.”
Josh Bersin, president of Bersin & Associates, points out that CA has been named a winner in the Learning Leaders program three years running: “CA’s sales negotiation program is yet another example of the company’s ability to deliver innovative learning with a very powerful impact on the business.”
Cisco: OPERATIONAL TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
Cisco (www.cisco.com) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate.
In reaction to the global economic slowdown in late 2008, Cisco, like many companies, put a moratorium on all non-critical business travel and slashed training
budgets. One of the training programs affected was Channel Sales Masters Series,
which develops a channel account managers’ skills for becoming a business advisor. This is critical to Cisco’s success, since 85 percent of the company’s business is fulfilled through channel partners.
Prior to the economic crisis, Channel Sales Masters Series was a four-and-a-half day, instructor-led training (ILT) program that cost $4,600 per student plus travel expenses. Learning leaders resolved to create a virtual synchronous training program that would develop the same skills, cost 85 percent less to deliver, and require no travel for students or instructors. It decided to retool the program using Cisco’s own Web 2.0 collaboration technologies:WebEx Connect andWebEx Training Center.
NEW VIRTUAL APPROACH
The new virtual Sales Masters Series incorporates multiple Web 2.0 technologies,
>>WebEx Training Center – Delivers eight synchronous training sessions for the core learning and application.
>>WebEx Connect – Provides main communication and documentation portal for students, producers and LP instructors. Extended student/global training team uses WebEx Connect for ongoing collaboration before, during and after each theater program delivery.
>>Flash videos – Simulate instructor-led learning in certain modules, saving significant classroom time. Flash videos are also used for manager coaching reinforcement.
Interactivity similar to the ILT training experience was preserved through the use of WebEx breakout rooms, structured chat and annotation exercises, polls, whiteboards to share ideas, engaging dialog, and sharing of best practices.
Outside of class sessions, students also participated in group and individual coursework activities and used their class WebEx Connect space, as well as e-mail
and WebEx meetings, to communicate and share information.
LEVERAGING WEB 2.0
Cisco used the whiteboard component of WebEx several different ways in the instructional design of the program. Instructors employ it to “break the ice” for each of the eight sessions. Each session opens with a question. The students are invited to respond using the text tools and the whiteboard. This provides an opportunity to build rapport between the students and also between the students and the session facilitator.
The chat functionality of the Web 2.0 tool is especially effective in delivering the program to students whose primary language is not English. The chat area gives students a vehicle to share their thoughts. Chat is used for answering classroom questions, sharing examples, and indicating when assistance is needed.
Polls are used to check for understanding. The poll feature is also the medium to transmit the Level 01 evaluation to the students after the completion of each module. The transfer feature within WebEx Training Center allows the team to provide materials electronically during program sessions, meeting the goals of Cisco’s green initiative by producing no hard copy materials for students, facilitators and hosts.
The initiative has met and exceeded Cisco’s original goals. The program, now successfully implemented in Asia Pacific, U.S./Canada and emerging markets, is meeting the original learning objectives, with 16 hours of synchronous learning time compared to 40 hours of classroom time. Level 01 scores average 4.5, a high score for synchronous learning.
The students are using the skills they learn and sharing best practices, which confirms knowledge and skill transfer is occurring. Cisco’s learning leaders believe the successful learning in less time may in part be due to the time between each virtual session. Students spend two hours learning a key concept, and then have two to five days to apply and absorb it before they add two more hours of training on top of that.
Cisco has also exceeded its cost reduction goals. On average, the cost per student to participate in the program has dropped 85 percent, and time away from the job is reduced 60 percent.
According to Bersin, Cisco’s program earned Learning Leader status for its best practices on several fronts. “It’s an excellent example of how to combine virtual and collaborative learning effectively.Our team of judges was also impressed with the program’s global, well-integrated design,” he says.
There are some additional surprise benefits. With a virtual program, learning leaders find they can bring in expertise more readily, from anywhere in the world. A course held in China, for example, requires financial experts who speak Mandarin to help explain the concepts and coach the students. Because no one has to travel to participate in the program, the company can use individuals with these skills in Cisco offices in California, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Beijing.
Another benefit of synchronous learning is that a smaller instructor pool can cover more students in more locations. One instructor can run programs in two parts of the world during the same week. For example, someone in Cisco’s U.K. office
can hold a learning session in the morning for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and four hours later hold another morning session for North or South America.
Coldwell Banker Commercial: OPERATIONAL TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
Coldwell Banker Commercial (www.cbcworldwide.com) is a worldwide leader in the commercial real estate industry. It is owned and operated by Realogy Corp., the world’s leading real estate franchisor. Coldwell Banker Commercial has more than 200 affiliated companies with 3,400 commercial real estate professionals in 20 countries worldwide.
