One of the most important investments that any business owner can make is in the employees. This doesn’t only refer to the basics such as salaries and benefits. There are more significant details for making your employees feel appreciated and nurtured.
To be successful, a company needs to provide its employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to become skillful contributors. The staff must also be incentivized to use their skills properly.
Over the years, corporations have become aware of the importance of employee training and skill development to their success. More and more companies are starting to invest in Chief Learning Officers well-versed in training people to thrive in the corporate environment.
These executives are experts in innovative learning strategies, which should be the focal point of any business in this digital age. By adopting innovative learning, companies can enhance business operations and maximize the chances of success.
Such a holistic approach has proven effective for all organizations. Every company should foster employee development with consistent educational tactics, whether self-driven or structured. But how exactly can a business encourage the staff to be more innovative and creative?
In this article, we’ll provide you with three main tactics you can use to develop innovative learning: design thinking, behaviorism, and experiential learning.
Design thinking is a process of identifying different solutions and strategies that may not be readily visible. In the main, design thinking attempts to understand customers, challenges assumptions, and redefines problems.
At the center of this process lies an interest to understand your target customers. It enables you to observe them and empathize with them.
The process can also help you question many problems, assumptions, and the implications of business decisions. As such, design thinking is an effective strategy for addressing vague or unknown issues. It allows you to redefine them in ways that are learner-centered. It encourages you to organize brainstorming sessions and take a direct testing approach.
Design Thinking Stages
You can find multiple implementations of design thinking, which can contain anywhere from three to seven stages. Nonetheless, the process is very similar in that the stages epitomize the same principles.
To give you a brief depiction of how design thinking works, we’ll mention what the process includes in its five-stage form:
- Empathize – Learning about the audience for which you’re designing
- Define – Developing personas based on demographics, goals, and objectives
- Ideate – Brainstorming ideas while suspending judgment and encouraging creativity
- Prototype – Creating sketches or building 3D models
- Test – Learning what works and what doesn’t
Bear in mind that the sequence isn’t inviolable. You shouldn’t consider this process as a hierarchy of the five steps. Instead, it’s just an overview of the actions contributing to innovative thinking and business projects.
What’s the Value of Design Thinking to Businesses?
Nowadays, businesses face countless challenges, from budgetary concerns to technological adoption. It’s no secret that companies have to go through frequent project failures. According to an IEEE Spectrum report, some of the most common reasons a project fails include:
- Stakeholder politics
- Poor customer and developer communication
- Ill-defined requirements
Design thinking can help you overcome these obstacles in several ways. For instance, if your business has trouble retaining customers, design thinking can direct your staff to reexamine their efforts and develop new retention ideas and techniques. They’re also encouraged to collaborate with people of different viewpoints. This can lead to strategic innovation and the solving of major problems.
In your meetings, make sure to elicit as much participation as possible. According to Lawton Ursrey, now Chief Product Officer at UserIQ, getting ideas from everyone is paramount. It’s worth prolonging your sessions to hear your team members’ suggestions on numerous issues.
Since design thinking promotes the testing of ideas, it can lead to valuable feedback in the early stages. This is conducive to early breakthroughs and more efficient business practices. When inputs are received early, you may be able to avoid spending money on worthless solutions.
Additionally, design thinking can be a way out of many stressful and challenging situations. It can remind your team members that solutions are available. All you need is to focus your efforts on finding them. This strategy can foster an encouraging environment in your business.
Applying behavioural psychology in the workplace can improve your business. To explain, we’ll go through B. F. Skinner’s reinforcement theory.
Unlike others, reinforced behaviours tend to be adopted. The gist of the theory is that you can condition people’s actions. This has direct implications for workplace training and development.
The main thing is to coach your team properly and provide appropriate reinforcement. You’ll help them develop preferred forms of behavior and dissuade the detrimental. In this regard, positive reinforcement is much more preferable to negative.
Positive reinforcement rewards desirable behaviors. If you want to promote any approved behavior, you’ll want to make sure to recognize or reward the team member who exhibits that behavior.
Doing this periodically is the best way to go. There’s no reason to condition your staff to always expect a reward for a job well done.
Additionally, the rewards should have inherent value for the staff. It can be a unique congratulatory note, an outing, or a dinner at their favorite restaurant.
This means that you should find out about your team member’s preferences beforehand, which you can accomplish with a survey. If you use the same reward for all, it can be tantamount to not recognizing an employee altogether if they don’t care for the reward.
Now we get to the final part of effective corporate training, which is experiential learning. As the name implies, this is learning through one’s experience, such as workplace exercises.
Some of the most common examples include group activities that focus on problem-solving (could be company-specific), job rotation, adventure learning, and shadowing programs.
With today’s cutting-edge technology, you can even set up e-learning and virtual simulations. Along with other methods, you can organize direct practice in controlled environments. Your team members can apply what they’ve learned in real business situations.
According to a study conducted by ATD (Association for Talent Development) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity, top companies regularly invest in experiential learning initiatives. On top of that, high-performing companies organize experiential leadership activities created by in-house or outsourced instructional designers.
Best of all, this can be emulated at other companies, including yours. Make use of experiential learning if you want your company to blossom. Still not convinced?
Find out more about the intricacies of experiential learning:
Closely Resembles Reality
Experiential learning isn’t a straightforward activity, nor is it a 100% accurate depiction of real-life situations. The reason why it’s useful is that it falls right in the middle of these two extremes.
When you set up an experiential learning activity, participants have to solve real problems. These are problems designed to imitate workplace challenges and require participants to apply the skills that they use daily. This bridges the gap between practice and theory.
Unlike simulations, experiential learning exercises don’t replicate reality. Rather, they serve as themed scenarios and metaphors for the problems that workers face in their everyday work lives. They might not recognize the similarities at first, but they will soon understand the importance of the exercises and how to apply what’s learned.
Triggers Predictable Learning
Experiential learning isn’t accidental learning. The goal may be to teach the significance of planning or another practice, such as conducting a productive meeting. No matter the objective, the exercises instil a set of values in team members.
In other words, you don’t just initiate an experiential learning activity and wait to see the outcome. Instead, you design the exercise beforehand and incorporate all the principles you’d want your team members to adopt. And if these principles are relevant in the real world, your teams’ approach to the game will imitate what they need to succeed in the workplace.
Thanks to the predictable outcomes, you can be confident that your employees will come away with improved skills and knowledge.
Team Members Have to Be Involved
One of the most useful characteristics of experiential learning is its immersive nature. Staff members are engaged and encouraged to use a critical approach. This deep involvement allows them to retain new concepts much better. Furthermore, this evokes a greater desire to improve, both during learning and at work.
Innovation Is Key
If your team members are underperforming or not living up to their potential, your company needs change. Otherwise, you may fail to catch up to businesses that are already using modern workplace learning techniques.
The most important step is to adopt the three practices we mentioned above. They’ll help the entire staff focus on their work by practicing in a controlled environment and thinking about problems critically.
However, implementing these strategies can be challenging. Luckily, you can always turn to Learnsure for first-class workplace training solutions. We’ll share all our expertise to get your employees honing their skills and embracing how other high-performance businesses work.
Contact us now and don’t miss out on our innovative, sure-fire techniques.