What we learned from our last successful Show and Tell.

This week we held a successful show and tell. We learned a number of lessons along the way and this weeks blog is our attempt to share our learning.

agile

The first point is an obvious one but worth a gentle reminder and that is making ‘design’ choices to meet the different needs, learning styles and interests of the different stakeholders.

To this end we created 5 personas. These helped us to think through and then ‘design-in’ key insights and learning-points, so that they could make a meaningful connection to the session.

  1. The first was the senior manager ‘Lucy’. She was very busy working across the portfolio and wanted to understand and appreciate the strategic ‘big picture’ and then the ways by which this particular project stage (as expressed in the Show and Tell or Demo) neatly weaved together in the overall project’s narrative. For ‘Lucy’ we created a colourful and metaphoric visual poster. The poster expressed the narrative of an exploration ‘discovery ship’ taking their journey; and whilst doing so stopping-off at various ‘treasure’ islands before reaching ‘The New World’ that signified the project end date in December. Lucy would also want to understand the ways by which the functions and services shape the product. 
  2. The next persona was ‘Keith’. Keith understands his professional world from diagrams and work-flows as well as appreciating the logical parts between the key sequences. Keith is an Agile Architect. To meet his needs we had a ten minute slot from our Architect that provided first-class diagrams and an excellent explanation alongside.
  3. Next, we imagined that Jack ‘saw’ the project from the customer’s functional and experiential perspectives. Examples came to mind from marketing, customer insight, sales and other external or customer facing departments. For ‘Jack’ we had a ten minute slot from our UX team member. She very neatly weaved the functionality with the User Interface screens with the end-to-end clicks. She also provided evidence from her applied research with Users and the ways by which UX insights are shaping and have shaped the iterative product development in exciting, fresh and innovative ways.
  4. ‘Tony’ was interested in the detailed technical side of things. We saw Tony as a .net developer with interests in BDD and UX. We hoped that his needs would be met by a blend or combination of all the ten minute slots; but perhaps more especially by the UX and Architectual slots.
  5. Lastly,  was imagined that ‘Tom’ was an analyst. For his needs we shared the insights from our team leader BA. She also included what we had delivered to date, as well as highlighting the work that was out of the current scope. Her upbeat and engaging report noted what work packages would be picked-up in the portfolio/programme at some future point.  To bring a sense of ‘wholeness’ or Gestalt to the Show and Tell, our final speaker was our Product Owner. He deliberately selected a simple, clear but very poignant and powerful message that clarified the ways by which the project’s capability enabled transformation in two important ways. Firstly, for customer centricity and lastly, for enabling the changes needed for the businesses operating model.

The next lesson is the need to practice and gain feedback. We did this in three ways. Firstly, as a team we filmed ourselves and gave each other candid feedback. Next, we did a second ‘dry-run’ in the same room that we were using for the Show and Tell.  We did this as we wanted to test the IT equipment to ensure that everything was working as we hoped. Of course, if there were any last-minute glitches then these could be resolved in a timely manner. Lastly, after we finished the Show and Tell we also invited participant feedback using ‘post-it’ notes.

It is fair to say that this has been our most successful Show and Tell to date. The team have received life-affirming feedback both formal and informal; which is reassuring as we made a short film by way of dissemination for those stakeholders that could not make the date/time. It is our team’s hope that by sharing what worked for us that this may give rise to questions for you, and perhaps your team, in terms of the ‘design features’ that might work for you and your various stakeholders.

Take care, Jason

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‘Lessons to be Learned’ is this anything more than a rhetorical device?

network
You might recognise the picture above as a human neural network. This is the miraculous or amazing ways by which the human brain disseminates information that we all use to make sense of our external (environmental) and internal (psychological) worlds. I believe that this is a useful metaphor for learning at a number of levels, including individually, team and organisationally.

This blog is all about learning. But the motive behind writing it is all about relieving pain, upset, misunderstanding and disappointment. Consider the following scenario:

A loved one is treated poorly by a provider of care/ treatment. This results in serious harm or death. Given the seriousness of the error an external review is completed taking several months. Consequently a comprehensive 157 page report is produced. The same day this becomes available a press statement including the phrase that we all recognise instantly: “The organisation accepts the reviews findings and acknowledges that lessons must be learned” is given to the national, regional and local media.

Even though several months have passed for you the associated emotions remain raw or visceral and there is this sense of an injustice. You are energised to do three things. Firstly, you read carefully all similar reviews of the same type of error over the last 10-years. Secondly, you ask the organisation to demonstrate the ways by which they have implemented the ‘lessons learned’ from these previous reviews that you have found. Lastly, you informally ask friends that work in that organisation in what ways the ‘lessons learned’ from these reviews has shaped their professional practice over the last decade.

It is an obvious point but worth exploring none-the-less, what difference will it make to you if you discover that very little genuine learning has taken place? And, of course, if you discover that learning from previous reviews has indeed re-shaped professional practice and informed the ethical culture of the organisation what difference would this make to your sense of justice/injustice?

Around 7-years ago I was asked to review (yes me too!) and then design and implement a learning architecture that would address the points that I have outlined above. This is roughly what we co-created.

As a matter of interest this was within healthcare, but as I said before I believe the design features, or principles, could be applied in most organisational contexts such as banking/finance, IT, social services, foster care, schools/education, and the military, and the voluntary sectors such as charities and churches.

We mapped the following key learning building blocks:-

  • Insights from International, National Reviews
  • Learning from other external Reviews
  • Learning from Organisational ‘near miss’ events (logged)
  • Insights from Programme and Project ‘Lessons Learnt’ reviews/ evaluations
  • Learning from Conferences and other CPD events
  • Team Based Learning
  • Individual Learning (PDR)
  • Communities of Practice (Professional)

With bi-directional information and learning ‘flows’ we anticipate the following direct outcomes and wider systemic benefits.

Outcomes:

  1. The rate, or pace, of learning across the network ‘nodes’ should increase over time- given that we have specifically “designed-in” the learning connectedness
  2. There should be some correspondance of learning from each ‘output’ to the relevant learning ‘input’. In this way, we can see that any relevant learning from say a specific project review/evaluation should expected to be found, in say, the ‘community of practice’ for programme/project managers
  3. The same of course, could be said for any professional such as nursing, teachers, investment bankers and so forth
  4. Consequently, the knowledge management skill par excellence- is extracting the right degree of learning granularity from each knowledge input to each learning output

Benefits 

  • Having professional ‘communities of practice’ connected to learning knowledge management will enable skills and knowledge transfer in the most effective ways
  • The added-value from international/national reviews has genuine legitimacy to individual learning- with explicitly mapped transfer points or nodes across the network
  • The learning network is a key enabler for cultural and team climate improvements to this end
  • Individual learning evidently ‘scales-up’ to organisational learning. For example, an individual attending a CPD event would share a brief of that learning that is disseminated to each and every node

whatisbp
 Jason is a Business Psychologist.