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Building a Culture of Innovation

June 18th, 2015

Building a Culture of Innovation

Innovation is the main business buzzword nowadays. The world is becoming more volatile and complex. Technology is developing exponentially, and hardware and software are converging. Real innovation is more than just acting in response to a change; it is the ability to initiate change in the business environment to which other companies will have to respond. Successful organizations shape markets and create new consumer behaviours, and this may require pivoting into areas and business models outside their core. SAP invests in innovation beyond merely providing software solutions, it focuses on developing best practices and breakthrough technologies with capability to shape IT trends. Airbus opened a Silicon Valley startup and hired a Google executive to run it. Goldman Sachs is rebranding itself as a technology company; it has built a 9000 people IT division (almost the same size as the total headcount of Facebook, and three times the size of Twitter). Google is diversifying impressively fast. In allocated 36% of its 2014 venture capital investments into life science and healthcare technology startups, bought Nest for its thermostat technology, and recently created Sidewalk Labs, a smart city startup.

Apple’s case shows that innovation equals revenue. After 12 years of poor performance, Steve Jobs rejoined the company, which at that time needed funds of around $150 million to remain in business. This was challenging for Jobs but he never gave up; he used tactical approaches to solve the company’s problems and the end result of this was excellent comeback. As much as he used various approaches to improve performance of the company, most of the success was due to innovation. Apple’s revenue increased from US$ 8.2 billion in 2004 to US$ 182.8 billion in 2014.

Online retailer Zappos is facing ever increasing competition and has come up with various strategies to ensure it survives, key among them is innovation. The company is now taking a rather unusual step that it believes will set an innovative trend; shedding hierarchy. The company is now implementing a management system known as Holacracy, that encourages teams of workers and self-lead workers. Zappos’s profitability has been increasing over the years; $50 million for 2013, $54.5 million for 2014, and is projected at $97 million for 2015.

Google realized that the IT world is expanding and becoming increasingly competitive each day, and that the only way to lead is introducing new customer friendly products which is only possible through innovation. Google’s stock price has reached at least 900 percent of the initial 2004 IPO price. Its first quarter revenue for 2015 was $17.2 billion, a 12 percent increase in revenues year over year. The company doubled its headcount in the past two years (at the end of Q1 2015, it had 55,419 employees). To ensure continuous innovation Google taps employees and lets ideas percolate up. By creating an arena that enables people to collaborate seamlessly to innovate, Google is benefiting greatly.

As we have seen, innovation has a large positive impact on a company’s profitability, it helps create new products and services that clearly distinguish a company from competitors, and satisfy the ever changing customer needs. The only way to do it is to build a culture that every employee knows that it is not only the top executives, managers, or R&D people that are responsible for promoting innovation. Following are some ways that successful companies build that kind of mentality:

Focus on the Right Things

Social responsibility is a must do for modern companies. Studies show that nowadays companies can succeed only if they focus their business on solving social problems. Corporations are expected to have large societal influence because their social capital is believed to be a powerful tool for transforming local communities, countries, regions and even global industries. An example is Exxon Mobil that in early 2015 announced its plans to exit from extraction and production of non-renewable resources. Pfizer’s modern social investments are aimed at building healthcare capacity and providing access to medicines for individuals that need them the most. Microsoft is also participating through programs like Tech for Good that provides grants for nonprofit organizations and software donations, and YouthSpark that is targeted at creating entrepreneurship, education, computer science and employment opportunities for 0.3 billion young people globally.

Google’s top secret for success lies in focusing on users. Google takes great care when designing its products to ensure their products ultimately serve users, rather than its own bottom line or internal goal. Its crowdsourcing projects enable the company to understand what the users want, thereby, give them the best experience. For example, after carrying out intense research into mobile market and studying consumer expectations, Google’s has recently decided to include fingerprint support, deeper app linking, and simplified application data permissions in the upcoming Android version.

Hiring the Right People

Research shows that diversity of opinion drives innovation, and successful companies make it a goal to have a workforce more diverse than their client base. They are constantly focused on improving quality and diversity of hires they complete. Google, the company said to be “a self-replicating talent machine”, only hires the right candidates, and not the best available for a certain position. Recruitment is a part of everyone’s job; the company says that although they get approximately two million new resumes annually, they prefer referrals from current employees, because historically this has proved highly successful.

Google focuses on hiring “T-shaped” individuals, i.e. employees who not only have a depth of expertise in their field, but also a breadth of interests and experiences outside of it. The company has a potent screening process, focused on finding individuals who are ready to deal with big challenges, embrace change, and are skillful in different aspects. Besides the role-related expertise, personality, leadership, and the general cognitive ability are carefully assessed. All the points, notes and suggestions of interviewers are combined together as a report and sent to your company’s global hiring committee.

The Zappos hiring process is one of the most unique in the world today. The company trains its employees, and when the training is over, it offers $4,000 in addition to training fees for any trainee that would like to quit. This is an attempt to ensure only serious employees work for the company.

Companies like Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo or SAP invest in diversity strategically. Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, says that diversity is at the very core of the company’s ability to serve their clients and maximize return. PepsiCo states that one percentage point of its 7.4% revenue growth (US$250) can be attributed to new products inspired by diversity efforts, and thus it requires 50% of hires to be women and minorities. Software giant SAP uses diversity to drive innovation and eventually meet customer needs.

Hiring may be too lengthy and cumbersome, so acquiring a company with the right talent may be a more practical solution. Amazon, Google and Facebook are famous for their shopping sprees. Of late SAP has also made several acquisitions and partnered with other companies to help address the ever growing needs of their customers.

Empower Employees to be Corporate Entrepreneurs

Business complexity has made it important, but more difficult to encourage collaboration and initiative. The nature knowledge work has shifted from what existing data points to look for, and where to find them to how to identify novel and unprecedented insights from the exponentially increasing amount and complexity of information available at our fingerprints. As the world has evolved, white collar workers deal with increasingly adaptive challenges where existing expertise may no longer be an asset. These require attitudes of risk taking, resilience and agility, and corporate entrepreneurship, or “intrapreneurship” has become a buzzword.

Intrapreneurship could be defined as “emergent behavioural intentions and behaviours that are related to departures from the customary ways of doing business in existing organizations”. Developing innovation culture in an organization requires individual initiative. Creating conditions for employees to challenge the status quo is essential for success. These include psychological safety, encouraging risk taking, and tolerance to failure.

