4 Tips For Developing a Training Strategy For Your Software

So, your organization has developed a highly sophisticated new software. Congratulations!

Now is the time to develop a training strategy to teach customers or employees how to use it.

This article explores the common obstacles that you will face when designing a learning strategy and offers actionable steps that you can follow to design your own one.

Common Obstacles

The Pace of Change

Digital disruption is affecting every industry. In the past, software solutions rarely received any updates, however, modern software solutions are updated multiple times in a year. Training material must change accordingly. Accordingly, it is best to design training material in terms of modules that are easy to change.

Fear of Failure

With time, people become proficient in the software they are using to perform their daily tasks. When companies adopt new software, employees risk losing safety, status, familiarity, and competency. Therefore, they resist change due to fear of failure. The key to success lies in effective training.

Technology Advancement vs. Staff Needs

Convincing employees to use updated technology is difficult, as described by the Harvard Business Review. Organizations can focus too much on technology, risking employee frustration when they don’t see any value in it for them. The best solution is to align technological upgrades with employee needs.

These obstacles are challenging, however, you can overcome them by creating a great onboarding/learning experience.

Tips For Developing Your Own Strategy

Here are some actionable tips you can use to create an effective training strategy.

Create a narrative for training

Explain the purpose of your training and its relevance. Your focus should be on addressing staff needs rather than the technological advancement.

Establish expectations and set goals

For instance, after successfully completing X modules, trainees will be able to successfully navigate the software interface. Pre-defined goals will make things clear and trainees will be motivated to reach them.

Bite-size chunks of modular information

Do not bombard trainees with nuclear bomb size information. The result will be massive destruction (Disengaged employees, unproductive hours). Instead, provide bite-size information divided into explicit modules that are easy to understand.

Onscreen, contextual guidance

Reading dense instruction manuals is boring. Moreover, Millennials are more interested in learning from video-based training than traditional learning methods. Onscreen, contextual guidance carefully added to video will have the highest impact on retention of knowledge.

And when it comes to video-based training, we know a thing or two.

We offer video-based content development services that will add value to your software solution. To learn more about our services and how Curious Lion can assist you in creating a better customer experience, contact us below.

Your Software Is Virtual, Your Training Should Be Too

So, your company delivers a highly valuable cloud-based solution to increase organizational productivity. Cool!

However, your customers still have to participate in classroom training sessions, read dense instruction manuals or have to attend webinars to learn about this new productivity tool. Traditional learning tactics – Not so cool!

Although training is integral to learning new skills, the time required to undergo the training process could lead to a decrease in productivity. Companies must maintain a productivity level to ensure that operations are running smoothly. Therefore, they are usually reluctant to adopt a new software. Bad for business!

So you’re faced with companies wanting to adopt your software solution to increase their productivity, but not at the expense of low productivity during adoption. This is a challenge!

Being an adoption manager, your job is to ensure that the whole adoption process runs smoothly, and the clients are eventually happy with their new productivity tool, right?

The solution is to digitize your training solution to boost adoption by your clients in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The logic is, well, your software is virtual, your training should be too. Still, not convinced?

Let us share some facts regarding virtual learning adoption and effectiveness

  • According to an IBM Smarter Workforce study, every $1 spent on e-learning solutions will create an additional $30 in terms of productivity.
  • 40% of Forbes 500 companies have moved to e-learning solutions.
  • IBM saved $200 million annually by moving to e-learning solutions from traditional learning.

Virtual learning offers flexibility and customization, therefore, employees only learn the things they need to know when they need to know them.

What’s more, Millennials prefer video-based options when it comes to training. 65% of people are visual learners and they feed their learning appetite by watching online videos. The episodic nature of video-based learning makes it highly engaging.

The good thing is that if videos are good, people will remember the content and message, thus good videos tend to increase the likelihood of retaining new knowledge. How cool is that!

When it comes to video-based training, we at Curious Lion believe that you need 100% original training for your most important topics for them to have the greatest effect.

Furthermore, do check out our series on “2020 Skills”, which the skills required by your employees to become productive members of the 2020 workforce.

To find out how Curious Lion Learning can assist you in creating a better customer experience, contact us below.

Why is User Training Important?

