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Spotlight on Tech Trends in Insurance

logoEarlier this year, Impact Instruction Group surveyed training industry leaders and professionals nationwide for our third annual Learning and Development Technology Trends Report. It’s always fascinating to see how learning and development organizations are putting technology to use.

This summer, we had an opportunity to take our research one step further. Our friends at the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators (SITE) allowed us to follow up with a companion survey targeted to their members to see where the Insurance sector mirrors, as well as differs from, the national trends.

Here’s what we found.

Technology Investment

With our general survey, eLearning is still on the top of the list, with 85% of organizations planning to have eLearning as part of their overall portfolio. Webinars a

nd video are also strong contenders, and organizations have become conditioned to having these delivery methods in their portfolios. For SITE members, the webinar platform is very prevalent with over 80 percent of SITE organizations investing in webinar-based learning. Interestingly, video is a medium that is often ranked right behind instructor-led environments when it comes to personal engagement or connection. With SITE members we see an opportunity to increase the use of video, because only a little over 50 percent of the respondents are making investments there.

Leadership Support

Leadership support for technology-based solutions in learning and development is growing, either steadily or rapidly, and our SITE survey mirrors what we’re seeing in the general population. In both, nearly 60 percent of respondents say that leadership’s support is steadily increasing. One key point is that organizations are increasingly selective with the investments being made in learning initiatives. So while they have leadership support, it’s also critical that learning practitioners are able to connect the investment in technology-based initiatives to company goals, and demonstrate return on investment. 

Mobile Learning Adoption

There is room for growth here. 44 percent of the organizations we surveyed in our general survey have mobile devices in their organizations, but no learning strategy. 61.6 percent of SITE organizations surveyed are still in the exploratory stages of mobile learning, or have no significant plans in 2015 for mobile learning. We urge organizations to have a mobile learning strategy, especially organizations with distributed populations. That strategy needs to account for business outcomes, audience needs, appropriate content for mobile delivery, design approaches, development tools, and implementation/ongoing maintenance.

Mobile learning Adoption – Staffing

Of those SITE members planning for mobile learning, 40 percent are planning to train their current staff to address mobile learning trends. Similarly, 35 percent of our general organizations surveyed plan to train current staff. That tells us the SITE member companies recognize there is a specific skills set for the mobile learning environment, and that organizations will invest in making sure their people are ready for design and development on mobile.

Social Learning

Both SITE and general survey respondents were evenly split on the topic of Enterprise Social Networks. With SITE respondents, 52 percent have enterprise social networks, and 48% are without. This is an area for growth. By incorporating ESNs, businesses can capture more organizational knowledge that they may not otherwise have access to; cultivate more collaboration and relationship building among teams, especially in virtual environments; identify internal SMEs who are contributing value to the organization; and access usage data that will allow them to improve learning offerings. Enterprise social networks are expected to be a $2.7B industry by 2017.

Tin Can API

The Tin Can API continues to establish itself as the next generation of data gathering in learning technology. You can think of it as the modernization of SCORM, but we have some work to do in this area. In both the general survey and the SITE-specific survey, the highest percentage of respondents indicated that they had no plans to use it or had never heard of it. In fact, nearly 60 percent of SITE respondents hadn’t heard of Tin Can API.

We invite you to see the results of the full survey in the Impact Instruction Group 2015 Learning and Development Technology Trends Report. Just click on the blue subscribe button on the top right of this page for instant access.

And if you’re an Insurance industry executive interested in the details of the SITE member research, email us and use “SITE Webinar” in the subject line. We’ll be able to provide you with a link to the on-demand recording.

Looking for more SITE info? Check out our five learnings SITE Conference.

Columbus Women to Know

By Amy Franko

There’s a saying that you should surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.

As a practitioner in the area of leadership development, I couldn’t agree more. And as a woman business owner in the Columbus Region, I’m grateful to be surrounded by some of the smartest, strongest women leaders around. I’ve befriended many of them through the Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) and NAWBO Columbus—two fantastic membership groups – as well as through my role on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland. Learning from these women has helped me become a better business owner, and a stronger leader myself.