Google’s major success secret is building safety, transparency and empowering its employees. While this does not have to be revealing every single confidential detail, regular information sharing is a part of the company’s DNA. Google conducts a weekly TGIF (“Thanks Google it’s Friday”) meeting hosted by the company’s founders. Strategy, current R&D projects and HR initiatives are openly discussed. All employees are welcome to attend and ask questions about anything they think of (e.g. market trends, company’s future plans, employee compensation, management decisions). The Google founders role model the culture in their TGiF meetings;  besides business, they share personal stories and aspirations, and even joke about their own failures and idiosyncrasies. To encourage participation and lighten the atmosphere, drinks and food are provided. The meetings are recorded for those unable to attend.

Tolerating sustainable levels of risk is vital for nurturing innovation. Innovative companies invest in structures for people to allow initiative and risk taking through decoupling leadership (attitude and skill) from management (authority level and administrative function, e.g planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating and controlling). AriBnB reduced its rules to bare minimum, a strong message for employees that the company trusts their judgement. Line and Zappos introduced flat structures without management roles. Google and 3M have 20% rules in place 20% project rule in place, which means that any employee who meets performance expectations can spend up to 20% of their time on voluntary projects in different teams or functions.

Collaborate Globally

In the modern world innovation is taking place at an exponential pace. This implies that to create new and meaningful knowledge, the company may need broader partnerships. Ford Motors promotes innovation through both internal and external collaboration. The company has invested heavily in R&D and series of new products. It has great internal capability for innovation, but to excel it partnered with various universities across the world as well as software and hardware providers such as Google and Microsoft. The high innovation capabilities have enabled it come up with various products: alternative propulsion systems including plug-in hybrids, biofuels, and electric vehicles, as well as more conventional engines and gasoline engines with tremendous fuel economy; and, driver connect technologies like MyFord Touch and Ford SYNC which improve driving experience and reduce distraction. Another great enabler for innovation within the company is globalisation of the Ford Product Development System, where it revamped the old system that allowed each of its production groups in Asia, North America, Europe, and South America to innovate independently. This was time consuming and way too expensive. Because of the ever advancing level of technology, globalisation and changing customer needs innovation is a must do thing for modern companies that want to excel in business. The company’s innovation communities in the US comprise of experts from various disciplines in North America including salespeople, engineers, and developers. The company stimulates innovation through various ways key among them being formation of strategic partnerships. It welcomes anyone with an innovative idea to share it out so that both teams can work to turn it into a reality.

Conclusion

Innovation equals profit. It can help tackle multiple issues, including overcoming stagnated growth, creation of new markets, or new consumer behaviours. Innovation rewards both consumers and organizations; consumers get products that can better satisfy their needs, and organizations reduce production costs and increase revenue. Innovating should be the obvious behaviour of everyone in the company, whether specified in their job description or not. As discussed above, highly successful organizations share the same simple trends: they hire talented and diverse employees, focus them on inspiring goals, empower them to take risks, and partner globally.

Contributed by:

Piotr Feliks Grzywacz | Piotr@PronoiaGroup.com | PronoiaGroup.com

In my most recent corporate jobs, I was a learning and organisation development executive at Google and Morgan Stanley. I have over 15 years of experience in coaching senior executives and facilitating strategic organisational development interventions. My experience includes business partnering and relationship management, talent management, leadership development, innovation, change management and technical and functional competency development). I drove large-scale learning strategy and change management projects.

I never stop to learn. My education includes two Master degrees and a unfinished PhD in linguistics, three postgraduate degrees in management consulting, marketing & business administration, and public relations. I am working on my Doctorate of Business Administration in Management Consulting at Henley Business School, UK. I have several counselling and coaching certifications. I love learning languages, social studies, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and business. I interested in many things, my hobbies range from cooking to shark diving. 

Originally from Poland, I have lived and worked in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Japan. For the past fifteen years I have worked in Asia and the rest of the globe.  


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC. 

Training Should be Fun & Social and Just in Time

June 17th, 2015

Training Should be Fun & Social and Just in Time

It is 3.30 PM. In a large meeting room with only 1 window that looks at the cloudy skies outside, 20 people are seated, and 1 person is standing and looking at the screen while talking to them. Some are looking restless, few engaged, but all (including the person standing) wants to get out and continue the work they were on. You can imagine that meeting room to be in any part of the world. It’s perhaps in your own office, maybe you are sitting in that room right now. What is happening in that large meeting room is a training on a topic that is certainly relevant for the 20 people in the room, but unfortunately, the urgency of wanting to get stuff done tends to override the need and even desire to learn a better way of doing things. Trainings have become a thing that needs to be done, rather than a thing that people genuinely want to do.

We all understand the importance of learning new things, ideas and best practices to improve our overall performance and outlook. However, somewhere between that realisation and the actual training itself, the drive to learn is lost. There are many factors that come into play here – Organisational environment, Management’s view of training, Performance review processes, Training process and methodology, and of course the learner himself/herself.

With this backdrop, which I admit may have been painted gloomier than how things might actually be, there are other silver linings which have emerged:

1. In the past 5 years or so, we have seen platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and the likes see significant uptake and enrollments. This indicates a genuine interest in people wanting to learn new things. However, the one big difference is that it is self-initiated and it is at their own time and pace.

2. At the same time, over the last decade, we have seen how social conversations on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have dominated our time on the internet, and has transformed us into collaborators and co-creators of content. When you think of learning about something or getting an opinion – there are 2 sources: (i) Google, (ii) your social network. But where do people go when they want to learn or get an opinion on something related to work? Should they wait for the training to happen 3 months later in that large meeting room?

3. Most people in the developed and developing world will check their smartphone within 30 minutes of waking up. The mobile device is the go-to-place for anything today – your work, your play, your avoid-eye-contact-device, anything. Smartphone proliferation rates are through the roof and the expectation that there must an “App for that” is fast becoming the norm. Is the smartphone really smart and delivering any learning outcomes?

By now, you must have gotten the sense of where this is headed. Can we learn from these trends and make training a more self-initiated, social, at your time kind of a learning community. Don’t get me wrong – the large meeting room with 20 people in it has its advantages, and need not disappear completely. But without adding the characteristics highlighted below, we run the risk of low engagement and outcomes for our trainings.

