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In our recent blog post, ‘Why no app will rule them all’, we talked about the downfall of the ‘Mega Hub’ — the system that does everything from booking training courses to hosting compliance training to picking your outfit for you (well, not quite).

In short, Mega Hubs aren’t effective at helping leaders create impactful learning experiences because:

  1. They aren’t focused on outcomes — they try to do everything, and do nothing well
  2. They mix the inspirational with the functional — so we build a perception that any activity in the Mega Hub is something we have to do, not something we want to do
  3. They don’t give learners purpose — they create clutter around the learning experience so they fail to engage users

There’s a reason no one ever used a spreadsheet to send an email. So by now, you may be wondering what to do differently if the experiences you have on offer aren’t working.

The key is to design an ecosystem of complementary tools around your learning experiences. This is an opportunity to transform your learning experience from something that’s out of the ordinary, complex, and hard-to-do into something that feels natural, seamless and that your people can do without thinking.

Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to help you begin to design your learning ecosystem.


1. Be specific about the outcomes you want from your learning programmes

At a recent Hive Learning breakfast event for leading L&D practitioners, the esteemed Clive Smith — Head of Global Leadership Development at Worldpay — argued that:

If you can’t demonstrate a link between your people strategy and your business strategy in two easy steps, you’re focusing on the wrong areas.

With only 1 in 5 executives believing their L&D team are capable of developing talent to meet their organisational needs, it’s never been more critical to focus your learning efforts on outcomes.

Employee-centric design and personalisation are now critical priorities for learning leaders according to Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Trends Report. But where do you start?

First, look at the biggest gaps and problem areas related to learning in your organisation.

Harvard Business School professor John Kotter identified that the major challenges businesses face are never related to strategy, structure, culture or systems. They’re all related to changing behaviours.

Many of the organisations we speak to tell us that 90% of their learning resources never get read. So it’s likely that the most critical outcome you need to achieve is to change how people think about, and engage with, learning. Essentially, turning learning into habit.

We’ve seen two examples of how the organisations we work with have successfully engaged their learners in both daily learning and critical compliance training.

The Scottish Rugby Union, long-standing users of the Hive Learning platform, came to us last year having recognised that one of their specific learning goals wasn’t being met. While they were using the Hive Learning product to create a culture of everyday learning, not enough of their coaches were completing critical compliance training.

Their fantastic, but static, content around compliance wasn’t engaging their workforce and they also needed a way to prove that coaches had completed the training, as part of their critical organisational goals.

Essentially, they were in need of structured learning pathways that were easy to make and quick to take. Plus they wanted to make them stimulating, engaging and critically, it was important that this wasn’t a lonely learning experience.

Working with them, we deployed our Microcourses feature to enable Scottish Rugby to engage users and test their knowledge through quizzes, polls and multimedia. Users could also comment and tag others on every piece of learning content. There was also an in-built rewards structure which gave learners a pat on the back when they completed a course, as well as sending their peers a notification that they’d done so.

The introduction of social sharing and interactive multimedia content signaled a significant uplift in engagement with their learning content. Quickly the micro course was completed by more than 4,000 users and the resources inside it have been accessed and re-accessed many times since.

Being specific about the outcome they wanted to achieve, and delivering their content in a stimulating and enjoyable way, helped Scottish Rugby closely align their learning strategy to their organisational goals.

If you have compliance training stored in your Learning Management System (LMS) or somewhere else, think about the methods and the tools you can use to better engage learners with that content. Perhaps the tools you’ve got can be utilised in a different way, or you could consider adding an experience layer to unify your learning experience — a tool that’s purpose-built to turn learning into habit by stimulating daily engagement.

2. Add a social layer to your learning experience

Learning is an inherently social experience. When we looked at the most active users in a cohort on the Hive Learning platform, we found that when users were socially connected with just 8 others, they were 10 times more likely to regularly return to the platform and begin to form a daily learning habit.

Adding a social layer in the context of learning creates a sense of purpose.

In our last post, we highlighted research from Tsedal Neeley — associate professor in Organisational Behaviour at Harvard Business School. Tsedal explored how existing social tools like Slack were used at work. She found that while they fostered day-to-day communication, they failed to help users ‘learn’ anything because people weren’t deliberately focused on learning in that context.

Our client — FTSE100 company Halma — is another brilliant example of how a laser focus on learning outcomes can help L&D teams align with organisational goals and create tangible business impact.

As an agile group of more than 50 businesses, Halma wanted to unlock further business growth through collaboration and ‘learning from each other’. Specifically, they wanted to make learning from each other across the group a daily habit.

To help them build a scalable ecosystem of innovation, they added a collaborative learning experience to their existing ecosystem of learning and HR tools in HalmaHub.

The result? The collaboration centre led to the creation of completely new, unique and innovative business models that will help Halma maintain its position as a market disruptor.

Subsequently, HalmaHub — the group’s learning experience platform — now forms part of the core business strategy, appearing as one of their 7 core growth enablers. What’s more, 85% of HalmaHub users rate it as a useful tool, which is a stark contrast to the -8 Net Promoter Score achieved by L&D departments in businesses surveyed by Deloitte.

A clear focus on driving social learning empowered Halma to achieve the L&D teams’ goals of engaging people with critical learning content and enabled group-wide collaboration. What’s more, Halma’s L&D team put learning on the map across the business by demonstrating clear business impact and ROI.

3. Create a holistic view of your learners — and use it to shape your strategy

The last piece of the puzzle is perhaps the most critical.

No matter how many tools you use or how many places you send people to engage in HR activity as part of your people stack, make sure that you have the right toolkit to measure the impact.

Every learning tool has analytics that you can use to understand how your people are using learning experience; they are a standard, expected and widely used feature. But whether you’re using the analytics in each individual tool or you’re sending data back to your LMS or HCM stack…

Focus on analysing meaningful data — rather than every piece of data.

Also be sure to look for ways to unlock hidden insights that go beyond standard analytics reports. Cleverly written baked-in quizzes and polls help learners to form deep connections with learning content — they increase engagement, retention and ultimately contribute to behaviour change.

But you can also use this as an opportunity to be creative with how you gather feedback; use quizzes and polls to take the temperature of your employees’ attitudes and understanding. Look at real-time learner behaviour to identify how people are interacting with learning in your organisation.

Then combine rich and tactical data with the first-hand engagement you can see in your learning experience to understand what’s working, what’s important to your employees and how to shape your future strategy to achieve maximum engagement.

Finally, no matter what the change you’re trying to drive, having a clear understanding of the outcomes you want to achieve should help you to keep a clear focus on delivering real business impact through your learning programmes.

Use these outcomes to create a purpose-focused experience that unites people over a shared goal and inspires them to learn daily. And use your learning experience as a listening tool; listen to your data, listen to feedback and listen to behaviour. Then use that insight to shape your strategy.

If you get those things right, creating learning experiences people want to use should be natural.

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