Thursday, January 29, 2015

eLearning for Culture Change

By Shelley A. Gable

I’m currently working on an eLearning module intended to support an organizational culture change initiative. To be clear, the eLearning module isn’t viewed as the primary catalyst for the change; rather, it is one of many components supporting the larger initiative.

The goal of the cultural shift is for employees to respond to certain types of situations in a particular way. The eLearning module will introduce employees to a framework for analyzing these situations, and then promote certain types of responses to those situations.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with colleagues from inside and outside of the organization to brainstorm approaches for this module. Below are some of the themes from those conversations, which seem applicable to any change initiative.

Emphasize behavior and expectations. Many eLearning modules designed to support a culture shift end up  largely informational and philosophical. While this type of content can be appropriate to include, training must translate cultural philosophies and/or frameworks into day-to-day behaviors and workplace expectations. Neglecting to facilitate this translation for learners can leave the content feeling too abstract to act upon.

Paint a picture of “tomorrow’s” workplace. How will the work environment look and feel different as a result of the culture change? Rather than answering this question with a bulleted list, let learners see the answer through stories and demonstrations. For example, create a story with dialog between characters, in which learners can clearly see elements of the change demonstrated in the interaction. Another approach is to craft a “day in the life,” first-person account of a workday, in which aspects of the narrator’s experiences demonstrate elements of the culture change. Consider including images, audio, and/or video, to help convey emotions within the stories. These illustrative approaches can help convey the goals and benefits of the culture shift and inspire learners to work toward it.

Promote transfer by preparing learners for post-training reinforcement. In the module I’m working on, learners will engage in topical conversations with their managers and/or teams after completing training. We intend to inform learners of this during the module and pose questions to help prepare them for those conversations. The aim is to foster richer conversations by nudging learners to reflect in advance and go into the conversations with formed ideas.

Create a unique and inspiring experience. If the eLearning module feels like “just another WBT,” learners might not perceive it as a convincing catalyst for change. If you have a standard template you typically use for eLearning, consider setting it aside and attempt to start with a blank slate. What kind of experience do you want to create? What tone do you want to set? What types of interactions, images, and effects can get you there? Creating an eLearning module that feels different not only helps capture learners’attention, it can also help convey that the organization is serious about change.

Have you created eLearning to support a culture change initiative? If so, how did you approach the recommendations above? What else did you consider?

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