Many of the stories shared on Learning Uncut come from medium to large sized organisations.  While listeners often tell me that they pick up something they can apply from every episode, this story will be especially valuable to the large number of listeners who are in a small learning team in their organisation – or a team of one.

Debbie Key is the sole learning professional at Forty Winks. They are an Australian bed retailing franchise that was founded in 1984.  Debbie joined as the first ever learning specialist 18 months ago.  From a standing start of almost nothing being in place and with little budget Debbie has been very resourceful in implementing a learning strategy that absolutely fits the organisation’s needs.  The highlights of her story include the way she has created engagement with learning by building strong relationships across the business, creating an enjoyable end user experience and working closely with marketing to create the Learning League superhero characters.   In our discussion we weave through the example of the Forty Winks Bed Match technology to illustrate the effectiveness and business impact of the learning strategy.

It’s a credit to Debbie’s work that from a blank canvas and with limited resources Forty Winks has received ten learning industry awards, including being recognised in the top 50 worldwide in Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning Elite program.  Her story demonstrates that you don’t need to be big and well-funded to make an impact with learning in your organisation.  It’s all about resourcefulness, conviction and courage.

Episode Highlights

– Walking into the role as first ever learning professional in a 36 year-old organisation with a traditional view of learning

– Getting to know the business, it’s people and the workplace through mystery shopping and store visits

– Establishing credibility and trust with store managers and senior leadership

–  The shift in learning and business outcomes for Forty Winks’ Bed Match Technology, a competitive differentiator

– Debbie’s determination to providing an engaging learning and great user experience

– Why microlearning is a good fit for the organisation, and how Debbie influenced leaders to adopt this approach

– The search for an inexpensive, user-friendly Learning Management System.  Diving in and being resourceful with LMS set up and workarounds, including the use of integrated WordPress site for discussion forums.

– Creating engagement using the Learning League, Forty Wink’s superhero characters created with the help of a graphic designer from marketing.  Debbie introduces her favourite character, Developmentor.

– The power of curiousity, resourcefulness, courage and conviction.

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