Commission-based commercial real estate is difficult for new sales associates to penetrate because of the long sales cycle (9 to 18 months on average) and the distinct set of sales skills needed to be successful. Driven by the weakening real estate market in 2009, Coldwell Banker Commercial resolved to accelerate the success of sales associates who are new to commercial real estate, as well as those transitioning from residential real estate.
A UNIQUE AUDIENCE
There was no formal or structured training program in place to help new sales professionals accelerate their commercial real estate careers at Coldwell Banker Commercial. This audience is made up of self employed individuals who work for its franchises. They are not direct employees, so their training programs are not mandated. They respond to training that is rigorous yet relevant to their work in the field. Thus, it is critical to introduce ideas, concepts, and fieldwork that can be implemented immediately to gain traction in the field.
Much of the audience has residential real estate experience and expertise. However, there is no correlation between success in residential real estate and success in commercial real estate. In fact, certain residential sales skills and methods must be replaced with ones that work on the commercial side of the industry.
EMERGING BROKER TRAINING PROGRAM
To meet this need, Coldwell Banker Commercial launched Emerging Broker Training (EBT), a blended four-month program for sales/lease agents who are new to commercial real estate. Learners are required to complete the following:
>>Two sets of traditional live classroom training (seven days total) — The cap-stone activity at both sets of live training is the development and video recording of each student’s action plan. At the first set of live training sessions, students record their action plan for the next three months, which is the approximate amount of time before they return for the final set of training. At the final set of live training classes, students record their 12-month action plan. This component encourages each student to think about what he or she has learned and plan how to apply it.
>>Seven live virtual classroom sessions held usingWebEx Training Center — Three self-paced e-learning modules(on Objection Handling, Leasing Strategies and technical tutorials) include at least one business simulation where the learner must successfully navigate through the simulation before finishing the lesson.
>>Approximately 15 highly relevant fieldwork assignments help learners gain traction in the field and focus on generating new sales leads and contacts. One assignment requires the learners to conduct detailed studies of their local markets. After they complete these studies, they contact local newspapers and submit editorials about their findings. Many of these articles are published.
>>Students are required to pass two formal exams at the start and the end. In
addition, there are multiple quizzes, some formal and some in the form of
games. The final assessment moves away from the “traditional” exam model with a Jeopardy-style game where students compete in teams; the game also tracks individual scores.
COACHING AND INDIVIDUALIZED TRACKING
Each participant selects a mentor who provides support and guidance throughout the program. The mentor assists the student with the fieldwork assignments. Students are required to meet with their mentors on a pre-determined schedule to discuss progress, fieldwork, challenges, etc. The aforementioned action-plan videos are sent back to each student/coach pair for reenforcement, as well as to provide new coaching opportunities for the mentor.
Throughout the entire four-month program, each individual learner’s program activities are tracked in a custom online scorecard database. The database allows students to see their progress as well as view other students’ data (increasing motivation); allows managers see students (increasing accountability); and allows instructors to see an entire class as a group or individuals.
The system assigns a point value for each activity. Learners can receive partial points for fieldwork not completed in its entirety, or for attending a live session but not participating substantially. This generates student enthusiasm as they work harder to perform above the minimum—knowing that each component will be evaluated on an individual basis. A friendly competitive atmosphere is created by posting an anonymous bi-weekly class ranking. Top students receive special recognition and awards at the graduation ceremony and a scholarship towards earning the top commercial real estate industry designation (CCIM).
The simple but effective best practice of awarding partial points for all activities (including participation), publishing a biweekly class ranking report, and offering incentives to the top students has generated higher quality work, higher attendance, increased participation, and significantly improved the graduation rate (from 58 percent to 90 percent) for the EBT program.
Data such as gross commissions, number of appointments, number of contacts and number of closings is collected from each EBT class and compared to other EBT classes. The goal is to measure the iterative trend of the program. Kirkpatrick Level-4 business results, including sales transaction volume of new hires, have increased 30 percent across the board since the program started.
Kelly Services: LEARNING ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE EXCELLENCE
With annual revenue of $5.5 billion, Kelly Services (www.kellyservices.com) is a leader in providing workforce solutions. Kelly offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent placement basis. Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to 650,000 employees.
Kelly Services’ learning organization uses a strong leadership and governance approach to ensure it is aligned and focused on the most critical business needs of its clients. It has organized the learning function around a global working model that supports collaboration and sharing. A focus on measurement has lead to clear impact metrics. Based on the learning organization’s business alignment, it was a key partner in ensuring positive change management efforts during corporate reduction implementations that took effect due to the recent economic downturn.