Next Generation of Training

The dramatic changes in human behavior in the last decade has necessitated changes in our training methodology and delivery. The workshop style of training meets the objectives of building team rapport, communicating effectively face-to-face and get quick feedback and clarifications. However, the cost of delivering such fixed time and fixed place trainings in an increasingly work-from-the-airport-lounge world is high and many times not practical.

The trends highlighted above show us a path that can lead to trainings becoming more effective, engaging and meaningful. In my view, the next generation of training must be:

Social – Trainings have to move away from being a once a year event on a specific topic, to an ongoing learning community of relevant people who can share ideas, ask questions, discuss and update each other on the related topic. As an employee, you may be part of 4 or 5 or even more learning communities depending on your interest and area of work within the organisation. I might find the link to an article shared by my colleague in the community more meaningful than a 1 hour session of online or face-to-face learning.

These communities can be private to your organisation so all ideation and discussions are within the bounds of the company walls, so to speak. The biggest benefit of a social learning community is the presence of experts or senior management who can now be involved in an asynchronous way with your learning initiatives, and provide important feedback and direction in such communities. Besides being the de-facto mode of communication today, social style of learning breeds a collaborative approach that is beneficial for all learners within the organisation.

Experience driven – What if everyone was a trainer, and in some senses, we all are. We all learn from each other, and from our experiences. If we could share the experiences with our communities, we could learn from these shared experiences. In my experience, we have seen people appreciate and learn a lot better from their peers’ experiences and sharing sessions, than a know-it-all trainer. The idea here is to allow the learners to share their experiences and become creators of the training content, along with the experts and best practices that are being shared.

Self-paced – Imagine a world where you could attend the 3.30 PM session remotely or access the resources or simply view the recorded video of the presentation at your own time sipping your cafe latte with your legs up in the hotel room, while the trainer is getting notified that you have completed the session. As cliched as it may sound, time is money, and hence allowing the learner to decide the time when he/she wants to complete the training allows for more flexibility and better outcomes, both for business and learning.

Mobile ready – It is time to put the smart in smartphone. Use the mobile device as a learning device to enable training that’s always accessible and right in your pocket. Moving to mobile learning also involves re-thinking how you are sharing your resources. A 80 page slide deck would not really appeal on your commute, but a quick 5 minute video that can be watched on the go makes more sense. Apart from having a “learning app”, you need to think about the content that fits the mobile screen and attention span.

Byte-sized and just-in-time – The idea that you should learn everything and then use it as effectively when the need arises, maybe 7 months later, is a bit ambitious. Trainings should become byte-sized and be accessible just-in-time when you need to use that piece of learning in your work. This is a lot easier said than done. But, the tools and technologies available today allow this to become a reality, sooner and easier than you think. Be it compliance, or just a knowledge sharing resource, if it is byte-sized, the chances of that getting consumed is a lot higher.

Rewarding – Everyone loves incentives – be it a pat on the back, or a badge or be top of a leaderboard or an Apple Watch as a gift. In my work in training and education sectors, I have seen more interest for gamification in adult learning and training, than in the K-12 segment. It sounds surprising but if you think about it for a moment, it makes perfect sense. Gamification can provide an extrinsic push and motivation and drive better adoption of learning initiatives. If people still don’t engage in trainings, your issue lies somewhere else!

But I am already doing e-Learning!

And how’s that going for you? e-Learning is a great first step. It allows remote access to resources, there is nobody to stand in front of the meeting room and read the slides, and you can do it at your own pace. However, the trouble with basic e-Learning is that it is delivered over systems where there is little engagement or ability to discuss anything that is being learned. Imagine, you went to Facebook, and you can see the pictures but there is no way to like, comment or ask why I have the silly face in the photos? Currently, e-Learning has some of these issues – (i) The content is not instructionally designed to be suited for online delivery, (ii) the platform of delivery is barely a way to host the content, but not to drive engagement, social communities of learning or offer any gamification incentives. The challenge that organisations have faced despite “doing e-learning” is that there is little incentive or engagement for the learners on such systems.

Trainings have to adapt to the changing landscape of learners, and I am not specifically talking about the millennials who certainly expect such social and mobile tools, but for the entire organisation to move and be prepared for the next set of changes.

(It’s 3:45 PM, stop reading this blog, and focus on the training in the room)

Contributed by:

Shivanu Shukla, CEO of Teamie – A Collaborative Learning Platorm

www.theteamie.com


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC. 

You May be Ready, but How About Your Company?

June 16th, 2015

You May be Ready, but How About your company?

In a previous article, we offered several keys to increase the likelihood of success on overseas assignments, some tips to make yourself “ready” for the challenges working in a foreign environment bring.  Today, in answer to a question from one of our readers, I’d like to address the other side of the equation, namely, “What can your company do in order to welcome the overseas assignee?” 

For while some companies provide assessments and training for those employees (and occasionally, for family members) embarking on overseas assignments, few spend much time at all preparing anyone on the receiving side, other than perhaps the immediate supervisor-to-be.  And that ‘s a shame, because 50% of the responsibility for success lies with the readiness of the organization.  Are you really ready to receive?

Accepting short- or long-term overseas “transplants” can be a lot like hosting an exchange student.  Every good exchange program educates both the student and host family on cultural issues. How does your organization prepare your “Welcome team”?

Fundamentals & Fundamental Differences

At a minimum, you need the basic onboarding/orientation elements in place, just as you provide any new employee: shared mission, vision and values; mutual expectations; explanations in person on “how things are done here” (corporate culture); FAQs.  (If you don’t have these in place yet, what are you waiting for?)  But with a “foreigner” coming in, you will want to modify your approach, in at least the following ways:

1)   Exchange.  Especially if the overseas assignee has enjoyed years of experience with the firm, be sure the “orientation” is a two-way street.  Offer plenty of opportunities for the newcomer to share his or her views of the corporate culture as they have seen it played out so far in their career.  Note differences and similarities.  How are things done in their country? Overseas assignments are a fantastic way to build up and reinforce company-wide beliefs and practices.

2)   Timing.  Get that onboarding session (or sessions) started on the assignee’s first day. Don’t wait a quarter or even a month. You (and they) only get one chance to make a first impression.  What’s their impression of your satellite (or headquarter) office?  How can you give them a chance to make their best impression right away?

