Rich Mesch

Rich Mesch is the Vice President of Customer Engagement at PDG. His job is to help organizations find unique, innovative, and compelling ideas for improving their business. He is a proponent of using compelling experiences to drive behavior change, and believes that people learn best not when they’re told, but when they’re provided with the opportunity to find out for themselves. He is fascinated with applying emerging technologies to business challenges.Rich is an experienced leader who has been working with immersive learning and organizational improvement for over 25 years. He is one of the pioneers in the field of Performance Simulation, and continues to explore the possibilities of immersive technologies. He has worked as an executive, a designer, a media producer, a scriptwriter, a project manager, and a playwright. He believes that with energy and creativity, all things are possible. Rich holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and is certified by Villanova University as a Six Sigma Green Belt. He is the co-author of the Wiley/ASTD book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook.”
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Recent Posts

Running Corporate Learning as a Business: Top Trends for 2016

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 14, 2016 1:48:44 PM

business_training-1.jpgYeah, yeah, I know. Yet another “here’s what to expect in the New Year” post. The only thing more certain than hangovers and “this year I get in shape!” commitments is people coming out the woodwork to prognosticate the future. And tempting as it was to remain in the woodwork this year, after reading a few dozen “learning trends” posts, I felt there was something missing. There were predictions a-plenty on what technology we would love, on the needs of the Millennials, and the learning modalities du jour. But it seems like nobody is addressing the real question:

How will learning align with and drive the business?

So pardon me for poking my head from the woodpile and sharing the five key trends for running learning as a business.

  1. Successful Learning Organizations will have a seat at the table. It seems absurd that Learning Organizations are often not mainstreamed into strategic planning. They are responsible for preparing the workforce to fulfill the company’s business goals; why would they be an afterthought in the planning process? In many organizations, Learning has that seat at the table, and is fully integrated with strategic planning. That means the entire Learning Organization is oriented around achieving the company’s business goals. I’m currently on a judging panel for a learning industry award. In reviewing the applications, it’s pretty easy to see where Learning has a seat at the table and where they don’t. When they don’t, answers to questions about strategic alignment are vague, metrics are unclear, and success tends to be measured in “learning” terms, like number of people trained and good test scores. But when Learning has a seat at the table, Learning goals and business goals are basically the same, metrics are specific, and success is measured on driving those metrics. 
  2. Learning Innovation requires thinking Like a CEO. Innovation means change, and change costs money, disrupts the status quo, and generally makes people edgy. Too many learning leaders try to drive change because it’s “a good idea,” or because “people will learn better.” Your CEO wants innovation to drive positive change in business metrics. So the rationale for innovation needs to demonstrate things that matter to the business: competitive advantage, speed to capability, growth in revenue or market share, or reduction in cost. Feel like you can’t make that case? That’s going to make the argument a lot tougher. 
  3. The Learning Supply Chain is just as important as any other supply chain in the business. Supply chain is about how we acquire the goods and services we need to provide the goods and services we produce. It’s easy to identify the supply chain in manufacturing (machinery, raw materials, etc.), but we often miss it in Learning. But in truth, our supply chain is critical. What gets done internally or by vendor partners? How do we do that cost effectively? How do we scale up to meet changing needs without taking on unreasonable risk? How do we respond to unplanned or unexpected needs of the business? Without a strong supply chain in place, we may fail—or at very least, damage our costs and deadlines unnecessarily.
  4. New Technology adoption hinges on tactical buy-in. We have better learning technology than ever, yet we are getting far less value from it than we should. Why? Because in many cases, it has been implemented improperly, poorly leveraged, or simply never implemented at all. Successful technology implementation has many gatekeepers. Your IT team may resist a broad implementation. Your Regulatory or Legal team may see risk. Your executive team may struggle with expense or cultural issues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen learning leaders throw their hands up in the air and say, “I want to implement this, but I can’t get IT/Legal/Regulatory/etc. on board.” You’ll need great content to get that technology to work, but you’ll never get that far if you can’t address the tactical challenges of getting it implemented.  
  5. Constant Whitewater is here to stay. Once upon a time, organizations had “evergreen” courses that they could run for years without significant update. In most industries today, however, change is a constant, and Learning Organizations need to be more flexible than ever. Whether it’s new products, new competitors, disruptive technology, marketplace shifts, or a changing regulatory environment, many businesses are in a state of constant change and Learning Organizations need to be prepared to change with them. That means re-evaluating the resourcing, the processes, and the priorities of your Learning Organization. Why should the business wait for the Learning Organization to catch up?

