Welcome to the 6 th session of IDCI. I’m Geeta Bose, I head a learning innovation and design company, Kern Learning Solutions. Today, we’ll discuss something different – no theories, no concepts. We’ll discuss 2 case studies based on our Learner Centered Methodology.
Before we begin, let’s have a quick warm-up session! Who presented the last session at IDCI? Yes, that’s correct – Abhinava presented the last session. What was his session about? Yes, he presented on the LH Theory – the love-hate theory. This means, you must love your learners to design well for them. Cool so let’s get going with our session – what is LCM? LCM stands for Learner centered methodology. As the name says, in a learner centered methodology, the learner is at the center of the development process. This means, we always design “FOR” the learner at all stages of the training life cycle.
Let’s capture the expectations of the participants from the session. What would you like to know?
Lets begin by recalling the key principles of LCM. By mapping back to learners – I mean, we need to answer 3 questions at every step – Is this what the learner needs? Is it learnable for the learner? How can the learner apply this learning later?
What’s special about LCM that makes it a robust methodology? The ultimate objective of LCM is that “learning must be effective”. Learning is effective only when learners can apply the learning at their workplace in the long run. Usually there are 4 phases in LCM. Going forward we will discuss these 4 phases through the case studies.
The guiding principle of LCM is that “You must design for ONE” and not design for “ALL”. When we say you must design for one, it means you must know your learner to be able to design for them. If you do not know your learner, you end up designing for “all” which means that chances are your learning will not be effective because they do not meet the needs, wants and motivations of any particular learner.
Let’s discuss 2 live case studies – One about a year long training program that Kern designed and delivered for a large energy consortium (lets say EC) and the other is an a 10-week training program for Godrej & Boyce. Some assumptions before we begin. The objective of the session is to discuss how we went about designing and delivering learning using LCM. For the EC case study we will discuss the research and design phase. For Godrej & Boyce case study, we will discuss the design and evaluation of learning phases.
EC wanted Kern to train their Network managers to manage their channel partners and consumer touch points effectively in order to drive increased sales. Most training companies would go about creating training modules on channel management and sales management and deliver it to the network managers to increase sales. Let’s see how Kern used LCM to approach this problem differently.
The first phase in the development process is the research phase. We call it the learner research phase. In this phase, use contextual inquiry to probe and obtain information about learners’ needs, wants, and motivations. We use a combination of observation techniques as well as in-depth interviews to obtain this information. How is this significantly different from audience analysis? While audience analysis helps us understand the learner better contextual inquiry helps us understand not only the learner but also the business and the ecosystem in which the learner exists. This information is very valuable because we believe that learning does not happen in a vacuum or in isolation. We must address all issues around the learners to facilitate effective learning.
Here’s a snapshot of the sample and scope of contextual inquiry. The blue guy is our learner – he is the network manager who works with the purple guy, the distributor, and the pink lady – the village entrepreneurs or VEs. We have to empower and train the blue guy such that the pink ladies sell better and more. For this to happen, we had to understand the business and the environment of the learners. The key focus of contextual inquiry for all three profiles is mentioned here.
The top level implications of contextual inquiry is mentioned here. Gender sensitivity was a critical issue. We realized that the network managers were young guys in their twenties who had to work with the village women who were in their late thirties or early forties. This required greater sensitivity on the part of the network managers to deal with them. The other key findings were that the network managers had no clue of the big picture – they did not know what the company wanted, no idea of the vision or company level objectives.
Based on the contextual inquiry findings, we proposed these standard operating practices to the client. This was great value add for the client and it helped Kern strengthen the ecosystem in which training would be delivered. Once these practices were enforced, we could ensure learning would be effective.
The contextual enquiry helped us evolve the personas for our training program. This means, when we design, we will design for Prakash and keep in mind that Prakash needs to interact with Jyothi and Ram Babu at work. Therefore, Prakash will be empowered not only in selling skills but also in behavioral skills that will ensure that he has better interaction with Jyothi and Ram Bab.
