Overcoming Social Impediments to Digital Transformation

hurdles track race competition
hurdles track race competition

BPI Benchmark Study reveals how brands are overcoming challenges to embracing “Social and Perpetual Learning Organization”

It’s no easy task to manage 0.32 million people, especially when they’re working across 94 countries and keeping 12 brands and 4,350 hotels afloat, profitable, and sustainable.

Enter Digital Transformation.

Introduces escorts — cloud services, big data, smartphones, and social platforms.

EXPLODES revolution;

And we fast forward 11 years as Hilton Worldwide shares its experience of transitioning from a “formal learning organization” where the focus is on providing online training as well as instructor-led classroom training to an organization where it is possible to promote and enable teams to learn by sharing, collaborating with one another, and helping one another learn — a true social learning.

It still is a challenge.

BPI’s latest roundtable invited senior leaders from Hilton Worldwide, Cigna, McGraw-Hill Education, CIT, Pfizer, and Kimberly-Clark to collaborate, sharing common challenges and strategies and tactics for implementing social learning across the organization.


Challenge #1 — Making the Case, Getting the Buy-in From Stakeholders

Organization wide adoption of virtual tools and platforms requires building consensus among the various project stakeholders (especially in the HR and IT), gaining a buy-in and sponsorship that is sufficient to maintain a sustained effort.

Getting them aboard is never easy.

“You have to develop those need use cases. Stakeholder buy in is always crucial and unless you are able to give the HR professionals some better examples and need use cases for the platforms, you will not be able to show them that this can be successful,” he elaborates.

“One of the problems has to do with internally competing systems,” points Bala Swaminathan, Learning and Performance Manager, Cigna. He found that they had to make a case for SuccessFactor’s Jam module, comparing it to email, Share Point, and other existing tools and software. Cigna decided to build the case by actively involving employees and leaders in the functionality of the systems.

Employees are always the biggest stakeholders, and protectors of existing culture

Gaining their buy-in through engagement is crucial to success.

Cigna used the gamification model, coming up with a “10 Quests challenge”. The initial 8 quests were simple and mechanical i.e. they became challenging by leveling up. The social aspect began with simple “following people” and leaving comments. Only on the ninth day the quest became openly social where thee learner was stranded on an island and needed to a group kind o solution to find clean drinking water using the materials they had. This is when people came together offering ways to solve it. “We used learning from the massive multiplayer online game area,” says Chris Davis, a Senior Learning & Performance Innovation Consultant at Cigna.

Kimberly-Clark engaged and gained the buy-in from over 16,000 employees across 60 countries by leveraging content (ranging from TED talks to book clubs) and talking with different units using culture as the pivoting factor. The result as Sandy Allred (Leader, Workforce Capability, Global Talent Management Team at Kimberly-Clark) was over 22,000 posts whose success “led to request for more social jams”. These cultural jams engaged employees with topics ranging from customer interaction, risk and decision making, and various other collaboration organized practices.

Another way of gaining the buy-in from the employees is as Cigna and KC found was by gaining sponsorships, contracting key leaders to evangelize the tools. “When it came from the business leaders, it carried more credibility as well,” says Bala, hence catalyzing engagement.

Kimberly-Clark also gained sponsorship for their top leadership, scheduling them to take part in the jams at different points. Given the extent and reach of the jam, it was moderated, however “[The] employees were seeing the leaders getting engaged and being transparent and being open to comments, which I think was a big thing that employees needed to see, so it really set the stage, I think, for successful collaboration in the future” notes Kristine Zeman, Learning Systems Manager, Kimberly-Clark.

Challenge #2 Addressing Competing Attention

Organization often invest in social learning with the assumption “build it and they will come”, but such efforts are prone to fail because there is plenty of relevant, informative, and engaging content on the internet. Why would people want to collaborate on your organization’s platform, simply because you built it?

Many other sites are competing to get your employee’s attention, making it a challenge. “There could be another site that they go to and they’re used to going to. Maybe it serves its purpose, but how do we drive those team members to our platform to help promote that learning for them?”

How do organizations get their employees thinking about their platforms instead of one’s they’re used to.

One way of doing that, is by creating a structured curriculum before the platform is fully implemented. Organizations often start without a robust content strategy, and as with any marketing effort this leaves content gaps that reduce visibility, hence causing employees to leave. “It’s not about just building a platform and then maybe putting some structure around that. [Rather] it’s by relating the social platform into our strategic curriculum and the programs that we’re running” says Mike Rosenberg, Director, Head of Learning, CIT.

It’s like how organizations market their business to customers through content (for instance a blog). Unless you have created a structured syllabus that caters different segments of the customer base with relevant, informative, and engaging information, they will search elsewhere.

“Keep the WIIFM, what’s in it for me, and trying to make your community be a go-to resource for people where they find value. If it’s just seen as a place you go to take courses or it’s that “learning thing,” you’re going to have trouble getting people to go there regularly. You’ve got to give them some value that people are going to see in their day-to-day work or when they need it.”

Segmentation is crucial, and the content delivery must be broken by understanding the unique needs of different employee segments.

“We have a specific cohort that we’re managing through that program that there are subsets or study groups within the cohort for smaller communities and then we’re presenting them with different videos, with book summaries, some of the assets that we actually have through our Skillsoft-based subscription, we’re integrating all of that in there and we’re structuring other ways of thinking in there and different questions,” elaborates Rosenberg.

Challenge #3 — Deriving Perpetual Learning with Strategy

Hilton Worldwide University is responsible for driving Hilton Worldwide towards social collaboration and perpetual social learning. To make the transition, the Hilton Worldwide has adopted the HW Connect, a rebranded version of the SAP Jam platform.

The focus of the HW Conenct is to answer the questions “how do we help members take part in it and help learn, not only inside the classroom or inside the online learning in whatever formal event we had, but also ‘how do we continue that learning’, both before and actual”.

However, in an era where organizational agility has become common sense and soon will no longer be an untapped opportunity for competitive advantage in major industries, learning alone is not sufficient; it has to derive some predetermined strategic ends.

This is where “perpetual learning” comes in “How do we get everyone in the mindset of thinking it’s not just come to a classroom, go take this online event, and the you’re done, nothing else to do, it’s really beyond that and we all understand that,” asks cooper.

This is where formality of learning and the informal learning employees are used to on their mobile devices must convene. For organizations it is important to measure success, and initiated the process where they rework, reinforce, and reiterate, as Louis Carter CEO & Founder, BPI summarized “because the more formal we become, the more we can begin to measure what’s happening and we can actually look at the metrics behind testing”

Gain more insights into how various organizations are meeting the challenges of transitioning to social collaboration and perpetual learning in BPI’s latest social learning and collaboration roundtable.

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Louis Carter
Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, social/organizational psychologist, executive coach and author of more than 11 books on leadership and management including his newest book just released by McGraw Hill: In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace. He has lectured globally in the U.S., Middle East, and Asia on his work and research in organization and leadership development and is an executive coach and advisor to CEOs and C-levels of mid-sized to Fortune 500 organizations. He was named one of Global Gurus Top Organizational Culture Gurus in the world and was chosen to be one of 100 coaches to be in the MG100 (Marshall Goldsmith) out of 14,000 people as one of the top 100 coaches in the world .