Rafal is the adoption manager at a large analytics firm. His company is undergoing a transition from manual work to a custom-built enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. His prime duty is to make sure that that employees, across all the locations, become accustomed to this new software.

He knew that onboarding is a demanding process, as the purpose is not to provide the necessary information to inexperienced users to effectively navigate the new software interface, but to make sure they are able to use this new software to increase their overall productivity.

Companies that don’t take this onboarding process seriously have a lower retention rate than those who have a good onboarding process in place.

Furthermore, employees that are unable to efficiently navigate the complex user interface of their company’s ERP will put a strain on customer loyalty. Research has shown that 66% of B2B buyers and 52% of B2C buyers stop buying from a company after a bad customer service experience.

According to another report, 56% of organizations experience operational disruption while implementing their change management process. To avoid low retention rates, and to protect customer loyalty, here are some onboarding best practices that we advised to Rafal.

Invest in Customer Support training

8 out of 10 adoption leaders in the B2B companies state that their prime goal of implementing new software is to improve the customer experience. 66% of the customers are willing to spend more for a better experience. Customer service agents can transform skeptical customers into loyal customers, however, they need to have a hands-on experience with the product offerings along with being well versed in “soft skills”.

Explore the benefits of Mentorship and Knowledge sharing

Veteran customer support agents know their business inside out. Pairing new and experienced customer support agents can help your organization explore the benefits of Mentorship.

Don’t settle for less than Excellence

The general expectation of customers is that support agents are experts in their field and therefore can increase their overall experience with the product. However, if customer support agents are not experts, the customers will have a negative experience. Therefore, do not settle for anything less than excellence and invest in the training of your employees.

Show Appreciation to great support agents

Positive feedback coupled with incentives are a great way to show appreciation to high performing support agents. This will motivate other support agents to produce high-quality work.

As an adoption manager, Rafal knows that the key to success is to upskill the inexperienced users. There is research to prove that training activities play a significant role in successful ERP implementation.

Furthermore, as Rafal is representing an organization with multiple offices located throughout the globe, we advised him to go for virtual video-based training rather than in-person training.

We have previously produced articles regarding the importance the video-based training in the organization. In addition, check out our series of articles regarding the skills required by employees in 2020 to become productive members of the workforce.

To know more about our training services and to know how Curious Lion can assist you in creating a better customer experience by training your employees, contact us below.

2020 Skills: Cross-Cultural Competency

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at culture. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

We recently had a conversation with the co-founder of a successful fintech startup in Austin, Texas. Like many other startups, he manages his business exclusively with the help of remote teams around the globe.

We asked him, how is this possible?

As smart machines, global connectivity, and super structured organizations among other drivers are reshaping our thinking about work, he reiterated this theme we’ve been exploring that skills need to adapt to this new future.

The final skill we’ll be exploring from the Future Work Skills 2020 report we’ve been profiling is that of cross-cultural competence – the ability to operate effectively in a different cultural setting.

This skill was pointed to during our conversation in Austin as the single most important skill to the success of that start-up.

But the real question is what exactly makes up cross-cultural competence and what combination of attitude, knowledge, and skills makes someone cross-culturally competent?

Louise Rasmussen and Winston Sieck also faced the same question. They conducted extensive research and identified several core aspects of cross-cultural competence. According to them, the following should be considered as guiding principles that can help you to become cross-culturally competent:

  • Staying focused on your goals
  • Understanding culture from a self-perspective
  • Managing attitude and the way you react to other cultures
  • Directing learning of the culture: for instance, how others behave
  • Developing reliable information sources: building relationships
  • Learning about the new culture efficiently: using those relationships
  • Coping with cultural surprises: if something is unexpected
  • Formulating cultural explanations of behavior: to develop deeper understandings
  • Planning cross-cultural communication: using what you have learned
  • Controlling how to present yourself: finding the most appropriate response
  • Reflecting and seeking feedback: continuing to improve yourself

The co-founder we spoke with knew the importance of cross-cultural competence, so he researched it, however, what about inter-department communication? His team also needed training on cross-cultural competence, so he decided to get all of his employees trained.

In this age of super structured organizations and the globally connected world, business leaders face a challenge in communicating their message across the organization. Traditional in-house training sessions may not offer any value as employees are often based in remote locations.

Video-based cultural diversity training turned out to be a better option to train employees and to get them ready to face the challenges of the current business environment.

