Forward Not Fast


Create Learner-First Experiences that Propel Adoption

It wasn’t a great day at Cox Enterprises. They weren’t going to release the new learning mobile application on schedule as hoped. The team wanted to be on time. But sometimes “not yet” is the only right thing to say.

At Cox Enterprises, one of the largest, privately–owned companies in the United States, they put a premium on supporting personal development for their 55,000 employees. That means nothing gets released until it has been thoroughly tested by users and there is a documented communication plan.

Every solution must go through three primary gates before getting the Ok to go live because the team knows people don’t want to disrupt their work to learn. They want to learn in the context of their work.

First, they started with traditional QA testing. Quality assurance was where system developers ran the standardized tests to make sure all of the functionality worked as scoped.

Next, they sat down with individuals and conducted usability testing. User testing was both guided, where they are more directive with what users should do, and unguided where little direction was offered – they let the user play around and observe how they figure things out (or don’t).

Last, they performed what they call conference room pilots. In this phase, they got a bunch of different users in a room, gave them a little bit of guidance, and then let them do it on their own to see where they go. People were both in the room, and dialing in remotely. What’s great about this approach was the depth and breadth of different devices and different operating systems all trying to do the same thing at the same time. They learned a lot.

“We don’t ever say it’s good enough. We make forward progress towards making our systems worthy of the people we serve.”

Kelly Moyle

Lead enterprise HR
Technology Analyst
Cox Enterprises

At each checkpoint, they were not just testing; they were taking time to incorporate what was learned into the system. At the same time they ran running regression analysis often to ensure new introductions didn’t break prior work.

Cox Enterprises believes you also have to put as much care into driving awareness as you do creating a user experience people will love. They did all of the things you would expect – sent out emails and included the news in company newsletters. They even updated the banner on their internal portal.

And they did some things you might NOT expect. They created a high energy video that explained what they were doing and why, and made it easy to share. They even held a pep rally to support the roll-out of the new application – yep, you read that right, a pep rally. They hung out in the lobby– handing out gifts, played music, and got their groove going.

It sounds unconventional, but what do you think people talked about – the blurb in the newsletter or the cheers created in the lobby to break up a routine day?

The reward for all this hard work – rapid adoption.