Recently, Business First of Columbus published its list of “Central Ohio’s Influential Women to Know for 2015.” Powerhouse is the first word that came to mind! Many of honorees are women I’m proud to know: Catherine Lang-Cline, Kristen Harris, Darla King, and Joelle Brock. Like Business First says, they are “dynamic women who are shaping Central Ohio’s business community – whether by launching companies or rising high in the ranks of the corporate world.” They are also leaders who are making an impact in the community and helping to lift  up those around them. You can view the article and see all 22 profiles here. Congratulations to each of the women on this recognition.

What about you? Are you surrounded by people who will lift you higher?

If you’re looking for ways to build your own network, I invite you to download our e-book: 35 Tips to Build Lasting Strategic Relationships. It’s about learning from others and knowing how to connect with people. It’s about knowing how to ask for things that you need and having a mentor to guide you.

And contact us if we can help you implement our Strategic Leadership Excellence for Women program at your organization.

Talent Management: Earning Acclaim for Stealth Development

By Amy Franko

talent mag jpg aug15This month’s issue of Talent Management magazine takes a look at “stealth” development. For some organizations, weaving career development into work flow makes for an organic and powerful tool for talent managers.

But does becoming too stealthy risk the effort going unnoticed?

The magazine asked for readers to weigh in. I did. My opinion is that career development shouldn’t be stealth. It’s a top reason why people are engaged and best talent stays.

What’s your take? Read more.

And let us know what you think.

Inspiration is the Spark that Elevates You and Your Team

This article is one of the most-read posts from the Impact blog archive.

By Amy Franko

inspireHave you ever had someone in your life that makes you feel as if there’s nothing you can’t do? Someone who moved you to be more and do more than you ever thought possible?

That’s inspiration . . . it can be hard to describe, but we know it when we feel it, and we know it when we see what an inspired person or group of people can do.

When we have leaders who are inspirational, we become connected to them, we see the possibilities of what a team can do together, and we can create amazing results.

My good friend and customer loyalty expert Cindy Solomon taught me that it’s our job to be a spark of inspiration, to light that fire within the people on our team and those around us. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of leadership.

But most of us think of inspiration as something we’re born with – we’re either inspiring or we’re not. It’s actually a skill, and if you’re committed to becoming a leader, it will be one of the best skills you learn.

In this article I share some of the everyday ways you can build inspiration into your life and leadership path.

Inspiration is about intention, and it takes awareness of the words we use and how we respond to people. Recently, my sister emailed me about wanting to apply to nursing school, after a 13-year career in the human resources and compensation fields. First of all, I had no idea that she even had an interest in nursing, which was a lesson for me in making more effort to learn what’s important to the important people in my life.Honestly, my first reaction was that it was a crazy idea. That it’s going to take years for her to rebuild her career, that she had no idea what she was getting into, and on and on and on. (I hope she doesn’t read this post!) But after I turned it over in my mind a few more times, I realized that this is her dream; our dreams should propel us to take these leaps into the unknown. After all, I left my technology career six years ago to pursue my own dream of being an entrepreneur. By being intentional, I was able to see past my own reactions and get to what really mattered – that my role is to be a source of inspiration and support to her.

Choose to spend your time with people who inspire you. The days in my life that are the most productive and fulfilling are the ones where I get to spend time with people who inspire me. I had the opportunity to do that one day this week in three separate meetings, and it’s amazing how much that charges my batteries. Even after a 14-hour day, I was absolutely jazzed. I’ve learned that I almost never feel that way after a day of being in front of my computer. At least three days a week I plan my days to be around those who inspire me – my team, my customers, other entrepreneurs and leaders.

Build inspiration into the structure of your life and work. For me, the choice to spend time with people who inspire made me change how I structured my days. I now make it a priority to get out of my office three days a week to be with inspirational people.

Other things I do:

  • Each night, I write down three successes or things I was inspired by that day. It’s quick, and you’d be surprised at how that adds up over time.
  • I capture inspirational stories. I have notepads everywhere! Everyday people and situations inspire me. I share those stories with my team, and I often use them in public speaking or writing.
  • I create whitespace in my calendar every week. A completely jammed calendar doesn’t inspire me at all. (I can admit though, I’m a work in progress on this one!) For example, I’m writing this article on a day where I have zero appointments scheduled. That gives me the time I need to focus. Or, if I have a particularly busy week, I try to keep weekend activities to a minimum. Openness creates opportunity and inspiration.
  • I write lots of personal notes. There is such power in a personal note. The connection from that can’t be underestimated – you never know who you’ll inspire by reaching out to thank or recognize someone, or to let them know you are thinking about them.

