We at Mukamas Learning Design talk to our clients tirelessly about agile learning, continuous learning and what a learning supportive culture in an organization means. We are often asked what it all means in reality, what does it look like when this happens and HOW is it done? I’ll give you a real life example from our own life here at Mukamas team. 

Inspiration and preparation for learning together

After a lovely and sufficiently long summer break we returned to work at the beginning of August for an autumn season kick-off day. The agenda for the day was simply to collect and share our summer experiences and thoughts that may have arisen during our well-deserved break as well as plan for upcoming months. 

Bringing thoughts and ideas to the table was, by no means, a prerequisite; when we talk about holiday we mean holiday. It just so happens that sometimes ideas begin to emerge when we give ourselves an opportunity to put our minds to something completely different from work for a time. Even though we all love what we do, we also love other things in life that we deserve to enjoy.

It turned out that a few of us had been thinking about our professional brands and how to develop them to be able to better tell our customers about our skills and specialities. We agreed that this subject needed addressing before other ideas for development that were brought to the table. Immediately we collected thoughts, questions and ideas on what we need to work on and how. The discussion brought us to agreeing upon a two-member team who would facilitate a 3-hour branding workshop in two weeks’ time.

For preparation, we gave ourselves a task to read books, articles or blogs and/or listen to podcasts or audiobooks about professional and personal branding prior to the workshop. We would recommend podcasts and blogs to our team’s Howspace page, which we love to use for not only to facilitate our clients learning but for our own development as a team. In addition to studying about professional branding, we would reflect upon our own story, skills and strengths that make up our professional identity. 

The Workshop

At the workshop we discussed and shared our findings and learnings with each other and collected them on a flip chart as well as the Howspace platform. We then applied a “speak well behind each other’s backs”- method to collect strengths that are visible to other team members. We would sit in a circle and every one of us in turn would turn their back to the team while others spoke good things regarding our professional skills behind their backs. The idea behind this is that we get an idea about the professional image we currently have and whether or not it is what we would like it to be. 

We then reflected upon some angles that we would like to develop further for them to become stronger and better visible. Did the feedback reflect aspects that we find important? All in all, this method was a very positive way to build our professional identity. 

I heartily recommend this method to be used on a regular basis for countless reasons! 
The workshop culminated into each of us crafting a mood board of our ambitions and personal strengths shaping our professional brands that we may use as a guide for improving our expert brands in all marketing communication including social media content.

At the end of the workshop, we gave ourselves a task to perform a try-out. Be it a social media post or an Instagram story. The idea is to find the confidence to put ourselves and our professionalism out there. We will reflect upon the tests in several coming workshops during the autumn.

From this process I can pinpoint the 5 following points to show that we really do practice what we preach.

  1. Agile learning
    There were only two weeks in between a need arising and bringing new learning into use. The loop continues with testing and measuring.
  2. Team learning/peer learning
    We all studied the agreed upon subject in our own time and in a way that suited our individual studying methods the best. We then brought our findings to the work-shop and taught each other.
  3. Flipped classroom.
    During this process we utilised all possible sources of information that were accessible to us from traditional books to audio and video content available online. Thus, the learning event itself was used to putting learning into practice.
  4. Facilitation
    The facilitated workshop and the pre-preparation for it helped us reflect upon our public self, private self and our self that we do not see but others do. This helped us in developing our professional images and in clarifying our desired professional message. It gave us an opportunity to reflect upon and plan a strategy to build our professional brand in an effective way. Dialogue and interaction with team members helped us see ourselves through others’ eyes and provided encouragement and support to get the task done. 
  5. Positive psychology
    Through a positive perspective in the workshop we evaded the idea of what we need to have more or do better in order to have the courage to go public with our thoughts and ideas. Many of us (and, I’m guessing, some of you readers too) have at times suffered from the impostor syndrome (huijarisyndrooma). Looking at the positives instead of aspects that we would like to improve in, served the purpose of the workshop better. This is not to say that we shun self-improvement, (we live for learning as you know!) but it is important to celebrate what we already have and are regularly.

Additionally, during this process we learned new things about each other as well as ourselves, are better able to tell about the skills and personalities that we possess in our team to outsiders and improved trust within our team. I hope this helps you and your team in developing a learning culture in your organization. As you can see, it really is not so difficult and time consuming.

If you are interested in learning inclusive methods for team working, peer learning and better meeting and co-creation practices, take a look at our trainings here!