What a Disney Movie Can Teach Us About Transforming a Learning Culture

It’s been a few years since the famed Disney movie, “Frozen,” came out. If you have children, nephews or nieces — or if you’re a Disney movie fan — you’re now probably singing out loud or in your head, “Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore!” You’re welcome.

And I bet you never thought of it in the context of learning until now, but it’s also how we can change mindsets and collapse preconceived ideas of how learning really occurs in our organizations. “Let it go!”

That’s what Associa did to transform their learning culture using Degreed. Associa is the world’s leading community management company, with more than 150 branch locations in three countries. Chelle O’Keefe, Associa’s Chief Human Resources Officer, shared key steps and insights at Degreed LENS of how they were able to “let go” of controlling learning and development experiences to empower their mobile workforce.

O’Keefe explained their various challenges given their competitive business environment, digital disruption, and the various needs of their employees globally. She highlighted a recent business driver requiring the company to implement new technologies across their 150 locations in six months to leap ahead of their competition. In turn, Associa needed to deploy new learning programs in a fast, effective, and cost-efficient way. Associa leveraged Degreed to reskill employees and enable their digital business transformation.

So, how did HR and L&D “let go” of control? As O’Keefe explained, getting to this point involved a few classic — yet critical — change management ingredients:

  • Leadership support: You must have the right sponsorship and the right leaders engaged when introducing change.
  • Understand your employees/audience: Meet learners where they are, and provide what they need to help you create the learning culture required to be ready for the skills and roles that will support future business objectives.
  • Create a strong “change network” or “promoters”: These are your champions who, in turn, become the tipping point driving the transformation.
  • Allow the learning to happen: In Associa’s example, they curated content into Skill Plans and Pathways, leveraging various resources in Degreed, the Degreed mobile app, and even paper job-aids to meet learners where they are and reinforce the change.

The results and insights? O’Keefe identified three key findings in their approach to transforming Associa’s learning culture:

  1. Putting learning at the feet of the learner rather than the feet of HR and L&D drives adoption and engagement.
  2. Control is an illusion: Learning is happening all the time outside of L&D. It’s L&D’s job to go to where the learning is occurring — on their mobile devices.!
  3. New Mindset = New Results: By “letting go,” individuals feel enabled to “own” their learning and skills development and the organization taps into intrinsic motivation.

“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore.”

Jane Swenson
Written by Jane Swenson
Director, Client Success - Enterprise Accounts