Why does Video-based Cultural Diversity training matter?

Video-based training is already being praised by organizations around the globe as the popular medium for organizational training. Most simply, video-based cultural diversity training can impart knowledge to employees based in dispersed locations. In addition, video-based training triggers memory retention, by prompting employees to relate the message to their life or their work environment.

Our friend in Austin is happy as his team is producing excellent results. The training really helped his team to improve communication internally. This translated to effective transmission of the message and an increase in the overall performance.

The question is, are you ready? Is your team equipped with the right cross-cultural competency skills? If not, contact us to see how we can help.

2020 Skills: Novel and Adaptive Thinking

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at new ways of thinking. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

Skills for a Changing Workplace

Change and uncertainty are the only definites. The ability to change behavior when faced with unpredicted circumstances is crucial in the technological future unfolding around us. The Internet and social media have changed the way we connect and communicate. Machines are taking over jobs in the service industry, and global outsourcing is the new normal.  As a result, high and low skilled jobs are now flooding the market. One essential both have in common is the need for workers to develop novel and adaptive thinking in order to survive in the fast-paced fast-changing global world we now live in.

What is Novel and Adaptive Thinking

Simply, it’s a proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based. We do it every day. For example, what happens when you’re driving to work and your favorite route is blocked by construction traffic? You improvise! You take a detour. How about you forgot to do laundry the weekend, and now your favorite tie or blouse is in the dirty clothes hamper. What do you do? In a spontaneous effort to make the morning less stressful, you select your second favorite shirt even though it’s slightly less attractive.

Daily we are confronted with new possibilities and unpredictability. The ability to think through problems, acting swiftly, while negotiating fear of the unknown is the foundation of novel and adaptive thinking. We will walk through several steps and thought processes individuals and teams alike can take in order to improve their novel and adaptive thinking skills.

How to Develop Novel and Adaptive Thinking

While novel and adaptive thinking may come easy to some, others can strengthen their skill by practicing the following steps:

1.) Realize you use adaptive thinking every day in work and nonwork functions as mentioned in the introduction. Consider adaptive thinking to be a common practice. Building any skills requires one to develop confidence and the more you practice the better you will get. Identifying adaptive thinking as something you are already doing solidifies a foundation of expertise.

2.) Allow yourself opportunities to practice adaptive thinking during non critical moments. Great leaders train! Athletes stay in the gym when they are not in a game. Exceptional leaders should be no different. Find low hanging fruit to practice your skill. If you mess up it won’t matter, it’s just practice. Find different workplace scenarios such as your last big team project and walk through what you may have done different, how you could have executed better, what would you do if your project is ran behind schedule? What would you do if someone on your team unexpectedly quit? From serious to simple, practice, practice, practice.

3.) Control your impulse to act immediately when confronted with a problem. Always take time to think thoroughly through situations that arise in order to process the best steps to move forward.  If a ball is flying at your face will you duck or will you catch? If you duck, is there anyone behind you? If you catch, will you extend your hands in time, or will the force be too great to stop? Take a moment and think about the scenario and the many implications that may follow.

4.) Be open to new ways of doing things. We are systematic beings. We create systems and structures to simplify life.  When those systems break down, we have to be open to trying new things. Adaptive thinking is about thinking outside of the box, not going by the letter. What would you do if there were no rules, no blueprint, how would you solve the problem? At times going back to the drawing board and unlearning the patterns and habits of old is crucial in becoming a better strategic thinker.

5.) Anticipate changes in your environment before they even happen. Being proactive is better than being reactive. If you have already thought through possible problems before they happen, you will be prepared. Always observe patterns in your local environment that provide clues to what may happen next.

6.) Ask questions about the problem you’re facing. Think critically and understand the ins and outs of the problem. Why did your client bail mid-project? Who is responsible? What were the motives? How can we make necessary changes moving forward? Poke holes and ask questions. The more you understand the issue, the better you will be at solving it, and preventing it from happening again.

7.) Assess risk tolerance for all stakeholders involved and make a decision based on corporate and collective values. Will your decision influence your team in a positive way or will you be the only beneficiary? How will your decision making affect your environment? What will your team, management, community members, or shareholders think? It is imperative as you grow in adaptive thinking that you assess the risk tolerance of not only yourself but those around you for maximum leverage.

