February 9, 2022

When Building and Scaling Cohorts In-House Just isn’t Scalable

When you have 20,000+ global employees and contractors across product, engineering, strategy and consulting functions, ensuring your team has the critical skills to help large Enterprises digitally transform is what Ian Stevens, Head of Capability Learning & Development for North America at Publicis Sapient is tasked with. 

With COVID’s disruption of the enterprise learning ecosystem and no more face to face interaction in the foreseeable future, L&D leaders like Ian could no longer rely on traditional e-learning content partners to do the job and let’s face it, Zoom fatigue is real. On top of managing a remote workload, employees found it difficult to carve out time for self-paced learning. Left to their own devices, learning felt like a daunting task without enough structure, with little incentive to complete. 

Ian turned to Modal to bring together the structure and targeted goals with peer and instructor accountability to provide the personalized path that employees wanted with the critical skills they needed. 

“Cohort learning with clear accountability and structure is where the magic is for our employees. However, this is hard for us to scale and operationalize, especially using Publicis Sapient subject matter experts,’ said Ian. “With Modal, employees learn with a cohort of peers organized into 8 week programs called Journeys. Modal offers us more control and visibility over the talent process to rapidly upskill employees with critical technical skills in key roles at scale.”

Previously, Publicis Sapient had built out an internal program called ‘Top Gun Academy’ for front end developers to gain access to a broader set of architecture skills. This program consisted of billable full-time employees as subject matter experts alongside a hodge-podge of specific vendors with a domain speciality. In addition to being time consuming to pull together, Ian found there was no consistency across the entire learner journey and the model didn’t allow employees to build trust to be vulnerable, which is required for true mastery. From his experience in leadership and management training, he knew that he needed a solution with the structure and accountability to keep his team motivated and engaged. 

With Modal’s Journeys, Ian found that the Data Science content was relevant, approach was sound, and there were ample opportunities for employees to exchange ideas online and offline, which built trust and community. The ability for employees to book one-on-one Coach time to get additional personal touch allowed for robust dialogue and a personalized approach to learning. The hands-on labs also offered a good amount of flexibility and practice which built up to solving a set of incremental challenges in the capstone project. Although the content may be difficult to learn, dialogue never became contentious as the safety and trust was built in to learn new subjects and practice through coding exercises. 

As learning & development becomes more at the forefront of business strategy, Ian expects companies to make higher investments in learning to find diversified ways to utilize a blended approach for mastery for employees versus just sitting at the screen.

Traditional corporate skills are measured by assessments, however, academic tests don't always translate into true mastery at work. Companies grapple with the questions, ‘how can we show our employees that we care about them and their success? how can we improve the quality of the work being produced?’ Data shows that employees feel like the company is invested in them and less willing to leave and happy with the organization. 

With Modal’s Mastery platform, Ian is able to put the structure and motivation in place with cohort learning, live events, hands-on labs, projects and coaching in a single experience to support Publicis Sapient employees.

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