Continuous and collaborative learning is a cornerstone of the Information Experts (www.informationexperts.com) culture.
How do we manage to fulfill our client requirements while maintaining our edge as thought leaders in the fields of integrated communication, social media, training, interactive development, and human capital?
We use a variety of strategies that enable participation from the entire company.
1 : Brown Bag Lunches
Information Experts team members attend lots of conferences, seminars, webinars etc. The real value in this content, however, shows up when the attendee brings the knowledge back home, and a group can discuss how we can put ideas to use. Brown bag lunches are a great way to make this happen.
When someone learns of a webinar, we often send the information to everyone and pull up the webinar in the conference room. Remote employees can dial in as well. There are so many free webinars these days that have great content. Again, this brings about collaborative, ubiquitous learning.
3: Book Club
Information Experts has run book clubs from time to time, especially when there is a wave of releases that are relevant to what we are doing.
4: TED Team
This is a new strategy for us. We have lots of TED fans in the company, so we often circulate TED Talks. We’re now “standardizing” this learning modality by implementing a TED Team. This team will take ownership for finding TED Talks, and they will incorporate them into our Brown Bag lunches.
5: Completions-and-Wins Lunches
This is something we do periodically to celebrate project completions and recent wins. It isn’t a laundry list of projects; rather it is a best-practices/lessons-learned presentation by the project teams. With four different practice areas as well as several internal supporting groups (social media, project management office, technical development), it’s challenging for everyone to know what everyone else is doing. We often hear, “Wow I had no idea we were doing that!” at these meetings.
6: All-Hands Meetings – Led By The Employees
When we hold our quarterly all-hands meetings, the executive team does the least amount of talking. The practice leaders and heads of supporting groups share their progress reports and upcoming initiatives with the group. They also use the all-hands meetings as a platform to discuss trends and developments in their respective areas, and how we are implementing new ideas.
7: Internal Social Media Tools
We are BIG on internal social media tools to build community. One of our favorites is (www.yammer.com) which is an internal Twitter on steroids. We also have several home-grown wikis, and a communications intranet, and we most recently developed an extraordinary visual employee directory – that is now an iPhone app! I was blown away when I saw it. We use all of these tools to share information, presentation, links, graphics, etc. There is a constant hum of chatter throughout our organization.
Continuous Learning in Action
We are always using what we learn to improve our customer experience, and to improve the Information Experts culture. One of our most recent applications of knowledge was the creation of an Information Experts Culture Infographic – which shows a side of Information Experts team members that is not usually shown:
This has been an ongoing area of study for our design team, and now they are applying what they have learned. Often we test out our knowledge internally before bringing it to our clients, so that we can truly walk the walk when we consult on how to provide the most effective and compelling communications solutions.
That’s Great Marissa, But How Do I Implement?
I am happy you asked that question. With any initiative, an organization must do these things:
1: Create the Vision.
2: Formulate a strategy to execute the vision.
3: Assign ownership of the strategy – to someone who really wants to own it.
4: Empower the owner to execute – which means no micromanagement.
5: Establish metrics for performance and success.
For example, if you want to organize a brown-bag series or a book club, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Assign it one person who loves the idea, ask them for a schedule and a simple communications plan, and then let them roll with it.
Continuous and collaborative learning is essential for today’s organizations. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank, or even account for much out-of-office time to implement some great ideas.
I hope these ideas have been helpful.
Please share your ideas with us on how you create a culture of continuous and collaborative learning in your company.