Tips from Top Deck Learning Companies

by | Jun 8, 2015 | Articles

Four Top Deck learning companies share tips for getting started and going deeper.

One of the benefits of benchmarking with Towards Maturity is our focus on improving performance of the L&D team. We can help you compare the outputs of your modernised learning strategy with your peers but perhaps more importantly the benchmark helps you compare your tactics for achieving those outcomes against the top performers.

The Towards Maturity Index is the lead indicator at the heart of the Towards Maturity Benchmark Process. Organisations in the top 10% of the index are twice as likely to achieve the benefits they seek from a modernised learning strategy and in 2014 reported 30% fewer barriers than their peers.

At the point where many organisations are now using the Towards Maturity Benchmark to review their strategy, we thought it would be useful to share some of the tips from top performing learning organisations orginally published in Modernising Learning:Delivering Results (chapter 7).


STUART MILLER, GLOBAL IT DIRECTOR shares some of his experiences in establishing the Worldmark Academy.

About us:

The Worldmark Academy is a global e-learning initiative, bringing learning and development to our 2,000 employees around the globe and in doing so to allow staff to develop their own potential and provide competitive advantage to the business. Providing choice for and engaging our learners was at the heart of our strategy.

Our recommendations for getting started:

  • Involve learners up-front by understanding their requirements
  • Create opportunities for all to access (we included learning zones for our manufacturing plants)
  • Run a pilot that focuses on both technology and user engagement
  • Ensure senior management give visible support from the beginning

Our recommendations for going deeper:

  • Bring learning together via a multilingual platform that is accessible for all
  • Extend options to engage using multiple devices
  • Recognise and reward engagement (we use badges)
  • Go beyond basic training to use the platforms and approach to identify and build future talent

“As a result of our initiative, we continue to see dynamic business growth and we are developing and keeping great talent with a proven track record of internal staff being promoted into wider roles.”


Marks and Spencers

JANE DALY, HEAD OF HEAD OFFICE LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT shares her tips about how to align learning with business need.

About us:

Our people are at the heart of what makes M&S different. We have to have the critical capabilities in place to run, transform and drive the company forward. Our employees have to be confident, engaged and knowledgeable whilst delivering the personal touch to our customers as the retail landscape evolves and shopping habits change through the latest digital developments. Aligning learning to the needs of the business is a core strategy.

Our recommendations for getting started:

  • Align the organisational development plan with the business plan
  • Engage the business, listen and set up in-touch strategically aligned OD-L&D senior steering groups
  • Develop an OD-L&D operating model to align with the business plan and develop an L&D Toolkit and upskill L&D professionals to deliver impact

Our recommendations for going deeper:

  • Alignment & Analysis – Learning needs analysis. Present the ‘Why’ in a way to inspire the business Share and demonstrate the critical capability options
  • Design – Present ‘Why’ these design options are going to meet the need?
  • Agile Development – Outline ‘how’ this agile model will develop content effectively and minimise risks
  • Deploy – Outline ‘who & when’ the critical roles or functions will be deployed
  • Evaluate and sustain – Build this in from the start

“Prepare for future curation and interconnecting events. Follow up with an impact assessment to perpetuate the model. This results in making M&S organisational impact through an agile, flexible OD-L&D operating model and is fully aligned with the critical business capability needs.”



KANDY WOODFIELD, DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & ENTERPRISE  shares tips about how this third sector orgainisation has proived their learners with an active voice.

About us:

NatCen is Britain’s largest independent social research agency. Like other charities we have been impacted by the recession and by a reduction in government spending. In addition the very nature of our core business of conducting research has seen massive changes due to technology. To address the needs of the organisation, our Learning team had to move beyond the course.

Our recommendations for getting started:

  • Lead from the front – build opportunities for your L&D team to accelerate and expand their capacity (to avoid being overlooked by the community you serve)
  • Model community and sharing and influence leaders to embrace it too.
  • Start adding value to your learner community by curating useful existing content in meaningful ways

Our recommendations for going deeper:

  • Encourage the concept of ‘working out loud’ – connecting with people in person, on twitter and social media platforms to share ideas and insights
  • Consider ethical frameworks for social learning – ensure that staff do not feel vulnerable
  • Learn to innovate – try new things, think big, prepare to fail small.

“Our strategy has driven core business transformation, changing the way that research is conducted and communicated. The development of an online community of practice with hundreds of members engaging with and reflecting on social media research is evidence of the change that can be achieved.”



SARAH LINDSELL, DIRECTOR | GLOBAL & UK LEARNING TECHNOLOGY & TRANSFORMATION provides tips on how to design learning that connects with staff.

About us:

PwC is a network of nearly 195,000 employees in 80 member firms across 158 countries and territories. Delivering and supporting learning that is applied consistently at the territory level to busy professionals is essential for our continued success. Making sure we make connections with our learners and deliver relevant and timely interventions is key.

Our recommendations for getting started:

  • Consider how to build once and share across a variety of platforms – give staff choice by placing your learning in their own hands so it is accessible to them when and where they need it
  • Create interactive job aids and templates to provide support and encourage consistent application of learning at the grass roots or at the moment of need, on the job
  • Use existing internal social sharing platforms to not only share information and formulate discussion but also to access global tools and templates

Our recommendations for going deeper:

  • Support your local learning champions – build their skills, help them be successful in rolling out solutions and allow them to adapt learning for local needs. Let them add the 20% that makes it contextually relevant in their market – particularly important in a regulatory environment
  • Use game based and diagnostic tools within learning to help individuals assess their own capability and adapt learning to need
  • Communicate continually both with learners and business leaders

“PwC’s approach to delivering and supporting a consistent and engaging experience for all staff around the globe has not only saved time (a bonus for fee-earning staff), but has consistently changed behaviour.”

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