SumTotal Blog

Hailey Hedge (9 Posts)

Hailey Hedge

Hailey Hedge is SumTotal’s public relations manager. A self-proclaimed ‘Jane of all trades,’ Hailey has a background in digital strategy, communications, content writing and optimization, website management, and graphic design. Outside of the office, Hailey can be found having weekend adventures with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

Perspectives 2015 Kicks Off with Keynotes on Culture, Innovation and the ‘Self-Developing Organization’

Today SumTotal and Skillsoft kicked off Perspectives 2015. Getting us off to a great start, Skillsoft SVP of Strategy and Corporate Development John Ambrose’s keynote introduced HR’s next game changer –  the “Self-Developing organization” – and CEO of Tomorrow Mike Walsh shared his insights on re-imagining organizational culture to engage the next generation.

If you are an attending SumTotal guests – don’t miss the special SumTotal Perspectives 2015 agenda created just for you! You’re welcome to attend all sessions, but this subset of workshops specifically covers SumTotal topics.

Tomorrow’s general session highlights include:

  • SumTotal Talent Suite: Engaging Today’s Talent with Personalized Solutions – 9:15 a.m.
    SumTotal SVP of Products and Technology Humair Ghauri will explore how organizations can put SumTotal’s Talent Expansion suite to work to create a culture where employees are engaged, thriving and rewarded.
  • Talent Analytics in Practice – 9:30 a.m.
    While talent analytics is a hot topic in our field, readiness and execution is low. A panel of renowned industry experts on talent management and big data will decipher what is hype and what are the real possibilities of talent analytics today, and share insights on how organizations can advance to the next level of talent analytics maturity.
  • Innovation Awards –  10:30 a.m.
    At the event, Skillsoft will announce the 2015 Innovation Award winners, honoring organizations for their work in talent and learning management. Customers will be awarded for a variety of distinctions, including Program of the Year, Talent Development Champion of the Year, Inspiring Leadership Development and Empowering Continuous Talent Development, among others.
  • Day 2 Keynote: Bring on Learning Innovation –  11:30 a.m.
    During this keynote, Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned expert on creativity and innovation, will discuss the three myths about innovation that constrain organizations and highlight basic practices that differentiate the most innovative organizations from their competitors.  He will then present a three-tier strategy to generate “systemic innovation” across the organization and identify the three core roles creative leaders must play to make this happen.

We hope all of you at Perspectives 2015 are soaking in all of the knowledge and inspiration from the industry experts at the event and hope to see those of you who could not make it next year!

A Presidential Salute to Learning

The United States has elected many great men to lead our country over the years. Monday’s holiday was time to honor America’s past presidents (and also to take advantage of spectacular mattress sales across the country!) At SumTotal, we spent some time mulling over an important value we have in common with the United States’ former leaders; learning is the foundation to achieving goals. A learned mind is crucial to success and growth – for a nation or a business.


John F. Kennedy, one of the most beloved presidents in recent history, captured the importance of learning in only a few words when he penned the above quote in a proclamation for American Education Week. To achieve their objectives and secure a competitive advantage, organizations ought to embrace JFK’s philosophy and deliver training and development to their workforce to maximize each employee’s productivity and job satisfaction.

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.
– Abraham Lincoln, 16th President

A completely self-educated man, Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of learning despite not attending school. He was known as an avid reader and will forever be remembered as a moving orator. Although people didn’t have nifty HR technology for just-in-time training in the 1800’s, Lincoln knew that knowledge was one of the most powerful tools a person could acquire.

A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. – Abraham Lincoln

Bonus: Though President’s Day does not officially acknowledge the great women who stood by America’s presidents, we have to give a shout out to the first ladies, who expounded the importance of learning just as much as their male counterparts.

Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.  – Abigail Adams, First Lady of the United States

The New and Improved Innovation Awards – Let 2015 Be Your Time to Shine

You might have heard the news that TotalConnection will be replaced by 2015 Global Skillsoft Perspectives. At Perspectives, SumTotal customers will have the opportunity to network with learning, talent and HR professionals and discuss how learning and talent management are driving performance and delivering business value within and across their organizations.

The even better news is that we will still honor customers for delivering outstanding business value using SumTotal solutions with the Skillsoft Innovation Awards.