I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s words that say it all about inspiration:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Inspiration is everywhere around us if we’re open to it. As a future leader, you have the opportunity to be that spark for someone else!

5 Ways to Ensure Critical Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is a constant in any organization, because passing along experienced-based knowledge is essential. Especially as we see baby boomers retiring and other top employees leaving for new opportunities. How can you ensure that wisdom is passed on? This article from CLO magazine provides five tips, plus some reader reaction from our founder and CEO, Amy Franko.

Read more. (See page 20 for Amy’s comment.)

Webinar On-Demand: Closing Skill Gaps with Curriculum Planning and Design

Greater Cincinnati’s Chapter of the Association for Talent Development Webinar Featuring Impact Instruction is Available On-Demand

071415-GCATD-Webinar-JPG slide

Watch the webinar now.

More than 70 percent of organizations surveyed for the 2014 Corporate Learning Factbook cite “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges.

Within many of those companies, it takes 3-5 years for a seasoned employee to become fully productive. Solving these challenges around capability gaps and time to productivity becomes even more complex given virtual teams, global operations, information overload, and ever-changing business priorities. These are real issues that impact the overall effectiveness and competitiveness of your organization.

Curriculum Planning and Design is a foundational solution to addressing these challenges. It improves the talent management process, the ROI of training, and ultimately business outcomes in some key ways.

Curriculum Planning and Design:

  • Creates a clear and consistent set of skills and learning paths for a role
  • Improves engagement by allowing employees to envision their future in the organization
  • Helps lines of business and training organizations better prioritize and align training investments
  • Streamlines the onboarding process, improving time to initial productivity

In this session, we address:

  • The framework and key outputs of Impact Instruction’s curriculum planning process, from initial planning through implementation and maintenance
  • Aligning curriculum plans to other key organizational initiatives
  • How to involve key audience members and stakeholders to create an environment for success
  • Best practices we have uncovered in conducting this process for other organizations
  • Practical next steps to consider for your organization

Greater Cincinnati
  Watch it now.
Hosted by: Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the ATD
Facilitators: Amy Franko, Founder & CEO, Impact Instruction Group
Lisa Gearhart, Senior Instructional Designer

Next Stop: Austin! Talent Management Exchange

tmxAt Impact Instruction Group, we know it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why we make it a point to be a part of some of the industry’s top events. We’re hitting the road again in July.

Our Founder & CEO, Amy Franko, is attending the Talent Management Exchange in Austin this week. Will you be there, too? Be sure to connect with us during the event. In the meantime, check out a video welcome, highlights of our services, and resources just for you on our Talent Management Exchange page.


Executive presence: Are you born with it, or do you cultivate it?

smart bizWhile our Founder and CEO Amy Franko has met many people who innately possess executive presence in spades, she’s also known many who worked to cultivate it. But these attributes and skills aren’t just for someone aspiring to become an executive leader. In this article in Smart Business, Amy shares how to make an impact in any aspect of your personal and professional life.

Read more.

5 Top Learnings from the SITE Annual Conference

SITE_Conf2015Impact Instruction is headquartered in Ohio: home of the Buckeyes, LeBron… and more than 200 insurance carriers. We’ve had the chance to work and connect with several of these great institutions. So when we were invited to be a part of the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators (SITE), we jumped at the chance. Our own Cyndi McAlpine joined other members of SITE in Colorado Springs in June for the group’s annual conference. This is no fly-by-night operation. The conference has been held since 1954. We can see why. It offered some info-packed sessions and fun networking opportunities. What tips and trends did Cyndi uncover? She shares her top five.

1. Small conference. Big impact. In the scheme of things, this was a smaller-sized conference (225 attendees, 107 organizations from 33 states, and three international attendees) as compared to other massive, 1,000+ attendee events I’ve attended in the past. Many attendees stated they were grateful for that fact, as there was a clear sense of community at this event. SITE members were incredibly welcoming to new attendees, which began with a “First Timers Breakfast,” followed with a speed networking event focused on helping folks make connections (old and new). Nice touch.

