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You can’t innovate at a distance – are you kidding me?

One of the big debates this morning comes from Yahoo’s decision to bring all of their employees into the office in the name of innovation. The pros and cons of telecommuting, or “working at home”, have been debated for decades, but I believe we are at a tipping point as illustrated by the amount of discussion on this topic this morning.

When considering the merits of the virtual workforce it is not a case of if this works; it’s a case of how this works. As with any major shift in cultural norms and working practices, it takes time. And it requires old habits to be broken and new habits to be formed. I could state the many benefits of adopting a more balanced approach to simply requiring people to be in the office 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, but these are largely already known. The key, though, is in learning how to work virtually, how to collaborate virtually, how to lead virtually, and indeed how to innovate virtually. It can be done.

3GS is viewed as a leader in innovative ways in which to move training out of the physical classroom and into the virtual world. This move to the virtual classroom is also seen by many as inferior to traditional classroom training But we have now shown that we can new approaches to learning can deliver superior results to the physical classroom It does, however, require behaving and thinking differently.

There are so many examples of how technology has enabled us to live our lives very differently, and virtually. I personally coach, from my home office, young adults in South Africa that are among the most innovative individuals I have ever worked with. Just ask any group of teenagers how they collaborate and innovate – oh, and you better do this by texting them as you likely won’t find them in one place for long.

I totally agree with Richard Branson that this move by Yahoo is a step backwards. More however, I think it is indicative of a lack of innovation to adopt the new approaches necessary to make this work.

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3GS to Deliver Webcast Case Study on Live Virtual Training at Oracle

On May 15, 2012, Martyn Lewis, principal and founder of 3GS and a recognized pioneer in live virtual training, will follow up his May 7 presentation at the ASTD 2012 International Conference & Exposition with a live webcast exploring a case study on live virtual sales training at Oracle. The webcast will be open to the public.

Transformational Training: A Case Study on Non-Traditional and Blended Learning Approaches at Oracle
Live Webcast
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
10:00-11:00 a.m. PT / 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

Get more information and register for the webcast.

In this live webcast, Martyn will discuss how 3GS developed and delivered a live virtual sales training program that enabled a vice president of sales at Oracle to transform his sales management team in a short period of time while keeping staff in the field and completely eliminating travel-related costs.

In this webcast, participants will learn more about:

  • Specific training strategies and technologies, as well as a highly innovative model for creating live virtual classrooms
  • Maximizing the engagement and significantly increasing the ROI of training programs
  • Strategies for handling obstacles to creating effective live virtual learning experiences

Be sure to register today for the webcast!

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At ASTD 2012 International Conference & Exposition, 3GS Discusses Training the Oracle Sales Management Team

Join us at the ASTD 2012 International Conference & Exposition as Martyn Lewis, Principal & Founder of 3GS, discusses how 3GS developed and delivered a live virtual sales training program that enabled a vice president of sales at Oracle to transform his sales management team in a short period of time while keeping staff in the field and completely eliminating travel-related costs.

Non-Traditional and Blended Learning Approaches: Transforming the Sales Management Team at Oracle
ASTD 2012 International Conference & Exposition
Session #M210
Martyn Lewis, Principal & Founder, 3GS
Monday, May 7, 2012
2:15-3:30 p.m.
Room 708/710
Colorado Convention Center
Denver, CO

Find more information on our website.

In this session, attendees will learn more about:

  • Specific training strategies and technologies, as well as a highly innovative model for creating live virtual classrooms
  • Maximizing the engagement and significantly increasing the ROI of training programs
  • Strategies for handling obstacles to creating effective live virtual learning experiences

Session Description

The vice president of sales at Oracle needed a program for training his sales managers that would be measurably effective within a short period of time while keeping staff in the field and completely eliminating travel-related costs. This session demonstrates how a live virtual sales training program constructed to totally engage participants in short weekly sessions conducted over several weeks was able to achieve highly successful results.

