5 Moments of Need

McKinsey’s 5 Moments of Need Journey

Published On: February 11th, 2020
McKinsey’s 5 Moments of Need Journey

This blog is excerpted from episode
the Performance Matters podcast where Bob
Mosher speaks with Katie Coates, Senior Learning Manager at McKinsey Global, on
her organization’s 5 Moments of Need solution, the business drivers for this
shift, their journey thus far, and the lessons that have been learned along the

Bob Mosher (BM): Today—one of my favorite subseries, Experience Matters! We
are honored to be joined by one of our heroes in this industry—Katie Coates
from McKinsey.
She is one of those rare L&D leaders who is not afraid to risk—not
afraid to fail forward if you will, and truly is a leader in all that she does.
Katie, welcome!
Katie Coates (KC): Thank you so much, Bob! It is great to be here with you.
Thanks for that wonderful introduction, I’m honored.
BM: So, deserved, and on that note, would you give us a bit more about your
background and the current state of your team, so we have a better
understanding of the current lay of the land there at McKinsey?
KC: I’ve been in Learning and Development for over 25 years. Currently I
lead Learning for our Internal Firm Services. So about 13,000 professionals in
our IT, Human Resources, Talent, Recruiting, Finance, all of the organizations
that support our business. Our team—right now, we’re pretty new so the firm has
recently started investing more in this area. I have one curriculum manager
that works with me and a couple of delivery folks that help us deliver our
BM: So, why The 5 Moments? Could you give us a little bit more about the
journey that brought you to this approach?
KC: Our managing director talks a lot about the pace of change right now.
It’s moving faster than ever before. And it will never be this slow again. And
when we look at the complexity of the world and of our work and of our
requirements, we really must start thinking about how do we do this? How do we
become more flexible, more agile? How do we really focus on performance of our
people to give them the skills and the knowledge, the mindset, that they need
to really perform in this environment? As you know, we spent some time learning
from you and Con about The 5 Moments of Need, and really looking at our
internal Learning group and how we focus on performance first, instead of
training or education. But really, what does it mean to actually do
your job? I think
that’s critical given the business environment now.
And we are in a space where we are
in test and learn modes. So, we’re trying all kinds of new strategies; The 5
Moments of Need, Performance Support, bringing learning into the workflow. It’s
just pivotal.
BM: I love the blend! It’s all
part of that journey of what true blended learning is. So, Katie, tell us a bit
about what have you worked on? What have been your milestones, projects, or
even outcomes that have helped you and your organization mature in this thinking?
KC: We provide consulting
services. We help organizations solve wicked problems. And part of the
deliverables that our consultants provide to clients are written materials. These
are PowerPoint presentations, or we call them pages or decks. And one of the
first things that consultants learn when they join McKinsey is how to create pages
in the McKinsey way, in the McKinsey format, and the McKinsey methodology. And
what we found is that there is so much out there—even if you do know PowerPoint—when
you come into McKinsey, there is a McKinsey type of PowerPoint—all kinds of
add-ons and things like that. There’s also a way of thinking about creating and
structuring documents. So, we use logical structuring for how we build out our
pages. And the logic that’s around that—top down and bottom up—type of logic. So,
there’s a lot for a new consultant to really wrap their head around as they
start to do this type of work.
So, the very first project was to
create a performance support tool which is very different from what we’ve seen
out there. We’ve seen a lot of support tools out there that are helping sales
professionals, but this was more about taking a softer skill, if you will, and
building it into a performance support solution. And we built it.
It’s a small window that pops up
with the consultant as they’re working on the PowerPoint and it walks them
through “How do you produce a page?” “How do you choose the type of chart you
want to create?” “How do you create that chart?”
We provide them with tons of
resources and example pages they can pull from and leverage to create a new
page. It’s very, very powerful.
We rolled it out as part of our new
hire orientation, so when they join they get access to this support tool. To-date
we’ve had around 8,000 professionals touch this tool. And, as expected, they
use it for quite a bit of time after they leave the new hire orientation and
then it kind of dwindles down. But that’s kind of what we expect to happen over
BM: So, what’s your feeling,
Katie, about soft skills? Because one of the big things we hear often in
performance support is, “Yeah, you guys, I get it. The pop-up thing. You’re
embedding it in PowerPoint. Get that. The old days of RoboHelp or even Help
itself within software. But you can’t do this for soft skills.”
With the journey you’ve been on,
particularly in this first project, what are your feelings on that—what I