The more you practice novel and adaptive thinking the easier it will come. Follow these steps and you will surely be on your way to perfecting a powerful skill for the workplace of 2020.

2020 Skills: New-Media Literacy

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at new-media.

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

An effective business communication strategy can help to convey a message to the target audience, effectively. However, business communication has evolved from the traditional static presentation-based medium to more dynamic and interactive mediums, i.e. video-based communication.

As a business leader, developing an effective business communication strategy should be your utmost priority. And it may require you to invest in training your employees about new-media literacy

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) identified new-media literacy as one of the key skills that employees will require to be an effective member of the workforce in 2020. New-Media Literacy, according to IFTF, is the ability to critically assess and develop content using the new forms of media to deliver the message to target audience.

Developing content like videos, blogs, illustrations, and podcasts can result in massive exposure for a business.

The problem is that many businesses presume that their target audience will consume content through desktops or laptops. This assumption is limiting the target market reach of businesses.

Smartphones offer mobility and utility to users; therefore, users consider smartphones as a primary option to consume content online. According to the Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services, the number of smartphone users will grow to about 2.5 Billion in 2019. Google recognizes this, and companies should begin optimizing their content for smartphone users to have a higher ranking in Google SERP.

what is the difference between traditional devices and smartphones?

Well, fundamentally, traditional devices (i.e. desktops and laptops) have a horizontal screen, whereas, smartphones have a vertical screen.

A content compatibility problem is particularly true in the case of video content, where users have to switch between horizontal (16:9) views and vertical (9:16) views. The native way to consume content via your phone is, of course, vertical.

how do you optimize your video content for smartphones?

A viable solution is to focus on producing vertical videos. Recently, Snapchat shared stats that vertical video ads have nine times more completed views than horizontal video ads. Furthermore, users on Snapchat and similar services consume three billion vertical videos every day.

Some practical tips for making the most out of vertical videos include:

  • Make It Short – Videos for social media are usually short, so include only relevant and concise information in the video presentation.
  • Use Text Smartly – You can use text in your videos but make them prominent by placing them in the center, so viewers can remain focused.
  • Get Up Close – There should be no distractions on screen — getting close to the subject enhances the overall impact.
  • Use Angles Wisely – Make sure that the presentation is attractive, if the product is not photogenic, use animations to increase the impact.

An added bonus of investing in training in this new media skill is that learning vertical video skills will enable employees to create more compelling visual presentations, thus improving communication and visual storytelling skills within your company too.

As new-media literacy is emerging as a top skill, video-based training is emerging as an effective method to train remote teams.  Our research highlights the importance of video-based training and how it can be an effective way to convey information.

So, contact us below, to see how we can help your employees use new-media efficiently and effectively.

2020 Skills: Computational Thinking

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at thinking like a computer. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

Cоmрutеrѕ саn bе uѕеd tо hеlр us solve рrоblеmѕ. Hоwеvеr, bеfоrе a рrоblеm саn be tасklеd, thе рrоblеm іtѕеlf аnd thе ways іn whісh іt could be ѕоlvеd nееd to bе undеrѕtооd.

Cоmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng allows uѕ tо dо this – tо tаkе a соmрlеx situation, understand whаt the рrоblеm іѕ аnd dеvеlор роѕѕіblе ѕоlutіоnѕ. Wе can thеn рrеѕеnt these ѕоlutіоnѕ іn a way thаt a computer, a humаn, оr both, саn undеrѕtаnd.

Jeannette Wing defines computational thinking as “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts of computer science.”

The four соrnеrѕtоnеѕ оf соmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng

Thеrе аrе fоur kеу components tо computational thіnkіng:

  • Dесоmроѕіtіоn – brеаkіng down a соmрlеx problem оr system іntо ѕmаllеr, mоrе manageable parts
  • Pаttеrn rесоgnіtіоn – looking fоr ѕіmіlаrіtіеѕ аmоng аnd within рrоblеmѕ
  • Abѕtrасtіоn – focusing оn the іmроrtаnt іnfоrmаtіоn оnlу, іgnоrіng іrrеlеvаnt dеtаіl
  • Algоrіthmѕ – dеvеlоріng a ѕtер-bу-ѕtер ѕоlutіоn tо thе problem, оr the rules to fоllоw tо ѕоlvе thе problem