3)   Review.  You may have created a simple ½ day onboarding orientation for new employees or you may do more. Bu the onboarding process takes more than a day.  For someone joining the team from overseas, remember that they will be dealing with all kinds of extracurricular challenges—finding their home, perhaps settling a family, language difficulties, and more. So their personal “band-width” available to take in new information will be less than optimal. Be sure to plan “onboarding review times” and additional opportunities for one-on-one check-ins, with someone other than the assignee’s direct supervisor.

Mentoring? 

The ideal mentor(s) for the overseas assignee will depend on many different factors.  And for some senior positions, the ideal mentor may be no mentor at all.  But most newcomers will appreciate an extra pair of ears to share challenges with, someone who can help them get acclimated.   People will be coming with their own stories, their own experiences and pre-conceived ideas about what it will be like to work in their new office.  If someone in the organization has spent time in the assignee’s home country or office, he or she is potentially a great mentor.  Just make sure they’re bringing a coaching mentality rather than a professor’s.

Is it Worth the Trouble? 

At first glance, when you add up all the extra work involved in bringing on an overseas assignee, whether for the short or long term, you might question if it’s worth the effort.  But just as individual growth comes from stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone, the whole organization can benefit by gaining flexibility, knowledge, and (potentially) integrity. How many international firms boast of their “global network” without real relationships across their far flung offices?   Even a small enterprise can become more international by providing these kinds of opportunities.  And that in turn improves your ability to serve international clients.

Andrew Silberman | Andrew@AMT-Group.com | AMT-Group.com

Andrew Silberman has been coaching high performance individuals and teams since 1989.  At AMT Group, which he co-founded in To- kyo in 1992, he leads a team of multi-national facilitators and staff whose mission is “Developing Global Thinkers.” His clients are managers and executives from leading firms throughout Asia (as well as occasionally in the U.S. and Europe).

Andrew’s expertise is in improving “Global Readiness®,” the theme of his book Get a G.RI.P.*: Andrew’s Ax Guide to Global Readiness®, published by Media Tectonics in 2012.

To contact Andrew and learn more about how you can better prepare your teams for global assignment, please send an email to: andrew@amt-group.com


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC. 

New App Update! Get The Newest Language Lessons For Free No Matter Where You Are

May 28th, 2015

New update! Download Innovative Language 101 for free!

Hello Listener,

Did you know that every new Innovative Language lesson is yours free?

Fact: All new lessons are open to everyone for 3 weeks after the publish date. This is one of the major benefits of having a Free Lifetime Account at any one of our 31 Learning Programs. Just sit back and learn. High-quality audio and video lessons come out every week.

But here’s what’s new…
You now get the newest lessons on your mobile device, anywhere, anytime!

New update! Download Innovative Language 101 for free!

Users requested this. We listened. Innovative Language 101 for the iPhone, iPad and Androidthe App that gives you your lessons on the go – has an awesome new update: Newest Lessons.

If you’re learning a language and want to get all new lessons all the time, you absolutely can’t miss out on this. With this update, you get:

  • Access to lessons from the past 3 weeks
  • Access to every single new lesson that comes out
  • …and you can download them to your device for extra study! 

When you log in to the App, simply tap on the “Newest Lessons” icon for all the latest and greatest lessons. Every time a lesson is published, you will find it here. High-quality audio and video lessons come out every week.

Remember: Every new lesson is yours free. This a major benefit of the Free Lifetime Account. New lessons are open to everyone for 3 weeks after the publish date. High-quality audio and video lessons come out every week.

If you run into any bugs or issues with this new update, feel free to send us a quick email at mobileapps@innovativelanguage.com.

To new free language lessons for life,

Team Innovative Language

P.S. Start Mastering a Language with New, Free Lessons Every Week!  
Want free lessons for life? Start speaking a language minutes into your first lesson. Choose any one of our 31 language programs and sign up for your Free Lifetime Account. You’ll instantly unlock real lessons by real teachers. Then, just sit back and learn at your own pace, anywhere, anytime.

Click here to choose a language and sign up for a Free Lifetime Account! 

Building Learning Agility in Your Organization: The Google Way

April 17th, 2015

Building learning agility in your organization: the Google way.

The world of business is becoming more volatile and complex, and the ability to learn fast and adapt is paramount to survival. The nature of knowledge work has shifted from what existing data points to look for, and where to find them to how to identify novel and unprecedented insights from the exponentially increasing amount and complexity of information available at our fingerprints. The nature of learning has shifted as well from what to learn to how to become a better learner, and learning agility is becoming the next management buzzword. Broadly defined as the ability and willingness to learn from experience and apply the learning in novel, complex situations, the term appears on every consulting company’s website.

An internet search for the topic shows over 14 million entries, large companies use it as one of the high potential competencies, and multiple organizations sell learning agility measurements.

In my recent role leading the global learning strategy at Google, I was responsible for a project to determine how to maximize learning agility in the organization. Research of hundreds of academic articles, conversations with leading academics and consulting organizations taught me quickly that there is no agreement on what learning agility means, nor how to best develop it. Definitions overlap with other popular buzzwords like growth mindset, learning orientation or emotional intelligence. Measurements are inconsistent and yet to be validated.

Learning agility does not need to be overcomplicated. Simply, it’s about knowing what to do, when you do not know what to do. The real question is though, how do we help develop it. How do we equip people with dispositions, skills and mindsets to publicly acqnowledge lack of knowledge, inability to solve a problem, frustration with something they don’t understand? The knee jerk reaction would be to come up with yet another training program, but this is not the solution. Learning is finding out what you don’t know, or what you can’t do and struggling with it. Learning is how we respond to stuckness, disappointments or surprises, when they occur. It requires attending mindfully to each situation at hand, observing and modelling, taking risks, experimenting, failing and learning from the failures. In a nutshell, learning is tough, and frustrating. And it takes time to learn to learn.

We all acknowledge that real learning happens in real life, and not in a classroom, yet, we confuse learning with training. The stereotypical 70/20/10 formula (10% of learning happens through formal training, 20% through coaching and mentoring, and 70% on the job) has become a nice excuse for learning professionals to say that the only thing they can control is training and mentoring programs. L&D  functions are still structured to to help people how to learn some things better, and not how to become better learners. Since the key performance indicators are training hours delivered, feedback scores and budget saved, the focus is on popular “edutainment” classroom training that is  can be clearly timed and organized, enjoyed and budgeted.

