AI is Here... Are You Ready? (Part 1)

From a Learning Leader's Perspective

By Ron Ateshian, Senior Advisor, ESource Corporation

AI is here. Are you ready? Several years ago, the McKinsey Global Institute published a series of reports exploring the economic potential Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on various industries.

Key Facts:

  • AI has the potential to significantly increase labor productivity (0.1 to 0.6% annually) by automating tasks and enabling new workflows.

  • The combined effect of AI technologies, including Gen-AI, could add 0.5 to 3.4 percentage points annually to productivity growth by 2040.

  • However, these gains hinge on successful technology adoption and worker reskilling to manage job displacement and skill gaps.

In a non-related use case, the implementation of a sophisticated AI recruitment tool by a well-known multinational technology company encountered significant setbacks. Despite being designed to streamline the hiring process, this AI system exhibited bias against female candidates. As it turns out, the AI was trained on resumes submitted over the previous decade that were predominantly from males. This was a potential litigious problem any organization must avoid. The flawed outcomes led to a retraction of the tool and a public relations issue for this company, underscoring the necessity of not just technological readiness but also workforce and ethical readiness for AI adoption.

This information highlights the transformative power of AI while emphasizing the importance of organizational readiness for this change. It also provides strong evidence for the need to address the skills gap and proactively upskill employees so they can thrive in the AI-driven future of work.

Fractional Learning Leaders are the perfect solution for helping organizations, their customer education teams, and their learning and development organizations (L&D) avoid landmines and fill the AI gap.

An Introduction

The Competitive Squeeze: The Need for Innovation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic concept; it is a present reality that is transforming industries across the globe. Corporate executives are facing pressure to innovate and stay ahead of the curve. Business leaders and team members alike are wrestling with rising costs, talent shortages, and the need for data-driven decision making. One area where AI is making significant strides is in L&D. As organizations strive to stay competitive in an ever-evolving market, the integration of AI into L&D strategies is becoming increasingly crucial. This article explores the impact of AI on the business, the opportunities it presents, and how Fractional Leaders can prepare for this technological revolution.

In this article, we will introduce Gen-AI. We will discuss the role of fractional leaders and how they can shepherd the effective use of AI for your organization. We will provide a road-map for getting started, and lastly we will review key takeaways for decision makers and Gen-AI users alike.

Introducing Generative AI

Gen-AI Your Innovation Engine

At the business level, there are many use case studies where Gen-AI can drive improvements.

  • Improving sales workflows, data, and decision making

  • Automating repetitive tasks for increased efficiency (e.g., data analysis, report generation)

  • Generating creative content and marketing materials

  • Predicting market trends and customer behavior

  • Augmenting services and help-desk for customers

  • Providing intelligent and automated support support for field workers

Key Benefits of Gen-AI

  • Enhancing decision-making with predictive analytics

  • Streamlining operations through automation

  • Innovating customer experiences with personalized interactions

The Role of AI in L&D and Customer Education

AI is revolutionizing the way organizations approach L&D by automating routine tasks, personalizing learning experiences, and providing data-driven insights. Here are some key areas where AI is making a difference:

  • Content Creation and Curation: AI-powered tools quickly and efficiently generate design outlines, training content, graphics, talking heads, videos, scripts, translations, exercise scenarios, quizzes, and assessments. This saves time and ensures that the content is up-to-date, engaging, and relevant. AI can also curate augmentative content by analyzing vast amounts of data to align and recommend the most appropriate learning resources for individual learner profiles.

  • Personalized Learning: AI enables personalized learning experiences by analyzing employee and customer behavior, preferences, and performance. Based on this data, AI can recommend tailored learning paths, suggest context relevant content, and provide real-time feedback. This personalized approach enhances learner engagement and improves learning outcomes.

  • Performance Support: AI can provide on-the-job performance support by delivering just-in-time learning resources. For example, AI-powered chatbots can answer questions, guide learners through complex tasks, and provide instant access to relevant information. This helps employees perform their jobs more effectively and reduces the need for formal training sessions.

  • Skill Assessment and Capability Development: AI can assess employee skills and identify gaps by analyzing their performance data. This information can be used to create personalized development plans that focus on the areas where employees need improvement. AI can also track progress and adjust learning paths as needed, ensuring continuous skill development.

  • Data-Driven Insights: AI can analyze large volumes of data to provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of L&D programs. This data-driven approach helps organizations make informed decisions about their L&D strategies, identify areas for improvement, and measure the return on investment (ROI) of training initiatives.

Release the Power of Gen-AI: The Role of the Fractional Leader

Fractional Leaders - Your Catalysts for Organizational Change

Fractional leaders are experienced executives and change management leaders who work with your organization to solve your organizational and L&D opportunities in an on needed basis. You want your fractional leaders to be equipped with the following abilities:

  • Agility and Adaptability: Fractional leaders bring a nimble and responsive approach to AI use and adoption, adept at navigating the complexities of organizational transformation in L&D and customer education. They can quickly assess challenges and devise tailored strategies to drive progress.

