|Sixty learning & development (L&D) executives representing major pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies attended the 2nd Annual LTEN Learning Executive Forum in Boston on Nov. 29, 2018, to discuss the role of L&D in an environment filled with constant and rapid change.
The agenda, which included research-based presentations, an immersive learning experience, roundtable discussions and a panel Q&A session, provided learning executives with the rare opportunity to connect, exchange ideas, and learn from their colleagues. This article summarizes key concepts that emerged from the day.
A Paradigm Shift to Learning in the Flow of Work
Josh Bersin, the keynote speaker and a world-known industry analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte presented compelling research on how the new world of “learning in the flow of work” is revolutionizing the world of L&D. “Learning in the flow of work” involves providing employees with brief and relevant learning experiences that they can easily access during their work day.
This paradigm shift is critical because research has found that other than salary, the ability to stay current is the primary reason that people remain in their jobs. Employees who spend time learning are less stressed, happier, and perform better at work. The paradox is that employees only have 24 minutes per week to devote to learning. Consequently, to satisfy this need for continuous learning – which translates to retaining employees – L&D needs to adopt new ways of providing learning experiences.
What does this new world of continuous learning look like? This model requires companies to anticipate what employees need to know and provide it as microlearning on a multitude of platforms and tools (e.g., Slack, YouTube, LinkedIn, Office 365 and SalesForce) that are regularly used throughout the day, so the information is quick and easy to access. Some vendors are adopting the Netflix model and define learning as a series of playlists or content channels. They publish content and companies can subscribe to channels or interest areas. The content is promoted and recommended, sometimes by AI, to employees based on their job responsibilities and previous learning interests and history.
Note that this new paradigm does not dismiss the need for formal, structured macrolearning. In fact, it’s critical to provide a mixture of both. Macrolearning provides needed value during certain points of a career, such as during onboarding or transition to a new job or role while microlearning supports performance.
The challenge with providing learning in the flow of work in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries is how to incorporate the use of a variety of platforms in such a heavily regulated field where all content needs to be formally vetted and approved by medical, legal, and regulatory departments.
Future Technology Trends in Life Sciences Training
The fast-paced evolution and the emergence of new technology raises significant questions for L&D professionals such as how can technology enhance learning, which technologies warrant investment, and which pedagogies provide the most value?LTEN is partnering with Pennsylvania State University to create a foundation of peer-generated and reviewed research focusing on the technology and its impact on education and training in life sciences. The LTEN Seminal Study: Current State and Future Trends of Technology in Life Science Education which is being conducted by William Magagna, Vice President Virtual Education Solutions, Siemens Healthineers, and Nicole Wang, a graduate student at Penn State University uses survey-based research to address three key questions:
Preliminary results indicate:
Regarding technology and its impact on the future, respondents corroborate Bersin’s vision of L&D becoming a content curator rather than a content developer.
The technologies that respondents perceive as having transformative near-term potential were artificial/collective/machine intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, and virtual simulation tools. Respondents also identified the impact of social connectivity, and making learning relevant, interesting, engaging, connected, and easily accessible, self-driven, and fun.
Immersive Learning Experiences Ignite Passion
The virtual reality and virtual simulation tools mentioned by Penn State Study respondents are already transforming UCB, where they use technology to create immersive learning experiences that bring the patient experience to life.
With access to HCPs becoming increasingly more difficult in a highly competitive marketplace, a motivated and passionate sales force becomes a must. UCB recognizes that giving sales representatives the opportunity to experience the journey of patients and their families first-hand increases their passion which, in turn, motivates them to work harder for the good of the patient. With great success, Lisa Lukawski, Associate Director of Performance Training at UCB, uses immersive training experiences that leverage multi-media technology and sensory experiences to share true experiences of real-life patients and their families, caregivers, and healthcare providers.
UCB recreated two realistic environments of patients:
By combining these environments with video footage of interviews with the patient and family members, Lukawksi provides sales representatives with the opportunity to get to know the patients and their families in non-clinical settings. During these emotionally powerful experiences, the patients shed their clinical identities and become people with histories, interests and goals, and families. Sales representatives walk away from these experiences with a true appreciation for the challenges these patients and their families tackle each day. This understanding makes it easier for sales representatives to keep the patient in the forefront of their discussions with HCPs.
Virtual reality devices such as the Oculus can be used to capture these environments, thus allowing them to easily be transported to various locations and used repeatedly.
“We want the sale force to understand what the patient is dealing with so that when they get shut down during a selling situation, they can be passionate about the “why” behind what they are doing.” Lisa Lukawski, Associate Director of Performance Training, UCB
Building an immersive learning experience requires extensive planning. The objectives and concept must be clearly defined. Dedicated partners who are comfortable working with patients, such as a production company, videographer, and set designer, must be found. Appropriate patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals must be identified and retained. Interviews must be conducted and videotaped, and sets must be built complete with appropriate props and multisensory experiences.
Round Table Discussions
A series of Round Table Discussions allowed learning executives to brainstorm and share strategies and best practices for a variety of topics. The lively discussions produced the valuable best practices listed below.
Q: How do you demonstrate and communicate the value of learning within your organization?
Responses are as follows:
Q: How do you manage decreasing budgets and increasing demands?
Responses are as follows:
Q: How do you evolve training to meet needs in a world filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity (VUCA)?
Q: How do you recruit, develop, and coach talent?
Conduct virtual training sessions; use field trainers and start them on low risk topics (e.g., Veeva)
Q: Preparing Account Managers for the Future
Q: Managing a Transition from Local to Global Learning Responsibilities
Organizations have varied reporting structures, cultural differences, and political and regulatory differences; must be aware of different rules and regulations regarding how role-plays and testing are done. Strategies:
The day ended with an interactive panel discussion that explored Leading Transformation in 2019. Panelists included Carol Wells, Senior Director, Commercial Medical Government Training & Development, Genentech; David Fortanbary, Head of US Performance Training, UCB; David Nguyen, Senior Director, Commercial Learning & Development, Gilead Sciences, and Megan Sullivan, Head of US Commercial Operations, Shire.
The dynamic discussion touched on several topics including a leader’s role during transformation, how to handle internal conflicts with Marketing, and how is time best spent during transformation.
Amy Fennick is senior instructional designer and medical writer for Informa Training Partners. Email Amy at AFennick@informatp.com.