Modernising our approach to learning in Coca-Cola Amatil’s Supply Chain over the past two years has been a gradual process. This shift has come about through parallel changes in our operating model alongside the mindset, practices and capabilities of our Learning and Development (L&D) function. (Note – We use the term ‘Capability’ to refer to the L&D function. The two terms are used interchangeably in this post.) Our Supply Chain Capability Community consists of:
- Technical Academy team – myself, four Capability Consultants, and a Coordinator; and
- State Capability Managers – seven people who plan, coordinate and support Capability development at operational sites around Australia.
In March 2014 members of our Capability Community attended an event where Charles Jennings spoke about practical approaches to workplace learning. We also had a private discussion with Charles about the application of these approaches in our context. Our discussion continued back in the office. Performance support was a sticking point – in particular job aids that people can access as they work. Most of the group felt that Operations was solely responsible for developing and publishing job aids.
Fast forward to late 2015. In several States the Capability Managers were helping to implement a system to host Standard Operating Procedures – job aids that form part of our Quality Management System. Their contribution included helping to define information architecture so that content is easy for people to access as they work. In mid 2016 our Capability team helped to develop job aids alongside Operations for a new Quality Control system. The Capability Community now sees performance support as a shared responsibility with Operations.
This story illustrates how our Capability mindset, practices and capabilities have shifted. The most significant shifts are outlined below, followed by a list of key resources, people and development programs that have helped us to modernise.
Evolution of Our Capability Strategy
CCA Supply Chain joined the 70:20:10 Forum in late 2013. Within a few months of joining the Forum I realised that while CCA had adopted the 70:20:10 framework a number of years previously, the organisation had narrowly interpreted it. We had developed blended learning programs that included theory (10), learning from experience (70) and others (20). An example of this is ‘CCA’s 70:20:10 Learning Solution for Equipment Operation.’
However, we were not purposefully enabling people to learn as they worked, or building social learning capability. As discussed in my post 70:20:10 Forum Value Creation Story, after attending a 70:20:10 Forum webinar on the changing role of the learning function I saw that the skills of our capability team needed to be updated. I also identified an opportunity to speak with key stakeholders about improving organisational performance more effectively if we adjusted our Capability strategy, mindset and practices. I built awareness of the broader scope of 70:20:10 using resources from the 70:20:10 Forum and attendance at the Charles Jennings event described earlier in this post. By late March we had updated out strategy.
The key change to our strategy was the inclusion of ‘Continuous Workplace Learning’ as an element, as per the diagram below. Our operating model now includes a range of new approaches to enable continuous workplace learning including Communities of Practice, user generated content, guided social learning and learning transfer support.
Our Capability Strategy Elements
The mindset shift from ‘training’ to ‘performance’ is reflected in the change in Academy tagline from ‘Creating Technical Excellence’ to ‘Improving Supply Chain Performance.’
In early 2014 performance consulting was not seen as a practice required by L&D. By mid 2015 performance consulting was a standard element of our L&D toolkit. This shift was assisted by the dual role that many of the State Capability Managers have as they are also part of the Operational Excellence (OE) team who work on continuous improvement initiatives. Some of the OE tools can be readily used for performance consulting, and this is now seen as a natural precursor to development of a performance solution that may, or may not, include training.
Similarly the Capability Community now see development of performance support mechanisms and content as a joint responsibility with Operations, rather than something that is outside of their scope.
We have put substantial effort into enabling social learning in order to spread knowledge and better utilise expertise across Supply Chain. In order to support social learning our Capability Community had to experience it ourselves first. We have done this through participation in external communities, including the 70:20:10 Forum and Modern Workplace Learning community (via participation in a range of guided social learning programs and the associated ongoing community). Although participation was optional, enough people have joined in to shift mindset and practices. All Capability Community members also participated in the first rollout of our internal Work Connect and Learn program which builds digital, networking and self-directed learning skills.
Our internal Capability Community has gradually matured, shifting our interactions from fortnightly teleconference catch-ups focussed on project status updates to a combination of:
- fortnightly catch-ups focussed on knowledge sharing (run using Skype for Business);
- narrating our work and learning via a log maintained in OneNote; and
- use of online discussion forums in SharePoint for collaborative work and sharing of resources for professional development and improvement of our practices. (Refer to how I use social tools with my team for more on this.)