  • Specialized Expertise: Leveraging their deep functional expertise, fractional leaders can provide specialized guidance to help your teams unlock the full potential of Gen-AI and align it with your customer, partner, and employee training goals.

  • Unbiased Perspective: As objective outsiders, fractional leaders offer a fresh and unbiased viewpoint, challenging existing assumptions and identifying innovative solutions that will propel your L&D organization forward.

  • Specialized Expertise: With their proven track record of driving successful L&D transformations, fractional leaders can help your organization move swiftly and decisively to implement Gen-AI, minimizing disruption and maximizing impact.

Perfect Partnerships - Symbiotic Success Stories

Example 1: Implementing AI-Driven Learning Paths

Fractional Leader: Sarah Mitchell, an experienced L&D consultant

Organization: A global tech company

Initiative: Sarah was brought in to revamp the company’s training program, which was struggling with engagement and completion rates. She introduced an AI-driven platform that personalized learning paths based on employee roles, performance metrics, and learning preferences.

Tangible Benefits:

  • Increased Engagement: The AI system tailored content to individual learning styles, which led to a 40% increase in course completion rates.

  • Efficiency Gains: Employees spent 30% less time completing required training, as the AI eliminated redundant content and focused on areas where each learner needed improvement.

  • Enhanced Skill Development: The personalized approach led to a 25% improvement in post-training assessments, indicating better knowledge retention and application.

Example 2: AI-Powered Customer Education Chatbots

Fractional Leader: James Lee, a specialist in customer experience and AI integration

Organization: A software as a service (SaaS) company

Initiative: James was hired to improve the company’s customer education efforts. He introduced an AI-powered chatbot that provided 24/7 support, offering instant answers to common questions and guiding users through product features and troubleshooting steps.

Tangible Benefits:

  • Reduced Support Costs: The chatbot handled 60% of customer inquiries, reducing the need for live support and lowering operational costs by 20%.

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: Customer satisfaction scores increased by 15%, as users appreciated the immediate assistance and comprehensive answers provided by the AI.

  • Higher Adoption Rates: With the AI chatbot's assistance, the company saw a 35% increase in the adoption of new features, as customers found it easier to learn and use them effectively.

Example 3: Adaptive Learning Systems in Corporate Training

Fractional Leader: Linda Garcia, an expert in adaptive learning technologies

Organization: A multinational manufacturing firm

Initiative: Linda was engaged to overhaul the firm's outdated training programs. She implemented an adaptive learning system that used AI to assess employees’ knowledge and skills continuously and adjusted the training content in real-time.

Tangible Benefits:

  • Personalized Learning: The system provided personalized training experiences, which resulted in a 50% increase in training effectiveness as measured by pre- and post-training assessments.

  • Employee Satisfaction: Employee feedback indicated a 30% increase in satisfaction with the training programs, citing the relevance and customization of the content.

  • Rapid Skill Acquisition: The adaptive system shortened the time required to achieve competency by 25%, enabling faster onboarding and upskilling of employees.

Example 4: AI-Enhanced Learning Analytics

Fractional Leader: Bob Thompson, a veteran in data analytics and AI

Organization: An educational technology company

Initiative: Robert was tasked with leveraging data to improve the company’s eLearning platform. He implemented an AI-enhanced analytics system that tracked and analyzed learner behavior, engagement, and performance in real-time.

Tangible Benefits:

  • Insightful Analytics: The AI provided deep insights into learner engagement patterns and identified at-risk learners, allowing for timely interventions that improved overall course completion rates by 20%.

  • Content Optimization: By analyzing which content was most engaging and effective, the company was able to refine and optimize its course materials, leading to a 15% increase in learner satisfaction scores.

  • Data-Driven Decisions: The analytics enabled the company to make data-driven decisions about future course development and resource allocation, improving the overall quality and relevance of their educational offerings.

These examples illustrate how fractional leaders with expertise in Gen-AI can drive significant improvements in L&D and customer education initiatives, delivering tangible benefits such as increased engagement, reduced costs, enhanced learning outcomes, and improved customer satisfaction.

Review

Today we discussed the transformative potential of Gen-AI while emphasizing the need for readiness in L&D and customer education. We also reviewed the role of Fractional Leaders as key guides for organizations implementing Gen-AI effectively. In part 2, we’ll discuss an action plan for getting started with Gen-AI in L&D.

So… AI is here. Are you ready?

For more information about AI or to contact Ron Ateshian, reach out at services@esourcecorp.com

AI is Here... Are You Ready? (Part 2)

From a Learning Leader's Perspective

By Ron Ateshian, Senior Advisor, ESource Corporation

Recap and Today’s Roadmap

AI is here. Are you ready? In part 1 of this article, we discussed the transformative potential of Generative-AI (Gen-AI) and Large Language Models (LLMs) while emphasizing the need for readiness in Learning & Development (L&D) and customer education. We also reviewed the role of Fractional Learning Leaders as key guides for organizations implementing Gen-AI effectively.