To apply, partner with your account representatives to complete an online questionnaire. Categories for 2015 include:

  • Effective Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • Talent Development Champion of the Year
  • Program of the Year
  • Best IT and Technical Skills Development
  • Empowering Continuous Talent Development
  • Impacting Learning in Higher Education and the Public Sector
  • Inspiring Leadership Development
  • Outstanding Compliance and Ethics


At TotalConnection 2014 in Miami, SumTotal honored customers who applied our solutions in innovative ways to achieve business goals. Last year’s winners included:

Best Launch to Organization:
Ace Hardware
Honorable Mention:  BAE Systems

Best Business Solution:
American Cancer Society
Honorable Mention:  AAA of Southern California

Best Overall Use of Product:
TD Bank Group
Honorable Mention:  County of San Diego

Let 2015 be your year to shine. Apply now! Applications are due on February 20, 2015. Winners will be publicly announced at 2015 Global Skillsoft Perspectives in Orlando.

Note:  you do not have to attend Perspectives to qualify, but if you do want to attend, take advantage of our early bird rate until March 6.

An Event Greater than the Sum of its Parts – Keynote Speakers Announced for First Joint SumTotal-Skillsoft User Conference

Perhaps you’ve heard our exciting news about two industry leaders becoming one? Well, now you have the opportunity to see how SumTotal and Skillsoft together can transform your workforce. Please join us at our combined user conference – 2015 Global Skillsoft Perspectives – May 18-21 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

The joint event, which will replace TotalConnection, will provide the first opportunity for SumTotal and Skillsoft customers to come together to network and discuss the current challenges and opportunities in HR.

This year’s conference is shaping up to be our biggest and best to date. In addition to welcoming SumTotal customers, we are excited to have two widely-respected speakers present on learning and business innovation for our customers and attendees. – Jerry Nine, Chief Operating Officer, Skillsoft

Perspectives attendees will have the opportunity to hear from two world-renowned experts on creativity and innovation in business (Read the full  news release):

  • Sir Ken Robinson will identify the best practices that drive systematic innovation and how organizations can leverage those practices to stay ahead of the pack. Known for his work in advising leaders from everywhere from governments to private companies, Robinson is considered one of the world’s elite thinkers on education in business and is often recognized for his famous TED Talks.
  • Mike Walsh will present his philosophy on how organizations can achieve business success amid rapidly evolving workforces and markets. Hailed as a pioneer in the digital space and the best-selling author of “FUTURETAINMENT,” Walsh currently advises business leaders as CEO of global business consultancy Tomorrow, sharing his expertise from both running successful startups and holding senior leadership positions at large media companies.

Mark your calendars and register today for our biggest annual customer event yet. We’ve extended the early bird registration deadline to March 6.

SumTotal customers are also encouraged to submit a nomination for the 2015 Innovation Awards, which honors individuals and organizations for building learning cultures and leveraging HR solutions to engage and empower employees. Nominations must be received by Feb. 20.

Learning – No Longer Optional

In the face of today’s hypercompetitive market, driving learning to the core of company culture is key to attracting and retaining top talent. Workforce editor Kate Everson recently connected with SumTotal and Skillsoft executives to talk about the evolution of learning delivery. The bottom line – organizations are facing a skills gap that only investments in learning can close.Evolution of learning delivery

They pointed to a recent U.S. Labor Department report, which highlighted the difference in job openings versus hiring patterns, as proof of the need for better internal development. As Jackie Funk, SumTotal’s senior vice president of global marketing, said, “Organizations might have employees who are capable right in their existing workforce or they might be looking to hire, but if they don’t have a system in place that helps them grow, they’re not going to be as successful.”

Research shows that today’s employees desire opportunities to grow and advance in their careers. According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, “Twenty-first century employees have radically different expectations about work than those of previous generations. [They] want to work for organizations that continually invest in developing their skills, thereby enabling them to stay relevant in the ever-changing workforce.”

Employees have spoken and many executives have heard their concerns. A whopping 70 percent of Deloitte’s survey respondents indicated that learning and development is a priority for their organizations. Year 2015 presents the opportunity to turn those thoughts into actions.

Integrated training and development can increase efficiency, employee satisfaction and retention. By delivering context-aware, pervasive learning in the moment of need, the right technology can improve the way people work and helps employees get better at their jobs while they’re doing them.

Read the full article, including other insights from SumTotal and Skillsoft, on

They like us. They really like us: SumTotal, Skillsoft and Customers Win!

