When we decided to grow Degreed LENS from an after-work happy hour to a full-day event, we weren’t exactly sure how things would shake up. But in true Degreed fashion, we said “go big or go home” at the top of our lungs, and put together a two-day extravaganza featuring a client summit and a day-long innovators conference.

We chose the theme: The Business of Building Skills, because if learning organizations want to be seen as a contributor to the business, we have to start talking and acting like it. So each session paired an L&D leader with a business unit exec like finance, innovation, strategy and even a couple company Presidents and Partners.

In a glimpse, we had:

  • Attendees from 35 states and 12 countries
  • 13 sessions with 26 speakers (50% of which were female!)
  • 361 attendees
  • 199 clients
  • 15+ industries represented
  • 400 Expertise Economy books signed
  • 7 sponsors
  • More laughs from Dan Lyons’ session than anyone could count (seriously, we tried!)

We don’t mean to brag, but there were truly too many highlights to capture. So we picked our five favorite ideas.

  1. Answers from a company President: The correct answer to ‘why should I upskill my workforce if they will end up leaving?’ is ‘because they will leave sooner if you don’t.’
  2. Advice from a CFO: When you think about asking for funding for a program, it’s immensely helpful to frame it as how that program or platform is going to contribute to the overall business goals for the future.
  3. Suggestions from a Head of Corporate Talent & Strategy: Employees are an asset even though they aren’t represented that way on a balance sheet. That’s means skills are a currency we need to support.
  4. A challenge from a Partner: We don’t need to invest in expensive strategies – they will change in 3-6 months. We need to invest in talent that is agile and can refresh itself to adapt which means you can’t have a business strategy if you don’t have a talent strategy.
  5. A new framework from an Executive Chairman: There isn’t a standard metric for measuring skills even though that is a top question for CEO’s today. So Degreed created a measurement suite including the new Skill Review. With it, organizations can benchmark employee skills, signal their expertise inside the company and see how people are progressing over time as they prepare for their next role.

If you were there, we thank you. If you weren’t, you are likely suffering from FOMO. And to be honest, we wish you were there, too.

But sometimes things don’t pan out the way we want them to. That’s why we are in the process of putting all of the presentation materials in the 2018 Degreed LENS Pathway, which you can enroll in here. We also recorded a bunch of the sessions and will have those videos live soon.

Next year will be even better – keep an eye out for our 2019 location announcement.

Look forward to seeing you at a Degreed event soon.

We couldn’t be more excited to announce Dan Lyons, Carla Arellano, and Jean-Marc Laouchez as keynote speakers for the nearly sold-out LENS 2018 Conference.

The theme of this year’s LENS event, the business of building skills, aims to teach business and learning leaders how to drive success by understanding the newest and smartest ways to harness technology and data to discover, build, and measure the skills their companies need. The fourth annual LENS conference will feature a full day of thought leadership, workshops, and case studies from experts like Peter Fox, Global Head of Digital Learning and Talent Technology at Citi; Tim Munden, Chief Learning Officer at Unilever; Barry Murphy, Global Learning Lead at Airbnb; and Louise Welch, Senior Director, Enterprise Learning and Development at Capital One.

“We’re bringing together the world’s best minds in learning and talent to give business leaders a bootcamp in optimizing their companies for the future,” said Degreed CEO, Chris McCarthy. “Knowing what skills your people have and what skills they need is vital to success. We believe Dan, Carla, and Jean-Marc each bring unique and important viewpoints on the business of building skills and we’re excited to have them as part of a packed agenda.”

LENS will take place Thursday, October 4 at Center415 in New York City. Those interested in attending can view the full agenda and purchase tickets at: https://lens-nyc-2018.degreed.com/

Rolling out an enterprise learning tool can be tough. Now add in the challenges of being the 3rd largest bank in the US with more than 200,000 employees and you’ve got a true uphill battle.

Want to know the secret? Citi’s Global Head of Digital Learning and Talent Technology, Peter Fox, and Digital Learning Technology Project Manager, Tiffany Abinsay, will present their journey to implementing the first global SaaS tool owned by HR during Degreed LENS.

Their session, L&D + IT + Ops: Building for Adaptivity And Stability, will share how Citi’s Learning Technology team overcame operational challenges like shifting from a tactical role to an influencer, how to market a new tool and how they got stakeholder buy-in.

Not sure your organization can empower employees to learn and develop on their own? Think again. Citi empowered learning to be more self-service, even in their highly-regulated finance industry.

Join us on October 4th at Degreed LENS in NYC for Citi’s “how they did it” story.

Want to know more about Citi’s evolution to continuous learning? Check out this learning solutions mag article!

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.

A single, integrated, all-in-one technology ecosystem may work for some organizations sometimes, but it won’t work for everyone all the time. Learning is already too fragmented, and it’s only getting more diverse and complex as new ways to learn like video, chatbots and augmented reality become mainstream.