Today we will identify tools worth considering. We will describe the FARE process as a road-map for navigating this change. Finally, we will review key takeaways were provided to empower decision-makers and future Gen-AI users.

10 Tools Worth Considering for L&D

Based on the search results, several generative AI tools are gaining popularity in the L&D sector. Here are some of the most widely used Gen-AI tools in the field:

  1. ChatGPT: This versatile LLM is being used across various L&D applications, from content creation to answering learner questions [5].

  2. DALL-E: An AI image generation tool that can create custom visuals for learning materials [5].

  3. Synthesia: A popular AI video generator that allows quick conversion of text to video content, useful for creating training videos [4][5].

  4. Quizizz: This platform uses generative AI to help educators create engaging quizzes and assessments [5][6].

  5. EdApp: A powerful tool that offers interactive learning experiences and features AI Create, which can generate entire courses based on short prompts [1].

  6. 7Taps: A microlearning platform that enables the creation of mini-courses quickly, featuring AI video creation tools and AI-generated course drafts [1].

  7. Quizgecko AI: A quiz generator that simplifies the process of creating assessments by generating quizzes from uploaded training materials [1].

  8. HeyGen: An AI video creator that allows the production of training videos without large production budgets [1].

  9. Zavvy AI: An AI-powered coach that offers personalized support and direction to employees, recommending relevant courses and providing feedback on professional development goals [1].

  10. Tome: An AI tool that can turn ideas into engaging presentations, useful for converting existing training content into readable presentations [4].

These along with other tools are transforming the L&D landscape by automating content creation, personalizing learning experiences, and enhancing the overall efficiency of training processes. However, it's important to note that while these AI tools offer significant benefits, they should be used judiciously. L&D professionals should focus on using AI to support and enhance their work rather than replace human expertise entirely [1][4]. Additionally, it's crucial to review AI-generated content for accuracy and appropriateness before implementation in learning programs [5].

Action Plan: Use a FARE Process for Getting Started

Implementing Gen-AI for L&D and customer education initiatives can significantly enhance business outcomes. Start by selecting the right Fractional Learning Leader at an organization like eSource. Our FARE Process, (Familiarize, Assess, Recommend, and Execute), is a clear, actionable plan for business leaders to explore and implement Gen-AI at your L&D org with fractional learning leader support:

FAMILIARIZE

1. Understand Business Objectives:

  • Meet with key stakeholders to understand and document the specific business objectives related to L&D and customer education.

  • Define success metrics and desired outcomes from Gen-AI and implementation.

2. Research Gen-AI Solutions:

  • Conduct market research to understand the landscape of Gen-AI tools and platforms suitable for L&D and customer education.

  • Organize informational sessions or demos with leading Gen-AI vendors to gain insights into their offerings.

3. Educate the Team:

  • Initiate AI literacy programs for leadership and teams to build foundational knowledge about Gen-AI and its potential benefits.

  • Share case studies and success stories from other organizations to illustrate the practical applications and advantages of Gen-AI.

ASSESS

1. Skill Gap Analysis:

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of current workforce capabilities and identify skill gaps that need to be addressed to leverage Gen-AI effectively.

  • Use surveys, interviews, and performance data to gauge readiness and identify training needs.

2. Evaluate Solutions:

  • Pilot selected Gen-AI tools in a controlled environment to assess their fit with your organization’s needs and objectives.

  • Gather feedback from pilot users and analyze data to determine the effectiveness and user satisfaction with the tools.

3. Cultural Readiness:

  • Assess the organization's cultural readiness for AI adoption through surveys and focus groups.

  • Identify potential resistance points and areas where additional support or communication may be needed.

RECOMMEND

1. Develop a Strategy:

  • Based on the assessments, develop a comprehensive strategy for Gen-AI implementation, including objectives, timelines, and resource requirements.

  • Include a detailed plan for addressing identified skill gaps through targeted training programs.

2. Stakeholder Buy-In:

  • Present the strategy to key stakeholders, including the potential benefits, costs, and expected ROI.

  • Address any concerns and incorporate stakeholder feedback into the final strategy.

3. Select Tools and Partners:

  • Recommend the best-fit Gen-AI tools based on pilot results and organizational needs.

  • Identify and recommend potential fractional learning leaders with the right expertise and experience to support the implementation.

EXECUTE

1. Implementation Plan:

  • Develop a detailed execution plan outlining steps, responsibilities, and timelines for the Gen-AI implementation.

  • Assign roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and smooth execution.

2. Upskill Workforce:

  • Launch customized training and development programs to upskill employees in using the selected Gen-AI tools.

  • Offer continuous learning opportunities and resources to ensure ongoing skill development.

3. Monitor and Adjust:

  • Establish metrics and KPIs to monitor the progress and impact of the Gen-AI implementation.

  • Conduct regular reviews and gather feedback to make necessary adjustments and improvements.

