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Learn2’s Drive the Flow Process & Workflow Improvement training program wins a Talent Development Excellence Award for being the Best

The Goal

Provide an enterprise-wide solution designed to improve workflow and increase efficiencies within the financial institution business units.

The Solution

Learn2’s 8 step Needs Impact Identifier has the important first step – understanding the current situation at the financial institution. Learn2’s instructional designers created an analysis framework for observing process flows in key departments, from the Mortgage Process Centre to the Customer Service Group.

From the analysis, and consultation with key the financial institution representatives, Learn2 created a custom experiential training program for the financial institution: Drive the Flow.

Learn2’s Drive the Flow experience delivers tools and methodologies that empower staff to anticipate and solve workflow and process challenges before they arise. The program focuses on key improvement concepts: defining workflow, determining measurements, dissecting workflow, developing improvements, and demonstrating improved workflow.

To test the program a competitive pilot was held with key the financial institution representatives and select staff.

The Results

After a competitive pilot process the financial institution selected Learn2’s Drive the Flow for national implementation in both English and French. This program achieved a 2100$ return on investment at the end of the first project completed. Many participants completed 4 projects in their first 90 days. There was no comparison or competition at that point.

The financial institution achieves its intended outcomes by including participants who are responsible for workflow innovations, process efficiencies and cumulative company savings. The ongoing evaluation process tracks results for ROI measurement. 91% of participants said Drive the Flow transformed their skills, attitudes, or perceptions.

Learn2’s Drive the Flow was awarded the Best Talent Development Training Program by the Institute for Performance and Learning.

What financial institution participants say about their Experience:

“Since I have thousands of items to be “processed” worth millions of dollars, I will be better prepared to streamline process, increase revenues, and decrease costs.”

“Actual hands on activities were quite beneficial: less quick fixes, more long term solutions to increasing customer and employee satisfaction.”

“Seeing how smart efficiencies can influence the end result in a big way.”

Background

A financial institution’s Operations group needs to process the bank’s daily transactions, quickly, and with a high level of accuracy. This function shifted to centralized regional processing facilities. The client faced the challenge of improving workflow with fewer available resources. The client wanted operations managers and team leaders to improve their ability to innovate; by identifying, assessing, and implementing initiatives. The client wanted to empower their employees and engage them in reducing the time and resources required to process transactions. The client also required the service operations to meet their service partner agreements with the individual bank branches and departments.

Learn2 was given the opportunity to develop and design a workflow improvement program. After an extensive needs analysis, in combination with research and evaluation, the pilot program Learn2 Drive the Flow received the privilege of national implementation.

How does this Process and Workflow Improvement Program deliver Results?

Learn2 Drive the Flow™ provides tools and methodologies which enable participants to predict and solve workflow and process challenges before they arise. In this experience, participants apply the tools they learn and practice managing workflow in an environment simulating the challenges of their work place.

The hands-on activities enable participants to improve workflow and address the real issues causing workflow challenges. The experience allows multiple opportunities to test and validate workflow management concepts. Through the process of discovery, participants address workflow challenges by defining, measuring, analyzing, and improving workflow in a number of simulated activities.

The Learn2 Drive the Flow™ experience started with participants receiving a letter from the President of the client welcoming them and expressing the client’s commitment to developing a culture of continuous process improvement. The President’s letter reinforced the commitment to learning and set a powerful context of empowering employees to take initiative. Participants also received a description of the program and pre-experience reading focused on workflow management within the financial services industry, reinforcing the competitive need to adopt new approaches to improving performance and workflow.

Insight - Avoid hiring consultants. Instead build the capability in your leaders and teams. You reap ongoing returns on your investment. That CEO could have more easily hired Deloitte to restructure the work. Except that would have left employees disrupted and disengaged. And cost millions. Instead he achieved two things with one investment - he built the culture he wants and invested in their long-term ability to achieve results.

