Mobile Accessible eLearning

New Leadership Standards for the Future of Work

Introducing new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support the future of work

The pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the world of work. The skills required for many jobs are changing, and people are rethinking how, where, and why they work. These changes necessitate the introduction of new leadership standards and employee behaviors to support organizational sustainability in a post-covid future. 

In this blog post, we look at some of the challenges today’s leaders face, and how we’ve supported our clients’ needs with team-based learning solutions that help power the future of work. 

Enhancing hybrid working dynamics

One of the biggest demands on leaders is to manage the way remote working has transformed the ways teams innovate, communicate, collaborate, and build relationships. With workers split across virtual and physical spaces, not to mention time zones, leaders need to come up with new ways to build inclusive and connected teams.

One of our clients, a Fortune 150 pharmaceutical company, looked to Blueline for help navigating the new hybrid working environment and defining the future of work. The client needed to prepare leaders to address common challenges, lead hybrid teams effectively, and avoid proximity bias.

Based on insights uncovered through interviews with key stakeholders, we used Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform to produce two robust simulations made up of a total of twelve of the most likely dilemmas that leaders would face, including:

  • Leading teams in the hybrid workplace
  • Ensuring equality of opportunities and information
  • Preventing proximity bias
  • Giving feedback
  • Monitoring performance across physical locations 
  • Concerns from individuals about remote and hybrid work
  • Monitoring team health and members’ wellbeing

By exploring best practices and collaboratively coming up with solutions to these problems in a real-world context, leaders were able to learn to be productive and efficient leading in the new hybrid environment by ensuring fairness and equality in work, development, and career opportunities. The participant response to the immersive and collaborative learning experience was overwhelmingly positive, and the client continues to use the simulations we developed to help leaders prepare for and embrace this new way of working. 

Strengthening company culture 

Culture is critically important to company success; those with more effective and defined cultures realize multiple benefits, such as employee satisfaction, retention, and even revenue growth. But as the workforce became more geographically dispersed, many leaders became concerned about creating and maintaining a company culture across physical distances. Today’s leaders need to continue to foster and nurture company culture, but they need to do so while people are working in multiple places. 

We helped one of the world’s best-known consumer brands transform its culture by ensuring employees at all levels understood and could apply new expectations of leadership standards and employee behaviors. The company had communicated and reinforced the core behaviors and leadership standards the year before, so people knew about the new vision, mission, and behaviors. However, they often struggled to connect these concepts to their daily work. 

Blueline’s goal was to put the company’s vision, mission, values, and behaviors in the context of each individual’s job role, and to help leaders demonstrate the new leadership standards. 

To achieve these objectives, we created two workshops that leveraged a combination of our BlueprintTM learning visuals and our ExperienceBUILDER simulations. The first workshop (for all employees) focused on exploring the company’s vision, values, and behaviors by using a learning visual as a launch pad that invited employees to go on a metaphorical journey. The second workshop was designed specifically for leaders, who needed to be equipped to lead by the key principles and reinforce desired behaviors. The workshop consisted of two parts: a learning visual that invited leaders to explore the new leadership standards, followed by an ExperienceBUILDER simulation in which participants explored ways to apply what they had just learned to the specific challenges they would likely face in the transforming organization.

The program successfully helped to reinforce the company’s culture in a practical way. Leaders assess themselves on their proficiency with the new knowledge and skills before and after the training. Their scores jumped from 51% pre-training to 99% post-training with 91% of leaders stating that they would recommend the program to their peers. 

Key to the success of culture transformation initiatives is the ability to deliver them effectively in a hybrid work environment. Blueline’s team-based, immersive learning experiences are equipped to do just that. In fact, the need to deliver scenario simulations to a hybrid workforce was one inspiration for ExperienceBUILDER, which delivers highly immersive and engaging synchronous learning experiences to teams of learners, regardless of physical location. 

The need for softer skills 

Specialized interpersonal skills will be in high demand in the new hybrid workplace, where on-site interactions are becoming less frequent. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of employees’ mental wellbeing, and training for empathy has taken on a new level of meaning and priority. Empathy training has been proven to drive significant business results through a positive impact on employee motivation, innovation, and retention. Leaders in a post-pandemic working world must be able to empathize with their colleagues to be successful.

