The Power of Collaboration When Designing Learning Experiences

Episode 14 October 23, 2020 00:26:03
The Power of Collaboration When Designing Learning Experiences
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
The Power of Collaboration When Designing Learning Experiences
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Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

Challenging the traditional model of working in silos, many companies are taking more collaborative approaches to product development. In this episode, host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek introduces two guests Denise Accuradi, Global Manager of Virtual Learning at Manpower Group, and Potoula Chresomales, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Skillsoft, to discuss Skillsoft's design partner program that allows customers to contribute to the product roadmap.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike. In every episode, we engage in candid thought provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. Now, many companies are rewriting the rules for developing products with approaches that number one unite teams that have historically operated in silos and number two rebuilt the framework of collaboration. So that teams deliver better products for their customers. Okay, but here's the million dollar question. Shouldn't the customer also be part of this equation, especially if they're willing to share their voice, you know, in traditional development, you're gathering all of this information from customers at the start you get to work. And then when it's time for that product to roll out, you hope it still aligns with what what's, what the customers said they needed months ago, or you can invite your customers into the design process. Speaker 1 00:01:01 Give them a seat at the table throughout the various phases of development from delivering real-time feedback on your features and behind the scenes tests to suggesting entirely new features that could help in the future. And this is where the valuable role of a design partner comes in the operative word, being partner, working in tandem, the company and its customers. We form a relationship in which there's an open and perpetual exchange of ideas, experiences, and very importantly, candid viewpoints, all with the same intention, build amazing products that deliver value, and then keep the dialogue going with an eye towards constant improvement in the true spirit of partnership. I am excited to say that on this podcast episode, we have not one but two guests who are going to give us a behind the scenes, look at how a design partnership should work with real back and forth feedback. Speaker 1 00:01:59 And in my view, character and comradery on full display, my guests are Denise, a Cardi learning manager, global learning and development at manpower group manpower group is the world leader in innovative workforce solutions, connecting human potential to the power of business. The company serves both large and small organizations across all industry sectors through its brands and offerings, manpower, experience, and talent solutions, manpower groups, brands address the complex workforce challenges organizations face today from contingent and permanent staffing to talent management outsourcing and talent development. Also joining us is my colleague Petula. Chris Amala is senior vice president of product management at Skillsoft. Petula is responsible for platform, product management and user experience design and the launch of our award-winning learning experience platform, Skillsoft Percipio. Now Petula founded the Skillsoft partner program to collaborate with leading global companies. So that Percipio was designed to inspire, motivate and engage users. ManpowerGroup is a Skillsoft customer, and they've been a key part of our design partner program. And in this role, the niece is sharing her voice with us and in turn, but Tula makes sure that that voice is heard, learned from and acted upon. Welcome Denise. Speaker 2 00:03:25 Hello, Michelle. Nice to see you again. Speaker 1 00:03:27 It's nice to, it's nice to see you and hear you, but Tula welcome. Speaker 3 00:03:32 Hi Michelle. Hi, Denise. Happy to be here with you today. Speaker 1 00:03:35 Great. Look, I can't wait to learn more about the major learning and development initiatives that manpower group has in the works Denise, but first Petula, I have a feeling that you can do far better justice to the design partner program than I did. So tell us a little bit more about the program, how it works and the role that our customers play as partners, if you would. Speaker 3 00:04:00 Absolutely. So when we first started planning a new platform, what we now call a Skillsoft Percipio, we knew that it would only be successful if our customers were our partners in designing it. If we had their voice, their ideas, their strategies, their pinpoints in the center of our thinking. And if that voice was with us every step of the way. So to do this, we formed the design partner program and we had our first meeting in January of 2017, six months before we launched the very earliest version of Percipio when we had no customers on it yet. Um, and the design partners has been a dynamic group since then, and we're always inviting new customers to join and provide new perspectives. And Denise joined us in early 2019 to add her voice to