Creating environments that lead to better learning and creativity

We hear and experience many clients saying that they want to be known for creating a learning culture amongst their teams. Unfortunately, just saying it does not make it so.

When we start to delve deeper, really unpack and assess the process, systems and behaviour of the people leading these organisations we find little evidence of this.

So, if you are committed to wanting to create an environment that supports and expects ongoing learning and creativity, across all levels of the organisation, we would like to share some of our most useful insights.

It all starts with a thinking and doing culture – where creativity and the contribution of ideas is a given

So, what does this mean from a practical perspective?

  • A commitment to regular team meetings where ideas and innovation specifically in regard to designing and trialling new experiences is always on the agenda. This is not just for traditional “leaders” but for all levels of the organisation.
  • A safe place for ideas to be discussed. Create an informal ideas space where all members of the team are encouraged, and expected, to contribute solutions in terms of potential experiences.
  • An expectation backed by processes and systems of follow up that the best ideas will be trialled and experimented in real time – as smartly as possible. 
Know what is going to be high value talent and invest in this

Ask yourself if whether you are building the right talent and skills and putting investment and attention into the most relevant and impactful areas.

How much impact will the learning you invest you team in attending have in say three to five years time?

Consider the following talents and skills from the Future of Jobs report 2018 – World Economic Forum

2022 Skills Outlook notes the following as vital skills for future workforces.

Top 10 skills to be across – What’s changed?

1. Complex problem solving
2. Critical thinking
3. Creativity
4. People management
5. Co-ordinating
6. Emotional intelligence
7. Judgement/Decision making
8. Service Orientation Making
9. Negotiation
10. Cognitive Flexibility

1. Complex problem solving
2. Co-ordinating with others
3. People management
4. Critical thinking
5. Negotiation
6. Quality control
7. Service orientation
8. Judgement and decision
9. Active Listening
10. Creativity

Source: The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – World Economic Forum

Defining the top skills and talents

Critical thinking is assessing complex facts to form a judgement or opinion.

Complex problem solving is finding a practical solution to challenges, roadblocks to at times complex issues. This is an essential part of critical thinking.

Creativity is the level of distinctiveness, and unexpectedness in which the solution is delivered in terms of its style and manner.

These three areas are consistently identified as being of most value and relevance and are all instinctively linked together – you cannot fully develop one without being skilled in the other.

Embedding the learning into all internal communications through touchpoints

Ensure there is a plan for staff to trial and experiment new learnings and insights back into the workplace in real-time and without delay. Without this, the organisation leaves itself at risk of becoming a place of dis-engaged and frustrated staff who have no platform to really test this new-found knowledge.

Before investing in learning and development identify exactly how staff will be supported and personally responsible for implementing their skills across the organisation.

Do not wait until the yearly performance review to check in how valuable the learning was and where they have utilised it in their role over the past 12 months.

Regular follow up and real means of trialling the knowledge into the workplace is everything.

Measuring learning outcomes through personalised plans

To be able to gain greater buy-in from staff and build on current capability, it is essential learning and development frameworks and resources are created in order to deliver the following:

  • A personalised approach to designing staff learning plans which has a scope that meets the future needs of the market. See above for more information.
  • A process attached to staff learning plans which capture and track the benefit and value of learning back into the business. This is essential to not only improving the quality of output but staff morale and buy-in – they also will want to have real workplace opportunities in which to trial newfound knowledge and skill.

Staff and Management would co-create the desired and expected outcomes together to ensure relevance and meaning – note this would apply to formal training, licences and tickets as well as expos, networking events and conferences.

Inhouse learning reimagined

A learning environment is one that respectfully challenges the status quo and looks for real solutions that are measurable.

It is vital opportunities are created for people to be able to think, gain new perspectives and then take action with this new learning.

It would be recommended that there are key quarterly and monthly check-ins with staff and teams. Shorter, high impact check-ins daily (10 minutes) and weekly (30 minutes) with the team. Remember the longer you leave a catch-up/check-in/review the longer you will need in to address what matters.

These meetings need to focus on key areas such as:

  • New ideas and source of inspiration.
  • Key successes and why it has worked from the past month.
  • Key challenges in the past month and team think tank to find solutions.
  • Discussion on how the team wants to co-create measurements of success – leaders would help guide and inspire discussion while defining the metrics of success relevant to team/role outcomes?

Team conversations and discussions would ultimately be scoped into evolving activation plans, where the leader facilitates the discussion but the whole team contributes. Additional focus within these activation plans would include:

  • Staff responsible for execution.
  • Method of trial and experimentation.
  • Timeframes for action.
  • Method of follow up.
  • Metrics of success.
Takeaway food for thought

Undertaking learning is actually just the beginning – it is the systems, processes and support that underpins this post learning that ultimately shapes long term benefit and outcomes.

Considering the key points in this blog:

  • Key areas that can be leveraged to achieve even greater performance both at a team and individual level?
  • Approaches to staff learning and development that must be addressed and re-designed. What are the risks to the business and its teams if change is not made?
  • First steps to be taken that will begin the process of changing the current approach to learning within the workplace?

As always we would love your insights and comments of practice in the real world so connect in via or via the Kiikstart LinkedIn page.