The learning organization has 35 full-time equivalents (FTEs), and 90 percent of the learning organization reports to a central function through a matrixed reporting structure. They have a standard shared services function that includes the traditional areas of learning standards, technology management, vendor management and competencies, as well as global learning management.
Allison Kerska, the senior director of global learning, is responsible for all company- wide learning initiatives and executes against the following mission statement: “To grow Kelly’s business by improving the performance of its global workforce through effective learning solutions.” She execution plans globally. She also has aand her team set the learning strategy and unique role in that she serves as the service liaison to the Americas operation. In this role, she represents Kelly Services’ global
learning and services organization in every product and operations leadership meeting. As part of the global service department, learning is accountable to the senior vice president of global service, who reports directly to the executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Global learning leverages two types of learning councils: advisory boards and an executive learning council. As each new need is identified, global learning creates an individual learning council (advisory board) for that learning solution to ensure that each new program has appropriate representation from the operation and the learner audience.
The global learning structure has been designed to reflect the global operating structure, but also to support the strategic objective to reduce dependency on the U.S. training leaders in each region—Americas, EMEA and APAC—work with the headquarters team to set the global learning strategy, share best practices, and leverage cross-border resources to support all of the strategic initiatives.Monthly global learning meetings provide the opportunity for all trainers around the globe to share progress on ongoing and new initiatives.
The global learning measurement strategy has two approaches.With the direct impact approach, a causal relationship is proven between learning and operational results. Direct impact measures include workshop activity results (i.e., the bottom-line impact of real tasks completed as part of a training workshop) and new sales revenue directly attributed to a particular sales training program, per the participant.
With the correlation approach, a causal relationship cannot be proven because there are often many other factors influencing performance metrics and bottom line results, so instead they focus on creating correlations. In these situations, global learning doesn’t take full credit for producing the operational results; it simply shows that there are strong correlations between learning and results. Correlation measures include: Kirkpatrick Level 1 survey results; usage results; completion rates; awards program; and productivity.
Many of Kelly Services’ learning programs have changed the culture, built skills, and improved bottom-line company results. The following are a few illuminating examples:
All new hires participate in The Kelly Experience, a six-hour on-boarding program during their first week, learn of the strategic priorities and determine the role they play in service excellence. In 2008, this program resulted in an 85 percent reduction in employee turnover, as compared to a control group during the six-month pilot, resulting in $930,000 in turnover cost savings. New employees were also more productive two months earlier than the control group.
Targeted at senior sales executives, Global Solutions Training (GST) enables sales people to recognize and facilitate cross-selling opportunities. The curriculum
is composed of 11 solution courses and includes scenario-based role-plays and a high level of interactivity. The average sales of employees completing at least one of the GST courses is 623 percent higher than those who have not participated.
Recruiters who have attended Recruiter University, a skills-based classroom workshop, averaged 16 percentage points higher for Interview: Start ratios (standard recruiting productivity measure) than non-participating peers. In addition, live cold-calling activities with side-by-side trainer coaching resulted in an average of 73 new job orders and 163 new candidate interviews.
Significant revenue has been attributed directly to the skills learned in a classroom workshop called Consultative Selling Skills. During the most recent quarterly conference call, the six selected participants who presented attributed the following
results directly to the workshop: $5.25 million in new business; $1.5 million in growth from existing customers; and $250,000 in prospective business.
NetApp: LEARNING ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE EXCELLENCE
In 1992, NetApp (www.netapp.com) made shared storage an affordable reality with the world’s first networked storage appliance. Today, the company creates innovative storage and data management solutions that accelerate business breakthroughs and deliver cost efficiency.
NetApp considers its employees critical to growth — in strong and weak markets — and has developed learning and development infrastructure and initiatives to support corporate goals. This approach has contributed to the company appearing on Fortune’s annual Great Places to Work list seven years running, including 2009, when it beat out Google for the #1 spot.
MISSION AND STRUCTURE
The learning organization’s primary focus is to enable the success of its stakeholders— from engineering training, to channel readiness, to field enablement. This includes new hire sales and technical training, as well as new college graduate and other on-boarding programs designed to accelerate the time to productivity. The learning organization also focuses on proactively supporting key corporate initiatives with learning programs aligned to those priorities.
