How collaborative learning can change your business for the better

Collaborative learning is nothing new. We all know that people spend time looking for, reading and watching content to help them do their work. In most cases, this informal learning is in reaction to an immediate need and the source of the information is an online search.

Imagine if all the informal learning achieved in this way was captured and available to everybody in your business. If one person needs to fill a gap in skill or knowledge to perform their work, it is likely others in your business share the need.

Is the knowledge already held by people in your business available to others? Does your business have a collective knowledge base that is aligned with the work your business performs? Collective, accessible knowledge and information that is created, curated and shared is one of the powerful contributors to engagement and culture in a business. Collaborative learning is also an effective means of providing recognition to people that contribute to the collective knowledge.

Our clients are using training and information created by people in their business to deliver effective onboarding to people joining the business. This has standardised the onboarding  experience for every person. Using collaborative learning also assists people to identify subject matter experts in the business and get a feel for the work other people perform in the business.

Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Ideally every person in your business has some knowledge of your strategy and how their work contributes to achieving it. If not, this is where I would suggest you start. I would suggest taking it a step or two further by breaking your strategy into supporting goals and team objectives. If your business is small and does not have teams, consider assigning objectives to functional areas of responsibility in the business and this could be one I recommend the strategy, goals and objectives are documented and communicated regularly.
  • Use the strategy framework to open up a clear line of sight between the work they perform every day in the business to what needs to be completed to achieve the strategy.
  • This process will help guide the types and content of learning, information and ideas developed by everyone to be directly relevant to both the strategy and the work performed everyday. This is a great place to start and it will get collaborative learning embedded in your organisation.
  • Once you have collaborative learning embedded in your business and aligned with strategy, you can take it much further. For example, you may choose to use collaborative learning in your marketing, sales, customer retention, product development and any other aspect of your business.
  • Implementing a cogent collaborative strategy in your business will have a positive impact on the development of intellectual property that will add significant value to your business.

Is your business exploring ways to improve the culture? Boost engagement? Retain your best people? These factors and more will be developed and sustained with a planned collaborative learning strategy and implementation.

If you are interested in learning more about collaborative learning and ideas about how to implement collaborative learning in your business, you are welcome to contact me directly via LinkedIn. You can also request a demo from this page.

Check out our WorkPlan website to learn more about our work in collaborative learning and engagement.


Guide to choosing your LMS

alternativesA step by step guide to choosing the best LMS for your needs

How many times have you walked into a store with something specific in mind only to get home and realize that you blew your budget and now are the proud owner of 10 items that you didnt need? Over the years, various LMS systems have tried to be all things to all people;  the more bells and whistles the better. With all these added features, choosing your LMS can be overwhelming and confusing which can lead to the above example.

According to a survey conducted by The eLearning Guild, nearly one-third of respondents said they were not satisfied with the LMS product they were using. There could be a variety of reasons for this but one thing is for certain, in order for a successful outcome to happen, a company must know what is most important to them and make sure the LMS performs those requirements well.

This short guide will help clarify how to choose the best learning management system software and avoid the exhaustive and costly mistake of selecting an LMS that is poorly matched to your company needs.

The Wrong LMS Wastes Time and Money

The investment of time and money that organizations make in learning management systems is significant and lets face it, nobody likes to lose time or money.

With over 600+ LMSs on the market, it can be quite daunting to choose the right LMS let alone face the consequences that can set you back months or even years in missed learning opportunities.

Having a well thought out plan ahead of time when considering an LMS is a sure way to avoid buyers remorse. It also is a great way to position yourself for optimal success when choosing a learning management system software.

Choosing the Right LMS

In 2004, American psychologist Barry Schwartz published a book called The Paradox of Choice  Why More is Less. It argued that by eliminating the amount of consumer choices will greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers. The following guidelines will set a path for success by eliminating the LMS playing field from 600 to 1.  The LMS that best fits your needs and goals.


One of the most important parts of the entire LMS selection process is in preparation. This is the time to really focus on the details.

