Each year the American Society for Training & Development recognizes individuals and teams who advance the knowledge of the workplace learning and performance profession and contribute to workforce capability and organizational competitiveness through their exemplary practices. Their work inspires and informs us all, and their accomplishments demonstrate how learning drives the performance of businesses and organizations worldwide.

The Excellence in Practice category recognizes organizations for results achieved through learning and performance solutions. Awards are presented for proven practices that have delivered measurable results, and Citations are presented for practices from which much can be learned.

Recognition is given this year in seven areas:

  • career development
  • learning technologies
  • managing change
  • organizational learning
  • performance improvement
  • training management
  • workplace learning and development.

Here are this year's winner and citations in the area of learning technology.

Winner

Lai Lai Convenience Stores Company

Institute for Information Industry

aEnrich Technology Corporation

New Product Promotion, Monthly Promotion, and Pre-Sales Training

Every month, Lai Lai Convenience Stores Company launches different promotions and pre-sale activities at its store outlets island-wide, but it cannot conduct face-to-face training at each location because of cost constraints. As the result, most employees are not as competent as needed to promote new products and pre-sale activities, nor are they able to develop innovative ideas and selling techniques to increase sales.

To resolve the problem, the company adopted a learning management system with rapid e-learning components, sales simulations, and collaborative e-learning 2.0 solutions that can be delivered and updated quickly and cost effectively. The goal of the initiative was to help employees constantly learn new products, promotions, and selling techniques via on-demand training courses. Employees also can share best practices with other geographically dispersed employees, and all have access to a single company database.

As a result of the practice, 93 percent of the total workforce - about 3,600 district sales managers, store managers, and store employees - have received the training they need to improve sales and the company's bottom line. Promotions and key product sales were up 5 percent in 2008 and 10 percent in 2009. Moreover, the return-on-investment from January through August 2009 was more than 649 percent.

Citations

Intel Corporation

Smart eMaintenance System

In today's semiconductor factory environment, change is rapid, technician training cycles are shortened, and the focus is on lowering operational costs. When equipment service personnel have difficulty locating technical information to solve a problem, their lost productivity incurs steep costs.

As a solution to this issue, Intel developed the Smart eMaintenance System (SeMS) as a web-based customized performance support system for storing and navigating equipment information. SeMS features equipment catalogs listed by technology, supplier, model, and subsystems. Content includes supplier service manuals, best practices, preventive maintenance videos, equipment photographs, schematic drawings, interactive equipment overviews, and more. The system is controlled by a community of factory tool owners who have access to a management console, while an integrated access-management system controls sensitive intellectual property at the equipment catalog level.

With SeMS, documentation is retrieved and consumed in a centralized and protected environment. This system has reduced the time a technician requires to locate typical information for daily activities from approximately 30 minutes to less than five. Aggregating this across all factories has allowed the company to produce more at overall lower operating cost. The quantified savings produced by this system over the past three years is more than $4 million.

InterContinental Hotels Group

Phil Dourado Business Communications

Leaders Lounge

After an annual employee engagement survey indicated that the company's 800-person global leadership community did not feel connected to each other or to senior corporate leaders, learning officials wanted to develop an engaging, cost-effective way to connect these employees and effectively align leaders behind a major enterprise-wide change initiative.

In late 2008, learning officials launched the Leaders Lounge, a virtual leadership development community available through the company's global intranet. The lounge features leadership-oriented content in a quick-read format. Executives actively share best practices and problem-solving techniques through the lounge, and C-level executives post video clips on current company, industry, and leadership topics.

Approximately 86 percent of eligible executives visit the lounge in a typical month. Since full launch in May 2009, participants have downloaded nearly 2,000 tools from the lounge's Leaders' Toolbox section, and 90 percent of unit managers believe they are receiving the information they need to improve their performance. The Leaders Lounge costs $1 per day per member, which is 5 percent of the cost of a typical three-day leadership workshop. The company plans to build off of the community's early success by increasing the number of development initiatives offered via the lounge versus on site.

Sodexo

American Research Institute

Come Alive with Sodexo - A One-Year Growth Plan for New Management

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Prior to 2009, Sodexo relied on an expensive 90-day paper orientation program, followed by a two-day instructor-led orientation class to get new hires up to speed. The program was expensive, updates were infrequent and often outdated, and there was no measurement for class completions and success rates.

Due to its layered and decentralized nature, the company was in desperate need of an efficient, virtual, integrated learning program that could track progress and provide managers just-in-time training to help them flourish and grow in their new roles.

In 2009, Sodexo implemented Come Alive with Sodexo - an innovative, one-year growth plan in a five-phase program with an integrated approach to virtual and classroom learning. It uses a flexible, blended learning approach, including interactive online courses as well as engaging live sessions that stimulate business networking and high-quality interaction with peers and senior leaders. It offers just-in-time training so that all new managers gain awareness of the company and explore initiatives that foster an inclusive environment. Four of these phases are virtual and one is a two-day instructor-led class. With this new orientation approach, managers are able to get an immediate connection to the organization on the first day of employment. Results show that Sodexo meets or exceeds corporate benchmarks for all five phases of the program.