Bіg dаtа and соmрutаtіоnаl thіnkіng

Onе аѕресt оf dіgіtаl transformation thаt оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ struggle to gеt right is the іdеntіfуіng, сарturіng, mаnаgіng аnd аnаlуzіng оf bіg data. Aсrоѕѕ аll industries, organizations аrе kееn to use thіѕ data аnd thе wоrk of data ѕсіеntіѕtѕ tо discover thе іnѕіghtѕ that wіll drіvе strategic buѕіnеѕѕ decisions. CIOѕ tоdау nееd analytics expertise аѕ wеll as an undеrѕtаndіng of thе dаtа sciences аnd algorithmic approaches that wіll provide dаtа аnаlуtісѕ to their соmраnіеѕ.

Whу Develop Quаntіtаtіvе and Quаlіtаtіvе Dаtа Analysis Skills?

Quantitative іnfоrmаtіоn іѕ оbjесtіvе аnd comprised оf numеrісаl, measurable data. Quаlіtаtіvе іnfоrmаtіоn is subjective and bаѕеd оn оbѕеrvаtіоn and interpretation.

Sо muсh оf mоdеrn day buѕіnеѕѕ іѕ about рrоblеm-ѕоlvіng – whether that’s making ѕmаll іmрrоvеmеntѕ to enhance thе еffісіеnсу оf a buѕіnеѕѕ, or сrеаtіng brеаkthrоugh products аnd services fоr соnѕumеrѕ.

Whеn уоu master thе ѕkіllѕ tо аnаlуzе both quantitative and quаlіtаtіvе dаtа, you’ll hаvе a роwеrful аrѕеnаl of dіvеrѕе уеt related аbіlіtіеѕ to hеlр ѕесurе аdvаnсеmеnt in уоur current job аnd be mоrе соmреtіtіvе whеn seeking nеw орроrtunіtіеѕ.

Whу іѕ іt so іmроrtаnt іn the workplace?

Computational thinking runѕ through еvеrу аѕресt аnd function оf a modern business. It has bесоmе more crucial іn thе 21st сеnturу wоrkрlасе where so muсh is nоw dаtа-drіvеn.

Cоmрutаtіоnаl thinking саn bе applied tо almost аnу function оf a buѕіnеѕѕ. Planning аnd forecasting аrе bаѕеd оn раttеrnѕ of gеnеrаlіzаtіоn or аbѕtrасtіоn. Dеѕіgnіng thе uѕеr jоurnеу fоr a rеtаіl е-соmmеrсе site involves bеіng аblе tо break a рrоblеm dоwn іntо its component parts, uѕіng dесоmроѕіtіоn tесhniquеѕ, аnd соnѕtruсtіng a ѕequеnсе оf ѕtерѕ tо ѕоlvе thе issue uѕіng algorithmic thinking.

Employees whо develop proficiency іn соmрutаtіоnаl thinking аlѕо develop:
·        Cоnfіdеnсе іn dealing wіth соmрlеxіtу
·        Pеrѕіѕtеnсе іn wоrkіng with dіffісult рrоblеmѕ
·        Tolerance fоr аmbіguіtу
·        The аbіlіtу to dеаl with open-ended рrоblеmѕ
·        The ability to соmmunісаtе and wоrk wіth оthеrѕ to асhіеvе a соmmоn gоаl оr solution

Four Steps to Tаkе Fіrѕt

Aѕ your tеаmѕ prepare to capture, соntrоl, mаnаgе and vіѕuаlіzе thе big dаtа that mаttеrѕ mоѕt tо уоur organization, it is helpful to go back to the four components of computational thinking and follow these steps:

  1. Break down a problem into its smaller parts as Elon Musk does. As he describes, “I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”
  2. Look for patterns within these parts and for similarities with other problems. Steve Jobs put this really well when he said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
  3. Focus on the essential information only. We can turn to Einstein here who once said, “I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else…that clutter(s) up the mind.”
  4. Finally, use a step-by-step approach to problem-solving, drawing on simple rules to help define your solution

2020 Skills: Virtual Collaboration

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at collaborating virtually. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

In this era of super-structured organizations and increased globalization, virtual collaboration is emerging as one of the top work arrangements across different sectors.