At SumTotal, we work very hard to provide real, measurable business value to customers through our Talent Expansion® applications. As part of Skillsoft, we’ve been able to expand our shared vision to help customers cultivate high-performance cultures and meet the demands of the Learning Age

We are thrilled that industry experts and customers have recognized our ability to align technology with the most important needs driving today’s market. The accolades awarded to SumTotal and Skillsoft in the past few months illustrate our continued dedication to innovate and deliver products and services that help customers achieve their business goals with HR technology.

Recent awards highlighting our work, as well as our customers, include:

Brandon Hall Group 2014 Excellence Awards: SumTotal and Praxair won Gold in the “Best in Talent Management Technology Implementations” category for Praxair’s use of SumTotal Talent Expansion applications, and SumTotal and McAfee took Silver for “Best Use of Learning and Talent Technologies” for McAfee’s use of SumTotal’s learning and analytics in its sales kickoff training. Skillsoft was honored as well, with a Gold award for the “Best Use of Blended Learning” in its work for customer Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Elearning! Magazine “Best of Elearning!” Awards: Customers honored Skillsoft and SumTotal in multiple categories in Elearning! Magazine’s “Best of Elearning!” awards, which are voted on by users. SumTotal was given an Award of Excellence for Best Learning Management System (LMS) for both SumTotal Maestro (cloud) and SumTotal Learn (enterprise). Skillsoft was the Category Winner in Leadership Content (Skillsoft Leadership Advantage) and given an Award of Excellence in IT Training (Skillsoft IT Certification), Soft Skills Content (Skillsoft Business Skills Catalog) and Outsourced Learning Services (Skillsoft Professional Services).

Hot Vendor in Ventana’s 2014 Value Index for Total Compensation Management: Ventana Research named SumTotal a “Hot Vendor” in its 2014 Total Compensation Management Value Index. The report is a detailed evaluation of technology vendors that support total management of employee pay, an organization’s largest controllable expense.

Chief Learning Officer Magazine’s Learning in Practice Awards: Skillsoft earned an Excellence in Content Award (Silver) in Chief Learning Officer’s Learning in Practice Awards for the quality of its content featured in the Welch Way Management Development Program.

Training Industry Top 20 Lists: Skillsoft was recognized in Training Industry’s 2014 Top 20 Workforce Development Companies, Top 20 Learning Portal Companies and Top 20 IT Training Companies lists.

CIO Review’s 20 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers: Skillsoft was included in CIO Review’s list of the “20 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers,” which featured the best solution and service providers offering technologies and services related to education.

Military Training Technology Top Simulation & Training Companies: Skillsoft’s inclusion in the list of Top Simulation & Training Companies reinforces our commitment to providing technology that allows U.S. airmen, Marines, sailors, soldiers and Coast Guardsmen to train and rehearse for missions or prepare for deployment.

Business NH Magazine’s Top 100 Private Companies Survey: Business NH Magazine named Skillsoft in its annual list of 100 New Hampshire businesses making significant contributions to the New Hampshire economy.

Achieve Your Goals: Realism is the New Positivity

Always look on the bright side of life, right? Not exactly.

According to NYU professor and Goals Sign Where do you want to go?motivation psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, overly positive thinking could be getting in our way on the path to success. Consider shelving that copy of “The Secret,” curb the instinct to embrace the power of positive thinking and check out the latest technique to help you be the best version of yourself – mental contrasting.

In her new book Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Oettingen explains that positive future visualization (daydreaming) sets folks up to fall short of desired outcomes. With anything from wanting to get a promotion or lose a few pounds, simply fantasizing about a positive future is not enough. Studies show that people who use positive thinking as a strategy to accomplish goals make significantly less progress than those who do not and are less likely to tackle the more difficult challenges to achieve success.¹

The practice of mental contrasting is the in same vein as positive thinking. Simply put, it’s a visualization technique that encourages people to develop specific, positive expectations and focus on the obstacles between you and those expectations. It’s best practiced daily, but can be used whenever needed. Oettingen notes that even though mental contrasting encourages a sense of realism by acknowledging and confronting hurdles, folks should not scale down their goals. In other words, dream big, but then buckle down on your execution.

For example, say I wanted to be a vice president at my company in two years; I could practice mental contrasting by taking the following steps:

1. Write down my goal and all of the positive aspects that would come from accomplishing that goal. I would make a huge leap in my career path, make more money, boast a fancy title, feel more confident about myself, get to mentor junior employees, etc.

See? The more detailed, the better

2. Focus on the most positive aspects of achieving the goal. For example: I would likely benefit most from the step up on the career ladder and the higher salary.

