6 Best Practices For Building A Culture Of Learning In Your Organization

Successfully Build A Culture Of Learning

Everything today is changing faster than one can keep pace with. Reskilling is becoming a priority for L&D more than ever before. And thus, learning is earning a much-deserved, crucial spot in organizations. This is validated by LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report [1] which states that 94% of employees feel investment in learning and development is one of the major reasons they would decide to stay in a role for longer. L&D stakeholders are now getting a seat at the table for not just providing compliance training, but also for employee engagement and motivation. The current times demand continuous learning and creating a culture and environment to support it, rather than one single long course or classroom workshop that employees need to undergo. Such a cultural shift needs a mindset change at every level across the organization. It needs empowered employees who believe in learning and growing at every step.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), very aptly, defines a learning culture as follows:

A learning culture consists of a community of workers instilled with a “growth mindset.” People not only want to learn and apply what they’ve learned to help their organization, they also feel compelled to share their knowledge with others.

6 Best Practices To Cultivate A Learning Mindset

We, at Harbinger, have been working with various organizations that believe strongly in developing a culture of learning. Based on our experience, here are 6 best practices that can go a long way when organizations are aiming to cultivate a learning mindset in their organizations.

1. Design Personalized Learning Journeys

L&D stakeholders need to understand that one size cannot fit all. Designing learning journeys for an individual, based on their preferences and needs, can go a long way and make the whole experience much more relevant for them. It is not about tracking how many hours employees spent on learning that matters, but the whole big picture around how they are more engaged in the process of learning since it is now personalized as per their needs and goals.

2. Choose The Right Learning Environment

Setting up the right systems and tools for learning is one of the important building blocks of success in this journey. If an LMS is difficult to navigate, one is not able to find the relevant content quickly, or when learning is not available when needed, it can create a strong resistance to learning. The learning environment should facilitate learning and make it easy to access. Look out for a solution that enables learning in the flow of work, can be smoothly navigated, is easily searchable, facilitates regular communication and feedback, and delivers learning in a format preferred by your learners.

3. Build Learning Programs That Engage

When you build learning programs keeping the big picture in mind rather than just aiming to tick off the compliance boxes, great things can happen. Effective learning programs are built using appropriate design modalities and keep the learner at the center of everything. Make optimum use of modalities like micro-learning, nudge learning, gamification, videos, and more when designing your learning, and witness your culture transform for good.

4. Make Learning A Core Value

For your employees to imbibe a culture of learning, they need to see it as something that leadership supports. Making learning a core organizational value is a great way to depict leadership buy-in and to commit to employee growth through continuous Learning and Development.

5. Enable Collaborative Learning

It is said that the most useful learning happens at the water coolers in an organization. What I mean by that is that people learn the best by sharing knowledge with each other. Providing an environment where people are motivated and encouraged to share knowledge can help in building a strong learning culture.

6. Reward It Right

Rewards have a big role to play in keeping up the motivation to learn, thus making them an important element in the whole learning ecosystem. Apart from certificates, badges, and leaderboard features, also look at providing rewards like manager citations and monetary incentives. Rewards when done right can go a long way in supporting and sustaining a learning culture.

When an organization moves toward building a culture of learning, it enables its employees to look for opportunities to learn at every point. They will no longer only be learning what is pushed to them through the LMS. They will discover newer ways and means to learn, enabling learning in the flow of work. The above best practices will definitely help your organization in taking a giant leap toward cultural transformation, but it will be all the more effective if L&D stakeholders lead by example.

A recent episode of Harbinger’s flagship virtual roundtable series, Power Hour, also touched upon the expanded role of the CLO and L&D leaders to build a culture of learning in any organization. Several L&D experts shared their views on this topic.

Is your organization moving toward building a culture of learning? What successes have you seen and what are some challenges you have come across? Are your leaders playing a key role in this transformation? I would be keen to know. You can share your experiences through the comments below.


[1] 2019 Workplace Learning Report


This article was originally published on eLearning Industry.

Does L&D Have a Seat at the C-Suite Table?

The role of L&D expanded during the pandemic and is becoming even more crucial now. Despite all the challenges organizations have faced last year, there has never been a more exciting time for learning and development. Infact, there has never been a better time to ask this question – “Does L&D have a seat at the C-Suite table?” I’m sure most of us would answer this in an affirmative “Yes”. That’s what LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2021[1] states too. According to the report, 63% of L&D pros believe that the L&D seat at the C-suite table is secure in 2021, which is a huge jump compared to just 24% respondents who felt the same in March 2020.

