On 5th September, we asked experts from Google and Hyper Island to share ideas and approaches around creating effective cultures of learning in the workplace.
With changing working patterns, new technologies and digital developments evolving the way we work, the ability to learn new skills and adapt to change has never been more essential. As such, more and more organisations are examining how to best build learning into their own ways of working and cultures; seeking out innovative and modern modes to help their teams to develop and build the desired capabilities of the day.
On 5th September, at the Library at Shoreditch House we met with two panellists each keen to share their own lessons and perspectives on creating a culture of learning at work — from introducing every day opportunities for education, to facilitating the sharing of skills and knowledge both internally and externally.
We were joined by Lucero Tagle, People Development Lead at Google in the UK, who works with employees to create an agile learning environment. She helped us see how useful it is to have immediate feedback in an approach to learning that is personalised, self-initiated, and works through experimenting.
Speaking alongside Lucero was Nathan Miller, from the creative business school Hyper Island. Nathan helps to design learning experiences by bringing together tools, processes and speakers to create a space that helps individuals grow and stay competitive in an increasingly digitized world.
Here's what we learnt.
Learning By Doing
Describing Hyper Island as 'education pirates', Nathan discussed the importance of creating a group cultural space where individual members initiate their own methods of learning, so as to genuinely engage and get more out of the process. Rather than learning in a classroom-led environment about new digital tools, he emphasised the importance of approaching learning in a different way that was less skills based, as new digital infrastructures and methods are constantly being updated. Instead he suggested we ask how you might quickly experiment with a tool to know just enough to use it.
Talking about Hyper Island's MA Digital Management course, he gave an example of a student who quickly prototyped an AI content management service, then tested it at the newspaper where he worked. This active engagement then lead to the project being invested in by the company, proving the idea that changing a goal from achieving expertise knowledge to just having a flexible, active mentality, makes for succesful learning.
He reframed academia as something that merely means a setting for rigorous testing, and that this achieves results when people take the initiative to construct their own methods.
In the same vein of active learning Lucero Tagle discussed the importance of learning by doing, particularly in relation to their 'Googler to Googler' programme which includes over 6,000 members. With this employees in the programme share their skillsets – anything from yoga or knitting, to negotiation training and coding. She talked about the importance of approaching learning by embedding it in a culture of giving back, and taking advantage of people's individual skills.
The value of learning by doing is also clear to Google, as people get immediate results in terms of realising what they're not necessarily great at. They can then see exactly what needs to be worked on; Lucero mentioned Google's method of 'speedback' as an aid to this, with managers giving feedback instantly in the moment, so that time is saved and it sticks in the memory.
Lucero discussed the Personal Development Programmes (PDPs) they have in place, in which people initiate their own learning programmes, and connect with more senior managers who help them realise what it is they want to achieve. She discussed the way circles of communication are kept flowing, where managers take on coaching roles, learn how to observe individuals, so that they can meet and reinforce learning and discuss personally what works and what doesn't on a regular basis.
From feedback, Lucero has found there to be a real yearning for specific and open conversations around improvement; they are currently figuring out how best to get managers in the 'conflict zone', where those hard, but extremely fruitful conversations take place.
Both speakers emphasised the importance of being specific with feedback, e.g. rather than just complimenting a presentation, the focus should be on what it was about that presentation that worked. Nathan brought up the notion of specific versus neutral feedback whereby instead of accusing someones ability, or saying something is outright 'bad', the neutral task is separated from reponse elicited. In this way the focus is on how something made you feel and how that feeling could be made positive, rather than a piece of work or person being irredeemably bad.
In terms of working out what it is that employees might want to learn, Lucero specified she found in business terms that the best way is to break it down into individual steps. By starting with asking what are the business objectives of the group, you can then work out what are the skills needed to achieve this, who has those skills, and how to learn from them. A balance between 'softer' and 'harder', business orientated aims is also important to keep in mind.
Location:Shoreditch House Library,
London, E1 6AW,
Start:September 5th, 2017 at 9:00am
End:September 5th, 2017 at 10:30am
Cost:Free to Members