Doing More with Less: How to Pivot Quickly
Wisetail | 7 min read
What Do You Do When the World Says “Hold My Drink”?
In the last two years, the word “pivot” has run parallel with the phrase “new normal.” Responding to continuous change is of the utmost importance, but can be exhausting long term. Our team came together to discuss the issues of continuous change, and how they approach challenges when the world seemingly says “hold my drink.”
During this webinar, Kyle Reichelt (Product Manager), Rebecca Blanksma (Lead Implementation Manager), Amy Gaudielle (Lead Account Manager) and Evan Melick (Sr. Director of Product), evaluated what it means to ruthlessly prioritize, shift from routine to change management, and perform strategic maneuvering through murky waters.
Their conversation dove deeper into what change entails for learning and development professionals, and yielded numerous ‘nuggets’ of valuable information. Check out the summarized conversation below.
What does it mean to do more with less in the L&D space? Can this be a negative or a positive?
Evan: Generally, it is challenging for everyone that is trying to do more with less! Especially heading into new uncertain economic times, it can definitely feel like a negative as you start to feel overwhelmed. There is so much to do within small teams traditionally, whether it’s communication, providing learning content, or rolling out new initiatives. However, this can be turned into a positive when you utilize the many tools and resources that can help you automate and streamline some of the challenges.
Rebecca: This trend of doing more with less in Learning and Development forces us to prioritize ruthlessly when you have a team with lots of suggestions and requests. You have to focus on the most impactful projects and move lower priority items to the bottom of the list.
Amy: This shift of doing more with less definitely requires L&D professionals to understand their businesses on a deeper level, and to really anticipate their needs.
Kyle: Sometimes doing more with less means that you have to pick up new skills. Sometimes it means a position goes away, sometimes a whole team goes away, but work never goes away. While this may seem overwhelming, it is a prime opportunity for those looking to upskill! Rather than looking at this as a challenge, look for those looking to develop their skill sets and grow!
What is the most efficient way to develop learning content when it can be a full time job? Any creative ways to reuse and recycle content?
Amy: To develop learning content efficiently you really think and focus on the minimum viable content that you need to push to your audience. Consider what is the most important content that is going to get them through their day to day, and then define this so they can do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Recycling content and reusing it is a great opportunity when looking at these programs. You can make more microlearning experiences by minimizing lessons into micro chunks, and incorporating them into employee training.
Rebecca: From an administrative standpoint, if I have one overarching orientation course that contains all of the training information, it can be very overwhelming when you need to make an update. This is opposed to the more efficient method of updating small chunks that need retouched every once in a while. By updating in small efficient increments, it makes updates and audits easier. You can even source from within your team and have them perform audits, which can help make the process more sustainable.
Evan: The concept of microlearning is fantastic. Growth in the flow of work Josh Bersin discussed fantastic and ties into microlearning moments. By identifying evergreen content vs. limited efficacy content allows you to leverage ruthless prioritization. You can also put information into small chunks and puzzle piece them together. This will help you create larger learning opportunities.
As we’re creating learning experiences, we’re able to create evergreen content along with tactical pieces, and can help us generate learning opportunities that are more engaging. This can have broader applicability across markets, and bring compliance opportunities to the forefront and help us meet learners where they are. This can enable them to put things together tactically without such a huge lift, and provide more opportunities for growth in the flow of work.
Implementation: how do you efficiently implement an L&D platform to be useful in time for doing more with less? What does that look like? Implementation launches can be a big push.
Rebecca: Implementing new software is a big push and from what we observe with clients, it is rare that implementation of a new product is the only project that they have on their plates. It’s much more common that they have 10 projects going at once. No matter what the size of their team, small or large, it will always feel like a big lift.
Amy: By producing minimum viable content we can determine what we need to get hands on right away. It is better to focus on more manageable chunks than trying to be perfect. Also, it is a good strategy for small teams to identify internal champions. People that are in tune with the training department can be used as an extension of your team to help support successful launches and get traction. Crowdsourcing and building momentum will help you with that lift.
Evan: Change management is hard. One of the beautiful things from a Wisetail perspective is we have a wonderful opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants. We get to experience rolling things out from a consultative perspective, account for best practices, and we have the ability to help navigate obstacles in the way. You can leverage resources and expertise from outside your organization, and work with people with expertise with rolling out programs. By partnering with vendors they can help your small team with internal roll out.
What are the biggest hurdles in pivoting L&D programs?
Kyle: Again, ruthless prioritization. We’re never allowed to do less with less. At the least, we’re expected to do the same with less, but we must often do more. You really have to determine what is going to make the most impact with the time you have. Taking five minutes to write things down and determine what can be done, and what simply can’t be accomplished.
Rebecca: Making quick adjustments can result in a snowball effect, and allows for fast improvements. Developing exceptional learning and development models can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but smaller quicker chunks can be a good way to improve the situation. Tiny experiments are key!
Evan: Make sure tools you use are reaching the right people at the right time. By getting to the right managers, they can trickle down the important information and communicate with the learners so they get information at the right time.
Amy: Planning ahead and effectively utilizing time when you’re not pivoting is important. By letting people know about designated learning areas, and they have an established understanding of where they need to go when obstacles arise. Ingraining muscle memory and neural pathways is key, and will help when teams need to pivot quickly. Some of our most successful clients have the ability to shift quicker when these pathways are more established.
When managing change in the workforce, how do you address resistance to implementation?
Rebecca: Clients usually present with a few different scenarios. If they’re going from paper learning systems to an online platform, everyone is usually very excited. When we typically see resistance, employees are transitioning from one platform to another. The planning and discovery process is key. You can get amazing nuggets of information from your team, employees, and stakeholders that can drive excitement when you start implementing changes. You are always going to have resistance, but utilizing champions to help get others excited about changes, brings some of those people along in the journey.
Kyle: If you find resistors, you can also turn them into some of your greatest assets for honest feedback. This will help you identify gaps, and find solutions much faster than by relying solely upon your champions.
Amy: You can help others get on board by defining the time and the effort of the investment you’re making. You can explain why you’re making this change, and the implications it has for the future.
What are the biggest hurdles in proving ROI on L&D programs? What does ROI on these programs even look like?
Evan: This is the existential question for learning and development experts. Really this is an opportunity to see changes in behavior. Identifying any key questions and setting up measures of success early as you’re setting up the training programs is very important. Ensure things that should be tracked are being tracked. Also, define your ROI. Determine what you want the outcome to look like, and measure towards that to provide the appropriate insight.