2. Back to the basics part 1: genuine leadership and success come from high touch not high tech. Byrd Bagget’s keynote address was engaging, humorous, and focused on the fundamentals of leadership. Byrd had many quotes worth noting: “If you burn the bridges of your past, you better know how to walk on water,” and “Feedback is a gift,” along with his witty acronyms like, “PHD – Preserve Human Dignity” and “EGO – Edging Growth Out.” At the end of the day, Byrd’s comments were a helpful reminder that if you want to be a great leader, it starts with being an intentional human being who genuinely cares for others. (“People want to feel valued, secure and appreciated,” he said.) Other critical traits of successful leaders include being humble, showing sincere energy and enthusiasm for others and their ideas, and leveraging strong interpersonal skills.

I found these tidbits interesting:

  • 60 percent of people log off of Facebook depressed
  • Unnecessary interruptions eat up an average of 28 percent of the work day

There used to be far more social interactions at work with chatting and connecting with coworkers in the break room and neighborhood gatherings. Today there are far more social interactions which are very surface-level connections through technology (social media). It makes me want to get out the barbeque and invite a bunch of neighbors over.

3. Back to the basics part 2: it’s ALL about the learner. As one might suspect, in the Insurance industry, there is some heavy lifting required for compliance training. Dr. Ray Jimenez, of Vignettes Learning, shared some thoughtful reminders to keep it simple, focus on the critical content, and provide context (through storytelling) to create engaging and sustainable learning.

It appears we’ve gone a bit off track with L&D approaches by starting out with the Trainer’s objectives.

Does this sound familiar?

“… at the end of this course you will …”

Instead, we should open by engaging the learners and allowing them to state their expectations for the course.

Dr. Jimenez also discussed the modern learner as someone who prefers to be taught the critical content (“must learn”), and then be left to determine the “learn on need” content. This is the reason why microlearning is becoming so popular. The challenge for L&D professionals then becomes separating out the “must learn” content from the “learn on need” content.

Ray also stated that “no one will ever learn anything new unless he can connect with something he knows.” His suggestion for creating more engaged learning is to first provide context using events learners can relate to, prior to teaching them the associated facts.

And finally, for sustained learning, allow the learners to share their stories associated with the facts they have learned. Their stories are more important than the teacher’s.

4. What’s trending: microlearning using brain science + gamification = improved learning retention. A fairly consistent theme throughout most of the sessions was how to condense training time via micro-learning. One of the more compelling sessions was held by Dr. B. Price Kerfoot of VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Kerfoot cited the often referred to statistics of traditional instructor led learning:

  • 50 percent loss of content retention within 30 minutes
  • Only 5 – 15 percent of content retained three weeks following the course

Therefore, much of Dr. Kerfoots research has been focused on how to improve retention. Dr. Kerfoot conducted a considerable search on brain science as it relates to education and found a couple of key elements: spacing and testing effects.

The spacing refers to delivering shorter amounts of content over a period of time. By combining the spacing concept with the testing element, and leveraging gamification (they found that learners really wanted to know how they did on their assessments as compared to their peers), the results were astounding. Their methodology consisted of delivering two questions to healthcare professionals via email every week for a period of time. Upon answering the questions, the learner received an immediate response to:

  • Let them know how they did, and what is the correct answer
  • Provide links to additional information if the learner chose to seek out supporting content
  • See how their performance compared to their peers

There was a lot more to this discussion, and suffice it to say that they have found a model from which at least two businesses (participating at the conference) have been created. Leveraging technology to deliver this concept has created improved ways to deliver more sustainable learning.

5. I have all of this training. Now what? Let’s do some math. The estimated cost per one hour of training (including SME cost) is $18,000. And on-average, large L&D organizations offer thousands of courses. That translates into an $18 million investment. Of these thousands of courses available, ATD’s recent study indicated only 50 percent were still viable and being re-used.
The bottom line is that the cost of creating new content is typically prohibitive.

Therefore, the suggestion was made to “modernize” current content through a three-step process:

  • Reduce – eliminate outdated courses that are no longer relevant, or reduce existing content to be shorter for better learner engagement on focused content
  • Reuse – Use fresher content across broader audiences – perhaps it’s a common topic (leadership). Or reuse imagery and video in other courses
  • Recycle – Refresh old content enough to make it relevant and “different.” Perhaps take a longer course and chunk it into micro-learning

Impact Instruction Group has helped our clients through a curriculum planning process that is role-based and helps to determine the critical path for key roles in the business. At the end of this process, there is a clear understanding of what content exists, which content requires updating, and where there are gaps. This process has been instrumental to our clients as they assess their existing L&D investments and where to strategically place focused investments that will provide the greatest impact to their business.

