How to engage the modern learner.

There seems to be a little continued confusion around the great stuff going on here at Videonitch. It’s simple! Corporate learning strategies are falling way short of expectations. Learners are not engaged, disinterested, feel forced to learn, etc.

One of the prevailing strategic directives in my last large corporate engagement was “Enterprise Selling”.

The concept was novel. Sell synergistic services outside the core offerings to an existing and trusting customer. Easy right!

Strategically it all made sense. Tactically it was a nightmare and our inability to execute against this strategy was a significant contributing factor to the undermining of a nearly billion dollar company.

I on the other hand had remarkable success by comparison to my peers. My team consistently outperformed the rest of the US domestic sales organization.

My team was disinterested, disengaged and felt they were being forced to learn. Sounds familiar

Doesn’t it? Well, they were. But executing this strategy (through good tactics) was a key part of my variable compensation.

So, how did I pull it off?

In grammar school, being educated by the Sister’s of Saint Joseph and displaying symptoms of undiagnosed ADD, they were, in my case required to use unorthodox methods to teach me. I call it “blunt force trauma”. Learning wasn’t an option. I was going to learn or else! Reluctantly, painfully I learned.

Dealing with the previously described sales team dynamic I imposed the “blunt force trauma” learning tactic on the group. Learning about new services and how to sell them wasn’t an option. Their ability to deliver on expectations had a direct impact on my earning ability. Let’s say I was highly motivated and good tactics were required to execute against the strategy.

With the amount of time, energy, money and other resources being spent on “Corporate Learning” business leaders are looking at a terrible ROI. If you are one of these people step back for a moment. Take a broad look. IT AINT WORKING!!!

Yet, people who are well intended, well educated, highly credentialed and certainly capable contribute greatly to the ineffectiveness of these learning strategies.

Early in my professional business career I would hear that although I was a good strategic thinker I was overly tactical. OVERLY TACTICAL! Yea, I’m yelling again. That’s what’s fundamentally wrong with business strategies today. Very smart people come up with sound strategic plans but are unwilling or unable to execute. In other words, they lack tactical skills. They can’t or won’t execute.

Can’t because they are incapable of converting thought into action. Won’t because they are fearful by nature. Oh, one can talk a good game about innovation but understand that any form of innovation will require a change in behavior. Is it fear, laziness or both that feeds this slow moving but highly erosive behavior? Less than 20% of the population is hard wired to be innovative, to take risk, even mitigated risk. Think of the impact this is having on businesses and their ability to grow.

Put all this together and here’s what you have. A critical need to constantly teach your organization to be more effective, more learned and better engaged. To provide them with the best content and tools to learn with and through.

The need is there but corporations throughout the world are failing in this critical area.

Let’s consider a few fun facts about the modern employee or better yet the modern learner.

Nearly 50% of the US work force is under the age of 40. This group has made it explicitly clear that they have a preferred way of learning. It isn’t in a classroom with an instructor and ring bound books. This approach, although preferred by most corporations, is rapidly approaching obsolescence. It’s time consuming, costly and remarkably ineffective. Consider Neil Rackham’s (author SPIN Selling) observation that 86% of all content presented in a traditional instructor led environment is lost within 30 days if not put to immediate use or reinforced.

If he’s even 50% accurate it’s easy to see that traditional leaning methods are no longer acceptable and haven’t been for some time.

The modern learner has said they prefer to learn on their time, using their portable devices, using micro learning content (short and engaging video). Hey everyone! It’s the You Tube generation. Funny thing is this preferred learning method isn’t limited to the sub 40 set. A vast majority of people prefer to learn that way.

Let me ask you, when you want to perform a task you are unfamiliar with what do you do? Do you go to the on line user manual or the library? No, because you would rather learn a different way! You go to YouTube.

Video learning has arrived as the preferred learning asset.

If the end game is to enhance the learning experience of the learner you still have a choice. Spend exorbitant amounts of time, energy and money on a 14% ROI (remember Rackham’s observation) or remember the definition of insanity.

“Do the same things and expect different results”

With the new-year looming it’s time to turn into the wind and demand better results from your corporate learning efforts.

Look no further than Videonitch.

Pete Cronan is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks. He played college football at Boston College. He has been the color commentator on the Boston College radio broadcasts since 1988 and is currently the VP of Business Development for Videonitch.

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