Recent technology advances have made it a lot easier to create the type of collaborative learning experiences today’s organizations are looking for, says Scott Blanchard, president of The Ken Blanchard Companies.
“Platforms from companies like Intrepid and Degreed have allowed us to create a cohort-based design that stretches the learning out over a period of six weeks. In many ways it’s structured like a for-credit online course that might be offered at a university. It encourages participants to digest what they’ve learned, test it, and then bring it back to class the following week for discussion with other leaders in their cohort. The result is a richer experience that enables the mindset and provides the skillset to put the new learning into action.”
Blanchard recently tried out the new design for Self Leadership—his company’s frontline leadership training program that teaches proactive leadership skills to people at all levels in an organization.
“Although the content was very familiar to me, I felt like I was experiencing much of it for the first time. I think that’s a testament to the design. Instead of packing everything into a one-day session, we were able to take our time and really drill into the concepts—in this case, challenging our assumed constraints, identifying our points of power, and being proactive.
“What I found most interesting was that, even though I’ve taught Self Leadership for years, I still found myself walking away with a couple of things that I had never put into practice myself.
“For example, I was talking with my cohort group at our weekly online inspiration session—these are weekly get-togethers where participants share what they’ve learned from applying the concepts over the past week. All at once I realized that I had some assumed constraints around a couple of issues I was struggling with. And what’s cool about an assumed constraint is as soon as you see it and identify it, you can release yourself from it.
“I had a similar experience when it came to conducting and participating in one-on-ones—those weekly or bi-weekly meetings that we hope are occurring between managers and direct reports. Having the time to digest and reflect back on my past experience allowed me to evaluate the quality of the one-on-ones I was currently conducting. I learned a couple of things I was able to put into practice immediately that made my next series of one-on-ones better.”
Even if the class were offered in a traditional one-day format, Blanchard still thinks he would opt for the collaborative six-week design.
“For me, it’s a better way to learn. Instead of spending six hours in a one-day session, with 45 minutes on goal setting and then 45 minutes on another topic, people get to spend an entire week working on putting one idea into practice. When you work on one concept for a week, it starts showing up on the job and you can see the value of applying it.
“The cohort experience is also important. I loved the weekly inspiration sessions where we shared our learnings and experiences. They provided an opportunity for bonding, social interaction, and accountability—no one wants to show up not having done their homework.”
For leadership, learning, and talent development professionals interested in testing out the new online design, Blanchard encourages L&D leaders to join an open enrollment session being conducted for six weeks beginning on July 27.
“You owe it to yourself to give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a great experience it is and the depth of learning you achieve.”
You can learn more about the upcoming cohort group at The Ken Blanchard Companies website.