4. Foster an AI-Ready Culture:

  • Continuously promote AI literacy and address employee concerns through ongoing communication and support.

  • Encourage a positive attitude towards AI and foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

By following the FARE process—Familiarize, Assess, Recommend, and Execute—business leaders can strategically implement Gen-AI in L&D and customer education initiatives. This structured approach ensures a thorough understanding of business goals, careful evaluation and selection of AI tools, strategic recommendations for implementation, and effective execution with ongoing monitoring and improvement.

Key Takeaways: The Future is Now - Embrace AI and Use Fractional Learning Leaders to Lead the Way

Today we discussed the impact of Gen-AI on business and how it in combination with the right fractional learning leader, can be used to improve L&D and customer education initiatives.

Key Takeaways in Increased Efficiency:

  • Gen-AI automates repetitive tasks in L&D and customer education, freeing up existing resources for more strategic work.

  • Enhanced Decision-Making: Data-driven insights from Gen-AI empower businesses to make informed choices about training content and customer support strategies.

  • Personalized Learning Experiences: Gen-AI tailors learning paths and customer education to individual needs, leading to better engagement and knowledge retention.

  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: AI-powered chatbots and support systems can provide 24/7 assistance and personalized guidance, boosting customer satisfaction.

  • Reduced Costs: Automating tasks and offering self-service options through Gen-AI can lead to significant cost reductions in training and customer support.

  • Competitive Advantage: By embracing Gen-AI for L&D and customer education, businesses can stay ahead of the curve, improve employee skills, and deliver a superior customer experience.

  • Fractional learning leaders can ease this burden on your organization.

Call to action:

Business leaders should proactively embrace Gen-AI and partner with fractional leaders to implement a successful Gen-AI strategy. This will future-proof your organizations.

Summary

Parts 1 and 2 of this article explored the transformative potential of Generative AI while emphasizing the need for readiness in Learning & Development and customer education. We highlighted the role of Fractional Learning Leaders as key guides for organizations implementing Gen-AI effectively. We reviewed 10 tools worth considering for L&D. The FARE process was also presented as a road-map for navigating this change, ensuring successful implementation. Finally, key takeaways were provided to empower decision-makers and future Gen-AI users.

So… AI is here. Are you ready? The time to execute is now and know that Fractional Learning Leaders from are here to guide the way…

Citations:

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelwells/2024/01/31/5-ai-tools-for-learning-and-development-teams-in-2024/

[2] https://www.turing.com/resources/generative-ai-tools

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/best-generative-ai-tools-transforming-education-bernard-marr-apoae

[4] https://blog.cathy-moore.com/ai-tools-for-instructional-designers/

[5] https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/ai-tools/

[6] https://www.eklavvya.com/blog/generative-ai-tools-2024/

[7] https://elearningindustry.com/best-ai-tools-for-training-and-education-top-lms-platforms

For more information about AI or to contact Ron Ateshian, reach out at services@esourcecorp.com

An Introduction to AI for Learning & Development Teams

By Joe DiDonato, AI Senior Advisor, ESource

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword in many industries and Learning & Development (L&D) is no exception. AI's potential to transform how we design, deliver, and evaluate learning experiences is immense. This article aims to introduce L&D teams to the different types of AI and explore their potential uses in the L&D field.

What is AI?

AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. These machines can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. AI can be broadly categorized into three types:

  1. Narrow AI (Weak AI): Designed to perform a narrow task (e.g., facial recognition or internet searches).

  2. General AI (Strong AI): Has the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across a wide range of tasks, similar to a human.

  3. Superintelligent AI: Surpasses human intelligence and can perform any intellectual task that a human can.

Currently, most AI applications in L&D fall under Narrow AI. Let's explore how these types of AI can be utilized in L&D.

Types of AI and Their Uses in L&D

1. Machine Learning (ML)

Definition: Machine Learning is a subset of AI that involves training algorithms to learn from and make predictions based on data. It improves over time as it is exposed to more data.

Use in L&D:

  • Personalized Learning Paths: ML can analyze learners' data to create personalized learning paths. By understanding individual learning styles and progress, ML algorithms can recommend specific courses, modules, or resources that best suit each learner's needs.

2. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Definition: NLP is a branch of AI that focuses on the interaction between computers and humans through natural language. It enables machines to understand, interpret, and respond to human language.

Use in L&D:

  • Chatbots for Learner Support: NLP-powered chatbots can provide instant support to learners by answering questions, guiding them through course materials, and offering feedback. This can enhance the learning experience by providing timely assistance and reducing the workload on human instructors. A promising development in this area that ESource is using internally is the use of a Chatbot for product training.

3. Computer Vision

Definition: Computer Vision is a field of AI that enables machines to interpret and make decisions based on visual data from the world.

Use in L&D:

  • Interactive Learning Materials: Computer Vision can be used to create interactive and immersive learning materials. For example, augmented reality (AR) applications can overlay digital information on physical objects, providing a hands-on learning experience.

