Monday, June 2, 2014
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
First, you might not need a branching scenario. Most of the time, a one- or two-scene mini-scenario does the job fine.
In a mini-scenario, you make your decision, see the realistic consequence, and figure out if you made a good choice. You might then go to a very different scene representing a different situation.
Mini-scenarios are great for covering a lot of possible problems, but they’re not so great for getting deep into a more complex situation. For that, consider using a branching scenario.
It’s not just a series of scenes
In a branching scenario, decisions made in early scenes affect later scenes. This helps people practice such skills as:Recognizing and challenging their own assumptionsRecovering from mistakes in a long or complex processNavigating extended, ambiguous situationsDeciding when to stop gathering information and act
A lot of you are familiar with the Haji Kamal scenario, in which you help an inexperienced Army officer make a good impression on an Afghan leader. You have to make many decisions in one conversation, and things you say at one point affect what happens in later points.
This wasn’t a problem for us, but it’s easy to imagine a stakeholder saying, “We shouldn’t spend all our budget on just one story! We should have lots of short scenes so we can cover things like how to deal with children, what to do when you have to search someone, what to do when someone tries to give you a gift…”
I’ve seen cross-cultural training that uses that approach. You’re tossed from one mini-scenario to another so you can practice social niceties. In one scene you accept a business card correctly, and then suddenly you’re eating in a restaurant, and then suddenly you’re deciding what gift to bring to someone’s home. This is surface training. There’s no deep change involved.
For the Army, we used a branching scenario because we wanted deeper change. Our (many!) interviews with soldiers suggested that one challenge they faced was their western perspective of “We’re here to help you, so let’s get down to business.” We wanted them to practice recognizing when that perspective was hurting local relationships and, importantly, practice recovering from mistakes.
In their “Family of Heroes” scenario (registration required but worth it), Kognito also focuses on just one conversation. Their goal is to help us see from another’s perspective, manage our emotions, and recover from mistakes. Imagine how much weaker the interaction would be if it were instead a series of unrelated one-scene snippets from the couple’s life.
In this fake language learning scenario, the branching isn’t complex. In order to make sense of later scenes, you have to choose correctly in previous ones, and the branches are just little loops to make sure you choose correctly. But because later scenes build on vocabulary learned in previous ones, your learning is repeatedly reinforced, and I hope you also gain confidence.
By Sunil RaoIf you want to cover different situations but also want the advantages of some branching, you might present a series of shorter scenarios. One artist’s intriguing Flash interaction uses that approach. You meet three different young people and try to talk them out of killing themselves.
Finally, at the other end of the production spectrum, the BBC helps you learn Spanish and Spanish customs with an interactive TV mystery series.
All of these use branching to some degree, because their goals include challenging our assumptions and encouraging us to build our own knowledge. While they don’t cover the variety of topics that mini-scenarios could cover, they aim for deeper change.
I’m looking for more publicly available examples of branching scenarios. There are several on my recently updated elearning examples page, but the world needs more! If you know of any, please share the links in the comments.
Sydney, Australia, Nov. 13: Join us for “Training design for business results,” a one-day workshop for learning managers at the Learning@Work conference. There’s currently a super-early-bird discount available through the Learning@Work site. Please see more details in my workshop calendar.
Other workshops in Australia and elsewhere are in the planning stages. I’ll announce them in this blog; to make sure you don’t miss anything, subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already.
Photo credit: Signpost image used to represent this post is by The Nick Page
Sunday, June 30, 2013
By Damian McKinney
Early in Walmart’s history, most store managers began their careers working at the register or another entry-level position. Through a gradual process of working their way up the corporate ladder, these employees were promoted to store manager in seven to 11 years. This process served the company and its employees well, providing a secure predictable career path and producing knowledgeable, loyal people at the middle-management level.
However, today, boasting 10,000 retail units in 27 countries, Walmart is faced with the demand to open stores faster than it can produce qualified managers. Recognizing the importance of overcoming this obstacle, Walmart determined that the company must collapse the time frame, discover talent faster, and train them more efficiently, without sacrificing quality.
To transform its management training approach so it could accelerate the preparedness of leaders and cultivate managers fast enough to meet rising demand, CEO Bill Simon enlisted the help of business execution experts McKinney Rogers. Using the British Military Staff College model, an operator-led team of McKinney Rogers consultants designed and directed a comprehensive leadership development system for identifying employees with great potential and training them to be highly prepared, successful managers.
As a result, after three years of perfecting its leadership development tool, Walmart brought its Walmart Leadership Academy (WLA) in-house permanently as the retailer’s center of excellence for developing accelerated leadership skills in its managers.
The Walmart Leadership Academy Program
Together, Walmart and McKinney Rogers created a leadership training process that has generated unprecedented career opportunities for the company’s future leaders by cultivating highly trained management from the inside.
The program takes each participant through a series of developmental, training, and inspirational experiences that cause them to think of themselves as leaders. Over four months, the participants spend every third week immersed in the program for a total of six weeks of instruction. Training consists of on-the-job experience, master classes, virtual classroom environments, instructor-led events, self-paced study, student-led activities, experiential exercises, service projects, distance learning, and small group discussions. The course follows a series of themes such as communication, leadership, international scoping, and global thinking. Increasing in complexity each week, these themes and others are examined and revisited throughout the program in the context of each week’s curriculum focus. For example, during the week that focuses on “Delivering Business Results and Productivity,” the instructors teach the communication theme in the context of results and productivity by examining negotiations, communication tools, presentations, and by studying successful business case studies from innovative companies such as Zappos.
The outcome is an alumni network of graduates who identify themselves as leaders, collaborate and work together in an integrated fashion as high-performing teams, and continue to develop and lead across a variety of circumstances. Crucially, in line with the Staff College model where selected mid-career high-potential officers are trained, leaders at all levels are made to think “two levels up” in the context of the business and across functional areas.
By combining development, training, and operational activities in the context of the company’s day-to-day needs, the Walmart Leadership Academy delivers greater impact and relevance than generic management training. Critical to the integrated approach to business leadership is that the course leverages the principals of the McKinney Rogers Mission Leadership philosophy. This emphasizes keeping everyone aligned to the mission, but trained and empowered to make decisions independently.
Since its implementation, the program has generated approximately 500 graduates across the U.S. and delivered more consistent, confident, and thoroughly trained store, market, and regional managers. As Celia Swanson, senior vice president of Talent Development for Walmart U.S., explains, “We know our associates are our greatest asset; investing in the development of our future leaders is essential. Through the Leadership Academy, we have developed talented leaders, managers, and associates around the country—providing immersion training and broader development for our leaders. We appreciate the partnership with McKinney Rogers and its support in developing a world-class training program that focuses on building high-performing teams relevant in today’s business environment.”
The WLA has transformed Walmart’s management and has expanded the program into a multi-function and multi-level high-potential talent initiative. In addition to store managers, the system has expanded to develop market leaders, senior merchants, and executives. It’s producing both the quantity and quality of leaders needed to sustain and drive growth.
Walmart has exceeded its goal of producing highly trained leaders in less than two years. Not only have 74 percent of graduates been promoted one, two, or three levels up within just 18 months of graduation, but they’re outperforming their peers and producing real business results. Stores and markets led by these graduates have posted higher sales growth numbers than the rest of the company every quarter since entering their position [typical store revenue is approximately $100 million, and markets bring in up to $1 billion].
WLA has emerged as more than just a program for advancement. It is recognition and the promise of a more fulfilling career. Its impact bears more resemblance to a scholarship than a training program. Those selected say they feel valued and empowered, because they know that within a short time frame after graduation, they could be promoted. They are given the mandate to “pay it forward” across their teams and pass the training along.
WLA has achieved the holy grail of development programs: true behavioral change. Graduates have testified to their personal and professional transformation with enhanced performance. Today, entry-level employees aspire to be selected to the program, while graduates aspire to return to teach; the best graduates are brought back to help lead the future training classes.
Businesses around the globe are starting to recognize that a unified solution to leadership development such as the WLA is the best way to rapidly flood their organization with quality leaders at every level.
Damian McKinney is the author of “The Commando Way” (LID Publishing, wwww.lidpublishing.com). He spent 18 years as a Royal Marines Commando before setting up his own company in 1999. McKinney Rogers leverages lessons from the military to help align international businesses and deliver exceptional results.
Deb Whitworth recalled a recent conversation with her son-in-law regarding health care benefits.
The young man was complaining about his company's coverage. It was an expensive high-deductible plan that wasn't providing the coverage he thought he needed. His plan? Drop his health care. Completely.
"I told him that no matter what, in 2014 under health care reform, he'll be required to have coverage," said Whitworth, a director for the Society for Human Resource Management's state council in Maine and an employee of consultancy Mercer. "His company never communicated that to him."
According to dual studies released by SHRM on June 16 during its annual conference in Chicago, offering health care benefits is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent. Yet HR practitioners continue to use old-school methods to communicate health care benefit options and are simultaneously struggling to get their arms around the basics of the Affordable Care Act—much of which will take effect Jan. 1.
"It's interesting that 25 percent of organizations say they are having trouble keeping up with regulations; understanding the ACA is an issue," said Alex Alonso, SHRM's vice president for research in detailing the organization's annual 2013 Employee Benefits Research Report and the corresponding Health Care Reform—Impact on Health Care Coverage and Costs.
Alonso said many organizations have yet to embrace social media to communicate benefits options.
"They're still using the same means of communication—send out hard copies of an information packet," he said, adding that there's really no way to determine whether the communications are successful.
"There is no clear-cut test to ensure the employee knows what they should know," he said.
Among other findings in the benefits research report:Paid-time-off plans and wellness benefits continued to increase in popularity, while housing and relocation benefits were less common.Employee referral bonuses have gained in popularity over the last year, with 47 percent of surveyed organizations now offering such bonuses, up from 38 percent in 2012.Organizations are developing their employees' skill sets with professional development opportunities (offered by 88 percent of employers), cross-training to develop skills not directly related to employees' current jobs (44 percent) and formal mentoring programs (20 percent). Offsite professional development opportunities are offered by 85 percent of organizations surveyed.It's worth noting that more organizations recognize workplace flexibility models are critical to managing top talent, Alonso said.
By Thomas M. Koulopolous
One of my favorite YouTube videos is of a toddler with a magazine on her lap, looking perplexed as she tries to operate it by touch—to her a magazine is a defective iPad.
Why do I bring this up in the context of education? Simple. If you want to know how we will work, live, and learn in 20 years’ time, then just look at how your kids play today. Tomorrow’s workers are being trained to expect a level of instant and always-on collaboration free from the physical constraints of time and place, or even the notion intellectual property ownership. These kids shun the assumption that any knowledge is owned or that anything can be learned without constant sharing and transparency. As a result, the way we educate is in a state of intense change.
Institutions of higher learning, such as MIT, already have open-sourced the entirety of their curriculum by making course content free and available to the public. At Stanford, three professors have opened up their classes, at no charge, to anyone who wants to access them online. One of these classes, An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, had 160,000 registrants, 35,000 of whom stuck it out and continued the class. The class now ranks as the most widely attended online university class in the world. While non-paying students do not get college credit for the class, they do get a certificate of completion signed by the professors. For many, that is more than enough to demonstrate their ability to themselves and potential employers.
In the critically important segment of K-12, schools in the United States are investing heavily in the concept of Innovation Zones, which are experimenting with personalized courses, virtual learning, and intense interschool collaboration geared to students’ strengths and weaknesses.
New institutions such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan Learning have started to disrupt traditional classroom education by offering courses online. While these for-profit enterprises often are critiqued for not being as well equipped with traditional Ph.D.-level academic professors, they also are much more likely to be able to scale their business model and leverage talented instructors who are much closer, from an industry perspective, to the materials being taught in a classroom. The point is not that traditional education is at the end of its lifecycle but rather that a blended model is needed, which, according to Robert W. Wrubel, Chief Innovation Officer at Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, “redefines education as a journey that is not episodic—a separate time when you are part of an intensive learning experience, and then you pull out, and you go into the job and workforce—but instead a lifelong process.“
None of this is meant to imply that we should throw out traditional learning. Early parts of the learning process still benefit from a traditional classroom in parts of the world where access to brick-and-mortar classrooms is available and cost-effective. There is nothing like an inspired and passionate teacher to motivate students. I’ve been party to both sides of that equation as student and professor, and I value that interaction immensely. But I’ve also seen the power and reach of learning in the cloud, where knowledge is shared freely in open communities.