The vice president of NetApp University is responsible for company-wide learning and development programs (that includes employees, partners and customers), leading a team of 100-plus employees. There is a great partnership with HR that drives leadership and development programs for employees. The allocation of staff resources breaks down as follows:
Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35%
Delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15%
Performance Consulting . . . . . . . 14%
Measurement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%
Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%
Technology Management. . . . . . . . 8%
Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8%
MANAGERS AND COUNCILS
Within the learning organization, there is an educational liaison, or account manager, for each business group within NetApp, and more than one for high-volume training business partners such as products groups and sales groups. These account managers can anticipate the needs of business units and accelerate time-to-competency for their constituents. They work closely with the business to make sure that learning programs are effective and aligned and that budget is allocated to activities that produce the greatest impact.
The liaisons also chair a council at each business group to set training priorities and guide resources for the learning and development process, which is continual and integrated deeply into NetApp’s internal processes. NetApp also has several specific learning councils — field readiness (focused on sales training), partner learning council, technical learning council and professional-skills learning council — each co-chaired by the key stakeholder and a learning organization leader.
NetApp University has implemented a business intelligence (BI) system that brings learning information together to (1) give learning dashboards to executives; and (2) provide many levels of analytical and operational reporting for managing the business. This data allows business executives to track usage, identify the top five programs or break down training by department, region or other metrics.
Executives can access powerful, quantitative information to answer such questions as: “When did a sales group in a specific country take a specific course?” “What is the most frequently taken course?” “By what date did all of a subset of employees take a specific course?”
The BI system pulls data from various formal and informal learning systems and portals such as the LMS,WebEx, video based informal learning portals, books online and external certification/accreditation portals.
BI also uses customer/partner and employee systems (such as SAP/Peoplesoft) to deliver relevant information either in the form of dashboards for executives, detailed reports for program managers (from compliance to new hire to division specific to product or other category specific) or operational and analytic reports to manage the training organization’s needs.
Financial data also is available in the BI system to measure and report on commercial transactions related to learning. Future plans include the correlation of sales force and channel productivity to training translating to the impact on business.
NetApp has different operational measures for each piece of the training function. For example, for delivery functions, there are metrics specific to classroom training around instructor performance, classroom experience, registration experience and courseware quality.
For courseware development, there are various metrics around development timelines, deltas between plan and actual deployment of content, and quality of adherence to editorial, graphics standards and guidelines. The training organization measures customer service issues and mean time to resolution with an aim to reducing the calls while seeing growth in training adoption. Learning leaders also focus on room/lab/instructor use.
From a customer education perspective, NetApp tracks standard measures such as growth in bookings and revenue and contributions to the bottom line. A major focus is also on new-hire programs and their effectiveness— both qualitative and quantitative.
NetApp also has a series of measures for informal learning where the focus is on repeat users and growth in usage. Several other delivery metrics measure fill rates, percentage of training based on delivery type, by geography, by audience type (customer, partner, employee), by category (compliance, new hire, product/solutions, professional skills, leadership & management, process & tools), by geography, and by business unit. The list of measures is continually refined.
According to Stacey Harris, principal analyst with Bersin & Associates, NetApp was named a Learning Leader for its focus on business outcomes first.
“NetApp’s learning organization has managed to build effective workflows and awareness of what work each group is doing and how the hand-offs occur. This process and clarity of roles has allowed business-driven advisory boards and initiative sponsors to focus on the business outcomes,” says Harris. “Also, the organization’s sophisticated approach to measuring the impact of formal and informal learning provides a solid platform for business discussions, supports alignment, and ensures that it is meeting business needs.”
NetApp University and the learning organization enjoy executive-level support and appreciation for the impact of learning on the business. This fiscal year,NetApp University was publicly acknowledged by the CEO with the company’s top award (Total Customer Experience Award) at a recent all-hands meeting for offering a competitive edge. This award represented a real achievement for the learning team and a validation of the importance of learning to the entire company.
Nielsen LEARNING AND TALENT TECHNOLOGY EXCELLENCE
The Nielsen Company (www.nielsen.com) is the world’s leading marketing and media information company with operations in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to provide clients with the most complete understanding of consumers and markets worldwide.
In 2007, more than 30 individual Nielsen companies merged into “One Nielsen,” impacting 34,000 employees in 100 countries. Following integration, numerous learning organizations and training professionals were scattered globally, implementing various learning standards, processes and courses. Nielsen had to not only create a global learning community aligned with corporate strategies and goals, but also identify new ways of using current technology to conquer the geography and time differences between global learning teams.
Nielsen decided to leverage the learning management system used in one of the company’s business units for the new global organization. A task force of seven U.S.-based members was established to gather information, identify existing content that could/would be migrated to the new platform, and to manage the content migration. Its analysis of content revealed that there were no common standards for look and feel or consistency. It also found an inconsistent learner experience and frequent duplication of effort in learning development projects. These findings did not support the new company values of simple, open and integrated.