4. Predictive Analytics

Definition: Predictive Analytics uses statistical algorithms and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data.

Use in L&D:

  • Identifying Skill Gaps: Predictive analytics can help identify skill gaps within an organization by analyzing employee performance data. This allows L&D teams to tailor training programs to address these gaps effectively.

5. Recommendation Systems

Definition: Recommendation Systems are a type of AI that suggests products, services, or information to users based on their preferences and behavior.

Use in L&D:

  • Course Recommendations: Similar to how streaming services recommend movies, AI-powered recommendation systems can suggest relevant courses and learning materials to employees based on their job roles, interests, and past learning activities.

6. Speech Recognition

Definition: Speech Recognition is an AI technology that enables machines to understand and process human speech.

Use in L&D:

  • Voice-Activated Learning: Speech recognition can be used to develop voice-activated learning applications. Learners can interact with these applications using voice commands, making the learning process more engaging and accessible.

7. Data Analysis

Definition: Data Analysis involves examining, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data to discover useful information, draw conclusions, and support decision-making.

Use in L&D:

  • Evaluating Training Effectiveness: AI can analyze data from training programs to evaluate their effectiveness. By examining metrics such as completion rates, assessment scores, and learner feedback, AI can provide insights into what works and what doesn't, helping L&D teams improve their programs.

Integrating AI into L&D

Integrating AI into L&D requires a strategic approach. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Identify Business Goals: Start by identifying the business issues that AI can help address. Focus on areas where AI can have the most significant impact, such as improving learner engagement or reducing training costs.

  2. Build Trust: People can be skeptical about AI, especially in areas like coaching and skills development. Start with limited goals and build trust by demonstrating the benefits of AI. Collect feedback and make adjustments as needed.

  3. Collaborate with Stakeholders: Successful AI integration requires collaboration with various stakeholders, including IT, HR, and business leaders. Ensure that everyone understands the potential benefits and challenges of AI.

  4. Experiment and Iterate: AI implementation is an iterative process. Start with a proof of concept and measure its impact on quality, scalability, speed, or cost. Use the insights gained to refine and expand your AI initiatives.

  5. Invest in Skills Development: AI requires a combination of technical and soft skills. Invest in training your team to understand AI technologies and their applications in L&D. Encourage continuous learning and experimentation.

Challenges and Considerations

While AI offers numerous benefits, there are also challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Data Quality: AI relies on high-quality data to function effectively. Ensure that your data is accurate, complete, and up-to-date.

  • Ethical Considerations: Be mindful of ethical considerations, such as data privacy and bias. Implement policies and practices to address these issues.

  • Change Management: AI adoption requires a cultural shift. Prepare your organization for change by communicating the benefits of AI and addressing any concerns.

Conclusion

AI has the potential to revolutionize Learning & Development by making learning more personalized, efficient, and effective. By understanding the different types of AI and their applications in L&D, teams can harness this technology to enhance their training programs and support employee growth. As with any new technology, successful AI integration requires careful planning, collaboration, and a willingness to experiment and learn. Embrace the possibilities of AI and take your L&D initiatives to the next level.

By staying informed and proactive, L&D teams can leverage AI to create impactful learning experiences that drive organizational success.

To learn more about how to engage a Fractional Learning Leader for AI implementations, contact ESource at services@esourcecorp.com

Why Fractional Learning Leadership Makes Sense

Marc Shapiro, Senior Advisor, ESource

The concept of fractional leadership, hiring an experienced leader on a contract basis to fill part-time or short-term leadership positions in an organization, has been around for some time. It typically includes C-Level functions: Fractional CEO, Fractional CFO, Fractional CMO, Fractional CHRO, and the like. Sustained leadership helps keep strategy in focus; leaving functions vacant for too long may cause unevenness in how the organization works toward short- and long-term goals and objectives. Bringing in seasoned, experienced help can help stay the course or advance organizational progress.

In this regard, learning has flown under the radar for too long. The critically important function should be staffed at all times if an organization intends to solidify/institutionalize its practices and prepare itself for what is ahead in the 3–5-year range.

But under what circumstances should you consider engaging with a Fractional Learning Leader? How do you know when the window of opportunity is open, and the timing is right to add a Fractional Learning Leader?

  • Your organization is in its early days and growing, and it’s reached the point where you feel it’s time to invest in and actively shape your organization’s learning culture. You need seasoned support to help expand your continuous learning culture. You’re not ready to hire yet, but you don’t want the moment to pass by without maintaining progress.

  • Your organization has a key learning leader who is going on hiatus, either to pursue a developmental assignment, pursue advanced formal education, or serve as a caregiver for a family member’s medical issue or has a medical issue of their own. The role is too important to leave vacant for the duration, and too big to ask others to cover it in your incumbent’s absence. You need a thought-leader who can learn about your organization’s needs and existing culture, propose ideas that can help evolve the organization toward it’s desired state, and has the ability to reach back to proven implementation resources.

