Think about a training session that you’ve attended in the last year. When was it? How was it? These questions may not bring back positive memories, because these sessions are not always designed.

At FutureGov we believe that learning happens best through experience. People have to feel the difference of working in various ways to become part of sustainable change. The types of capabilities needed to create 21st-century organisations have to be experienced before they become established and trusted approaches for designing and delivering better services.

In my role as Learning Director, I’m helping ensure our teams and clients are learning in everything we do.

Learning Experience Design

When we support people to work and think in new ways, we call this Learning Experience Design (LxD). This is the practice of creating, developing, facilitating and then evaluating how people and organisations learn.

  • creating: working closely with organisations and staff, getting to know people and the style of sessions they will engage with most to understand their learning needs and how a learning experience can contribute
  • developing: designing the different touchpoints that organisations will interact with during the experience, from the role FutureGovers play to the tangible materials used to create a suitable learning environment
  • facilitating: fostering meaningful learning environments with engaging and experienced facilitators to promote reflection-based action
  • evaluating: evidencing learning outcomes, agreeing on the approach and methods that will be used to collect and analyse the data to prove change is happening or will happen

It’s not just about training

Organisations often try to strengthen or build new capabilities through training, but learning happens most effectively when people experience something. We all have lived experiences which shape what we know.

A recurring problem with training sessions is that they aren’t user-centric. It’s easy to find content heavy ‘workshops’ which offer little practical experience. We know that people learn in different ways. While some people could have a mindset for lecturing and theory, we can’t assume that everyone does. For a more hands-on learner, these types of sessions are less likely to lead to real learning. Workshops should be engaging, surprising and lead us to experience ‘aha-moments’. We need the act of learning to be meaningful.

Meaningful learning happens when we introduce new experiences, appropriate for different mindsets to make sense of new concepts. We need to approach learning environments and experiences by working closely with learners — as users. In other words, learning experiences need to be designed.

Building capability with organisations

When we deliver work with partner organisations at FutureGov, we talk about ‘capability building’ or ‘transferring skills and knowledge’.

Capability building is sharing the practices we use to discover, grow and develop the abilities, motivations and opportunities that individuals and organisations need.

So how do you build an environment that supports new types of workings, skills and actions?

Every person in every organisation is unique. The way we think, understand information and approach our work is different. But it’s the individual people in an organisation that are the main assets for change.

We often see that organisations flourish when staff start to use new approaches for how they think about and approach their work. It’s then the responsibility of the organisation to create the space and working environment for people to share knowledge, gain understanding and achieve the overarching mission.

We’ve seen first hand that capability building happens best in environments that link learning activities with real experiences. The AMO, abilities, motivations and opportunities approach to capability building (see diagram below) helps us understand how to foster new spaces for new actions. This means that people and organisations need something beyond skills and knowledge to do something differently. This also needs to be complemented by staff being motivated and having the opportunity to perform.

AMO diagram, based on OECD 2017

One method we often use is working in blended or multidisciplinary teams. That means FutureGovers working alongside team members in a client organisation, collaborating to achieve a shared goal. This approach is a learning experience on both sides. We learn more about the organisation, its landscape, culture and functions. And our clients experience new ways of working and abilities through learning our methods and approaches to design, technology and organisational change.

Designing learning experiences process

Designing learning experiences

Designing learning experiences is how we believe organisations can best support both individual and collective learning to build their future capabilities and ways of working.

If you think about the goals of any learning experience, introducing new concepts or methods is only the starting point. An introduction alone isn’t enough to make organisations ready to meet 21st-century challenges.

To build on this you might need to design more in-depth sessions using prior knowledge and experiences of participants to develop new actionable approaches and sustainable practices. Meaning, building new capabilities and applying them to real-life challenges that your organisation faces.

Designing learning experiences can be the start of a more transformative and personal change for individuals in your organisation. And a design-led approach to learning can help you rethink how people at every level of your organisation work, helping them to reposition themselves and support their personal development as professionals.

Get in touch

We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about FutureGov and discuss how we can work together.

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