2016 ATD Conference summary: Day two
Staff Writer | Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2016 |
The following article was written by Tom Merritt, Principal at Latitude CG:
Latitude was in attendance at the 2016 Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference in beautiful downtown Denver. I'm excited to share a little bit about what I learned from the sessions I attended to provide some insight into what's going on in the Training Industry. Each week I will feature one action-packed day filled with my experiences while attending the four-day ATD Conference.
Day Two Observations
During my second day at the conference I spent a fair amount of time in the exhibit hall looking at vendors and trying to get a sense of what they do and what they think they offer to the industry.
As you would expect, there are a lot of LMS vendors that have set-up shop. There are also lots of niche companies offering training and consulting on specific areas, like sales. Organizations that are affiliated with the training industry, like ACE (which certifies training programs for continuing education credits), and specialized companies offering services like translations and other language-oriented services are also exhibiting.
Session Two: Eliot Mazie's Trends, Shifts and Disrupters
Eliot Mazie is one of the best known learning consultants in the world, and along with Kirkpatrick probably has the biggest following. His consulting group does some research, but I get the sense that most people like to listen to him because he knows most of the CEO’s of the Fortune 500, is now a Broadway producer, and he has a lot of celebrity friends (co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak, for example). There were probably 1,000 people in the audience for this one (10% of attendees of the entire conference).
He tends to talk to a lot of leaders in the industry, and then make his own observations and conclusions about their perspectives. I get the sense he is less of an academic (hard research) and more of an observer and collector of anecdotal input.
He didn’t have a rigid agenda; he likes to pick topics and talk about each of them for 5-10 minutes, and he sort of feels his way about which one he wants to discuss at which time.
He chose to talk about “Goodbye Memorization” first. He made the point that we have outsourced our memorization of most things to our electronic devices. We don’t memorize phone numbers, we don’t memorize geographical layouts of metropolitan areas: those are outsourced to our smartphones and GPS devices now. He suggested that learning programs rely too much on memorization to make a difference. Use alternate approaches and provide students with links to information and people instead of having them memorize. It almost means learning systems (like LMS’s and knowledge systems) need to consider how to provide students easy ways to navigate to the information they need so the student doesn’t have to memorize it. This information was primarily to instructional designers, to whom he said “you should throw out the term Instructional Designer. You are Organizational Performance Architects!”
He also discussed “Search”. He made the point that most learning is done informally, by people looking things up themselves, not through formal training. As a result, he suggested that one way to get students to learn better is to teach them how to search better. There are ways of looking things up in all kinds of systems and portals that people are completely unaware of; give them better skills to do this. Learning systems should make it extremely simple to find information they need. He suggested labeling all corporate content for easier lookup.
He then moved to personalization of learning. He indicated that everyone learns in their own way, so provide different means of accessing the information. Younger folks will try to learn things via their smartphone, so the learning system should provide that option. Many people now only engage in learning if it is recommended by others (5 star restaurant ratings, anyone?), so social media is also an important component of learning.
Personalization also involves “pulling”, rather than “pushing” learning. Most learning systems “push” learning; that is, prescribe a set curriculum to be completed at a certain time. He made the point that most people want to “pull” learning; that is, complete it on their own time on their own initiative and in their own way. Learning systems need to provide more options for doing this, instead of just prescribing an online course to complete.
He mentioned Khan Learning Academy has revolutionized learning for many basic subjects (math, science, etc.) because it allows students to learn and master very mall, modular segments of subjects in the following manner:
He said that the reason he believes the company has “revolutionized” learning in these subjects is one reason: people have consumed over 4 billion (4,000,000,000) learning modules in this portal. Obviously, it is having an impact.
- In any sequence
- At any level
- For any subject
- As many times as they want to gain mastery
- Re-visiting any previous subject
He then moved to helping people make good learning choices. I had a little difficulty following this, but here was his example: If your company suddenly moved you to Singapore… how would you best prepare to live there and be productive for your company? Using the real-time polling tool UMU, he asked everyone to use their cell phones to submit a one-word answer. He then displayed some 250+ answers. In most cases, people wanted to talk to someone who had already had to move and live in Singapore. Thus, the company should help identify employees who have successfully moved to and served in Singapore, and then help people who have to move there get connected to them.
He made the point that “a company shouldn’t care HOW you learned something; just THAT you learned something, and learned it well enough to be successful.”
Then he talked about video. He said that 15 years ago, only 15% of learning was video based. Now… it is over 60%, and climbing quickly. Video conveys tremendous amounts of information because it can convey context, nonverbal information and language all at the same time, and its use is ubiquitous. When he asked “how many of you have accessed YouTube to learn how to do something?”, everyone in the convention center raised their hand. He went even further and suggested that companies allow students to even create their own video.