 Work from home. Work from anywhere.  Work from home. Work from anywhere.

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115% since 2005. This means that 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Interestingly, it is employers in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions that, among a total of 7% of U.S. employers offering flexible working arrangements, offer the most work-from-home opportunities for employees.

The Institute for The Future (IFTF) included Virtual collaboration as one of the top skills that employees will require to become a productive contributor in the future. IFTF defines virtual collaboration as the ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate value in the virtual work environment.

Still, virtual teams have their fair share of challenges that they must overcome to become productive. Some of the challenges include

  • Communication issues – As the communication is not done in person, virtual team members must learn strategies for effective communication in a virtual environment
  • Shared Value issues – Teams with shared values and deeper bonds, tend to perform better than others. However, this might be a challenge for virtual teams, as they might feel difficult to connect with others in an effective way.
  • Mindless distractions – The virtual team members have to stay focused on their work. There could be many distractions, however, team members need to commit to giving attention during working hours.

Erin Meyer, Professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, believes that to overcome these issues, we must think differently. The traditional methods to lead, build trust, make decisions, and communicate might not be effective in a virtual team environment. Professor Meyer also noted that managers of virtual teams need a different skill set to those with co-located teams.

Yale’s School of Management responded to this call for a different skill set for virtual teams, and in their course titled “Global Virtual Teams”, they taught skills that will help managers of the future to manage virtual teams more efficiently and effectively. These skills include

  • Build a collective identity –Build trust and avoid the “us-vs-them” mentality
  • Accept vulnerabilities – Accept risks that may come with trusting virtual team members
  • Avoid focus on common knowledge – Avoid talking about what is common, explore the unique value that every member could bring to the team.
  • Don’t make assumptions – Don’t fall prey to cultural stereotypes, access individuals based on their individual worth
  • Evaluate communication methods – Sort out the communication problem and create a method that is best suited to the current situation

So, how to train your virtual teams to become more efficient?

As virtual collaboration is emerging as a top work environment skill, video-based training is emerging as an effective method to train remote teams.

Our previous posts highlight the importance of video-based training and its value as an effective way to convey information.

Through video-based training, your team members can become equipped with strategies to be productive contributors to their virtual team. Furthermore, their communication skills and trust building skills may also be improved with interactive elements built into the training.

Contact us below to see how we can assist you to create a productive virtual team with our video-based training services.

2020 Skills: The T-Shaped Professional

In this third post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at transdisciplinarity, or how to become a T-shaped professional. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

Back in 1963, Warren Buffet, one of the most well-known investors on the planet, closely analyzed the business model of American Express. With millions of cardholders, the company had managed to achieve an incredibly strong position in the highly competitive US market. However, the Soybean Scandal, which was caused by a third party, changed everything pretty quickly. The stock dropped by almost 50 percent and the company lost $150 million. While most people decided to stop investing on American Express, Buffet made a completely different move.

 The Oracle of Omaha The Oracle of Omaha

He decided to study the company in a different way before making the investment. He visited a number of banks, supermarkets, drug stores and travel agencies. He found that all the customers had been using the service of American Express. The scandal had obliterated the stock price. But it had no effect in the mind of general customers. Buffet clearly understood that American Express had become one of the most trusted financial services in the world. While people became more anxious about the stock price, he became more optimistic about the future of the franchise. He invested almost a quarter of his total assets. It didn’t take a long time for the value of American Express to increase resulting in a massive profit for Buffet and his company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffet didn’t study the typical reports from analysts to decide his move for the investment. Instead, he extended his scope of study to a broader range of information sources. He escaped narrowness and achieved a massive success. In today’s world, this is called Transdisciplinarity.

Transdisciplinarity is a way of engaging non-specialist perspectives to escape the narrowness of any one discipline and open up a wider array of challenges and resources. It is focused on researching a specific problem by crossing the boundaries of two or more disciplines, just like Buffet analyzing the ailing stock price and customers’ continued reliance on American Express cards. People who possess the skill of Transdisciplinarity are known as T-shaped professionals, as they have the competency for crossing multi-disciplinary boundaries to analyze a problem and come up with innovative solutions.

