Make SkillGym the Barebones of an Effective L&D Strategy

How to leverage the flexibility of SkillGym methodology to integrate the features of the Digital Role Play system into an effective L&D strategy and to utilize them as empowering agents of the leadership development of every organization.
Matteo Malatesta
Head of Business Design
9 min read


Being an L&D professional these days means to embark on one of the most exciting and complex journeys available in an organizational environment.

Being one who makes a true difference in Human Capital Development is not so common. It requires strong behavioral acumen, a great ability to link with other people and a vivid focus on the final objectives.


As sailors need a map and a compass to navigate dangerous seas with unexpected thunderstorms and hazards to reach the destination, L&D officers benefit from a clear strategy and a direct and unquestionable set of KPIs to drive the development of their people into the safe port of “true and sustainable behavioral change”.

L&D strategy sets the direction to make People Development the best ally of Business Objectives. Understanding the way these two vital aspects of each organization relate to each other, learning strategists define the Key L&D Performance Indicators that must be constantly monitored.


With this premise, building an effective L&D Strategy and having a clear set of L&D KPIs are two of the primary objectives of any aware L&D professional.
Continuous research on behavioral aspects of human beings and never-ending technological innovation supply the HR Department with a palette (maybe too wide) of information, elements, approaches and tools.


In my personal journey, I had and I still have the great privilege of meeting many amazing professionals involved in People Development (L&D officers, Training Managers, Executive Coaches, Trainers, etc.) in different areas of the globe (Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas).

In almost all of them, I found a deep passion for the dynamics of people and a strong desire to define a clear strategy to support their people in pursuing the L&D objectives.


Unfortunately, this is not the only thing I encountered. In my chats with them “a lot of frustration came out on the fact that as a lot of new theories, approaches and tools are constantly released, often some of these are not easily integratable in the designed L&D strategy”.
It results in organizations that tend to have a slow innovation pace on L&D-related topics.


As a Business Designer of SkillGym, I now strongly believe that ease and flexibility in integrating with different L&D strategies must be among the key characteristics of our Digital Role Play methodology and tool.

This article introduces how we achieved and keep on improving these aspects, describing how SkillGym can be effectively integrated into an L&D strategy.


From the initial steps of our design process, we placed a lot of effort in creating a Soft Skills Development System with a very strong concept (take a look at the page Why SkillGym on our website) and enough flexibility to not be considered an isolated island in the wide world of Human Capital Development from both a methodological and a technological point of view.


The result is based on some of the most discussed, studied and verified Learning Theories such as Andragogy, Experiential Learning, Functional Context, Gamification, etc.

Let me refer you to the article “Learning Theories Supporting SkillGym Methodology” by Giulio Tavarnesi, SkillGym Methodology and Content Manager, for an in-depth journey through the theoretical pillars of SkillGym.


Fitting L&D Strategy with the power of Smart Metrics data

Let’s start from a general consideration: SkillGym is structured in a modular way, offering a set of features that can be activated or not in accordance with the specific L&D needs.
On top of that, SkillGym provides a set of Smart Metrics to measure the individual improvements that can be prioritized and mapped to align with the L&D KPIs mentioned above.


To support this framework, SkillGym brings a lot of automation in the mix. Self-paced adaptive BootCamps are easily schedulable for learners from the platform in just a few clicks.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) makes the rest, defining and fine-tuning the most effective pace in accordance with their individual profiles.


Once the set of L&D KPIs is defined, you can simply leave it to work.
“SkillGym focuses on accelerating the Soft Skills Development path providing a safe and nurturing practical  training environment”.

It leverages eight smart learning triggers to drive behavioral change:

  1. The counterpart body language
  2. The counterpart emotional reactions
  3. Objective measurement
  4. Emotional feedback
  5. The acquisition of a communication process
  6. The challenge to achieve smart goals
  7. The ability to critically review the performance
  8. The Deja-vu trigger


Discover more about them in this article “8 Ways your skills will improve by practicing in Digital Role Plays”.


With a smart definition of KPIs, SkillGym becomes the best ally of your L&D Strategy, as it allows learners’ developments to be monitored in real-time and provides useful information to adapt and maximize its actionability.


