Answer: People buy online courses but they rarely complete them.
We changed the name of our product from globalfilter to magpie. Here’s why.
We never loved the name globalfilter. Since inception the product concept - an intelligent learning recommender system - has always been strong. But we couldn’t think of a name which really grabbed us. But we needed a name and globalfilter described what it did (the filtering of absolutely any learning), had our company name in the title and so we launched with that.
Productivity is the modern worker’s elusive genie. Hiding in corners and crevices always feeling just out of reach. But being productive is not a constant state of being. So don’t beat yourself over the head with a keyboard if you need a minute to stare out the window, get up and stretch your legs or refuel. The most productive people can recognise when they are unable to focus, and learn ways to reorient themselves.
In March, I wrote an article titled ‘How does a learning company launch a learning initiative’. In it I spoke about the launch of magpie, our own learning recommendation engine, to our entire staff.
To promote the launch we ran a campaign titled ‘Dogfood’, based on the idea in tech of using your own product, often called eating your own dog food. The c
ampaign name also tied in with the campaign strapline, “Do GF”. We called our product globalfilter (or gf for sort) internally. Therefore, #DOGF was born.
Degreed acquired Pathgather this week. Two of the market leading learning experience platforms (LXPs), making it a big deal in our industry. Congratulations to both teams. We know and like them both. I suspect that this new, larger, combined entity will positively and substantively change how corporate learning happens around the world. As Josh Bersin said in his write-up of this deal, the LXP market is big already ($250m) and growing fast. It will soon be a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right.
Getting people to be proactive about their own learning in an organisation is not easy. It takes time, commitment and leadership buy-in to really work, but it is possible. The issue with any task that looks insurmountable is where to start. What ripples are required to make the tidal wave of change you need?
Least important --- Most important
Where would you place learning on this spectrum for your company?
I’ve been talking to a lot of financial companies recently about the L&D market. Opinions are polarised. Some see an outdated, overblown, superfluous industry that will soon be discarded or replaced. Some see a massive and growing market, ripe for another wave of disruption. Who’s right? Neither, entirely. Here’s why.
In a constantly-evolving global economy, learning must be the main long-term business priority. Learning is a clear - and possibly unique - theme running through the megatrends of our time: artificial intelligence, digitization, extended careers, flexible working and individualism. These trends mean changes for businesses (eg digital transformation) which require a frequent reskilling of their workforces. Ray Stata, former CEO of Analog Devices, puts this well:
“The rate at which organizations and individuals learn may well become the only sustainable competitive advantage. Products can be copied. Services can be copied. Even processes can be copied. Things like Six Sigma are available on the open market. But if you’re learning more rapidly than the competition, you can get ahead and stay ahead.”
Learning is much more important than recruitment. Recruitment, the never-ending war for talent, is a zero-sum game. If company A gets the star, company B doesn’t. Learning is different; a rising tide that lifts all boats. Perhaps leaders should take a less tribal, more progressive and holistic view of human capability and how best to nurture it.
Many of the world’s most successful, long-termist leaders are emphatic about the importance of learning. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, emphasised this in an interview with Business Insider, “Going back to business: If that applies to boys and girls at school, I think it also applies to CEOs, like me, and entire organizations, like Microsoft. We want to be not a “know-it-all” but “learn-it-all” organization.” Jeff Bezos in his last annual letter to shareholders underlined the importance of high standards and teachable skills. Mark Zuckerberg started a book clubfollowed by millions of followers. In his final letter to shareholders, then CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, described the company as a ‘Global Learning Organization’ - the fourth page in particular is worth reading in full.
Learning is a large part of what makes us human. We are a rare breed of mammal which happens to be neotenic, ie we retain many juvenile (physical and cognitive) features. We therefore learn all the way through our lives and are blessed with a deep, nagging curiosity about a very wide range of matters.
Finally, learning is good for us. It’s linked to higher levels of happiness, income and social success.
L&D has a tarnished reputation. Corporate learning content is often considered to be copious, uninspiring, or low quality. As a result it is used little and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts. The predominant technology underpinning L&D - the Learning Management System - is built on antiquated technologies, light years from the addictive, consumer grade experiences we enjoy away from work today. Compliance hasn’t helped. That for a decade compliance drills have fallen at the feet of L&D is a shame for everyone. The work of training and learning teams has been stained by that association. And so it is that CLOs rarely have a seat at the boardroom and the voice of L&D is muffled.
How to unpick this paradox?
I think we can unpick it by separating L&D supply from demand. Demand is massive and growing:
An evolving knowledge economy of a quarter of a billion knowledge workers who are re-skilling at shorter and shorter intervals but over longer and longer careers practically guarantees the shape of this chart, perhaps permanently.
But the supply side has historically disappointed and in many cases, continues to do so. We’ve been slow on the take-up of new technologies and content is mostly pretty dry and sometimes obsolete. Couple this with the fact that the benefits of learning - though axiomatic - are enormously difficult to measure. We have the perfect storm for a paradox: learning is both the most and least important thing we do at work. Break it down to unpick the paradox: supply looks bad; demand looks good.
But notice that the apparent paradox is starting to unwind anyway as consumer-grade influences, AI and other digital breakthroughs finally start to touch on this thing of ours.
Is any of the above of any use to you?
Perhaps you can use some of it to get your CEO to play ball. Try to persuade her or him to issue a statement about the importance of investing in the workforce of the firm (and feel free to repurpose any of the arguments presented here). The case will be even stronger - as we have been overjoyed and slightly surprised to see with certain global clients - if your CEO commits to and shares some learning activities her/himself. This will make all your L&D battles easier, from getting sign off from budget holders, to getting learners, to learn to proving ROI. There are gains to be had by all stakeholders: employee engagement, external PR, financial return.
And in this way, you may shift the importance needle to the right.
Liverpool lost the final of the Champions League on Saturday night, 3-1 to Real Madrid. Beyond the result, the manner of the defeat was difficult for Liverpool: their best player was injured after half an hour; they conceded three freak goals (one stupendous bicycle kick and two terrible goalkeeping errors); for the last hour Real were clearly the superior side and the outcome felt inevitable.
Sifting through the masses of online content to make good decisions about what to read, listen to or learn next is difficult. Sometimes, next to impossible. A way to make sense of the constant bombardment of content is to curate. At Filtered, we’ve hand curated over 800 assets across multiple platforms; our demo product, our L&D version, and client project as well.
We use this system of manual curation to build a training set for our algorithm stack magpieto automatically source and tag content. We’ve developed our own 6-step process: Understand, Source, Evaluate, Publish, Maintain, Analyse.