Having trouble creating a habit of learning in your organization? Not sure what else you can do? You’re not alone.

66% of enterprise L&D leaders have trouble getting employees to engage with their training programs [Bersin by Deloitte].

Here’s the good news.

Degreed has a team dedicated to helping drive engagement and we have some proven tactics we can share that have improved the metrics at client organizations.

But first, the right mindset.

As the old saying goes, “takes one to know one.” So, let’s think about your personal online habits. You might notice there are certain things that drive you back to the same websites and apps day after day. In many cases, this repeated behavior is encouraged by way of a reminder in the form of an email or pop-up. These notifications provide a one-click option to visiting the site like you have probably received from sites like Amazon and Facebook.

Without having to think twice, a habit is born.

As it turns out, this notification tactic works for learning too. You can get in front of your audience on a regular basis by Degreed’s system generated engagement emails.

Degreed’s emails notifications notify your team of important learning events and suggested learning, making it easy to create a daily habit of learning.


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*MailChimp 2017

Need more than just metrics? Degreed client, Xilinx, has driven much of their adoption success through email communication.

Here’s a play by play of their strategy.

  1. The Xilinx team made marketing and communicating to their learners a top priority from day one of their launch in November 2016.
  2. They implemented a cascading communication roll out approach – beginning with executives and their staff, then introducing it to the rest of the organization with live briefings, demos, and videos.
  3. The communications strategy also included a message from the CEO prior to the official launch.
  4. These were followed by an email from the Senior Vice President of HR, and supporting collateral materials including posters, table tents, demos, videos and several webinars to ensure employees understood their new strategy, Learn to the Power of X (LearnX) and what it would mean for each employee’s professional and technical development.
  5. Based on pilot user feedback, they enabled daily reminders at launch, automatically generated by Degreed to provide a reminder to their team to encourage learning daily – and it’s working.  Over 43% of employees have logged in more than 5 times and 88% have visited. 

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Even though their metrics say a lot, feedback from the Xilinx team says even more:

“For us, the Daily Email has been a key part of our implementation success. Employees appreciate the personalized preview and the daily nudge to engage in learning.”

Start driving learner engagement today with Degreed!

habitat

My nephew is a big fan of nature. He regularly pulls out odd facts about animals I’ve never heard of. Admittedly, I’m a much better-informed auntie. Its probably because of these conversations that I’ve been paying more attention to articles about biomimicry, (taking design hints from nature to solve problems humans have). and thinking about how learning occurs in nature.

 Learning organisms and habitat

In March, I wrote about learning organisms. To summarize, in more evolved organizations, learning has pretty much taken on a life of its own. These organizations have in essence become organisms that learn, grow, and develop based on their habitat and their ability to make use of it. The more cohesive the habitat is, the more quickly learning organisms are able to react to environmental change, take calculated risks, and evolve as necessary.

More recently, as I’ve planned for a couple of Degreed Focus events, learning habitat has continued to surface as an important point. More evolved organizations react to the external environment by carefully crafting the internal habitat. Most of the things they do to create habitat fall within four major areas:

  • Consciousness. Learning organisms carefully craft messages and actions around the importance of employee development. They clearly define what it means to be developed in the organization, and they have a collective consciousness about how it will be done. Shared consciousness in an organization sets the tone for how important employee development will be taken. Leena Nair, CHRO of Unilever, makes this point with a recent tweet & LinkedIn discussion.
  • Use of work. As it turns out, no other animal in the animal kingdom, besides humans, gets classroom lessons on how to do their job. Learning most often happens in the flow of work, as recent research from Bersin and Bersin ideas from thinkers like Harold Jarche tell us. Learning organisms default first to the work for development.
  • Infrastructures. Infrastructures, including systems and processes, are the pathways by which learning organisms share information and do work. They are crucial because they can either encourage or greatly discourage progress and performance. Learning organisms are conscious of how their infrastructures, either encourage or discourage progress and performance and continuously make necessary adjustments.
  • Space. Physical and virtual space also affect how individuals learn. (I owe a conversation I had with Frank Graziano at Steelcase for sparking thinking on this topic; Read here for more.) While most L&D professionals understand the importance of the setup of a classroom, the idea of space in habitat goes beyond that. Learning organisms focus on ensuring the alignment and cohesiveness of physical and virtual spaces with work goals and employee development goals.

