Meet Fierce, Inc., a global leadership development and training company focused on driving results through improved workplace communication.

They have been delivering their flagship course, Fierce Conversations, since the inception of the company in 2001.

Their client roster includes top Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and governmental organizations.

Project Brief

Fierce first approached Marlaina in 2010 after experiencing an increasing trend and interest around on-line training. More and more clients began requesting an on-line version of Fierce Conversations and they saw it showing up in more proposals and RFPs from companies. Their audience wanted a virtual option.

The Challenge was doing it well without sacrificing the quality of the live, instructor led classes. Fierce Conversations training was based around face-to-face interactions and real conversations. They wanted to ensure they did not lose the magic that happened in the classroom with the creation of an on-line version. If they were going to add a Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) option to their offerings, it was essential that it was done well and the technology was up to speed. They needed a way to replicate the group interactions and conversations in a virtual setting.

Their core objectives for the project included:

  1. Expand their client base with an additional offering of VILT.
  2. Diversify their offerings and toolbox to accommodate client requests.
  3. Preserving the powerful experience of the original instructor led course, which was based on real conversations.


Marlaina was originally brought on to create a Knowledge Design Blueprint to map out exactly what the course would look like on the virtual platform. The Blueprint included instructional design, visual recommendations, technology considerations and ways to spark engagement and interaction.

Marlaina worked alongside the Director of Training, Aimee Windmiller-Wood (now Senior VP for Training & Program Development) in a highly collaborative process to translate their flagship 2-day instructor-led course into a virtual program based on 5 modules (2 hours or less).

Once the Blueprint was done, showing a slide-by-slide breakdown of the program, Fierce decided to hire Marlaina to develop the course for them, build out the modules, and facilitate the pilot program.

Notable updates included:

  • increasing the slide count 6 fold to maintain interest in a virtual setting
  • finding the perfect virtual platforms that would allow them to provide an excellent experience for everyone involved
  • innovative ways to preserve engagement such as virtual breakout rooms, participant activities, chats and polls
  • a PDF version of their Participant Workbook (which led to significant cost savings)
  • a Facilitator’s Guide allowing different instructors to lead the course effectively.


While the program has grown and evolved since the original pilot, the on-line version of Fierce Conversations continues to gain momentum and create additional options for their clients.

Fierce is now able to highlight their VILT capacity in proposals and have found that even if the client goes with instructor-led training, they often choose Fierce because they can do VILT well.

The VILT option has also allowed them to offer a hybrid or blended version of Fierce Conversations, where foundational modules are taught virtually prior to coming to the Workshop, so they can now do the workshop in 1-day instead of 2. This has been a great benefit for their clients, by offering a more cost-effective solution while still including the face-to-face interactions. Other companies who can’t afford to fly their people to a workshop, are also able to choose a fully virtual experience.

Finally, their VILT offering has allowed Fierce to provide training for global companies that allow employees in different countries to connect more deeply as a team than they ever have before.

While Fierce Inc. is still known as a primarily instructor-led training company, they have found VILT to be an effective supplement to their existing offerings, allowing them to expand their customer base and diversify their offerings.

In Their Words

Aimee Windmiller-Wood

“Marlaina knows her stuff when it comes to translating instructor-led training into virtual. She really educated us on the online format and provided a lot of the framework that continues to be utilized today. She made a great contribution to our ability to get our materials converted into the online modality and create a powerful, on-line version of our popular Fierce Conversations workshop.  Marlaina understands how to frame it in an effective way that provides a unique and engaging experience.”

Aimee Windmiller-Wood – SVP Training and Program Development, Fierce, Inc.