Global tech leader experiences a surge in technical learning and talent engagement with introduction of collaborative engineering platform.
improved experience with knowledge management
increase in engagement, especially by technical and experienced talent
pilot spread throughout the most technical parts of the company
Technical learning at this leading company was challenging for two key reasons: the vast amount of content made it difficult to find the right information quickly, and it wasn’t easy to identify the correct people to learn from. These issues impeded the company’s ability to enhance learning and understanding of the application, at a time when efforts were underway to centralize resources and improve discoverability.
Skill requirements change quickly in tech, universities weren’t graduating talent fast enough, and competition for employees was costly and steep. Nuances in the company’s work made off-the-shelf learning platforms ill-suited.
Engineering time is valuable, and peer-to-peer interactions should reinforce learning and skills, but the environment when learning new technical skills was not cohesive.
Engineers were seeking information from a variety of internal and external sources, with content skewing towards general learning instead of the tailored expertise and skill-building necessary to deliver an effective learning experience. Further, information was not well-documented and was maintained as inherited knowledge, but only if you knew the right people to ask.
Our hypothesis was that building a deeply engaged learning community of the company’s engineers would improve technical knowledge and proficiency, allowing them to increase the rate of understanding and innovation necessary to build better products. We envisioned engagement that would complement and augment existing resources, providing a platform to connect people with the necessary expertise when it was needed.
We started by driving quantitative and qualitative research across the value chain.
Research showed that interactivity and collaboration enhance learning outcomes, and in virtual work environments, feeling connected with peers and colleagues can be extra challenging. Many of the organic ways of networking have been replaced with video calls and emails which lead to less spontaneous interaction and conversation.
Interviews highlighted that, even before COVID-19 led most employees to work remotely, finding the right colleagues to help with problem-solving and learning was extremely challenging. “It’s easier to find experts and useful content externally than it is internally,” Further, we observed that lack of connection limited many to only learning from immediate colleagues. “Your learning is only as good as your peers,” - you don’t get to take advantage of colleagues that have true depth of expertise and can facilitate more than incremental problem-solving.
Finally, several engineers shared the sentiment that learning was happening to solve an immediate problem or need, and people “pick up the minimum necessary” to solve an acute issue. The sentiment was that at some point in the last 10 years, the company “dropped the ball” on delivering a curriculum of technical learning and facilitating learning for the sake of learning. There was a prevailing sense that the lack of this kind of programming was leading to a sense of diminished curiosity, less innovation, and worse software development and product outcomes.
In response, we developed a pilot program that let us test and learn whether the basic community could change behavior and better solve the challenges of technical learning. The pilot spread quickly throughout most technical areas of the company. Successes and learnings from the pilot led us to recommend a program to leverage the community to bring technical expertise and knowledge to the forefront.
We built a deeply engaged learning community of company engineers that will improve long-term technical learning and proficiency – allowing them to build better products. It is a community-driven platform where the participants demand, create, and contribute to the content. The community is a core focus, encouraging collaboration, building relationships, and supporting peer-to-peer learning. The learning environment is engaging and frictionless, allowing for easy experimentation and application of learning. Teams reported increased engagement and a better overall experience with knowledge access and management.