Trillion dollar technology company

Global tech leader experiences a surge in technical learning and talent engagement with introduction of collaborative engineering platform.

78%

improved experience with knowledge management

90%

increase in engagement, especially by the technical and experienced talent

3x

pIlot spread throughout the most technical parts of the company

Opportunity

Technical learning at this leading tech company is challenging for two primary reasons: 1) there’s a lot of content, but it is hard to find the right content at the right time, 2) it is hard to find the right people to learn from to further enhance learning and understand the application.. There are currently efforts underway to centralize resources and improve discoverability. Our hypothesis was that building a deeply engaged learning community of this Company’s engineers will improve technical learning and proficiency – allowing them to increase the rate of learning and innovation, and to build better products. This community will complement and augment existing resources, providing a platform to connect with the best people who have solved similar problems in the past - when they are needed.

The document below outlines our vision, mission, strategy and tactical approach to build this community, along with recommendations for a pilot program that will allow us to test and learn whether a basic community can begin to change behavior and solve the challenges of technical learning differently.

Constraint

Skills are changing really fast. Half life is increasing. Universities aren’t graduating enough talent fast enough. All the hi-tech firms want this talent, which means the competition is steep (And expensive). There are nuances within how this Company does their own work, making off-the-shelf learning platforms ill-suited.. Engineers time is valuable so peer to peer interactions help both sides learn (and reinforce skills).

Currently, when engineers want or need to learn a new technical skill, it’s every person for themselves.

Typically, most search the web, the internal Company Learn sharepoint, external sites like O’Reilly or Pluralsight, engineering hub, DevOps labs, if applicable, and many ask colleagues to forge their way forward. There is a plethora of content out there, but it’s hard to find the right information that is specific and useful to the task at hand – it skews heavily towards general learning content – not deep expertise/skill building, and much of it is not tailored to deliver an effective learning experience. Mostly, this information is not well-documented and is maintained as tribal knowledge - in order to gain that tribal knowledge, you need to know the right people to ask.

Response

Catalyze high priority projects quickly by working directly with the CTO’s office.

Aretmis led quantitative and qualitative research across the value chain.

Lots of research highlights that interactivity and collaboration enhance learning outcomes, and in the current virtual work environment, feeling connected with peers and colleagues has been 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. However, even before all employees started working remotely, finding the right experienced 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,”

Another consequence of not easily being able to make connections with colleagues that have relevant experience is that when engineers are learning collaboratively, it’s typically from their immediate colleagues, who may or may not be the ideal people, “your learning is only as good as your peers,” - you don’t get to take advantage of the colleagues that have true depth of expertise and can facilitate more than incremental problem solving.

Finally, several engineers share the sentiment that learning is happening to solve an immediate problem or need, and people “pick up the minimum necessary” to achieve to solve an acute issue. The sentiment is that at some point in the last 10 years, “Microsoft dropped the ball” on delivering a curriculum of technical learning, facilitating learning for the sake of learning. The lack of this kind of programming leads to a sense of diminished curiosity unless someone is extremely motivated and has the time – and there’s a prevailing sense that it leads to less innovation and worse software development and product outcomes.

Impact

We built a deeply engaged learning community of Company engineers that will improve technical learning and proficiency – allowing us 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.

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