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Creating Personalization in a Global Learning Rollout


Thu Jul 21 2016

Creating Personalization in a Global Learning Rollout
Creating Personalization in a Global Learning Rollout-ac7330142c851c9eea8d5fbd472ec262f1901809a8ddb037e1d46062835b3a98

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year on corporate learning throughout the world. But in a world of big organizations and big data, how can we reach the individual and truly make a difference on a personal level?

The term personalization has well and truly locked itself into the learning and development (L&D) vocabulary. “One size fits all” no longer works—learning must be shaped to the needs of the learner.


There is often confusion about where to put the personalization—in the content or the application—to have the greatest influence. Much work is being done in the area of artificial intelligence and creating algorithms that tailor content, but the application must also be personalized. To borrow from Peter Cheese, CEO of the United Kingdom’s CIPD, “If content is king, context is kingdom.” Having top-notch content is important, but the real magic comes from how someone uses that content in their own context. 

Focus on the Individual in a Global Learning Rollout 

How can you tailor a global learning program to just one individual? How do you maintain a consistently high standard of learning and create personalization at the same time? It’s impossible, you might think. But working at an individual level is not only possible, it’s essential.

It is imperative to design learning for the audience and the behavioral outcomes wanted by the organization. This cannot be done by simply considering what participants need to know—but by creating real clarity for each individual as to what they can be doing differently back in the workplace. Everyone is unique in their experience, motivation, ability to learn, and ability to implement that knowledge.

One option is to introduce a truly effective action planning component in which participants spend up to 45 minutes focusing on how and where they can apply what they’ve learned back in their working environment. They can then make personal goals based on the behavioral outcomes desired by the business. Increase the depth of personalization by providing one-on-one learning transfer support. To make this scalable, consider using the phone, which is not only practical but also allows vulnerability and anonymity, enabling the participant to openly share barriers and constraints that need to be resolved to help them move forwards. 

Applying This Approach in the Real World 

One global computer technology giant has been personalizing its learning programs for the last three years. It created a learning initiative to help build the leadership skills necessary to lead the business into the next phase of growth. With a high-pressure environment and a big focus on business metrics, the initiative aimed to enable midlevel leaders to develop their self-awareness, presence, collaboration, networking, culture, teams, and strategy. After a phase of pre-program, self-directed learning, the initiative involved three days of intense learning and networking.


To bring personalization to this huge global rollout, a learning transfer solution was used to challenge and support participants in changing their behaviors after attending the leadership program. During the program participants completed a three-goal action plan detailing what they wanted to achieve, why it was important to them, and how they would know if it was successful.

They also calibrated their current status for each action on a scale of 1 to 10, and wrote down their next steps. After the program, each individual received two 30-minute learning transfer sessions over the phone during an eight to 10 week period. Phone delivery allows this budget-conscious organization to access individual learners, even though the program is intended for people in 25 different countries who speak 11 different languages.

Currently, 1,208 participants have completed this initiative, and it continues to roll out at this organization. The program has been extremely successful, with participants reporting an average of 73 percent improvement in their implementation of action plan goals. Participants also scored an average of 4.2 out of 5 for the effectiveness of the one-on-one learning transfer in supporting them to implement their action plan.

The learning transfer provider creates an evaluation dashboard quarterly to display recent program results. An example of the evaluation dashboard is displayed below.

Although the quarterly evaluation dashboards represent a large group of participants, the data that are collected showcase many personal stories of growth. Stories from participants such as Joe\* and Jane\* have allowed the organization to see just how much the global rollout affected the individual. Joe has had a 187 percent uplift in the implementation of his leadership goals since the initiative ended. Jane commented that as a result of the leadership initiative and learning transfer follow-up, she “began to view situations differently, which allowed \[her\] to create a model to assist in continuing to evolve into a more inclusive, self-aware, and inspiring leader, as well as focus on goals.”


Bottom line: Personalizing the context of the learning program creates significant wins, not only for each individual, but also for the organization.

\*Alias names used to protect anonymity

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