Over the past 12 months, there’s been a new buzz-phrase: “The Future of Work.”
Between artificial intelligence, remote work, vast technological advancements, and the rapid change in higher education, “work” is undergoing a massive overhaul.
All of which means employees and companies are searching especially hard for the tools and resources to adapt to the changing environment more rapidly.
As topics like rapid iteration, collaboration, human-centered design, self-awareness and storytelling become commonplace (and expected) in the workplace, innovative and novel approaches to professional development in these areas is needed.
Over the past three years, Experience Institute (Ei), has been testing and prototyping a professional development program to tackle these pain points. Ei helps employees travel through a series of workshops focused on design thinking, prototyping, and storytelling that empowers full-time employees to accomplish a personal or professional passion project. What started as an internal experiment at Leo Burnett spearheaded by Chief Talent Officer Renetta McCann & Head of Learning & Development, Eric Doctors, has quickly turned into a full-blown internal innovation program called Learning Leaps.
The program kickoffs with an in-depth self-awareness workshop using the award-winning Leap Kit, a product developed alongside Stanford’s Design School (d.school for short). Participants choose a “Leap,” a specific, time-bound project, designed to help participants leave their comfort zones and learn through a new project or experience. Throughout the 60 days, Leapers maintain their full-time roles, but work on their Leaps with company support. They are given a small budget, manager support, and guidance through additional workshops in Prototyping, Storytelling and Presenting. Progress is tracked at weekly check-ins and the program culminates in a company-wide storytelling event where each participant presents a TEDx-style talk about their Leap.
Ultimately, this type of professional development helps facilitate two things for a company.
First, it lays out mechanisms for helping employees experientially learn a broader set of meta-skills such as:
- How to frame questions in a way that focuses learning and leads to generative thinking.
- How to quickly prototype and get feedback on ideas, and use that feedback to improve results.
- How to share a compelling story of ideas in a captivating way.
- Ultimately – how to move from learning to action more quickly and more effectively.
Second, since many participants choose Leaps directed towards adding value to the company, participants become co-creators in their company’s future. Companies can empower their people to discuss and attempt audacious ideas in short amounts of time and pursue those ideas in a way that builds the participants’ skills and portfolio.
When an employee’s side project or part-time hustle goes from shamed to celebrated, something powerful happens in the mind, attitude, and at-work presence of an employee. Self-directed learning is a powerful motivator, and when a company can facilitate, support and celebrate that pursuit, the potential impact is remarkable. Deliberately Developmental Organizations value the fact that adults can grow, and that the whole person needs to be welcomed to work every day. Supporting and celebrating self-directed learning is a one serious step your company can take towards genuine, impactful development of your people.
As the Future of Work becomes less futuristic and more realistic, a continuous cycle of learning and work emerges. These stages of of work and learning are no longer isolated, finite seasons of life (e.g. High school → college → work), they’re cyclical and constant. To address this emerging trend, companies and HR reps need to embrace this cycle and provide routine opportunities for work and learning to coexist.
To learn more about Learning Leaps, head over to ExpInstitute.com/LearningLeaps