Executive Education

A Multi-Billion-Dollar (Learning) Opportunity

Leo Bottary, External Advisory Board (EAB) Member at the CEOWORLD magazine.

Think back to the last time someone introduced you to a new concept that really impacted you. You probably thought to yourself, “Wow!  If I could incorporate that into my daily life, it would be a game-changer.”  If you’re like most people, though, you didn’t. And if you did, it didn’t last. 

Why? Because left to our own devices, while we like the idea of proactively implementing change, it’s so much easier to do things the way we’ve always done them. To be fair, our business and personal lives are often so hectic that without a support system to help us understand and apply a concept effectively and measure its impact, we’re not likely to implement lasting change.

Even though in 2019, companies spent $3.5 billion in leadership training alone, most of these organizations have no such support system. Individuals avail themselves of well-curated content, only to be sucked back into their daily responsibilities, where new learning becomes a faint memory in a matter of days. To meet the challenges of the future, we need to do better.

The most challenging part of learning anything new is making it part of what you do. And if you could make it part of what you do, how could you transform your new behaviors into a part of who you are?

As a CEO, here is a three-step process that will help you achieve this for your employees and maximize your learning and development investment: 

1. Understand: “We Learn Better When We Learn Together”

Just because someone attends a learning and development day program or completes an online micro-learning course doesn’t mean an employee (at any level) walks away with the confidence and depth of understanding necessary to apply a new concept in the real world. Most of us need time to chew on something for a while, and we do it better when we do it together.

According to Bloomfire, social learning initiatives enjoy a 75:1 ROI over web-based training. Peer groups inside companies, designed to serve as learning labs, allow emerging leaders to engage one another in rich dialogue that deepens learning. Attaining more profound knowledge makes the successful application of a new process more likely. It also helps the employee be more resilient when new concepts inevitably get pressure-tested by real life.  

2. Implement: “We Give One Another the Courage and Encouragement to Act”

The best part of learning labs is that the participants inspire confidence in one another, and as a result, give each other the courage and the encouragement to act on what they’ve learned. Here’s where learning finds its way to doing, rather than barely remembering. Once this happens and positive results become evident, it encourages the individual participants to learn and do more.

This outcome validates the efficacy of the learning labs, which are essentially peer groups working alongside teams to make individuals more effective team contributors and teams even more consequential to the organization. Group members review the results of their efforts with their fellow group members. It’s less about accountability and more about seeing to it that learning opportunities and continuous improvement abound.  

3. Measure: “We Hold Ourselves Accountable”

When it comes to measuring results and assuring new practices are successfully embedded for the long haul, it requires ongoing monitoring and fine-tuning. In the case of Peernovation, we offer groups and teams alike a scorecard they can use to keep the concepts alive and measure their progress.

For example, at the end of a cross-functional work team meeting, members will rank themselves on a scale of 1-10 on how they performed that day against each of the five factors common to high-performing groups and teams. The practice reemphasizes the promises team members made to themselves to bring their best to the team to every team engagement. It keeps key concepts ever-present among the team members, measures continual improvement, and helps isolate ongoing problem areas that require further attention.

Here’s a sample Peernovation Scorecard:

Peernovation Scorecard

The scorecard assures that team members actively practice the agreements they made about how to best leverage their time together.

Summary

Over the years, I’ve discovered the value and wisdom of swimming with the current – to harness the irrefutable forces of nature rather than fight them. Here, these forces include:

1) people are natural learners;

2) they learn better when they learn together;

3) people are more comfortable implementing what they learn with a bit of encouragement,

4) when applying new concepts results in success, they will want to do it again and again.

Suppose you’re a CEO who is investing heavily in your employees’ learning and development. In that case, I’m sure your people are receiving top-notch content, and yet you’re still not getting your money’s worth. Doubling down on content and new delivery forms won’t help you because you’d be failing to address the limiting conditions (the forces of nature) that make learning and its practical application possible.

As you contemplate the world of work and the myriad challenges ahead, you’ll need the best team(s) possible. It’s about time you created a support system that will unleash the power of learning in your organization, drive an exponentially higher ROI for everyone involved, and prepare your people for a future we can barely imagine. A multi-billion-dollar opportunity indeed.   


Written by Leo Bottary.

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Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary is the founder and managing partner of Peernovation. He is a sought-after thought leader on Peer Advantage and Peernovation, emerging disciplines dedicated to strategically engaging peers to achieve personal and organizational excellence. A popular author of three books, including Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020), he is also an author, keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and thought leader on the topic of peer advantage.

Education
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) (ABD) in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.
M.A. in Strategic Communication & Leadership at Seton Hall University.
B.A. in Political Science and German at Jacksonville University.

Books by Leo Bottary:
Peernovation: What Peer Advisory Groups Can Teach Us About Building High-performing Teams (Archway; October 16, 2020).

Leo Bottary is a member of the External Advisory Board (EAB) for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.