Insights and Takeaways from the TTA Learning Conference

By October 1, 2019 No Comments

Last Wednesday, we had our TTA Learning Conference, and I was blown away by the great ideas that were shared and the many generous people that I met. If you’ve been following TTA on social media, you already know that we had ambitious plans. I’m happy to report that our lofty plans came to fruition, and it was even better than we’d hoped. And so, partly for my own benefit and hopefully for yours, I thought I’d sum up a little of what we learned. If you were with us, it will give you a chance to reflect and maybe set some goals. If you weren’t with us, you’ll have a curated list of ideas for further study.

Here are some insights from each of our presenters:

Ken Taylor, President at Training Industry, Inc.

Trends in the Learning and Development Market

Ken summarized current learning trends and presented a snapshot of the industry. He noted six learning trends in particular—all of which are worth some additional thinking:

  1. Addressing the soft skills gap
  2. Blending experiences vs. blended learning
  3. Learner confidence increases competence
  4. Training to prevent crisis
  5. Market opportunity for pre-boarding
  6. Upskilling the training function

Some of the research that he presented was sponsored by TTA and is available here: https://thetrainingassociates.com/modern-learner-preferences/

Kisha Dixon, TTA Learning Consultant

Building Relationships and Strengthening Emotional Intelligence

Kisha showed us all how to improve our relationships through a combination of storytelling, recipe-sharing, and modeling of simple techniques. Only Kisha could pull off such an unusual combination of ingredients and leave us wanting more. She had four main points:

  1. Develop an open and authentic mindset
  2. Use empathy to better listen and discover differences
  3. Follow up and follow through to build trust
  4. Always offer a little “something extra” to the relationship and to each interaction

Having spent some time in Louisiana myself, I loved Kisha’s analogy of lagniappe as that extra bit of service or generosity offered to our customers or stakeholders.

Ann Roesener, Sr. Partner Success Executive, Intrepid by VitalSource

Sanjay Advani, Vice President, Marketing and Alliances, Intrepid by VitalSource

Quality, Scale, & Cost—All 3 in 1

Ann and Sanjay talked about the often-competing demands of quality, scale, and cost, inviting all of us to self-evaluate our learning programs in light of these demands. They then shared a case study in which they used an LX (learner experience) platform to achieve all three objectives without making sacrifices.

However, midway through their presentation, we all got a surprise. The power went out and stayed out for the reminder of their session. By the light of a few mobile phones, Ann and Sanjay took questions, discussed outcomes and results, etc. Here are a few insights from that discussion:

  • They explained the concept of an invisible LMS that will serve up learning experiences in the moment of need and in the flow of work.
  • They broke down the various technologies that might comprise a learning tech ecosystem and the role of each of those technologies within that system.
  • They measured outcomes in the case study by looking at sales metrics (revenue growth and account planning). Other variables were self-reported confidence and readiness indicators.

Anthony Williams, Global Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Akamai Technologies

Fred Budd, Sr. Manager of Talent Development, Unifirst Corporation

Collaborative Learning

This panel discussion featured two TTA clients talking about how they use collaborative learning. Fred’s program is an immersive, cohort-based approach to leadership development. Anthony’s program prepares those with the aptitude but not the credentials to take on roles in IT. His program is a cohort-based bootcamp that develops talent specifically for Akamai. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • Carefully consider how you’ll fund the program. Both programs had to come up with creative strategies to pay for these immersive programs.
  • Both programs have had to tackle challenges of geography and how to replicate the same positive conditions in different locations.
  • Anthony found that the experiences in the bootcamp created comparable expertise to those with more traditional computer science credentials.
  • Fred reported accelerated development and increased comprehension of the full context of the business.
  • Both panelists agreed that culture fit for program applicants is as critical as other assessments and interviews.

Shawn Moon, Sr. Consultant, FranklinCovey

Leading Loyalty

Shawn shared key points from his WSJ-bestselling book Leading Loyalty. We started with a few poignant videos and examples that highlight three key enablers of loyalty:

  • Empathy
  • Responsibility
  • Generosity

We talked about the types of customer service experiences that build loyalty and those that don’t. According to FranklinCovey research, more than 70% of what makes a customer experience great is based on the behavior of frontline employees. Shawn then led us through the practices that will help leaders to change the behavior of frontline employees. He introduced the concept of loyalty huddles and outlined the types of topics and questions that could be discussed in that forum.

You can learn more about Shawn’s book here: https://www.success.com/leading-loyalty/

Jess Melfa, Founder, Yoga for Good

Jess provided us with a much-needed breather and guided us through a meditation that was energizing and refreshing. We also learned about the work that her organization is doing to help children learn better at school.

Bruce Tulgan, CEO, Rainmaker Thinking, Inc.

It’s Okay to Be the Boss: Learn the Proven Best Practices of Highly-Engaged Management

We concluded the day with some practical advice on how to be a better manager. According to Bruce, it isn’t micro-management that’s the problem—it’s actually under-management. He broke down 7 myths that get in our way:

  1. Empowerment
  2. Fairness
  3. Jerk Boss
  4. Difficult Confrontation
  5. Natural Leader
  6. HR Police
  7. Time

Bruce held up a mirror to some of our worst habits. At our office, I know that we’re already rethinking our 1:1s and our relationships with our reports. You can learn more about his book here: https://rainmakerthinking.com/book/its-okay-to-be-the-boss-2/

It was an honor to represent TTA and to share this day with our associates, partners, and clients. We started many excellent conversations that we’re eager to continue. Too often, we connect online without ever having the chance to sit down together. During the conference, we talked about the value of creating blended, hybrid experiences—I think this concept certainly extends beyond learning. Thanks again to all of those who contributed and to the awesome team members who made this happen.

Finally, inspired by Kisha’s (the second session of the day) analogy of lagniappe (the idea of offering something a little extra), here are the presenter decks from the day.