this group. So now we have about 25 L and D leaders like Denise, who are our partners and meet with us every month. Speaker 3 00:04:48 Um, they make sure that we're focusing on things that are going to provide the most value to their organizations and most importantly to their learners. So together we prioritize the roadmap based on value. Uh, we share design ideas, um, and we get candid feedback early on, uh, so we can pivot, uh, and, uh, and make sure that what we're building is going to be something that is going to help them achieve their goals and their learning goals for their organization. So Denise has been a member for a long time. Denise, do you want to talk a little bit about what these meetings are like and what happens there? Speaker 2 00:05:19 Absolutely. Thanks Tula. So you're right. I have been joining sons, um, um, early 2019 and the group now has become a true community. We've um, you know, it's not one of those sorts of, um, meetings where, you know, the Skillsoft team talks and everyone listens. I think oftentimes we talk more than you guys do. Um, but in many ways it gives us the chance, you know, to shape the roadmap, um, to meet our company needs. We're very diverse. We're a global company and we have a lot of things going on all the time. Um, I also liked the, to vote on new features and hearing what others are thinking and for them to explain their rationale sometimes, you know, as, as you know, Michelle, you had mentioned earlier, you know, we were in silos and this is really gives a great opportunity to see what other companies are doing in their L and D space. Speaker 2 00:06:16 Also, you know, getting to know the peers from other organizations. And honestly, I have a network now and I've reached out many times and asked questions to them. You know, what are you doing about this? How have you used that? Um, I also love seeing prototypes of new features. We're really excited about the, the teams, um, functionality that's coming soon. Um, and looking forward to, um, perhaps maybe being one of the first customers out on that, um, new offering. But the most important thing for us is to know that Skillsoft's actively listening and responding. And I know Petula, you and I are going to talk about that a little bit later on in the podcast. So, um, I'll wait for that also, uh, you know, we've been pushing Percipio globally to get things out that matter to our business, and we have a great success story to share with you about it. Speaker 3 00:07:11 Denise, do you want to share that now and talk a little bit about your business, your learners, and, uh, and, uh, you know, the key initiatives that you have, uh, to help your learners develop skills and grow their career? Speaker 2 00:07:22 So, absolutely truly. We have two types of learners at manpower group. We have our employees, which we have about 36,000 globally. And then we also have our extended workforce. Those are associates that work on our behalf at client sites. So, uh, you know, maybe we just give you a couple of initiatives that we've been working on, um, over the last, uh, year or so. So we have this program called my path. My path is, uh, is a program where our extended work force can advance their career. So our experience brand has been focusing on obviously it skills. And so we provide career counseling and upskilling. So we're piloting Percipio in North America using abbreviated aspire journeys. Um, and again, more on that later, the other great program that we've been working on, um, in Europe, we have a first time leader program. So these are employees that have been with the company for a year or so, and are now starting to move into a managerial role. So we're using the leadership transition journeys specifically the first time manager. So those are the sorts of things that we've been working on in the last year or so. Speaker 3 00:08:46 Great. Thanks, Denise. And could you talk a little bit about, um, Percipio about your Percipio launch, about your hopes for Skillsoft Percipio, how your learners are currently using it? Speaker 2 00:08:57 Absolutely. So th th this is a rather funny story because at perspectives, I believe it was in 2018, uh, Petula, I was listening to a panel that you were sitting on talking about Percipio and specifically aspire journeys. And I madly got out my cocktail napkin and started writing, you know, what I was interested in. Um, you know, the data analyst to data scientist I know is the first journey. And I just saw that as a perfect match for our experience, my path team. So what we did is as soon as, uh, the platform was really ready for us, because again, being a global company, we needed some language support and those sorts of things, we did a pilot in North America and the, it was an overwhelming success. Um, it was rather interesting to me to learn that our learners during the pilot period were more excited about the audio books than anything else. And I just didn't expect that. And so after that pilot, which we ran for 90 days, we immediately launched in the rest of North America, which was about 3,500 employees. After that, then we started rolling it out, you know, every month, three to eight countries. So as of October 1st, we were live in all 80 countries globally. Speaker 1 00:10:30 I think that's fantastic. And I'd like to jump back in here and it's, you know, I think that manpower group, what you do is probably so