With more rooms in more places than any other hotel company, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) hotels provide more than 674,000 guests rooms globally, serving over 150 million guests each year.
A strategic review highlighted the need for IHGs workforce to have more productive conversations within the workplace. Famed for their hospitality, IHG employees go above and beyond when providing customer service. But that can mean a lack of candor internally. To meet their ambitious growth goals it was clear that IHG needed their whole leadership base to embark upon a program of training in the art of holding a Brilliant Conversation.
IHG selected Headstream (formerly Curatr) to help deliver a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to their first-level leaders across the globe. Time was tight; senior leadership brought the expected start date of the MOOC forward by three months, giving IHG just four weeks to develop a five-week course for more than 3000 participants.
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Headstream was used as the central delivery tool for the MOOC, with IHG curating content to create a central hub of activity around which a global ‘Brilliant Conversation’ would take place. Each week participants would log onto Headstream to undertake a new set of content and conversation challenges. IHG built the MOOC experience themselves, integrating videos they shot themselves, alongside content curated from internal and external sources, such as TED talks.
Leaders viewed content and contributed back to the platform to earn XP points and complete that weeks level. They voted on each other’s contributions to allow the best ideas to rise to the top. Each week IHG created a live webinar event, integrated directly into the platform, using WebEx. Learners would log onto Headstream and then launch the webinar once it was time to participate. This meant scaling to cope with all 3000 participants logging on simultaneously – something that Headstream coped with comfortably. After the event, the webinar recording was made available directly within the platform.
Finally, IHG created contribution challenges that asked participants to add their own user-generated content back to the platform. Using Headstream’s built-in video capture technology, leaders uploaded short videos of themselves answering questions and demonstrating how they would adopt the conversation principles being talked about during the MOOC.
The response from leaders was phenomenal; more than 30,000 responses (scoring 100,000 ‘experience points’) were generated in response to the curated material from IHG. More than 1,500 videos were added back to the platform, with colleagues in 42 countries contributing back to the platform.
“An hour after the MOOC, I was already faced with an opportunity to apply the SBI Model”.
Later analysis has shown clear progression of thought over the MOOC, with increasing numbers of learners committing to implementing changes in their behavior, and giving evidence of how they have tried new techniques in the workplace. In complete contrast to most MOOCs, leaders on IHG’s ‘Brilliant Conversations’ actually increased the amount of time they spent on the platform week-on-week.
“It was great opportunity to develop my ability on making Brilliant Conversation with my colleagues”.
IHG wanted to try and measure the actual impact on behavior of running a MOOC. Without evidence as to the quality of the learning intervention, it would be hard to assess the actual impact the MOOC had on the organization, beyond a range of ‘feel good’ engagement metrics. IHG felt the MOOC had been successful, but they lacked real hard evidence that it had made a difference to the organization.
Whilst the MOOC was going on, HT2 Labs was collecting evidence across systems using Learning Locker and the xAPI. With this source of data HT2 Labs’ data scientists were able to do something really clever: They were able to analyze conversations retrospectively to see how many people were actually doing something different in the workplace by the end of the 5-week experience. The results were ground-breaking. Using an approach to measure the quality of online conversation in a learning environment known as Cognitive Presence, HT2 Labs were able to map the submissions at the ‘end of week assignment’ to assess the quality of the reflective conversations occurring on a 3-point scale.
Within 4 weeks of the social experience starting, IHG could show that 50% of participants had seen how they could change and 12% of participants had actually tried a new behavior. A remarkable insight into the impact a social learning experience has had on individuals and, collectively, the organization as a whole.
At level 1 learners were simply expressing what they had watched, read or understood during the weeks learning activities.
At level 2 they were expressing a desire to change; that they might try to apply some of their new insights at some future point.
And at level 3 they were reporting back on how they tried to do something new, reflecting on how it went and on how they might do things next time as they try to form a new habit of better conversations.
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