April 19, 2017

Deloitte’s report missed it – are you missing it too?

Deloitte’s recent report on 2017 Global Human Capital Trends titled, Rewriting the rules for the digital age, is based on a survey of more than 10,000 business and HR leaders across 140 countries.

If yours is one of the many organizations falling behind and struggling to keep up with “employees’ demands for learning and career growth,” you should be worried. But not just for the reasons you might think.

According to Deloitte’s latest report on 2017 Global Human Capital Trends, “for today’s digital organizations, the new rules call for the L&D organization to deliver learning that is always on and always available over a range of mobile platforms.” The unavoidable truth is, digital technologies are creating major disruptions to how learning is designed and delivered.

But Deloitte’s report misses the most crucial opportunity for Corporate L&D in 2017 – moving from the delivery of content to the delivery of productive learning.

Let’s explore the difference.

If delivery of continuous learning is the end-goal… what’s the point?

In Deloitte’s view, a primary focus of corporate learning should be the continuous delivery of digital content. The article says:

But is that true? Can anyone learn a new skill simply by clicking a mouse?

A synopsis of the Deloitte article could be called “Learning Content: Real Time, All the Time.”

Don’t get me wrong. Content delivery is a vital element of learning, but what Deloitte’s report missed is the key to delivering improved workplace performance: by making the learning productive.

The article touches on this without even seeming to realize it. (I took the liberty to bold the statements that highlight my point):

Productive learning goes beyond focusing just on the delivery of content. Productive learning happens when on-the-job skills, capabilities and knowledge are elevated, measured and enhanced.

Two Productive Learning Strategies
If after reading Deloitte’s report, you’re scrambling to catch up and shopping for new ways to deliver a continuous stream of content, great! That’s the first step in staying ahead of competitors and “building the organization of the future.”

But, if you stop there, the key result will be employees taking time away from productive work to watch videos, listen to podcasts, read blog posts, and attend online courses.

They may “learn” something, if by learning we mean they collect a variety of ideas and factoids, and then get back to work. But where’s the ROI on that?

How can L&D deliver productive learning that employees actually apply? Here are two key strategies:

Strategy #1: Put Real Work at the Center of Learning

For decades, researchers have known that the best learning comes not from being given content but from doing the actual work itself. In other words, applying the content in the real world.

The seminal study in the late 1980s comes from the Center for Creative Leadership The Lessons of Experience. This research led to the development of the 70-20-10 reference model. You’ll find a quick intro to that model here: 70-20-10: Origin, Research, Purpose.

In this post, Bob Eichinger makes a point that L&D needs to see its role as going beyond just delivering content (the “10”). Instead, they need to cue people to look for and take advantage of learning sources beyond what L&D may deliver or curate.

Specifically, L&D has the opportunity to prompt and help people become skilled in learning from their experience (the “70”) and from others (the “20”) in the workplace.

Keller Williams Realty, who just took the #1 spot in Training Magazine’s Top 125 competition, provides an excellent example of how L&D can go beyond simply delivering formal instructional content. Instead of just giving their agents content, they provide them with a Career Growth Initiative calculator. Here’s how their CEO described the impact of this initiative:

With this easy-to-use tool, agents could enter their take-home pay they wanted to finish the year with…The program would calculate from that goal the specific daily activities (such as buyer consultations or listing appointments) they needed to accomplish to keep pace with their goals. In less than two months, our local leaders facilitated 116,000 goal-setting conversations with our associates – and since that time, we’ve hit all-time monthly records every month and every major production category we tracked. More important, our agents’ production is growing four times the rate of the overall industry.”

By learning from the “70” of daily work experience (coupled with a very cool app), along with the “20” of goal-setting and coaching conversations, Keller Williams agents are now seeing massive improvement in productivity.

Charles Jennings and the 70-20-10 Institute have done additional research that is transforming the way L&D understands its work. In an article titled, Heading towards high performance, Jennings writes:

The closer to the point of work we learn, the more effective the learning will be. That’s a simple fact. Therefore, we need to think about enabling learning just before, or at, the point of need rather than developing and delivering set learning experiences outside the context of the workplace.”

What Jennings is saying is that on-the-job learning is essential to performance improvement.

Strategy #2: Deliver Business Outcomes… Not Just Learning

If Corporate Learning is going to be productive it not only needs to deliver content, but improved performance to the organization. Compare the difference in the following two approaches.

In the Deloitte report, a highlighted best practice in a section titled Start Here was this measurement approach:

Track learning metrics: Emerging technologies offer new measures of development, such as the number of hours employees spend on learning platforms. Forward-looking companies are collecting and leveraging this data.

This practice rewards people in a company for taking time away from work to spend time on “learning platforms.” Again, I ask, if what’s learned is never applied, or never improves performance, “where’s the ROI?

An alternative approach is to focus learning initiatives and technology on achieving and measuring learning outcomes. It’s the difference between a passive approach to learning, Let’s spend a lot of time in the “classroom” and hope something sticks, and an active approach, Let’s take what we heard in the “classroom” and use it so we know it stuck.

You can spend hours in a Driver’s Ed class, but until you get behind the wheel, you won’t know how to drive.

RGF, a Tokyo-based human resource consulting company, recently helped their employees apply what they learned in the classroom to support their ambitious global growth strategy using the 70-20® learning activation platform.

Unlike a simple content delivery platform, 70-20 enables participants to:

In a program RGF held in Shanghai, 100% of participants using 70-20 demonstrated purposeful practice, received feedback, and had their performance improvement validated by their managers.

Now that’s measured ROI.

How to turn Passive Learning into Productive Learning

  1.  Use the 70:20:10 reference model to make your learning initiatives more robust. Begin your learning design with performance support that can be delivered on the job. Intentionally incorporate “70” and “20” sources of learning in the solution so that your participants can learn from their work experience (70) and from their relationships on the job (20).
  2.  Provide equal attention to the application of learning and delivering improved performance by building in ways to evaluate impact on the job.

Why? Because when it comes to learning, on-the-job performance metrics are equally as important as the delivery of the learning itself. In fact, it’s the end-goal.

So, if you’re worried about Deloitte’s report and the essential elements that were missed, there is good news. As an L&D leader, you can change the focus of your important learning initiatives from the delivery of learning to the delivery of measurable business outcomes.

Learning Made Productive
The solution that turns learning into improved performance
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Written by:
Kathy Granger President, Fort Hill Company

Kathy is the President of Fort Hill, the industry leader in web-based learning activation solutions. With over 15 years of experience working with Fort Hill’s global clients, consultants and executive education partners, Kathy now leads the company’s R&D of new learning transfer technologies. The team successfully launched 70-20® in 2015.

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