I’ve recently had a chat with an L&D Manager about the impact made on L&D Strategy by the information provided by the tool. As her organization (a well-renowned bank) is adopting SkillGym to support a hundred of new-in-role managers to practicing on Critical Conversations (Giving Feedback, Delegating, etc.), the L&D manager activated for them a behavioral learning and maintenance BootCamp as part of the existing on-boarding phase.

From the data collected by SkillGym in the first six months of activity, the L&D Manager has been able to verify that the majority of the managers had an issue with the ability to stick to the defined learning program.


SkillGym underscored, for example, that many managers were used to completing simulation sessions very early in the morning, late at night or during the weekends. Digital Role Play conversations were rarely played in at a consistent time, as defined by the L&D manager’s schedule.

These data drove her to the conclusion that time management was a strong issue within this population.
Then, while keeping the Digital Role Play BootCamp active as continuous support for her managers, she decided to place priority on this topic, refining her L&D strategy and delivering a specific intervention to tackle this deficit.


As SkillGym measures eight Smart Metrics in real time, it is always possible to easily and  immediately:

  • Find meaningful points of attention for both an individual learner or a group of them
  • Analyze their impact on learners’ behaviors and business effectiveness
  • Refine the L&D Strategy adapting it the individual learning paths


These Smart Metrics are grouped in two clusters (Results Metrics and Discipline Metrics). The first group includes Confidence, Self-Awareness, Self-Control and Learning Agility as Result Metrics.

The Discipline KPIs are Reliability, Focus, Effort and Balance.
All of them are introduced and explained in this article by Andrea Laus “Eight key metrics to monitor for ensuring a successful practical training on critical conversations”.




A consolidated methodology for flexible contexts

Another key element we kept in mind in the SkillGym development process has been (and, of course, still is) “the ability to meet different needs, in flexible and vary L&D contexts, such as Self-paced learning approaches and Tutor-led ones”.

SkillGym supports this flexibility relying on its consolidated methodology (see this article for an in-depth analysis of the “10 reasons why you should consider SkillGym for your next leadership development and maintenance program) and the AI capability of offering precise and meaningful information to users.

Those precious behavioral insights can be used both by learners directly to empower their self-learning journeys and by tutors (L&D professionals, Trainers, Coaches, Mentors, etc.) as elements of evidence to be discussed and analyzed together with the learners.


Currently, in fact, SkillGym is integrated into the L&D strategies of many organizations to develop and maintain Conversational Leadership skills in different ways, such as:

  • Self-paced continuous support for Critical Conversations practicing
  • Barebones of tutor-led Learning Paths (e.g., Executive Coaching) as a generator of evidence to be discussed during the face-to-face session
  • Leadership development tool integrated with on-demand remote support by a mentor or a coach
  • Adaptive Learning platform where L&D managers can set (automatically or manually) dedicated BootCamps to tackle specific behavioral needs within the assisted communities
  • Practicing “Learning by Doing” tool to be assigned in between class interventions and follow-up moments to measure and sustain the consistent behavioral change that is normally very hard to achieve with a “knowledge transfer” training intervention
  • Engaging way to assess Conversational Leadership soft skills both for Talent Acquisition (screening and selection) and Talent Development (High Potentials evaluation, assessment before a training class, etc.)
  • And many others…  🙂


Ensure homogeneity through Competencies Certification

The 8 Smart Metrics introduced above are measured by the SkillGym AI engine through the advanced analysis of the behaviors that play out during the Digital Role Play sessions by the learners together with their interactions with the platform (to report if they are able to stick to the learning paths designed for them).

Considering, in particular, the Results Metrics, these are calculated focusing on the ability of the user to act certain observable behaviors in an effective way in relation to specific stimuli received by AI during the live sessions.


Those behaviors are natively grouped into six competencies, but they can be re-shuffled and re-mapped to align, at a certain degree of coverage, with the proprietary Competency Models of different organizations.


Leverage this flexibility (once again 🙂 ), many of our clients employ SkillGym for Competencies Certification matters.