In the design phase, we conduct a brainstorming session to discuss the contextual inquiry findings. We discovered the key roles and responsibilities of NMs ie the skills they need, the frequency of delivery of these skills, and the instructional strategies to follow to impart these skills effectively. The NM roles and responsibilities were divided into three key aspects: Network creation (NC): The NMs had to map their geography and identify the villages with high potential. Then they had to recruit the village entrepreneurs (VE) in each of these villages and train them. Network saturation (NS): In this phase, the focus is on selling the maximum number of stoves. Network management (NM): This phase involved active management of the VEs to help them achieve their business targets of selling the product.
This is an example of the skills and frequency map that emerged from our brainstorming session.
The next step in the design process was to create the implementation map. Here’s what we evolved for our client which would ensure that training is sustainable and effective.
Ensuring standardization and maintaining the quality of training: Training was delivered in multiple locations in local languages. We created detailed instructor notes for each minute of the program and ensured that the schedule was followed. The learner testing process provided an opportunity for all trainers to view a pilot of the program before actual rollout. Quick responses needed for changing business dynamics: There were many changes in business dynamics during the year such as change in channel strategy, data analysis, new product launch, pellet unavailability etc. Since Kern was a young, small organization, we could quickly adapt and change as per business needs. A larger organization would need to follow long-drawn processes to incorporate change (would be a scope change and so on). On the other hand, a very small team would not be able to handle projects of this size and volume. Had to ensure clarity in network manager and network coordinator’s role: We defined the roles and responsibilities of a NM. Disparity in NM profile: Through evaluation & field monitoring process we found out that there was a wide spectrum in the ability of NCs to grasp concepts and adopt them to on field implementation. The slower NMs were identified and support system was provided to them through their BMs & NMs. We proposed a separate training/reinforcement for these slower NMs in Phase III. Program was not restricted to sales or selling techniques alone: A regular organization would have treated this like any other project and delivered a sales training for them. However, program included other aspects such as managing groups, handling women entrepreneurs and so on.
Here’s the strategy trump cards that helped us add ‘punch’ to the training program.
Let’s summarize the development process. This is how we evolved the training program, which was a mix of Flash modules, videos, role plays, games, and case studies.
What is sustainable learning? ‘ Sustainability is critical, just having a two-day training program once a year never works. In the long run, training needs to be internalized.’ The biggest challenge in sales training is: ‘ Training is the easier part. Participants usually say that the training was great. However, implementation is poor and most learners migrate to their old way of doing things within a couple of months.’
This is what a typical evaluation phase looks like in LCM. However for this client, we had to restrict evaluation to just evaluating and monitoring the implementation of training. Due to dynamic business conditions, the client did not want us to evaluate the impact of training on the company’s bottom lines. However, we did measure the impact of training on the performance of the network managers with respect to their 3 key roles – network creation, network saturation and network management.
This is what one of our learners had to say at the end of the program.
Let’s discuss the next case study. This program won the prestigious Brandon Hall award for best use of blended learning.
The objective of the program was to make the customer service executives of Godrej Lifespace stores more professional in their appearance and interaction with customers. This was our first LCM project. We began this program with the first phase ie research to understand the learners, the stakeholders, and the business. The contextual inquiry process helped us identify the requirements, needs, and motivations of the learners. It also helped us identify the constraints, the variables as well as the challenges that we had to consider while designing the program. In this case study discussion, we will focus on phase 5 – ie Evaluation. This program set the ground for us to offer 100% effectiveness guarantees to our clients. We offer our clients to pay us only if the program is 100% effective.
Let’s look at the existing training model that G&B followed and the model that Kern proposed. Since G&B wanted to train 1000s of CSEs every year, their existing model could not support this. It could support a maximum of 250 CSEs in its training centers annually. Based on research, Kern proposed a blended solution to the client. It offered to train the store chiefs using classroom sessions to monitor and guide the CSEs in their workplace. The CSEs on their part would undergo training in a self-paced mode through an eLearning course.
Post research, design, development, and delivery, we reached the evaluation phase. These were the evaluation parameters defined between Kern and G&B during the beginning of the program.
Take a peek at the evaluation checklist that we designed for the store chiefs to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Here’s an example of a template used by store chiefs to measure the performance of CSEs over time.
These were the interventions by store chiefs to monitor and guide the CSEs.
Finally, the outcome of training! The training program was a great success. The CSEs were proud of their new look and confidence gained through the training program. They were proud of their job and performed their task more effectively. While increased sale
Applying Learner Centered Methodology - Case Studies