What habitats mean for L&D

The sole responsibility of L&D function is to ensure a skilled workforce. Hard stop. Habitat plays a large role in that. And focusing on habitat changes the job of the L&D function to a great extent. Aside from the obvious things, like a lesser focus on facilitation and content creation, establishing a deliberate learning habitat also requires several skills and capabilities that are likely unfamiliar to many L&D professionals.

Last week in Denver, around 50 L&D professionals joined together to figure out what some of those capabilities should be and how to use the idea of habitat to develop them in their L&D teams. We heard things like “ability to influence”, “marketing and communications”, “analytics and measurement,” and “virtual space design.”

We also talked about adapting more common L&D skills – facilitation, content creation, instructional design to broader tasks that help to create habitat. For example, could instructional design theory be applied to helping organizations design workflows in a way to help employees learn, and can skills that make a good facilitator be adapted to influence and build relationships with key stakeholders?

As we focus on habitats and their importance for the learning organization in the coming months, we’re going to continue to pick the brains of smart people. We want to find out not just what skills they need, but how they’re developing them.

Incidentally, this concept was presented at two Degreed Focus workshops on Learning Habitats and L&D capabilities in Denver and Dallas. You can access the materials used in this Degreed pathway.

This post, titled “Bees, Trees, Termites, Learning Habitats, and L&D Capabilities” was originally featured on the RedThread blog.

According to the creators of Scrum and its body of knowledge, the Scrum Guide, Scrum is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum consists of Scrum Teams (a Product Owner, Development Team, and Scrum Master) and their associated events, artifacts, and rules.

scrum

As successful organizations continue to nurture their ability to deliver with greater agility, they are increasingly turning to the Scrum framework to improve the way their teams work.  When applying Scrum, teams work together to continuously inspect and adapt how they work.

Even more good news

Scrum.org and Degreed have partnered to make learning and developing your Scrum skills even easier! The agreement will enable enterprise employees with a subscription to Degreed to learn general Scrum topics and those specific to their roles on the Scrum Team, helping organizations and individuals deliver higher value products.

By partnering with Degreed, Scrum.org has opened up an avenue for individuals on Scrum Teams to evaluate what they know (inspect) and continually learn (adapt) to enable continued professional growth.

“We are excited to have found a partner in Degreed who, like us, is focused on improving how people work in professional environments,” said Joel Lamendola, Vice President of Business Development of Scrum.org.  “By partnering with Degreed, we can bring Scrum learning paths to individuals within their enterprise clients to help those individual Scrum Team members become more effective in how they work within their Scrum Teams.”

To learn more about scrum and visit Scrum.org for further information on the organization’s Professional Scrum assessments, training, and global community; follow us on Twitter @scrumdotorg and read more from our community of experts on the Scrum.org blog.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? (Don’t worry, I just pictured a 10-year-old version of myself in a cape too.) My answer to this age-old question has always been reading minds.

Maybe that wasn’t your first choice, but if you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head about how to get learners better engaged with the content you’ve provided, I’m sure it’s a power you wouldn’t mind having.

The right content for your learners can feel like a guessing man’s game. It can be hard to know what’s working, what’s not, and how to do better.

That’s where data-driven design comes in. There’s an abundance of data that can be gathered about how users are interacting with content. It’s just a matter of knowing what kind of data to look for, and how to use it to shape your learning design.

Lori Niles-Hofmann, Director of Digital Learning at Scotiabank, is a data-driven design guru. She’s a firm believer in pursuing the insights that we can’t see and leveraging multiple sources of data to identify trends to get ahead of learner needs.