So to future-proof their investments, innovative L&D leaders are shifting to more flexible ecosystems – dynamic networks of tools, content, platforms that work together and share data to provide workers with on-demand access to all kinds of learning, performance, and career development.

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These ecosystems are all designed differently, to fit each organization’s unique business, operations, infrastructure, and culture needs. The ones we see most often share some common features and functions:

Open: They give people access to resources from inside and outside the organization, anywhere they need, anytime they want
Diverse: They provide a diverse mix of macro-learning (like live and online courses) and micro-learning (like articles, videos, and search)
Social: They enable people to learn with, and from, their peers, managers, and mentors, as well as from external experts
Personalized: They are personalized, targeting each workers’ specific roles, career paths, and interests, as well as their skill-sets
Insights: They track and analyze learning wherever it happens — in classrooms, on computers, on tablets and smartphones, and in real life
Career-long: They give people credit for informal as well as formal learning, and they allow workers to take their data with them through their careers

The challenge is, building an always-on learning environment requires a range of tools, content, and systems. It can get complicated, and it takes work. There are literally hundreds of solutions to choose from…and a lot of them look and sound alike. Plus, they need to fit in with (or replace) your existing processes and legacy infrastructure. So where do you even start?

One place to start is by joining us at Degreed LENS! At the session, The Robots are Here: How to Navigate Next-Gen Learning Technology, Caterpillar, Mastercard and Airbnb will dive into how each organization is adapting and evolving their strategy and ecosystems to confront the digital disruption of L&D.

Tickets are selling out fast. Make sure to save your seat now.

Digital technology has become the gateway to smarter work, learning and play. For Learning and Development and HR leaders, it has fundamentally changed not only our roles and organizations; but our goals and how we accomplish them, as well.

Our roles have expanded. We’re still responsible for education and development, but now add  compliance, performance, restructuring, change management, and culture to the list. All of this is accompanied by technology; but is it really helping us keep up? How can we really utilize technology to enact change and engagement within our organizations?

During the Degreed Lens event in New York, learning analyst Josh Bersin shared 5 things all HR and learning leaders need to know.

Structure needs to account for cross-functional connection.

According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016 report, 92 percent of survey participants rate redesigning their organization as a critical priority. This tells us that the number one thing on people’s minds in medium to large organizations is structure. Our org charts are no longer reflective of how work is done. Thanks to technology we operate cross-functionally, with specific people that have the expertise needed to inform specific projects. When a project is complete, we move on to the next network of people for the next deliverable.

Not all digital helps productivity.

Today’s worker has hundreds of thousands of apps and websites at their disposal, many of them making promises of improving time management and streamlining work and life. But they’re doing just the opposite; enticing us to lose focus every second. Deloitte reported that U.S workers check their cell phones, in aggregate, eight billion times a day. The productivity lost is almost unfathomable. By carefully curating what technologies you choose to use with your L&D initiatives, you can engage employees by utilizing the apps and websites they learn from organically.

If employees don’t have opportunities to grow, they will leave.

What’s the biggest predictor of economic growth for an individual? According to Economist Thomas Piketty, it’s skills; the more quality and in-demand skills you have as an individual, the better. For L&D leaders, this means we need to provide diverse, meaningful opportunities for every employee to learn and fuel their career, or they’re going to find it elsewhere.

Learning is key to individual and business growth.

Learning is important for employee growth and engagement, and it’s also critical to the success of your business. At the Degreed Lens Event in New York City, Josh Bersin said, “you want people to have enough skills to move to new assignments, to move away from business areas that are shrinking. You don’t want to have a business area that’s going out of business where no one wants to quit or switch. That just makes it even more impossible to transform your organization. So we have to build infrastructure and tools and reward systems and culture programs that facilitate development.” Mobilizing upward growth within your company is key.

Learners need the right mix of formal and informal learning.

The percentage of money spent on traditional formal training is dropping every year.

According to Bersin’s Corporate Learning FactBook, from 2009- 2015, investment in instructor-led training dropped from 77 percent to only 32 percent.  While formal training is never going to disappear, it’s not enough to create a true learning culture. We’re learning every day in a variety of ways, on and offline. As an L&D professional, you need a way to bring the best of that content to your organization through curation.

The right learning architecture will create an ecosystem in which learners know where and how to find content.  Most course catalogs contain thousands of pieces of content, so curating becomes crucial. Bersin explains, “you know what happens when you give people ten choices? They don’t pick anything. When you give them a hundred choices, they just shut down the browser completely and don’t even look anymore. But if you give them three choices, they’ll pick one.”

While technology has fundamentally and permanently changed our roles, We can embrace the change by using technology to empower our employees to learn in better, more engaging ways that will benefit their careers and our organizations as a whole.

Want to be live at the next Degreed Lens event happening in November in San Francisco? Request an invitation here.

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