3A case can be made that a corporate training initiative or any course of learning for that matter is reliant on the learner's state of mind at the time of the training. Inspiration breeds motivation and vice versa. Rick Daly of AmeriCredit knows this all too well. But the senior vice president, learning and performance, also hinges the Fort Worth, Texas-based auto finance company's training efforts on another subjective factor of learning: a person's learning style.
As part of AmeriCredit's Organizational Engineering juggernaut, Daly has spearheaded a prediction and performance instrument, called the I-Opt Learning Style Rollout, that attempts to actualize David Kolb's Learning Cycle Model and its accompanying learning styles.
Daly's vision was to measure the company's 4,800 employees, from the ceo to the janitors, and log their preferred learning styles into a database where course content could be attuned based on the individual, the facilitator and the design of the course. Before a training class begins, Daly explains, they run an I-Opt group profile on all the students, along with a motivation questionnaire. Algorithms yield predictive data on an employee's likelihood of success in learning from the course, based on course design, their motivation to attend and the style of the facilitator.
Course facilitators receive a report prior to a session that allows them to adjust course delivery, content and design based on the learning styles of the participants. "I can do a little bit about their motivational state up front," explains Daly, "but I can do a lot about content shifting and training our facilitators to be fluid in each of the different style zones so that they can shift their own methods."
AmeriCredit also equips employees with cards that indicate their personal learning style. Before and after a class, students can give the cards to the instructor for an instant "style" check, allowing the instructor to fine-tune his or her delivery on the fly. "They're kind of like trading cards," says Daly. "It's doing something different from just Level I feedback, and it makes the learners remember that they own this stuff too and that it's important for them to share with us their preferences."
The versatility of the I-Opt Learning Style database permeates all areas of the organization, including team development and leader analysis, as well as Amercredit's e-learning programs that also can be tailored on-the-fly. "The next step for us is when you log onto a course through our lms, we'll know your primary style, and we can shift the material more dynamically," says John Shearer, vice president of e-learning. "'Okay, you're more action-oriented; you want more involvement in the courseware,' versus, 'you know what? You're more thought-oriented and will delve deeper into interpretation.'"
AmeriCredit's creative learning interventions are playing a fundamental role in an ongoing culture shift that will reposition the company more as a proactive sales organization. For Daly, getting a mandate from the top of the organization has been key. "We're doing all these things under the guise of change management," says Daly. "This isn't just another OD intervention. And the best thing I did was convince [senior management] that I wasn't some wild-eyed exotic new guy, but that I would use tried-and-true methods, and that I would measure the heck out of them."