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9th January - Dr Geoff Bird at Grant Thornton

Great session with good attendance. Dr Geoff Bird spoke, providing his expert insight into a wide range of topics. Discussion topics amongst the attendees were:

* Learning catalogues and platforms

* How to bring an employee value proposition to life

* Creating customer centricity

* Building capability in a digital world

* Embedding Leadership Behaviours

Learning Catalogues and platforms

Discussion: Learning catalogues and platforms

A bank is looking at how to purchase and use libraries / catalogues of online resources from suppliers like Linkedin Learning. The discussion covered the catalogues, the platforms needed to support them and the climate needed for success.

The Catalogues

Suppliers: Skillsoft, Loop. Ashridge online, Linked in Learning, Cross knowledge, S4K, HBR, Tedx, CEB, getAbstract

Each has different topic coverage so pick what meets your need

Each has different media bias e.g. film or text and there are different approaches to application e.g. templates or exercises so look beyond content

Analytics capability varies, so decide what you want to know, if anything, about what is being used or searched

Editorial approach varies. If you want white American academics you are spoilt for choice, if not, you have to look further.

The Platforms

Some providers can integrate in-company content

Some providers have advanced search or auto curation capability

Some providers will produce seamless integration from your LMS or other technology and provide a corporate look for you. Others are ‘what you see is what you get’.

DO NOT import into unless you have advanced search and can invest in tagging content you want to value.

Many LMS provide a poor learner experience (they are back office admin not content management) so consider how your learners will get to the catalogue (and out again) and the way you will connect it to the rest of what you offer.

Consider the need for mobile access and review the provider in all the modalities you need as the experience varies.

Consider a dedicated user experience platform e.g. Success Factors, Degreed, Cross Knowledge that offer the ability to create curricula, auto curation and integration with HR data e.g. ability to create an audience and ‘push’ content to them.

Does the technology ‘download’ in background (cache) so a loss in wifi does not disrupt access in the short term?

Can users rate or recommend content to others and do you want that?

Do you want comments and can you moderate them?

Could you use QR codes on other materials to give direct access to resources?

The Climate

If you are offering mobile be aware of how employees react to data allowances

Ensure content ‘travels’ across borders, if could be illegal e.g. to promote inclusion of same-sex relationships

Look carefully as best value. Many providers use enterprise payments based on total headcount and this might not be the best model for you. Are there services you do not need or should not pay for?

Ensure you technology architecture can support the content e.g. bandwidth, IE version

Consider the operational needs e.g. operational staff, call centre agents on rosters or customer facing may not have access to otherwise ‘just in time’ resources so there is low perceived value.

DO NOT replace complex learning. Making sense of the concepts, practice and feedback still need to be face to face.

Are your leadership team ready to accept ‘browsing’ as learning and let go of the need to attend a two-day course?

Will informal learning be supported or will it be perceived as pushing learning into personal time.

How to bring an employee value proposition to life

We have designed a new Employee Value Proposition last year and are about to launch it. How do we bring it to life? How do we measure its success?

Key outputs from discussion

Need to focus on the key aspects and chunk things up

•Explain it is a long-term vision and decide which 3 statements to focus on in 2018, which 3 statements to focus on in 2019, etc.

•Identify the most achievable statements, any potential quick wins and act on these first in order to both build momentum and show evidence of progress

To get leadership buy-in, build a case using:

•Academic studies on the importance of leadership role modelling

•Key data: turnover of our regretted staff, potential trends, recruitment fees, glassdoor comments, engagement scores, etc.

•Holding the mirror up: one way to do so would be to invite junior members to share examples of the impact on them of certain leadership behaviours

Have leadership buy-in in:

•Role-modelling new behaviours

•Sponsoring priorities

•Focusing on strengths

•Explaining the consequences of them not owning the People Deal

•Have engagement scores for leaders’ division to feed into their performance reviews

•Be careful not to overload leaders with negative feedback. Offer them support and development. Integrate the expectations on them in the training and development offer.

•Have advocates/champions of the new ways of working across the organization to build an upward and downward shift

•Explain what the EVP means for each individual, each person we recruit. It is a two-way deal.

•The other approach if we don’t have leadership buy-in is to pilot a project management programme in one area in order to identify the key ingredients to success and replicate the model

•What other businesses have done to bring an EVP to life:

•Have added a goal on all employees 'objectives, dedicated to a critical aspect of the EVP (in this case: a culture shift)

•Have created a working group from across the business to address one other critical aspect of the EVP (in this case: diversity and inclusion workgroup)

Creating Customer Centricity

There was a recognition in the room that in creating greater customer centricity this was cultural and had to be thought about systemically and plan fully.

A number of examples where shared as to how this has been approached in other represented organisations

Leaders need to understand and connect with customers

  • Customer connect - leadership events where customers and leaders connect, listen and co shop n store and online as to truly understand the customer needs before their own preferences, benefits of this has been leaders story telling, talking about customers.

