Choose to be a Small Giant
The unique characteristics within your design business sets our industry apart. You think differently; you work differently; you aspire differently. You choose to be small giants.
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If that sounds a little nerve wracking for some, then that actually could be a good thing. Neuroscientist Dr David Rock believes that ‘a little fear is the best condition for learning’ and Greenwich based agency, Cog Design has found with its ‘knowledge sharing initiative’, that “Often the people who are most nervous about presenting are the ones who feel the most benefit,” according to Founder Michael Smith.
Cog set up their initiative (where team members share their training experiences), for all sorts of reasons, but the key ones were, says Michael, because “it’s great experience for each of us to practice presenting stuff in a safe and non-threatening environment (rather than jumping straight into a boardroom of clients). Whoever is talking will be the ‘expert in the room’, which gives a great position of confidence to even the most nervous public speaker. It’s also expensive (in time more than money) for us to attend things that take us away from billable work, so we want to get the most out of that investment.”
Dr. David Rock describes learning that fits with the way our brain operates as “facilitating insights, in social situations that matter, over time”. He believes that ‘insights are more likely to be generated when we have time to reflect on content delivered with sufficient spacing to allow our pre-frontal cortex time to process information’* – so in other words, building in reflection time is a good thing; something Cog also believe is a benefit. “Everyone learns in different ways – some people find it invaluable to have the opportunity to recap and get their thoughts in order; that definitely helps those people to ‘own’ that knowledge and put it into practice,” he says.
“Asking someone to share their learning is a great way to creatively test them on the experience,” says Emily, “this not only passes on knowledge, but also helps both the individual and the organisation really consider and understand how the learning can be valuable from an individual perspective as well as for the wider business.”
Cog’s philosophy is to try to engender a culture of sharing that runs through everything they do, but is especially true of events and training they’ve invested in. They ask anyone who has been on a course, attended a conference, or training event, to tell the rest of the team about it.
“It’s not compulsory but we encourage people to give a presentation about their experience,” says Michael. That can be a review of the event, a summary of the highlights, or a full-on recreation of the whole thing. Usually it sits somewhere between those.
“There’s no set way of doing it – sometimes we save them up for our annual ‘discussion day’, when the whole team are gathered and we are focused on learning and talking, or we might all get together one lunchtime, or extend our weekly staff meeting to include a quick presentation,” he adds.
Michael believes the business has benefitted from a more knowledgeable and more confident team, whilst also building an impressive library of PDFs and presentations that everyone can refer back to. “The difference in confidence levels is tangible and lovely to see,” he says.
Developing your team can deliver multiple, wide-ranging benefits across your business. By actively embedding new learning into practice you’ll maximise your training investment whilst positively impacting on your team.
* Trisha Carter, blogging at the AHRI Convention / Neuroscience – Rethinking everything
Image credits: © Loeskiboom Dreamstime.com