What kind of data are we talking about? Likes, dislikes, most viewed content, mobile vs desktop usage, popular content length… the list goes on. All of these pieces of information are the users’ way of speaking up about what they like and don’t like – and it’s time we started listening.

As Lori says, “It is not enough to just curate and push out links. You have to have a plan to engage in online dialogue and listen to the comments from the community.” Far too often, companies offer what they think learners need and never pause to find out if it’s actually what they want.

In her eBook, Data-Driven Learning Design, Niles-Hofmann summarizes it plainly: “We can no longer push out content that we believe learners should or must digest… not when there is evidence that tells us what learners are willing to consume as digital content. Instead, it is time to be bold and give learners what they want.”

datadriven

So how exactly do we find out and deliver what learners want? Join Lori Niles-Hofmann in person at Degreed LENS for her “Upskill Yourself: Data-Driven Design Skills” workshop where she’ll discuss in-depth how to change your learning design to better suit your audience.

What would you do if you could build a vision and strategy for learning at your company completely from scratch?  What would your structure and plan be? What specific things would you continue doing and what would you do differently?

The world of learning and work is changing dramatically so you may want to consider a few different areas as you think about your learning vision of the future.

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Culture

How would you imagine the perfect learning culture? Company cultures that support learning as a core, fundamental part of everything employees do every day are realizing their competitive advantage. Also, cultures that identify learning as a key guiding principle enable employees to continue to build the skills that they need for the future. Does your culture put learning front and center?

Content

I know when I ran learning organizations at Sun, Yahoo, and LinkedIn, we thought that we had to create most of the learning content ourselves.  But now, there is so much content out there, you may not need to create all your own anymore. The perfect balance is probably a little of both. What would a new content strategy look like in your company?

Technology

Technology is another component of your vision and strategy that can easily be re-imagined.  Your employees want to learn on-demand and they need personalized content that fits their particular needs. How can you think about learning technology in a new way – in a way that supports what the learner really wants and needs to build relevant skills for the future? Imagine a technology that incorporates curated content, personalization, social features, analytics, and skill plans as the platform that could support your learning strategy.

Analytics

Learning analytics and insights are key to understanding what your employees are learning and what skills they are building.  Does your learning strategy incorporate analyzing learner data and agile improvements so that you can validate and refine your strategy on an ongoing basis?

Internal Skills / Team

What about the people in your learning organization?  Do they have the skills and expertise to take you to the future? They are expanded and different than what might have been enough in the past.

For example, do they know how to curate content and analyze learning data? Can they facilitate online peer-to-peer learning or incorporate video content into in-person training? These are just some of the skills that the learning organization of the future will need.

Vision, strategy, culture, content, technology, analytics, and people. These are just some of the topics I’ll be discussing with Christopher Lind, Learning Experience and Digital Transformation Leader for GE Healthcare at our upcoming LENS conference in Chicago on September 28. I hope you’ll join us so that together we can develop the structure for making your vision a reality.

Every week. Every day. Every few hours. You’re challenged with immediate problems to solve and issues to overcome. In another hour, something is going to come across your inbox or instant message window and you are going to have to react. You will have to respond. You will have to drop what you’re doing. Some burning item will come up and you’ll need to fix it.

sticky

Urgent matters come in all varieties in the Customer Success and services world. Each one is more important than the last and desperately needs attention. The issue might be finalizing a single sign on integration for an upcoming launch or it could be some metrics needed for a client briefing that snuck up on you.

Many of your HR and Learning & Development peers are presented with similar challenges. Their situation might be about a deliverable getting off track on a timeline or a group of people not completing their past-due compliance training.

Meanwhile, your “To Do List” is getting longer and longer on the other side of your desk. The important projects you have been setting aside, the ones that will require planning and work across functional lines are not kicking off. And you’re not strategically advancing the big things that matter most.

What are you going to do? How do you manage what is urgent versus what is most important?

