Tag Archives: learning and development

Research on online courses confirms imperative for company learning and development strategies


By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th January 2018

What is your company’s approach to training?

MOOC research on learning

Illustration from “Can MOOCs solve your training problems” by Monika Hamori, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2018, pp. 71-76

Monika Hamori is a professor of human resources management at the IE Business School, IE University in Madrid.  She has conducted a research study of more than 28,000 learners in 127 countries, supplemented by the use of surveys and interviews.

Her findings, although mainly confined to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in marketing, confirm some of my company’s, RiverRhee Consulting, experience:

  1. “young, highly skilled managers considered training very important for their career development”
  2. Training is part of their preferred portfolio for learning and development, alongside “high-stake” assignments, support from senior leaders, mentoring, coaching and job rotation.  In the study, the managers ranked it third in importance after the assignments and the support from senior leaders
  3. “training represented one of the biggest gaps between what they valued and what they actually received from their employer”

These are all statements that we could equally have written based on our empirical findings from conversations with delegates and clients around RiverRhee’s management courses. 

We have had both employees and employers say to us that provision of learning and development opportunities demonstrates that employers value their staff and…

…for employers that may be concerned that employee will take what they have learnt to look for jobs with other companies…

Monika Hamori’s findings were that employees who had support for the use of online training courses were much less likely to look for work elsewhere.  Whereas those who were only able to take online courses by paying for them themselves, were more than twice as likely to use this as a route for finding other jobs.

What is the level of adoption of online courses by companies?

According to the article, companies that use online courses (MOOCs) more tend to be those that are already investing in learning and development.  Interestingly SMEs, those with less than 50 employees, are twice as likely to give employees time off to use them than companies with more than 10,000 staff.

Even where companies do support MOOCs, their adoption tends to be fairly ad hoc, through recommendations from peers or people spotting advertisements about them.

How could companies benefit more from online courses?

Companies with learning and development strategies may already be applying the 70:20:10 rule – where only 10% of the training budget is spent on traditional off-site courses and other external routes for development.  70% is through in-house on the job assignments and peer or leadership support.  20% is through other forms of in-house provision.  Whether MOOCs fall into the 20% or 10% category will depend on a company’s spending strategy.

There is a wide range of online courses available covering both technical and soft skills.

Having MOOCs as part of a company’s learning and development portfolio has several benefits:

  • the cost (or fees) can be lower
  • there is no travel needed
  • they can be completed in a way that will cause minimum disruption to work

However, there are also potential disadvantages to this form of learning, such as:

  • limited control of content / quality
  • a variable fit with a company’s and/or learner’s development objectives
  • less opportunity to consolidate learning through interaction / discussion with other learners
  • participant being sufficiently motivated to complete the course

Monika Hamori’s article includes some excellent recommendations:

  1. Establish learning and development as a strategic priority, supported by senior leaders, and have MOOCs as part of this
  2. Ensure that line managers are actively involved (along with learners’ peers) in selecting and supporting the use of MOOCs (more on this below..)
  3. Have learners pilot the MOOCs for each other, to ensure relevance and also to check some quality criteria:
    • That the course has a clear description and learning objectives
    • That it has a reputable author (be it a University or other organisation)
    • That it is hosted on a major (presumably sustainable) MOOCs platform
  4. Consider the range of capability development areas that the MOOCs could support
  5. Use managers to address the potential pitfalls of MOOCs i.e.
    • Discuss the learner’s development objectives for taking the MOOCs.  Relate this to Performance Management and Development discussions, to their work and help them to develop an action plan for applying their learning.
    • Create opportunities for face-to-face discussions with others taking the course

What will be your next steps for adopting online learning or for shaping your learning and development strategy?

Whilst RiverRhee does not currently deliver or make use of online management courses, we’d love to hear about any that people have tried out and evaluated.

We would also be very interested to hear about your experiences with learning and development strategies – whether MOOCs form part of these or not.

Notes

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

 

 

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Operational excellence can give you the competitive edge!


By Elisabeth Goodman, 4th September 2017

According to Sadun, Bloom and Van Reenen, writing in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review, a disproportionate amount of emphasis is put on the competitive advantage of strategic planning, to the detriment of operational excellence.

Competitive advantage of operational excellence_HBR Sept-Oct 2017

From: Why do we undervalue competent management? Neither great leadership nor brilliant strategy matters without operational excellence. Raffael Sadun, Nicholas Bloom and John Van Reenen. HBR Sept-Oct 2017, pp. 120 – 127

What is operational excellence?

Their definition of operational excellence, or good management practice, goes beyond a more traditional focus on Lean and Six Sigma process improvement techniques.  It covers four broad dimensions, and 18 specific aspects.  The four dimensions are:

  1. Operational management – which includes Lean process management
  2. Performance monitoring – which includes the use of key performance indicators (KPIs)
  3. Target setting – which includes a clear link between organisational strategy, and individual goals (aka. a clear top-to-bottom cascade of objectives)
  4. Talent management – which includes setting stretch goals, employee development and retention

What is the evidence for the competitive advantage of operational excellence?