  • Your organization has attempted several learning initiatives, but your HR team hasn’t been able to give it their full attention and nothing seems to have stuck. You need an outside-driven kickstart to help turn ideas into reality. You don’t want to afford time for theorizing; you want to pay for implementation where you pay as you go.

Adding the right talent with the right skills at the right time can help maintain momentum of change and position the organization for future incremental gains.

To learn more about how to engage a Fractional Learning Leader, contact ESource at services@esourcecorp.com

ESource Unveils the FARE Process

A Comprehensive Learning and Development
Implementation Methodology

Tony Irace, VP Learning Solutions, ESource

Picture of Fractional Learning Leaders
In today's fast-paced business environment, organizations must continuously evolve to stay competitive. One of the most critical aspects of this evolution is the development of a robust learning and development (L&D) strategy that aligns with the organization's strategic goals. Recognizing this need, ESource Corporation has introduced an innovative Learning and Development Implementation Methodology known as the FARE process. This comprehensive framework is designed to guide organizations through the essential stages of implementing successful L&D programs, ensuring they achieve their learning objectives and drive overall business success.

Understanding the FARE Process

The FARE process, which stands for Familiarize, Assess, Recommend, and Execute, is a structured approach that helps organizations enhance their L&D initiatives. Let's delve deeper into each phase of this methodology to understand how it can transform your organization's learning and development efforts.

FAMILIARIZE: Laying the Foundation

The first phase of the FARE process, Familiarize, is all about understanding the unique culture, needs, and opportunities within an organization. This phase sets the foundation for the entire L&D strategy by ensuring that the solutions are tailored to fit seamlessly within the existing framework. During this phase, ESource's team of experts engages in the following activities:

  • Conducting Initial Consultations: The process begins with engaging key stakeholders to gather insights and establish a clear understanding of the organization's current state and desired outcomes. These consultations help identify the specific learning needs and challenges faced by the organization.

  • Assessing Organizational Culture: Understanding the company's culture is crucial for designing L&D initiatives that resonate with employees. ESource evaluates the organizational culture to ensure that the training programs align with the company's values and work environment.

  • Identifying Learning Needs: This involves determining the specific learning and development needs of the organization, including skill gaps, training requirements, and performance improvement areas. By identifying these needs, ESource can develop targeted solutions that address the most critical areas.

ASSESS: Assessing the Current State

The second phase, Assess, involves a thorough assessment of the organization's existing L&D programs, resources, and processes. This phase is critical for identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Key activities during the Assess phase include:

  • Reviewing Current Programs: ESource assesses the effectiveness of existing training programs and materials to identify gaps and opportunities for enhancement. This review helps determine which programs are working well and which ones need improvement.

  • Evaluating Resources: Assessing the availability and utilization of learning resources, including technology, content, and personnel, is essential for understanding the organization's capacity to support L&D initiatives. ESource evaluates these resources to ensure they are being used effectively.

  • Benchmarking Against Best Practices: Comparing the organization's L&D practices with industry standards and best practices helps identify areas for improvement. This benchmarking process provides valuable insights into how the organization can enhance its L&D efforts to achieve better results.

RECOMMEND: Identifying Tailored Solutions

Based on the findings from the Familiarize and Assess phases, the Recommend phase involves identifying tailored solutions to address client needs and gaps. ESource's team of experts provides actionable recommendations that are aligned with the organization's strategic objectives. This phase includes:

  • Learning Roadmap: A structured plan outlining the steps needed to acquire identified knowledge, skills, and competencies identified in the Assess phase, and the associated timeline. It serves as the organization’s strategic learning guide.

  • Providing Strategic Guidance: ESource offers expert advice on the best approaches to implement the recommended solutions, including technology adoption, content development, and resource allocation. This guidance ensures that the organization can effectively execute the L&D initiatives.

  • Creating Implementation Plans: Developing detailed plans that outline the steps required to execute the recommended solutions is crucial for ensuring a smooth implementation. ESource creates comprehensive implementation plans that include timelines, milestones, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and measure success.

EXECUTE: Bringing the Plan to Life

The final phase, Execute, focuses on the implementation of the recommended solutions. ESource works closely with clients to ensure a smooth and successful execution of the L&D initiatives. Key activities during the Execute phase include:

  • Developing Customized Solutions: ESource creates bespoke L&D strategies and programs that are designed to meet the specific needs of the organization. These solutions are tailored to address the unique challenges and opportunities identified during the Familiarize and Assess phases.

  • Implementing Training Programs: ESource rolls out the customized training programs and ensures that they are delivered effectively to the target audience. This involves coordinating with trainers, scheduling sessions, and providing the necessary resources to support the training. We can also enable the technologies to deliver the programs, e.g., configuring the LXP, setting up academies or learning communities, skills taxonomies, content curation, learning paths.

  • Monitoring Progress: Continuously tracking the progress of the implementation is essential for ensuring that it stays on track and meets the defined objectives. ESource monitors the implementation process and provides regular updates to stakeholders.

