Back to the Future

mq1Here is an extract from Harvard Business Review on a study done at Texas Instruments on the relationship between organizational climate and job performance.

The rate of technological displacement—and hence the need for effective training—is increasing. This fact, in combination with the current labor shortage, the entry of more young people and minority groups into industrial employment, and the deployment of new plants domestically and internationally, means that management should place more emphasis on training and other personnel management innovations than ever before. Lessened turnover and accelerated learning curves constitute a significant advantage to companies that are able to achieve them.

U.S. business has been hard pressed to match international competition. Handicapped by the pay differential, American companies have met the challenge primarily through technical innovation and superior quality. They can also meet it with management innovation. A great deal can be accomplished in this way, as our experiences with accelerated learning and job enlargement demonstrate.

Oh, I forgot to mention that this study was published in 1966. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Roads? Where we are going, we don’t need roads – Dr. Emmett Brown

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

LinkedIn and – What’s Next?

This week’s biggest news in the eLearning industry is the acquisition of by LinkedIn for $1.5 Billion. This development gives me a sense of deja vu all over again :)

Remember what happened in the talent management and enterprise learning space in the recent past? Pure play LMS vendors expanded their portfolio to include talent management and talent management companies acquired LMS products to provide end-to-end coverage for their customers.

It is interesting to see LinkedIn moving in the same path charted by other companies. The only difference is that LinkedIn is the big daddy when it comes to user base and global coverage. What started as a networking site for professions has seen a steady march towards becoming a complete talent management platform outside the enterprise!

Here are my predictions for the evolution of LinkedIn’s product features:

1. Discussion Forums can easily become another monetization tool if LinkedIn can let enterprises pose business challenges and seek solutions for a fee.

2. How about an enterprise version of LinkedIn that will tie all LinkedIn profiles of employees to talent management systems within the enterprise? This is a great way to unearth hidden talent and skills as people are used to sharing on LinkedIn!

3. The biggest challenge with LinkedIn usage is that the number of connections you have has no bearing on the value you can unlock from the connections. A lot of people are making money by talking about how LinkedIn should be used. How about a solution that will prompt meaningful interactions with connections (as opposed to just congratulating connections on work anniversaries or job changes)?

4. Why not let connections suggest changes to your profile or even rate your profile on some parameters? So many of us are shy when it comes to sharing our achievements and strengths. The people we work with or connected to can possibly recognize our contribution better than us!

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in eLearning, Talent Management

Learning from Failure – It’s Not Easy!

Last year Harvard Business Review published a summary of a paper titled, ““My Bad!” How Internal Attribution and Ambiguity of Responsibility Affect Learning from Failure“. Here are the conclusions from this paper.

Saying “My Bad” is actually good for you

We are more likely to learn from our failures if we take personal responsibility as opposed to external factors. For example, I may attribute the loss of a deal because the demo did not work as expected in front of the customer. I may completely ignore the fact that I was not prepared with a back-up plan and have a fall back solution in place for future demos.

My job description can stop me from learning

According to the authors of this paper, “surgeons learn far less from their own failures (learning instead from their own successes and others’ failures), presumably due to the ambiguity that comes from a bad surgical outcome – the surgeon is held accountable for the outcome, but it is unclear if it is his or her responsibility. The inherent gray area that comes with the job needs to be tackled if we expect the individual to learn from failures.

Remove ambiguities that can become convenient excuses

One way of making sure individuals and teams learn from their failures is to remove all extraneous factors that can later become excuses. If we go back to the salesman example, ensuring that the salesman has access to robust demo software / hardware is one way to making sure there is less ambiguity.

Create a culture of learning from failure

This is easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Here are some suggestions by the author

– Non-punitive root-cause reviews when a team fails, which can result in both learning for those responsible and for other team members who can learn vicariously.

– Create a shared understanding, or framing, around the types of failures that employees can expect to happen at work; and reward the messenger who brings up bad news.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Learning

Sizing the Skills Gap Problem

Here are snapshots from the 2014 CareerBuilder survey on the topic of Skills Gap. This survey covered over 1000 employers in the healthcare, financial services and IT industries;over 1500 employees; and over 200 academics. I will let the survey results do that talking!


Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

How Training can Transform Legal Departments

The prevalent perception about legal departments within enterprises is not too removed from what we think about Sauron and his army of darkness! According to Bain, while 40% of Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) gave their teams top marks for contributing to the business, but only 14% of the CEOs express similar sentiments!

Key Drivers for Legal Teams

Here are some key challenges that legal teams are facing in the enterprise:

1. There is an increased regulatory oversight and investigation in industries such as financial services, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. According to the Department of Justice, pharma companies paid about $13 Billion Dollars in fines between 2009 to 2013.

2. Social Media and collaboration tools are becoming more common among enterprises and employees are demanding access to content outside the enterprise on mobile devices. Privacy, data protection and liability issues are driving increased workload for legal departments.

3. According to a survey conducted by Sandpiper Partners LLC, in order to keep costs down, firms reduced their workforce, increased their use of technology, and improved their processes. About one in 10 firms are looking at across-the-board reduction of staff support for attorneys in research, practice assistance, paralegals, and other functions. The biggest reductions will occur in litigation support (30%) and conflicts (29%) and procedures.

