Best Practices

Become a Chief Experience Officer

Some learning problems never end. The challenge is to make sure that they aren’t still being written about in 10 years.


Our “Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016” study shows that corporate learning has never been greater. The research shows that 84 percent of companies now believe employee learning is a top 10 issue and 44 percent rate it “very important,” up 10 percent from last year.

Why the pressure? Two reasons. First, thanks to technology, organizational roles are changing and becoming obsolete faster than ever. Information technology professionals need to learn mobile apps, sales people need to learn new products, customer service people need to learn new customer needs and products, and those of us in human resources and learning need to learn about new technologies, workforce changes and regulations. Demand for learning is up.

The second reason is more profound: Learning is now part of our personal economic survival. As I like to put it, “the learning curve is the earning curve.” The single biggest predictor of your career growth is your own skills, experience and judgment. In today’s organizations, which are flatter and more project oriented than ever before, 92 percent of companies surveyed are restructuring to make teams more important; your skills are the currency for your success.

While all this demand and pressure builds, another shift has happened. Thanks to the new digital world of work, people are busier and more distracted than ever. More than 75 percent of companies told us their companies are “too complex” and people feel “overwhelmed.” The average employee now receives more than 150 emails a day and spends more than 40 percent of their time just dealing with their inbox.

Today, employees must drive learning. People learn when they want, how they want and using the device they want. Maybe you have 15 minutes at a coffee shop, and you want to watch a course on how to use a new tool. Over the weekend, you may have 20 minutes to brush up on your professional education. During the workday, you want to find videos or online materials that solve problems as you need them.

While the problem of just-in-time learning is not a new one, the idea of learning experience design is. Our research shows one of the most important new disciplines in L&D is the practice of design thinking. How can we build a learning experience that is directed, useful and enjoyable for people at work?

If you think about your job as a learning experience designer, rather than go through the traditional instructional design process, you study the behavior and obstacles your employees face. You build journey maps and personas to define people’s needs. And you may design mobile apps, games or social systems based on data-driven learning paths to meet employee needs.

Using design thinking, Telco Systems redesigned its onboarding program from a two-week training program to an app-based experience that includes training, videos, people to meet, exams and points that people accumulate during their first nine months. The results were astounding: Turnover dropped by more than 30 percent, and employee satisfaction skyrocketed.

As a chief learning officer — the master of employee skills, capabilities and career paths — you have more information about the learning experience than anyone else in the company. You should be building journey maps for new managers, skilled professionals, new hires and senior leaders. These will help you understand what types of tools, mentors, interventions and experiences they need.

When Deloitte redesigned the Deloitte University experience, the team looked at the entire experience: finding a learning need, locating a course, registering, enrolling, scheduling, getting on a plane and arriving at the university. The result is an efficient, enjoyable, curated experience filled with learning opportunities. The building, the walls and even the artifacts in the rooms are all designed to promote learning.

This new world of learning experience design is here for us to embrace. Courses in design thinking are everywhere, and more designers are coming into human resources to help us learn the techniques. As employees grow more overwhelmed every day, this problem will become more urgent. Rethink your role, and change the “L” to an “E” in your job title. You’ll understand your business better, your employees will be happier, and the programs you build will be more exciting and useful than ever.

Josh Bersin is founder of Bersin, known as Bersin by Deloitte, and a principal with Deloitte Consulting. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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