Lessons from the Best: 2012 Bersin & Associates Learning Leaders

Back in 2006 we had a dream of building a new type of industry recognition program that would use the rigor of our research to recognize leading L&D, HR, and talent management programs around the world. This program, which we call the Bersin & Associates Learning Leaders®, is now in its sixth year and today I am very excited to announce the winners and highlight the 108 page best-practice report highlighting these fantastic programs.

About the Learning Leaders Program

There are many recognition programs in the industry. Some are very promotional (e.g. they cost a lot to apply and they tend to give hundreds of awards), some are vendor-driven (vendors highlighting some of their great customers), and some are rigorous but have somewhat “untransparent” criteria.

Our goal with the Learning Leaders program is to make the entire effort a valuable learning experience for all: for those who apply, for those who read the final report, and for us as a research organization. So from the outset we decided that the program would follow some strict rules:

  • Use rigorous and very clearly defined criteria, so that people who fill out the application actually learn a lot about what a “high-impact” program is, while they assess their own program
  • Use our research in the definition of a winning program, so that the application itself embodies our best-practice research
  • Be low-cost to enter (we do not cover our costs in this effort, but see it as a valuable project for our own learning and industry-wide learning and recognition)
  • Be highly transparent about why a particular program was selected, and try to inform everyone who was not selected what they could do to improve for the following year
  • Write a detailed best-practice report on all the winners, which would include models and practices others could learn from, and
  • Invite all the winners to the IMPACT 2012 Research Conference to talk about their success and meet others.

All this effort takes us an entire year, end-to-end.  And each of our analysts puts hundreds of hours into the program.  (In fact right now we are already planning the 2013 program.)

For those of you who want to learn, it means that you can read the Learning Leaders report (at no charge) and really gain the collective knowledge of hundreds of leading organizations in all aspects of learning, talent management, human resources, and related technology. For those of you who apply or want to apply, I hope that the experience of filling in the application and talking with our analysts is highly educational and helpful.

The 2012 Winning Organizations and Programs

This year the winning programs were truly amazing. I won’t try to list them all here (you can read about them in the report or on the website), but let me highlight a few of the major themes:

  • Performance-driven learning drives business results, even during a recession. Companies like AT&T, Cisco, Xerox, HP, HCL, Jiffy Lube all put together amazing learning and performance support programs which helped their organizations drive quality, productivity, and revenue. You’ll find that these solutions are all rich, competency-driven, and they leverage informal and formal learning in powerful ways.
  • Social learning has clearly arrived. Companies like Accenture, Marriott, Booz Allen Hamilton, and CA are leveraging the wide range of social and informal learning strategies in world-class solutions already. The world of social learning is not “coming,” it has “arrived.”
  • Leadership development and talent management are now highly integrated into world-class learning strategies. Our winners in leadership and talent management, which include PWC, SunTrust, Grant-Thornton, AT&T, and the IRS are all adopting what we call 21st Century Leadership strategies which have helped their companies survive the downturn and thrive in the global recovery.
  • And of course innovation and technology has moved faster than ever:  the winners Dextro, Vangent, Capital Analytics, KnowledgeAdvisors, Bloomfire, GlobalEnglish, Triple Creek, Allen Communication, Korn/Ferry, and Work4 Labs are all providing groundbreaking new tools and solutions which enable HR and L&D to transform itself.

I would like to personally congratulate the winners, as well as all the 200+ companies who took the time to apply this year. As I read the applications I was actually very disappointed that we could not double or triple the number of winners, because within the applications there were dozens of others which came very close to reaching the same level of impact as the ones we selected.

Please take a few minutes to download the report and pass it around within your organization. Every year the Learning Leaders report is the most widely read piece of research we produce, and this year I think you will find hundreds of good ideas, models, and strategies you can use.

I would like to thank all the participants, our friends at Elearning! magazine, and our entire analyst team for the effort that went into the program. I look forward to seeing you all at IMPACT in April to celebrate!