Bain has summarized how different enablers should come together to help legal departments cope with these  changes in their report titled, “A Higher Bar“. Here is a snapshot from this report:


Impact on Training

1. Clear Metrics that support the Role: One of the key challenges that continues to evade a solution is the need to drive training programs based on performance metrics. According to Bain, some of the metrics legal departments should consider focusing on includes:

  • For frequent acquirers: Metrics might focus on how repeatable and streamlined the diligence process
    is. Does legal provide effective toolkit to streamline diligence, for example? And does legal make potential deals easier for the board to review with presentation templates?
  • For companies operating in highly regulated industries: Metrics might include the ability to influence
    favorable legislation or time required to obtain regulatory approvals or certifications.
  • For companies with a heavy compliance focus: Metrics might include training sessions completed, reductions in fines and violations, and qualitative assessments of how well compliance requirements are understood and followed across the organization.
  • For companies with a robust litigation pipeline: Metrics might include win rates, cycle time between opening and closing a case, and the cost of litigation—including not only settlements but also outside legal fees.

Training departments should re-calibrate their training strategies to leverage relevant business metrics driving the legal function. A thorough audit of training content portfolio has to be done at least once a year to modify, trim the curriculum and align closely with the changing role of the legal function.

2. Imparting the Right Skills: Aligning legal team capabilities with business metrics is the biggest training challenge. This challenge requires a granular understanding of what the business metrics will mean in terms of existing capabilities and missing skills / competence. Bain recommends infusing the team with operations, finance and IT skills in addition to strengthening legal expertise / skills relevant for the business. The use of sophistical e-discovery and analysis tools for legal cases also increases the need for training legal departments in properly using these tools.

I believe the biggest challenge in this regard is identifying training interventions commensurate with the metrics. For an enterprise to meet the goals based on well defined metrics, the training department has to first draw up the immediate set of actions needed to be performed by different roles in the legal function that will contribute to the achievement of these goals. Here is one example: For meeting litigation cost benchmarks, training can impact the time needed to complete certain tasks associated with the litigation. The real challenge here is to see how the training is rolled out (defining control groups, measuring training impact, identifying extraneous factors) and expanded to the rest of the department.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

How can Training Departments Leverage Apple Watch

Now that Apple Watch is available and ready to takeover the market (no pun intended!), lets look at five ways in which training departments can leverage Apple Watch to support employees. WARNING – Hold on to your chair or buckle up if you choose to continue reading.

1. Employees can use Apple Watch to keep tabs on action items or create new action items using voice commands through Siri. Action items can include best practices, tips, insights or even announcements that might be relevant for the team. Example, sales teams on the field can receive action items pertaining to typical customer queries or best ways to address such queries.

2. LMS course completion reminders can be streamed direct to the wrist. The concept of “slap on the wrist” has just made a quantum leap. Alas, there is no getting away from course completion follow-ups!

Apple Watch Training Reminder

3. Correlating performance to physiology is an exciting topic to consider exploring with Apple Watch. What if we start monitoring the heart rate and activity levels of employees in certain roles such as sales and then find correlation between this data and performance metrics? Just imagine the heat this idea will create!

4. Apps like the Salesforce App for Apple Watch provide a quick glimpse of sales opportunities. Additional features like access to key product summaries, customer contact history can provide useful insights to the sales team.


5. Apple Watch has the ability to track your location. We can build apps that provide contextual performance support or tips for employees working in large installations (The Boeing Everett facility comes to my mind).

Had a lot of fun writing this blog post :)

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Mobile Learning

Emerging Training Challenges in the Banking Industry

The banking industry is going through a major transformation. According to EY Global Banking Outlook 2014-15, the banking industry is being impacted by increasing regulatory pressures, changes in customer expectation and preferences, new technology and applications, disruptive competitors and adverse public relations / public scrutiny.

These forces of change are forcing banks to transform their business models, become more customer-centric, reorganize operations to minimize compliance and regulatory issues, and overhaul their IT infrastructure to support digital channels.

Diagram depicting the forces of changes and how banks are responding to these changes.

In order to deal with these changes, banks have to earnestly realign their training programs to ensure the success of their response strategies. Here are the broad areas where changes need to happen from a training perspective:

1. The move from a product-centric business model to a customer-centric business model throws open major skill gaps in teams. All of a sudden, bank employees are not just selling a product but are expected to figure out how a customer may leverage a portfolio of products or services. The concept of mapping customer moment to training needs takes center-stage in addition to proficiency in a broad range of products and services.

2. Increased regulatory oversight and public scrutiny in how banks operate is forcing banks to reconsider their product portfolio or even divest from certain markets or businesses. However, the biggest training gap in the compliance realm is the ability for bank employees to go beyond ticking boxes and understand the true spirit of the regulation. Compliance training should be elevated to help employees manage gray areas.

3. The IT transformation that banks are undertaking by leveraging Big Data and mobile banking solutions are impacting legacy back-end systems and the associated teams. There is a major skill gap in these emerging technology areas.

4. Small banks are looking for scale and large banks are looking for specialized capabilities, resulting in increased mergers and acquisition activities. This presents training challenges associated with integration and associated role changes.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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Posted in Training

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