There could be many factors driving this change but the most pertinent one being that workers, managers, and business leaders – literally everyone is feeling the pressure to upskill and reskill today. The report by LinkedIn also identifies upskilling and reskilling as the top priority in 2021 for L&D pros globally, followed by other priorities like leadership and management, and virtual onboarding. A recent survey by Degreed reveals similar insights – Six-in-ten respondents feel that Covid-19 and the resulting economic crisis has accelerated the need to acquire new skills. Josh Bersin also highlights this challenge through his viewpoint of the rising need for internal mobility, in his recent article.[2]

In the current scheme of things, organizations have to learn how to match their crew to new roles and activities. The new-collar worker’s rise reflects the need to emphasize skills and ability over someone’s academic pedigree. On one hand, these changes have left L&D leaders thinking about strategies to reskill and upskill their workforces rapidly while on the other, they’ve also earned L&D a much-deserved seat at the C-Suite table, something that they’ve been hoping for, since long. L&D is rightfully in the driver’s seat today, as a strategic enabler of this monumental leap. Clearly, it’s their time and opportunity to play a crucial role as a change agent.

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting some of the world’s highly accomplished learning and development leaders for a recent Power Hour that touched upon the same topic. These experts gathered to talk about ‘Designing L&D for success in the post-pandemic world: The CLO Point of View.’  The session included Joti Joseph (A Seasoned L&D expert with a 26-year stint at Standard Chartered Bank) and Ken Hubbell (Sr. Vice President of Instructional Design Strategy and Innovation at Wells Fargo Bank) as panelists. The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group). The panel had an intriguing exchange of thoughts about the shift in the role of a CLO and the redesigned L&D function and corresponding change in KPIs. Some very insightful points were raised in the discussion. Vikas opened the discussion by sharing some industry statistics and ran a poll to know our audience’s top focus areas for L&D programs in 2021. (Not surprisingly, the results were in-line with what the LinkedIn report mentioned earlier, stated – Upskilling and reskilling, a clear winner with almost 60% votes). This was followed by a deliberation on the shifting role of the CLO, coupled by the new skills that L&D pros need to acquire, and concluded with a discussion of new KPIs for the redesigned L&D function.

The panelists opined that the L&D function needs to step up and take up more and different responsibilities, than they’ve been handling so far, to deliver what is expected of them in the coming times. L&D leaders are in the most powerful position to impact the culture of the organization they’re working in.

Shift in the Role of CLO and the Changing L&D KPI

Chief Learning Officer as the Bridge

In her opening thoughts, Joti shared that she feels that the role of Chief Learning Officer as someone who holds the triangle of human resources, learning, and business together has fundamentally changed in the last one year, and that’s what has probably got them the seat at the C-suite table as well. She also touched upon some skills that L&D professionals need to acquaint themselves with, to thrive. These include but are not limited to consulting, curation, personalization, and technology adoption and enablement.

Ken emphasized why it is of paramount importance for L&D pros to learn how to speak the language of business today. He feels that this will also enable them to show the impact of what learning can actually do in terms of metrics that that rest of the business stakeholders understand. Joti had similar thoughts when questioned around the changing L&D KPIs. She felt L&D KPIs need to be completely in sync with business KPIs and these two units should not function in isolation.

Talking more about metrics for measuring L&D success, the panel discussed how it is crucial for L&D to systematically move from effort measures to outcome measures. Ken shared his experience and recommendation of moving from traditional reporting and measurement via surveys and questionnaires to Net Promoter Scores as an effective measure of L&D success.

Avoiding Distractions

While talking about some new focus areas for L&D like mental health, Covid awareness, diversity and inclusivity, Joti raised a very relevant point. She feels it’s important for L&D leaders to avoid distraction and highlight ‘concept fatigue.’ She reiterated that L&D leaders need not go about implementing every new strategy they hear of and should ideally stick with chosen strategies and plans till they can prove their hypothesis, one way or the other.

The Final Word

The session had some great insights and clearly laid out how Chief Learning Officers view the world from their vantage point. L&D does have a seat at the C-Suite table provided it takes up an expanded role in the post-pandemic world, and experts have this confirmed for you.

Check out the on-demand recording of the Power Hour to hear the whole discussion. Do share your thoughts through the comments section below or reach out to us at info@harbingerelearning.com to share your feedback.