  • Evaluating Outcomes: Assessing the impact of the L&D initiatives on employee performance and organizational success is crucial for determining the effectiveness of the training programs. ESource evaluates the outcomes and makes necessary adjustments to optimize results.

The Benefits of the FARE Process

The FARE process offers several benefits that can significantly enhance an organization's L&D efforts:

  • Alignment with Strategic Goals: By understanding the organization's unique needs and aligning the L&D initiatives with strategic objectives, the FARE process ensures that the training programs contribute to overall business success.

  • Comprehensive Assessment: The thorough assessment of existing programs, resources, and processes helps identify areas for improvement and ensures that the L&D initiatives are built on a solid foundation.

  • Tailored Solutions: The customized solutions developed during the Recommend phase address the specific challenges and opportunities identified during the Familiarize and Assess phases, ensuring that the training programs are relevant and effective.

  • Effective Implementation: The detailed implementation plans and continuous monitoring during the Execute phase ensure that the L&D initiatives are executed smoothly and achieve the desired outcomes.

  • Continuous Improvement: The evaluation of outcomes and the ability to make necessary adjustments ensure that the L&D initiatives are continuously optimized for better results.

Conclusion

The FARE process introduced by ESource Corporation represents a significant advancement in the field of learning and development. By providing a structured and comprehensive approach to implementing L&D initiatives, the FARE process ensures that organizations can effectively meet their learning goals and achieve their strategic objectives. Whether you are looking to enhance your existing training programs or develop new ones, the FARE process offers a proven methodology that can drive success and deliver measurable results.

To contact the authors of this article:

Tony Irace - tirace@esourcecorp.com  

The Rise of the Fractional Learning Leader: Why This Role is Too Good to Pass Up

Al Johnson, Managing Director, ESource Fractional Learning Leaders

Picture of Fractional Learning Leaders
The world of corporate learning and development is changing at breakneck speed. With the rise of remote work, the skills gap widening, and the war for top talent intensifying, companies need a new breed of learning leader to stay ahead of the curve. Enter the fractional learning leader – a game-changing professional who brings flexibility, expertise, and results to organizations hungry for a competitive edge.

What is a Fractional Learning Leader?

Before we dive into the benefits, let's define the role. A fractional learning leader is a seasoned learning and development (L&D) expert who works with multiple companies on a part-time or project basis. They bring the strategic acumen and executional know-how of a full-time Chief Learning Officer, but with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a consultant.

Why Become a Fractional Learning Leader?

So, why would an ambitious L&D professional want to embrace this new career path? Here are just a few compelling reasons:

Variety is the Spice of Life: As a fractional learning leader, you'll work with a diverse portfolio of companies across different industries. This means constant exposure to new challenges, opportunities, and knowledge areas to master. Say goodbye to boredom and hello to a career that's always engaging and evolving.

Flexibility to Thrive: The fractional model offers the work-life balance so many of us crave. You can choose your projects, set your schedule, and work from anywhere. This flexibility is a game-changer for those who value autonomy and want to prioritize other areas of their life.

Earning Potential: Your earning potential as a fractional learning leader is directly tied to your skills, network, and the value you deliver. The financial rewards can be substantial for those who excel in this role.

Impact at Scale: With multiple clients, you can create impact at scale. You'll have the opportunity to influence learning strategies across organizations, develop multiple leaders, and make a real difference in how companies build capability and drive results.

Stay Ahead of the Curve: The L&D landscape is changing fast, with new technologies, trends, and best practices emerging all the time. As a fractional learning leader, you'll be exposed to a wide range of companies and challenges, keeping your skills sharp and your knowledge current.

Is This Career Path Right for You?

Becoming a successful fractional learning leader requires a specific set of skills and mindsets. You'll need to be strategic, entrepreneurial, tech-savvy, and adept at building strong relationships quickly. You'll need to thrive in ambiguity, be a lifelong learner at heart, and have a passion for elevating others.

If this sounds like you, the fractional learning leader path could be the career opportunity of a lifetime. It's a chance to make a real difference, build a business you love, and create a lifestyle of freedom and fulfillment. The future of corporate learning is here, and fractional learning leaders are poised to lead the way.

Learning Leaders - Are You Ready For a Seat At The Table?

Tony Irace, VP Learning Solutions, ESource

When I speak with learning leaders about their wish list, what they want most is a seat at the table with the senior leaders of their companies. After all, as a learning leader, you strive to be a good business partner and add value to your organizations.

Plus, you want to be included. You want the opportunity to offer your perspectives, hear the strategy first-hand, and understand the issues in achieving the company’s business goals.  As a learning leader, you bring great value, as much as your finance, IT, and marketing colleagues, and can offer a different point of view.

But before you get your wish, you need to ask: are you ready for that seat at the table? In my experience, I found these four things to be critical:

1. Have a plan

Do you have a documented strategic plan or roadmap for your learning team? Your plan should include your team’s mission, goals, strategic initiatives, success measures and risks in achieving your goals. It should, at a minimum, cover one year, and should ideally span three years. You can use many formats, including my favorite, the “strategy on a page.” Remember, your business leaders have a strategic plan, so they expect you will too.