  • Choosing an LMS is not a one person job. Its important to create a team made up of a variety of departments in your company. These folks will be using the LMS in different ways and their feedback is critical. The features an information technology person deem important may be quite different then the HR perspective, right?
  • Do you have a leader? This person needs to drive the team, an LMS champion. They should be well versed in your company s learning needs, has the backing of management and controls the budget. They should also be able to bridge the various needs of the LMS team and come to a consensus.
  • Who will be using the LMS? Its important to define your customers and the ways in which theyll be utilizing the LMS. Come up with a variety of scenarios or initiatives with the customers in mind. Map out exactly what needs to be done and what tools are needed to implement the initiative. One example would be onboarding. If you know that in the next year that your company will be hiring a lot more staff and/or expect changes in user information, it will be particularly useful to have real-time integration features with your selected LMS.
  • Make a priority list. Your team of decision makers will be a big help in narrowing down the list. Think about what your company goals are as well as some big projects coming up. Tough decisions will need to be made as needs will not be the same across the organization.

Once a priority list has been drafted, it should be fairly easy to translate that into requirements. One of the biggest traps when shopping for an LMS is asking for every feature that is available that may or may not be needed. Follow your list of priorities to stay focused and on task. An easy way to do this is with the 80/20 rule  take care of 80 percent of your needs then see how successfully you can fulfill the rest of the 20 percent. Make everything not on your list of priorities to nice to have.

Vet available Learning Management Systems

At this point, you have slowly narrowed your priority list down to only the most important features along with some nice to haves. Now, the next step is to narrow your choices of LMS providers. Your list of top 10 requirements will rule out non qualifying products. For instance, if you would like an LMS that will leverage your investment in SharePoint, then this would be a good vetting criterion. There are many different pricing ranges for products. Ballpark licensing costs are another good vetting criteria.

Product Evaluation 
  • Request for information. An RFI contains a list of all your requirements with a few questions per requirement for vendors to answer. Evaluate the vendor responses with a scorecard that allows scorers to rate how well the vendor meets each requirement on a 5-point scale. After scoring the responses to the RFI, you can rule out some of the lower-scoring vendors and continue evaluating the top contenders.
  • In use demonstrations. Invite each of the top contenders to visit your organization for a half day to demonstrate their product. A good approach is to give them all the same use case ahead of time so you can compare them equally. Again, you can use a scorecard to evaluate the vendor demonstration and rule out those vendors whose products did not perform well.
  • Trial version. As you continue to evaluate the finalists, you may ask for a trial version of the LMS software where you can explore the finalist products. Hands-on exploration will give you a better sense of the user-interface design, features and capabilities of the product.
LMS Selection  yes or no

The final step is to select an LMS. Send a Request for Proposal (RFP) to each of your finalists asking for pricing quotes, implementation timeframes and support options. If you followed the above guidelines, you should feel very confident in your choice of learning management system software.

Leverage the Benefits of Your LMS

You should take the opportunity during your LMS implementation project to review your current business workflows and amend them as desired. You want to gain productivity and automation with your LMS and not be messing around with your LMS to get it do the things you need. There are so many benefits you will gain with an LMS, among these are:

  • More engaged workforce with self serve learning and development.
  • Reduced training costs.
  • Track and report easily to manage compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Engage with new hires and offer consistent high quality on-boarding.
  • Use the LMS for resource planning, succession planning and skills gap analysis.

In today s business environment, an LMS is the backbone for training and development and continues to gain in popularity. One of the biggest advantages of an LMS is efficiency. In fact, many companies report a 50-70% cost savings just by switching from instructor-based training to eLearning. Your LMS should be able to manage online, instructor led and blended learning delivery to gain efficiencies in all learning modalities.

5 Tactics to Support Your Employee Engagement Strategy [Part Two]

Welcome Aboard.  Sink or Swim With On-boarding.

Imagine you are marooned on an island inhabited by a tribe of friendly people but culturally vastly different to what you are used to.  All of the norms of this tribe are not threatening but far outside your patterns of behaviours.  You can imagine how difficult and intimidating this would be.  Why do you think it is any different when people join organisations as new hires?

