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Developing the Frontline: General Mills’ Valerie Digman

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | August 9th, 2023

What happens when a mechanical engineer tackles an L&D problem? A completely redesigned learning environment. 

On this episode of Workplace Stories, we interview General Mills’ Valerie Digman. Valerie describes how she helped solve a frontline training problem and improved efficiency by 5%.  

If you’re interested in improving efficiency and rethinking traditional training methods, you won’t want to miss this interview. Press play to learn from Valerie’s experience at General Mills.

Valerie and her role at General Mills 

If you are American and eat breakfast, you have heard of General Mills. Valerie Digman is the L&D manager for the supply chain and focuses on improving people and ultimately business performance.  

At General Mills, manufacturing is the heart of their brand, so their frontline plays a key role in delivering their purpose is making food the world loves. Whereas frontline work has often been understood to be merely a job, General Mills offers their front liners a career path.  

The problem Valerie and General Mills faced 

Valerie was tasked with tackling the problem that General Mills faced with their Cereal School. Rather than using a band-aid style fix to cover up the problem, she came at this with the eyes of a mechanical engineer. She was ready to innovate to discover where the problems really lay.  

The task was to improve top losses by 5% by implementing a learning program that could train frontline workers. To do so, Valerie was able to work with people from many different areas of the company. Together they brainstormed the equipment used, resources available, and problems to come up with several solutions.  

Developing the solution 

Initially, they discovered about 20 different areas that they could improve. Rather than try and improve all of those areas they prioritized and were able to narrow them down to about 5 major areas.  

They then broke down these areas into details. In doing so, they gathered perspectives from many different departments and worked to engage everyone.  

Since all of this input was used they were able to help create a learning environment that frontliners could really use. Instead of taking time out of frontliners’ work to attend a training program, they were able to utilize an LMS to integrate learning into their workflow. This way they were able to tackle problems and solutions in real time and improve their processes and system. This new system led to a 5% reduction in errors 

This blended ecosystem focused on microlearning. They created trigger points that helped frontline workers improve their understanding of the processes used.  

The LMS created an interactive learning scenario with videos and replicated failures. Then workers were asked to work through the scenarios and develop solutions. They could then work through different scenarios and see how they played out.  

This learning experience created targeted conversations and access to skill building. Using intuitive learning systems that were designed to fit into the workplace not only removed the necessity to create a separate learning environment outside of the workspace, it allowed their employees to get hands-on in their learning. 

Listen in to hear how designing this LMS helped change General Mills' training and improve its bottom line.  




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