Want more information of running the Learning Organization like a business? Read our recent article in Training Industry Magazine, “Be the CEO of Your Learning Organization.”



Rich Mesch is Vice President, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group. A frequent contributor to industry events and publications, his most recent article was Be the CEO of Your Learning Organization for Training Industry's online magazine.



Why Millennials are not Space Aliens

Posted by Rich Mesch on Sep 3, 2015 11:44:00 AM

If you were born around 1980 or after, we all kind of owe you an apology. Because we dubbed you a “Millennial” and we talk about you like you are some kind of other species. You see it everywhere: What do Millennials want? How do Millennials think? And, yes, inevitably, how do Millennials learn?

Let me clear the air here: Millennials are just people. Can we stop talking about them like they’re not?alienblogmed

Do Millennials learn differently from everybody else? I don’t think so. But there is something that’s different about them: their expectation as to how they will receive learning is different than the generations that came before.

Millennials are Digital Natives. They were born into a world where computers were everywhere, the internet always existed, and phones were little hand-held computers that went everywhere with us. Virtually all of them used computers in their primary and secondary education, and many used iPads. Having information at their fingertips is not revolutionary for them; it’s the way the world has always worked. Being part of a crowd-sourced knowledge community is not new to them; having access to informal and social learning is common; getting advice or mentoring from someone far away is not unusual. For many from this generation, learning is not an event; it’s something they do all the time, and it’s become second nature.

So you can imagine what happens when they come into a corporate environment and content is taught in lectures or didactic e-learning. In a world where they are able to learn virtually anything at any time, when information is mere seconds away, where a robust learning community is there for the asking—why would you limit your methods? It’s the moral equivalent of going to work at a company that transports their goods in horse carts—why would you do that when there are much better methods commonly available?

But here’s the catch: Millennials don’t learn differently. They just expect to learn differently. Lecture and didactic learning have always been very limited ways to learn. But in the pre-internet age, most people didn’t expect to learn differently, because the methods didn’t exist yet. So all those great learning methods that we attribute to Millennials are great for Gen X, Baby Boomers, and, frankly, all other humans.

So thanks to the Millennials for helping us learn how to learn. And let’s use those great techniques to help everybody be more effective.

Rich Mesch


Rich Mesch is Vice President, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group. A frequent contributor to industry events and publications, his most recent article was Taming the Learning Demand Curve: Using Supply Chain Methods to Manage Your Learning Function for Training Industry's online magazine.



Topics: Performance Improvement, Organizational Learning, Millennials

Join PDG and Bristol-Myers Squibb for an LTEN Webinar!

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 5, 2015 11:56:00 AM

PDG's Marcus Hswe will co-present with Keith Willis, the Associate Director, Cardiovascular Training for Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) for an exciting new webinar presented by the Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (LTEN) on January 9, 2015. 

Benchmarking Your Best: Using Your Top Talent to Grow Your Salesforce

Friday, January 9, 2015 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM EST

Many of us are challenged by salesforce turnover, and the need to constantly onboard new talent. But the Cardiovascular team at Bristol-Myers Squibb had a more intriguing challenge. BMS built and nurtured an extremely high-performing team, one that experienced very little turnover. How do you grow a great sales team and make them even better? How do you change the behavior of a team that’s had great success with the “old” behaviors?

