Training is a Funny Business

A compilation of Dilbert comic strips on training is a great way to begin this week.

74147.strip

Dilbert20Training

Dilbert101031Budget

dilbert20031663411201

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

Why do we crave visual information?

It seems our brain is wired for visual information. If you don’t agree, just ask the poor souls that are forced to read through boring online courses packed with text. Jokes apart, here are 13 reasons why our brain craves visual data. Just click on the “brain” below and get ready to be convinced!

brain

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Learning, Training

Mapping Customer Moments to Training Needs

In my last post, I highlighted the fact that customer moments could potentially help us rethink training needs. This week I decided to take the same airline passenger example used in the paper published by Gartner and have projected possible training needs or training opportunities that can address such customer moments.

Mapping Customer Moments to Training Needs

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Learning, Teaching, Training

Customer Moments Drives Training

I am reproducing a key section from a recent article from Gartner on how mobile devices opens up new challenges and opportunities for enterprises when addressing the needs of consumers. If you are wondering why I am writing about marketing and consumer needs in a L&D blog, the answer is “Thanksgiving”! Most of us in the line functions and support functions tend to forget the raison d’etre for doing what we are doing. A deep understanding of the end customer will ripple back to impact the way we do our jobs and remind us who actually pays our salaries. Hence this post. 

A business moment is a transient opportunity that is exploited dynamically. Business moments occur when an opportunity or threat emerges that you perhaps weren’t expecting is identified as something that you want to capture or defend against, but is also something that your current products, services or processes aren’t able to address.

Every business process or customer relationship has business moments that can be identified and exploited in some way. Unstructured approaches include workshops, brainstorming or competitions. A more structured approach that can help to unearth exploitable mobile business moments is analyzing customer or employee journeys.

Here is how we can dissect an airline customer journey, showing the key steps in the customer relationship. After documenting a journey, ask questions at each stage to identify the types of moments discussed in the introduction.

For example:

  • What needs might the customer or employee have in this context? Focus on transient moments of need. A passenger in a large airport might want to know the route to a gate. A passenger driving to the airport might need to park.
  • Where is their dead time? Dead time, such as when a passenger is waiting for a flight, is sometimes an opportunity that can be converted into valuable time by playing a game or encouraging the passenger to visit a shop.
  • What are the pain points in each context? Pain points are an opportunity to deliver customer value. Perhaps the airport could offer a rapid security queue as a chargeable option.
  • What’s the customer’s emotional state? Situations when a customer is rushed, annoyed or stressed, like being late for a flight, may be harder to exploit.
  • What devices and connectivity does the individual have in this context? An international traveler in a foreign airport may be reluctant to use apps that consume cellular data because of roaming costs. Individuals might use a tablet to book a flight while at home, but a smartphone to change the booking while travelling.
  • Where are the decision points? When and where is the customer making decisions about a product or service? Can these be intercepted or modified? Could a company identify that a customer has stood at the window of a travel agent, so might be interested in a vacation that needs air travel?
  • What new information could mobility allow companies to collect? Some airlines are using in-flight tablets and Wi-Fi for staff to take food and drink orders from premium flyers. This improves the in-flight service, but more importantly, allows the airline to create a more detailed profile of its most valuable customers.
  • Where is the customer located? The customer’s location influences many aspects of business moments and can help understand where a customer is in his or her journey. Look for opportunities to use technologies that can sense the location of a mobile device.
  • How could friends contribute to the moment? Could friends contribute to a customer’s decision or action? Could the customer tell friends about successful moments?
  • What are the moments of risk? At what points in the journey are other organizations taking customer value? Could this be intercepted or prevented? What are customers complaining about?

While the context of the above example was to highlight how mobile devices together with an understanding of different customer personas and the ability to extract real-time data about the customer could potentially result in a better customer experience (aka more business), I see this approach as fundamental to understanding training needs as well. Just replace these “Digital Moments” with “Human Touch Points” and it immediately becomes clear why understanding and appreciating the customer results in better training.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Learning, Smartphones, Training

Celebration Health Uses Real-Time Staff Tracking to Improve Performance

All along, the usage of RFID was confined to “things” such as managing inventories in the retail and supply chain industries. Then came the concept of Internet of Things where data from connected devices was analyzed to deliver new services or help customers / end-users gain more out of intelligent devices.

One one hand, we have these inherently uni-dimensional “things” literally coming to life – a thermostat or a light bulb is no longer just a thermostat or a light bulb as these devices are now “talking” to one another and collectively generating data that gets converted into insights. On the other hand, we have connected employees with access to mobile devices to do lot more than what they were able to do without the mobile devices.

But what happens when employees are just “things” that are monitored in real-time and transmit data? If you think all hell will break loose, you are dead wrong.

Ashley Simmons, Director – Performance Improvement, at Florida Hospital Celebration Health has spearheaded the roll-out of a Real-time Location Tracking devices (worn by nurses, physicians and patients along with their badges) that gathers data on the movement of nurses within the hospital premises and correlates it to how efficiently patients are being handled. Here is the summary of what I gleaned out of an interview with Ashley Simmons at GigaOm Structure Connect 2014.

Celebration Health Implemented a software application from Stanley Healthcare, a company that provides tracking devices and software for a variety of healthcare applications.

The data generated by the devices worn by nurses and patients resulted in detailed workflow patterns that was accessible to their staff and they could check out how their day was spent and the bottlenecks that they need to look into.