There is and will always be a huge demand for T-Shaped professionals in today’s market. In addition to an incredibly deep knowledge in multiple disciplines, they also have the ability to communicate effectively while crossing the boundary of cultures and economies. As a result, they have a higher chance of making an immensely positive impact in any area.

If you really want to become successful in 2020 and beyond, you will have to transform yourself into a T-shaped professional. The first thing you need to do is enhance your understanding in multiple disciplines and effectively apply the knowledge to your domain.

To become a T-shaped individual, you have to assess your own skills and knowledge. A great way of doing it is making a list of your skills and rating them on a scale of 0 – 5. You have to be very honest with your rating to help you to get a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

The next thing you have to do is go through a checklist of four key steps.

The first one is the improvement. While rating your skills, you might have identified areas that can be improved, for example, programming. Create a new list of skills you want to improve and start working on them in a highly organized way by taking online courses, reading books, or joining cohorts.

The second step is determining your comfort zones. If you are happy with the level of skill of a specific area, let’s say copywriting, and have no intention to go further, you shouldn’t put in more effort to improve. Time is valuable, and you have other skills to improve!

The third step is the addition of new areas. Think of skills that complement those you already have. Maybe there are skills that will help you gain a promotion or find a new job.

The fourth and final step is diving deeper into a specific area. You have to determine it honestly, as it will be your specialization and act as a stem for your T-shaped skill sets, taking you on a path that will require time and effort.

After working on all these four factors, you will have developed a great combination of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the abilities that can be defined and measured, like copywriting and programming. But don’t forget the so-called “soft skills”, the personal attributes, like critical thinking and networking, needed to be successful in your work.

By prioritizing lifelong learning with transdisciplinarity, while maintaining a balance of your skill sets, you can transform yourself into a highly successful T-shaped professional now and into the future.

2020 Skills: Social Intelligence

In this second post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at social intelligence. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

We are entering an era where smart machines and systems in a globally connected world will reshape the general work environment. A different skill set will be required to be a productive employee in the future workforce.

These predictions were made by Institute for the Future (IFTF) in their report titled “Future Work Skills 2020)”. According to this report, one of the key skills needed to tackle these drivers of change is Social Intelligence.

So, what exactly is Social Intelligence?

Dr. Daniel Goleman in his book “Social Intelligence” defined it as the ability to build relationships and navigate social environments.

So, why it is important from a business leader’s perspective to add social intelligence as one of the top themes in the corporate training requirements?

To answer this, let us navigate back to the IFTF’s report that identified two factors that highlight the importance of social intelligence in tomorrow’s workforce.

Firstly, in the globally connected world, new competitors are rising from rapidly developing economies like China and India. Therefore, having a presence in these areas is simply not enough. The key will be to employ people who are socially intelligent and are able to integrate local business processes in the global business framework.

Secondly, as super smart machines are replacing humans in some fields of business, the role of employees will need to change from being ‘replaceable’ by machines, to performing a support role that machines cannot provide. This difference between man and machine can be attributed largely to social intelligence.

Dr. Ronald Riggio is a globally-recognized authority on social intelligence. He lists six key components that can help individuals understand social intelligence. These are:

Social expressiveness skills – These include exceptional conversational skills and elevated levels of Verbal Fluency.
Social Awareness Skills – These include knowledge about social Scripts, Rules, and Roles.
Effective Listening Skills – These include having the ability to listen and understand others effectively
Emotional Intelligence Skills – These include having knowledge of communication tools that make others tick.
Social Self- Efficacy Skills – These include having the ability to effective role-playing and feeling socially self-confident
Impression Management Skills – These include creating a balance between controlling others and being authentic.

These components point to having awareness of the emotions of those around you and adapting your words, tone, and gestures accordingly.

So, how do you help your employees prepare for the future work environment?

Invest in training your employees to become more socially intelligent.

We’ve written about how powerful video-based training is on this blog before and how it is emerging as one of the most effective ways for telling stories and conveying information.

The basic anatomy of the social side of the brain reveals that mirror neurons are responsible for individuals learning through mimicry. People learn from what they see. As modern organizations consist of teams from distinct locations, it is not always possible to arrange training in-person. Video-based training can help your team develop social intelligence right from their laptops and tablets.

Contact us below to see how we can help you create truly unique digital training and let the motor neurons do the rest.