I was getting ready to attend a three-day, in-person class when COVID stopped all travel and classroom training at Accenture.

What happened next became a ‘trial by fire’ that tested the new ways of learning we have been developing. Since then, our clients have been going through the same types of dramatic changes, all at an unimaginable pace.

Our research, put to the test

We wanted to continue with the training. However, this course required a level of dedication and interaction that was thought to only be possible in a classroom. Now, we needed to make it work with virtual sessions that would be conducted over several weeks.

Simple, right? I was reminded that what works in person does not necessarily work virtually. The experience matters. People on video all day for work were now trying to network and collaborate in a virtual class, which created incredible fatigue for learners. The elongated schedule was challenging for executives to prioritize, and the lead facilitator faced new obstacles to engage learners and keep them motivated to share.

Fortunately, Accenture has spent the last few years working with leading universities to figure out what makes learning ‘stick.’ Our Durable Learning framework infuses modern neuroscience and leading-edge technologies into our learner experience, guiding decision-making.

So, we knew how to evaluate the new virtual format to make sure that it would work. We adjusted to address shortcomings as we redesigned the training on the fly.

Helping our clients transform as well

We’re rapidly shifting massive organizations, including our own 513,000 employees, so we know the challenges of making this shift at scale. I was pleased to see Accenture recognized as a Leader on the inaugural Everest Group Learning Services PEAK Matrix Assessment 2020. Everest said we have “taken significant strides in helping clients achieve digital transformation and personalization of their learning activities to employee needs.” Having this experience has made a big difference for our clients and ourselves.

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Everest Group Learning Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2020

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It helps that we have already developed a digital learning foundation on which to build. As Everest wrote, Accenture “helps clients reskill/upskill their workforce through its Future Talent Platform (FTP) and Accenture Academy solution. Through these platforms, it helps organizations offer on-demand, personalized, and up-to-date skill development opportunities to employees.”

Everest also noted, Accenture “offers a broad range of learning services spanning learning consulting, content creation, and delivery to learning administration to its clients as part of its broader BPS” (business process services).

To really help clients change how they operate, we deliver across an entire business process, i.e., not just learning, but also performance management and competencies to define the right roadmap for the future. We use analytics and artificial intelligence to help define that roadmap, drive decisions and spend, and showcase impact. What we’re driving towards is not a dashboard, but using that information and tying it back to what our clients are trying to achieve.

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Accenture “offers a broad range of learning services spanning learning consulting, content creation, and delivery to learning administration to its clients as part of its broader BPS”

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Learning in the 'Never Normal'

So, how did our course turn out?

It wasn’t what I wanted or preferred. I’m a ‘win others over’ kind of person. I embrace in-person for the side-bar discussions and new connections with smart, innovative people. I had to truly ‘show up’ and participate just like I’d do in the classroom. I had to raise my virtual hand, come off mute and share my experiences.

The design team had to work hard to quickly pull together this new virtual class. And, our Durable Learning framework led us in making virtual moments meaningful. In the end, our attendees had a truly remarkable virtual experience. With the right design, creativity and innovative thinking – we got this.

What have you been doing to adapt to the ‘new normal?’ I’d like to hear from you.

Patricia Robinson

Global Lead – Learning BPS

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