Solving this daily challenge takes planning. It takes finding the right balance on how you allocate your time.  Dedicating time to strategic efforts takes rigor and discipline. Always attending to the most pressing topics (and putting off the important ones) doesn’t let your organization efficiently progress at achieving larger goals.

This is what works for me and how I deal with what is most important.

MakisChart

I usually go outside with pen and paper for the focus part.  I unplug and change the scenery.  It works every time.

Now it’s your turn to get it done.

Urgent requests are not going to stop. Look…there’s another one that just came in on your phone. Carve out the time to plan ahead before you don’t have time at all. Focus on what will lead to the best results. Strengthen this behavior by making it a habit. You’ll be more successful by committing time to the important things and your customers will be better off for it.

Whether you’ve been in L&D for decades or days, you’ve probably been asked to bake a cake for your company. While you might have also been asked to bake a delicious chocolate cake for a birthday, the cake I am talking about is The Magical Training Cake – the cake your L&D team makes to solve a business pain point.

Typically, the cake needs to solve a problem overnight with a one-time, eight-hour workshop with the goal of naturally sticking forever in the employee’s brain and behavior.

cake

Mmmm, delicious?! Maybe not.

You’re likely nodding your head “Yes!” when I say many L&D teams have this two-fold struggle:

  1. Stakeholders come to your team with requests to bake/make a training. It might sound like, “We need you to bake a cake to improve frontline managers’ leadership skills.”
  2. You stir and bake for weeks and maybe even months. You pull it out of the oven. You serve the cake to managers. But they report not liking the taste, and some haven’t even taken a single bite.

You feel like you’re pushing the cake in your learners’ faces. You thought the cake was good – why don’t they?

You’d rather feel like you’re creating a pull effect, where your learning products and programs are magnets. They draw employees in.

Here’s one framework you can start using today to clarify a request up front, making sure everyone will like the cake.

Clarify projects with the 3×3 Walkthrough Method

Tom Cavill, a designer based in London, created the 3×3 Walkthrough Method. Cavill created this framework to focus his explanation and storytelling of a new app he created. (You can read here how Tom uses constraints for clarity.)

I think L&D teams could use this framework to clarify internal training initiatives. It helps distill the essence of the initiative so the stakeholders and execs feel empowered to become champions and sponsors of it.

At its most basic level, the 3×3 Walkthrough method also helps learners get instant clarity about the value of a program.

How It Works

The 3×3 Method constrains you to focus on solving this problem by answering why, what and how with only three-words. Here is an example:

3×3 Walkthrough for Leadership Development

A common challenge high-growth teams face is developing leadership skills in younger employees when the company is growing rapidly.

These young stars quickly move into leadership roles, but they don’t have the support and opportunity to learn how to be good managers.

Many companies adopt the same old approach to building leadership programs. Take what other people are doing, find the latest popular leadership framework, force people to go through workshops, and then expect them to become great managers overnight.

Instead, if you understand what’s really going on in your organization, you can use the 3×3 Walkthrough to distill a highly relevant leadership program like the following:

  • Why: Equip new managers
  • What: Leadership Foundation program
  • How: Daily micro habits

Filling out this template when receiving business requests will help you form the foundation to build a compelling case for human-centered learning design as the future of business growth.

Next steps

Take time today to think through the why, what, and how of the latest requests from your business leaders.

Here’s a 3×3 template you can copy and paste:

Why? (… does your product/program/project exist?)
__________
__________
__________

What? (… does your product/program/project do?)
__________
__________
__________

How? (… does your product/program/project differ from what exists?)
__________
__________
__________

Instead of baking cakes, this helps you building a clear, concise path toward an integrated design approach.

Degreed will be hosting a hands-on workshop on Marketing in Learning at the Degreed LENS event on September 28th in Chicago. To register, visit the LENS website here.