important, especially now when you've got, um, this workforce that is trying to figure out how to re-skill or up-skill and make themselves, um, you know, ready for that next role. Is that correct? That's correct. I think this is fascinating. I want to, I want to come back and talk a little bit about this design partner program, because it sounds like the two of you are, you know, work really well together, as well as with the other design partners. Now, Denise, you mentioned that there was an area where you might need some help from Petula and our team. So I'm going to ask you both when something like this comes up, so let's say you raise your hand and we need help, whether it's, um, uh, uh, doing, you know, creating or crafting journeys or whether it is standing up new content or it's new features, what do you do? What, what happens and then how do you connect? And so maybe I'll start with you Petula, actually, um, tell me a little bit about how customers engage with you when they want something or need some. Speaker 3 00:11:36 Yeah, so, so the first thing we want to do is talk about the problem to be solved, right? We stay in this thing, we call the problem space, understanding what Denise and her colleagues are trying to achieve, what their learners are trying to achieve. We flesh that out so that we really understand it. Uh, what are the pain points? You know, what the friction points what's making it difficult to achieve that goal. And then we work with our UX designers and our engineers, and we come up with ideas for the solution space. How might we solve that problem in creative and interesting ways? Then we create visual prototypes of those ideas, and we bring them back to the design partners. So now Denise and her colleagues and other design partners are looking at something visual clickable, an actual prototype of what the solution might be. And they provide feedback on that. And then we iterate that prototype until we have something that we believe is provides a lot of value and is easy to use. And those are the two parts of the equation. Is it valuable? And is it easy? Uh, and, uh, and then we go ahead and build it and we have an agile product development process. So we build things pretty quickly, every two weeks, we're pushing new features out into the marketplace. So we're able to adapt to, to what we're hearing from our customers. Speaker 1 00:12:45 Yeah, that's fantastic. Denise, I'd love to hear your perspective on how this process all works for you. Speaker 2 00:12:50 So we were looking for Skillsoft to partner with us on how to deliver, um, it skill-building and diagnostic testing for our North American myPath practice. So I reached out to my customer service or customer success team, and we began the conversation, which led us to Petula and her team. And it sounds like Speaker 1 00:13:11 That was a match made in heaven. That's how it should be. Right. You've got listening, you've got, you know, clearly a great rapport and a willingness to, I think, be open with what your needs are and whether or not the solutions that are being delivered are meeting those needs. Okay. So we know that this isn't just a one-way road where manpower group helps Skillsoft develops its products, but rather you're looking for our feedback as well, so that hopefully you can enhance some of your own key learning and development initiatives. So Denise, I'd love to hear you talk about something big that you're working on and describe how you and Petula in particular are collaborating, uh, on this project together. Speaker 2 00:13:48 We'd love to. So at manpower group, we're very excited about aspire journeys. So as I had mentioned earlier at perspectives, that's, you know, that's really honestly what sold me on Percipio, but honestly, they're a big investment in time and our learners are not always sure where to begin. So we started working with Petula and her team right now to create pre-assessments and that's going to help our learners know where to begin and assess their own skill level as a baseline, before they start, this will help them target their own learning, skip the things they already know and spend their time wisely. So this is in the early stages. Um, looks like we're going to be rolling some, um, some things out, uh, Q1, um, but it's really exciting to get started and we expect to design this together and that's the most important thing, show it to the other design partners and then see it available for everyone that uses Percipio. That's exciting, but tool, tell us a little bit more about Speaker 1 00:14:52 This as well. Speaker 3 00:14:53 We have a UX team, a content team, um, product managers that are working on this with Denise and her group, um, prototyping out what the pre-assessments might look like, where would they appear in Percipio? How would the scores be delivered to the user? How would the user then be guided on what to do next, where in the journey to begin based on the assessments that they took. Um, and, uh, and we're building that out in a clickable prototype. Uh, we'll be able to show that and test that with Denise. We'll be able to test that with users from manpower group and from other design partners and make sure we've got the design just right, and then we'll be building it into the platform. So this is exactly our best way of working with our design partners. We have a problem to be solved. We have a set of