The Future of Leadership Development: Experience Platforms


In the last couple of decades, leadership development has undergone drastic transformation. From the physical universities like GE Crotonville and Accenture St. Charles to virtual, e-learning software platforms to bite-sized MOOCs from platforms like and even YouTube, L&D has been desperately seeking a structure that both fits into employees’ schedules and enables lasting improvement.

And yet in 2015, according to learning and development expert Josh Bersin, despite the billions of dollars companies had invested in cutting-edge learning offerings, L&D on the whole still had a negative net promoter score. In fact, in a survey of more than 500 executives, McKinsey found that only 11 percent felt strongly that their leadership development initiatives were having the desired long-term results. And companies are desperately worried about skill development as they consider the future of work.

This situation launched the next evolution of leadership development: According to a recent report from BMO Capital Markets, emerging companies in this space have been less focused on training content and more on delivery and assessment features driven by new technologies and talent management capabilities.

One type of new solution is called the learning experience platform (LXP). Intended to mirror the way we consume video content (i.e., “The Netflix of Learning”), LXPs are meant to be user-centric, allowing employees to customize their learning to their individual needs and fit it into the everyday flow of their work.

Source: Bersin

This new format took off, but as Bersin points out, early LXPs were focused almost entirely on developing technical skills, which are no longer as relevant to employees and future leaders as soft skills.

Just recently IBM released some very profound research. Today, after surveying more than 4,500 senior execs in 50 countries, they told us something new. The real problems they now face are not just technical skills, but actually broad social and behavioral skills – thinks we consider far more complex, soft, and experiential. Young workers reinforce this finding. […] They want to learn broader context, problem-solving, leadership, influence, and communication.

There are two big questions now:

  • Are learning experience platforms working?
  • Do they serve just technical skills or can they develop the capabilities like EQ and communication skills that will drive profound business results now and in the future of work? 

Do Learning Experience Platforms Work?

To answer, let’s take a look at how professionals learn. The 70-20-10 rule refers to the how employees do most of their learning, claiming that 70 percent comes from on-the-job experiences, 20 percent comes from interactions with others, and only 10 percent comes from formal educational events. However, the Association for Talent Development argues (and we here at Quantified agree) that, if it’s done right, a “formal educational experience” can provide the full 100 percent. The key is to ensure that those formal training experiences are built around the specific work employees are doing—they must be directly related to and even intertwined with the work experiences that make up the 70 percent.

The 70-20-10 places so much emphasis on on-the-job learning because, in those real-life situations, employees are making important decisions, learning from their mistakes, and receiving feedback in real time, based on experiences that actually matter.

Now, what if we could incorporate that real-time response into simulated learning environments to apply skills development clearly and immediately to the users’ everyday needs and responsibilities. And then measure the behavioral change. Ultimately, learning experience platforms work if they include experiential or simulated learning environments and measured learning outcomes.

An effective learning and development program, says Bersin, is not a series of instructional videos like you might find on YouTube when your washing machine gives out, but a “Capability Academy.” He defines capability academies as online resource centers that include expert instruction and in-platform activities along with “take-home” assignments that align directly to the companies processes and needs. All this is driven by business leaders and centered around a core goal, such as customer service, safety, or the way we do it here at Quantified, leadership communication.

Can LXPs Extend Beyond Technical Skills to Broader Leadership Skills?

As Bersin says, “the skills of the future are not technical, they’re behavioral.” They’re the “soft skills” like team management, adaptability, and communication. Even more than the technical skills, these behavioral skills will drive success—or failure—in workplaces of the (very near) future.

But do LXPs currently cover the broader leadership skills businesses will need moving forward?

We believe—and Bersin agrees with us—that they can, as long as they’re designed around experiences, activities, and interactions rather than content alone. In other words, going back to that 70-20-10 theory, for an LXP to be effective in developing soft skills, it has to go beyond theoretical lectures and require users to get their hands dirty, think critically, and practice.

The Quantified Platform: A “Capability Academy” with Leadership Communication at its Core

Here at Quantified, we know that the foundation of successful leadership is communication. It’s the “soft skill” that drives teamwork, engagement, vision, influence, and so much more.

Leaders spend 80 percent of their days communicating. Imagine if you could improve that skill by just 10 percent.

Companies that want to prepare employees to continue driving success in the new, digitalized workforce are investing in helping employees, high-performers, and leaders build strong communication skills.

Our platform, a soft-skills-focused immersive learning platform, enables teams to identify and prioritize the capabilities they most need to develop, from executive presence and storytelling to sales and influence, to highly specific skills like clarity, confidence, or authenticity.

Based on their individual and companywide goals, users assess their baseline proficiency to identify their existing strengths and development opportunities based on twenty-four characteristics of communication performance and perception. Following this analysis, each user receives a prescriptive and personalized learning path. The platform surfaces courses, videos, interactive exercises, articles, and other resources to teach users—all based on their unique needs and progress. And at the end, users can re-assess their skills to measure improvement and update their capability growth plan to ensure continued growth.

All of this data is rolled into each user’s QC Score, the standard for measuring communication effectiveness in any given setting. The QC score is indexed against a global and diverse database of hundreds of thousands of communication samples, showing users exactly where they stand compared to iconic communicators, peers, competitors, and the general population.

Bersin and other experts in leadership development are calling for corporate training solutions that function as Capability Academies, moving away from technical skills and focusing on the more human-centric skills that will become more and more critical as digitization and automation transform the workplace. Here at Quantified, we’re ready. We know communication is and will continue to be at the core of successful leadership, and our platform is poised to help current and future leaders become effective in any setting, achieving their professional goals, quantifying their behavioral improvements, and driving continued growth for their businesses.