Upon arrival, participants entered the Learn2 Drive the Flow™ work optimization environment - themed as a racing track. Bright orange pylons marked the approach and entrance to the room, checkered racing flags draped the edges of the tables, and energetic music radiated throughout the room. The music played in the background during exercises and tied into the themes and metaphors of a high-performance team. Participants joined their Pit Crew of 3-4 members. Managers from a variety of centers were intentionally mixed together to increase the diversity of perspectives, opportunities for innovation, and integration across business units.

The Managers were faced with internal challenges daily and were held accountable for the processing of tasks measured to the second, minutes at most. They moved constantly within their work environment, which meant that our program design needed to actively involve the Managers in the learning.

Learn2’s Workflow Improvement Program design is primarily participant-driven and interactive, to best reflect the participants’ hands-on work environment. The facilitator guided participants through the experience adding clarification and content, as necessary, always drawing from the participant’s expertise and experience, allowing them to identify change initiatives for meaningful and impactful results.

 Learn2 Drive the Flow™ develops a learning environment with a relevant performance context by creating and reinforcing “realistic” application exercises. The resulting design centres on experiential learning, where all materials and workflow improvements best reflect the participants’ current working conditions.

After completing the two-day in-class experience, each participant defined and committed to a workflow challenge improvement and became personally responsible for impact identifiers and implementation. Participants built a grounded business case based on data for workflow improvement and presented their business case to their manager for approval and implementation. The improvements measured savings in terms of increased revenues, reduced revenue leakage, reduced costs, improved workflow and a variety of other exercise-specific measures.

Participants selected and defined their own improvement initiatives, creating a wide variety and depth of improvements to achieve the bank’s efficiency targets. The projects ensure participants understand and practice implementing change. Long-term impact continued as participants took full ownership of their projects. An exponential effect occurred as participants uncovered additional improvement opportunities and garnered further support for innovating and improving aspects of their work environment, especially when successes were reinforced in their quarterly review.

Original Thinking

Participants in Learn2 Drive the Flow™ commented frequently on the difference between the program and their expectations. Rarely do participants expect a learning program to be so hands-on and enjoyable. Even those who heard about the program from coworkers found the practice and application sessions engaged them in a team and deepened their skills as individual contributors. Most couldn’t imagine a more interactive and active environment than their actual workplace. Yet, this action-oriented program took participants on a thought-provoking, high-speed race against the internal barriers to top performance when managing and improving workflow.

Both Learn2 and the client searched for an existing workflow management course or program that delivered the requisite skills and transformed the participants relationship to innovating workflow within their environment. Both organizations searched in vain. So Learn2 designed the experience to focus on strengthening service and operations efficiency, while encouraging innovation and workflow improvement at every level of the organization. The national impact continued to accelerate during the roll-out across service operations and created over 100 internal change agents across the client.

Learn2 developed a completely-tailored program specifically addressing the needs of service operations. Two consultants invested days in shadowing operations employees to collect front-line data on the business units. Observation, research and data mining gave tremendous insights into how the target population functioned in their roles, predicted volume levels, and peak resource requirements within their operations. Learn2 piloted four programs, and after each program the participant feedback and innovations were fed-back into the design prior to the national roll-out.

Brilliant Design

Learn2 Drive the Flow™ empowers a shift in the culture of the service operations environment, by reinforcing the personal responsibility of the participant in addressing the following outcomes: workflow, project management, forecasting and planning, resource allocation, process mapping, reinforcing loops, culture and team, creating context, leadership, and innovation.

To identify these learning objectives, Learn2 conducted a thorough needs impact identifier with Learning Services including service and operations vice-presidents, managers, and front-line staff. The needs impact identifier uncovered: the purpose of the learning initiative, the target population (participants), learning objectives, any prior learning, available resources, identifies potential constraints hindering the learning, follow-up strategies to increase workplace application and how the sponsors evaluate the success of the program. The information provided both the client and Learn2 with a well-rounded view of the necessary program requirements to produce the business objectives.

Using traditional transmission and transactional training design approaches would normally require three to five days of the participants’ time away from work to achieve the same outcomes. In the case of the service operations employees, this was an unrealistic expectation, and not feasible due to resource constraints. So interactive learning balanced the cost of time off the job and the benefits of learning experience. The result: an intense 2-day experience with lasting impact.