Our clients have seen significant improvements in empathy development using our immersive, discovery-based approach. Our ExperienceBUILDER simulations help guide individuals into meaningful conversations, resolve complex interpersonal issues, uncover biases and prejudice, and improve inclusion efforts, all of which are essential to ensuring empathy stays at the forefront in the future of work.

Seize the opportunity to define the future of work

By changing their mindsets, listening to their people, and using different tools and technologies, leaders can create a brighter and more positive future of work in the world of hybrid teams. Contact the Blueline Simulations team to learn more about how we can help. 

What is a learning simulation?

Learning simulations are a valuable tool for organizations looking to develop their teams. Simulations allow learners to advance their skills in a controlled environment with the use of fictitious scenarios. Using simulations increases the engagement of learners, and also promotes critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities. Simulations can be used in various types of industries, across all departments, in order to provide people with the opportunity to learn and practice a wide variety of skills. 

What is a simulation?

Simulations place learners in lifelike scenarios that often lack clear-cut answers and enable the opportunity to experience the outcomes of choices without invoking real-world consequences. Flight simulations are a classic example, in which pilots can react to various weather, takeoff, and landing challenges. They can discover the consequences of a broad range of actions without literally crashing a plane. The simulation is programmed to react to pilots’ mistakes, allowing them to learn the appropriate and safest solutions to challenges that they are faced with in flight. When they’re later flying real planes, they’re better equipped to make split-second decisions and arrive safely at their destinations. Flight simulations give pilots the opportunity to gain confidence, experience, and knowledge without the cost or possible negative consequences of a real flight. 

Simulations are also commonly known for being used in medical practice, as well as armed forces and police departments. However, they can be applied more broadly than these high-profile examples. The same techniques used to simulate a medical emergency or hostage crisis can also be adapted to interpersonal conflict, leadership skills, and just about any other situation that involves critical thinking and decision making. Sometimes referred to as experiential learning, simulations can take many forms, such as role-play, games, and team-based experiences. A simulation can be equally effective in an in-person learning environment or remote. 

When can a simulation be used?

Organizations have been using simulations as a part of their training programs for decades. They can be a great opportunity for team-based learning across every department. Learning organizations find simulations to be very fitting for developing interpersonal and customer-focused skills. They’re often applied to leadership development, management, sales and marketing, and customer service. While a simulation can be used to teach a consistent process, they’re commonly used for situations with a lot of gray area, lacking clear-cut answers. Simulations can also be very powerful when a decision may have both positive and negative consequences, and they can show the ways that one choice with multiple facets has a wide-ranging impact.

For example, in a customer-focused training simulation, learners can see how their body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions affect their outcomes in customer interactions. What happens when you greet a customer with a friendly smile and welcoming tone of voice, as opposed to folded arms and a negative tone of voice? Rather than telling people to smile and be welcoming, the simulation gives them the opportunity to explore the possibilities and come to the desired conclusion without any real-world consequences of alienated customers. While this example seems like a black-and-white decision, the power of the simulation is that the learners must deal with the consequences of their choices. Can they rescue the customer interaction after a rude greeting? Might there be situations where an over-the-top greeting is actually off-putting to the customer? Simulations enable explorations of many possibilities.

Why use a simulation?

Simulations are used for a variety of purposes and have many benefits. They promote the use of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, both independently and as a team. Simulations force learners to think deeper, have thoughtful conversations, and be open to listening to others’ ideas and points of view because there are often no clear answers. In many cases, learners will be faced with issues that directly concern themselves, but also involve those around them and the organization as a whole. Learners need to be able to think for themselves, but also to be open to working through issues that arise with the help of others. 

Simulations have become a popular learning tool for organizations due to the fact that they allow people to learn from experience without the risk of wasted resources or lost customers. Working through complicated scenarios reduces the need to spend time in real-life situations figuring it out on the spot and learning from (costly) mistakes. These learning experiences can be done in a controlled environment, custom-designed specifically for the organization, desired outcomes, and learning department. 