**This post appeared in original format on the LinkedIn of Charbel Semaan

Though in learning now, I started my career in Direct Marketing and Loyalty Card Marketing and Product Development (yes, apologies for calls interrupting your dinner and your exploding mailbox…) I pivoted into HR and led the L&D Technology Products and Implementations for a Fortune 500 Bank. Having to re-invent myself and learn rapidly, I’ve become both fascinated and intrigued at the parallels of marketing and learning. More importantly, I’ve become convinced that L&D could use some marketing love!

But what marketers figured out (and where L&D professionals could benefit) was how we used data to get the right offer to the right customer at the right time while delivering an aspirational customer experience. The result? Engaged customers, changed behavior, and customers coming back for more.
Everyone in L&D and HR is currently obsessed with employee engagement. This has only been increased by everyone trying to figure out how to capitalize on both digital and social transformations, and their impact on employees, work and the workforce. Despite this, nobody is buying what we’re selling in L&D. We need to appeal to our learners, but “appealing” is a marketing problem, not a learning one.

Deloitte data says that nearly 7 out of 10 people they surveyed indicated they’re having a hard time getting workers to engage with L&D offerings.

engagement1

I believe the key to achieving success is treating our learners like customers, and then understanding just who they are – the demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, and buying experience/behaviors. You then use that knowledge to cater the message and experience – delivering compelling, relevant offers and products that are meaningful and aspirational.
To understand your customers, I suggest you start by creating learner personas by segmenting your learners based on demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, learning needs and touchpoints. Google definition of a Persona: A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of a specific segment.
You might have 2 personas, you might have 10. But the goal of a persona is to group your learners into categories around goals, challenges and how they operate.

Here is an example.

tucker

Here are 5 marketing practices you can use to increase engagement after defining your customer.

  1. Brand – develop a compelling aspirational brand and value proposition that is relevant for your employee segments. This includes compelling creative (look and feel), communication and messaging. (Think Nike!)
  2. Design – personalize the experience and make them want what you are “selling,” and make it personal. (Think Apple!)
  3. Market – target, make the offer and sell. And make them want to come back for more. (Think about the last time you went to Amazon to buy those killer heels. It starts with serving up relevant experiences, and more expensive shoes with each interaction!)
  4. Listen – get feedback, measure, and use the data collected to adjust. (Simple as thumbs up or down!)
  5. Loyalty – build a continuous relationship with your employees by communicating regularly. (All the retailers above do that well!)

The results
Understanding your customer, the employees, are the key to ensuring you deliver the right experience and get the engagement you expect for your L&D programs and technologies — and a return on your investment. Feel free to check out my recent ATD Webinar on How to Think Like a Marketer. It provides several specific marketing techniques learning practitioners can leverage in their daily work.

So, what are you doing to better understand your employees and encourage them to engage with what you are selling? We would love to hear your ideas!

Once you’ve determined your organization needs a new tool or technology, how do you build the business and investment cases to show leadership the clear path towards the changes that need to occur?

Dani Johnson, VP of Research at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, recently spoke with 3 learning leaders from Disney, AT&T, and Airbnb to learn more about their individual journeys with technology.

Those on the journey to finding or implementing new tools and platforms likely have one thing in common: the current solution isn’t working.

We had a traditional learning management system that was written for one context and one moment in time, so it was very, very clear that it wasn’t working. We addressed it, which tied to a strategy that reevaluated some of our larger HR investments, including learning,” revealed Chris Trout, VP of L&D at the Walt Disney Company.

While larger organizations might have the bandwidth and budget to be flexible and try multiple solutions, sometimes it’s best to start fresh. Such is the strategy behind the learning success at Airbnb: ”We took a bold move to ‘divest’ rather than invest first, to turn off a lot of the learning infrastructure that was already there in order to almost start from a baseline,” explained Barry Murphy, head of Global Learning at Airbnb.

Of course, it’s not that easy for every organization.

For a monolithic-type project of large scale, Amy Rouse, former learning leader at AT&T, knew she had to find a way to streamline numerous disparate platforms and get rid of old technology to make room for what they needed.

