Insights 10 Weeks into the New Norm
When we started the new year of 2020 not many of us predicted that when Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer season, came about that we would be in a lock down thinking about how a global pandemic would resolve itself. But here we are, so Happy Memorial Day everyone!
For many who are either functional business leaders supporting the learning or development of their organizations and team, or the talent development professionals thinking about executing their T&D strategies, we have a chance to reflect on the journey so far and the journey yet to come over this upcoming long weekend.
Over the past 10 weeks, in addition to our virtual learning journeys and business simulation workshops, we’ve been providing insights and tips to help our community learn and adapt to the new normal. Here are some interesting insights, tips, and perspectives to think through over the weekend. For some context, we have delivered over 500 cumulative hours of virtual learning utilizing simulations to more than half a dozen client organizations during the past 10 weeks.
It’s not what you think it is. Sure, everyone is a little burnt out from too many Zoom meetings and one too many virtual cocktail parties, but I don’t see that being a real issue because in the old world, people went to a lot of meetings and traveled to them sometimes flying half-way around the world to get there. To me, the concept of Zoomlag is working different time zones from one and the impact that it has on mental and physical capacity. For example, this week we successfully ran a simulation-based strategic selling workshop to one of our client’s Asia teams. The sessions went 9pm – 2am in the US, 9am-2pm in Asia. As we all move forward and recognize the opportunities of global learning virtually, we also must figure what the impact is of working those hours and then some of, if not all the US day. Hence the term “Zoomlag.”
One of my biggest learnings, and happiest surprises, has been the ability to create true intimacy in the learning process virtually. The myth that has been busted is that you can only develop that intimacy in person. This is simply not true. Because the technologies (Zoom, Teams, etc.) is so clear and so good, you can develop relationships and provide better insights in the learning process virtually. For example, when teams of learners go into a virtual breakout room to make decisions for a simulation, we as facilitators, and the team members themselves, are able to see better , hear better, and think better than “in person.” In addition, one participant shared with us some interesting feedback, “I love the virtual breakout room so much! I don’t have to sit next to someone who has bad breath!”
Calendar and Delivery Flexibility
What we all thought about virtual learning in terms of timing, schedules, acceptance of it, impact, etc. was flat out wrong. Here’s what we do know:
If the virtual learning is good, engaging, and has an impact then you can schedule it to 5 hours in a day or 1 hour a day spread out over 5 days.
If it’s taking a bunch of PowerPoints and talking at people for five hours, of course they are going to zone out and be miserable. There are a couple of secrets to making calendaring and delivery successful:
- Give plenty of notice – People are busier than ever, give them 2-3 months’ notice to put the learning on their calendars and build their schedules.
- Communicate the process of learning - What is it about? What am I going to learn? Where do I go? What pre-work do I need to complete?
- Provide the basics of technology – Don’t assume people know how to use Zoom or any of the other tools. Give them a 10-minute tutorial or refresher.
- Utilize a Virtual Learning Producer (VPL) – A VPL is the person in charge of making sure a virtual learning session is flawlessly executed. They know the technology, the content, and can troubleshoot. There are now organizations that only do this! Amazing!
- Make it Super Engaging – The most important element of successful virtual learning has been the ultimate realization that it is critical to make the learning super engaging. That doesn’t mean throwing in a stupid icebreaker exercise or a video from time to time, it means utilizing tools that are engrossing and consuming. You want your learners to say something like this quote from a recent virtual business simulation workshop. “This was not another PowerPoint, talking head ZOOM call. Our Learners were 100% locked in the entire session! The simulation is collaborative, visual, interactive, and really helped participants grasp the contents and lessons!”
Be safe and enjoy your weekends! Hopefully your Zoomlag isn’t too bad!