[1] https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/amp/learning-solutions/images/wlr21/pdf/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2021-EN-1.pdf

[2] Not Enough Workers: Rethink Recruiting In The New Economy – JOSH BERSIN

How Off-The-Shelf Learning Providers Can Take Advantage of Technology Disruptions [2021 Updated]

Technology disruptions can be a big sink for any business, if not handled well. Off-the-shelf learning providers have witnessed multiple such disruptions in the last few years. Such disruptions could result in huge capital expenditure or delay go-to-market plans, adversely impacting the bottom line in either case.  As the CEO or senior leader of an off-the-shelf learning provider, how do you handle such challenges? Is there a way you can leverage these disruptions to your advantage? How can you use your existing resources to turn such disruptions into an opportunity?

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting some of the world’s highly accomplished learning and development leaders twice for its Interactive Learning Power Hour – an online roundtable discussion.

The first instance of this Power Hour, which was hosted in August 2020, included 6 L&D experts as panelists. The names included Frank Russell (Founder and CEO at Prositions), Dehumo Bickersteth (Owner and Principal Consultant at DTB Services), Desiree Pinder (E-Learning Consultant at XP Learning), Michael Schreiner, PMP (Vice President of Content at Vector Solutions), Nicole Prolow (Training Development Specialist), and Rahul Singh (Sr. GM at Harbinger Interactive Learning). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group).

In the second occurrence of this Power Hour, which happened recently, in March 2021, we hosted two more esteemed L&D leaders – Timothy Donohue (Vice President of eLearning Solutions at IHRDC) and Moriam Seriki Rouse (Chief Learning Officer at AdvanceOnline Solutions, Inc). This session was led and facilitated by Poonam Jaypuriya (Vice President of eLearning at Harbinger Group).

In both the sessions, the respective hosts presented the key types of disruptions that content providers can face. The panelists then shared their in-depth experiences and insights on how they found some interesting opportunities in the disruptions they had witnessed in their career span.

Socio-Economic Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions that arise outside somewhere and affect your business.

Disruption Opportunity
COVID pandemic There is a need to produce COVID educational content in line with the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Rise in gig economy The gig economy generates rapid onboarding needs because people are going to come in and go out.
Inclusion of millennials in workforce The millennials in workforce are driving the need for micro learning.
Importance of diversity and inclusion – gender, race, accessibility A lot of makeover might be required for learning content that’s several years old and may need to be redone keeping the sensitivities for diversity & inclusion, going forward.
Focus on well-being With the increased focus on well-being, off-the-shelf content providers are looking at creating a lot of new content on mental health, financial well-being, etc.

Workplace Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions you experience inside your business.

Disruption Opportunity
Shift towards remote work This disruption created opportunities for off-the-shelf content providers to help in developing competencies related to remote work. For example, managing team and motivation in a remote working mode.
Focus on digital channels New content was rapidly needed to develop skills of employees to use digital channels for communication. For examples, sales team need to start selling products and solutions online instead of face to face meetings.
Need for reskilling Employees need to be reskilled for new technologies, new processes, or new job roles; and these skills need to be developed in the context of the prior skills.
New public health regulations With the COVID situation, there are new public health regulations coming up and employees need to be trained before coming back to work.

Design Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are changes at a technology level purely from a design perspective, these disruptions can impact the way you design learning content.

Disruption Opportunity
Rise in automation With technology upgrades, new ways of working emerged with automation. For example, platforms using AI to help in language learning; using Google translate for rapid and cost-effective translations. Using AI to generate questions from raw content by using tools like Quillionz. Off-the-shelf content providers can use technology to reduce the cost of production.
Phasing out of Adobe Flash With Flash sunsetting, there was a huge demand for migrating content to newer technologies like HTML5, Unity, and mobile-friendly content.
Rise of dynamic video This led to usage of technology to deliver interactive and dynamic videos with analytics. Exaltive is a great example of the same.
Emergence of mixed reality Boeing has reported 25% productivity improvement for technicians using mixed reality content. Off-the-shelf content providers are in the early stages of exploring this technology.

Delivery Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are disruptions driven by change in delivery technologies.

Disruption Opportunity
Emergence of social collaboration technology Social collaboration platforms like Teams and Slack are now used in day to day work life. Delivering learning through such platforms in the workflow is another opportunity area for off-the-shelf providers.
Increased adoption of mobile technology Using mobile to deliver learning bytes based on need and learning pattern is another opportunity for off-the-shelf content providers.
The shift from LMS to LXP There is a lot of conversation around how to syndicate off-the-shelf content with platforms like EdCast, Percipio, and Degreed.
Rise of artificial intelligence/machine learning Delivering off-the-shelf content pieces for personalized learning experiences to learners using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is another area of opportunity to explore.
Rich data analytics Generating rich data analytics based on learner behaviors and work patterns; and using those insights to deliver just-in-time learning content in the workflow, has huge potential.

