Thursday, June 24, 2010

LSG Webinar - How great content, systems and communications create provable learning results

Hopefully I'll have better luck with this webinar than I had with the last one. Without too much stage setting, let me get straight to the topic. Steve Ash, Director of LINE Communications will speak today about his experience with Ford Europe and how they found a better way to train and communicate with their network of car dealers. They've implemented a portal called the Learning Center as well as the Ford Foundation a suite of content for sales people to gain essential skills to sell Ford vehicles. So Steve promises to cover:
  • How a portal approach enables rapid, targeted access to learning
  • Why a communications campaign is essential for adoption
  • How elearning speeds up time to competence
  • Calculating and demonstrating cost savings
  • Showing provable increased performance by learners
It's tough to stay focussed on a webinar while live blogging it when you're in a classroom full of bright students with an interesting discussion on hand. So, I'm going to do the best I can with these notes, but if they're pants - don't shoot me.

OK, I'm interested particularly in how people are improving business performance with learning.

So Steve asks: What do you think a learning function should measure and report on?

Some interesting answers from the group:
  • Improvement in ability to carry out tasks
  • increase in meeting targets
  • that skills base increases
  • improvement in performance
  • Expectations of stakeholders (ROE noit ROI)
  • were they appropriate to the role
  • impact of learning - efficiency, effectiveness
  • Return on expectation
  • Should be based on business req's and Learning outcomes that result from the lna
  • behavioural change
  • Committment
  • What the buisiness expects
OK let's see what this case study is all about.

The Company and their Challenge

Ford was founded in 1903 - one model and one colour of the car. Now they obviously create so many different kinds of vehicles. The profits they make are related to the technological advancements for their cars and even the extras generate huge profits for the business. Ford Europe is the subject of this case study - they have 8000 dealerships with 25000 dealers. So that's huge scale!

Jacob - Head of training at Ford had a challenge. Traditionally, people would go to Henry Ford College. People join, and after 3 months of trial you get hired by the dealers (you've sold from Day 2, btw). After this you complete the minimum training and then by month 37 you're fully trained. Unfortunately by month 37, 40% people left or dropped out. So their problems were:
  • 40% staff turnover
  • People never trained in Ford Brand
  • People rarely trained in all products
  • People never had any tests on their competence.
So the question was "Why?" they were doing things the way they were doing.

So Jacob's objectives were:
  • Increase vehicle sales
  • Increase profits - Do more for less
The most important thing Ford need to realise these objectives was to increase retention because it was costing them a fortune to recruit. The second was obviously time to competence, which in the original state was quite high - 37 weeks!

The most important part of executing the project was in the space of Change Management, apart from all the L&D aspects.

What they did and how they did it


At this point, Steve is showing us the Learning Center and the Ford Foundation learning materials. Let's see. There's a really nice video introducing the Learning Center and really what's in it for the sales folks - on time, any time, etc.

The big thing for the team was that elearning was a new way of learning and they had to construct different messages for each group of people in the corporate heirarchy and I think this is key as is the delivery of the message. One size fits all rarely fits anyone. Steve is showing how they used a standard look and feel and how they varied the media to suit different people and different purposes. It seems like a very professionally executed change programme. I see greenbacks floating -- this is bound to be costly, but I'm sure it's well worth the cost. Ok - time for 1 more demo!

Steve's now showing another of these introductory videos explaining the benefits of the elearning programs. The look and feel looks really polished - it's more of the same though. The idea is to communicate effectively.

The results
The program reached out to 23820 people. The more difficult measures however were around replacing the existing training binders.

Ford went ahead and broke the training materials into vertical and horizontal chunks dividing not just the product lines but also the knowledge and skill areas across these product lines. Now people can actually get trained in 13 months and potentially be promoted to sales managers by month 36. A huge improvement on the past approach.

They also released 24 different language versions, so people could access training in a language that made sense to them.

Now Ford is looking for ways to make the learning modules even shorter and to increase the number of delivery platforms to take the materials to mobiles, tablets, etc. They also have a request to move materials to a format where sales people can use these with customers as well! Sounds like they're loving it, aren't they?

Metrics
In terms of the before situation - the cost per person used to be 390 euros! That was a fair chunk of change for binders. Now, they spend as little as 65 euros! More importantly they can track completion and progress.

93% find the training useful. 81% people find it useful to sell vehicles before the launch event. Most importantly, amongst two people selling cars for 5 years, the person who had done elearning outperformed the people who hadn't done elearning almost consistently. More importantly the people who scored highly on the elearning did better on sales than the others. That's a very powerful statistic to send out to management to talk about the success of the program. Attrition had gone down tremendously as well!

In summary, this is a hugely successful program from Ford's perspective. The top tips;
  1. Pursue business metrics.
  2. Don't underestimate Change Management.
  3. Fun, engaging, interactive content is critical.
  4. elearning really works!
I really loved this experience report - great tips and inspiration. One thing for me to remember - Change Management is everything. I'm going to get some lessons from our Change Manager - Liv Wild. Thanks Steve!

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