solutions that we develop. We test those, we iterate on those and we develop them and build them into the platform for everyone to use. Speaker 1 00:15:42 Well, thank you both. I appreciate, uh, I appreciate the response and the insight into how this design partner program works. Okay. Denise, I think we should put Petula in the hot set in a hot Z and put you in the interviewer's seat for a moment. So, okay. You've got Petula all to yourself right now. What would you like to ask? Speaker 2 00:16:00 Well, so at manpower group, we believe that people learn in different ways, right? Some by watching somebody reading, you know, others by listening or doing so offering traditional learning along with, on the go, listening on the Percipio mobile app, um, you know, offers those different types of learning in our opinion. But how were you thinking about blended learning? You know, what are your next steps? Speaker 3 00:16:27 So we in the Percipio platform right now, we've started off with the framework of watch read, listen, and then we added practice. As we added more practice labs is we're adding all of our assessments and interactive capabilities with the content. Uh, the next thing that we're adding is attend. So when we think about learning, uh, going forward, we think about blended learning. So most of our platform now is on demand, but we're building out more and more bootcamps that provide that live learning experience. And in December, we're going to be launching an instructor, led training capability across the platform, which means that you and all of our customers who might be creating your own live training, maybe it's job training, maybe it's onboarding for first-time managers, something that's specific to manpower group or to our other customers. Uh, you'll be able to administer that live learning. Speaker 3 00:17:21 Most of that is virtual instructor led training right now, whether it's zoom, uh, courses or WebEx or ms teams, uh, administered, uh, you'll be able to put that all inside Percipio. So your learners will be able to find it inside the platform. There'll be able to register for those courses in the platform. Um, they'll be able to link out to those courses from the platform you'll see reporting, and you'll have a lot of functionality to create programs that meet your specific needs. So that's a huge feature that we're building out. I know many of our customers have given us a tremendous amount of feedback on how the feature set is going to work for customers and for administrators that are creating the courses. So we're super excited about adding blended learning live and on demand, uh, in the platform, uh, as we, as we go into, uh, uh, November and December, Speaker 2 00:18:07 That sounds really exciting. And I cannot wait to see it. Um, I have another question for you. So we have many users who are engaged at the beginning, and then they trail off. And as you know, since we've really only been live, uh, in less than a year, we're starting to see this. So they have good intentions, but they don't have the time. So what are you doing in percipient to help me engage my learners? Speaker 3 00:18:33 Nice. There are only 24 hours in the day and everyone feels stretched for time. There's never enough time for anything. And I think Josh Berson said, you know, we have just a few minutes that we spend learning every week. Uh, and we see that we see that's true for all of our learners. So we're designing Percipio to, uh, fit into the nooks and crannies of every day. So all of the content is broken into microlearning and, uh, and that makes it easier for learners to achieve a learning objective in a little bit of time. Um, we take that micro learning and we enable it to be pushed out to our learners, using AI to personalize, uh, recommendations and notifications. So all of that is automated in the platform so that you don't have to manage it on an ongoing basis, but it just, uh, it personalizes and it incense the learners to come right back into the platform. Speaker 3 00:19:25 So we call that a digital dialogue, reminders, goals, ways that the platform can keep them on track and keep them motivated. Uh, most recently, uh, we're about to launch a feature called goals and reminders. And Denise, you might remember giving feedback on that during one of the design partner meetings, where we were thinking about this and whether it would be good for users. Um, so we'll start with this. Uh, as mobile first and learners will be able to set a goal for themselves, how much time do they want to dedicate to learning every week? And then the platform will help them stay on track with small reminders and with congratulations when they meet that goal or when they have a streak. So those are the, those are some of the things that help remove the friction fit learning into every day and help learners, uh, stay on track. And so thank you for your feedback on those features, Denise, and we look forward to adding more in the future. Speaker 2 00:20:14 Well, I will say that the AI notifications are very popular. We really consider turning them off at deployment, but elected to keep them on for 60 days, we wanted to do a quick trial. See what the response was. It's been very positive and we've decided to leave them on. Speaker 1 00:20:32 That's fantastic. Um, okay. I, I'm enjoying listening to both of you talk, but I think I have to take the host microphone