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Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture [Hardcover]

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Item description for Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture by Donald Vanthournout...

From one of the world's best-known corporations comes this in-depth, inside story of how Accenture revitalized its fabled corporate training organization in the midst of worldwide economic downturn and major marketplace change. The company did so by focusing on the "return on learning": how Accenture's investments in learning and knowledge management could be planned and managed to deliver measurable business advantage.

Like most corporations at the turn of the millennium, Accenture was dealing with business, economic, and operational changes that were profoundly affecting its internationally renowned internal training program, which shapes and supports the work of its more than 126,000 employees in 48 countries. Within a few short years, Accenture reinvented its training and development capabilities through effective planning and governance, strong leadership, groundbreaking ROI methods, operational rigor, and the application of advanced technologies, as well as what the company's learning team dubbed "phenomenal learning." The result: better learning programs with measurably greater business impact at less cost.

The Accenture veterans who tell this story take readers deep inside Accenture's operations and decision making, so other professionals and companies can benefit from these experiences in using training to achieve high performance.

Donald Vanthournout is chief learning officer at Accenture. Kurt Olson, John Ceisel, Andrew White, Tad Waddington, Thomas Barfield, Samir Desai, and Craig Mindrum are all with Accenture.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   190
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 21, 2006
Publisher   Agate
ISBN  1932841180  
ISBN13  9781932841183  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture?

How Accenture achieved an ROI of 353% on its commitment to enterprise learning  Feb 12, 2008

To the best of my knowledge, this book offers the single best source for information and counsel on how to design a high-impact learning program that can be implemented and then sustained (with continuous improvement) at all levels and within all areas of the given organization. Better yet, as the contributors to this book (members of Accenture's Capability Development team) explain, the ROI of such a program can be both quantified and verified.

In 2001, Accenture faced a number of major challenges that are best revealed and discussed within the narrative, in context. The fact remains that, led by Donald Vanthournout, Accenture's Capability Development team began a "journey" that had to take those challenges into full account. What they learned provides the most valuable material in this book. The story of their journey is a business story: about how one company - Accenture - advanced toward high performance through learning, knowledge management and the transformation of its workforce. By extension, however, it is about how other organizations can do the same."

In recent years, senior-level executives have been much more interested in knowing how to increase and improve the nature and extent of employee engagement: "how can they best tap into the collective intelligence of their people and engage them in their work, for their benefit and the benefit of he entire enterprise?" Vanthournout and the members of his team shared a business-centric perspective. They were determined to link human capital investments to business benefits, both for Accenture and for each of its clients; to put in place the governance and leadership structures that increase a learning program's chances of success; to ensure that the actual classroom and electrinic training create what the team characterized as "phenomenal" learning experiences; and to maximize the operational efficiency of learning. According to Vanthournout, he selected members to comprise a team that "was more of a team focused more on corporate education than it was an education team trying to have a business impact."

Here are some of the key lessons that members of the Accenture team learned during their "journey,"each of which is supported by hard data rather than by firm (albeit sincere) convictions:

1. Enterprise learning must be driven with the end in mind: the business results to be achieved.

2. An enterprise should build a learning strategy founded on the core values of the organization, as well as its primary leadership values.

3. Through metrics and ROI analysis, learning investments can be linked to business performance outcomes.

4. When conducting an ROI analysis, organizations should focus on how learning improved a person's performance on the job.

5. According to Kurt Olson, a team member, "Although it may be an overused phrase now, phenomenal earning was truly the `secret sauce' for many of the outcomes we have accomplished with the learning transformation initiative at Accenture. Phenomenal learning was how all good planning and design came to life. It's how the `thinking' and the `doing' all came together to produce phenomenal results."

6. To address the increasing emphasis on business outcomes, today's learning professionals must have strong business skills.

7. Because the lifespan of learning content is shrinking as the marketplace changes more rapidly, Accenture must develop the means for faster, continuous, and more efficient content production or revision.

8. A global learning infrastructure can integrate vital decision-support functionalities that help increase the impact of learning and keep it aligned with the most important business needs.

9. Companies should focus on differentiating their workforces, creating deep skills in people that can be brought to bear anywhere around the organization.

10. Increasing the engagement of employees is important not only to retaining them and improving productivity. It is important to growth and innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence of value workers.

