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Little Bird labs – an update

Date: Nov 11 2020
Little Bird labs – an update

Huge thanks to those who took part in the labs, the pilot courses that I designed and delivered in October. Here’s an update on the labs.

Where the course idea came from

The idea for the courses occurred to me over the summer and took a different format to ‘normal’ course formats. I wanted to find a place in the middle, between the freely available webinars and the significant investment of a bespoke workshop, or formal qualification and consultancy. What’s more, I’ve always found that anything I’ve attended or spent time learning has had a much bigger impact when that learning is put into practice and made ‘real’ with actions. That’s an essential part of our learning process. I wanted to make that a golden thread of the course, so first you would consider your challenge, learn some suggested solutions, think about what you can take from those ideas and put them into action.

The inspiration for the course content

Impact Lab

There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has escalated business change and accelerated the shift to digital and online shopping, engagement and working. I see the need for businesses of all shapes and sizes to be more purposeful in their operations and impactful in their approach to change. No one can afford for time and budgets to be lost on long drawn out or ineffective change. We need change to be impactful and lasting. I provide ideas to help focus change where it matters most and introduce new ideas to comms teams to help them make an impact through consultancy. So the idea was to condense this into a short course to reflect the current pace is a good solution.

Being Bold

The other idea was born of the same pressures on business. The current environment is creating a greater need to be bold in what leaders and businesses say and do. There is no space for paying lip service to the big issues of the day anymore. We all need to take real action and have bold conversations. What’s more, social dialogue is becoming more and more divisive. The sense of common ground seems to be lost, but most people are probably in that space. Our workplaces could be a place where we can have open and honest conversations about subjects that matter to us all.

This was highlighted in the Dialogue Project, and in the Edelman Trust Barometer reports.

I see an opportunity for internal communicators to help organisations, leaders and people to be more bold, provide the platforms and opportunities for open conversations and crucially to help us all to listen better to each other in our work. I firmly believe if we all listen better we understand better and that is better for all organisations. We can know what we really stand for, what our values mean and how they translate in our behaviours. We can be confident and project that externally with pride because what we say is a true and fair reflection of what we do and believe.  Communication needs to be more intentional and thoughtful through Coronavirus and the changes that brings to workplaces.

I created the labs to test out my ideas and delivered those pilot courses in October.

The courses covered a lot of content and turning that learning into action is essential. So I asked my cohort to think about their challenges before our time together, then plan their actions and book a follow up 1-1 session afterwards to see how the learning experience can be put into action with some practical steps.

The feedback

The cohort feedback has been so helpful and shown me where there’s work to be done to develop the labs.

  1. Following up with 1-1s is a really useful addition to learning and needs to be more integrated so we learn and put into practice, and this is something that needs to be essential. But I’ve found at the moment we’re so busy in action and tactics that this was hard for people to commit to
  2. Focus more tightly on topic areas and outcomes for the cohort. Whilst my idea was to deliver a range of ideas to pick and choose from to help solve individuals’ different communication challenges, I’m not sure this idea worked. People want and need defined content and defined solutions to simply put into practice
  3. The cohort social platform didn’t work – we’re all a bit too busy and having many groups and online communities right now, it didn’t add a benefit. However, a trusted small group to share ideas and challenges with in a safe space was really beneficial

What next?

I’ve put my ideas out there to test and find a new and useful way to support the comms community. Building on the invaluable feedback I have had, I’m going back to the drawing board to tweak my concept. In the principle of working out loud, I am sharing the feedback on the development so far and my next steps here.

Over the coming weeks and months I will:

  1. Refine the course product so that the concept of ‘problem – learn – solve’ is more embedded in the experience
  2. Work through the content ideas and define more tightly for different courses with more specific content
  3. Work through the commercial and technical needs to deliver a course framework that works and covers its costs

The purpose of the courses

The courses are a concept designed to help others to help themselves, discover new ideas and get inspiration from others. This is often provided as part of consulting or more intensive qualifications, for which many communicators simply don’t have the time or budget. Bridging that gap has been more of a challenge than I first thought, but still something I want to work on to solve. That’s all part of the learning process and progress. So, it’s back to the drawing board to redefine and recreate the courses for 2021. Thank you to those who gave this pilot a go and shared feedback. Watch this space for updates.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.

I work with businesses of all shapes and sizes to help them communicate clearly, reveal the human connections that matter and get meaningful results. Read more in my solutions page. If you would like to find out what people think and feel about your business, and communicate with them better, get in touch.

Featured image credit: Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash