5 Steps to Implementing a Modern Mobile Learning Solution Across a Distributed Workforce

Key takeaways from Courtney Cordova’s (the Whole Foods Global Director of Training) presentation on their mobile learning initiatives.

  • Almost all (99%) of restaurant and retail organizations report implementing, or beginning to implement mobile devices (99%) and mobile apps and software (97%) for their workforce.

  • They are finding many employees are taking 8 hours a week “looking for things”, so when you can use mobile to decrease that time they see:

    • 20% decrease in total onboarding and training time

    • 20% increase in productivity (revenue per employee)

  • most people now “have a computer in their pocket”

Their model is ADKAR, the five building blocks of change:

 When you create:                                                                                  You hear:

Awareness                                                                                                “I understand why . . .”

Desire                                                                                                          “I have decided to . . .”

Knowledge                                                                                               “I know how to . . .”

Ability                                                                                                         “I am able to . . .”

Reinforcement                                                                                        “I will continue to . . .”

Example of becoming more healthy – with many people everything is there but Desire.

Steps they followed:

Step 1 – The challenge

  •  Create “challenge statement”

  • Brainstorm with the L&D group, team members, and other stakeholders on the business value, current state, and hoped for future state.

Step 2 – Creation of persona

 How do I look at this person’s experience, and how do I approach them?

 Figure out the following:

  • Name?

  • Demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, education level)?

  • For age, don’t go to average, go to median (typical age), averages can really skew things

  • Experience with the company?

  • Experience with the role?

  • Biggest challenge on the job?

  • What do they value most about the role?

  • What motivates them about the role?

  • What does a typical day look like?

  • Is their any technology used through the day?

  • Most likely setting for taking training?

  • Does the learnr play any games?

  • Other questions?

Cordova went through this with an audience member who was developing training for the line men for a utility company. I was perhaps not surprised that the only things they were coming up with for motivation was the money and supporting their family. One person added a motivation for many of these kinds of workers is not having to work in an office and be at a computer, which Cordova agreed with.

Tech questions to be addressed include:

  • Are you going to build or buy the technological solution?

  • Provide devices or BYOD (bring your own device)?

    • It might make sense to use the phones they already have, but if so how do you make sure that’s OK with leadership?

    • Will you reimburse if they are using their device?

    • Will you give them a choice of yours or their device?

      •  With older people in particular it may be easier to provide the device. If doing so:

        • What do you already have?

        • How will you guarantee security?

        • Can it be accessed outside of company wifi?

  • Does it fit with company values (i.e. for Whole Foods they want to reduce waste, thus reduce or eliminate printing)

  • App or browser based?

  • How will you gather analytics?

  • Do you lock it down when not during work hours?

 Questions about content to be addressed:

  • What content do you want to provide?

  • Who will provide/develop it?

  • How will you test it during pilot stage?

  • Job aids?

  • Reminders?

  • Standard operating procedures?


  • User frequency – how often are they using it

  • Decrease in time searching for things

  • Increase in productivity

  • Unique users

  • Page views

  • Be smart about it – maybe a short amount of time is appropriate for that particular job aid, but too much time in an SOP might be an indication it’s too complicated and needs to be broken up.

Other takeaways:

  • The launch was behind schedule. So they made posters with QR codes they hung in the employee only areas so employees could start accessing content and getting their feet wet.

  •  They are using inkling – good for both informal, self-directed way, but can also be good for more formal if desired. https://www.inkling.com/, which can do both app and browser, which they need.

  • In her previous job at Bridgestone they phased out their LMS and went to other solutions.