Our ExperienceBUILDER™ simulation learning platform enables an equally effective experience whether teams are co-located, remote, or both. ExperienceBUILDER sims are custom-built or tailored to suit the needs of the organization, and the platform itself meets the needs of a hybrid workforce by facilitating team collaboration from anywhere. Learners work together on teams to impact such metrics as resolving conflict, allocating resources, increasing engagement, and developing their staff. Multiple teams can go head-to-head, seeing their performance against one another on a live leaderboard.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss how simulations could benefit your organization and the way in which your learners develop their skills. Our custom-designed learning programs have been producing notable business results from some of the leading worldwide organizations for over a decade. Contact us today to schedule a meeting. 

Making the Grade with Simulations

Although once reserved for the business school environment, team-based simulations have earned their rightful place in the training curriculums of learning organizations worldwide during the past decade. And the reasons are plenty:

  1. They facilitate team-building.
  2. They provide a quick and effective means to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  3. They’re fun and engaging.
  4. They’re an outlet for extremely competitive students.
  5. They teach practical application of a broad range of skills such as business strategy and finance, project management, brand management, leadership, market strategy, sales strategy and trust.

web-based-simulationsFN

Proof positive

The Wharton School of Business presented a case on the effectiveness of team-based activities run remotely — either synchronously or asynchronously — at ATD’s National Conference a few years back.

Wharton’s experience with its Executive MBA Program was that, in addition to significantly reducing travel time and cost, learners retained more and were more productive when they had more time between sessions to digest and apply information.

The typical design approach incorporated a series of individual and group exercises that included podcasts, webinars, white papers, remote office hours and a remote group activity followed by a capstone live classroom experience. A far cry from when distance learning meant PowerPoint presentations via webinar.

One of Blueline’s popular simulations is Abilitie’s Business Challenge, a web-based multiplayer simulation in which participants take the helm of a virtual business and compete for market leadership. The simulation is set up and debriefed remotely via webinar. At the client’s option, the simulation can be supplemented with a series of case-based elearning modules called Fluent in Finance. The modules present a unique combination of elearning, simulation and virtual classroom experiences.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

In a short time, our world has changed dramatically. No longer is knowledge and information bound to printed volumes or even desktops. We now have the ability to create interactive elearning content and publish it on mobile devices, including iPhones, making it instantly available anytime, no matter where we are.

Gone also are the days of memorizing vast amounts of information for instant recall.  We now have instant access to vast libraries of information, far more than we could have ever hoped to memorize in a lifetime.  Mobile accessible eLearning makes it possible for us to access just about any knowledge we desire wherever we are, just when we need it.   In this way, it represents a tremendous breakthrough for reference and performance support.   But having all of this information at your fingertips can also be overwhelming. The real breakthrough is achieved when learners are able to find exactly the right information, when and where they need it.

In the late 80’s and 90’s Roger Shank, then Dean of Northwestern’s Institute for Learning Sciences, pioneered research into expert tutoring systems using artificial intelligence.  That evolved into “ask” systems that let users access relevant help by simply selecting the question that they want to have answered.  As a practical matter, these systems were never really “artificially intelligent.”  They relied upon developers and programmers to develop hard coded pathways that they believed would best serve the learner.

Fast forward a decade… Google and others have made huge strides toward anticipating which website we are searching for when we enter a request into their search engines and serving up the information most relevant to us.  This technology has given way to a new generation of “ask” systems.

The latest generation of performance support pioneered by the Blueline team, leverages these new “ask” system capabilities. Search responses, relevant links and associated content are determined using a gaming engine model (rules and probabilities) to predict and share the most relevant content for each user. The engine “learns” from previous users’ choices and the designer’s intended objectives.  So in this case, you could say that the learner’s experience evolves “intelligently” based on the succession of choices they make.

Pair this next generation of “ask” systems with mobile delivery and you have an unprecedented business tool.   Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

Would you like to explore potential strategies for putting these exciting new platforms to work in your organization? Blueline is here to help!

Recorded Gamification Webinar Now Available

If you missed this interesting and informative webinar hosted by my friend and business partner, Brian Knudson you can watch it now. Brian is the Founder of NogginLabs and knows a thing or two about achieving learning transfer through gamification – and has 7 Brandon Hall gaming awards to prove it.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a huge budget or complex programming to design eLearning that’s as addictive as Angry Birds. If motivating your learners is a challenge, this webinar is for you. Learn the basic principles of gamification, and how best to apply them to your eLearning initiatives.

Watch the recorded webinar and see how gamification can take your organization’s eLearning to the next level.