Cable & Wireless Worldwide’s – flexible learning for business advantage

by | Aug 27, 2010 | Articles

Cable&Wireless Worldwide can never be accused of standing still – change seems to be second nature for the organisation and when TM last spoke with Mike Booth, their Learning Technologies Manager,  he shared how the organisation’s learning services had dramatically changed to allow them to be more nimble and responsive to the learning needs of their colleagues (you can download the original case study below)

But that was 18 months ago and a lot has happened since – so has their new approach to learning stood up to the test?

Shifts in business structure

Since we last met Mike, the business that he worked in had not only acquired a new organisation  in the US,  but it also demerged from Cable and Wireless PLC to become Cable&Wireless Worldwide, a stand alone plc providing mission critical communications for large users of telecoms including Next plc, Tesco and Aviva.

Learning is high up on the agenda at C&W Worldwide; The HR division has now become The People Team whose strap-line is ‘obsessional about colleagues’, and Debbie Meech, People Director, has a seat at the Exec table because the organisation realises that its key differentiator is its people. There is now a strong focus on attracting, retaining and managing talent along with new roles such as Head of Talent and Colleague Development Consultants, working as advocates within the business, ensuring flexible technology enabled learning delivery is an integrated part of the process. These new roles are opening up new channels to market and the shifting emphasis from learning events to performance improvement is even more important.

Shifts in learning services – simplifying access for colleagues

As we explored last time, C&W Worldwide had already made a fundamental change to its learning infrastructure from a managed outsourced service (complete with traditional LMS) to a more flexible solution consisting of new rapid development processes and a simpler interface, iLeARN, to connect colleagues with relevant learning assets so that they could respond rapidly to individual demand and the changing needs of the company.  Since then additional components have been added to support individual performance even more.

The business’ performance management system, SuccessFactors, is now integrated with iLeARN, allowing colleagues to align objectives and goals on their personal development plans and, through a simple click on button, they are able  to search iLeARN for relevant assets and launch them from within their PDP. Being able to reach important learning assets quickly is essential, so C&W Worldwide recently implemented a “single sign-on” meaning that if someone clicks on a link, that’s posted on the intranet, in an e-mail or a document, they are immediately taken to the learning asset without the need to sign into iLeARN.

C&W Worldwide has also integrated its New Way of Learning portal into the corporate intranet. This step forward has further simplified access for colleagues, as the single sign-on allows links in the learning portal to connect directly to content they need to do their job.

Shifts in learning services – continual improvement

During the last four years, C&W Worldwide has shifted its attention to using rapid development tools to deliver company critical learning faster and, last time we visited, this was really taking off.  It has since refined its use of RAD tools with partner Kineo and now uses its proprietary tool, Cranberry, which means that content can be developed on similar timeframes and costs, utilising reusable assets and templates. The resulting look and feel is akin to a bespoke e-learning course which improves the overall colleague learning experience.

C&W Worldwide occasionally needs to be able to assess and accredit colleagues, so it is important to be able to prove that users and outsourcing partners understand particular products and processes. The company has found that proprietary online test services have often been too clunky and expensive, so in the last year it has used Moodle and implemented it as a stand alone test centre. C&W Worldwide stripped the system back and now uses it as an infrastructure to deliver and monitor assessments. Tests are developed in Quizmaker and loaded into Moodle. An enhanced database on the back of Moodle allows the team to evaluate the data and slice and dice the reporting which helps them to identify development areas.

Shifts in learning services – building capability by connecting colleagues

Like many organisations, C&W Worldwide has been using web-conferencing for four years, but it is during in the last 12 months that it has started to apply the tools to address learning issues on a corporate scale. As a result the uptake has snowballed, with corporate programmes run to support the following three critical business issues:

1.      Perfect Pitch – this is a weekly webinar aimed at commercial colleagues who need to keep up-to-date with the latest products, case studies and innovations to support their customers. Following a well designed framework the product team developed a series of sessions that are now a standing appointment in the diary. The sessions are delivered by Product Managers and Sales Specialists and are supported by Mike, who moderates and compares the event. New propositions, cases studies, and real success stories are used within the sessions and interactive polling confirms understanding of the content. The programme runs in a series of sessions before a break to regroup; four series have already been completed.
2.      Management Matters – C&W Worldwide has around 850 colleagues in its management community, who are critical when leading teams through periods of change and maintaining high spirits. These are just two subjects that have been covered in a monthly management webinar programme on the last Thursday of every month, which is tied into specific business initiatives. Other subjects include performance management conversations and setting objectives. Between 100 and 250 managers attend the one hour monthly programme and the investment in time pays dividends. At the end of each webinar, managers are provided with specific resources from iLeARN to support them with the subject, they also receive support with workshops for their teams. Polling is used in these sessions to gather thoughts and opinions and provide instant quality feedback that helps to shape future training sessions.
3.      Obsessional about Customers – the success of the first two programmes has led to a third monthly series being developed specifically for colleagues delivering service to customers.

Whilst the webinars help to connect colleagues with each other and experts, they are also recorded so others won’t miss out, – the recordings, slides and a three page pdf summary are included in the New Way of Learning portal. A number of lessons were learned from this initiative.  Firstly, the selection of technology is important; the more ubiquitous the better. It is more important that the user finds it easy to join the session without being technically minded, than the bells and whistles for the moderator. Good preparation is also key; you can’t just throw a quality session together (the attentiveness gauge on the software shows how easy it is to lose colleagues).

Moving forward there are also plans for quarterly webinars for all colleagues looking to invest in their own personal and career development.

The results?

Compared with delivering similar training via other means the return on investment to the organisation is staggering and the new approach means that C&W Worldwide is able to offer timely and relevant training to far more of its colleagues than ever before.

Practical hints and tips

  • Don’t let technology get in the way – make it simple for colleagues to log-in and get to what they need
  • Make access to learning assets relevant and timely
  • Make a date; use webinars to connect colleagues around important business issues
  • Once colleagues come together, make the most of the opportunity to highlight additional resources
  • Don’t take success for granted; use tracking embedded within tools to continually enhance and improve

You read more about the original changes that C&W made to learning 2 years ago here and can download the original case study below.

If you want to hear more, Mike Booth will be speaking at WOLCE 2010 (28&29 Sept 2010)

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