Training Center

L3 Communications, Command & Control Systems and Software

Emergency Response Preparedness Course

The U.S Coast Guard provides emergency response services during crisis situations. Reserve members are on-call and must be ready to mobilize at a moment's notice, and certain administrative requirements and personal affairs must be satisfied prior to mobilization. Particularly during hurricane season, there is a high demand for large numbers of mobilization-ready personnel, yet many members are disqualified or delayed because of incomplete administrative requirements. Additionally, mobilized members often experience avoidable complications with their regular employers and families while deployed. Officials attributed these problems to members' lack of knowledge about preparation requirements and inconsistent access to updated information.

To mitigate this personnel shortage and better equip members, the organization developed an online Emergency Response Preparedness Course. The course explains pre-departure requirements and responsibilities in five key areas: dependent care, medical readiness, legal planning, employer relations, and financial preparedness. It generates a customized readiness checklist to help members evaluate their level of preparedness, identify barriers to mobilization, avoid complications for their families while away, and assist with common transition difficulties when returning home.

The program has had an overwhelmingly positive response from members, indicating that the course provides one-stop, comprehensive, need-to-know information that significantly affects members' mobilization readiness status and ultimately organizational efficacy.

U.S. Navy - Naval Education and Training Command, Surface Warfare Officers School

University of California, Los Angeles

Full Spectrum Surface Warfare Training

The mission of the U.S. Navy's Surface Warfare Officers School is to prepare the corporate leaders for their next challenging job. These jobs often involve intense operations and demand a broad range of complex skill sets, including high-risk tactical actions against adversaries and threats, high-risk ship handling and seamanship evolutions, and machinery-intensive engineering drills.

Past experience with simulation training proved to be expensive, manpower-intensive, and cumbersome to operate, resulting in most learners receiving more familiarization training rather than the necessary skills-based training. A new practice was initiated to bolster those simulations with intensive skills-based training that also would reduce instructor loading and maintenance costs and increase student retention and throughput.

The organization collaborated with internal partners to design, build, and implement a complete set of training systems that provided high-fidelity simulation for high-risk scenarios. They require fewer instructors, cost less than the previous simulators, and allow for extra simulation time for participants who desire it. Moreover, integration with other courses is continuously monitored for improvement, and feedback from participants and instructors' feedback is used to make the simulations more realistic and robust. Since bringing the learning technologies online, students have sought out additional time in the simulators and are more confident in their skills set.

U.S. Navy - Naval Service Training Command, Recruit Training Command

Computer-Based Adult Reading Comprehension Improvement

Many positions within the U.S. Navy require a 12th-grade or higher reading comprehension level. After many new recruits scored below an eighth-grade level on employment qualification examinations, the organization developed a practice to address the preparedness of employees, whose limited skills hinder their ability to perform at optimum levels.

Seeking to bolster its current remedial program and improve participants' reading ability during a one to two-week time frame, the organization developed three computer-based tutorials. Designed within an artificial intelligence framework, the tutorials were incorporated into a study conducted between August and December 2008. Students were randomly assigned to one of three groups to assess the effectiveness of the tutorials compared with the organization's existing instructor-led reading program.

Although study results indicated that both the current remediation program and the computer-based tutorials facilitated reading improvements of two grade levels, the computer-based tutorials did so in half the time of the instructor-led program. A skills retention assessment conducted two months after the study showed participants using the tutorials retained a greater percentage (84 percent) of their reading skills compared with the existing instructor-led remediation program (24 percent). Ultimately, the organization expects this practice to serve as a springboard of opportunity for improved performance, promotion, and workforce retention.

U.S. Navy - Naval Service Training Command, Recruit Training Command

Game-Based Casualty Response Training System

All U.S. Navy employees, drawn from an increasingly diverse population, must be cognitively ready and able to contribute in emergency-response situations from their first day in the field. Operational challenges, such as reduced personnel, time to train, instructor availability, and access to traditional training resources hampered the organization's ability to achieve this objective.

To improve the readiness of new employees, learning professionals developed a series of game-based training simulations designed to introduce complex technical skills into realistic settings with low costs and high reliability. In addition to training specific operational skills, this practice facilitates development of the general skills underlying cognitive readiness, such as decision making, communications, and situational awareness.

The first prototype simulation and a pilot study were completed in September and December 2008, respectively. An enhanced prototype was completed in May 2009 and is currently undergoing large-scale testing. Results from the pilot study indicate a marked improvement in employee performance when exposed to the computer-based training simulation. Participants committed 53 percent fewer communication errors, performed key tasks in almost half the time, and displayed a 20 percent improvement in readiness compared with a group of employees that did not participate in the simulation.