back, or we will never stop because we are almost out of time. So I'm going to ask a multi-part question that I ask all of our guests across every episode of the edge. Now, many of the people with whom I've spoken, you know, they've shared that the pandemic has allowed us to look at things a little bit differently, right? So I often say we give ourselves a little more grace. I'm not sure that's true, but I, I like to think it is, um, we've shifted our perspective. We've taken up a new hobby. I think I mentioned to you, I bird watch. Everybody's sick of hearing me say that, but I'm telling you, I've got some fascinating birds in my yard. And I've asked several of my guests, this question, and the responses have been fascinating. So it's a three parter. Number one, what have you started doing since the onset of the pandemic? Number two, what have you stopped doing? And you are so grateful that you don't have to do it anymore. And then the third part is, as we continue to move forward in this new world, we live in, what is something that you're going to take with you, no matter what you're going to continue to do that you might not have done before and Denise, I'm going to start with you. Speaker 2 00:21:42 So what have I started doing since the onset of the pandemic? Well, I've started taking more time for myself during the Workday. You know, I've found that the days were blending together, even to the point of not knowing what day of the week it was. So I've now committed to taking at least one call a day outside, preferably while I'm walking my new puppy we've we bought a, we have a Burmese mountain dog. Um, what if, what if I stopped doing and grateful for doing so we, you know, I've really stopped worrying about how many hours a day I'm sitting at my desk. Um, I'm really grateful to work for a company that values accountability, not how long it takes me to complete a project. And then as we continue with this new normal, you know, what am I going to take away and continue to do? Well, you know, I have known friends and colleagues whose health and wellbeing has really suffered from this pandemic. Um, and I will never take friendships and my health for granted. Again, Speaker 1 00:22:50 I think that's beautiful, Denise and, and amen to that. Petula start, stop and continue. Speaker 3 00:22:56 Yup. So, uh, I, uh, really value the mentors that I've had in my life. And I'm always talking about mentoring others. And I do it when it's easy, like in the work environment where I already know people. Um, but I decided during COVID that I wanted to do more. And I started mentoring was an organization called built by girls. These are recent college graduates entering the workforce, going into tech related fields. And I'm mentoring a young woman right now named Sylvia. And it's been just a tremendous relationship and I'm getting so much out of it. And, you know, I, I, you know, something that I started doing that I I'm going to keep doing after the pandemic. Um, so what am I stopped doing? Um, I was traveling three to four weeks a month before COVID, uh, and now I'm not, and I have about 10 hours a week back in my life. Speaker 3 00:23:44 And I just, I just don't think I'll ever go back to the same travel schedule I had, uh, cause COVID really proved that I didn't need it to get everything done that I needed to get done. I didn't need to be traveling that way and I get that time back and now I can spend more of that time with my team instead of on the road or sitting at the airport. So I'm excited about that. Um, and in terms of something that I want to take with me, um, you know, with the pandemic was keeping social distance from everybody. Uh, we started doing more things outside, going for hikes, going for walks, uh, spending time on a Lake nearby. And I love it. Um, I love being out in nature. We got a boat as part of our COVID boat. You know, we couldn't travel the S the summer. So we, we got that and I just love being on the water, you know, water sky trees. It's so calming for me. It's so reenergizing for me. And, um, and I love it and I want to keep doing it, uh, for the rest of my life. So it's a good outcome from a, from a terrible situation. Speaker 1 00:24:43 I, I really appreciate that. And, and you're right about the travel I I'm with you there. I don't want that kind of schedule anymore. Um, and in honor of you too. And, uh, because the topic today is designed partner and Percipio. I wanted to add another little segment called, what am I learning in Percipio? And I wanted to share a book I'm reading with everyone, because I think it's great. My friend Olga suggested I read it, it's called leadership and self-deception getting out of the box and it is available on Percipio. So if you have not read it, please, I encourage you to do so. It is fantastic. And I want to thank Denise and Petula for taking so much time to be with us on the edge podcast and to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this. And every episode, we are here to unleash our edge together. On behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning, keep growing and in light of our conversation today, keep building and strengthening those relationships, both at work and outside, and most importantly, be champions for your learners and your customers. I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge.

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