Think about all of the specifics of these aspects. Why are they the biggest motivators? How would achieving these things make you feel?

3. Focus on the biggest obstacles. In order to become a vice president in two years, I will need to exceed expectations and provide noticeable value to the organization. I will have to take on projects to demonstrate competency and leadership abilities. I will likely be required to work longer hours and take on projects outside of my comfort zone. I ought to take any opportunity available to develop relationships with C-level executives and make efforts to take part in professional development outside of the workplace at conferences, networking events, etc.

This last one will likely be the most difficult of the steps!

4. Specifically identify the steps I must take to reach my goal. This will take thoughtful — and realistic — consideration and commitment.

Though we’ve long-thought positive thinking was a tried and true philosophy, the transition to mental contrasting is a logical next step. This new practice pushes people to get their head out of the clouds and carefully align their goals with the real-life steps it will take to make their dreams a reality.


¹Positive Fantasies About Idealized Futures Sap Energy, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2011

4 Secrets to a Happy and Productive Career

It’s a well-known fact that an organization’s success is linked to the workforce’s overall satisfaction and performance. And everyone knows that happy workers are more productive – it’s science. Experts note that workers need to be engaged, enabled and energized in the workplace to maximize loyalty, enthusiasm and a sense of well-being. But those are big ideas.Happy Employee

Innovative organizations have smart learning, training and development programs in place that boost performance and morale, all while speeding up productivity, enabling creativity and collaboration and increasing revenues.

But building your personal brand and enabling your own success isn’t a 9-5 job.  Here are a few ideas of what you can do on a daily basis to have fulfilling, successful professional career.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that learning tops this list. When employees have the opportunity to get better at their jobs and bolster their skill set, they become more efficient. If your employer offers access to instructor-led or online training programs, jump on them. Learning management systems are increasingly easier to use and available across countless mediums. The rise of contextual learning allows workers to participate in personalized, just-in-time educational experiences at their desks and via mobile devices in the field. With this kind of access, there is no excuse not to become a highly knowledgeable employee.

Start Early
This might not be what you want to hear, but some of the most productive people carve out a few hours in the early morning. This is a great time of day to work on some of your most challenging projects, before you’re buried in emails or stuck in meetings. The mind is fresh in the morning – even if it takes a cup of coffee to get things flowing – and nothing beats the feeling of checking a handful of things off your to-do list before lunch. The early bird truly does get the worm.

In a world of inescapable access to the internet, palm-sized computers and even a smart phone you can wear on your face – it’s easy to get lost in a wonderland of multitasking.  While we often pride ourselves on how many things we can juggle at once, multitasking really takes away from the quality of work we do. Focusing on one project or activity at a time will ensure that you’re doing your best work and meeting deadlines. Focus and organization go hand-in-hand. By eliminating the practice of multitasking, you’ll quickly experience how much easier it is to manage your work load. Laser-focused workers will wow their bosses and frazzled multitasking colleagues with their collected and efficient execution.

Find a mentor
The most creative, hardworking people didn’t get to where they are alone. Having a mentor is a major one-up in the workplace. While formal training is key to being a productive employee, the first-hand experience from a respected colleague is irreplaceable. Identify an admirable executive or manager with whom you have a working relationship and propose that they take you under their wing. A good mentor will help develop your abilities and experiences to lead you along your career path. Clearly voice your goals and ask for meaningful guidance. Most importantly, be a sponge – soak up all of the knowledge you can from your mentor. Don’t forget to be gracious. After all, this person is not only doing you a favor, but will likely have some pull in potential for promotions.

Bonus: Inspirational posters. Those work, right? Everyone loves a cheap reprint of a cat hanging from the limb of a tree or a climber summiting a mountain at dawn. If that doesn’t perk you up, then you might as well call it a day and head home.

What do you think? Do you have any secrets to add? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Millennials are Clocking In – Here’s How to Keep Them Around

The global workforce is about to experience a large scale changing of the guard. We have been forecasting the impact of Baby Boomers’ retirement for years, but it seems the younger generation has snuck up on us in a much bigger way than we anticipated.

If you pan through the news in Forbes, Bloomberg Business, HR Magazine and all publications in between, you’ll see Millennials littering the headlines. Reports claim that upwards of 90% of this generation will spend less than five years with one employer. Initial speculation might suggest that Millennials have short attention spans or are disloyal. Others color these “punk kids” as just being “whippersnappers.” Some employers say that these new workers just don’t have the skills that businesses need. (more…)