It is worth noting that, as a result of the efforts of the Capability Development team, working closely with senior management and countless other associates throughout the firm, "for every dollar Accenture invests in learning, the company receives that dollar back plus an additional $3.25 in measurable value to its bottom line. - in other words, a 353 percent return on learning." Literally, ROL = ROI. To repeat, Return on Learning is also about "how other organizations can do the same." Or how they can at least "use learning programs for major business impact, and can run learning as a business."

Those who share my high regard for it are urged to check out any book written by Peter Senge (notably The Fifth Discipline The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization and The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations (co-authored with Art Kleiner, Charlotte Roberts, and George Roth as well as James O'Toole's Leading Change: The Argument for Values-Based Leadership, Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary Model for Competing in a Flat World co-authored by Charles E. Grantham, James P. Ware, and Cory Williamson, Dean R. Spitzer's Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success, and Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.
Creating company value with training  Jan 25, 2008
This concise, clearly written book describes how Accenture went from being a company that put its entire workforce through a standard suite of courses to becoming a company with a knowledge-sharing culture. Accenture's employees now embody its knowledge and service capability. Even though your company is probably different from Accenture, your workforce is still the engine that allows it to grow and compete. A company can thrive only if its people have the opportunity to constantly renew their skills. If that level of knowledge management is part of your goals, getAbstract recommends this case study of how to create a high-performance learning culture.
Wise -- and reads like a novel  May 8, 2007
A great book. I'm sorry that I haven't seen it reviewed in major publications. There's a real wisdom at the heart of this book. Lots of ideas about how to deliver great training that has an impact on the business. Personal reflections from the people who work for the training organization at Accenture, all spun as a story. And then some really provocative, forward-looking ideas. Reading the book is like bringing a Trojan horse of ideas into your company.
Both practical and "big vision" ideas   Oct 8, 2006
I'm guessing that "Ed" and I (see other review) might have been at the same conference together where we received a copy of this book. I can second much of what he says, and also add that when it comes to one of my personal measures of a book's value--"number of significant ideas per page"--this book scores very high. I liked the "phenomenal learning" stuff in particular, and I also liked the discussion of Accenture's decision support capabilities that it developed as part of its learning management system.

I'd have to classify myself as one of those getting somewhat disillusioned by the big discrepancy between what a company's leaders say about their workforce ("People are our most important asset, yadda yadda yadda") and where they really invest their money. (Guess what budgets get cut first when things get tight?) I don't know enough about Accenture's inner workings from an employee's perspective to know if it's business really rises above that, but it is clear they are wrestling with it, and that certain core leaders really do "get" it.

There are practical ideas in this book and there are some "big vision" kinds of ideas -- something for about everyone.

Compelling, well-written, with practical business insights  Sep 29, 2006
I finished this book on a cross-country flight this week (the book is admirably short and punchy) and I'm still shaking my head over it. The book is incredibly honest about how business change and a down economy had apparently temporarily weakened Accenture's commitment to its workforce to provide training and development opportunities. (Actual quote from the book, when Accenture's Chief Learning Officer is trying to convince his executives that something had to be done: "The deal we have made with our people has been broken.")

But then the book proceeds to tell an entirely believable story of how they turned things around. Sure, there is the ocasional bit of consulting-speak in here, but most of what you get are practical ideas about how to plan, how to get your executives on board (please give this book to your local CEO/COO/CFO), how to use outsourcing in a smart way, how to use technology, ect., ect. And its not filled with theory but practical experiences of real people. For those with the background/interest, there is also a chapter on the number-crunching. Doubt it if you want to, but these guys proved that Accenture gets a 353 percent return on every dollar it spends on training. From what I can tell by reading that chapter, the real number probably is even higher since the ROI model they created only used a few parameters that they were absolutely sure they could quantify.

The book is really targeted at executives, but there is also a lot of good stuff for learning and HR professionals. One thing I really liked: Accenture's admission that in previous years they're training people had gotten lots of awards for training courses but weren't as good when it came to delivering projects on time and on budget. This new team got the respect of senior executives by saying, "Yeah, we're still going to deliver great training, but we're also going to do it by being good stewards of your investment dollars."

Not everyone is going to have the money Accenture has to throw at problems like this, but they, too, learned to do a lot with a much smaller budget -- and I can't think of a single thing here that another CEO or HR/learning executive like myself couldn't apply in some way to his or her organization.

On top of it all, the book is written in a totally compelling way. Other writers of business books, take note: it's written such that the authors are actually characters in a story. As a reader, your brought along as if you were reading a novel. Even if learning or HR isn't your thing, take a read to see how you can plan any kind of reinvention business program.

A really well done book, and worth the time it took for me to write a few words saying, "Way to go."

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