FL&D Monthly News Flash

Learn. Share. Succeed. Together.

Coming Soon...Block Academy!

Welcome to the February edition of our monthly FL&D newsletter! This is a busy month of reviewing past practices, developing our strategies for next year, continuing to develop and produce training materials, and configuring a brand new LMS - Block Academy. Thanks for continuing to share best practices and share across teams!
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Spotlight on Best Practices

Touring the Teams

Training Development

State Tax Training:

The State Tax Training team has been busy preparing for the huge launch of their State ITC body of work. For the first time, this team will centralize the training development of the state content pieces that are part of ITC. Part of their preparation was to dry-run their development approach and work out a lot of kinks in the details, such as hand-offs, verifying LOEs, etc. This team will launch in a big way by mid-Feb, after partnering with their Product Owner, Kiesha, to plot and scheme the entire product backlog. While the fine details are being ironed out, you can expect this new body of work to reflect a spirit of innovation, producing reusable content that will be consumable and accessible for all of our Prior Tax Professionals as well.

Federal Tax Training:

The Federal Tax Training team is consulting on the final selections for Upper Level curriculum, and preparing for the launch year of the new Certification program. While in this phase of planning, they have also been taking time to focus on the foundation of their instructional design approach, by trying out some iterations of Design Documents. This exercise is helping to shape what will be a final Design Document template for all teams to use, once the extended Lead Team signs off on the consistent template. As the Federal Tax Training team is learning, a Design Document helps set the scope of the course, define the course objectives, and other preparatory work before actual development. It’s all about “measure twice and cut once”! Time spent up front saves time in the rest of the process.

Skills to Win:

The Skills to Win team is in full swing with their new OM In-season Meeting cadence, providing DGMs will weekly materials they can use to “build their own” weekly meetings they hold with their OMs. This year, every other week is delivered virtually, calling on new facilitation skill-sets in our DGMs. The Skills team not only provides the weekly content, but also a library of Optional Topics that DGMs can select from to provide booster learning for their OMs, based on the performance gaps they are seeing in their particular district. Midseason Training development is also underway, looking at support for a strong second half, with focus on the 50% off promotion and revitalizing Second Look. This team has really mastered the art of creating Reusable Learning Objects, and writing training support that can be delivered in various delivery methods and media. The field response has been very positive.

Learning Program Mgmt & Ops

The Editing & Production Team worked closely with the Federal and State tax training teams to organize their project folder structures and to help finalize their many templates for 2016; they also partnered with the State Tax Training team to beta test and problem-solve during the pilot phase of creating the all-important State Income Tax Courses so both teams are ready to kick off the writing season.

We are proving to be Agile and continue to evolve. The team held a Agile Workshop and created an “Agile-Hybrid” approach that three of the four development teams are piloting, while the CSLD team continues to be the control group and remain holistically Agile. This change fully empowers the team managers to utilize the Agile Scrum process within their teams.

We completed the transition of the CE Termination process from the field to a localized team with members from Learning, OCOE, ARC and PeopleCenter. Saw a 12% reduction in the number of terminations through proactive communication and improved coordination across teams. We closed this process with an After Action Review (AAR) meeting run by our Scrum Master, Jim Warford, and have developed a detailed plan to increase our process for next season.

Class Manager requirements and development are in progress. Class Manager will be the tool the field can use, eight months out of the year, to manage their class schedules. It is an improved process over SIAB and greater user experience than scheduling within Block Academy.

We continue to forge ahead on the LMS integration. We are currently performing system testing and in February/early March will focus on user acceptance testing. We have been collecting business process user stories in which we will test, in the LMS system, and ensure our business processes will still perform as we intend. Many in FLD have been involved in the user stories and will be asked to assist in the February user acceptance testing (UAT). Once we have completed our UAT testing, we will begin Pilot testing and invite our field partners to also test the system.

Learning Innovation & Strategy

Virtual Classroom:

  • Completed Virtual year-end reporting

  • Certified 58 Master Virtual Instructors

  • Completed Block Advisor 130 VILT offerings for 3078 associates

  • Completed Scheduling Tool inputs, validation, and predictive modeling


  • Our newest eLearning Developer - Adarsh Rao - joined our team, residing in India
  • Loading and testing content in the new LMS (Block Academy) & outlining approach to moving all DNA training content into Block Academy
  • Rocking out the first 3D game simulation for mid-season Skills to Win training focused on EARN

Innovation Strategy:

  • 67,743 associates completed BW Qualification training for RTS deadline

    • 92% Company, 65% Franchise

  • Finalized the Block Academy Welcome Page Experience with three distinct welcome pages:

    • ITC Students,

    • Tax Professionals/OMs

    • CSC/Year Round Associates

  • Finalized learning approach for Block Academy learning plan for leaders, learners and support partners

  • New Learning Innovation Project Manager Jana Meyers starts 2/22

Field Dev & Training Delivery

The Leadership Development team is hard at work analyzing the success of the Area Manager launch training plan. Stacy Perryman and Amy Mancha are hatching a plan to provide a training experience that considers the hiring date factor of each Area Manager. What you need to learn first if you are hired in December (hello, TPRG and new client growth tactics!) are much different than what you need to learn first if you are hired in July (it’s all about hiring Tax Pros!). This Year-Two training plan takes all of that into consideration with a dynamic series of cycles.

The Market Training Managers have jam-packed calendars with field visits, where they are providing coaching to field leaders, while also harvesting awesome feedback that they bring back in to the Training Development teams for consideration in Skills to Win, Federal Tax Training and State Tax Training. In addition, the MTMs consult with their Market Vice Presidents to share performance trends they are seeing, and to help bring any areas of focus to life in the market. This team is also going through an annual planning cycle, looking at all the support tools they provide for the field and getting everything tee’d up to help leaders plan their next round of training for their areas and guidance on selecting the best instructors for these important classes.

Client Support L&D

  • CSL&D has produced 890 products since June 1st through the Agile/Scrum Process

  • CSL&D has logged over 5,400 hours of classroom curriculum facilitation & delivery for our 5 business partners since June 1st

  • Our Retail Team created training materials along with facilitating that training to support our business partner’s “Helping Hands” and Sweepstakes programs for the CSC with less than a 2-week notice

Feedback, please!

One of your top Associate Engagement requests was for a way to provide confidential feedback, year-round. Ask, and ye shall receive - your new Virtual Suggestion Box: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/fldvirtualsuggestionbox