The team studied a variety of methods to improve communication and collaboration between all of the global learning and development training teams. During the analysis, it discovered that the company’s IT group was implementing a roll-out of Microsoft’s Live Meeting and SharePoint products globally.
Considering the economic business climate of the past several years, the task team’s directive required taking immediate action to impact and leverage resources globally. Adopting and using these technological solutions was well suited to the team’s effort.
A GLOBAL COMMUNITY
The team’s goal was to build an open electronic platform for collaboration, sharing information and building trust in the global learning community, so community members would be willing to give up local control of standards, best practices, tools, and resources.
Using the existing MS SharePoint tool, a robust interactive Website was built. Called the Learning Center, it allows cross-functional learning professionals to dynamically search information, standards, best practices, social networking opportunities and discussion boards to connect with one another across time and geography for support and information.
MS Live Meeting and Instant Meeting Audio Conferencing bring individuals from across the globe into the same meeting for live discussion and collaboration. Meetings are recorded with the MS Live Meeting visual and Instant Meeting Audio Conferencing audio integrated into a single file. This permits community members who are unable to attend meetings the opportunity to replay and fully participate in the discussion boards, wikis, etc.
The largest challenge continues to be coordinating synchronized communication among colleagues across the globe. One solution to combat time zone issues is the use of the MS Live Meeting recording feature. Each monthly general meeting and special interest group meeting is recorded and posted on the collective SharePoint site. Meeting times for the six special interest groups are varied in order to allow the various regions around the world to participate live periodically.
In less than two years, using existing familiar Microsoft technologies, more than 250 learning professionals have been linked across geography and time. The global learning leadership team benchmarks and measures the success of the community platform implementation in multiple ways:
>>The number of new members joining the community — initially seven members and now 250 and growing, a 3571 percent increase since the original task team was formed.
>>The number of members accessing the community’s Website averages 31 requests per day and had 118 distinct users in the last 30 days.
>>Consistency (use of common templates and navigation) and voluntary adoption of instructional design standards was seen in the output of learning modules demonstrated during a monthly meeting project showcase.
Two years ago, learning modules varied in look and feel, navigational features, interaction, visual engagement, complexity and quality. Now, company leaders can see the impact of the community on the final output of learning professionals, resulting in a more positive and consistent learner experience for Nielsen’s employees and clients.
Bringing the learning groups together to leverage resources, expertise, best practices and ideas has enabled the company to provide engaging, interactive, and consistent learning activities to more than 50,000 clients and employees globally.
According to David Mallon, senior analyst for Bersin & Associates, Nielsen’s ability to leverage a global community is impressive: “Within two years, Nielsen managed to do globally what many companies struggle to do locally. The organization also found new ways to use existing enterprise tools — which they can continue to leverage limited only by the imagination and creativity of the community.”
QualComm: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com ) is a leader in developing and delivering innovative digital wireless communications products and services based on CDMA and other advanced technologies. Included in the S&P 500 Index and 2009 Fortune 500 list, Qualcomm is regularly ranked as one of the world’s best-performing tech companies.
New business challenges for Qualcomm include increased complexity and globalization of markets. It also added approximately 3,500 employees over the past three years to fuel growth. The company’s philosophy is to promote from within, so this leads to a significantly larger leadership team.
Qualcomm recently redesigned some of its flagship leadership development programs in response to these challenges. The purpose of leadership development is building an internal talent pool that fully understands the business.
According to Kim Lamoureux, principal analyst with Bersin & Associates, “Qualcomm’s program fulfills the specific needs of two distinct leader levels within the company. The emerging leader program prepares young professionals for a career in management, as opposed to waiting until they are already in a manager role. The executive-level program builds a critical pipeline of high potentials for leading the company into the future.”
The invitation-only Qualcomm Emerging Leader Program is designed specifically for individual contributors (no direct reports or direct management responsibilities) who have the aptitude, potential and desire to be future leaders. Participants are nominated by their manager, project lead, HR generalist and/or by their identification as top technical talent.
The program takes participants through a dynamic learning experience over the span of 12 weeks and includes a 180-degree assessment (self and manager ratings), 1.5-day classroom session, four one- to two-hour virtual classroom sessions, 1:1 manager, learning partner meetings and online learning components. The total time commitment for participants over the 12 weeks is approximately 23 hours.
