In my most recent post, I explained how learning professionals need to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a ‘one size fits one’. But how do you go about bringing a ‘one size fits one’ learning program to life?
In my organization, we put this principle at the very heart of a talent acceleration learning program that we designed, built and delivered, starting in 2015. This program is known as the “Game Changers” program and it targets individuals on track for VP promotion. For the first program, the heads of the company’s Strategic Business Units, HR and Talent Management selected 40 participants with game-changing potential to take part in the program.
A first key element of the program was a developmental assessment that was done for each of the participants. This allowed them to clearly identify their strengths and development areas aligned to our company’s leadership model. It also allowed the University team to build a composite view of where they were, collectively and individually.
This composite view was valuable for three reasons. It enabled us to determine how we could build on their collective strengths, identify areas where they could learn from each other, and spot the areas where we would need to bring in content from outside the group.
Create one-on-one connections to the organization
One of the keys to success for a VP in our organization is to build strong connections and gain visibility/credibility across business units and geographies, To do this, the Game Changers participants were invited to one of the company’s Senior Executive summits, attended by the top 500 people across all business units. They were also paired with a mentor from the company’s leading 150 executives. This ensured the participants had both an informal and a formal structure to expand their personal networks. As each of them already knew some of the Executives attending the summit, it also allowed them to introduce their fellow game changers as well.
Create a platform for the participants to learn and develop
In order for them to build on their strengths and develop, the Game Changers had to work on developing one of our Group’s strategic priorities. This was known as the ‘Game Changing Opportunity’. In this way, the Gamer Changer program is a development platform with benefits for both participants and the business. An important part of the challenge was that they had to find their own executive sponsor to support their particular strategic priority. This in itself provided great insight into how the organization operates at the highest levels and how to get traction.
Because one of the proof points looked for in a promotion case is how people have gone above and beyond their day-to-day job, this Game Changing Opportunity created a win for the business, a win for the individual’s development and a win for their promotion.
During the eight-month program, the Game Changers got together several times. This allowed them to understand the bigger organizational picture they were working within, to build on collective strengths and work on common areas of development. During the scatter time the participants either worked on their own or in small groups with some of the other Game Changers.
The program also injected short bursts of learning based on the progress the participants were making with their tasks. When, for instance, we required them to have a strong digital presence and some people struggled, a webinar was organized with an expert to share hints and tips. During the gather times, participants were given a menu of skill boosters to choose from. These were based on a list of topics that were shortlisted as most relevant by the cohort as a whole.
Finally, at the end of their last gather time, we organized an ‘un-conference’ that allowed the participants to come up with topics they were knowledgeable on and select the ones they were most interested in learning more about. This allowed them to teach each other in order to develop themselves and create stronger links within the group.
Thus, although all 40 were following the same leadership development program, each individual was able to create his or her own ‘one size fits one’ program designed for their mix of unique strengths and development needs. In this way, the Game Changer program enabled us to develop both the individual and the collective.