This blog is excerpted from the Performance Matters Podcast. In this episode we welcome Alfred Remmits, CEO of Xprtise, who shares his international experiences of migrating organizations from training to performance.
Bob Mosher (BM): Welcome back to another Performance Matters podcast, this is our Experience Matters podcast—which is by far our most popular—and this time we have Alfred Remmits with us.
Alfred, welcome! Great to have you here.
Alfred Remmits (AR): Wonderful, Bob. Really look forward to this all.
BM: Let’s get right to this. The world is in a very precarious scenario. We all know this. L&D has been thrust into the limelight in some powerful and remarkable ways. And I think presented with opportunities it’s fought for, or wanted to have, in the past but at the same time I think it’s exposed some anxiousness in their deliverables. Why do you think and feel that workflow learning and Five Moments in particular, in the world we are in today, is really the important shift that L&D needs to make right now?
AR: You know, I think that COVID was just a trigger. It was helping us to do something that was needed already for a long time. I’ve been working and trying to deal with some large organizations in The Netherlands. A great example is the Dutch Police. I’ve been talking with them for five years—they always like what I told them. They would say, “Alfred, your vision and the approach of the Five Moments of Need is something that is really appealing to us, but we don’t have the time because we’re so busy with our classroom training and eLearning. Everybody is fully booked.” And while they like the story, nothing happened.
And then COVID hits and last April I get a call from them saying, “Alfred, our classrooms are empty now. We don’t have anything to do at this moment. So now it’s the time to talk about something different.” COVID was just the trigger. And that’s a big problem, in the world of L&D we are so focused on what we have done for the past twenty-five years. We are so proud about what we have achieved with our classroom trainings and with our beautiful eLearning. But it’s not about what we are about.
Those traditional training methods are not about impact. They are not about results.
COVID was also a trigger here—it was seen that moving from classroom training to a virtual classroom was not enough, they didn’t see any different impact coming out of that.
I think the other element is the whole trend of getting so much information coming at us.
I think, Bob, you know the same person that told us that in a hospital you can now send someone to training every week because there’s so much change in the rules, in the medicines, in the equipment, in the compliance, that people just can’t keep up with that. And you can’t train your way out of it because you don’t have enough time to train it and because once you have created it, it’s already outdated.
Additionally, I was with the manager of a large trucking company, and he launched an eLearning course and said to me, “Alfred, I launched it three weeks ago and now I have to take it back because there are two things that are not correct anymore. I have to go to my vendor, change it, it cost me ten thousand more dollars, and I know that within six months I’ll have to go back two more times because there will be more changes.”
So, there’s not a single format anymore that is the solution for every problem that we have. We need different approaches and different tools.
BM: Brilliant. Yeah, my two favorite words that I’ve heard are, “acceleration” and “opportunity.” And this is an opportunity—the opportunity to have new conversations, and because of the rawness of the situation - the performance need of our learners, we’re finally able to accelerate ideas like this. I think we have a more receptive buyer and learner, if you will, than we have ever had before.
I love the police example, Alfred. And what I love about your work and admire about it is, this was not a COVID-related shift for you. This has been a lifelong shift for you. You have been doing this successfully for years.
One of our favorite things for listeners to hear are those examples.
With that, can you go into a couple of the remarkable outcomes you’ve seen in the shift to 5 Moments and workflow learning? COVID aside—but COVID may be one of them—but what’s worked for you and what have you seen work?
AR: One of our most interesting companies is a consumer brand company. It’s one of the largest brands in the world and the gentleman that runs their supply chain learning academy approached me about three years ago and he said, “Alfred, I love your whole story about workflow learning, performance support and so on, but all the examples that I see are examples of projects for white-collar workers. It’s supporting sales, marketing people, supporting call centers, it’s supporting the finance department, and I’m not in that world. I’m in the world of people who get their hands dirty, people that work at the machines in the factory. my dream,” and that’s what he said, “my dream and my legacy should be performance support for blue-collar workers.”
And we started to create a solution for one of their factories where they saw the numbers for the operational efficiency of that factory change over time on the machines. All those KPIs were trending in the wrong direction. They had an older crowd there. People were about to retire. They brought in new people and, “How do we onboard them and keep the knowledge in that organization?”
And they created a solution, a workflow learning solution supporting the operators, the machine operators at the machine at the factory level, at the plant level, and after six months they saw the needle moving into the right direction. More product coming off the machines, less downtime of the machines, faster changeover time of the machines.
Now those are impact numbers.
He went to the supply chain leaders of that organization, showed them the numbers and that was the moment where he became proud.
He said, “Alfred, I can now present something to my leadership where I have moved the needle in the most important area of my company. That is the production numbers—the efficiency.”
And that was a huge, huge success. I think that is one of the stories that I’m proud of, that we moved from a very traditional approach in the white-collar workers into a completely different area.
I think my second story is a more recent one and is the COVID solution we built with the largest hospital in The Netherlands. We were doing five projects based on the Five Moments of Need, training seventeen of their L&D professionals, and they were each working in groups of three, four people on a project.
And then—I will never forget it—because I flew back from the U.S. that Friday. I think it was Friday, March 13th. I flew back on one of the last flights out of the U.S. and we got a and the woman says, “Alfred, we need to stop every project that we are working on based on the Five Moments of Need. But we want to work with your team on a very focused solution to be ready in nine days —Monday the 23 for our intensive care department. We need to onboard many of our people to work only the intensive care department because we will have a huge inflow of COVID-19 patients.”
I believe it even may have been still called Corona at that time, but she saw that happening.
In nine days, together with their L&D team, we built and created a full solution to support nurses, doctors, and everybody on that intensive care department that was supporting COVID-19 patients. And what they did very well is that they said, “Alfred, we have created it. Now we want to give it to every other hospital in The Netherlands for free.”
And that’s how we saw our solution going into the intensive care departments of Dutch hospitals. And it’s even used in one of hospitals in the US —St. Vincent in Erie, Pennsylvania—as the solution to treat COVID-19 patients.
BM: Brilliant. ROI, right? Those are both examples of ROI and if you had developed training in that amount of time, which you couldn’t have, and to your point earlier—it wouldn’t have been current.
The only way was to put it in the workflow, and darn it, they learned. They performed. They schooled up in the Moment of Apply. We put such little faith in learners’ ability, even in critical scenarios like you described—expensive machinery or peoples’ lives—that you can training there but in a way that people adjust.
Listen to the full episode for Bob and Alfred’s full discussion.
About Alfred Remmits
Alfred is the CEO of Xprtise and focused on assisting learning organizations transition from traditional classroom training and learning to more innovative solutions based on the 5 Moments of Need. He delivers results based on clear improvements in the ROI of the organizations’ learning investments.
“I am convinced that we really need to refocus on the non-formal side of learning, instead of wasting most of our investments (the literature talks about 60-70% scrap-learning or waste) on traditional classroom training or conventional e-learning. In the past 10 years I have been focused on building Performance Support Solutions that have really shown increase in the performance of the employees of the companies where I have deployed these solutions. After deploying over 1000 Performance Support projects for large and mid-sized companies all over the world, I can truly state that a ‘True Performance Support Solution’ will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your overall learning investments!”
Beyond Alfred’s focus on implementing Performance Support solutions, he has also been very involved in the Learning ROI evaluation and Measurement discussions.