Next, he talked about avoiding calling things “classes” and “classrooms”. He said Walmart calls every training event a “lab”, so no one thinks they are going back to school.
He briefly mentioned “upskilling”. He said companies spend an average of 70-80% of their training budgets on compliance training. That leaves very, very little for training that will actually improve organizational performance. There is a huge opportunity for companies present in performance based training.
He talked about “failing forward”, which allows students to fail in order to learn a topic better. Example: commercial airline simulators make sure the training program is difficult enough that every pilot fails at different points, so the things they did during the failure will stick in their minds as what NOT to do, and because they had to work harder to get around those failures, they will remember the path better (it has significant emotional value attached to it; they actually sweat and tremble during simulator training, so the right way do things is highlighted in their emotional memory).
OJT (On the Job Training) – this one was most interesting to me. He said that in World War II, the “Rosie the Riveter” program for training women to sustain the manufacturing and productivity base of our country during war was the most successful training program in history. Women not only took over the welding, engineering, machining, etc. tasks, but in many cases performed better than the men. It involved experimentation, connecting with peers who can help you, and lots of feedback. He said that training programs should allow people to pick their own networks of people and their own mentors to help them be successful.
Performance Support (Workflow) – he mentioned that learning systems need to do a better job of reinforcing training after the formal training or initial goal of transferring knowledge is complete. Follow up peer review meetings, reminders of what was learned, links to review what had already been learned, etc.
Learning Systems Frustrations: He mentioned that “we can’t do what we do without learning systems.” However, he said almost 80% of companies are frustrated with their learning systems (translated: LMS). They cite the following issues:
“Wouldn’t it be great”, said Mr. Mazie, “if your LMS knew you were moving to Singapore, it identified 3 employees who had made a similar transition successfully, and gave you the option to automatically schedule you for a 30-minute live virtual classroom / Skype session with them and access to a PDF file containing their notes of how they did it?” This would require, of course, the company identifying Subject Matter Experts in every area of their business, but an interesting thought.
- Poor at searching for courses/information
- Doesn't do a good job of managing classroom training and completed training of things outside the LMS ("will you get credit for attending this ATD conference in your LMS? Why not?" he said)
- Poor at personalization (providing different paths to gaining mastery of subject)
- Poor at providing training for things students need to know for their jobs at the right time
- Only good at tracking prescribed training
Session Two: Kirkpatrick Model
John Kirkpatrick is the son of professor Donald Kirkpatrick, who is the “legendary” researcher in the learning and development community for his Reaction, Learned, Behavior and Results model of evaluating training effectiveness. He consults with governments, the CIA, and most of the Fortune 500 on their training programs.
John is nowhere near as dynamic as Eliot Mazie; but he is well informed, and his session was useful. I would say about 250 to 500 people attended this session, again one of the biggest and well attended sessions.
Interestingly enough, much of what he said had already been said in sessions I had previously attended. These included:
Kirkpatrick said that most company leaders do NOT believe training belongs on the “chart of things” that impact business performance; they really think of training as an ancillary activity, something that needs to happen in certain areas due to compliance issues and other things but not a key contributor to business performance. Training organizations need the data and metrics to PROVE that they are contributing.
- “Start with the business metric you are trying to change, and work backwards.”
- “You instructional designers – throw out that title. You are Organizational Performance Architects!"
- “It is not enough to just train; you need to reinforce, reinforce and reinforce that afterwards to make sure the behavior changes.”
- “The training organization needs to partner with the business organization to get the metrics (Key Performance Indicators [KPI’s], profitability data, productivity data, etc.) that need to be changed.”
- “You need to provide the business side of the business information that shows your training made a difference.”
Kirkpatrick said that post training support is the biggest key to making sure training really impacts behavior. He suggested the following examples:
Let’s say you train your engineering organization on new project management software. After the training, track how many times they log in to the new project management software system; send a follow up asking if they need additional training. Track what areas of the system are used, and offer training on areas not used. Schedule a follow-up peer review session and capture the notes about what is being learned/struggled with in the system. Use the session feedback to create job aids, and distribute those to the training attendees periodically after the training.
Or, let’s say you conduct sales training. Identify 5 leading SME’s for the training, and provide the trained staff the opportunity to meet with an SME of their choice several weeks after the training for some coaching. Or maybe a series of coaching meetings. Then automatically schedule peer review meetings for 10 weeks after the training, and capture the notes for those meetings, and put together and updated or refresher course of best practices for the trained staff to consume.
Finally, get the resulting business data from the business organization to prove that your training not only changed behavior, but improved the target KPI’s, productivity metrics or sales metrics.
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