Immersion. Research shows adults learn best in an immersive experience and they are more likely to apply the learning in their day-to-day environment. Given the target population and their work environment, this formed the foundation of the program design.

Responsibility. The facilitators hold the participants responsible to apply their learning during this engaging work effectiveness program. Participants determine the insights inside the experience and how they can apply them to their work environment. The experience empowers participants identify initiatives to impact their challenges. Participants discover they can solve their own challenges with a self-governed solution to best satisfy the need.

Participant-focused. Rather than focusing on the facilitator, the program places the participants at the centre of the learning. Individuals and team members manage resources, and improve actual workflow situations. The interactive nature of the program remains even during debriefs and applications where participants generate what they learn and communicate how to apply it.

Relevant. Participants bring their life and their work into the experience with them. The experience and outcomes relate to the challenges they face back at work. Participants create practices and projects to implementing insights they uncover, which means their learning relates back to their real-life.

Empowerment. The outcomes of proven process improvement best practices provide participants with tools and methods, not theories and models. Now participants establish solutions using their own resources and creativity. They leave with their skills enhanced and validated, with a renewed confidence and clarity to implement innovations in workflow and beyond.

Team. Most employees try to do everything on their own. Making requests and involving others never occurs to them, particularly in a problem situation. They believe they need to do it all. In this program, participants learn to see “team” as a powerful resource and how to cause a team. They experience this - rather than being told it by the facilitator. This approach respects the way adults learn.

Acknowledgement. The program encourages and rewards innovation. Acknowledgement of participant effort and appreciation of innovative solutions provide a positive foundation for learning and achievement. The behaviours reinforce the clients’ desired culture.

Impact and Evaluation

Level 1 - Reaction. Each participant evaluated the program and facilitator(s) in the days following the experience. Participants rated the program on the outcomes they received and how they could apply the learning to improve their current performance. The summary of the written comments and numeric ratings are received by Learning Services and Learn2. Learn2 implements any innovations and improvements during the program closing meeting.

Level 2 - Learning. At the end of a module, a reinforcing debrief identifies what the participants learned and how they applied it in their work environment. Participants took their newly acquired skill-set and immediately put it to use by assessing operations, generating initiatives and implementing innovations. Managers and teammates immediately witness participants’ revived abilities and skills.

Level 3 - Transfer. During the application exercise, participants determined specific actions to apply the learning. Each individual determined the viability of their proposed initiative and refined the project prior to proceeding. Participants took responsibility for ensuring the project gets completed. The learning and knowledge retention was held in the individual’s ability to perform the impact indentifier of their team’s workflow and implement their improvements.

Level 4 - Impact. The lasting impact of the program goes beyond the participants. The organization clearly benefited as well. To measure the impact of their projects, the participants reported back their annual savings and qualitative improvements achieved during a 120-day follow-up coaching cycle. The application exercise required the submission of a grounded business case that measured savings for the purpose of impact identifier. One participant of Learn2 Drive the Flow™ implemented an innovation which achieved an ROI of 900% when measured against the cost of attending the 2-day development program. At the end of the first project, an incredible 21000% ROI was achieved yet we report it as 2100% because no one wanted to believe that the employees could create that amount of value in such a short time. And many participants had already completed their 4th projects. Multiple participants got promoted for showing innovation and leadership toward results.

Communication

The Participant Workbook and Facilitator Manual are communication platforms for the Learn2 Drive the Flow™ experience.

Supplemental handouts related to projects and insights of previous participants supported a consistent message nationally. For example, participants created a list of 26 words describing quick fixes and long-term solutions – their own language. Further, successful implementations are recognized and shared to create momentum and inspiration. Given the pace and intensity of the learning experience, participants also received time and results tracking sheets for various exercises.

The participants developed a common “shop-talk” to use throughout the program and in their work. The participants create a common vocabulary using army men to illustrate the meaning of the specific words like bottleneck, capacity and backlog. The Participant Manual includes blank copies of tools and methodologies copies of reusable forms, application exercise guidelines, and reporting templates for easy reference.