2. Know your value

Do you have metrics or analytics to show your achievements?  Efficiency measures like number of people trained or number of hours trained are useful, but you also need business-related measures.  Have your training programs improved performance?  Have your programs positively added to your business’s outcomes?  These are not easy numbers to find. You don’t need to have metrics for every course you have designed and delivered. But using a well-known, critical business initiative and tacking on quantitative training metrics will go a long way toward providing relevant analytics.

3. Be a partner

Let’s face it; we in the learning space support our businesses. Building relationships with your HR, IT, Legal, Finance, and Marketing partners is crucial for your success.  I have found that strong relationships build trust, and trust builds credibility. 

I once worked with an IT leader on a new product launch.  My learning team needed to see and experience the product so we could develop the appropriate training.  This leader only gave us a week, which was too short. When I explained our design process to him, he saw it was similar to his product development process, and understood why we needed more time—and we got it!

 4. Be visible

Do your business partners and senior leaders know what you do? I don’t mean to sound factitious, but in many cases, they are unaware. Market your team’s work and publicize what you do. This can be done verbally as well as through a newsletter, a website, and social media—which will broaden your reach.

Of course, every business has its own politics and culture. Some organizations may not view learning as an important component to be at the table. Hopefully, that’s not the case for you. So be ready. Incorporate these four suggestions into practice and request your seat at the table.

The Strategic Advantage of a Fractional Learning Leader

Michael J. Giambra, CEO & Co-Founder, ESource

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations are increasingly turning to flexible staffing solutions to adapt to dynamic market demands. One such innovative approach is the engagement of a Fractional Learning Leader. This role offers a blend of flexibility, scalability, continuity, agility, and cost-effectiveness, making it an attractive option for companies looking to enhance their learning and development (L&D) capabilities without the overhead associated with full-time positions.

Flexibility and Scalability

A Fractional Learning Leader provides organizations with the flexibility to engage experienced L&D leadership on an as-needed basis. This means companies can scale their L&D efforts up or down based on current business needs without committing to a full-time executive salary. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for companies experiencing fluctuating growth, undergoing a transformation, or needing to fill a temporary gap in leadership.

Continuity and Agility

Using a fractional resource does not mean sacrificing continuity. Fractional Learning Leaders are adept at integrating into an organization, understanding its culture, and aligning L&D initiatives with strategic business goals. Their agility allows them to swiftly adapt to the company’s changing needs, ensuring that the L&D function continuously supports the organization’s objectives.

Cost-Effectiveness

Hiring a Fractional Learning Leader is a cost-effective solution for many businesses. It eliminates the high costs associated with recruiting, onboarding, and maintaining a full-time executive while still providing top-tier expertise. Organizations can allocate their resources more efficiently, investing in direct growth opportunities while still benefiting from expert guidance and leadership in their L&D efforts.

Experience and Expertise

Fractional Learning Leaders typically bring a wealth of experience, having served as Chief Learning Officers (CLOs), Vice Presidents, or Directors of Learning & Development in various industries. This diverse experience allows them to bring best practices from across the spectrum and apply them uniquely to each organization’s context. Their expertise not only covers educational strategies and program development but also includes aligning L&D activities with strategic business outcomes.

The FARE Process

A key aspect of the Fractional Learning Leader’s role is following the FARE process, which stands for Familiarize, Assess, Recommend, and Execute. This structured approach ensures that they thoroughly understand the company’s culture and existing L&D landscape, which allows them to make informed recommendations and implement effective solutions. Here’s how it works:

  • Familiarize: The leader integrates into the organization, understanding its values, mission, and operational nuances.

  • Assess: They assess the current L&D programs and strategies to identify gaps and areas for enhancement.

  • Recommend: Based on the analysis, the leader proposes tailored strategies that align with the company’s long-term goals.

  • Execute: Finally, they oversee the implementation of these strategies, ensuring alignment with business objectives and measuring the impact on organizational performance.

Who Can Benefit?

Virtually any organization can benefit from the services of a Fractional Learning Leader. Start-ups and high-growth companies find particular value in this model, as it allows them to establish robust L&D functions that support rapid scaling. Similarly, companies without a formal L&D department, those undergoing significant changes, or organizations looking to innovate in their training approaches can all benefit from the strategic input of a fractional leader.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the role of a Fractional Learning Leader is to provide strategic, flexible, and cost-effective L&D leadership to organizations that need to adapt quickly to changing market conditions without the overhead of a full-time executive. This role not only supports immediate business needs but also prepares organizations for future challenges, ensuring that their workforce is skilled, adaptable, and aligned with broader business objectives. As companies continue to navigate the complexities of modern business environments, the Fractional Learning Leader stands out as a key resource in fostering an agile, educated, and competitive workforce.

 

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