These are my live-blogged notes from the opening keynote at this week’s ATD Core 4 happening this week in New Orleans. Forgive any typos or incoherencies.
Why Learning is the New Work
Melissa Daimler, Head of Learning & Development, Twitter @mdaimler
Work IS a learning lab and the daily experiences are the curriculum.
To create a great learning lab at work, we need to focus on 3 things:
- Design more iteratively
- Lead more holistically
- Learn more intentionally
1. Design more iteratively
We’re all familiar with ADDIE; part of our DNA. It’s a very sequential process. How can we take a more agile approach to design – to take more of a Design Thinking approach.
Design Thinking – the 5 Steps:
- Empathize (with your stakeholders)
- Define the problem
There are critical differences and nuances between ADDIE and Design Thinking:
- Empathy – about connecting with our stakeholders, focusing on the person. It’s a more human-centered approach. Don’t just fix the problem, also focus on how people feel.
- Co-creation – how do we together, with our stakeholders, come up with a solution. “Go where the people are” – figure out with them as you go.
- Rapid Prototyping – instead of planning and then six months later you launch, you iterate as you go.
Focusing on these 3 aspects of design thinking = better solution, less time, more buy-in
Feedback has gotten a really bad rap lately. It’s not feedback that needs to go away and that’s dead – it’s the feedback process. How can we reframe feedback as something more useful.
So they talked to a lot of people at Twitter about what they were experiencing and how they were feeling. We asked employees things like “how do you learn? How do you develop? When have you gotten really good feedback that you can use?”
(When you ask really good questions, you get much better input).
We asked managers, “what kind of information do you need?” (A lot of companies are throwing out their performance ratings and numbers – and that’s daunting, because leaders are so used to having those numbers.
Worked with a lot of stakeholders, asked good questions, understood what they felt.
Identified a lot of shifts they wanted to make (there were about 15) – and they wanted to narrow that down to the top 3.
So it’s a shift –
- From Performance TO Development + Performance
- From 2 x Year Review TO Always Feedback (in the moment)
- From Manager Led TO Employee-Driven
Focus on progress vs. perfection.
They came up with a prototype of a feedback dashboard –
- What I’m good at…what I’m working on.
- What I’m less good at…How I’m working on it
- What I care about…what I’ve done (stuff I’ve shipped)
Today it’s called “Our portfolio” – it’s an internally developed online hub.
- Portfolio: give, get, develop.
- You can give and get comments.
- It’s based on their 17 behavioral org skills.
- Manager can see how their team is doing – what types of comments they’ve gotten, the number of comments.
- It’s 360 feedback
- Now they’re seeing people giving a lot more feedback face to face and then following it up with comments on the portfolio
Metrics they track: they want people to give/get at least 2 comments per month. After you receive a comment, individuals rate how useful a comment was to them (a rating tool from 1-7) – this addresses one of the ways that feedback hasn’t been useful in the past. They provide modeling about how to give good feedback – the anatomy of a comment.
How does this apply to program design?
They had a lot of green managers at Twitter. This was one of Melissa’s key focus areas. And she was interested in all the ways to help people, except classroom training.
She met with a new manager – was an engineer who had just been promoted. She shared all these great ideas she had about using technology and twitter and other tools. And he said, “that sounds really cool, but are we going to have any classes on how to do a one-on-one?”
When people come to us and say “this is what we want” but we know it’s not really what they need.
A lot of managers were asking for classroom training. The irony of this at a tech company. But they wanted to come together with others like them and get validation and connect and practice in a safe environment.
They created a management development program that is more classroom based.
She believes the classroom won’t go away. What we DO in the classroom needs to transform.
Created #TC5. 5 Week program. They came for two hours a week. There were about 5 slides. It was role plays and discussion. And then next week they would come back and talk through their experiences during the previous week.
The program design is always iterating, always in beta. As the company continued to evolve, they needed to make sure the conversations were still relevant for managers. (Don’t iterate just to iterate. Iterate because we want to make sure we’re aligned to what the business is experiencing).
Decision-making was a big conversation as the organization grew to a more matrixed one. The decision-making process changed a bit.
What project are you working on right now?
- How can you apply more empathy to your stakeholders?
- How could you co-create with your stakeholders?
- How can you get to a prototype faster?
2. How do we lead more holistically?
“Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.” ~ Peter Senge
Instead of doing a project post-mortem, they do “retros” (restrospectives).
- What do we want to keep?
- What do we want to quit?
- What do we want to cultivate?
These questions have now become integrated into the org and made a huge impact.
They also created 17 org skills – what are the actual skills you need to have to be successful? They wanted to understand what made up a successful employee? They met with stakeholders, they asked questions (how can you best be successful?).
They came up with 3 primary buckets:
- be a team player,
- be execution focused,
- be forward thinking.
How do you then create reinforcing mechanisms to help these org skills stick? Wanted to make sure that these skills were anchored against all of the processes.
So the Our Portfolio comment/feedback systems includes these org skills as drop down lists.
“I’d like to give you some feedback.” – those words bring butterflies to our stomach as the person who says them then leads into telling you all the things you’ve done wrong.
If our feedback/comments are more focused and aligned on core skills…
Be execution focused: Prioritizes appropriately to delivery high quality results
“When what we’re trying to learn is connected to a system to support that learning….learning happens naturally.”
3. Learn more intentionally
To have a more meaningful learning experience, both the teacher and the learner have to be present.
We are overwhelmed all the time. The world is becoming more dynamic. (Josh Bersin wrote an article that said 2/3 of employees are overwhelmed.) We have shorter attention spans; we check our phones XX times a day.
As learning professionals, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves.
WE are the intervention. We are the ones who come into the room and bring the energy (or NOT). And we can immediately shift the conversation. We have good days, we have bad days. So critical that we pause and take care of ourselves.
If we’re not doing our own work to improve ourselves, we not only give up our own learning experience, but we give up someone else’s.
We’ve become this DOING machine. If our calendars are not full, we think we’re doing something wrong. But the people who get the most done, have space on their calendars.
- Keep at least a one hour unscheduled block every day with NO meetings.
- Have one day with nothing scheduled.
- As learning professionals, make sure you’re finding time to learn, grow, discover – both personally and professionally. Give yourself time for forced reflection.
- Fill up, stay fresh, make space for yourself so you can continue to be intentional.