Case Study Highlights

  • The vast majority of sales managers who went through the program—more than 80 percent—completed all work assignments
  • The majority of participants reported that the approaches and tools they learned in the program were relevant and applicable to their jobs
  • Managers overwhelmingly agreed that the live virtual training approach – which borrowed techniques from broadcast media and was highly interactive and more effective than any other approach used in the past.
  • Post-program participant satisfaction rates for content, delivery, facilitation, and engagement were all superior to benchmarks based on previous training events conducted in a physical—rather than a virtual—classroom
  • Within three months of the program, the sales management team saw measurable and sustainable increases in average deal size, win ratio, and velocity of deals through the buying-selling process
  • The program saved $60,000 in travel-related costs

May 15 Live Webcast of Oracle Case Study

For those who can’t attend the ASTD conference this year, Martyn will be delivering a live webcast of his ASTD presentation. Be sure to register for this must-attend event!

Transformational Training: A Case Study on Non-Traditional and Blended Learning Approaches at Oracle
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
10:00-11:00 a.m. PT / 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

Visit our website to register for the webcast.

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Training As If Your Life Depended On It

Would you ever think of sending an untrained fireman into a burning building? Are your employees equally prepared for what they may face in their jobs?

A recent edition of The Economist reported on the fact that computer-based simulation is now being used to train the military. The trend of training military personnel by immersion in a simulation of life-threatening situations, battles and maneuvers did not necessarily come as a surprise to me. The part that did surprise me was the fact that in these training exercises, circuits are attached to trainees, giving them electrical shocks when they make a wrong move. Such shocks represent being hit, or even killed, by enemy fire. That’s one heck of a way to motivate an individual and truly engage them in the learning experience!

It led me down a path of thinking: what if we did the same thing. What if there was a clear and painful consequence of not staying engaged in the training, missing something of importance or failing to implement what was learned. We too could offer training as if the learner’s life depended on it. It wasn’t long though before the somewhat happy state of thinking about gaining participant’s attention in this way reversed back around, leaving me to wonder just how prepared we are, as learning professionals, to construct training in such a way that we could be sure we are “shocking” the right individual at the right time and for the right reason. The Economist article on military training simulations talked about the dramatic lengths the program designers must go to in order to ensure the training is relevant, up-to-date and realistic and that it truly factors in all of the variables that may impact performance on the job. Isn’t this what separates most simulations from real-life experiences?

Consider this: how often have we facilitated role plays, case studies or exercises in our training programs that may offer some degree of learning benefit but fail to capture the complexity of real-world situations? It is my belief that this is yet another reason why so many training courses being offered today are questioned both by the learner and by the sponsor as to their real return. Do they simply offer a few tips and tricks, or do they offer real learning experiences?

I suggest, therefore, before we start hooking up our own learners to electric shocks, we need to look to ourselves first. How relevant is our training and how does it truly model what happens in the real-world? How do we break out of the tendency to drown people with new information in a physical classroom and how do we start coaching and supporting our learners—over time—as they implement and apply new skills and knowledge within the complexity of the real world in which we are asking them to perform. It’s time to rethink how we design and deliver training for today’s workforce!

On this note, 3GS recently presented at the CLO Spring 2012 Symposium, where we attended various sessions and met with senior leaders in learning. Throughout the many conversations we had, we noted a clear focus on the future of learning and on the virtual classroom. While there were many presentations on how to embrace social/mobile and virtual learning, there was a notable lack of thought leadership on how to put all of these great tools together in a way that would offer a more strategic approach to creating a continuous and blended learning environment.

As leaders in learning we have not only the opportunity, but the obligation, to rethink how we design and deliver learning but the key to success is not a simple case of doing what we have always done. It is not a case of simply moving content from the physical to the virtual classroom or offering training on a tablet or micro learning on a PDA. These tools give us more choices than ever but to truly engage learners and to deliver information and training to the right people at the right time our approach to design must be reconsidered.

With an eye toward laying out a vision of what truly effective virtual training can and should look like, Nicki Bouton of 3GS delivered a session at last week’s CLO Spring Symposium that focused on designing effective learning experiences.  If you didn’t attend the conference I would invite you to download a copy of her presentation here or to register for a live recording click here.

