Blog Post

How TED Gets Your Workforce Talking

Jeff Miller

Chief Learning Officer and Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness, Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone today announced a partnership with TED that brings curated TED Talks to Cornerstone clients and this has a lot of us really excited. TED Talks are a powerful learning tool because they not only provide learning on a vast array of subjects, they change how people think. They introduce concepts and ideas that can challenge beliefs and inspire new ways of viewing the world. More so, employees are excited by TED Talks. Like Nike and Apple, TED has built great brand recognition and is a sought after name. People like TED; they get it and trust it. Introducing TED Talks into your workforce shows your employees that you get them – you understand them. They show that you want your workforce to explore new areas and you want them to think about what they are doing, both in and out of the office, on a larger scale.

TED is unique in that it has created an incredibly successful platform for sharing ideas in a short time frame. TED has figured out how to take large-scale lectures in front of a big, energetic audience, yet make the viewer feel like they are in an intimate, personal learning space. There’s something about TED Talks that make people feel inherently good while watching them. In 6-18 minutes, people get snippets of information in a concise way about topics that really interest them. This interest and engagement stimulates conversation in the workplace that otherwise would not happen, creating an informal learning environment and a work culture that fosters open dialogue. It is changing the way people are talking to each other at work, and contextualizing the work environment in an entirely different way.

A New Way to Learn

Technology has gotten us used to shortening and abbreviating everything. The mobile phone revolution has given rise to a new generation of workers that have grown up multi-tasking and being able to get the information they need, when they need it. Finding information is no longer the issue, information on any subject is readily available. The question now is how one gets access to the best information. This is why curation is critical from an organizational perspective. Anyone can go online and look up a TED Talk, but they will likely end up on a talk that has been deemed relevant solely by a search engine, without context into what objective of the viewer is. Curated talks have been vetted from the thousands of TED Talks available to ensure that these are the best and most relevant discussions that will directly address your organizational needs.

Employees want learning to be easy. Time management and stress management are two of the biggest pain points for employees in their everyday life and anything an organization can do to help people get to quality information quicker is going to be a huge asset. Not only will they get to information quicker, the information they find will be aligned to larger organizational objectives. For example, if fostering creativity in your workforce is a priority, you can roll out a curated playlist on creativity or inspiration and assign it to targeted employees. Curated lists can also be leveraged with other learning and development curricula that also reinforce the importance of creativity in your organization.

Enabling a Learning Workforce

TED Talks can be used before, during, and after trainings to drive home points and reinforce the training’s message. They also add another layer of credibility to a presenter –people tend to trust the message even more if it is supplemented by TED material. TED content also opens up the opportunity for informal discussion after the presentation between the presenters and participants, and between the participants themselves, to further explore ideas raised by the TED Talks. This really gets into the area of learning and engagement and shows employees that learning in your organization is a two way discussion.

Organizations are also beginning to understand that giving their workforce control over their learning is important. Regardless of whether the content is video, mobile, or anything else, people want to autonomously select what they are looking at, they want to be able to talk about it amongst each other, and they want to share it. By giving employees greater control of their learning, organizations can bring down the wall that stands between ’student’ and ’teacher’ and create an environment of formal and informal learning where everyone plays a part in each other’s development. Famed psychologist Lev Vygotsky discussed the power of learning residing in co-construction – that we learn best when we learn together and can see each other in each other’s lights.

How many times have you forwarded a TED Talk to a friend because you knew they just had to see it? Either you knew it was something that was already of interest to them, or you found it so interesting that you want them to be exposed to it so you can have someone to discuss it with. Now imagine your entire organization doing that on a regular basis. Your employees want to learn – give them engaging material like curated TED Talks and control over how they do it and you’ll be impressed with the conversations that you’ll hear around the office.

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