For detailed insights, be sure to tune in to both the session recordings through the links shared below.

August 2020 Power Hour

March 2021 Power Hour

As evident from the discussions, there are opportunities that each types of disruption can bring along. Off-the-shelf content providers need to carefully watch out for those and take advantage of them. At the same time, it is not feasible for off-the-shelf providers to work on each opportunity on their own.  Custom content learning businesses can support them for best results.

Have you devised an opportunity out of a technology disruption? What success stories do you have to share with the industry? Please comment below or drop us a note at info@harbingerelearning.com.

Digitization of Education – Modernizing Classrooms for Good

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.

When I was a young kid, I could not even imagine learning anywhere except for a traditional classroom and in the physical presence of my teachers. There was some noise about desktops as I stepped into teenage, but it was only limited to our ‘Computer Science’ classes once a fortnight where we would learn coding in BASIC language. As I stepped into college, I graduated as a ‘Computer Applications’ professional who frequented computer labs primarily for practicing my coding assignments. Most of my learning still happened in traditional classrooms, with teachers around, and through paper books. (Interestingly, I have progressed from calling them real books to paper books in the last few years). Fast forward to 2020 – The year that changed mine and probably the entire world’s outlook about education. We work remotely, collaborate virtually, learn through online courses, virtual classrooms, and virtual instructor led training sessions, which very amusingly is also how our kids learn today.

Integration of technology into learning and education is not new but the pace at which it advanced through the year 2020, is remarkable. The field of education was in fact one of the first ones to be affected by the disruption caused by the pandemic. Millions of educational institutions had to resort to online teaching – something that was in the pipeline for the longest time and yet never really prioritized. Some were better prepared than the others, but it won’t be incorrect to say that everyone learnt and evolved for better. With this rapid transformation, we also realized that the potential of digitization in education and learning is huge and exciting. While there are many challenges, there are abundant opportunities too. And as we step into 2021, I can’t help but feel amazed by the sheer thought of learning technology progressing by leaps and bounds.

What is Digitization

Wikipedia defines digitization as the process of converting information into a digital (i.e., computer-readable) format. In the context of learning/education, digitization may be better understood as a subset of ‘Digital Transformation’. Digital transformation is best understood as the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology.

Common Approaches to Digitize

Digitization largely makes use of (but not limited to) mechanisms like:

  • Online learning courses which can be taken at the learners’ convenience and assist in self-paced learning. These courses are usually targeted at building competencies and knowledge in specific subjects or skills. Course creators can accordingly build them as interactive learning modules. using appropriate instructional methodologies like gamification, animations, videos, simulations, scenarios, and more.
  • Online assessments and examinations which make the whole assessment process convenient and hassle-free for both teachers/trainers and learners.
  • eBooks which provide an interface to learners to access learning material digitally and in an interactive fashion.
  • Study assistants and virtual bots which are available anytime anywhere to guide the learner on all their queries.
  • Curating and converting OERs (Open Educational Resources) into interactive videos, nuggets, and more.  

Challenges to Overcome

While the above digitization approaches contribute to bringing a certain level of ease in the system, there are some challenges that still need attention.

  • Transforming Content Appropriately

Learning online works differently from traditional classroom-based learning and hence the approach to design and deliver both should also be different. Digitizing a piece of content is not about converting it as-is to an online format. We need to apply the right learning design strategy, instructional approaches, and learner engagement tactics to make content appealing for online learners.

Breaking longer content into smaller micro-learning nuggets is equally important. These small learning bytes make a good use-case for just-in-time learning and periodic reinforcement.

Responsive design is another important factor to keep in mind while digitizing content. Learners are likely to access online learning content on a device of their choice.

  • Integrating Multiple Systems

While this doesn’t pertain to content digitization per se, but the right system integrations form the core of any digital transformation initiative. All systems in picture need to communicate with each other seamlessly for the transformation to be effective. For example, in a major upskilling initiative in a company, if the learning management system is exchanging data with the performance management system, it will become much easier to measure the impact of any learning program on the employee performance and even predict what kind of learning programs would an employee need.

In the context of education, systems like student information systems should be integrated seamlessly with salesforce or a CRM, attendance management system, learning management system, and even online meeting tool like zoom to track the entire journey of a learner – from candidate to a certified professional.

These are just a few examples, there could be many others. The point I am trying to establish is that learning cannot operate in a silo; it will work the best if it is a component of the entire organizational workflow.

