CfL & The Grundfos Poul Due Jensen Academy Launch New online learning concept for virtual team development

By Josh Aden

Grundfos - one of the world’s leading pump manufacturers - is teaming with CfL in breaking new ground in the field of Virtual Leadership training and education. The company’s dynamic Poul Due Jensen Academy (PDJA) and the CfL have designed a new platform for training and virtual team building to deliver results across Grundfos’ international operations.

The CfL has lent its expertise in leading global virtual teams to the new educational concept, which integrate digital technology with the facilitation of team exercises and team discussions aiming at improved virtual collaboration.

“Grundfos has always been keen on developing people, we keep a high focus on people and on developing our methods,” says Hanne Fonnesbæk, Director of the PDJA which is Grundfos' global educational nerve-center.

The newly developed learning concept does just that as, teams and their managers go through the training program on their own, guided virtually. The CfL and the PDJA are still refining the learning concept, but early tests have shown positive results across Grundfos from Denmark to China.

The innovative appraoch is a part of a new era of digitally-driven business practices in The Poul Due Jensen Academy. The PDJA has been pushing new concepts for training and education for Grundfos employees since it’s establishment in 2001. In 2008 with the crash in global markets however, the Academy was forced to look to new ways to deliver learning solutions to the company because Grundfos, like many other international corporations, was forced to cut back on expenses.

Faced with a lack in travel budgets to bring the company’s far-flung team members to the campus in Denmark, the academy went full force into creating new ways to educate Grundfos employees. The Poul Due Jensen Academy decided to take the crisis and use it instead as an opportunity.

“We said we can either sit down and cry or we can say ‘okay, that’s that way it is and then change to face it. That’s when we decided to take a break from traditional class room training and go “all in” developing a “virtual PDJA”.  The ambition was to be able to deliver the first online programs within 3 months. A strong call for innovation. Fonnesbæk says. “Sometimes it helps to be forced to make some tough decisions.  By embracing the unknown and a with a strong commitment to learn and deliver at the same time we managed to get work done while figuring out how to do it. Executing and learning fast at the same time”.The PDJA team was given a simple directive: let’s pioneer and innovate. They were told to try every idea, to develop every thought and to experiment and learn fast from failures.

It was a mandate PDJA Online Learning Consultant Mia Louise Rydahl Due was pleased to undertake. The academy had modest online learning available before 2008, but the focus remained face-to-face learning in the traditional classroom. When Due and her colleagues were told to think new ways of delivering training and to innovate they happily took on the challenge.

“The mood at that time was very excited, we were able to do so many new things,” Due says.

Many of the ideas that were tried then were later incorporated into the Academy’s new paradigm of blended learning, which aims to combine self-guided online learning, virtual classroom sessions, face-to-face training, and peer to peer learning on social platforms. The idea allows more information and more competencies to reach global team members faster and more broadly than the old model.

“Our job was to train the organization to think online," Due says. It was a task that was not always easy, but Due says Grundfos is well on it’s way to virtual ways of working and learning. “Now we feel much more confident using the technologies. We can actually make the training more flexible.”

Now the Poul Due Jensen Academy aims to make their courses more on-demand  Furthermore, social media like wiki and Yammer is used to encourage peer-to-peer learning throughout the global Grundfos Organisation.

“Training in the future will not be as much about training in its traditional form," Due says "It will be moreabout facilitating knowledge-sharing."

The academy is well on its way, as they have recently won the 2012 Brandon Hall Excellence Silver Award for Best Use of Blended Learning as well as the 2013 Leveraging What Works Award from Bersin & Associates.

Grundfos' Poul Due Jensen Academy is no longer faced with surviving a financial crisis. Is is today a top professional corporate academy facilitating competence development and learning through a wide variety of services and delivery methods.

The case of partnering with CfL in developing the new digital concept for virtual team development is a good example of  how PDJA is delivering the highest-quality training and education to Grundfos' teams and leaders.