Magazine article Talent Development

Alone We're Delicious; Together We're Yum: Yum! Brands Used a Learning Technology Platform to Roll out a Worldwide Program That Would Build the Capability of the Company's 1.4 Million Team Members

Magazine article Talent Development

Alone We're Delicious; Together We're Yum: Yum! Brands Used a Learning Technology Platform to Roll out a Worldwide Program That Would Build the Capability of the Company's 1.4 Million Team Members

Article excerpt

Since Yum! Brands was formed in 1997, our formula for success has been to put people capability first, followed by satisfied customers and profitability. With a system as vast, diverse, and decentralized as ours, people capability is our biggest and most important focus.

Yum! Brands comprises 37,000 KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants in 117 countries. Our business is about 80 percent franchised, and we have 1.4 million team members. The company opens more than four restaurants each day around the world, and we're on the "ground floor" of our growth potential internationally in areas such as China, India, Russia, and African nations.

In the early days, we inherited various legacy development elements that had been in place at the brands for years, so there was no consistency. After the 1997 spin-off from PepsiCo, we sought out best practices from inside and outside the organization. We captured, codified, and began sharing the best thinking and know-how to build capability in a global organization.

In the learning function, creating a workable solution across the globe meant more than just creating great content. We knew that to get the results we really wanted, we needed to embark on a journey to fundamentally change our intentionality and our methods. We also knew that learning technologies would be a fundamental method we needed to use.

Beginning the process

As with any large change endeavor, we first needed to build our own knowledge base, both by finding what was working best inside Yum! and outside with other leading corporations. We sought outside examples from companies that had implemented successful transformations through learning technologies and showcased what was possible within our business context to senior leadership.

With their support, we took the next big step and simultaneously worked on three objectives: defining the technology landscape across our vast system; focusing on a look and feel of a platform to ensure we remained efficient; and devising content standards to make sure we could deploy content that would be leading-edge but also would work in our restaurant environment.

Key to success at this point was making sure each company division was represented and had a seat at the table. To that end, a "squad" of stakeholders from the different IT and learning functions across the organization got involved to provide input and direction over several months to create a learning technologies infrastructure that could then be populated with relevant content.

Because technology capabilities are different for each brand, division, country, and franchise, we needed to take a consumer-based approach when building our system. For instance, connection speeds can vary significantly from restaurant to restaurant and country to country. In addition, browser versions and the age of computer hardware can vary from restaurant to restaurant.

Because the learning platform wasn't tied to a specific set of existing systems, we also gave it an internal brand, the Yum! Learning Zone. Our divisions adopted the Learning Zone idea and put their names in front of it (for example, KFC Learning Zone) and branded the look and feel of their part of the system to match their brand.

"We conducted testing across the more common combinations and established baselines for connectivity," says Cindy Bagwell, systems training director at Taco Bell. "Then we collaborated with our franchisees to establish a systems qualification standard to ensure we only launched the system to those restaurants that had the capabilities needed for success. We also developed maximum standards for content to ensure it was compatible with the available bandwidth."

Each division then developed a readiness rollout plan, in which they introduced the new programs on the technology platform and demonstrated how those fit into existing training processes. …

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