Simply put, we should not make the shift from traditional education to learning in the cloud a zero-sum proposition. Instead, we need to look at the merits of both and use each where needed, while also using each to leverage the other.
Yet, for most, the dream of an open virtual university is still just that, a dream. Like the promise of flying cars, it is a vision of the future that always seems to be just a few decades away.
In large part, this is because of the fundamental social and cultural role classrooms and campuses play. Few of us can imagine replacing the bond of trust and intimacy created by the face-to-face interaction of our school experiences fully with any technology.
But, as with any dramatic shift, what we fail to appreciate is the value added after the shift has occurred and the expectations that we bring to the new experience.
In the case of education, we are in the process of retooling a global workforce on a scale never before seen in the history of mankind. You could argue that putting a classroom in the cloud may not provide the sort of intimacy you and I grew up with, but you cannot argue the benefits of providing access to primary, secondary, and post-secondary education to every human being. In addition, we have to accept that the traditional role of education as a means of preparing for the certainty of life is at least equal to, and will soon be surpassed by, the role of education in helping us to deal in the moment with the increasing uncertainty of life.
Again, to put it simply, this means that learning in the cloud is available to every human being, on demand without regard to economics, time, or location; that the interaction with the learning system must provide real-time access to learning throughout our lives, and lastly, that it provides a quality of visual communication that conveys the nuances of an in-person interaction when an in-person interaction is simply not possible.
While that may sound like a stretch, I’ve seen all of this in the experiences of my kids, my students, and myself.
My own children expect that learning not only can but should be instantaneous. In their minds, all knowledge is only seconds away. Whether that means a YouTube video, Kahn Academy, or Skype, there is simply no excuse for ignorance of any topic. My students will Google and fact check me as I lecture, bringing real-time context and information into the classroom rather than expecting my case notes to provide a definitive answer. For my own work, the ability to be constantly connected with a global network of experts has created a richness to my lifelong learning that I never expected to experience.
And don’t dismiss the ability of technology to replace the vast majority of situations that you believe require physical proximity. Leading-edge approaches being developed by companies such as Cisco have created video capability that not only rivals face-to-face but also brings in the full context of the learning experience in a way real-world interactions never could.
Perhaps most important of all is the expectation that we are developing around the notion of intellectual property. My graduate students are consistently split down the middle when it comes to the concept of patent protection, with half arguing vehemently that it only serves to stifle innovation. My undergraduate students are almost entirely opposed to patents. Yes, I know, you’re thinking, “such naïve heresy on that part of these youngsters.” Yet it is their expectations that will shape tomorrow.
These dramatic changes in education, which are being shaped by the cloud, may appear to take time as at least two current generations grasp even tighter traditional views of education. After all, we are disrupting a system thousands of years old. But ultimately, the cloud will be the greatest force in altering not only the way we experience education but life itself. It will set the standard for what our personal and professional interactions should feel like.
Still struggling to accept all of this change? Take heart, here’s the good news: To imagine what that future will look like, you only need to venture as far as your nearest 12-year-old. The behaviors and expectations are already firmly in place.
Adapted with permission from “Cloud Surfing: A Way to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale and Success” by Thomas M. Koulopolous (Bibliomotion, May 2012).