Building trust and ensuring that the bogey of big brother watching or monitoring people was a key focus area for this project. According to Simmons, the hospital made sure that the staff was completely on-board with this idea before it was implemented and get their feedback on a daily basis. The objective of this program was not only to get data about operational efficiency to the top management but also share the data with the staff for their own review and performance improvement.

Here is a screenshot that shows how the staff movement data was analyzed

Picture1

The data on these movement patterns allowed the hospital to build more efficient work spaces that promotes better workflow patterns within the hospital. See (image below) how the hospital building layout was modified based on the data generated from these tracking devices.

Picture2

Staff engagement scores have gone up as a result of this data being made available to the hospital staff and their involvement in data analysis and feedback. This was validated through an internal Gallup poll on employee engagement. The hospital also measured an improvement in patient satisfaction after implementing this solution.

Some of the insights the hospital was able to pull out of this system included:

- Day shift Vs night shift behaviors

- Workflow patterns for new hire Vs experienced hires

- Productivity data for various activities

- Social patterns of different groups of employees. For example, introvert nurses had a different movement pattern compared to extroverted nurses!

- Analyze workflow patterns surrounding events such as patients falling and figure out what were the activities before such adverse events.

- Correlating all the data elements from the tracking system with other factors like day and time of the week or patient issues. This is very similar to how ecommerce sites and retail chains track customer behavior and correlate it to sundry parameters.

- Analyse behavior patterns before and after specific events such as a rude encounter with a patient.

Here is one clear example of a process improvement that I gleaned from Stanley Healthcare’s website.

It has become clear to the hospital that, contrary to a widely held assumption, the night shift is just as busy as the day shift. The way it is busy, however, is very different. Activity on the day shift is more or less constant, whereas the night shift is characterized by periods of intense activity at the start and end of the shift, with a lull in between. By shifting some activities to the quieter hours, the hospital has helped reduce bottlenecks and addressed a point of dissatisfaction for the clinical staff. For example, it used to be routine to return IV pumps for sterilization at 6:00 am, just as patients were being prepared for discharge. Now, this task is performed in the early am period, when technicians have fewer demands on their time.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Performance Improvement

Three L&D predictions that never took off

Generating hype is in itself an industry that keeps many of us gainfully engaged or just engaged. The learning and development industry is no stranger to hype but training departments are inherently averse to hype. This inherent propensity not to embrace the latest and the greatest is an advantage and a disadvantage. In instances where a trend or technology is just a hype or a fad, not jumping on the bandwagon is obviously prudent in hindsight. However, ignoring the writing on the wall is also dangerous. For example, if the prevailing attitude in your training organization is not aligned to the mobile first world, there is a very high possibility of the training department losing its relevance. Let’s take a look at three predictions that never went anywhere, at least not yet.

CollaborationFacebook as a Learning Platform: In around 2007, there was a lot of buzz around how Facebook can replace the LMS. This idea caught on with the higher education and K12 trainers as they were looking to find ways to take the courses to where students were (online). The same idea was touted as the next big thing for the enterprise. Facebook never attempted to make it self relevant for the enterprise crowd and never ever achieved the same engagement that Apple commands from its users. This idea of using Facebook was a big miss, but the likes of Yammer and other social collaboration tools validated the fundamental promise of Facebook i.e collaboration.

screen-1024x640Virtual Worlds for Enterprise Training: Big names got caught up with Second Life in 2005 / 2006 time frame. Companies like IBM built islands, immersive 3D was touted as the panacea that will change revolutionize training delivery. The idea never really took off beyond the initial enthusiasm for various reasons – lack of a secure platform for the enterprise, the rapid drop in interest levels of the audience once the novelty factor dries up, and expensive development efforts scuttled this trend. Virtual Worlds are still being used in industries such as oil and gas where these tools make a lot of sense and deliver a tangible ROI and there are specialized providers that are catering to the requirements of the enterprise.

Hunger_games_game_maker_roomGamification of training: The impact of gamification is still being debated as organizations are figuring out the real ROI of gamification. Predictably, gamification has not really caught on as a tool to promote greater learner engagement for training programs in the enterprise. However, game-based content has seen better traction as enterprises are trying to build more engaging content. The reason I am writing the obituary for gamification in the enterprise training domain is because enterprise are unable to see the connection between incentives / points / badges and employee motivation and engagement with training programs. The higher education industry has seen better traction in this regard.

Would love to hear your comments on other notable disappointments.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Gamification, Social Collaboration, Virtual Worlds

The Keynote Effect

I had the opportunity to attend two back to back conferences and now I am heading out to attend the third conference. One of the most interesting aspects of conferences is the keynote session. Conference organizers are lining up big name personalities to open the show and I find these keynotes to be inspiring. At least for the first 1-hour of the conference, everybody is paying close attention to what is happening on the stage before the distractions of food, freebies and cocktail parties kick-in.

If you have not been attending conferences or listening to keynote addresses from rocket scientists, business moguls or movie stars, you can watch this video from Microsoft that visualizes the possible future of technology at home and at work. Remember this video is from 2011 and the visualizations were meant to happen in reality in 5 to 10 years from 2011!

Its a great feeling to escape from the realities of finding the elusive power outlet in an airport for your “dying” smartphone or dealing with traffic jams on the way to an event. BTW, our faithful keyboard seems to be the only thing we will recognize in future.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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