Nicki’s session explored the following aspects of creating a blended and continuous approach to learning:

  • The model for live virtual training vs. physical classroom training
  • The critical difference between live and asynchronous virtual training, and how the chosen modality impacts effectiveness
  • The optimal architecture of a total, continuous learning environment
  • The top five traps that inhibit virtual training impact—and how to overcome them

3GS’s dynamic approach to live, instructor-led virtual training equips learning and development decision-makers with a convenient, cost-effective training approach that outperforms both the physical classroom and basic webinar-style virtual training in the areas of learner engagement, training results and business impact.

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At CLO Symposium, 3GS Explores How to Train Today’s Mobile Workforce

Join us at the CLO Spring 2012 Symposium as Nicki Bouton, veteran virtual training facilitator, discusses key challenges and strategies for delivering transformational training to today’s increasingly mobile workforce. Over the course of her presentation, Nicki will illustrate how these changes have positioned live, instructor-led virtual training as an absolutely critical component of the organizational training strategy.

3GS CLO Spring 2012 Symposium Session Details
Creating A Strategic Continuous Learning Environment: The Case for Live Virtual
Nicki Bouton, Lead Facilitator, 3GS
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Room: Poinciana Salon 2
Miami Beach Hotel
Miami, FL

Find more information on our website.

3GS’s session, Creating A Strategic Continuous Learning Environment: The Case for Live Virtual, will delve into virtual training best practices, strategies and specific approaches that focus on increasing the motivation to learn and on more effective engagement of the audience. Through real-life case studies, Nicki will provide specific examples of how these approaches have been applied in practice and demonstrate how they can be leveraged in the session participant’s own environment, as appropriate. In addition, participants will be introduced to a model that will help identify which training modalities are best suited to common training requirements in support of an effective continuous learning environment.

Emphasizing practical application of virtual training best practices, this session will equip training decision makers with:

  • The model for live virtual training vs. physical classroom training
  • The critical difference between live and asynchronous virtual training, and how the chosen modality impacts effectiveness
  • The optimal architecture of a total, continuous learning environment
  • The top five traps that inhibit virtual training impact—and how to overcome them

Workshop Giveaway
Anyone who attends the 3GS CLO Symposium session will be eligible to win a FREE one-day, onsite consulting workshop from 3g Selling: “3 Steps to Effective Continuous Learning: Creating the Enabling Architecture.” The workshop is valued at over $6,500 and includes facilitator travel and accommodation. For anyone not attending the Symposium, information about purchasing this workshop can be found on our website.

Live Virtual Learning on Steroids: A Forrester Case Study on 3GS
We’re excited to announce that Forrester Research has just released a 14-page case study on our approach to live virtual training. A must-read for anyone interested in how to significantly increase the impact and effectiveness of live virtual learning. You can purchase a copy of the case study on Forrester’s website.

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What’s In, What’s Out for Training in 2012

Having just returned from presenting at the Training 2012 Conference, it’s a good time to reflect on the emerging trends for the year, using this major event as a litmus test for the industry.  Hours spent walking the expo floor, talking to numerous delegates, listening to the keynotes and participating in many break out sessions, I’m left with the impression that our world has changed in the last year or two.  My own observations would lead me to believe that we have shifted from being caught up in many futuristic technologies to the more pragmatic development and delivery of effective training.

Here’s my top 3 “What’s In and What’s Out” list.

WHAT’S IN

#1 A Results Orientation
This top trend was not just apparent in the conversations regarding measurement and business impact, but there was also a prevailing theme of the importance of how we deliver training.  There was a much stronger emphasis on the training method as being vital to achieving the desired impact upon the learner and the organization.

#2 Blended Learning
There is a continual and understandable focus on delivering training, or better still enabling training, in multiple and different ways.  I was at the conference to deliver a session on best practices for live virtual training as part of the very extensive and well-attended conference stream on the live virtual classroom.  Although I haven’t counted, I would estimate that at least 30% of all the breakout sessions focused on what we could call a non-traditional way of delivering training.  There is clearly a plethora of ways to enable training other than putting people into a physical classroom and yet there is some sort of notable fear of change that leads people to cling to the tradition of the physical classroom setting where learners are held hostage for several days while information is fire-hosed at them.  Seriously, is that the best we can do?  Wake up and look around you, that isn’t the way we work, play or learn anymore!  Let’s step up as learning leaders and focus on the new methods that translate into more effective ways in which to develop and deliver training experiences.