  • Building a Culture of Continuous Learning

In today’s dynamically changing world, it is important for any organization or educational institution to develop a culture of continuous learning. Upskilling and reskilling continuously is the only way to survive in this competitive landscape. People must learn faster than ever before and for that, we need to weave in continuous learning in the organizational culture and not just make it a mandate.

Making learning available in the flow of work, periodic reinforcement of relevant learning content through nudge-learning, using deep analytics and AI to recognize and address competency gaps, are some ways technology can help address this challenge.

The Way Forward

We are in a time where phenomenal changes are taking place in the education and learning domain. Are the new EdTech products capable of helping develop skills that future workplaces will demand? As per a McKinsey report, by 2030, 65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet. Clearly, today’s jobs are not necessarily going to end up as tomorrow’s jobs. Hence, we need to rapidly address competency gaps, not just through school education but throughout work lives of professionals. In this changing marketplace, learning is no more meant to be confined to the four walls of a classroom, it needs to evolve. It needs to enable learners to acquire new skills whenever they need and wherever they need.

Digitization is the first step towards this transformation. Solutions like AI-based teaching assistants, chatbots, automation, nudge-learning, augmented and virtual reality will take center stage. Where do you stand in this whole transformation? What challenges have you experienced and what results have you achieved? I would love to know. Drop me an email at info@harbingerelearning.com to connect and discuss.

An Educational Program to Help Teenagers Recover from Nicotine Addiction: A Case Study in EdTech

Drug addiction is a severe problem in youth across USA. In fact, prescription drug misuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. And it intensely affects the lives of teenagers in multiple ways. Substance abuse and problematic patterns of substance use among youth can lead to problems at school, cause or aggravate physical and mental health-related issues, promote poor peer relationships, cause motor-vehicle accidents, and place stress on the family. They can also develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social and financial consequences.[1]

As a non-profit organization that aims to transform lives impacted by addiction and substance use through behavioral healthcare solutions, one of Harbinger’s end clients had it on their plan to develop an educational drug recovery program for teenage learners. Their intention was to positively impact the lives of as many teenagers as possible by rolling out the program in multiple schools and colleges to improve its reach. Regarding the program development, the client had two primary requirements – Development of an app and an engaging educational course which would play on that app.

Keeping in mind the preferences and needs of teenage learners, sensitivity around the subject area, and the learning objectives, it was important to get the technology selection and design of the program right. Shared below are some guidelines by the client for each of their development requirements and how Harbinger helped achieve them through its EdTech development capabilities.

  1. App Development

They wanted to set up a drug addiction recovery application (Both web-based and mobile), which would enable individuals to access drug treatment programs based on user modules. Different roles including youth, parents and professionals would use the application. The application would also produce reports and analytics to analyze the impact of each training.

Harbinger studied many environments for their user interface quality, customizability, performance, overall maturity, and durability and finally chose AWS Lightsail environment. We then moved to build the custom web and mobile app for drug recovery. Other essential technology choices that we made were – ReactJS for the responsive web front, React Native for the mobile app, and Laravel Framework to support durability and performance. The app included functionality to give performance-insights to learners in real time. Periodic notifications and customized reports helped in tracking learner progress efficiently.

The below figure represents the solution architecture of the application.

EdTech Solution Architecture

  1. Course Development

In any online educational course, it is important to minimize dropouts and ensure a higher level of engagement for learners, and same was the case here. The client wanted to design an engaging educational experience, which suited teenage learner preferences, based on a 5-stage recovery program. They also wanted to ensure that the program wouldn’t scare the learners away, instead motivate and encourage them to achieve the objective of calling it quits on nicotine.

Harbinger decided to give the teenage learners a Netflix-like user experience. There was chunking of content into smaller modules, as series and episodes. Our designers treated episodes with different instructional and visual design methodologies. Some episodes were made available as comic strips, some as scenarios, some had an inter-conversational interface, while some had gamification components. This built learner interest and ensured engagement to be spot-on. The design of the entire learning program was as a responsive website.

As a result of all the research and efforts that went in, the client could launch a successful drug recovery program that helped improve student outcomes drastically. They were even able to promote this program in schools and colleges, which resulted in the program’s wider reach. Harbinger is very proud of the fact that it has been able to work with the client to meet all desired objectives and contribute to this noble cause of drug recovery. Apart from this particular case, we have also helped many other clients build successful educational technology solutions. To know more about our EdTech expertise or to view a demo of the drug recovery solution, please drop a note to info@harbingerelearning.com.

[1] https://youth.gov/youth-topics/substance-abuse#_ftn