Is it just us, or is everybody talking about workforce collaboration lately?
It’s not just us. The rise of the “distributed workforce” as a result of COVID-19 means that 78% of CEOs believe that remote collaboration is here to stay and 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely, at least part of the time, after the pandemic.
Collaboration among virtual teams has never been more essential. That’s why companies like Bluescape – one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies for 2021” in the workplace category – is anticipating a “blowout year,” according to CEO Peter Jackson. But it takes more than good timing to thrive in today’s chaotic business environment. According to Jackson, it takes “amazing customers that share our vision” for the workplace of the future.
To cultivate customers that share a company’s vision, Bluescape’s Director of Education, Loc Nguyen, believes companies need the right learning strategy — and right mentality. “In 2020,” he said, “everything changed. Business operations went virtual, and that means training, largely considered an in-person experience, had to shift quickly to go online as well.”
Bluescape — a persistent cloud-based platform for real-time collaboration that makes it easy for individuals and teams to create, interact with, and share content on different devices wherever they are — was tailor made for online workforce collaboration. Now, their training framework had to be, too.
A Learning System for Today’s Learners
Bluescape group recognized early on the need for education to help drive customer success with its platform, and developed a culture that supports lifelong learning and talent/career development.
As a growing startup, Bluescape was initially using an ad-hoc collection of learning strategies and processes to ensure custsomers were educated and set up for success with its software. They originally relied on video lessons alone, but with the incorporation of a new model for designing learning, they soon realized the importance of more dynamic and customized coursework including online courses, job aids, video lessons, webinars, PDFs, and more.
Hence, the search for a new learning platform for Bluescape University began.
Bluescape was looking to accomplish three main goals with their new platform:
- Create a diverse library of content formats that support a wide array of customer personas, or “learning clusters”
- Build and scale the training team to support content development
- Develop a system to track training usage metrics and outcomes by learning cluster
The ABCs of Learning Clusters
Bluescape leveraged the Owens-Kadakia Learning Cluster Design (LCD) model to design the overall learning strategy and develop content, which was delivered through Skilljar. According to Crystal Kadakia, co-creator of LCD, “the new role of Learning & Development is to deliver and facilitate access to multiple learning assets as an integrated whole, so learners have various forms of content from which to learn. By creating target learner clusters (groups that learn similarly) and understanding the nuances within each, you can better meet overall goals for learning and development.”
Whereas most education programs group content by levels of experience – beginner, intermediate, expert – LCD worked with Bluescape to create different “learner personas,” based on a set of on-the-job performance objectives they wanted to influence most. “By measuring goals in terms of jobs to be done, rather than lessons completed, you can make sure you are giving learners the tools they need to meet their strategic goals,” Nguyen said.
“The overall goal is to create a variety of learning assets for a specific subject matter, enabling the learner to decide where, when, and how to consume the information, given their immediate objectives,” Kadakia explained. Rather than designing a program around what learners should know and apply at the end of a single training course, the LCD strategy identifies specific actions that learners should be doing differently on the job every day as a result of successfully accessing and applying the assets of their learning cluster.
Different Content for Different Learning Clusters
By incorporating a range of diverse content that the learner can choose from to meet their specific learning objectives and preferred ways of learning, Bluescape was able to help customers achieve their specific goals.
Bluescape takes a modular approach to creating and updating content, whether in the form of written lessons, on-demand training, or videos. With this approach, Bluescape breaks each piece of content into as many small chunks as possible during the production phase. Once all the parts and pieces are ready, the team stitches different combinations of content together to create specific coursework. The result is everything from online learning modules to product webinars and videos, with nuanced technical knowledge that meets the goals of each learner persona.
Skilljar’s platform effectively supports all of these different content types and enables this level of design specificity through the following tools:
Catalog pages: Skilljar’s Catalog Pages enable Bluescape to fine-tune the customer personas and develop learning paths that are tailored to each persona.
Dashboard User Roles: Through Dashboard User Roles, the training team is able to grant limited access to Bluescape subject matter experts (SMEs) and instructional designers, while the core training team maintains full rights over the portal.
Data tracking: Skilljar offers Bluescape the ability to track learners and their progress over time (e.g. number of course completions, length of time spent per course), enabling the training team to further optimize courses and learning paths.
Bluescape’s confidence in the Skilljar platform has enabled them to double down on the LCD training approach and secure additional investment in training from executive leadership. This has helped the company to expand headcount from one to 10 education/training team members — including an instructional designer, videograper, content creators, program manager, and training coordinator — in just 18 months. L&D now comprises 10% of Bluescape’s entire workforce.
At a time when the focus on Learning & Development has never been greater, virtual work environments demand a better model for customer education. Kadakia said, “It takes a solid platform, combined with the power of technology and advocacy from L&D leadership, to break down the previous-held notions of ‘training’. Only by doing so can we unlock opportunities to maximize the impact of L&D, not just for customer and employee education, but to advance the productivity and efficiency of the organization as a whole.”
Nguyen concurs: “If the whole world adopted this foundational way of looking at training, learning would happen a lot faster and would become a lot more enjoyable.”