Training a whole organisation in digital – can it work?5 min read Written by: Victoria Ford
It’s brilliant to see the investment the Wales Cooperative Centre has been prepared to make in the organisation to make sure they have the skills and capabilities they need as they prepare to deliver against a new strategy and vision.
Of course an introductory programme doesn’t mean everyone will end up with all the skills they need, but what it does mean is that they have a grounding, a shared understanding and a point from which to get started.
We worked with the Centre to understand their work and their teams so we could create content and an experience that was both relevant and useful. Although this was a high level, introductory programme we identified three audience groups and made sure we could tailor the content slightly to add the most value. These were:
Leaders – we tailored our core package to focus on the role of leaders in service transformation. This session was delivered to the Wales Cooperative Centre’s senior leadership team and Board members
All colleagues – this was our core package and we worked with the team at the Centre to make sure our case studies were relevant and the tone and level of content appropriate. Leaders also joined these sessions.
Those involved more directly in change – those more directly involved in delivering change had a more detailed offer. We adapted our core package to become an introduction to a two-day service design course that we delivered a week after the introductory session.
Rather than a one size fits all training approach we have a set of key principles we work to when we’re designing and delivering our training programmes. These are the things we believe add the most value for individuals and to organisations.
In context – organisations won’t be looking at digital and services in isolation. You need to provide the context of the environment they’ll be working in. Here in Wales that means an understanding of the purpose of the Digital Strategy for Wales and the support that’s out there for delivering public services in Wales such as the Welsh Digital Service Standards.
Relevant – if delegates can’t place the learning in the context of their own lives, experiences and work then it is unlikely to have an impact.
Consistent – context and tailoring is important, so are consistent messages, themes and models.
Interactive – whether our training is online or face to face the biggest value comes from interaction, whether with us or between delegates.
Based on real examples, keep it real – hypothetical examples are okay, real examples bring learning to life.
Learning from doing
In line with agile ways of working, the most value comes from getting the product in the hands of your users, learning and iterating. This programme was no exception. Here’s what we learnt:
The challenges of online learning
Many of us have been working in an online world for nearly 2 years now, but that doesn’t mean everything is easier remotely. Creating engaging content and the opportunities to spark conversation and interact were key to our approach. Even with that we had to adapt our sessions to allow enough time away from the screen for people to remain focused. We also added additional breakout sessions to make sure everyone had the opportunity to get involved. It’s also harder to get everyone back after a break when you can’t chase them up from the coffee machine, but luckily the teams at Wales Cooperative Centre were punctual and ready to go after each break!
It’s okay to have different levels of experience in the room
After our first session we found some people were far more comfortable with the content than others. So we made a point of explaining at the outset that it was okay if you didn’t ‘get’ all of it or if some parts were of more interest to you than others. The important part was being part of the conversation, getting the principles and finding out which areas were of most interest to you and your work. A programme delivered to a whole organisation will never have content that will be 100% useful to 100% of people. But it can provide an experience and a grounding that is 100% relevant.
Lived experience adds value and makes the learning real
We’re fortunate in Perago that we’ve had years of hands-on experience of what works and what doesn’t in the world of digital. We’ve got the scars to show and the stories to tell. Putting the learning in the context of our lived experiences helps with understanding and context. What was even more powerful was when the delegates shared their experiences and learning and were able to speak up and make it part of the session. This worked really well with the groups at the Wales Cooperative Centre and became an integral part of the learning.
A whole organisation experiencing the same learning is really powerful
One of the key cultural challenges with digital is the risk of putting up barriers and leaving parts of an organisation behind. New ways of working, different ways of thinking and new terminology can easily isolate colleagues. By investing the time in training the whole organisation everyone has a common starting point and a confidence to think differently about service delivery.
Not everyone needs the detail on everything
This kind of programme allows a taster, a base understanding that can bring everyone up to the same level. It allows people to start thinking about digital differently and in the context of their own work and experiences. That will be enough for some right now, others will need and want to find out more and that’s good too. Being open about that and letting people find their own place is the start of sparking a different way of thinking and working.
From the users’ perspective
We couldn’t finish a blog post about learning around user centred service design and user research without looking at it from the perspective of our users! Here’s what some of the delegates had to say:
“We’ve put digital at the front and centre of our new five year strategy. From experience we know digital approaches enable us to design services that our clients want. We want the whole team to have a good understanding of digital so that whoever you contact at the Wales Co-operative Centre, they will be able to speak with knowledge of the subject. The Perago training has hit the spot, providing colleagues with relevant content that they can apply to their role.”— Derek Walker, Chief Executive
“The immersive and interactive two-day Introduction to Service Design training from Perago provided us with a real opportunity to look at new ways of approaching perceived problems, including why really sitting with the problem is crucial to making informed decisions and designing good solutions.”— Cadi Cliff, Programme Manager