Last month, ATD hosted a webinar titled, “Accelerating Business Impact: 3 Ways to Convert Learning Into Lasting Results.” This gathering of learning and culture leaders brought together the expertise of Baker Tilly’s former industry and practice learning leader, Allison Patterson, its current senior learning manager, Jennifer Crowfoot, and ExperiencePoint’s vice president of organizational innovation, Andrew Webster. Together, they unveiled the secrets behind Baker Tilly’s successful capabilities transformation, which yielded immediate results and invigorated their entire business within a remarkably short period.
During the session, the trio highlighted three key strategies that organizations can use to convert learning initiatives into sustainable business outcomes. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive summary of their discussion, a link to watch the webinar on-demand, and a valuable template to help your organization implement Baker Tilly and ExperiencePoint’s recommendations.
Whether you’re a business leader, an HR professional, or a learning enthusiast, get ready to unlock the pathway to lasting success in learning and development.
Why Accelerating Business Impact MattersIt’s no secret that our current economy is a far cry from what we saw in 2021. Gone are the days of mass resignations and record-breaking spending; they’ve been replaced by tighter budgets and the expectation that we do more with less. Yet, while leaders want fast results, we’re still on the hook for creating sustainable change.
In our June webinar, 51 percent of participants surveyed agreed that their organizations struggled to convert corporate learning into lasting impact. Baker Tilly had faced similar challenges, and leaders were eager to find a method that would make training more effective.
Scaling Workforce Development: Cross-Industry CollaborationBaker Tilly is a top ten advisory tax and assurance firm that grew significantly after combining several smaller companies. Although teams delivered excellent work in their respective areas of expertise, they were at risk of becoming siloed. So, the company hosted its first organization-wide, in-person event since pre-pandemic times to align people on shared values for success.
Over the course of three days, Baker Tilly professionals participated in episodes of Spark by ExperiencePoint™. This interactive series offers thought-provoking ways of teaching and applying the key concepts necessary to understand clients, collaborate, and communicate more effectively. Participants left with a genuine understanding of company values and a clear plan to ensure they were creating real value for clients.
The Key to Training Program SuccessThe event empowered Baker Tilly to generate new business opportunities and foster increased cross-functional collaboration. The firm was able to achieve these objectives by focusing on three key ways to convert learning into immediate and lasting results:
Organizational culture is crucial to sustaining a training program’s momentum. If changed people re-enter an unchanged organization, their newfound skills will struggle to gain traction. An environment that’s amenable to new behavior requires specific structures and conditions. These can include:
- Rhythms: Regularly scheduled meetings can help support the implementation of change, such as daily huddles.
- Systems: Platforms to manage and measure new habits can help outcomes feel more tangible and ensure accountability, such as project management software.
- Channels: Spaces to connect and collaborate can help create communities where employees help one another and share their experiences, such as Slack channels.
For example, Baker Tilly wanted to create a culture where decisions were more regularly based on client data. To enable that behavior, leaders put systems in place allowing employees to gain access to client data, created channels to share client insights, and established new meeting rhythms to enable routine exploration of new business opportunities using said data.
2. Catalyze Skills and Outcomes Simultaneously
At ExperiencePoint, we tend to see two major approaches to training. Some organizations take a just-in-case approach, building contingency skills in case of future disruption. Other companies take a just-in-time approach, bringing people together to solve an acute problem immediately in their current work. But for learning to truly stick and effectively change people’s behaviors, these approaches must be combined.
For example, Baker Tilly’s three-day, in-person event was a version of just-in-time learning to generate real value for clients immediately. The work they did not only generated real-time value to solve acute problems, but also equipped them with the just-in-case learning tools they needed to navigate client needs more successfully in future situations.
3. Measure Behaviors and Outcomes
No matter how small, celebrating wins helps learning stick. By establishing metrics to measure new behavior, leaders can share outcomes immediately. This will motivate people to keep applying their new habits, and once these have spread across the organization, other success markers can be scaled as well.
For example, BakerTilly wanted to create a new habit of cross-industry collaboration. Since meetings were already in place, leaders started measuring meeting frequency and shared that progress weekly to build momentum and morale within the organization.