frankly call a myth about performance support?
KC: It took some convincing for me
too, right! I had to dig into it to really figure it out. But you can break
anything down into a process. So, we took this and we broke it down into, “How
do I create the story line–the story I’m trying to tell? How do I design the
page? Then how do I produce the page?”
So, when we did our Rapid Workflow
Analysis (RWA), we looked at this and we broke it down into those three big
process buckets. And then within that, you go into “What are the key activities
and what are the quick steps for those activities?” Then you use the pyramid
approach of “What else do you as an individual need? And what other resources
do you need to complete the task?”
So, you can break it down. I’m
working on another project right now. We’re just in the beginning stages but
we’re trying to provide support for all our people managers—our people leaders.
We call it “How do I?” “How do I hire someone?” “How do I develop them?” “How
do I evaluate them?” “How do I expand them and help them grow in their career?”
And then, “How do I handle issues?”
BM: Let’s now talk a little bit
about lessons learned. So many people that listen to theses podcasts are not 5
Moments enamored yet, or they are growing into it. You’re a bit deeper into the
journey but obviously, as we all do, you still have things to learn.
But think back. What would you do
differently sitting where you do now when you look back on the journey?
KC: I think it is about communicating
clearly throughout the process. One of the big hiccups we had in the first
project was with the learning leaders across the centers. My thinking was more versed
in The 5 Moments and in performance support solutions. And when I described this,
they got it, but they were having a really hard time seeing it in action. I
ended up having to go to India and get my hands into it with them. I think if
there was something we had to do over around communication with that team, is
it would be in person—really working hands on together. It is the Learning team
you really must convince and educate. I think that’s one big area where I would
have done it differently. I would have had a few more examples and clearer
communications with that group to help them really understand what this all meant.
BM: So, I’m just starting out,
let’s say. I’m thinking about going this way. You sort of spoke to that in the
longer journey. But the feedback we get is that these stories are so empowering
to folks. It builds their courage, right? They hear this and go, “My gosh, I
want to be there someday. But frankly, I’m way back here.”
What would you tell yourself in
that first day you sat in that seat listening to this methodology for the first
KC: Well, I would say, starting
small is important. You really pushed us on this. You start small. You pick one
thing that you can really work on and do the proof of concept. That was really
powerful for us, to do something very small.
So, we took one piece of the
written communications and built it out. Then we tested it with learners. We
had learners help us develop it—that is key. You have to have the business
matter expert, someone who really understands and is in the guts of the
business, as part of the design journey and process. We also tested early and
often with our learners. That really had an impact on us being able to do this,
and do it effectively, then get it out the door. I think that’s one thing.
Secondly, don’t put too much
pressure on yourself. It’s the crawl-walk-run model. We’re in walk now and I’m
comfortable with that. I think it’s a good place to be. So, I think sometimes when
you put pressure on yourself, you think you’re going to do this quick and get
it out the door and everything’s going to work perfectly.
But it takes time to build the
story, it takes time to get everybody engaged in this, meaning your business
leaders, your Learning and Development professionals, your learners—and your
managers of the learners too. They are important in this process as well. Then
all your coaches and trainers and facilitators—all of those. There are a lot of
stakeholders you have to engage. And when you start small you can start to do
that more effectively.
That’s my advice. Learning a lot
through our work with you, Bob—it’s really about how you pick something small,
test, and learn. You’re going to fail. Fail early. Fix it. Get back on things
and make it work.
BM: It’s a wonderful pace to go.
Sustainability is different than a flash in the pan.
You, in your journey, have taken
that crawl-walk-run approach, building on clearly understanding that you have
to be successful in each of those efforts, but the broader win is keeping your
eye on that bigger picture in the landscape all the time.
KC: That’s right! That’s
absolutely right.
BM: We cannot thank you enough,
Katie, for the wonderful leader that you are, for the risks you take, for the
way you and your organization are so wonderful at sharing your story so that
others to can learn.
For more around the projects McKinsey have—and
are—taking on download or listen to this entire
. And be sure to subscribe to 
The Performance Matters
 to stay up-to-date on all
the latest conversations and guests in the 5 Moments space.


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