Pearson - digital global management development programme

Case studies

Pearson PLC is the world’s leading education company and largest book publisher. Headquartered in London, the company operates in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Wherever they are based, Pearson managers are leading their teams and driving performance through a period of substantial restructuring. To help them rise to this challenge, the Global Management Development Team was tasked with creating an innovative learning programme.

A Company Milestone

This was the first time in Pearson’s 150-year-old history that a simultaneous, common Global Management Programme had been attempted. With delegates from 33 countries in every continent and with wide cultural differences, the programme format needed to be simple, uncluttered and dynamic. It was vital to choose a theme to which all managers could relate, whatever their location or experience.

Video was selected as the primary delivery media, supported by a blend of e-learning and online assessment. Tia Finn, Manager Development Design Specialist, explains why the team adopted a digital approach, “Our objective was to reach a truly global audience, so an instructor-led programme was simply not practicable on this scale. However, with 87% of the target audience having little exposure to technology-enabled learning, it made sense to test the methodology by running a pilot. We weren’t sure if video-based learning would be acceptable, or what problems might arise with the local technology infrastructure.”

Initially, 550 participants, representing a significant sample of the eventual global audience, were engaged in the pilot, but as Tia notes: “While we carefully targeted our initial audience, word quickly got around and the response was so enthusiastic that almost 1,200 learners joined the pilot.”

Improving Management Performance

The programme addressed professional development as if it were a fitness or health improvement programme. Pearson wanted learning to be self-directed, with managers taking personal responsibility for maintaining their professional growth and development, in other words, keeping 'fit' for the job.

Tia continues, “We knew only too well that we were competing for the attention of busy managers. Based on business-wide research, Lane4 helped us to create a library of brief but powerful bespoke videos, tailored to our specific needs. This proved an ideal format for conveying complex concepts and we saw immediate engagement from learners.”

Lane4 employed familiar fitness concepts, including a Fitness Assessment to determine the learner’s strengths and areas for development. Other elements were added, including Workout Zones that covered key management disciplines, and a Locker Room stocked with relevant video and e-learning resources. The programme took learners on an impressive and well-structured learning journey, progressing through the portal of a virtual Management Fitness Centre. Scenarios presented real-life management problems, with learners being guided to achieve a successful outcome.

Tia comments, “Lane4 helped us to craft the whole journey, creating a unique, engaging and fully virtual experience. Our managers now report feeling more aware of themselves, their blind spots and their impact on the team.”

A Firm Foundation

What had initially seemed a gamble, investing in a radically different approach to learning, paid off, with video emerging as the target audience’s preferred way to learn: 74% of survey respondents reported that the programme was helpful to their role and 70% felt positively inspired by the programme to develop as a people manager. With a sound basis of results and feedback, the strategy is to build on the pilot programme and train up to 1,100 additional managers in the coming months.

Tia is clear about the value of working with Lane4: “They were with us every step of the way and have been instrumental in the success of the programme.”

Key Benefits of the Programme

  • A global programme, designed to reach every corner of the business

  • An innovative methodology that fully engages learners from different cultures

  • Support for managers to drive performance during a time of change

International Award Winning Programme

This programme has been awarded two Brandon Hall Excellence Awards. Gold for 'Best use of video for learning' and Bronze for 'Best unique learning and development programme'.




I found the fitness assessment and videos most relevant. At the time I was actually facing some of the scenarios and it helped me navigate through the situations logically.

Alison Thompson, Programme Manager, Pearson Global Management Development Programme participant Pearson International

Lane4 brought the advantage of a range of renowned industry experts, including Olympic medallists, to present the workout videos. They helped us to engage and inspire our management learners with compelling content and follow-up materials.

Tia Finn, Manager Development Design Specialist Pearson