The verdict? This conference was a valuable investment for Impact Instruction. I look forward to seeing everyone in Minneapolis next year for the 2016 annual conference. And, in the meantime, be sure to register for the Aug. 21 SITE webinar featuring Impact Founder and CEO Amy Franko. She’ll talk game-changing technology trends as they relate to learning and development, with a special focus on the insurance industry, of course. Learn more here.

cyndi profile pic (2)Cyndi McAlpine is director of operations at Impact Instruction Group. She earned a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering from Washington State University and has over 20 years of successful experience in business leadership and management. Her business career includes Technical Service, Strategic Planning, Marketing, and she led the implementation of Total Quality Management initiative across 14 sites through-out North America. Her last corporate role was as Global Director of eBusiness for a $1.4b multi-national organization where she acted as a liaison between business and IT for enterprise-wide projects. Cyndi’s success continues to be driven by her passion to help others reach their potential through being a results-driven servant leader. She brings demonstrated problem solving skills, high attention to detail and strong communication skills. Cyndi leads operational excellence efforts for Impact Instruction, and her role is to ensure clients receive extraordinary service with proactive communication, clearly defined project time-lines and deliverables, and working with the Impact Instruction consultants to achieve client results. Connect with Cyndi.

Thirty-One Gifts: Simple. Easy. Faster.

Empowering Consultants with Video-based Training on New Virtual Office Tools

We recently announced that Impact Instruction Group received an APEX Award for Publication Excellence for our work with Thirty-One Gifts. What made that project stand out? This case study provides the details.

indexThirty-One Gifts is one of the leading direct-selling companies in the U.S., the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the world, and the 28th largest direct-selling organization in the world. The distinctive functional products range from personalized home organization solutions to the Jewell by Thirty-One fashion line that includes premium, functional faux leather purses, pockets and wallets, and the JK by Thirty-One line of artisan jewelry. Products are sold through more than 107,000 independent sales consultants via home parties. The company operates in the U.S. and nine Canadian provinces.

The Challenge

Thirty-One provides its consultants with support they need to grow their businesses and succeed. To further enhance their experience and efficiency, the company launched new websites and new mobile applications that provide more streamlined support for key functions to help consultants complete their work with greater ease, in faster time and with simplified processes so they could become more successful in generating sales and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

As the sites and apps neared completion, focus groups highlighted the need for a training program to help the consultants get up to speed quickly and easily.

Thirty-One turned to Impact Instruction Group to deliver this crucial training support.

Our Solution and Approach

With consultants distributed across two countries, eLearning made sense. Quick video tutorials were created to not only train consultants at their convenience, but also to generate enthusiasm for their new tools.
Impact Instruction’s solution included storyboard design, production, visual design, development, and implementation of video-based learning to support the U.S. website, Canadian website and mobile application. The video-based learning series walked consultants through the steps to create parties, send invitations, create orders and manage the checkout functions.

A Thirty-One subject matter expert worked directly with Impact Instruction to ensure the many differences in the country-specific order-entry system were described, and that new features, simplified navigation and big wins were spotlighted. Thirty-One even expanded the scope of the content to incorporate core sales messaging and marketing basics. This enabled the training to position new technology as an effective tool to meet the consultants’ business needs.

Business Impact

Working on an aggressive timeline and requiring significant flexibility to meet some changing demands, Impact Instruction completed the first video series one week prior to the website launch. That meant consultants could take advantage of training even before the systems were up and running—ensuring rapid time to productivity.

“Impact Instruction was flexible when our needs changed, while still going above and beyond and respecting the project timelines,” said Jenny Raynes, Manager, consultant experience specialist, Thirty-One Gifts.

The videos and the new resources have been met with rave reviews. And the corporate team noted it was one of the most seamless projects they have managed.

 “Impact Instruction proved to be a valuable partner through the entire training development process for our new order entry system and digital applications. From identifying an exciting and engaging learning platform to the delivery of cutting-edge training modules, Impact Instruction associates were professional, experienced and knowledgeable. They truly brought the training to life for our sales field!” said Andrea Dowding, executive director, sales field leadership and development, Thirty-One Gifts.