The Emerging Leader Program uses a variety of social networking technologies that allow participants to stay connected throughout the entire program:
>>Emerging Leader Community Site – built on a blogging platform, this is the central location for all resources and tools as well as a platform to build community through Web 2.0 functionality.
>>Yammer – “Twitter-like” tool allowing participants to share best practices as they happen, ask questions, and create ongoing dialog during and after the program.
In partnership with PDI Ninth House (www.pdininthhouse.com), Qualcomm developed a blended learning experience that provides a scalable learning platform to drive large-scale behavioral change in emerging leaders on a global basis, faster and at lower cost than traditional classroom instruction.
Emerging Leader participants are formally surveyed at the mid-point and end of the program. Based on survey data, 94 percent of participants agree there is significant application and transfer of knowledge and skills back on the job, and 88 percent feel the program will improve their performance on the job. Overall, participants reported there was a 52 percent increase in skill level or knowledge of the content after completing the 12- week program.
Executive Leadership Essentials is a blended learning experience that begins with a three-day intense educational experience that provides participants with the opportunity to explore and be challenged by the core elements of leading today’s demanding and complex organizations. Led by a senior facilitator from Bluepoint Leadership Development (www.bluepointleadership .com), it incorporates short lectures, group exercises/ discussion, video case studies and a series of practicums where participants practice their skills while working on real Qualcomm challenges.
Program objectives include:
>>enhancing personal leadership presence;
>>developing the coaching skills to coach others for high performance;
>>learning to create and lead highly innovative and productive teams;
>>creating significant organizational commitment and alignment;
>>designing a challenging, personal leadership development plan;
>>providing a development experience over time;
>>designing and delivering additional resources that are tuned to the learner’s needs; and
>>holding participants accountable for application back in the workplace.
Executive Leadership Essentials targets directors and senior directors globally from across the organization. Through top leader identification tools, HR nominations and direct manager nominations, more than 100 directors/senior directors have participated in the program globally to date.
Designed to equip managers with the core competencies necessary to successfully lead at the personal, interpersonal, team and organization levels, the fast paced Executive Leadership Essentials workshop provides a strong foundation for people at all organizational levels. Over the course of four distinct modules, the experiential workshop takes participants through a series of thought-provoking mini-lectures and videos, interactive exercises and noteworthy case studies.
The workshop is followed up with three application coaching sessions conducted by an experienced Bluepoint Leadership coach over the phone. Three months after the initial workshop, there is a half-day follow-up workshop that is titled “Planning to Lead.” This session allows participants to discuss progress, successes, failures and roadblocks and to learn from each other. It also creates an environment of accountability and focus on execution.
Specific feedback and success metrics tied to the Executive Leadership Essentials Program show that more than 95 percent of workshop participants have participated in the follow-up half-day session “Planning to Lead” that is offered three months post workshop, which shows commitment to this initiative. The majority of executives participating in this program have taken the opportunity to use other on-line resources and elearning opportunities. Use of the application coaching offered through the program has been over 90 percent.
Redwood Trust: LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE
Redwood Trust (www.redwoodtrust.com) invests in, finances and manages residential and commercial real estate loans and securities backed by real estate loans. Its principal office is in California and it is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Starting in the late 2000s, Redwood began looking for systemic solutions to address the strategic objectives of creating a coaching culture and closing a succession gap to support company growth.With the help of its learning and development partner, LSA Global, Redwood focused on positioning executives as true facilitators of people development and fast-tracking young talent.
In late 2008, a challenge emerged as a result of the worsening economy. The real estate investment industry was hit hard by the mortgage crisis, and Redwood had to navigate through it, in part by leveraging its talent pool. As a reflection of current business imperatives, an additional goal was created stating that leadership development programs need to generate bottom- line impact to offset their cost.
Redwood’s solution integrated leadership development, role realignment and performance systems to change how the company develops talent. A key component of the program is the $6MM Game, which puts emerging executives into real business challenges aligned with Redwood’s strategy. Senior executives serve as mentors/coaches, allowing them to see first-hand the performance of the upcoming crop of leaders. From this process, a select few participants move on to greater roles in the organization.
The goal of this program is to help leaders learn how to create tangible value at Redwood. Specific objectives are to create a “real” experience where participants will:
>>Identify an opportunity that will impact the company’s bottom line or create a competitive advantage.
>>Create a business case and sell it to the President, CFO and chief investment officer.
>>Develop an implementation plan and execute it.
>>Initiate and lead change across functional organizations.
>>Navigate organizational politics successfully.
>>Develop enhanced relationships with people from other departments.
>>Develop enhanced relationships with the executive team.
