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Learning Strategy

What leaders can learn about change from Netflix, Duolingo and Strava

Over the past decade, technology has transformed the way we live; our watches are changing our health patterns, apps on our phone are changing our mindset, they’re changing how we learn languages, how we ride cabs, how we pay for our coffee and how we heat our homes.

Products like Netflix, Strava, and Duolingo help us form healthy habits by staying with us wherever we are, offering stimulating and relevant content, connecting us socially and inspiring us to take daily action. These tools have driven effective behaviour change.

But in the corporate world, where behaviour change is one of our most pressing priorities, we’ve failed to harness the power of this disruptive technology. Our go-to corporate change strategies are stuck in the past.

But the factors that make today’s consumer technology products effective can help us change behaviours in the corporate world too.

Here are the four key ingredients you need to make change happen.

1. Content should be with you wherever you are

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the increasing prominence of the lonely Learning Management System and Massive Open Online Courses. Both of these tools serve a purpose; they can play host to brilliant content, but they’re limited in their effectiveness because time-poor teams can’t access content or advice when they need it. Their lack of effectiveness is proven by a University of Pennsylvania study which observed less than a 5% completion rate for MOOCs.

So what do our consumer technology peers have in common? They’re all mobile first. And according to the ADP Research Institute, 85% of learners say they are excited about ‘using technology to learn anything, anytime, anywhere’ — your teams are primed to embrace mobile learning.

50% of activity on the Hive Learning platform happens outside office hours and on mobile devices. But of course it’s not practical to suggest that your teams should only be able to access learning content on their mobiles. So we’ve followed Netflix’s example and created a multi-platform solution that learners can access via the device that’s most appropriate for them at their point of need. We recommend you do too.

2. Create intelligent content that adapts to learners’ needs

Whether it’s alone, in-person, or online, your content must be engaging to have a tangible impact. Intelligent content must live, breathe, adapt and inspire. The key to creating content that adapts to learners’ ever-changing needs is not to rely on one type of content alone.

If we take Duolingo as an example — proven to be 60% more effective than its competitors — they offer a variety of interactive content types. At work, that means combining structured learning pathways with intelligent multimedia content, connecting learners with what’s relevant.

Learner-generated content can be a powerful tool too. A study on the Hive Learning platform found that those who post content — whether it’s sharing a podcast they’ve listened to or a TED Talk they’ve enjoyed — are 30% more active and engaged in learning material than those who passively consume content.

Empowering learners to share knowledge not only helps implicit knowledge become explicit, it helps learners form deep connections with learning content too. When we each begin to own learning content, we start to lay down roots for a culture of continuous learning.

3. Learning should be socially connected

When it comes to forming habits influenced by social connections, Strava are the masters. Not only does the product provide instant gratification because interactions with other users are stimulating, and bring them back to the app, but the social networking aspect of their product helps users be better; when users publish practical information about their workouts, they improve the experiences of others.

The same can be true of social learning experiences. Author of Building Successful Communities of Practice, Emily Webber summarises the potential well;

”From silos, to sharing knowledge, to solving shared problems, to using the collective community to create better practices.”

Better practices don’t just mean doing the basics right; when it comes to business growth, collaboration equals innovation. Improving learning across teams increases the likelihood of stakeholders meeting their objectives from 10% to 100%, according to IBM’s Smarter Workforce Study.

And there’s proof this works too. When we looked at the most active users in a cohort on the Hive Learning platform, we found that when users were socially connected with just 8 others, they were 10 times more likely to regularly return to the platform and begin to form a daily learning habit.

4. Inspire daily action

Whether it’s their accessibility, the stimulation from rich content or the pull of social and positive reinforcement from connections, all of today’s habit-forming consumer products share an ability to inspire daily action.

BJ Fogg’s theory of tiny habits gives us a good understanding of why, succinctly summarised by Quartz’s Lila MacLellan:

“To create a real lifelong habit, the focus should be on training your brain to succeed at small adjustments, then gaining confidence from that success. To do that, one needs to design behavior changes that are both easy to do and can be seamlessly slipped into your existing routine. Aim for automaticity.”

Whatever learning tools you decide to choose, learning must be rich and built around continual action to embed real behaviour change.

Evidence suggests combining these four factors produces at least 50% better results

In their ambitions to build the workforce of the future, creating a culture of habitual learning and ensuring strong knowledge retention is crucial for our client Arch Apprentices.

We worked with the Arch Apprentices team to run a controlled experiment on students learning some core principles and practices of marketing. We measured how well students retained classroom learning with, and without, Hive Learning’s digital platform combining intelligent content with a group-centred experience.

One group of learners had access to course content, the course trainer and each other before, during and after their classroom session via a Hive Learning group which combined all of the four key ingredients. 8 weeks later we tested them blind and unannounced on what they could apply from the training programme. Similarly, we tested a second group who had experienced just the classroom session (but with the same content and trainer).

The numbers speak for themselves:

The group with Hive Learning access had 1.5X better learning retention.

So what are the lessons we can learn from Netflix, Strava, Duolingo and the like for how to drive change? Combine intelligent content with a group-centred social experience. Make sure that learning content goes with you wherever you are. And most importantly, find a way to inspire daily action.

If you want to find out more about how we’ve driven behaviour change for more than 40 forward-thinking organisations or simply want to learn more about how to put our formula for behaviour change into practice, get in touch:

angus.mccarey@hivelearning.com /peter.blackburn@hivelearning.com.

You can also join one of our Open Hives to access great content from acclaimed journalist in the science of high performance, Matthew Syed, and Hive Learning founder, Sir Clive Woodward.

What leaders can learn about change from Netflix, Duolingo and Strava

You can also join one of our Open Hives to access great content from acclaimed journalist in the science of high performance, Matthew Syed, and Hive Learning founder, Sir Clive Woodward.

Click here to access Open Hives

Angus McCarey (he/him) Chief Executive

Angus joined Hive Learning as Chief Executive in 2015. After working in strategic consulting at Bain & Company, Angus took on a variety of roles directing marketing and customer experience at eBay, before taking the helm as Chief Marketing Officer at Graze.com during their rapid international expansion.

Angus brings a wealth of experience in helping both enterprise and scale-up organisations embed the behaviors, mindsets and customer experience critical for growth, with both a commercial and experiential edge. At Hive Learning, Angus lives his passion for helping millions of people grow their skills together everyday.