So formal training still rules. In 2014, Japanese companies spent an estimated 500 BLN yen (USD 4.3 BLN) on external training, and if we count the cost of internally delivered education and the the cost of time employees spend in the classroom, the amount of money would easily exceed country’s spent on mandatory education. Unfortunately, much of the training feeds participants with outdated content that has not changed in the past fifteen years. They still teach what to look for, and not how to look or what to do when we don’t know what to look for. It promotes rigidity of thinking, passivity towards “experts” and compliance to “expertise”.  It confuses comprehension (ability to talk about something) with competence (ability to do it). And to quote Einstein, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

What this really calls for is a radical shift in focus in KPIs from programmatic events to slow, relentless, gradual seeding of culture change and habit change. It requires a shift of focus from when and what training is provided, to when and what learning happens. L&D functions need to shift their efforts from content expertise and formal program management to creating platforms and structures to enable people to learn from others, learn from (and in) action and learn from reflection.

The good news is that it’s actually cheaper than formal training. Learning from others can happen in and outside the company. Internally, simple things like creating regular information sharing and lunch-and-learn sessions, identifying and promoting “gurus” who have certain expertise and can teach or coach others, ensuring that managers hold regular 1:1 meetings with their staff and give feedback and coach can do wonders.

Google’s L&D has changed its focus from providing specific training to training employees on how to facilitate and coach others, and supporting volunteers who are willing to do that. Today, over 90% of all training provided is delivered by line employees. Internal coaching program has five distinct categories (management and leadership, career development, sales skills, expectant and new parents, team development and facilitator coaching). g2g (Googler-to-Googler peer-to-peer) program contribution is included in performance evaluation. Externally, the culture of learning from the user and crowd-sourcing programming is in the company’s DNA.

Facilitating learning from experience is also simpler than you may think. Internally, Google has a 20% project rule in place, which means that any employee who meets performance expectations can spend up to 20% of their time on voluntary projects in different teams or functions. “Bungee jumps” or rotations into another team are the direct manager’s discretions. Employees are also encouraged to learn outside through taking quarterly sabbaticals, voluntary work, or taking external courses.

Reflection is supported through an extensive focus on mindfulness. gPause program offers meditation sessions organized by volunteers at regular times. Line employees are qualified to deliver courses on managing your energy and mindfulness. Not to forget coaching, which managers are explicitly evaluated on in their annual upward feedback they receive from direct reports. Reflection on failures and successes is promoted through weekly TgIF (Thanks Google it’s Friday) sessions broadcast globally, and other regular town-hall and all hands meetings.

All these, and many other programs cost a fraction of the classroom training expenditure. They are self-sustainable, curated and delivered by employees. They develop a culture of sharing, modelling what works, giving and receiving feedback. They create engagement through enabling people to build friendships and informal mentoring relationships. And when an opportunity for learning happens, when one fails, struggles or is disappointed, they know how to who to ask for advice, or coaching. So in a nutshell, forget your training programs and focus on structures that help your employees learn from others, learn from experience and learn from action.

Contributed by:

Piotr Feliks Grzywacz | Piotr@PronoiaGroup.com | PronoiaGroup.com

In my most recent corporate jobs, I was a learning and organisation development executive at Google and Morgan Stanley. I have over 15 years of experience in coaching senior executives and facilitating strategic organisational development interventions. My experience includes business partnering and relationship management, talent management, leadership development, innovation, change management and technical and functional competency development). I drove large-scale learning strategy and change management projects.

I never stop to learn. My education includes two Master degrees and a unfinished PhD in linguistics, three postgraduate degrees in management consulting, marketing & business administration, and public relations. I am working on my Doctorate of Business Administration in Management Consulting at Henley Business School, UK. I have several counselling and coaching certifications. I love learning languages, social studies, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and business. I interested in many things, my hobbies range from cooking to shark diving. 

Originally from Poland, I have lived and worked in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Japan. For the past fifteen years I have worked in Asia and the rest of the globe.  


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.

Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC.

Getting Ready for Overseas Assignments

April 17th, 2015

Getting Ready for Overseas Assignments

 

“There’s so much freedom in between the things you think you have to do.”

–Moonshots, Shaky Ground

Most of us have heard the expression, “Ready, willing and able.” Originally applied to legal contracts, it now refers to a broad range of situations, and every HR director wants to know if a person assigned to a task is ready, willing and able to do the task the employer needs done.  All the more so if the task is an overseas assignment.

What do we mean by “ready, willing and able” in this context?  Let’s take the third word of the phrase first:  “Able.” Is the person capable of carrying out an overseas assignment?  How can we tell?  There are many assessments, including one my company provides (the Global Readiness® Profile) that can help. But even without an assessment, HR can check on “capability” by asking the candidate and colleagues a few questions, chief among them:

“Tell me about an overseas assignment you have taken in the past?”

The best predictor of future performance is past performance under similar circumstances.  So in asking about a past assignment, you will learn about the challenges and solutions the candidate was able to find.  A good model to follow is the “STAR” behavioral interviewing technique, where you ask the candidate to describe the Situation under which they were assigned overseas, the Task (or Tasks) they were supposed to carry out, the Actions taken and finally, their specific Results.

You can ask the candidate him or herself, and then their supervisor and people who worked with the candidate on the assignment, using the same STAR method.

This will give you some idea of whether or not the candidate is capable of doing well overseas.  But how about his or her “willingness”?  We can attribute much of their willingness (or lack thereof) directly to how the company treats its employees, both on their overseas assignments and upon their return.  How valued are overseas experiences by the firm? Often, a younger, less-experienced candidate will embrace the chance for adventure, whereas a more seasoned veteran will see the post “detour” from his or her route to the top.

This isn’t always the case. One Japanese executive we’re working with recently returned from Europe, where he was engaged with several international projects.  Now back  “home,” he can hardly stop talking about how much he preferred the work he was doing overseas.

Let’s say you’ve figured out the candidate is able, and willing, to take on an overseas assignment. How “ready” is he or she?  Readiness includes capability and desire, but in addition explores issues that interweave with the other two:  timing, family, health, energy, language abilities, other “soft” skills.  Most capable and willing candidates can (and will want) to do more to “get ready.”

Books, websites, lectures on the place where the assignee will be going is a start.  Language training (just 10 minutes a day can go a long way, given the right program), and individual coaching and/or mentoring all can help increase both “capabilities” and “willingness,” thus leading to greater overall “readiness.”

As the quote at the start of this article implies, there’s always time if the issue is important.