HOW IT’S PLAYED
At first, there were six teams of three, each with an executive acting as a team mentor and a senior executive sponsor (the CEO, the president or the chief risk officer). The president, CFO and chief investment officer were the stakeholders to whom teams pitched their opportunity and plans for approval. The flow of the game was as follows:
In March 2008, teams were identified and given the scope of the project. It was positioned not as a training program but as part of a large-scale business project. Teams were then given training on how to work together. They were given approximately one month to work with their mentor and executive sponsor to identify multiple opportunities they could pursue that would add value to the company.
Teams picked an idea and began the process of developing an ROI to validate its merit. Some teams found their project would not work and had to begin the process again; others found the right project immediately. Once the idea was vetted, teams had to prepare and deliver a presentation (and in some cases several presentations) to the president, CFO and CIO for approval and sign-off. This process took throughout the summer, and by fall, ideas were approved. Throughout the fall, teams implemented their projects. By December 2008, teams completed implementation, handed any new systems or processes to the appropriate parties, and measured their project’s impact.
The teams not only developed new critical processes and validated key existing processes, but they also identified high potential market opportunities.
Three of the six teams were successful in delivering ROI results and creating new processes or systems that are integral to ongoing operations at Redwood. The ideas of these teams have been integrated into the company’s infrastructure and produced a combined $3million bottom-line impact in the first year, with $10million expected in year two.
Several high-potential new leaders surfaced during the program, and two were moved into senior positions.
Many participants experienced “a-ha” moments relating to: identifying opportunities; presenting and selling ideas to stakeholders; vetting information and data; being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances; working cross-functionally; identifying leadership voids and filling them; and managing politics.
In addition,MAPS (Redwood’s internal performance system) tools —“Values 360,” “Leadership Performance 360” and others — point to the effectiveness of Redwood’s coaching. Performance objectives are being accomplished, and executives and managers are using the system information to coach their people.
According to Kim Lamoureux, principal analyst for Bersin &Associates, the Learning Leaders panel of judges was very impressed with Redwood’s initiative: “It showed a real shift. Executives and management took ownership of talent. They clearly articulated objectives and were engaged in scoping, visioning, facilitating and coaching participants.”
Seagate: LEARNING & TALENT INITIATIVE EXCELLENCE
Seagate Technology (www.seagate.com) has been at the forefront of the storage industry for nearly 30 years. Its global workforce is committed to the development next-generation digital storage solutions. From the first 5.25-inch PC hard drive to the development of perpendicular recording technology, the company has been pioneering new industry standards that have fueled advancements in the digital information age.
In early 2009, Seagate significantly reduced its workforce, shaving labor costs by more than 25 percent. The company reorganized, and many Seagate employees saw their jobs change significantly, both in scope and in content. To stay competitive, it was critical that employees stay engaged and focused on executing the new strategy during this critical period.
LEARNING GETS LEAN
Due to a 43 percent reduction in head count in the Global Leadership and Learning (GL&L) organization and 15 percent cut in the GL&L budget for technology purchases, the team recognized that a more effective learning delivery method was required if it was to continue delivering functional responsibilities.
Seagate employees needed direct access on demand to the resources required to
successfully complete the FY 2009 performance evaluation cycle. And managers needed further assistance-building soft skills and competencies to successfully execute their performance management responsibilities throughout the year and to guide employees through the change.
Budgetary and resource constraints provided the impetus to create a cost-effective solution. The team realized that Seagate’s internal enterprise wiki, recently released by IT, offered an ideal platform. Using the “SeaWiki” would require the team to rapidly adopt new skills in wiki markup language to meet the design and build requirements and allow the team to manage the content in a dynamic. just-in-time fashion. New content, edits and adjustments could be easily made and released within minutes without reliance on IT or outside vendor resources.
THE VIRTUAL COACH
The team seized the SeaWiki opportunity to build a “Virtual Coach” that would provide action-oriented information on key management topics that all employees and managers could use to build their management and leadership skills.
The Virtual Coach—built and deployed in just six weeks—synthesizes the content and resources from several Harvard Business Publishing e-learning courses on management and leadership. It also connects the course content with other Seagate specific information on how to complete HR processes, use HR business tools, and build the skills to support these processes.
The Virtual Coach contains nine topic sections with more than 160 pages, 375 bookmarks and 100 tags. It leverages the content of 21 of the Harvard Business Publishing Harvard Manage Mentor modules, all eight sections of Leadership Transitions, Harvard Business Publishing and other RSS feeds, as well as topic blogs based on industry-leading articles.
>>Direct access to the information and tools that employees need, when they need it, at their convenience.
>>Simple navigation provides transparency to key learning and practical resources.
