Thursday, May 24, 2012

The impact of talent management acquisitions on corporate HR strategy

We’re releasing a new Insights Report today which reveals the impact on corporate customers and competing vendors of the recent billion dollar acquisitions of talent management providers SuccessFactors and Taleo, by SAP and Oracle.

The report analyses the immediate aftermath of these and other acquisitions in the talent systems market. It explores the underlying trends and drivers behind the acquisitions, the broader effects that consolidation is likely to have on the talent management market, and the impact on corporate customers and their HR systems strategy.

Rather than just discussing the SAP and Oracle acquisitions in isolation, we feel it’s important to understand what’s driving these big market changes, and most critically, what they mean for corporate customers. But these big questions haven’t really been discussed in-depth until now. The report highlights that the market changes are as much driven by the potential opportunities of Cloud computing, as they are by the importance of talent management itself. Corporate HR, talent management and learning and development teams still remain uncertain about the impact of these changes on their strategy and day to day operations, as well as their scope of choice when making purchasing or upgrade decisions.

At one of our recent roundtable events, a number of large European corporates expressed confusion and real concern about the future of the HR and talent systems market. We know that many corporates have abandoned their original vision of a single all-encompassing ERP/HRMS in favour of a best-of-breed approach for talent management, learning, and recruitment. Most attendees had reservations about the role of the ERP vendors in the talent market, and the potentially negative impact on innovation and user experience.

Historically these decisions were made at a specialist talent level within HR. But there has been a definite shift towards hybrid learning and talent platforms. However, most European corporates are still a long way from having a unified view of their talent processes. There is also little doubt that the market consolidation is already impacting corporate strategy and choices.

You can download a free copy of the report here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moving beyond 70:20:10 - Reflections on the LSG Webinar

What is 70:20:10?
Following my recent webinar on ‘Moving beyond 70:20:10’ for the Learning and Skills Group, I wanted to delve a bit deeper into this high profile model.
Some L&D professionals build impassioned cases around it, in a desire to support informal and social learning, whilst others view it as a dangerous over simplification.
So I wanted to reflect on its usefulness in more detail.
I’m sure if you’re reading this that you’re familiar with the concept of the 70:20:10 model but just in case, Charles Jennings provides us with a great explanation:
“About 70 per cent of organisational learning takes place on the job, through solving problems and through special assignments and other day-to-day activities. Another 20 per cent occurs through drawing on the knowledge of others in the workplace, from informal learning, from coaching and mentoring, and from support and direction from managers and colleagues. Only 10 per cent occurs through formal learning, whether classroom, workshop or, more recently, e-learning.”
Charles also provides a spectacularly good overview of the model in this video too:

Miss-used and Abused?
Now, the model is a very useful lens to think about what Learning really means in organisations. 
But as much as the model is useful, it can be abused and it’s mis-use has a number of risks:
  1.  How much does it create the expectation that you should be doing less formal training? And is it used as an excuse to reduce training headcount?
  2. How well does it directly translate into all corporate learning contexts – all of the time
  3. Is learning on the job an option if you need people to be proficient from day one of a new process, product or systems launch?
It can be used to assume the answer before you have even asked the question!

What are the Key Factors for the Best Learning Mix?
To prescribe learning solutions without taking into account the specific context or requirements is far from ideal. So it’s at this point I like to take a step back and think about what factors drive the best mix of learning delivery?
I asked this during the webinar session and the attendees provided their insights such as:
  • The needs of the business or customer
  • Audience profile
  • Learning styles of the group
  • Learning needs, characteristics of target group, the 'logic' of the content, culture
  • Practical elements such as geographical spread, audience demographics, technological constraints
  • The immediacy of results required by the business tends to drive the mix
  • Transfer of knowledge into work
  • Knowledge transfer vs. skills.  Are you passing on information, or building skills/practices in the workplace?
This, it seems, it what really matters to learning and development professionals, more than any kind of model. It is about finding what works best for learners in a particular situation. The absolutes of 70:20:10 should never be taken as hard and fast parameters.  The combinations need to flex and potentially flex considerably if they are to fit what’s really needed.  And that’s why we need to retain the uniqueness of each project we support from organisation to organisation, between business units and, role by role.  Project by project not all of the answers are found it 70:20:10. 
CONTEXT is KING… and we surrender this to any model at our peril.   
So, why is 70:20:10 important?  

What is the Power of 70:20:10?
The power of the model is it helps remind us that learning is a process.  That is it not bound to a single channel.  It happens over time, from a variety of sources and is supported by real world experience, motivation and feedback. 
What learning and development practitioners all too often deliver is  a single event, whether that’s face to face, or online   70:20:10 enables us to lift our focus out from short term events out to how we support learning back in day to day working life. And that’s really important because this is where learning becomes performance.  And that is what we are really all about - Performance Development.
 A performance development view has to embrace a full mix of the components: workplace learning, formal learning and collaborative learning.  And using these labels are potentially much, much, much more useful that quoting 70:20:10.  
If we think about learning in those terms then we can start to picture the extent to which learning is really supported in organisations.  Not an ideal and in appropriate set of percentages.
Often the split of effort across organisational learning currently looks like this:
However, if we want learning to be really effective in improving performance, we need to be moving towards a more even split in our efforts, resources and investment to support ALL learning.

Only by investigating how we can address, formal, workplace and collaborative learning, for critical roles in our organisations, can we start to piece together how we should be investing in our learning approach to drive real impact. 
And as we start to look in detail at the opportunities to support learning and we can start to see that the learning armoury, the wealth of tools, platforms and channels can be much more complete, than formal delivery alone. 

Moving Beyond 70:20:10?
This is what I mean by ‘moving beyond 70:20:10’.
We’re starting to transcend any perceived boundaries of a model and broaden our thinking beyond merely splitting learning across formal instructor-led sessions, a bit of e-learning and a spot of performance support. 
We’re thinking more about the big picture for the organisation as a whole and how we can choose from different types of learning to best support an overall vision and strategy.   We start to look at our technology choices and infrastructure in a way that drives real value and makes ordinary working lives better.  Not because they were trained but because they were given the support to really learn.
As one participant in the webinar put it, we can ‘develop a pick and mix approach to suit each context as one size will not fit all’. For different learning requirements we need to ask key questions such as:
  •  What channels are appropriate in this context?
  • How do they add value?
  • What is technically feasible?
The spirit of the 70:20:10 model is incredibly useful in helping us to think about incorporating different channels in our L&D strategy. It can really help our learners by providing different learning opportunities, but ultimately it seems that context is king and we need to build some flex into how we apply 70:20:10 as we move L&D into the future.
Only by thinking about and acting to support all learning, be that workplace, formal and collaboration, will L&D really be able to really say they are driving tangible improvements in performance.   Without it L&D are just another cost.  And costs eventually get cut.