The difference between being “ready” and “not ready” is huge-both to the candidate and to the company.  You’re familiar with the costs associated with “mis-hires,” (that can be many multiples of a person’s salary).  Sending the wrong person overseas, or the right person at the wrong time, can be even more damaging to a firm and the candidate, for often such assignments require a lot virtual management with more responsibilities and less back-up.

So do what you can to choose the right candidates for overseas assignments, and then help them prepare, because globalization is now coming on faster than ever, ready or not!

Contributed By:

Andrew Silberman | Andrew@AMT-Group.com | AMT-Group.com

Andrew Silberman has been coaching high performance individuals and teams since 1989.  At AMT Group, which he co-founded in To- kyo in 1992, he leads a team of multi-national facilitators and staff whose mission is “Developing Global Thinkers.” His clients are managers and executives from leading firms throughout Asia (as well as occasionally in the U.S. and Europe).

Andrew’s expertise is in improving “Global Readiness®,” the theme of his book Get a G.RI.P.*: Andrew’s Ax Guide to Global Readiness®, published by Media Tectonics in 2012.

To contact Andrew and learn more about how you can better prepare your teams for global assignment, please send an email to: andrew@amt-group.com


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.

Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC.

Demonstrating an ROI for Sales Training Programs

April 17th, 2015

Demonstrating an ROI for Sales Training Programs

ROI for Sales Training Programs

Learning and Development (L&D) programs are increasingly being evaluated by their ability to deliver an ROI to the parent organization.  For many L&D programs, such as those related to compliance or new employee onboarding, the process for determining an ROI can be complex and difficult at best.

The positive effects and the ROI of sales training programs, on the other hand, are much easier to identify and track.  In this article we will explore some of the different types of sales training programs that are available, how best they can be used, and best practices for calculating an ROI.

There are essentially four types of programs for sales training; Sale Process Training, Product Training, Motivational Training, and Soft Skills Training.

Sales Process Training

These programs focus on the sales process or the mechanics of selling.  They include end-to-end programs that teach many or all of the steps in the selling process such prospecting, making an elevator pitch, agenda setting, how to ask questions, giving presentations, closing, etc. Or, they can focus on a single activity in the selling process such as closing or asking for referrals.

There are literally hundreds of sales process training programs to choose from.  Some of the better-known programs include SNAP Selling, SPIN Selling, and The Sandler Approach.

For many organizations these types of programs work straight off-the-shelf with little or no customization or supplementation required.  However, as industry specific buying and selling styles differ, L&D executives should check for a track record of success in their specific industry or one that is closely related.

Likewise, not all approaches work in all cultures.  For example, in many Asian countries, some of the more progressive sales processes used in the West haven’t caught hold yet. This is because selling in many areas is still considered to be more of a relationship driven activity as opposed to a process driven one.

Product Training

Product training, regardless of industry or culture is vitally important. Both product knowledge and product belief are key factors in the ability to sell something. If your salespeople don’t understand your existing or new products, they will lack the confidence and ability to properly introduce them.

Therefore, many companies spend a fair amount of time, energy, and resources on product training.  And, as product training is mostly company specific, most of the training programs are custom developed for that particular company or product.  This can make them, on average, more appropriate and effective than off-the-shelf sales training programs.

However, when done in-house, it can become more challenging to allocate true costs and thus difficult to get an accurate assessment of the ROI.

And, while in-house development teams will often have superior knowledge of the product, they may not have access to platforms and tools that can make the program more engaging and effective for the learners.

For example, I was recently involved in a product training initiative that spanned several times zones and countries.  The program included weekly live training sessions in each time zone.  The trainers were skilled experts on the product that was being launched.

The problem was, the team that was doing the training hadn’t made any plans to capture the sessions on video or audio.  Thus, if a salesperson missed the weekly training session, there was no way for them to make up that session.

So, if you are creating your content in-house, it may make sense to receive some input from external L&D consultants to see if there are any tools, platforms, or techniques that you might possibly adopt to improve the effectiveness of your training.

Motivational Training

Motivational training is designed to create some additional excitement and momentum in your sales team.  Often times the training is provided as part of a larger event such as product launches or annual awards etc.

Motivational training is usually delivered by external specialists.  This is due to requirements related to variety and the appropriateness of the content.  Variety is important because most motivational training is more of an event than a process. And, if the same training or event is repeated, the positive effects of the training can rapidly dissipate as the intended audience loses interest.

Appropriateness to audience is critical as some messages just don’t travel across cultures.  For example, I once participated in a highly effective motivational program that was provided by an ex-NFL player who structured his program around American football.  If that same program were delivered in countries that aren’t familiar with the rules and customs of American football, it probably wouldn’t resonate with the audience.

The costs for motivational programs are typically very clear and seen as one-time or single program fee.  However, the quantifying the actual benefits can challenging.

Soft Skills Training

Soft skills such building rapport and asking questions are important in almost all types of selling, and are critically important in industries such as private banking and financial services.

As soft skills training focuses on behaviors related to interpersonal communication that have been learned over an individual’s lifetime, the training takes time and practice to become effective.

Soft skill training is usually provided by external trainers. There are hundreds of providers soft skills training in the market.  And, as industry context is especially important, many training providers focus on a particular industry such as private banking, or hospitality.  There are also some well-known providers of generics soft skill training such as Dale Carnegie and Franklin Covey.

The costs and resultant ROI of soft skill training is relatively easy to track. The cost is whatever you pay the trainer, any internal support staff and venue costs, and the participant’s time.  The benefits typically become quite visible in terms higher conversion and client retention rates, as well year-on-year increases in revenues for individual participants.

Internally Developed Programs vs. Externally Sourced Programs

For all sales training programs you will need to decide on either a custom program, designed and delivered by an internal team, or an off-the-shelf solution.  Customized programs tend to more relevant and effective.  However, true costs, which are typically higher than off-the-shelf programs, can be more difficult to calculate.

Off-the-shelf programs can be easier to evaluate in advance in terms of actual pricing and a track record of success.  But, they may lack the relevancy to your specific company, industry, or current training needs.

Regardless of whether you go with a custom or off-the-shelf program, it’s always helpful to conduct the training in the context of your specific industry.  So, for example, if you are training private bankers, make sure the examples and exercises are similar to those experienced by people doing that job.

Calculating an ROI 

Calculating an ROI on sales training programs is part art and part science. In reality there are many factors that will affect your sales team’s performance including the condition of the economy, competition in the market, and the value of the product or service you are selling. Training is just one factor in the overall mix and thus shouldn’t be seen as the sole cause of increased or decreased performance.