>>User-friendly layout streamlines access so employees can quickly and easily scan the available information and locate associated tools and resources.
>>A holistic approach ensures that related topics and resources are at one’s fingertips. This highlights associated information that can be used in the moment or that will encourage a return visit at a later time.
By creating and delivering the Virtual Coach, the GL&L team helped drive engagement and contributed to organization- wide communication of key strategies during a critical time for Seagate. Employees now have quick access to information, tools and resources, and can collaborate and network to build their management and leadership skills.Meeting the high standards Seagate employees expect with Web 2.0 technologies — social networking, resource sharing, blogs, and tagging — they are better equipped to identify, locate and access the resources, tools and experts they need.
More than 15,000 Seagate employees successfully completed the fiscal year Performance Evaluation Cycle in the required time frame of June 7–Sept. 18, 2009. This activity produced more than 640,000 hits to the iMAP system, but created only 462 Employee Helpdesk requests. This represents a soft savings of more than $215,000 during this period alone.
The Virtual Coach received more than 54,000 page views in 2009 and is routinely is listed in the “10 Most Popular Pages” compiled weekly for the SeaWiki platform. It also enables the continued delivery of Seagate’s leadership-development programs, while incorporating the ability to collaborate with past, present and potential participants. Based on learning-on-demand principles, it facilitates peer-to-peer collaboration and social networking; allows employees to access, capture and contribute to the knowledge and insight of thought leaders within Seagate; and enables just-in time informal learning that fits the needs of today’s knowledge worker. Any employee can post questions, start discussion threads and interact around key leadership topics such as decision making or engagement.
Whether through a high level checklist of actions, resources and tools or a stepby- step video demonstration for completing a performance management related task, the Virtual Coach fulfills its value proposition: “Consult the Coach. Refine your approach. Strengthen your skill.”
“Giving Seagate employees an informal and accessible learning experience that is still aligned closely to corporate objectives and values contributes significantly to Seagate’s high-impact learning culture,” says Madeline Laurano, principal analyst with Bersin & Associates. “Using the Virtual Coach as a platform to communicate about key strategic initiatives and share related resources, employees have stayed better connected and focused on corporate goals during a particularly critical time for the company.”
The Learning Leaders program recognizes solution providers offering new and different ways to improve learning and talent management. This category encompasses learning platforms, content, tools and business solutions. It also includes informal learning solutions such as social networking systems, portals, collaborative games and learning-on-demand content. The judges also look for talent management solutions integrated with learning. This year, the 10 Learning Leaders for Vendor Innovation are:
Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com) for Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro software, a Web communications solution that enables live, interactive Web meetings, virtual classes, on-demand presentations and courses and group collaboration.
Bellevue University’s Human Capital Lab (www.HumanCapitalLab.org), which brings together business and academic leaders to research, measure and isolate the impact of learning investments.
Cornerstone OnDemand (www.cornerstoneondemand.com) for Cornerstone Connect, which brings together Enterprise 2.0 technologies with social networking to enable workplace collaboration, communities of practice, professional networking and improved communication.
Executive Conversations (www.conversation.com ) for its Know it Now learning framework, an online sales skills development portal that can be accessible as a stand-alone hosted environment or installed on a client’s internal learning management system.
General Physics (www.gpworldwide.com) for Via Training, which provides custom training programs for increased sales channel effectiveness and is specifically focused on designing programs for indirect sales channel professionals.
Halogen Software (www.halogensoftware.com) for Halogen eLearning Manager, which provides the administrative features and functionality of a learning management system and integrates fully with the other modules in Halogen’s talent management suite.
Kelley Executive Partners (www.kelley.iu.edu/kep), which provides customized executive education to major corporations worldwide. Its Alternate Reality Game combines social and mobile technologies along with collaborative and competitive team problem solving.
Plateau Systems (www.plateau.com), for the Plateau Talent Gateway, which combines social networking, portal and Web 2.0 tools to facilitate knowledge sharing, collaboration and learning activities and provides a direct connection to the capabilities of the Plateau Talent Management Suite.
RWD Technologies (www.rwd.com) for RWD uPerform, an authoring and content- management application that enables organizations to create and deliver learning and performance support content and information to employees.
Vangent (www.vangent-hcm.com), for its year-long program for client Rockwell Collins, “Leading in an Operations Environment,” designed to transform managers’ leadership approach from a metrics/reporting focus to a people-centered approach. The program is a blend of training, support, collaboration, assignments, surveys and mentoring.
For more information about Learning Leaders — including complimentary research on best practices and how to participate in the program — go to www.bersin.com/leaders.