Driving Organizational Change Initiatives Through Remote Learning: A Case Study

Today, one of the most important business needs for organizations is to create a sustainable and scalable learning ecosystem for the ever-evolving workplace. No longer can L&D departments afford to work in silos. The key job that L&D leaders have on their hands is to keep their (remote) workforce engaged by instituting learning in the flow of their work and to create measurable business impact through learning. All of this leads back to delivering the right content to the right person at the right time in the way they want it, to improve business outcomes.

As a 105-year-old privately-owned company, Midmark Corporation, a leading manufacturer of medical, dental, veterinary products and related services, has been through many transformations in its lifetime.  Sometime back, they decided to expand their focus from products to providing seamless solutions that improve the experience between the patient and the caregiver.  The Professional Education team at Midmark was tasked with the responsibility of accomplishing this organizational level change initiative through implementation of remote learning solutions. The team realized that to achieve the end goal, it was important to help Midmark teammates understand the clinical and patient experience and how their products help improve patient outcomes. To facilitate the required learning, Midmark strategized and selected multiple methodologies.

Details of the components used in their blended learning program are shared below.

  1. Introductory video

To begin with, the Professional Education team sent an introductory video by their Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tom Schwieterman, explaining that Midmark was going to focus on COPD and Spirometry. The reasons for this choice (listed below) were shared with learners via multiple mediums – posters, on stage with patients, through patient video, etc.

    • COPD is the 3rd leading disease cause of death in United States.
    • There are 160,000 COPD related deaths in the United States every year.
    • It is estimated there are 12-14 million people in the US with COPD that are undiagnosed.  And Spirometry is the most effective and common method for diagnosing COPD.
    • Only about half of Primary Care offices have spirometry test equipment, and if they do, they may not know how to get it into their workflow or interpret the results.
    • COVID-19 has left many people with permanent lung damage that moves them into the COPD realm of care.
    • Midmark believes they can help more clinicians learn how to incorporate spirometry testing into their daily practices and hopefully make a positive impact for patients with COPD.

2. eLearning module

The talking head video was followed with a “What is COPD?” eLearning module. This module provided an overview of what causes COPD, profiles of people with COPD, and Midmark’s solution set.

3. Live presentation

At their annual Commercial Summit, Dr. Tom gave a live presentation on the need to address COPD as a company. This was to reiterate the importance of addressing COPD. They also had posters on the walls around the presentation room with key facts about COPD.

In a remote learning setup, Dr. Tom’s presentation could have been handled via an interactive webinar.

4. Q&A session

And then Midmark brought on stage two patients with stage-4 COPD, to hold a Q&A session with the audience. The Professional Education team had also made a video of the patients telling their stories that was shown before bringing them on stage.

In a remote learning setup, the video could have been streamed remotely and the Q&A could have been held online.

5. Hands-on training session

The team then had the learners rotate through hands-on spirometry testing sessions where they learned to use the spirometry equipment and take tests on themselves.

In a remote learning setup, this could be done remotely via a webinar and through individual coaching as the key sales teammates have their own spirometry devices as part of their sales kit.

6. Gamification modules

Over the next few weeks, the team rolled out 4 ‘Day in the Life of a Patient with COPD’ gamification modules where the learner had to make decisions on how to deal with the impact of COPD in daily life activities. These modules, which were produced by Harbinger, comprised 4 topics

  1. Having a flare-up while doing normal activities
  2. The stigma of having COPD
  3. The responsibility to take care of yourself
  4. Options to keep healthy

Gamification elements such as scores and Patient Wellbeing Indicators were used to increase the engagement level of the modules and emphasize the importance of taking appropriate decisions at right time.

Outcomes

Mid-way through the program, Midmark surveyed a cross section of their sales and marketing teammates. Some of them have very little to do with COPD or selling spirometry products and services.

Here are some key insights

  • 91% of them found Dr. Tom’s overview video Very or Somewhat Useful
  • 97% found the “What is COPD” eLearning module Very or Somewhat Useful
  • 91% found the first Day in the Life gamification module Very or Somewhat Useful
  • No one found any of the above “not useful” even though they may not be involved with spirometry

What is interesting is that the videos and eLearning modules were rated higher than the hands-on spirometry workshops that only received an 80% useful score. The fact that the hands-on spirometry training received relatively less approval as compared to the other learning modalities, speaks about how remote/online learning, if planned and structured well, can get us the desired business results.

Learnings

Here are some key learnings that the Midmark team captured from their whole experience.