That said, there are some key metrics you should consider when calculating the ROI of your sales training.

Cost of the Training Provided

If the training was developed and or delivered in-house, you will need to tally all the costs included the number of hours spent, the cost per hour, material costs, and any venue and technology costs. This can be challenging since many of the staff involved with the training will also have other responsibilities and deliverables.

It’s usually easier to get an idea of the cost for externally sourced programs. However, even with externally supplied programs there will often be requirements for your internal team to provide support in preparing or following up on the training.  So be sure to include all related costs.

Effect on Performance

Effects on performance can be broken down into two areas, revenues and activities.

Many companies like to make a year-on-year or quarter vs. the previous quarter revenue comparison. So, if sales go up, the training is judged to have been a success. And if sales go down, the perceived value of the training is reduced. Of course, there could be many other factors that contributed to the sales results and we can’t be sure how much can be attributed to the training program.

Therefore, an alternative approach is to compare metrics for sales related activities such as the number of prospect meetings held, the closing rate, the rate of growth of an individual or team’s pipeline etc.  Under this approach, if an individual increased the number of meetings by 20 percent and improved their closing ratio by 20 percent, we could confidently attribute these improvements to the training they received, especially if this effect were seen across a large percentage of the participants.

Personally, I prefer a hybrid approach whereby we compare financial and activity results with past performance numbers.  I like this approach because there is a strong causal relationship between activity and results, especially if the activity such as drafting proposals or closing deals, is done in a more skillful manner.

Whatever approach you take, I would strongly recommend that you define your method for calculating ROI on a sales training program in advance of the training. Doing so will help you to select an appropriate program, and then track and monitor the results.  It will also help other stakeholders to know what they should be expecting as a result of the training.

Contributed By:

Mark Shriner |  Mark.Shriner@ROI-Asia.com | ROI-Asia.com

Mark Shriner is a leadership and business development coach and an expert on sales and sales management. He has authored two books on the subject that are widely used in the training of salespeople and sales managers, and is the co-creator of the ‘Leading and Coaching High Performance Sales Teams’ program with Marshall Goldsmith and Will Linssen.  He authors the blog: www.thensidegame-sales.com that provides advice and tips on how to become a top performing salesperson and enjoy every step of the way.

To learn more about Mark’s leadership and sales training programs please contact:  Mark.Shriner@ROI-Asia.com


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.

Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC.

5 Key Factors to Launching a Successful L&D Program

April 17th, 2015

5 Key Factors to Launching a Successful L&D Program

Learning and Development programs are a huge gray area for a lot of companies. In fact, launching a successful learning and development program can appear to be such a big achievement that it naturally generates great publicity - not just within a respective industry, but across the business world.

This mentality is completely flawed, and there is no reason that you can’t run a successful L&D program by focusing on the five factors mentioned in this article.

For a recent work assignment, my team and I were tasked with determining which factors contribute the most to a successful learning and development program. In less than 1,000 words, or 5 minutes of your time, I’ll give an overview of our findings as well as some insight into how your company can work to start applying them today.

1. Motivation and Engagement

“They just don’t use the program” and  “Our employees just don’t want to learn” - I have heard these countless times. Launching a successful learning initiative is all about keeping users motivated and relating the learning programs to the employees’ everyday life so that they can stay engaged. You can do this several ways, so let’s look at a few.

Gamification has been a huge trend, and if carried out successfully, it will definitely lead to an upsurge in motivation and engagement.

The problem here is that gamification has gone from a clearly defined concept to a sloppily applied buzzword.

Gamification is a very difficult concept to apply, and there is no one-size-fits-all application. It involves a lot more than adding badges and achievement markers to your current learning program.

You must analyze and access the goals of your program, and then find a way to create a game that will lead your employees down that road. It must seem more like a game - something that gets employees excited about using the program, because games are fun!

As a result, they are proactively engaging with the learning material.

Progress tracking is another super powerful way to keep your employees coming back for more. After applying a simple goal and progress tracking feature to one of our programs, user retention increased by over 30%. It almost seems like human nature to want to fill small progress tracking bars, and trying to get that 100% mark.

2. Performance Tracking

A major issue I found in almost every learning initiative I looked at is the lack of follow-through with the L&D program. This means actively monitoring employee progress.

Employees are very busy, and if their work starts to stack up, it is very easy to sideline activities that are not seen as high priority. When the habit is broken once, it will usually remain that way, and the employee will not re-engage of their own free will.

Making it clear that the L&D program is a mandatory activity, and that progress is being monitored, is the only successful way to prevent this from happening.

I discovered this almost by accident when working with a large international corporation. They had a limited number of software licenses due to budget constraints. In order to remain enrolled in the program, you had to actively use the program. If an employee’s usage stopped or slowed down, they were booted from the program, and lost their chance to earn the benefits that came with successfully completing it.

In this case, the benefit was the chance to be selected for an expat position - a huge career bump for most anyone in a multi-national firm. Due to this restriction, employees were actively engaging with the program on nearly a daily basis, and very rarely did people drop out of the program.

3. Ease of Use

Another key point that is very often overlooked is the ease of use, or ease of getting started with the program.

Again, employees are busy, and if you throw a huge learning platform at them - no matter the awesome capabilities or features contained - they will open the program once, close it, and never look back.

The program needs to be simple. And by simple, I mean dead simple.

Employees are there to learn the content and subject matter, not how to use a new learning system. If they cannot get started in one to two clicks, the program will most likely fail.

You don’t need to be dumb down or over-simplify the whole platform, but you need to make sure everything is readily accessible.

Of course, there are ways around this with training and information sessions on the program, but those will just take time away from focusing on the subject matter, and teach how to use a learning platform.

4. Demonstrable Skills Improvement

This point falls in line with motivation. Demonstrable skill improvement is one of the best ways to keep employees moving forward.

We can all relate to the feeling of completing a hard task, or the sense of a job well done.

With learning programs, this goes one step further, because it is a matter of developing a life-long skill.

I have yet to find something more motivating then employees being able to look back and realize that less than one month ago, they wouldn’t even have considered what they are doing now a possibility.

This is a surprisingly simple system to set up as well. All it takes is setting certain benchmarks that can be applicable to real-world situations.

For my company’s language learning program, for example, we have a simple list of can-do statements that align with the content taught, and that learners work through.