Attend this lively and practical LTEN webinar to learn how BMS uncovered the differentiating behaviors of their top performers and created a series of best practices and benchmarks to help raise the performance of the entire team.

In this session, participants will learn:

• How to motivate and grow a mature and high-performing salesforce.
• How to evaluate and benchmark best practices to drive up performance of all team members.
• How learning needs to be approached differently for an experienced audience.

Our Presenters:


Keith Willis
Associate Director Cardiovascular Training
Bristol-Myers Squibb

Keith Willis has 22 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry where he has honed his sales management and sales training skills with companies like Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka. Keith is currently Associate Director for Sales and Access Learning at Bristol-Myers Squibb responsible for Cardiovascular Training. Throughout his career he has won several sales awards, launched numerous products as a district manager, operations manager and training manager and developed several training curriculums. 


Marcus Hswe
Performance Development Group

Marcus Hswe is an Associate Vice President, Business Development with Performance Development Group (PDG) of Malvern, PA. He has over 10 years of experience in design, development, and management of enterprise training initiatives. With a concentration in the life sciences arena, Marcus works directly with senior executives to determine effective and efficient solutions to their business issues.


For more information, or to register for the webinar, click here.

Topics: Sales Training, Life Sciences, Benchmarking

Leadership Programs that Work

Posted by Rich Mesch on Nov 20, 2014 9:16:00 AM

Many of us have been in “Leadership Training” since we were very young. We learned leadership GirlsSoccerTeam.Medjpginformally, through participation in sports teams, youth organizations, or community groups. And sometimes we learned it formally, through events, retreats, and challenges. But one thing that’s probably true of all of it is that we never called it “leadership training.” It was about having great experiences.

Leadership is a difficult topic to get your arms around. Part of that is because leadership content is easy to understand, but hard to actually do. It’s rare that I hear someone say, “I just read Peter Drucker (or Covey, or Kouzes & Posner, or Conner), and I have no idea what he’s talking about.” Actually, I find people are very inspired by these books, and are excited to put these ideas into practice. And that’s where things get dicey, because sometimes these behaviors are very hard to do properly. Why? Lots of reasons: I’m intimidated by my team members. I don’t want to give people bad news. I don’t think my boss will support me. I don’t think my organization “gets it.” The list goes on and on.

It certainly doesn’t help that a lot of leadership programs are a parade of models, disjointed, without context. Situational Leadership! Myers Briggs! DISC! These are wonderful, thoughtful, well-researched models, but when they come at you in rapid succession, as if fired out of a cannon, they can become an endless series of matrices, process graphs, and pie charts that have little relevance to actually being a leader.

So what are the missing pieces? The first is context. These models are not stand-alone solutions; they are tools in a toolkit. Can you imagine learning carpentry by spending one day on the hammer and then the next day on the screwdriver? Of course not; there’s no context. Your goal is to build something; tools help you build. As a leader, you manage people, processes, tools, and money (yes, money). The tools need to help you do that. If you don’t understand how the tools get you closer to your goals, then you really don’t understand the tools.

business_trainingMedThe second missing piece is experience.  Effective leadership programs have a strong experiential component, the more, the better. Sometimes, experiential learning can be low risk, as in simulations. A good simulation can provide a safe environment to practice new behaviors, try out models, and get a feel for how people will react to you. An angry team member can be a rude surprise for a new leader, but if the leader has had the experience of dealing with this behavior in a simulation, she may be able to handle it better in real life. But good programs will also have experiential assignments, the chance to use new behaviors in real life. This may include job shadowing (observing an experienced leader as they go through their day), leadership of project teams or communities of practice, or feedback from coaches and mentors.

In her wonderful book Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership, Linda Hill of Harvard Business School observed that a very high percentage of first-time managers failed at their jobs, due to a gap in expectations between what they thought the job would be like, versus what it actually was like. In simplest terms, they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. By creating leadership programs that focus on context and experience, we help guarantee that our next generation of leaders is prepared for the realities of the job.