As Sadun et al say, MBAs and management experts such as Michael Porter distinguish between strategy and operational effectiveness, and put greater emphasis on CEOs’ priority being on strategy for competitive advantage.

The authors of this HBR article have been carrying out in-depth research since 2002 on more than 12,000 organisations in 34 countries, in conjunction with the London School of Economics.

They have found that operational excellence is a massive challenge for organisations and that the large persistent gaps in these practices are associated with large persistent differences in organisational performance.

The better managed organisations are more profitable, grow faster, are less likely to die, focus on innovation as well as efficiency, attract talent and foster employee well-being.  All in all they demonstrate sustained competitive advantage.

Achieving operational excellence boils down to three things

Erroneous self-assessment, a blame culture, overestimating the costs involved and underestimating the potential benefits can all get in the way of adopting good management practices.

Managers, especially in family businesses, can worry about potential loss of control if they bring in others with greater expertise in operational management.

The workforce may not have the numeric, analytical and other skills to implement operational excellence.

And it requires a shift from working in silos, to collaborating across teams; reassurance that greater process efficiency won’t lead to redundancies; and “walking-the-talk” by management (CEOs included).

So achieving operational excellence boils down to three things:

  1. Commitment from the top: with a clear vision, visibility and role modelling by senior leaders (i.e. all key approaches for managing change)
  2. Understanding and ensuring availability of the required skills i.e. those associated with all four broad dimensions of operational excellence, as described above
  3. A shift in mentality at all levels to adopt these management practices as a way of working

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.) Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. 

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014!


End of year holidays – a time to rest and renew our energy for new beginnings

The end of year holidays and the beginning of the New Year are a good opportunity to rest and renew our energy for whatever our chosen direction in life!

They’ve worked their usual magic with me and my enthusiasm for gaining new knowledge has been especially stimulated by two recent BBC productions that I caught through the combined powers of my iPAD (my new toy earlier in 2013) and BBC iPlayer.

Kirsty Young’s “Desert Island Discs” guest Ray Mears on the 5th January was a real inspiration.  He seems to have such a clear and apparently simple direction in life in his career as a ‘woodsman’.  The presenter and no doubt many listeners like myself were delighted by his phrase: “deassimilate from the cyber hive”. (We’ll ignore the fact that that’s how I heard the recording!).

Being a student of or for life?

I also appreciated Ray Mears’ approach as a “student of life”: how he seeks out the very best people to learn from about different aspects of surviving in the wild; his philosophy of deconstructing knowledge to understand all of its elements before putting it together again; and his enthusiastic perseverance in order to thoroughly understand a new area.

Learning from dolphins

dolphin

I was also fascinated by the BBC’s two-part “Dolphins – Spy in the Pod“, the second part of which was on the 9th January.  The team used cameras hidden in mechanical squids, dolphins, turtles and puffer fish to film and learn about aspects of dolphin behaviour.  Some of the ways in which dolphins learn were especially interesting:

  • Young male bottle-nosed dolphins stay with their mothers, in an otherwise all female pod for about two years during which they are learning about different aspects of life all of the time.
  • When they are old enough to leave, they seek out a male pod to join, bringing their knowledge with them, and gaining new knowledge from their new companions.

It was evident from watching the programme that dolphins have great curiosity and a diverse way of communicating with each other by sound, touch and behavioural or body language.

Learning from each other

Learning from others is of course very powerful.  I’m looking forward to doing so in a seven-day NLP practitioners’ course that I’ll be attending in March, and also to learning about something called ‘Emergenetics‘ that I first heard about in December.  I want to explore the range of tools available to help us understand ourselves and each other – something that I’ll be writing about in the second book in my series of “The Effective Team’s” workbooks. (The first was on Change Management, this one will be on High Performance teams.)

I’m also looking forward to continuing my work on enhancing team effectiveness with my associates and clients in 2014.  Interacting with associates and clients is a great way to develop and shape new ideas – both for creating new programmes of work, and for stimulating the rich learning that takes place during workshops and other interventions.

Continuous professional development (CPD) and social media

Nor will I be ‘deassimilating from the cyber hive”!  Although it is good to take a break from it now and then: my idea for this blog came whilst I was on a four-hour walk on a crisp sunny morning in Cambridgeshire.  However, the increasing trend to make social media content rich is certainly a stimulant for one curiosity and one I’ll be looking to support as I gain more knowledge in 2014.

I often tweet (@ecgoodman) about what I’m hearing during APM (Association for Project Management), One Nucleus, Cambridge Network and CILIP events.  And what I learn also sometimes finds its way into my blogs and postings on Facebook, LinkedIn and, more recently, Google+ (I’m currently disentangling my duplicate accounts so make sure you access the right one if interested).

So, here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014.  What areas of knowledge will you be learning about?

Note

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale (and using coaching as well as training, mentoring and consulting).  Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma, is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management) and a registered Growth Coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme.