Learn2 Lead – Building Inclusion with Remote Teams?



Tom Lyons 0:05
So welcome to Learn2. We’re doing a video podcast today, talking a little bit about what’s happening in the world. Absolutely crazy stuff with Covid 19. Numbers are still, of course rising with the virus here. But the impact on businesses has been dramatic to say the least. I can’t say that. So I’m here with Doug Bolger, CEO of Learn2, to talk a little bit about how this is impacting one our company, of course, and things that we’re doing and then what it’s doing for our clients, and then maybe a little bit of advice from you on what you think should be happening. How’s that sound?

Doug Bolger 0:41
Sounds great. So what’s happening in our business, about three years ago, we started shifting our core product Learn2 Save the Titanic over to digital as we started to see things happening globally, as the infections increased by country by country, we, we started putting our finishing touches on that program and got that pushed out.

Tom Lyons 1:10
What are some of the unique challenges that we now face, Learn2 and then face our clients? Maybe they haven’t seen because this is a little bit different than a normal unique recession, right?

Doug Bolger 1:24
Yes, this one’s different. I think for most of us, we’ve been wondering about what does the new world of work look like? And I would argue it’s probably now arrived or a good portion of it has arrived. So people have been talking about this for many years, but people spending more time on conference calls, video conferencing, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, all of these things. These trends have been in place. We’ve seen them in our clients. Now we’re seeing them in our data. Today experienced as leaders and struggling with how do we lead inside these new platforms? How do we think differently? How do we engage our teams differently? How do you leverage your team and get them motivated and inspired to be able to go and do something and you don’t have that face to face or that pull everyone into the conference room moment? So we’re just seeing a lot of clients struggling to get their heads wrapped around? How am I going to do development? How do I set up a simple as a report back most a lot of report backs or conference calls or face to face? Now it’s how do I report back over a platform and what’s that look like? And how do I do it effectively?

Tom Lyons 2:53
Yeah, we used to have this ability, especially in open offices, which became so popular is that you can literally poke your head out You can see everybody that’s there. And you can kind of just walk down the hall and you can say, Hey, how’s it going? what’s, what are you working on? What’s the status of that project? But with everybody being dispersed at this point in time and being in different locations, that ability gets diminished. And now a new form of management needs to take place. So what do you think that looks like?

Doug Bolger 3:21
Well, we’ve been living in it for a while because we have team members in six different locations. I guess seven? If you count home office? Yeah. We, we’ve seen things like, you know, used to put up a flip chart on the wall or a schedule, all those things have gone away. So we’re seeing that shifting into digital. I think we’re even just seeing different behaviors like so we we have something called Beer 30. You don’t have to drink beer, but we all get in zoom. And you can see everyone’s face and we’ve renamed ourselves what we were drinking. I was Green tea. I think you were

Tom Lyons 4:01
Diet Coke. Yeah,

Doug Bolger 4:03
We had a few people who were like knuckleball tried different things. So we had some fun with it half an hour, just face to face, no agenda, just letting people talk. And letting people connect. those connections now are infinitely more important. The implications of exclusion. Is, is I think, just in the future is going to be unbelievable. So this inclusivity How do leaders create inclusivity inside their team where people want to contribute, they feel like that’s their role is to actually contribute. Otherwise, you’re not getting those random bumping into someone. Oh, by the way, guess what’s happening? I thought I’d let you know. I it’s got to be much more intentional now.

Tom Lyons 4:53
Yeah, that was something that as an organization we journey through ourselves because we are different. First across the entire country, and half of the workforce is actually in an office, the other half is somewhere else and being able to not disclude somebody because you don’t see them. Right? This out of sight, out of mind thing had to become an ever present concept for us. Right?

Doug Bolger 5:16
Yes. And and new behaviors then pop up like really thinking about who is this? How is someone implicated? Or what’s the impact on someone of not knowing this information? We created a #bricks channel, that’s been super helpful. We’re always building for new clients. It’s just we’ve been doing it for 30 years. So we’re constantly building these larger, visionary kind of pieces for clients. So because of that, it’s kind of like Rome and Rome was not built in a day. So each brick is acknowledged for being valuable. So we built this #bricks channel that was all about hey, I put these bricks and so everyone was up to date on the bricks. And then we realized that, really the brick is the outcome. And while that’s important, the real brick is I’m making a contribution. And I want to have that contribution recognized. And as certainly as Canadians or North Americans, it’s not always easy for us to go like, look at my brick my bricks, Oh, awesome. It’s a cornerstone brick, we’re going to build this huge thing on this. So what we did was we shifted the intention of the bricks channel to start to recognize other people for laying the bricks. That was transformative for our team.

Tom Lyons 6:42
Yeah, it allowed me It allowed myself to recognize somebody else for something they’ve done for me, or maybe they’ve done for the company, or whatever. So I’m gonna break that down a little bit for the people watching this. When we talked about a bricks channel, we use an application called slack. I think many of you will be familiar with it, but there’s Microsoft teams, Yammer, tools that allow teams to be able to chat remotely and be able to quickly connect via video or by audio. So we use slack and in that we created a channel called hashtag bricks. And and anytime somebody needs to be able to toss a brick out there, they just go to that channel, they toss it out, it’s company wide, so everybody can see it, right? And come and take a look at it. And then everybody tosses an emoji on it, or they make a comment or something like that. And it ends up making people feel really good. Normally, that would happen in the office. And people would say, hey, great job on that. Whatever. But when you’re when you’re dispersed when you’re remote, it was a really transformative thing for organization.

