How do you create learning solutions that deliver value? How do you ensure employees are aligned with business goals? How do you boost revenues by reducing time to competence?
These were some of the questions discussed during the fifth annual Tata Interactive Learning Forum (TLF) held last October at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago. The forum aimed to explore new ways to meet the challenges posed by economic uncertainties and technological advances. More than 100 representatives from leading organizations in business and education attended the event.
The Corporate Track of the forum was themed "Leveraging Learning in an Uncertain Economy." It featured 10 noted speakers and thought leaders. In a panel discussion that included David Bobeck (director, Operational Excellence Capability Development, Credit Suisse), Dino Mauricio, (a leading global M&A consultant), Anand Prasad, (CLO, Procter & Gamble), and Dave Vance, (former president, Caterpillar University), Mauricio noted the opportunity cost of training is low during times of recession. He also emphasized the need for "doing more with less."
Vance added that organizations should:
- have a board-approved prioritized list aligned with the strategic objectives, and
- have a list of areas for a potential 25 percent cut in the budget if a trigger is pulled by management; this should be part of every annual plan.
Several speakers talked about the training and development strategies in their respective organizations. Chris Glynn, president of Caterpillar University and director of Talent Development, noted that "people" appears twice in the Caterpillar corporate long-term strategic plan (called Vision 2020). He added that tying in succession and learning activities was critical in creating a coherent approach to tackling the future. He said learning was one of the three Critical Success Factors identified for each business division within Caterpillar.
In her presentation titled "Capability Building Across the Enterprise," Beth Hying, assistant dean, College of Caterpillar Production System, Caterpillar University & Talent Development, said Caterpillar has developed a curriculum for 29 job roles, comprising 300 new courses.
Cindy Freeman, associate director, Customer Service Logistics, Global Capability Process Owner, Procter & Gamble, talked about P&G's experience with Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS). Mentioning that EPSS served the need for "surgical learning"—that is, "give me what I need, when I need it, where I need it," she said the anticipated benefits of EPSS at P&G included:
- Elimination of duplicate measurement processes, which will save up to $1 million
- Improvement of freight utilization, which will save $2 million to $3 million
- Cost avoidance
- Error reduction
While outlining PNC Bank's strategy for training high potentials, Darryl A. Spivey, vice president, Talent Pipeline Program, PNC Bank, said the Cross-Organizational Experience (CORE) program has multiple paths that include system development, professional development, relationship development, banking basics, presentation skills, and PNC foundations. He said the curriculum comprises sales and product and general banking tracks. He added that participation has grown from 35 associates in the first year to 140 associates in the third year.
Irada Sadykhova, director of Learning and Organization Effectiveness, Microsoft, talked about her company's approach to innovation. She said innovation involves a whole set of laws to follow and rules to break. She added that the five formats for innovation at Microsoft are product-group aligned, stand-alone, start-up and VC, idea collection, and exploration.