  • Customer conferences where customers are present at leadership conferences and talk to leaders

  • Leaders need to role model and learn from customers, they need to understand what it means for them

Feedback from customers needs to be heard

  • Mystery dinners/shoppers - share impartial feedback on the experience and many food service providers are incentived on these

  • Online there is a host of sites e.g feefo, trip advisor that share a wealth of customer feedback, are they utilised

  • Ask the customer simply what you are trying to measure or it can be to broad

What gets measured gets done

  • What are the measures the organisation use's? whats talked about most? where is the priority? do they all support customer?

Invest in capabilities and skills

  • Try and resource your customers to work for you, these are your best advocates

  • Make your product available to your staff e.g free books, holidays etc where examples shared, your staff need to experience and consume what you are selling.

  • Induction is an investment and pays of if you set the right tone, is your customer included in your induction

  • Invest in capabilities, you get what you invest in. Identify best practice, talent, share experiences, job swaps e.g shops etc.. to get a different view on whats great, back to the floors

  • Leaders and Managers need to encourage, enable and lead - how do you support and enable them to do this - what are they measured on, values of the organisation, behaviours etc...

  • Celebrate success, people want to see instant recognition or reward

Its cultural

  • Its cultural so it takes time, communications need to include customer and so does any strategy or vision

  • Are people clear what is expected of them, bring it to life.

  • 'A lovely brand just needs to be lovely'

  • Language is key ..... e.g 'are you willing to try this', framing customer service as 'not letting someone go without resolving their problem'

Building Capability in a digital world

  1. Where to source more information:

Wired Magazine – recommended source of technology news

YouTube clips: Scott Galloway - The four Horsemen (Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple)

Ted Talks : Peter Diamandis ( Founder of the X Prize and co-founder and Exec chairman of Singularity University)

Recommended suppliers

  • General Assembly – great feedback and also have a Leadership mind-set assessment tool

  • Digital Profit

  • Avado – good feedback and good value ( most suppliers in this space are high end)

  • Doblin – 10 types of Innovation

  • One Leap

  • De-Coded

  • Singularity

  • CRF – Good sources of talent and L&D data analytics

  • Experian – good source of data analytics

  1. Definition of ‘Digital’

Many organisations struggle to clearly define what they understand by the term Digital.

  • Digital =Binary coding - driving advances in technology from AI, VR, AR to 3D printing as well as online, mobile platforms.

  • Anything which impacts on the future of work (mostly technology)

  • Must connect to business challenges and be customer centric.

Triangles used to provide more clarity:

Digital Mind-set/Digital Skills/Digital Vocabulary

Digital Mind-set – Agile Methodology, Design Thinking. Use case studies to help grow digital mind-set.

Digital Vocab – Bit Coin, Block chain, AI, Machine learning, Virtual Reality, Augmented reality, Robotics, 3D printing….

Or - Digitally commercial / Digital Acumen /Digitally Confident

  1. Capability building

  • Build ‘Digital’ into Leadership and talent programmes

Digital Language and awareness ( use case studies)

How to lead creative people

It’s ok to be vulnerable and not know everything about digital ( don’t bluff)

Good to experiment ( Change language from ‘pilots’ to ‘experiments’)

Be prepared to fail – Celebrate it and learn from it


Decision making ( pace)

Look at Digital skills Assessments

  • Meet-Ups ( Use website) for setting up F2F events – open to internal and external delegates ( Can set up via Meet-Up to control how many external places you want to have) Guest speakers on chosen topics to grow awareness/share case studies– Bit Coin, Technology etc. followed by Beer and Pizza. Open to all – not driven by hierarchy.

  • Webinars – use internal speakers

  • Workshops – build practical sessions, Digital Marketing,

  • Hacker for a day and Coder for a day ( De-coded a good provider)

  • Note - Examples of Leaders finding networking events more engaging than traditional classroom learning…

  • Skills in L&D team – bring in Digital marketers, Data analysts ( fresh pair of eyes will give better view on analytics)

Embedding Leadership Behaviours

Context – We have recently created 4 x leadership behaviours and I wanted insight from the group about how to embed these in the organisation (c. 170 department stores across the UK / ROI and 2 x support centres)


  • Make the behaviours permeate everything – every review, promotion strategy and all reward mechanisms

  • Link your leadership programme to the behaviours

  • Keep it simple in the communications but have a more detailed scale of what each behaviour looks like on a scale when used in development programmes

  • Make sure everyone knows about your behaviours – including third parties involved in development (i.e. coaches)

  • Measure how much people are living the behaviours through the engagement survey

  • Use symbols and make big gestures to prove we mean what we say but keep it authentic – i.e. if we’re one team, we need to recognise special car parking spaces (for eg) contradict this

  • Have facilitated dialogue about how close we are right now to the behaviours – allow a space in development workshops for colleagues to have permission to admit their ‘regrets’ – i.e. behaviours that don’t fit the new model

  • Create a mechanism for leaders to stay close to the front line to keep close to what’s really happening – bypass the ‘permafrost’ middle layer(s)

  • Launch behaviours through other processes to avoid the ‘so what?’ i.e. recruitment or performance management processes

  • Keep performance management (and therefore behaviours) live by making performance conversations regular

We discussed different approaches to performance management included having separate ratings for performance and culture (in which the culture rating receiving a higher rating), moving entirely away from prescriptive ratings – separating the link with pay, and bringing ratings in. Both were about to be introduced so watch this space for what the outcomes are!