Drinking Our Own Punch: Applying Continuous Learning

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We have been talking about continuous learning for a few years now and it’s gratifying when I see companies embracing the idea. One of the better examples I’ve seen of a CLO challenging her team to apply continuous learning principles occurred right next door – within Deloitte Consulting LLP.

To create excitement around the idea of continuous learning and to get her team thinking differently, the CLO staged a “shark tank” type competition, where participating teams “pitched” continuous learning initiatives they had worked on to a panel of judges.  The competition took place on a webinar and in front of the broader learning department. I was honored to be one of three executives playing the sharks.

 

I was also pleasantly surprised. Continuous learning requires a different mindset and is often a difficult shift for learning professionals. Following is a summary of the winning entry.

The Challenge

When you are one of the largest firms in the world, cross-cultural teaming and working across geographies has to be a core competency; however, the issues can be complex.  L&D professionals are often faced with the challenge of helping to increase the effectiveness of a global workforce. Initiatives should not just create awareness, but should also provide opportunities to gain experiences and apply knowledge in ways that help employees on the job.

In 2015, the Deloitte Consulting Project Controller practice unveiled their 2020 vision which seeks to integrate teams in the U.S. and India into one global delivery team with an “As One” mentality. One of the success factors for this new strategy is the global teams’ ability to work effectively across borders and technology to increase the productivity of their teams.

In order to support this vision, the L&D support partners built an initiative designed to help analysts adopt the new “As One” mentality and to create an environment that enabled global teaming.  

The Solution

When faced with the challenge of helping its business move toward its global vision, the Consulting Human Capital Learning team recognized that the program should be aligned to Deloitte’s development culture and mindset – continuous learning. This meant creating an initiative that was holistic in nature, offering not just formal learning or education, but also included the right experiences, provided the right exposure, and built support resources built into the working environment. Thus, the initiative included: a highly immersive simulation, a rotational program, and an online community of practice that generates ongoing support tools.

 

  • EDUCATION. The initiative includes an education component, consisting of a week-long immersive simulation, in which analysts complete a series of role plays, debriefs, and straight talk sessions. Because each element of the simulation emphasizes the various connection points U.S. analysts have with their Indian counterparts, teams get the opportunity to ‘practice’ interactions and “As One” thinking in a non-threatening, low-risk environment. Using the coaching guide, facilitators walk participating analysts through discussions on topics such as cultural barriers, unconscious bias, and local work environments.  
  • EXPERIENCE. The initiative also provides participating analysts with opportunities to develop through experiences. For example, a U.S./India rotation program was launched in conjunction with this initiative. This program gives participants the opportunity to gain cross-cultural experiences and to foster better relationships with their counterparts. Participants then return to the U.S. to serve as key points of contact and act as mentors to the U.S. practice on items related to interaction with the team in India.
  • EXPOSURE. The initiative incorporates an online Community of Practice site. This site provides a forum where analysts may both learn and teach each other – spotlighting successes and discussing progress in implementing the new “As One” strategy. This ongoing connection keeps new knowledge and skills top of mind and creates a culture conducive to the new strategy.
  • ENVIRONMENT. Finally, tools leveraged by the team and the Community of Practices provide analysts with information that will help them to continue implementing the “As One” strategy. Tools leveraged by the community include emails, newsletters, and monthly town hall calls. Members of the Community of Practice have also been important in the creation of tools, such as job aids and other performance tools that are being used to sustain and enhance performance of the entire team.
The Results

 

While the results from this initiative to date are largely anecdotal, both participants and business partners indicate that the program has increased the effectiveness of inclusion leadership, as well as enhanced the team’s overall performance. To date, the program has also received one hundred percent favorable response from participants. 

I like this example. More than that, though, I like that the L&D department has embraced the idea that learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom (or on online courses) and are actively starting to incorporate new methods of learning into their initiatives. What are ya’ll doing along these lines? 

Dani Johnson

Dani Johnson, Vice President, Learning & Development Research, writes about the evolving L&D function. Specifically, she focuses on the necessary changes in how L&D approaches its responsibilities and allocates its resources (people, time, and money) to have a lasting effect on both organizations and individuals.

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