“We’re strongly committed to providing access to training and developing skills, but with face-to-face learning it’s sometimes hard to guarantee year-round access for everyone. With distance learning, we offer initial training to all our staff. This allows them to get a feel for certain topics so that they can then enrol for more in-depth face-to-face training,” explains Franck Thibault, director of development and change management for R&D at Sanofi Worldwide.
Open-access training supported by communication campaigns
The programme was initially designed for a much smaller target population (about 300 project leaders and managers) but it now reaches out to the firm’s 10.000 R&D staff across the world. Launched in 2013, the CrossKnowledge platform allows Sanofi R&D to offer open-access distance training. The programs are primarily designed to develop cooperation, innovation and project management performance, which are all key planks of the group’s strategy. “A lot of emphasis has been placed on management, leadership and advice on how to operate in a matrix-like environment that requires both observational skills and the ability to exert influence. A whole range of topics is available, of course, and the platform is modular. For content we use the CrossKnowledge catalogue, which is very extensive. Where necessary, we rework this content so that it fits our business needs more closely”, explains Franck Thibault. The CrossKnowledge program works in parallel with the group’s training plan. Staff members can decide to log on to the platform and train whenever they wish. “The value of the programme lies in its flexibility,” says Franck Thibault. “It’s made available to staff but there’s no obligation. It’s up to us to encourage people to log on by informing them about new content”.
Fostering a sense of belonging to the same community
In a global matrix organization with staff all over the world, it’s also vital to develop a feeling of belonging to a community. “We want people to share the same state of mind and the same culture”, explains Franck Thibault. “This means staff have access to identical content whether they’re American, Chinese or European”. One module, for example, offers an initiation into intercultural issues. E-learning modules give learners keys so that they can then request face-to-face sessions that are more targeted or specific to a particular market. This is where blended learning really comes into its own.
Integrating a collaborative approach with training
The distance learning program is one of the components of the initiative entitled “Mieux Travailler Ensemble” [working together more effectively], in place since 2011 at R&D level. Much more than a simple training program, this involves a range of initiatives whose aim is to foster a collaborative approach. With this in mind, the CrossKnowledge program has been integrated into “I Connect”, Sanofi’s information exchange platform. “Interconnection with our community solution was essential for us”, says Franck Thibault. “It avoids confusion because staff are always in an environment that’s familiar to them”. It’s a good example of how collective intelligence can be integrated with skills development. “We’ve already seen a large number of logins and received very positive comments“, notes Franck Thibault. “People can leave messages on the “I Connect” platform to give us feedback and make suggestions”. Learner tracking tools provide key indicators such as the number of logins, time spent training, and satisfaction levels. This solution has allowed the Sanofi group to integrate a range of collaborative and training modalities in order to enhance skills development.