  • No matter how short a module is, learners like to know ahead of time how much time it will take them to complete the module
  • They found that allowing teammates to study topics remotely per their personal schedule allowed for more focused attention
  • Learners need to understand how the topic fits into their sales goals and corporate strategies
  • And, the learners’ managers need to understand how important it is for them to proactively support the learning

On June 18, 2020, Midmark Corporation and Harbinger Interactive Learning came together to deliver an insightful webinar touching upon all the above aspects. You may view the webinar recording here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW-IV7yblJs and hear it directly from Cleon Wellington, Professional Education Director at Midmark Corporation. For any further queries or to have a discussion, please reach out to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Role of Training in Catering Leadership Development

In a previous blog, we explored the exponential growth in the catering industry and the reasons supporting this growth.  A growing industry needs to support their leaders with targeted training to help them in meeting customer expectations and deliver outstanding service. In the catering industry, catering managers are the flag-bearers of the restaurant brand and it is critical to align them with the brand culture and values. This would help in establishing the brand with their crew and eventually with the customers. To achieve this, it is important to groom and train catering managers in certain skillsets and processes. Let’s look at them below:

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are a key attribute of successful catering managers. Catering industry has a high level of employee turnover and catering managers have to deal with new employees all the time.  It is essential that managers break the ice with employees and get them onboard and ready to perform quickly. Catering managers should be trained in skills like verbal and non-verbal communication, influencing and negotiation skills, and more.

Customer Centricity

Catering managers face customers on an everyday basis and customer centricity becomes a critical skill for restaurant survival and performance.  A manager trained on skills like understanding customer needs, customer behavior, effective communication, and empathy, would work towards building a customer-centric culture. Such a manager and their crew would be able to handle catering events better and deliver exceptional customer delight.

Catering Specific Processes

A catering event is a high-pressure situation with a lot of moving parts. Lack of processes can lead to chaos and bad customer experience.   Catering managers should be able to estimate the right number of crew members to an event.  They also need to keep a close watch on the budget and perform a detailed risk management analysis to make an event successful.

Considering all the above requirements, it is ideal that catering managers are trained to plan activities smartly, follow specific processes, and most importantly, they should be able to take quick decisions. Considering the nature of this industry, a blended learning approach would suit the best. Use of classroom training to deliver key topics, supported by online learning modules supporting micro-learning, gamification, and scenario-based learning can deliver the desired results.

Are you a part of the catering industry? What type of training do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts through comments below. If you would like to discuss any training needs or use cases with our experts, drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Catering Industry – Growing by Leaps and Bounds, and Sustaining Beyond

Catering industry in the United States has grown at an exponential rate in the last decade. In 2017, catering accounted for 11% of the foodservice industry sales with revenue of $12 bn. Caterers have introduced newer menu items and are providing a wider range of services than before to meet the increasing client expectations. Households and businesses are hosting more catered events, and as per projections, the catering industry will continue to flourish at a rate of 5-6% through 2019, as compared to a much lower, 1.8% growth rate from 2013-2018.  Many big restaurant brands have also started exploring catering as a revenue generation option.

So, what is factoring this tremendous growth? Here is what I think:

  1. Increasing Reach of Technology – For the first time in the history of food service, the power of ordering is literally in the hands of consumers.  This acts as a direct link between consumers and operations and speeds up the entire transaction cycle. Mobile technology has made it easier for customers to reach out to caterers through a couple of clicks.
  1. Healthy Consumer Spending – Statistics show that the average catering order value has increased by 65% in the last one year. This considerable growth has been aided by increased consumer spending and corporate profits. More and more households and businesses are expected to host catered events and opt for contractual meals for parties, weddings luncheons, schools, hospitals, and trade shows. Caterers relieve them of the worry of running the meal program, and they are free to focus on their core event or program.
  1. Rise in Catering Avenues- Catering avenues have diversified significantly over the past couple of years. Apart from the traditional event catering, newer forms of catering like mobile catering, boxed lunch catering for businesses, airline and rail catering are on a rise. Full-service catering companies that provide room decorations, lighting and table settings, along with food, are being sought by many consumers. With so many channels available for catering, it is only natural that the industry is growing significantly and will continue to do so.
  1. Better Packaging – Improved packaging technology like temperature control containers make sure that the food you receive as a boxed meal, or consume at an event, tastes and looks as good as at a restaurant and does not spoil. This is a lucrative proposition for consumers who want their guests or customers to enjoy fresh and good quality food without worrying about cooking or maintaining it.

The exceptional growth in the catering industry is commendable. It has paved the way for new job roles, processes and responsibilities.  It is crucial that you set the right standard for all stakeholders involved including third-party delivery partners, to support the growth in your consumer base and services. This requires training your employees and partners on the ins and outs of your brand, how you want your food to be packaged, how you want it to be delivered, etc.

I shall expand more on the role of training in catering leadership development in my next blog. Stay tuned, and feel free to share your thoughts below.

Can Flipped eLearning be Effective for Continuing Medical Education?

Optimized-HIL-HEalthcare-Blog

Are you a Continuing Medical Education (CME) provider constantly on the lookout for ways to create value for medical practitioners through your education programs? Since these are already practicing physicians with long and unpredictable working hours, it is quite challenging to cater to their learning requirements. In this blog, we shall look at the flipped eLearning model as a potential way to make the CME experience more appealing for the medical community. This model is being effectively used by some of our customers for quite some time now. It prioritizes assessments over content unlike the typical eLearning model where content comes before assessments. Since these providers are dealing with learners who are practicing physicians and already know their stuff, the idea is to focus on reinforcement and not introducing new content. Hence the flipped eLearning model could help.