Packaging

Beyond the welcome letter and materials and the room setup, the learning experience, itself, received the benefits of packaging. The Learn2 staging department created themed music for the start, breaks, lunch and army-themed music for the shop-talk exercise and race themed music for the workflow improvement exercises. The music kept the energy level high in an intense two full days.

The music follows the theme and so does the facilitator. The facilitator wore pit crew coveralls and camouflage clothing during elements of the experience. The participants appreciate the commitment of the facilitator to create a themed learning environment and to connect with them personally.

Imagine arriving on site for the first day, the corridors lined with signage and props. A pathway, edged with rows of black and white checkered flags and orange pylons leading you to the fully themed room where the experience takes place. This creates an immediate context for “this is not just your average learning experience”. You enter the room where racecar crews are formed, named, and develop expectations of the program, as well as commitment to being responsible for their learning. Racecar themed music plays in the background, and checkered flags line the room and dress the edges of the tables. Tables are pre-assigned for the Pit Crew members, with stopwatches, binders and pencils already in place. Participants quickly realize this day of learning will be much different than any other they are used to, which immediately captures their attention. This investment in the learning environment is worthwhile, as participants establish a positive frame-of-mind and accept new tools and methods quickly. Let the race begin!

As the experience begins, the walls inside the room become covered with images, illustrations, tables, and charts of their learning and results. The charts continue to reinforce the importance of using visual elements to increase impact, and serves as a quick reference for participants so they rely less on the facilitator. Reference material and application exercises in the binders allow the participants to make notes and take insights back to their workplace for continuous use. All resource materials used in this Process Improvement Process mirror the resources available to them for long-term improvements.

Multiple packages of Lego pieces placed on each table represent the hands-on tasks, which the service operations division relates to on a daily basis. Participants remain captivated by the progressive series of activities in Learn2 Drive the Flow™ as they start to build a small Lego racecars and notice the parallels to their work environment. The timed exercises and use of stop watches for group and individual activities make it easy to build in time constraints, and the development of grounded assumptions and actions, which mirror the job functions. Further, these resources keep participants engaged, uninhibited, and focused on being involved.

Continuous Performance Improvement

Participant. Participants left the Process Improvement experience ready to take charge. They acquired skills and learnt techniques which enabled them to evaluate and plan using grounded impact identifier. Each person left the program with their application exercise and immediately applied their new skills. 30, 60, 90, and 120-day coaching checkpoints supported the application exercise. Results were reported back to the client on an ongoing basis.

Participants seeked past the barriers and approach them in a new way. The workflow improvement program simply focused on both learning new skills to benefit the client AND skills to empower participants throughout their life. Participants reported a new appreciation of how to work effectively with others to achieve innovations.

Managers. The managers reported participants returned to the work environment with a greater sense of empowerment, and commitment to address workflow and other situations. Managers also reported challenges were reframed as opportunities for employees to exercise their ability to operate creatively. Plus, participants actively encouraged other team members to attend the program. The largest outcome remained the positive reinforcing loop – where a participant innovates an aspect of the larger organization, gets recognized and rewarded for the innovation and looks for other opportunities. Culture, in the end, was transformed.

Before you walk away, here are some things you can do to take action:

  1. If you are eager to learn more about how Learn2 can transform your leaders and team, book a 45 minute with Doug Bolger, our Chief Learning Officer to talk about your business objectives.
  1. If you already know that Learn2 is a good choice for your business and would like to book a 45 minute appointment with a strategist, send an email to Amy@Learn2.com who will coordinate your meeting.
  1. If you would like to know more about Learn2 and see a few of our solutions, click here now.
  2. If you would like to speak with someone right away, call our Learn2 Hotline at 877-4LEARN2 x 229.
  3. If you would like to run this Improvement and Engagement program in your company or in your geographic area - get certified. Contact Tammy@Learn2.com.

More about Learn2’s Other Award-Winning Training Programs

Learn2 has received numerous awards for its various talent development programs, initiatives and industry impact. View the full list.