Partnering for Global Leadership
d more about leadership:



Rich Mesch



Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at
Performance Development Group.


Topics: Leadership

The High Performing Learning Organization

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jun 24, 2014 2:18:07 PM


HPLO_thumbnail_medPDG recently published a new white paper called “The High Performing Learning Organization: 8 Attributes for Business Success.” The white paper focuses on what makes up a High Performing Learning Organization and the benefits to the business.

Here’s a section from the white paper:

What is a High Performing Learning Organization?

A High Performing Learning Organization (HPLO) is a Learning Organization that operates like a business, using the tools and processes of business to create workflows that are timely, efficient, cost-effective, and demonstrate a clear impact on the enterprise.


High Performing Learning Organizations:

• Are fully aligned with the business goals of the enterprise
• Speak the language of business, not just the language of learning
• Are able to define the return on investment (ROI) of their efforts—when the business can see the impact of their learning investment, they are more likely to continue investing in learning
• Are scalable, creating improved cost scenarios and more rapid delivery cycles
• Utilize Flexible Resourcing, so that costs are controlled while appropriate resources are available for critical and high-demand initiatives

So what are the tools necessary to build and sustain a High Performing Learning Organization? How do you identify the gaps in your organization that need to be closed to create a HPLO? While there are many categories that make up a HPLO, too many organizations focus on the solutions the learning organization creates. Great solutions are the result of an effective Learning Organization, but improving solutions doesn’t necessarily improve the organization. It’s not just where you end up; it’s the path you take to get there. High Performing Learning Organizations needs to be structured to perform optimally, by having strategy, process, people, and tools that support their path to success.

Successful HPLOs focus on the following eight key success areas:

  1. Business Alignment & Performance Impact
  2. People Capabilities & Development
  3. Scalable Processes, Tools, & Assets
  4. Organization Structured for Leverage
  5. Global & Local Optimization
  6. Governance, Demand, & Resource Balancing
  7. Flexible Resource Management
  8. Content Strategy & Asset Leverage

 To read more about High Performing Learning Organizations, download the free white paper!

Rich Mesch



 Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement
at Performance Development Group



Topics: Organizational Change, Organizational Learning, High Performing Learning Organization

Talk Global Learning with PDG at the ASTD International Conference & Exposition!

Posted by Rich Mesch on Apr 16, 2014 10:03:00 AM

Join PDG at the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Washington, DC on May 6, 2014 for a presentation by Rich Mesch, Senior Director Customer Engagement and Stacie Comolli, Director of Solution Architecture. Stacie and Rich will be discussing Global Learning Archetypes, PDG's unique approach to

ASTD_2014simplifying Global Learning, and providing a case study of how the methodology was successfully applied at a multibillion dollar global organization. Here's a summary of the session:

TU206 - Training the World: Using Archetypes to Create a Practical Global Learning Strategy

Date: Tue, May 06

1:30 pm - 2:45 pm  

Location: 144BC


Virtually all large organizations are global, and facing the challenges of creating learning interactions that are beneficial and comprehensible to diverse audiences all over the world. Some organizations take the "pray" approach, by creating learning for one geography and praying other audiences will get something out of it. Other organizations burn through huge amounts of money creating custom learning for every different geography. Isn't there a better way? Can't effective global learning be created in a way that doesn't break the bank?

This session focuses on a pragmatic and reasonable approach to global learning design that utilizes archetypes, focusing as much on the commonalities between learning styles as on the differences. The Global Archetype approach adapts well-established cultural preference models and combines them with insightful learning models. The result is three primary Global Learning Archetypes and six secondary archetypes that allow training to be designed once and used around the world.