In our experience, all of our clients have found great value in the opportunity to rely on a platform that:

  • Allows a homogeneous and objective competency certification
  • Provides an immediate reach and coverage of the entire population to be certified, exploiting the power of digital assessment via internet
  • Maintains the strong effectiveness of the “assessment by doing” approach overcoming its limitations in scalability
  • Offers a centralized online environment where data can be analyzed, investigated and stored even for a population that may be geographically dispersed



Talent assessment

Applying the same approach used for the Competencies Certification, SkillGym can be an effective ally even for Talent Acquisition phases.

It provides a set of Smart Metrics that can be integrated with the results provided by the other tools or steps from the already-in-place recruiting process (psychometric surveys, face-to-face interviews, in-basket assessments, group interviews, etc.).


In regards of this topic, let me suggest taking a look at the Assessment feature page on the SkillGym website.

Alternatively, if you want to look in-depth into this topic, this article by Alessandro Guerrini on Measuring Attitude covers in detail how a behavioral simulator supports companies in finding the employees best suited for their specific needs.


Technologically ready to be plug&play

To conclude the list of the empowering elements to be considered in integrating SkillGym into an L&D strategy, let me go back to my inspiring conversations with L&D professionals mentioned in the first paragraph.

As an outcome of my chats, it’s crystal clear that new L&D approaches, theories and methodologies must be immediately actionable and integratable to be useful and used by organizations.


“At SkillGym, we develop a system able to go live quickly and to be available in seconds after the activation”.
It’s a SaaS (Software As A Service) subscription-based platform available on cloud via internet through different devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones.

Digital Role Play scenarios are at the disposal of the learners’ community right after the activation, while different levels of integrations with existing Learning Systems are available, from a simple SSO (Single Sign-On) -the preferred solution for the majority of our clients- to the creation of SCORM-compliant packages that can be accessed via LMSs (Learning Management Systems).


System requirements (available on this page) are very basic and allow organizations at different digitalization maturity levels to benefit from the impact of Digital Role Play adoption.

On the other side, SkillGym offers a high level of automatization. One of the best examples is in the enrollment phase, where a specific module called BootCamp allows L&D Managers to import and enroll wide populations of learners with just a few clicks.


Time to wrap up

In this article, I’ve done my best to describe how SkillGym can be effectively integrated into an L&D strategy.

Let’s summarize some key points:

  • SkillGym is structured in a modular way, offering a set of features that can be activated or not in accordance with the specific L&D needs
  • SkillGym provides a set of Smart Metrics to measure individual improvements that can be prioritized and mapped to align with specific L&D KPIs
  • SkillGym brings a lot of automation to the table. Self-paced adaptive BootCamps are easily schedulable from the platform in few clicks. AI (Artificial Intelligence) does the rest
  • SkillGym allows for real-time monitoring of learners’ developments and returns useful information to adapt and maximize their impact on business performance
  • AI capability offers precise and meaningful information to learners and L&D Managers to maximize both self-paced and tutor-led development paths
  • SkillGym can be employed in a variety of different contexts to assess, certify, develop and maintain Conversational Leadership skills
  • SkillGym is a SaaS on cloud plug&play solution. It is available just seconds after the activation in a way that is very easily integratable with existing learning systems


I leave now to your imagination how you could integrate SkillGym into your L&D strategy, making it more effective for your people.

I hope to have provided a comprehensive overview of the reasons why SkillGym is a great ally to boost behavioral change and to build a stronger L&D Leadership Strategy.


Feel free to comment, ask about and share this article as the folks at SkillGym and I are eager to introduce more about and collect feedback on what we proudly develop every day.

Take a look at our website https://www.skillgym.com to get more information about our system and to be inspired by the content (articles, webinars on-demand, scientific papers, etc.) and follow our LinkedIn SkillGym page to stay tuned in and updated.

If you cannot wait to get in touch with us for a live demo of SkillGym in which you can directly experience a Digital Role Play “in action” and the smart metrics it is able to provide, you can visit this link and schedule a 1-hour discovery call with us. We will be happy to drive you into SkillGym and dive together into the journey of a learner on our platform.


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