These are my live-blogged notes from a concurrent session at his week’s ATD Core 4 happening this week in New Orleans. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.
Building a Smarter Learning Ecosystem
JD Dillon, Principal Learning Strategist, Axonify @jd_dillon
The components that make up your org’s ecosystem is different than another org’s ecosystem. (the nature of the organization and the way that work is done).
Getting out of the training bubble – taking a holistic look at all of the things that impact how we learn.
A lot of L&D teams think they “own learning.” Hah!
Instead, lets look at all the ways we can support learning in all the ways that it happens.
Shifting from a content focused mentality to a world focused on creating an immersive experience.
6 Steps to building a smarter learning ecosystem:
#1: Diagnose your Get a greater understanding of your organization
Resources: What are the tools people are using to do their job? Maybe it’s something you can leverage.
Information: how does info move through this organization? Where are people going to get the information and how does that information flow?
#2: Map Your Learning Ecosystem
How are we supporting learning? What are we prioritizing?
What’s the foundation of our learning ecosystem? Is it the formal stuff? Are you using performance support?
- Manager support
- Shared knowledge
- Performance support
How available are these resources to individuals? (Formal training is NOT readily available and yet that’s the foundation/priority. And yet the things that are readily available aren’t being prioritized and are actually left of the table. So not doing much beyond the training. They didn’t have an AFTER the training – which is what people say REALLY matters – the transfer and the sustain piece.
So what should the learning ecosystem look like?
Put the most available ones (e.g., shared knowledge) at the foundation. Put our priority on the things that are most available: at the base = shared knowledge – and then going up: performance support, continued reinforcement, management support, on-demand training, formal training.
Also take into account criticality – what happens if this goes wrong? If a person can’t do this on the job, what happens? Will you lose a customer? Will someone get hurt? Those things might need a more formal structure.
Think about criticality, content, motivation, behaviors.
Make a shift: “I don’t care if people can learn; I care if they can do their job.”
3. Identify your tactics
Your tactics for shared knowledge and performance support may be different from mine.
Shared Knowledge: the foundation for everything in learning.
The reality of everyday problem solving is GOOGLE.
They left behind their SharePoint and built a WIKI – a single source repository – it’s searchable and it looks like Wikipedia, which everyone uses. (this was their approach)
Introduced the idea of curation…
Go out and find all the team members who are making those extremely useful job aids and PowerPoints. Gave these peoples admin access to the wiki…
People get concerned about sharing knowledge publicly. But here’s the thing – it’s already happening across cubicle walls, in break rooms, etc. So the wrong stuff is being shared, but you don’t know about it. When you put it on a shared system, that wrong info can be corrected.
In 2.5 years their Wiki went from 500 initial pages to 70,000 pages.
Performance Support: how do people get help? When they don’t know what to do, how do they get help?
How do you leverage the power of the crowd in the wiki environment? Use the comment capability – let people ask questions – and then go prowling around and answer the questions. Initially used Community Managers. And over time, the Community Managers were no longer necessary.
Remember: AFTER the training is what really matters.
Reinforcement came from an options system -- users logged in once a day for 3 minutes – short videos, questions – adapted to what the employee was doing – if you were supporting this program, you got content targeted to that role. We gave people the option to do this – but average is people logging in 3 x a week – 75%. (Axonify does this)
The most important person is the front-line manager. They own the day – what you have time for, etc.
How do we enable managers – as part of their existing job – help their team members do their jobs better?
Provide the manager with actionable data about their employees. Who was leveraging the resources we were providing? A dashboard of data…
Behavior observation – how do you know if people are doing their job well? Enable a simple observation form. As part of the managers job (e.g., listening to calls in a call center) – give them a form to document when they see good and bad behaviors. So managers are now feeding an insane amount of data about performance.
Turn managers into data thieves. (and to help them coach more effectively)
(This tool was made available – not required.)
On the backend, JD’s team would monitor the data – who’s participating, etc. – and then just share the list (here’s who’s participating a lot – and send that to senior leaders. No one wants to be the bottom of that list!)
Moving up the ladder to the more structured stuff.
Dump all the old bad training content in your LMS. Clean it out so the old stuff can’t be discovered.
All the way they were serving up content aligned to the behaviors they were trying to drive.
Wanted to get into video to provide more structured learning opps. Took people with credibility on specific content – took videos of them and uploaded them to the video. E.g., a 12 video playlist of people talking about how to support new students learn the first week (so hearing directly from the top performers).
Don’t stop classroom training. Instead, make everything that gets done in formal training better because of the infrastructure you’ve put in place. (everything was searchable, easily found, and you could ask questions) – so when asking people to do elearning or ILT, that time could be more valuable and concise.
4. Apply Your Framework
Objective to create a consistent way to help people (e.g., when new programs are released, this is how we do it) – make learning a predictable/consistent thing.
Continuous Learning experience:
Inputs: Did events, online content, experience, messaging
At the foundation was the community of knowledge (employees could grab info as they needed it).
And they could feed that back into the community – knowledge growth.
Then a reinforcement aspect to make sure you’ve retained that info. They leveraged games and rewards and points. How do you leverage motivation?
Analytics – getting meaningful data. Enabling manager feedback.
And ultimately tying everything back to business results.
Create a consistent experience so the user/learner understands how they’re being supported.
If you’re trying to solve for a low criticality problem – the learning professional recognizes the base tactics: shared knowledge/performance support.
Let’s say it’s a safety/compliance issue. Might leverage different layers of the ecosystem.
Leverage the right layers and the right tactics.
- Define business goal
- Determine criticality
- Establish context
- Define performance objectives
- Identify layers
- Identify tactics
- And only THEN do you build content
First ask, “what information is already out there about this?” If the answer was none, they wrote a wiki page. If the answer was “well, this junk”, then they fixed it. That often solved the business problem.
#6 Get started
Think person first, employee second
Run a diagnostic – look at the organization and the context in which you’re supporting performance
Map your learning ecosystem – are you off balance? What do you need to change?
Identify your tactics (for JD it was a wiki; for you it might be something else)
Start small; think BIG.
Escape the training bubble – get outside the typical toolbox and mindset.