This session focuses on how:
  • the Global Learning Archetypes were created
  • the Archetypes can be translated into design specs that any learning team can use
  • organizations are using the Archetypes to deliver globally while controlling cost
  • to apply a vetted, model-based strategy for designing global learning rollout
  • to integrate a well-established cultural preferences model that can be applied to learning best practices to create Global Learning Archetypes. 

Speaker biographies:


Rich Mesch has been working in the field of experiential and contextualized learning for over 25 years. He has desi

gned and implemented solutions for dozens of Fortune 1000 companies in all industries. His projects


have won multiple Brandon Hall Excellence Awards, the New Media InVision Award for Simulation, the 

New York Festivals Silver Medal, and the HR Executive Top 10. He is a frequent conference presenter, having spoken at the ASTD International Conference, ASTD TechKnowledge, TechLearn, eLearning Guild, SPBT, Training Magazine Conference, and the Linkages Conference on Leadership. He is the co-author of the Pfeiffer/ASTD book, “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook,” and has published articles 

in Training Magazine, Focus Magazine, and Technology for Learning. His is currently the Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group in Malvern, PA.StacieC_002_sm


Stacie Comolli is the Director of Solution Architecture for Performance Development Group of Malvern, PA. She has more than fifteen years of experience in instructional design, simulation design, project management and performance consulting. She holds an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems from Penn State University. As the Director of Solution Architecture, Stacie sets the strategic direction of the team and aligns that strategy with the overarching organizational goals and values. She has designed interactive multimedia-based learning solutions, engaging instructor-led workshops (including interactive media when applicable) and tools and job aids to anchor new skills to the job. Stacie works with clients to learn as much as possible about the nuances of their business and needs, so every solution leads to performance improvement.

 To learn more about PDG's approach to Global Learning, try these links:

Global Learning Archetypes in Action

Global Learning Doesn't Need to Be So Hard

PDG White Paper: Training The World, Using Archetypes to Create a Practical Global Learning Strategy

PDG Case Study: Accelerating Time to Global, Effective Global Learning Design Using Archetypes


Topics: Global Learning, Conferences

Using Flexible Resourcing to Manage Learning Capabilities

Posted by Rich Mesch on Mar 31, 2014 2:40:00 PM


PDG recently published an intriguing new white paper called “Taming the Learning Demand Curve: 4 Smart Steps to Lower Cost and Higher Quality in Corporate Learning.” The white paper focuses on an innovative approach to managing demand in a learning organization and creating a flexible structure to meet stakeholder need. Here’s an excerpt from the white paper:

A few years ago, industry analyst Jack Phillips dealt the training and development field some tough love. His research, completed by polling top executives at large global organizations, told us something we may have suspected: business decision-makers have trouble understanding the business value of corporate training. But Phillips’ research also offered some insight into how to solve that problem. Those same executives said they would see the value when they understood how training and development drove success in the primary goals and initiatives of the business. So all we have to do is demonstrate how learning drives the business.

So how do you do that?

There are many ways, but the first step is to treat learning like a business. And like any business, that means managing your demand curve and your supply chain.

Learning Demand is Predictably Unpredictable

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

                                                            -- George Santayana

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? In the movie, Bill Murray’s character lives through the same day, over and over again. At first he makes the same mistakes each time he lives through the day, but over time he learns the adjust his behavior and changes the way the day plays out. Given the opportunity to learn, he does things differently and creates a better future.

Sometimes running a corporate learning department feels like Groundhog Day. Every year, we try to plan for the learning needs of our organization, and every year we end up feeling stretched as unexpected demands come up, projects shift onto our to-do lists that weren’t there before, or that new product launch that was scratched from last year’s agenda suddenly shows up on this year’s plan. You may find yourself asking, “Why does this happen every year?” But if something happens every year, it means that it’s following a predictable pattern. And once we can identify that pattern, we can analyze it and build a plan for it. That pattern will still have unpredictable elements, but we can build a system that accounts for unpredictability and allow us to deal with it—quickly and effectively—when it does happen.