In mid 2014 the Academy voluntarily took responsibility for SharePoint governance in Supply Chain. This has allowed us to shape the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) infrastructure to support connection and discovery, enabling knowledge sharing, collaboration, and hosting of user generated content. We have built several online hubs on the ESN to support the growth of Communities of Practice. In May 2016 a Supply Chain restructure was announced, including the expansion of Communities of Practice. This decision was influenced by the work our Capability Community has done to establish, build and advocate for communities.
Our progress in social learning was recognised in November 2015 by the Australian Institute of Training and Development who awarded our Systems Certification program ‘highly commended’ in the Best Use of Social / Collaborative Learning category.
Integrating Learning with Work
Several Capability Community members have undertaken certification through the 70:20:10 Forum. We have modelled some aspects of our internal Systems Certification program on their Certification program, emphasising participants learning as they work. In addition to completing a range of competency-based assessments, evidence requirements for Systems Certification allow participants to choose their own workplace projects and activities. Evidence is heavily focussed on recognition of learning on the job via activities such as process improvements, solving your own or others’ problems, and demonstrating system use to others.
As part of the Systems Certification program the State Capability Managers took on the role of ‘Learning Coach.’ The purpose of a learning coach is to support self-directed learning by providing assistance to identify learning goals, advice on suitable learning activities and accountability via regular catch-ups with individual program participants.
Development Resources and Activities
Here is a list of some of the resources, organisations, practitioners and programs that we have used to modernise our L&D capability. The list is in no particular order. In all instances participation was encouraged, but not mandatory. New ideas and information only translate to learning through experience. The most important part of modernising L&D in our organisation was to try out new approaches, reflect individually and as a group on what happened, then adjust and repeat.
70:20:10 Forum – This forum offers 70:20:10-related resources, tools, an online community, and a 70:20:10 Practitioner Certification program.
Modern Workplace Learning (MWL), led by Jane Hart. MWL offers a range of short programs delivered via guided social learning. You get the benefit of great content, peer discussion, and the experience of being a participant in a program that uses a range of modern approaches.
Charles Jennings – Charles defines his focus as “all things related to learning, performance and organisational productivity, and to the 70:20:10 model.” Charles has more recently founded the 70:20:10 Institute.
Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions – We engaged Helen to help us establish our first Community of Practice. She helped us to analyse current state of connection, sharing, and peer-supported performance improvement in the target group; develop a Community strategy; and create the Work, Connect and Learn program. We’ve used this program in a range of formats to build networking, digital and self-directed learning skills in our organisation.
Towards Maturity – The Towards Maturity Benchmark is a useful way to gain insight on your current learning strategy compared to both other organisations and your own progress over time if you re-do the benchmark annually. Laura Overton and the Towards Maturity team publish a range of resources that provide research and evidence-based insight to help you identify how to improve your learning strategy and performance.
Working Out Loud Circles – We’ve recently run our first Working Out Loud Circles. They offer potential to build networking skills across our organisation, enabling self-directed and social learning.
Personal Learning Networks (PLN) – Everyone in our Capability Community has been encouraged to build their PLN. Having a PLN accelerates your professional development, and introduces you to new ideas and people who can support you as you learn and try new things. It also positions you to help others in your organisation to develop their PLN as a critical self-directed learning capability. Here’s one resource from Jane Bozarth on building your PLN – do an internet search to find more resources on this topic.
Conferences – I look for a mix of case studies presented by organisational practitioners and updates on industry trends and direction from thought leaders. The opportunity to network with other practitioners is also important. Some that we have attended are:
- Australian Institute of Training and Development National Conference
- Learning at Work
- Learning Café Unconference
- Knowledge Management Australia
This list is not comprehensive, and there are new resources, organisations and programs becoming available on an ongoing basis that could be added.
It Won’t Happen Overnight….
Shifting your L&D mindset, practices and capabilities takes time. The L&D team needs to first become aware of the possibility of operating differently, then experience new approaches themselves in order to figure out how to adapt them in their organisation, and how best to support them. Our story provides an example of how this change can evolve over time.
What’s Worked For You (or not)?
To all the other workplace learning practitioners reading this post – what have your tried for your personal or team development? How are you going with modernising L&D practices and capability in your organisation? What has worked for you? What challenges do you have? Let’s have a discussion and see what we can learn from each other.
Note: This post has been adapted from a post made on the 70:20:10 Forum as part of my Practitioner Certification