For example, I can order food at a restaurant, or I can introduce myself in said language, all the way up to I can conduct a meeting in said languageDoing this gives the employee instant awareness of how far they have come, and the new capabilities they are learning in a real world perspective.

5. Ability to Customize Content

A lot of learning programs are pretty set in stone, or are fairly topic-specific, and it can be difficult to customize these kinds of programs. There are however, quite a lot of topics taught in L&D programs that have the ability to incorporate diverse content.

For example, in a language learning program, you should have set goals and targets for language acquisition that fall in line with your company’s needs. But, why stop there?

Language acquisition is a lot more than learning a few sets of grammar points and vocabulary, in fact focusing solely on this will inevitably lead to failure.

You must be able to engage with the culture and know about country-specific practices. By offering a wide range of content for your employees to study, you not only offer them variety, but also allow them to find content that they can relate to, thus making it more enjoyable.

This is not only applicable to language, but a huge variety of topics commonly approached in learning and development initiatives.

Contributed by:

Ryan Beck | Ryan@InnovativeLanguage.com | InnovativeLanguage.com

Ryan is a learning and development specialist at InnovativeLanguage.com responsible for designs custom learning solutions for companies of all sizes, ranging from small, privately-operated businesses to multi-national Fortune 500 corporations. To learn more about custom language solutions, please contact: ryan@innovativelanguage.com


Learning and Development Best Practices is brought to you by Innovative Language Learning, LLC. They offer an innovative, fun, and easy to use language learning system that is designed to get you speaking from the very first lesson. Learn at your own convenience and pace with our short, effective, and fun audio podcast lessons, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art Learning Center, and a vibrant user community. As well as custom multi-lingual corporate learning & development solutions.

Click here or contact solutions@innovativelanguage.com to learn more about Innovative Language Learning, LLC.

Brand New Affiliate Dashboard & Payment Information

January 29th, 2015

Dear Affiliates,

Great news!

The My Account section of every Innovative Language site has been redesigned.

And yes, that includes an update to your Affiliate Center! As well as a new look, we’ve introduced some great features you may find useful. 
Affiliate dashboard

The Affiliate Center now has a Dashboard that shows:

  • Your Balance: This is the commission you’ve earned thus far. If you’re at $50 commission (or over) this is the amount you can expect at the next payout date. If you’re below $50, you’ll need to earn more to reach the threshold before you receive a payout. After a payout, this will revert to $0 and start over.
  • To Go Until Payout: Since there’s a $50 minimum requirement, you’ll know how much you have left until you can receive a payout. Once you’ve reached the $50 minimum, this will be $0.
  • All-Time Earnings: A quick snapshot of your overall earnings.

You will also find the Affiliate Link Builder closer to the top of the “Banners & Links” section. Use this to add your affiliate code!

Clarifications about Payouts
Remember, payouts are sent out on the first Friday of every month and you’re paid for the previous month’s earnings, only, as long as they’re above $50.

Therefore, if the first Friday of the month lands on February 6th, you will receive payment for commission earned for the month of January, from January 1st to the 31st. This may include previous months’ earnings that you didn’t receive because you were under the $50 limit.

Payments for the previous month will not include earnings made before the payout date after the new month has begun. For example, if the payout date is Friday, February 6th, earnings made starting February 1st won’t be included in your January payment but in your February payment, which will be on the first Friday of the following month, March.

We hope that the new Affiliate Dashboard will simplify your commission info in terms of how much you can expect and how much you have left to go.

Thank you for reading,

Affiliate Team
InnovativeLanguage.com

P.S. Want to promote other languages and increase your commission?
There are 31 different 101 Language Sites & 31 different Affiliate Programs to choose from. Click on the link below to learn more about our other Affiliate Programs.
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New Premium PLUS Feature! 1-on-1 Language Learning with Your Own Teacher

September 5th, 2014

Hello Listener,

Imagine having your very own language teacher. They give you personal attention and fix any problem you’ll ever have. They can…

  • Correct your writing
  • Be a source of constant language practice
  • Give you insider tips on what words sound more natural
  • Correct your pronunciation (something most native speakers are too polite to do!)
  • Point out your weaknesses
  • Tell you how to best master a language

Access to your own language teacher was already available in our Premium PLUS subscription, but mostly via email interaction.

Now, there’s a new Premium PLUS feature that gives you 1-on-1 instruction on the website or on the go via an App: Premium PLUS My Teacher (formerly titled Premium PLUS Messenger).

Get 1-on-1 learning with My Teacher!

What is it? It’s a new App exclusively for our Premium PLUS subscribers. You get 1-on-1 access to your teacher on the site or on the go, anytime. Contact them while you’re studying with our Innovative Language lessons or for any language problems you have.

When you log in, you’ll see a message open up with from your instructor. Or, look for the “My Teacher” option in the upper right hand corner of our Innovative Language 101 sites, by “My Account.”

More specifically, you can….

  • Send casual exchanges in your target language or ask questions
  • Get advice on how to best learn language
  • Contact your teacher on the site while you’re using our lessons
  • Get 1-on-1 learning on the go with your mobile device via a Mobile Web App
  • Have your them correct, cross out and add feedback to your writing inside My Teacher (Messages are limited to 750 characters)
  • …And more!

Want to send longer texts (over 750 characters) or send a recording of yourself? Simply send your teacher an email and they’ll fix any mistakes and provide crucial feedback.

That’s the power of learning with a native speaker.

They give you personal attention and fix any problem you have. Imagine how fast your language will improve when someone’s guiding you every step of the way.

My Teacher is for Premium PLUS subscribers only.

Want to upgrade to a Premium PLUS subscription? You get the best of both worlds – unlimited Premium access, which includes 2,040+ Audio & Video Lessons, PDF Lesson notes, Study tools and more – plus, you get a teacher who creates a personalized learning plan and guides you along the way. 

Click here to choose from 31 language courses and subscribe to our Premium PLUS plan!  

To your fluency,

Team Innovative Language

P.S. Want to learn language with your own teacher & unlimited Premium access? Get the best of both worlds with Premium PLUS at 10% OFF! Unlock unlimited Premium access, including 2,040+ Audio & Video Lessons, PDF Lesson notes, Study tools and more. Plus, you get a teacher that creates a personalized learning plan and guides you along the way.

Click here to choose from 31 language courses and subscribe to our Premium PLUS plan!