AmyRouse

“Our business cases were not easy, but they’re a necessity. We wanted to create a personal learning environment, but you’ve got to prove why you want the business to invest a lot of money into something new or better. So we identified what could be eliminated from our learning architecture, what we could eventually sunset including the LMS, and by when,” said Rouse. “This timeline strategy informed how turning off old investments would offset the costs of the new technology. This helped other leaders in the organization see the true cost of staying with old technology, and the benefits of transitioning to new solutions that better suited the business case.”

The one thing all 3 organizations had in common? Starting with a vision.

“We looked in a few places, including how technology was happening at the time, how HR and learning technology was happening and knew we wanted to pursue a technology that was going to help us get to that vision,” said Trout.

Airbnb started working against their vision of a learning ecosystem, in search of the technology that could do what they wanted.

“Being able to explain the vision to stakeholders is probably one of the most important things associated with making that business case,” added Johnson.

Here’s how you can start to build your business case:

  1. Start with a vision and keep the “end” in mind. Many organizations get caught up in having the latest and greatest technology. Instead, choose what will help you achieve your long-term vision.
  2. Create a timeline. This can include when you’ll turn off old technologies when you can scale up the new technology, or important events in the business that will require the use of the new technology.
  3. Divest before you invest. Know what isn’t working, get rid of the tools and platforms that are not producing ROI, and then re-allocate those resources to things that do.

What are some ways you have made the case for implementing a new technology at your organization? Let us know in the comments.

Want to know what else the presenters talked about? Access the full webinar through Degreed here.

Let’s get uncomfortably honest for a minute. CEOs are concerned about business results. They are paid to drive shareholder value, which is a function of three things: revenue growth, company profitability, and how efficiently an organization uses their assets.

Historically, that mentality has pervaded the way organizations value learning and how they invest. Most L&D organizations have been built for scalability, efficiency, and standardization.

Technology for most L&D teams is a way to deliver more, at a lower cost, with more consistency. The problem with that mentality is our learners aren’t one size fits all, or even one size fits most. It’s no surprise then that only 18% of employees would recommend their organizations training and development opportunities.

What this tells us is that the focus on efficiency, not engagement, doesn’t bode well in the workforce. The good news is that some organizations, like Caterpillar, are breaking the mold.

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If you go to industry events or keep up on articles and blogs in the learning space, you’re probably seeing increased conversation about engagement, and a whole new crop of tools popping up that are the result of solving the learning problems of today. While great resources, the most valuable information comes from those that have embraced the digital revolution, and are leading the charge to better the employee development experience.

Caterpillar’s Mike Miller, Division Manager of Global Dealer Learning, was interviewed by Todd Tauber of Degreed on his evolving approach to L&D and training. Here are some of our favorite excerpts from the conversations.

Todd: Caterpillar seems to be aiming for more of a balance between efficiency and flexibility in learning. How are your strategies and approaches for developing capabilities in your workforce shifting?

Mike: To be honest with you, Caterpillar has never really lost the focus that people are our competitive advantage. The big change that we have going forward and the shift that you’re seeing in our strategy is less of a one-way conversation where we put out packages to one that’s community-led.

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With a community-led strategy, we have turned on solutions and content that allows everybody to contribute, and so by having the population rather than a handful of people working on learning, we are able to obtain organization capabilities far easier because we have well over 300,000 people contributing.

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Todd: How’s Caterpillar rebalancing the people, the time, the money, so that you can manage less and empower more?

Mike: There are still formal programs at Caterpillar. But people were looking for the next step: what is past the formal program? We’ve moved to a three-tier approach on our content. It includes making all of our content easily accessible on our mobile phones. And then we want to have onsite support, meaning at the time you have a question and/or an issue, we really can help you solve that, right? And last, where we need to, we’ll still do instructor-led training because there are places we still need to do certification or accreditations.

If you look at these components, we’re really trying to do put an ecosystem together that allows people to contribute and consume on demand as they need to.

Looking to empower your workforce to consume content on demand like Caterpillar? Set up your Degreed profile today!

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