There’s a misconception sometimes in the industry that driving transformational learning change takes dozens of employees and years of work. With the same passion USAA brings to its members every day, they are doing the same for their employees, revitalizing their learning culture with a small and strategic cross-functional team.

Over the years, USAA has been predominantly focused on instructor-led training (ILT). Realizing that doesn’t always scale fast and wide, Doug Elzinga, part of the IT Workforce at USAA, said they needed to take a step back and “break free from L&D traditions and frameworks.” Driven in large part by technology leadership, the need to upskill associates to be able to deliver IT code faster was identified.

Three core objectives emerged for the core team pursuing their Degreed implementation:

  1. Scalability: Impact a large number of learners.
  2. Velocity: Move content faster to learners, particularly in the IT organization.
  3. Agility: Be flexible, try new things and fail fast, as part of an overall commitment to energy and improvement.

Laurie Littleton, also part of the IT Workforce at USAA, offers some critical lessons from their Degreed implementation that will resonate with many:

  1. Access content to create a unified learning ecosystem. USAA identified three providers to help solve both soft and technical skill needs.
  2. Follow the Tell/Show/Coach model in communications to bring all levels of the organization along for the journey.
  3. Inform the masses — drive with direct communication from senior leaders. Use digital billboards in the office, and leverage the value behind specific content providers.
  4. Show the value of what is available through demos and roadshows. Drive knowledge of basic functions in Degreed, and ensure employees understand how their own career and skill development will benefit. Acknowledge that the change may be radical for some and address old behaviors and processes.
  5. Coach your champions for the role they need to play — invest the time to prepare them as innovative content curators.
  6. Curation matters — lead with governance and consistency, and focus on embedding curation into everyday work-life. Make it familiar by using a repeatable branding and naming approach for Pathway sections.
  7. Look for partners that are willing to try new things and start conversations with them early. The IT/HR partnership was critical for the USAA team.

With their spirit of service and no-quit outlook, Elzinga and Littleton are seeing quicker innovation happening at USAA and creating a culture where learning can happen anywhere. Activations are on the rise thanks to direct leader-driven communications, and the roadshow program over the summer is also showing positive outcomes. All signs point to the new way of learning at USAA being established.

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