Tom Koulopoulos is the author of nine books and founder of Delphi Group, a 20-year-old Boston-based think tank. Delphi provides advice on innovation practices and methods to Global 2000 organizations and government agencies. Koulopoulos is also an executive in residence at Bentley University, past executive director of the Babson College Center for Business Innovation, and past executive director of the Perot Systems Innovation Lab, which was acquired in 2009 by Dell Computer. For more information, visit www.tkspeaks.com and www.cloudsurfingbook.com
By Mike Cerniglia, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, MicroPact
Stop for a second and think about your household shopping list. How did you come up with that list? Did you start by mapping out the optimal process for conducting your grocery shopping or did you start with the list of items you need to purchase? Like most people, you probably came up with the list of items you need to purchase and then determined where to go to get those items. Rarely in our daily lives do we start working toward a goal by asking, “What is the process here?” Yet in business, for better or worse, this is often the first question people ask.
For many large businesses, especially those in highly regulated industries, data—like content—is king. Human Resources departments are no different. HR managers rely on employee data to track growth and succession plans, document performance reviews, maintain updated contact information, track complaints, and in many cases, provide reports to the federal government. So why then, when people begin designing systems (software applications) for managing organizational data, do they begin with mapping out the process?
Organizations and their HR departments need to consider a data-first approach when implementing case management systems. Starting with the data instead of the process offers a means of reducing clutter and redundancies while managing employee data quickly, economically, and effectively.
The Limitation of a Process-First Approach
Getting caught up in the process of how data is collected often overshadows what should be the more important goal: collecting accurate data in a usable format. For many organizations, the focus has been on business process management (BPM); however, what HR departments need is case management.
There are times when using a structured system with limited outcomes is the appropriate solution; traditional BPM offerings focus on the process of collecting information featuring a fairly rigid series of events and milestones. For example, the processing of accounts billable and receivable is often routine. With a defined set of steps that lead to one of two final outcomes—paying an invoice or receiving payment from an invoice—implementing traditional BPM software gets the job done.
For activities such as employee recruitment and retention or skills assessments, however, related data is much more varied and layered. In these cases, implementing a strict, process-focused solution might preclude a company from seeing beneficial results.
The Benefit of Shifting the Focus to Data
In a data-first approach, the data—not the process—drives the operation forward. Systems designed to focus on data tracking requirements are familiar and translate into a system that captures essential information, presenting it in a format relevant to all users. A data-first approach lends itself to iterative development. Rules and processes are injected and modified on an ongoing basis to suit the changing needs of the organization.
Case management solutions offer flexibility. In situations such as recruitment and training, where there can be exceptions and events that require additional input at any point in the process, a rigidly structured system cannot accommodate additional data inputs. At these junctures, it is essential to pay attention to the data—lapses of time, individual scenario details, and so on. Focusing only on the process, essential information can get overlooked—potentially at tremendous risk to the organization. This can include information needed to stay ahead of EEO claims before they are initiated, avoiding penalties associated with time delays, saving health-care costs, or winning a court case.
Following data captured via case management initiatives enables organizations to simultaneously enhance workforce development. By analyzing data patterns, companies can uncover areas for improvement or weaknesses within their workforce, empowering them to proactively make changes that ensure corporate success and avoid future problems. First, however, organizations must ensure that the data being captured is the right data—the primary goal of a data-first approach.
Make Informed Decisions: Follow the Data, Discover the Process
HR processes are only as effective as the information entered into them. Implementing a case management system built on a data-first approach enables companies and users to crunch useful and real-time data as they see fit, whether to generate reports or track a status. It also allows users to identify trends, spot potential problem areas, and ultimately improve the process.
Because the primary goal of the project is always at the forefront, organizations can use case management solutions to save time, increase revenue, improve efficiency, and streamline processes across the board. A case management approach results in a solution that is effective, intuitive, and adaptable.
Mike Cerniglia has been with MicroPact since its inception and currently serves as executive vice president and chief technology officer. He has spearheaded the company’s transition from a predominantly services-based organization to offering enterprise-class software and services. Cerniglia has played a vital role in bringing MicroPact’s products to market, including entellitrak, entellidoc, and icomplaints. Business Process Management (BPM), Case Management, and Document Management products developed by the team led by Cerniglia are used by more than 140 federal agencies, as well as many Fortune 500 organizations.MicroPact’s open architecture, on-premises or cloud-based products can be implemented immediately and configured continuously, enabling customers to get to work quickly while keeping costs low. For more information, visit www.micropact.com.