Getting a Handle on Learning Resourcing

Step 1: Getting Off the Rollercoaster

If you’re like most organizations, your Learning Demand curve probably looks a little like a roller coaster. Periods of high demand for learning resources may be followed by periods where demand flattens out, or even dips… followed by additional periods of high demand. This curve can make resourcing difficult, and create sleepless nights for learning managers. So how do you begin to tame the learning demand curve?

Want to know more? You can download the entire white paper here for free! You can also click here for more information on how PDG approaches Flexible Learning Resourcing.


Rich Mesch



 Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement
at Performance Development Group



Topics: Learning Resourcing,

Secrets of Simulation Design

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 10, 2014 1:23:00 PM

As mentioned in our last blog posting, I had the pleasure of co-authoring the recent book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook, contributing several chapters on simulation. I’ve been working with simulations and experiential learning for almost my entire career, over 25 years. I became involved with simulation because, like a lot of people in the learning & development field, I was frustrated. I looked at a lot of the learning initiatives that organizations did and I wondered: Is any of this really making a difference? We’re making people smarter, but are we really changing the way they behave? Is there any real impact on the business?

I became fascinated with simulation because simulation had the potential to not just change what people knew, but to change what they actually did. Simulation immerses people in a realistic environment and causes them to react emotionally and instinctually, much as they do in the real world. And it contextualizes what they’ve learned; rather than being an abstract idea that they have to parrot back, it becomes a real-life behavior that they have to execute.

The earliest simulations I built were very inspired by old text-adventure games like Zork. In the early days of computers, Zork created an immersive environment using only words. But more than that, it required analysis, problem-solving, and creativity—the same skills we want to achieve through training interactions. And nobody forced you to play Zork; you did it because it was challenging and fun. What if training was challenging and fun? By the way, for a retro thrill, you can still play Zork online.

Today’s technology provides more opportunities for immersion, with video, animation, mobile apps, and 3D virtual worlds. But the core of simulation is the same, whether it’s a high-end video simulation or a pencil-and-paper exercise. You need a realistic environment, a real-life goal, an immersive story, and characters you can relate to.

training_2014_LogoIf you’d like to know more about how you accomplish all that, please join me in San Diego, CA on February 3, 2014 for the Training 2014 Conference & Expo where I’ll be presenting a session called The Secrets of Simulation Design. We’ll talk about why simulation is so effective, the different types of simulation, and some basic design concepts. We’ll also look at some examples of effective simulations.

For a deeper dive on simulation, read PDG’s White Paper on Simulation and Experiential Learning, read case studies on using simulation for leadership development in a retail environment, Pharmaceutical sales leadership, or stop by and chat at Training 2014!


Rich Mesch



 Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group




Topics: Emerging Technologies, Storytelling, Simulation

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 20, 2013 10:59:00 AM

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour!

I've enjoyed reading Karl Kapp's books so much over the years and I'm doubly pleased to be his co-author on the newest, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook. I first started building simulations and learning games way, way back in 1985. Back then, I was very inspired by text adventure games like fieldbookZork, which created a very compelling and immersive world using only text. I remember thinking, if we can become so involved in fictional worlds like this, what would happen if we became immersed in real-life scenarios the same way? It would be a lot like doing it for real, except we'd be in a nice safe environment where we could try new behaviors and there would be little penalty for failing.

Of course, back then you really couldn't talk to businesses about games. Games were something serious business people simply did not engage in. So we called them interactive case studies and simulations and immersive experiences. But games they were and games they still are, except now we're not afraid to call them that.

I'm proud to be part of the Fieldbook because I think it addresses a real need in the learning industry. "Gamification" has become a (rather awkward) buzzword, and many people don't really understand what it means. Given that one of the strengths of learning games is that they help transform cognitive knowledge to behavioral skills, it makes sense to create a book that focuses on how to actually do this stuff. Karl and Lucas and I set out to create a "how to" book, a roadmap that shows you how to take all of these great ideas and actually create great games and simulations. The book is full of ideas, yes, but also full of tools, processes, guidelines, tips, and tricks.

With The Fieldbook, we created the kind of book we wish we'd had when we started out creating learning games and simulations. We hope it not only inspires you but gives you the tools you need to create awesome learning games. If you'd like a copy of your own, you can get one right here. And if you'd like to continue the conversation, please join me at the Training 2014 Conference in San Diego, CA on February 3, 2014 for my session, The Secrets of Simulation Design. See you there!

For additional thoughts about gaming from this blog, try the following:

The Chocofication of Learning

How Games Improve Performance, Part 1: An Introduction

How Games Improve Performance, Part 2: Why Are Games Effective?

Using Storytelling in Learning, Part 1: Yelling at the Movie Screen

Using Storytelling in Learning, Part 2: 7 Tips for Effective Storytelling

Using Storytelling in Learning, Part 3: The Predictable Unexpected

Using Storytelling in Learning, Part 4: Keeping it Real

Using Storytelling in Learning, Part 5: The Goal-Based Scenario 


Rich Mesch



 Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group


Topics: Storytelling, Simulation, Gamification

Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) Implementation

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 19, 2013 9:09:00 AM

cia_blog_picThe United States Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services defines a CIA as follows:

A Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) is a document that outlines the obligations an entity agrees to as part of a civil settlement. An entity agrees to the CIA obligations in exchange for the OIG’s agreement that it won’t seek to exclude the entity from participation in Medicare, Medicaid or other Federal health care programs. The CIAs have common elements, but each one is tailored to address the specific facts of the case and CIAs are often drafted to recognize the elements of a pre-existing compliance program.

The manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical devices are the most frequent recipients of CIAs, and CIA are typically issued as part of the settlement relating to actions an entity has taken in violation of government regulations. Therefore, virtually all CIAs include provisions that the entity takes steps to change practices and behaviors that led to previous violations.

The biggest problem that many organizations have with CIA learning implementation is that they aren’t ready for it. Compliance departments often have minimal resources for training, or rely on training resources from other parts of the organization that are already stretched thin. Even when resources are available, they may not have the CIA knowledge necessary to meet OIG requirements and deadlines. Deploying CIA learning is a systemic process with a number of challenges, including:

  • Identifying Covered Persons: Who within your organization needs to receive training? Who outside your organization (vendors, contractors, partners)? Does it need to be customized by role? How will you address the training of your officers and top executives?
  • Providing training in a short timeframe: Training usually has to be complete within 120 days of the start of your CIA. Do you have the resources to get that done? To deploy it? To track it?
  • Tracking both inside and outside the organization: How will you track training completion to meet OIG requirements? Do you have an LMS that covers every part of your organization? Is it accessible to those Covered Persons outside your organization? Can it generate the reports you’ll need to stay in compliance?
  • Reporting to internal and external stakeholders: You’ll need to generate a lot of reports, both to keep your organizational stakeholders informed and to demonstrate to the OIG that you are in compliance. Can your systems handle that? Do you need to create tools or templates to get that done? Who in your organization is responsible for reporting?
  • Creating a long-term culture of compliance: Implementing a CIA has many short-term demands, but the long-term goal is to create a lasting culture of compliance, to help ensure that you don’t encounter challenges that lead to new compliance actions. How can you create an enduring strategy that allows for growth over the full term of your CIA and beyond, not just during the first few high-pressure months?

PDG has worked with a number of Life Sciences organizations on CIA learning and has created a strategy that addresses both the short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities associated with implementing a CIA. This pragmatic approach to CIA learning is outlined in the PDG White Paper Implementing CIA Learning: A Real World Roadmap to Successful CIA Learning Rollout. To get more information on implementing CIA learning, visit PDG’s webpage here.

Rich Mesch



Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group

Topics: Corporate Integrity Agreement