The experience a new recruit has joining a new organisation has an enormous impact on how soon a person ramps up to effectiveness and how quickly they become engaged with the organisation and its culture.  You can refer to the previous blog for a great definition of employee engagement.

If you have ever experienced a bad hire and either had to take action to remove a new hire or they leave quickly on their own accord, the impact goes way beyond the cost, pain and frustration of having to start a recruitment process again or settle for your second or third choice.  The ripple impacts of a bad hire hit your culture widely and deeply. You can reduce or eliminate these risks by developing a solid on-boarding strategy.

Here are some ideas that I have seen work well in some of my clients’ organisations. Some of these ideas work better for some organisations and less so for others depending upon a number of factors such as industry, location, resources and culture.  You should also consider the type of position you are inducting.

You may have a different style of on-boarding processes in your sales team as opposed to your finance team.  These differences take into account the type of individual[s] you are inducting and the culture of the team they are joining.

Here are some ideas:

  • Start the induction early using your LMS or other web based platform. Start the process before they arrive for day one by offering some online videos, courses and information they can review in their own time.  Make this fun, interesting and collaborative.
  • Include a social gathering either prior to day one or shortly after.  You can make it a dinner with their new manager or a small gathering of their manager and team members.
  • Make the induction a ‘high touch’ experience.  I am always surprised how often a new hire is sitting alone in their office or workstation going through induction.  This is sending all the wrong messages to the new hire.  Include different people to interact, support and coach the new person.  Do this even if you are inducting a number of people at once and use workshops to deliver induction training.
  • Include some online learning and collaboration to deliver a ‘blended’ approach.  You do not need to use costly learning content.  You can use some home-grown videos, presentations and links to other resources.
  • Add sense of achievement when a person completes their induction.  You can have a small team social gathering over coffee, deliver a certificate of completion or another gift or token signifying the completion of the induction.  Using a certificate or token item makes a great cultural ‘tradition’ and you can award them retro-actively if you want to.
  • Include some interface between the inductee[s] and senior management.  Choose the highest senior level leader you can but choose wisely.  Do not make the mistake of choosing a senior leader who does not have the commitment to successful inductions and culture required or is not reliable to stick to appointments.  This tactic can backfire if you choose a leader who considers this a nuisance and cancels appointments or lacks the EQ to conduct a meeting with new hires effectively.
  • After the induction process is completed include a meeting schedule for a month or two after.  I suggest a coffee or informal meeting of about 10 to 15 minutes duration and conducted by human resources or another manager; not their direct manager.  The purpose of these meetings are to get some feedback, check for any barriers to work objectives and be alert for some innovation.  It is surprising how a newly hired person will identify areas for business improvement and innovation.  They are not yet fully immersed in the role and the ‘third party’ perspective is priceless.

A great induction process takes work and attention.  The induction process needs to designed and documented.  The process needs to be aligned with the organisation’s strategy and supported at all levels including specifically the CEO and other ‘c’ level executives.

If you are considering developing a new induction strategy or re-developing an existing one, we can have a discussion and share some ideas.  You can keep your focus on your objectives and we can help you develop, implement and execute an effective on-boarding/induction strategy.

DOTS LMS and recruitment processes

Do you use your LMS during the recruitment process?  Our potential candidates able to access your LMS on the web and engage in learning about your organisation or positions available in your organisation?  Once you have appointed a new candidate, do you use the LMS to begin the on-boarding process with acculturation, company information and position information?  All of these are options that will help increase your productivity and return on investment in your LMS.  If you are using DOTS you have a number of tools you can utilise to support your recruitment and on- boarding.  You can establish any number of external websites from the website module in your admin settings.  On these websites you can add access to surveys, courses, libraries or landing pages off a web marketing/recruitment campaign.  The DOTS LMS is acting to engage new candidates and ensure they are motivated and interested in your organisation when they arrive for work.  The persons accessing these web pages are completely outside your internal LMS environment.  If you would like some more information about these tools and processes please contact us.