Chief Learning Officer - May 2006 - (Page 50)

CO0506.qxd 4/18/06 2:07 PM Page 50 human capital in practice: E n t e r i n g New Markets Health Care Service Corp.: Global growth and expansion can severely test the ability of a company to hold its culture Rapid Learning Design Supports Growth together and coordinate the work of people in dif- ferent nations in quest of a common goal. Mary Jo Burfeind Consider GE Consumer Finance, for example. Growth is an interesting and complex subject in the health care industry, and supporting that Over the past 13 years the company has pur- growth through learning is also interesting and challenging. As the executive director respon- chased about 70 businesses, and all but four have sible for learning and development in Health Care Service Corp.'s HCSC subscriber services been outside the United States. It's an interesting division, my charge is ensure that the learning our team designs and delivers supports 7,000- situation although GE itself is almost 130 years plus employees who directly interface with our members each day. Given the nature of the old, with a well-established corporate culture, a ser vices we provide to our customers, we have to be concerned not only with reach and huge portion of the company now is only 13 years achieving a competitive scale, but also with being maximally effective at that scale. In fact, the old, and it is operating across 41 countries and in company's vision statement has that sensibility built into it. It speaks of providing excellent 20 languages. ser vice to as many customers in our chosen markets as is practically possible. As a result, Ginny Ertl, vice president of training Nevertheless, there will be consolidation in this industry to remain competitive, and the com- and development for GE Consumer Finance, is pany's recent merger with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is a case in point. The heavily focused on ramping up seasoned learning lear ning and development function is finding growth that accelerates the adoption of the learn- professionals in new regions of the world to sup- ing technologies an organization might have been experimenting with on a smaller scale. Now port overall corporate growth. In the U.S., we the pressure is on to get a new entity up to speed quickly, ensuring that people are familiar have what has always been considered to be one with enterprise processes, systems and the customer care requirements that are essential to of the most seasoned training organizations in all success. of GE, Ertl said. But only 25 percent of our When your market is as far-flung as HCSC's Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and now workforce is now in the U.S. So around the Oklahoma virtual technologies are essential to train large numbers of people quickly and world, when I look at GE Consumer Finance in cost-effectively. For example, the company recently established the use of Blue Place, a vir- totality, we are actually in build mode when it tual webinar platform that enables a great deal of the training that would previously have been comes to the training organization in totality. done in the classroom to be provided electronically to employees in any location. And we're pursuing learning outsourcing where it Webinars and other self-paced e-learning products do not totally replace the classroom expe- makes the most sense to provide key elements of rience. On the contrary, they make classroom time more focused and allow instructors to our learning capabilities to our consumer finance become mentors and coaches. Lessons from the Web-based training can be reinforced, sce- business. narios of the most common performance challenges can be conducted, and cultural assimila- tion can be handled in person. The Web-based learning provides the what, and the class- One of the important lessons Ertl has learned room focuses on the how. This blended approach has allowed HCSC to shave more than two about global growth can be summarized using a weeks from new-hire training, with new-hire learning effectiveness at or above previous levels. popular slogan from the environmental move- The Web-based training serves more than just front-line people. Leadership training is also ment: Think globally, act locally. The impor- done in this mode, both for new leaders after the merger as well as incumbents. It doesn't tance of both global reach and local capability make sense to offer leadership training only to newer managers and neglect the ones already has really become clear to me, Ertl said. We in place. Ever yone has to be working from the same background and learning experiences if have strong central leadership, and having a they are to achieve common goals. business leader who believes in learning is absolutely essential if you're going to be success- One innovation HCSC has developed to meet new learning needs resulting from corporate ful on a global scale. At the same time, we have growth is a template for rapid e-learning design. An initial pilot was targeted at a learning need terrific people in every local area. When you're that can be challenging for any training team processes that are critical to business success working globally, you simply must have top- but performed by a relatively small percentage of the employee population. E-lear ning has generally been targeted at common tasks over large numbers of employees. For smaller pop- notch people at the local levels. You can't drive ulations, e-lear ning development is not generally considered as cost-effective. So HCSC's everything with a central team. Learning leaders lear ning team came up with an approach for on-site, rapid e-learning development. The com- have to be groomed locally. They have to be able pany sent a couple of instructional developers and designers to the sites where this need exist- to get the resources and to work effectively in the ed and had them work directly with the subject-matter experts. Together, over the course of local regions. That means understanding the about a month, they designed and developed Web-based training on the spot. The resulting business, but also understanding the culture. course has exactly the right content, and the design provides for interaction among partici- pants, even those in remote locations. The course also can be put on the LMS, which allows Transforming an Existing Sales the learning team to track and monitor who has completed it. O r g a n i z a t i o n for Growth May 2006 This experience provides a template for future short-turnaround performance issues. These are After years of investments and a growth strategy referred to as performance interventions, where employees from a certain workforce might founded on generating demand for next-genera- be falling short on a particular performance measure. HCSC employees can now get a rapid I I Chief Learning Officer tion products and services through marketing, lear ning solutions out on their desktops, so they can view a 10-minute learning snippet to many companies now focus more intensely on address a particular issue, rather than attending a whole traditional course, taking everyone their sales organizations. It's the sales people who away from their jobs for a day in a classroom. must convert the interest created from marketing into the demand that will drive revenue growth. Lear ning and development is moving closer to something we've all had a vision of for years: a true continuous learning environment, rather than just training people in support of specif- But selling has become immensely more compli- ic skills and jobs. cated in recent years, in part because of the move Mary Jo Burfeind is executive director of learning and development for Health Care Service away from selling individual products and servic- Corp. She can be reached at es toward selling bundled solutions to meet a unique customer need. Selling also now often 50

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Chief Learning Officer - May 2006

Editor's Note
Table of Contents
Letters to the Editor
Take Five
Selling Up, Selling Down
Guest Editorial
Learning Solutions
Robbins-Gioia University
Deloitte & Touche USA
CLO Profile
Washington Gas
Case Study
Human Capital
Health Care Service Corp.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Business Intelligence
In Conclusion
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources

Chief Learning Officer - May 2006