#3 Sales Training
It has been a few years since I saw the emphasis on training sales teams that there was at this event.  A number of the breakout sessions were focused purely on training sales people.  Connecting this observation with my #1 above, I also saw that just about every session or conversation on sales training revolved around how to deliver sales training that directly impacts sales results.

WHAT’S OUT

#1 Avatars
The focus we saw just a few years ago that would have led us to believe that the future of training would see us all immersed in virtual reality and learning through the use of an avatar has all but disappeared.  Not to say I didn’t see some very effective ways in which to learn using the online word and simulation, but the total simulated “second life” style of learning seems to have lost its gloss.  Perhaps this is a direct result of the undeniable trend of cost cutting.  To create effective immersive virtual reality is anything but cheap.

#2 Technology for Technology’s Sake
No doubt many participants had iPads and various tablets with them, and many of the exhibitors may have been using these devices too, but the focus we saw a year ago on mobility and technology seems to have diminished.  Once again, I would suggest that this is the result of tightening budgets and a focus on what we can do today to impact results.  It is no longer about the technology itself–it’s about how we enable effective learning.

#3 Motivation Masquerading as Learning
For far too many years we have seen what I would call motivational events, games or speakers being used in the training landscape.  While there is nothing wrong with a good motivational event to “pump up” the crowd, these can’t be mistaken for training that delivers new learning.  Perhaps as a result of my #1 observation of What’s In, I see the focus moving away from motivation masquerading as learning.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the motivational speaker at an event as much as anyone else, but as was noted at several times throughout the conference, enabling effective learning and delivering results does not come down to a motivational event.

As ever, I enjoyed the ability to mix and mingle with so many leaders in the world of training, and perhaps pick up on a few of the trends that will drive us and the industry during the course of 2012.

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Live Virtual Training That Works

It’s easy to get lost these days in all of the choices that exist around learning options and technology.  This can be especially true at a conference like the one we just attended, ASTD’s Techknowledge 2012, where the choices were abundant and almost overwhelming.  Mobile learning, just-in-time, social media, blogging and micro blogging just to name a few.  Furthermore, as  learning and development professionals we have to ensure that we are embracing the different learning styles and expectations of the new workforce.  It is clear we can’t stand still or continue to do things the way we have always done them.

Today’s learning leaders are increasingly tasked to find new, better and less expensive ways to train and to accommodate the growing number of new, mobile and remote workforce learners.  Given our experiences with customers around the globe, we have seen that for many organizations the move to virtual has been overwhelmingly driven by the obvious cost and time savings of this modality.  At the same time virtual training is often viewed as inferior or not being able to offer the type of results associated with more traditional training approaches.  This is not because web-based training is an inferior training modality; it is because it has not been widely-used in an effective and compelling manner. As leaders responsible for the results of their training initiatives, is this the ROI that we are willing to live with OR is there a better way?

Top concerns that emerged during the recent were:

  1. What does it take to deliver a virtual classroom experience so that it is more than a traditional webinar?
  2. How can we create engagement in virtual classroom experiences?
  3. How to create a blended experience and leverage assets that companies have already invested in?
  4. Change management:  what is needed in terms of an overall program to gain adoption, apply learning and change behavior?

To gain the true impact of any training program the answer to a strong ROI lies in the overall organizational learning strategy and in the architectural footprint of the learning environment and NOT in tactical implementation, training technology or clever instructional design. Of course, these elements do matter but they are secondary to strategy and architectural design.  The strategy must consider the business impact that is required and then map the change management, skills, and behavior requirements necessary to enable the organization to deliver those results.  The architectural design must then accommodate who needs training and the most effective modes in which to deliver, or enable, the requisite learning to occur.

So where does live virtual training fit in?  With the learning strategy and architecture serving as the foundation, learning and development leaders can ensure that the most effective modalities are employed to support the organizational learning needs by  providing the right training to the right people at the right time.   With an emphasis on supporting the workforce in the way in which we now live and work, live virtual is worth a strong hard look for how this modality can truly transform the modern-day learning experience.

Come join us at Training 2012 and hear more about a Best-In-Practice Design to Live Virtual Training.  Find out more about the event on our website.

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