 

The flipped eLearning model thrives on the belief that assessments are more reflective of what the physicians are doing in practice, and can incentivize them to learn new things. In this model, short assessment nuggets can be used as the first point to engage the practitioners. These nuggets that can typically be completed in 2-5 minutes can be aimed at assessing their knowledge on particular subjects. Once the practitioners attempt them, the nugget can then teach them the required lessons through feedback. This enables practitioners to be more receptive of the learning module. In case they have answered the assessment question correctly, they are keen to explore further on the subject. In case the answer is wrong, they are keen to know the right option. In both the cases, they are more receptive to learning. And since this learning doesn’t demand much time out of their busy schedules, they are happy to undertake it.

 

The use of assessments to gauge actual knowledge and then enhance it, also calls for using advanced methods to evaluate, rather than just multiple choice questions. Explorative and immersive assessments, simulated operations on virtual patients, allow for more in-depth exploration of the assessment questions. Automated scoring and tracking could make this flipped eLearning model more useful, since the providers can assess the physician progress from time to time and direct the learning modules as per individual needs.

 

What are your thoughts on using this flipped eLearning model? Do you think it could have a positive impact on their engagement and reception levels? We would love to hear from you.

From Instructional Design to Experience Design – The Corporate Learning Paradigm Shift

Corporate Learning

The evolution of technology in corporate learning has been rapid yet transformative, giving more power to learners at each step. Today, organizations aim at bringing learning to where employees are. It could be on their smartphones, their tablets, laptops, and even on their smart watches. Giving a learner exactly what they want, and where they want, is the only way to win in this disruptive digital landscape. All this calls for solutions that are employee centric. To design such solutions, the focus needs to shift from instructional design to user experience design on a whole.

If you are thinking about what would constitute impactful user experience design, well, for starters, learning and information support systems should be extremely easy and intuitive to use. We are already so accustomed to the Google and YouTube experience in our lives. Say you are seeking a quick tutorial on how to apply an appliqué patch on your denims. Without even wanting to check with the person sitting next to you, you just type in your query on the Google toolbar or the YouTube app on your phone, and there are thousands of results available in a second. There are videos, infographics, articles, and much more. You choose to view based on your reading and watching preference. And if you don’t like what you see, you quickly move to the other results. So quick and easy, Right?

Consider another case, you need a cab, all you need to do is press a search button on your Uber app, and the app shares information on all cabs available nearby, with the estimated wait time as well. Who could have thought of such a technology sorted life, a decade back! Today, all information is available at your fingertips, and the user experience is constantly improving.

We need to design the same experience for corporate learning. But there is a small catch. The corporate learning experience, because of its formal nature, needs to be a lot more controlled; a lot more guided, whilst appearing as independent as it regularly is. Since there is an explosion of video and instructional content over the internet, it is really difficult to filter out the right information for your employees.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • Personalize the experience

They key here is to track employees’ digital footprints at the workplace and based on them, guide the employee into an appropriate and personalized learning flow. Every employee’s learning needs and learning style varies from others. Automated systems powered by artificial intelligence can be used to detect what is best suited for an employee. They can be used to act as gatekeepers to filter the right information from the internet to the company intranet.

  • Categorize content

For easy searching, content can be categorized into multiple types   Informative Instructional, Advanced, Compliance Related, etc. These categories may totally depend on the workplace requirement and make it easier for employees to locate the right module or video depending upon their requirement. Uncategorized content will only lead to more confusion and less learning.

  • Specify learning format

Learning formats could be segregated into two types: Macro-learning and Micro-learning.

Micro-learning is just in time, delivered in small, very specific bursts. Two minute videos could be micro-learning. A short game could be micro-learning. Even a small eBook that takes ten minutes to read through could be micro-learning. We, as users, consume this kind of material all day. This could prove handy when an employee wants to learn a quick thing, or read up on a quick policy, Content curated distinctly as micro-learning lets a user know what to expect.

Macro-learning, on the other hand, is something that covers detailed information related to a topic. It comes in handy when an employee wants to learn an entirely new process or function. For instance, it could be all about social media marketing, or automation testing. Macro-learning can be instructor led, or a series of videos and podcasts, or an entire interactive eBook.

  • Enable ratings

When there is abundant information available to be consumed within an organization, it makes sense to learn from other’s experience too. Courses, videos, or other learning objects need to have a provision where employees can rate them. It makes more sense to view a video course with 5 stars on ‘Retargeting’ than a 1 star video. An ‘Effective Sales Strategy’ podcast liked by 50 employees stands a higher chance of being heard than a similar one liked by only 12.

  • Add pre-assessments

Assessments added prior to an important course or module make learning much more controlled and better guided. Such exercises can give a sense of what the employee already knows and what s(he) still needs to learn.

The above steps can ensure that employees can find the information they need wherever they are. Such a design replicates the massive YouTube or Google like learning experience into your corporate learning. The key is to step into the user’s shoes and focus on the user experience design.

Thoughts?

 

Note: This blog has been drafted based on inputs from the following members of Harbinger’s Industrial Advisory Board:

  • Patti Evanosky, Director of Training, Chicken Salad Chick
  • Paul Meek, Director, Solutions Training and Advisory Limited
  • Jayant Kulkarni, Chief of Sales, Harbinger Interactive Learning