Case Study: Skyrocket Engagement in Your Learning & Development Programs

Carly Syms - VIP + Marketing Manager

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One of the world’s oldest companies isn’t what you’d expect; it’s a small hot-spring hotel in Yamanashi, Japan, called Koshu Nishiyama, and it has existed since the year 705. It’s changed a lot since then.

And really, all business has. Even small, local organizations compete globally for relevance and profits. One of their most powerful tools? Storytelling.

Stories are even older than that little Japanese guest house, and for thousands of years have been a primary mode of communication, relationship building and legacy. Today, stories are still a powerful way to engage an audience, but the rules have changed a little.

We teach modern storytelling techniques that are like a magnet for attention. Today’s case study is about how we taught our foundational program, the Five Elements of a Hack, to a global organization’s senior management team.

Here it is…

How to Bring Culture Change to 300,000+ Employees

Chris leads the Learning and Development department at a Fortune 500 Company; an organization that is going through a global organizational shift.

“Like a lot of corporations, we are making some really significant cultural changes, and for us it’s a worldwide initiative with over 300,000 people.”

As part of this investment in change, Chris developed a leadership training program called Authentic Change Week, a 4.5 day commitment to developing the organization’s large senior management team.

“It’s about helping them find their voice and view, because they have to lead this change and be able to communicate that point of view in a compelling way. It’s the concept of change starts with me and then we get support from the team.”

The program was going well, with a total of about 200 attendees on four separate occasions, but Chris saw an opportunity to optimize it further:

“I assign an exercise that asks participants to write a point of view summary every day. Usually, I’d see a big shift on Wednesday; these would become more purposeful and clear. I thought if we could accelerate that shift then we would could have even more impactful learning throughout the week.”

That’s where Museum Hack comes in…

Why Chris Chose to Work With Museum Hack

Late last year, a colleague introduced Chris to our Experience Consultant.

“We are always looking for interesting vendors for experiences outside the classroom. I was initially in contact with Mark. I visited the Met in NYC for an open tour just to get a feel for it. Then we had a couple of conversations about my specific needs.”

We tailored a custom quote and sent it to Chris for review.Chris has a budget, of course, so he did consider the return on investment.

“I wanted to set a foundation for this program. I decided It was well worth the cost to set that foundation right on day one of the program. If it was a one time thing we do and then don’t come back to then it would be a different story, but I knew this would be something we would come back to frequently.”

We committed to 20 training sessions over the next 12 months.

What Happened at Authentic Change Week that Changed Everything

Authentic Change Week is the type of program that many Leadership & Development professionals dream about; it’s supported by the executive team, mission driven and includes top performing participants from all over the world.

“Each session has 14 different countries represented, with 50 some participants.”

Chris has developed best practices for this program, and is committed to not just breaking outside the box but creating a whole new experience. “We are encouraged to be innovative and creative, and it pays off. Attendees that go through an unconventional training program like this don’t forget it, and they are more likely to practice the skill and keep it in mind.”

So, what makes Authentic Change Week unconventional? The first step is a change of scenery…

“I didn’t want this to start in a classroom. Our classrooms are beautiful and non-traditional, but I wanted the attendees to go somewhere and do something completely differently from day one, hour one. That is a strong foundation for a transformational learning experience.”

On Monday morning, we brought the attendees to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a customized, renegade tour experience. Museum Hack tours include unconventional stories, activities in the galleries and sometimes wine. Our guides are master storytellers — they’ve honed their craft by telling dozens or even hundreds of stories every day — so this tour was a great opportunity to expose Chris’ group to a new mode of communication.

After the tour, we switched from experience focused learning to a more traditional storytelling workshop format. Our facilitators taught the Five Elements of a Hack to the company’s group of senior managers. This format is the same technique we use on tours to maximize engagement. This workshop is very hands on, with opportunities for participants to practice and get direct feedback on how to improve.

Here’s what Chris said about it:

“We go out and experience something fun, unrelated to the job, and then we start dialing it back in. This helps build confidence and openness with the groups, and gets them out of their comfort zone. From a business perspective, it gets them to practice and learn to develop a skill that is exactly what we want them to do at the end of this experience; communicate better with their teams.”

But Does This “Experience Stuff” Really Work?

We asked Chris to share the specific outcomes he has seen with his team, and why we’ve been able to expand from one workshop to twenty over the next year.

“With their exercise to share a point of view each day, I’d look for it to become more purposeful throughout the week, with clearer messaging and confidence. Before Museum Hack, that shift would usually come on Wednesday, and now I’m seeing this happen a full 24 hours earlier. The only difference is we’ve added the activity at the museum. They are picking things up faster, getting better at all modes of communication, and having a great time with it. It really has given us a higher return on learning for the rest of the week.”

If you are still on the fence about training with Museum Hack, Chris shared these thoughts:

“For me, a big part of this was just intuition. I had a feeling it would work out as well as it did. Culture plays a role, but if you are open to a new approach then I’d say just try it. You’ll have a great experience.”

Ready to give your team and organization a communication refresh? We’d love to work with you. Contact [email protected] or 1-800-210-9676 to get started.

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