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PwC Up front | Issue 5 | Harnessing technology

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44 Up front Summer 2014 The challenge As companies seek better ways to train their staff, entrepreneur Carol Leaman is revolutionizing the process. Leaman is President and CEO of Waterloo, Ont.-based Axonify Inc., her fourth start-up, whose software platform uses gamification and neuroscience to motivate employees to retain what they learn. Forget old-school seminars where staff sit on folding chairs watching a slide show – and come away remembering almost nothing. Accessible on any Web-connected device, Axonify's e-learning tools let them play brainteaser games consisting of multiple-choice questions. "Retrieval practice is the act of asking simple questions of learners multiple times to get them to retrieve the information repeatedly," Leaman says of her method. "Being forced to recall information solidifies the neural pathways in the brain and actually creates memory." Playing to win Armed with insights from neuroscience, Canadian e-learning outfit Axonify turns corporate training into a game By Susan Smith In 2011, Leaman bought a rudimentary version of Axonify's current software from a Kitchener, Ont., marketing firm that had developed it to help U.S. auto parts retailer and service chain Pep Boys: Manny, Moe & Jack curb employee theft. Pep Boys encouraged staff to answer questions such as: What should you do if you suspect another employee of stealing? What kind of rewards does the company give for reporting theft? The program, which workers accessed voluntarily whenever they had a few minutes, gave points and prizes for correct answers. It worked because it reminded them what to do if they caught someone stealing and acted as a deterrent by putting potential thieves on notice. Pep Boys saw "inventory shrink" fall by 55 per cent, leading to about $20-million in annual savings. "They became believers," Leaman recalls. "I listened to the story and I thought, 'If they have those issues, others must have those issues.'" Challenges | Talent

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