Learning Leaders Show How To Adapt to Changing Times

Learning Leaders Show How
To Adapt to Changing Times
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 the following pages are details
about each winning organization, including the category in which they were cited.
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 10minute custom interviews with practice leads.
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 system is 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 from end-users has been overElearning! February / March 2010
whelmingly 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 and more 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 sitemanagement 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 (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.
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
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.
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
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 Kim Lamoureux, 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 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 customerfacing 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 BusinessDirections. 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 pro-
grams 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.
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.
Elearning! February / March 2010
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 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.
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
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
>>improve employee performance
according to competencies; and
>>improve retention.
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.
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 companywide 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 clientfacing 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
involvement in a
broad range of
activities that influence and shape the
global learning
Lee Ann Timreck, industry and the
TEPS Program
development and
certification of learning professionals.
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 quar-
terly 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
Elearning! February / March 2010
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
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
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 pro-
vides 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-intime 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
Aimee George-Leary
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 high-
er 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 $1.2 million. 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.
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
timeframes 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
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
>>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.
Situational Sales Negotiation (SSN), a twoday 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
Elearning! February / March 2010
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 with their sales teams and provide
coaches with proven guidelines for effective coaching — and the importance of
using those guidelines to boost sales team
At the beginning of each month, managers also receive a Management Reinforcement Toolkit, which includes all of
the information needed to run a 20minute 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.
Fig. 1: Business Impacts of Situational Sales Workshop
Program Business Objective
Increase renewal rates and protect existing
pricing/share within each account.
Increase bookings and overall profitability.
Grow deal sizes by gaining higher selling
Increase renewal rates and protect existing
pricing/share within each account.
Enhance cash flow.
8% increase in renewal yield between FY’08 and
15% increase in attainment of total bookings in
constant currency between FY’08 and FY’09.
25% deal size increase in deals over $10 million
between FY’08 and FY’09.
20% increase in average life of subscription
between FY’08 and FY’09.
30% increase in cash flow from operations,
based on goal, between FY’08 and FY’09.
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 (www.cisco.com) is the worldwide
leader in networking that transforms
how people connect, communicate and
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
the core learning and application.
>>WebEx Connect – Provides main com-
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 and WebEx Training Center.
The new virtual Sales Masters Series incorporates multiple Web 2.0 technologies,
>>WebEx Training Center – Delivers
eight synchronous training sessions for
munication 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
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.
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 reduc-
tion 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
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.
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 selfemployed 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.
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 capElearning! February / March 2010
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 using WebEx 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 for-
mal 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.
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.
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
The Kelly Services Global
Learning team, which is
comprised of a team of 22
team members, is led by
Allison Kerska, Senior
Director of Global Learning.
“This accomplishment is
truly the result of full team
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
and her team set the learning strategy and
execution plans globally. She also has a
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 bottomline 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
salespeople 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.
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.
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 newhire 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%
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 trainElearning! February / March 2010
ing 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 topfive 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.
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
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 con-
tent 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.
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
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
Elearning! February / March 2010
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
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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
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 per-
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.
“Qualcomm’s program fulfills the
specific needs of two distinct
leader levels within the company.”
—Kim Lamoureux, Bersin & Associates
cent increase in skill level or knowledge
of the content after completing the 12week 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
Designed to equip managers with the
core competencies necessary to successfully lead at the personal, interpersonal,
team and organization levels, the fastpaced 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 (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
>>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.
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 highpotential 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
$3 million bottom-line impact in the first
year, with $10 million 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 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
Elearning! February / March 2010
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.
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 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
February / March 2010 Elearning!
management and leadership. It also connects the course content with other Seagatespecific 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 ManageMentor modules, all eight sections of Leadership
Transitions, Harvard Business Publishing
and other RSS feeds, as well as topic blogs
based on industry-leading articles.
Employees are
better equipped
to identify, locate
and access the
resources, tools
and experts they
Highlights include:
>>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
>>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 informa-
tion, 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 timeframe 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-intime 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.”
Vendor Innovations
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.
Web Seminar Series
Join us for these engaging live and
on-demand learning sessions:
Live Sessions:
>> Successfully Migrating Traditional
Training to E-learning
>> Best Practices: Global Learning
>> Social Learning 101
>> Ask the Experts Panel
>> Reinventing Learning at ESSILOR
>> Enterprise Social Collaboration
>> Best Practices: Performance
>> eGoverment Roundtable
>> Best of Elearning! 2009
Don’t miss another valuable learning
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Brandon Hall, Bersin & Associates,
and many others.
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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.
Sign up for the complimentary
Elearning! Web Seminar Series at:
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.
Sponsored by:
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.
Elearning! February / March 2010