Doug Bolger 7:42
Yeah, I wouldn’t even say like, it’s one of the first things you look at when you go in as soon as you see there’s a brick there. You’re like, Oh, is it me? Who is it and you know, will pile on on the bricks to where like, you know, Carrie has done something that’s really helped someone else in your life. Yeah. And we start having emojis and comments you can also so that leadership is really about creating this culture that allows for us to feel that level of connection. feel included. Often inclusion is this big concept. Really, it comes down to some versus all. Either you’re included or you’re not. And inside being included, that means everyone is included, not some people. So that distinction really is helped us really start to wrap our heads around. And at the same time, you have to balance that off with not everybody needs to be included in every update. every choice. We’ve also had to go. Is this a 411? Is this a 711? Is this a 911 that helps people understand the level of urgency and we’ve organized into channels so that you If you’re involved with a client, you get all the updates on that client. Some of us just have marginal involvement with a client at a specific space and time so we can step out, which has been really effective for just keeping everyone in the know. And included and connected, it’s clearly not always perfect. It’s way better than it was before we started using.

Tom Lyons 9:25
And I think that’s a great tip for people out there that are just starting to use these tools where where you can quickly get into what we call slack overload, where literally you’re looking at 14 channels, you’re supposed to be checking on all like and looking at, because because everybody’s including it, yeah, and you don’t really want that, you want the information that’s super relevant for you. And it’s important for you so you’re only involved in those things. But the other things that you don’t check them because those notifications can draw you out of work on regular basis. And as we all know, productivity is about not getting away from your focus?

Doug Bolger 10:01
Yeah, I think one of the best parts is bricks with slack really started to combine together into something because you aren’t included in everything like that allows you to focus that gives you a distraction free work environment to actually get your work done. Yet, you know that when you’re doing something, it’s going to be recognized and seen by other people. So it’s, it’s really giving you that little hit of like, Oh, I matter here. So you have this strong sense of inclusion. Well, at the same time, you’re not always receiving all the information, which is interesting to have both exists at the same time. And that’s probably leadership for the future. I would argue that’s not going away.

Tom Lyons 10:48
I would agree. Okay, well, let’s let’s move into a little bit of self promotion here and still try and stay relevant for people at the same time. And we run two programs we run Save the Titanic, and we run, Lead the Endurance. Both of these are leadership programs that I think are super relevant in this time because Save the Titanic was this crisis within a limited amount of time they had to save lives before the ship sunk. And we’re in a time right now where, where literally a crisis hit, there’s a limited amount of time to make decisions about what’s best for your company and get everybody rallying and moving in the right direction. We’ll maybe dig into a little bit about the lessons there. You don’t want to give anything away about the program. So I gotta put that challenge out there for you don’t don’t give away too much. But talk a little bit about that.

Doug Bolger 11:35
Well, the interesting thing about Save the Titanic is it’s been, we designed it 25 years ago, and that program continues to be relevant over and over and over again. And the the thing that I think makes it relevant is you’ve got a short amount of time and in there you have to make choices and what you choose to do and how you choose to interact as a leadership team, as a team as leaders really impacts what’s possible. So if you’re in that data gathering place where I need all the data, you’re, you’re likely going to have a learning experience rather than a result. And if you’re the kind of person who’s like jumped in with both feet, let’s go during the torpedoes. You may also have a leadership, experience and insight from that. So it really is the diversity of your team coming together, each of us layering on top what we know and our strengths, that allows us in that environment to create this sort of brain trust that gets everybody involved and connected and building on top of each other’s ideas, which leads to a different type of thinking because I can think my way you think your way, you put those two ways together, we’re stronger You put six eight people’s brains together and show them how to do it, which is, in essence, what they learn and Save the Titanic is how do you pull group together and get the best out of everyone to produce these miraculous outcomes?

Tom Lyons 13:15
Yeah. Yeah. To quickly come to consensus on on the best ideas. Right. And while learning, now we use a couple tools to do that, I think it’s probably okay to talk about those. You’ve already mentioned the Brain Trust, Brain Trust is a mentoring circle where everybody comes together and you focus on one particular problem as a group, you decide which problem that’s going to be and then everybody doesn’t necessarily give their solution they give their experience to, that’s the key.

Doug Bolger 13:43
That is the key. And that’s what transforms that. I think we’ll see. Like already the research is showing us that peer mentoring is quite often more relevant, then most of what learning and development is offering inside of organization. Big, so why not engage in that inside the learning and development space? Let’s take the most effective process and apply it inside learning and development where we’re applying new leader development skills.

Tom Lyons 14:17
That’s right. And then the other tool that we like to use, and you’ve shown it, right, we’re doing this as our layering tool called Yes and… the whole point of that is, is you toss out a specific question. And then as soon as you’ve given out your thought on it, I go, yes, acknowledging what you’ve said, right? And then and build on it with my suggestion, or whatever. And then I tossed that idea we we use physical metaphor of tossing the ball, but really it’s just passing the idea onto another person. They acknowledge with another Yes. Right and then and add their idea on it. super powerful tool for quickly brainstorming new ideas and getting past blockages of ideas right?

Doug Bolger 15:04
Yeah, I, to me that I call it Brain Sharing. I like that brain sharing aspect of it because really, I imagine you’re building a wall and you’ve got that again brick, one person leaves brick, another person leaves brick, another person leaves brick, and you keep stacking all these pieces on together. And eventually the team goes, we built that wall it’s not my wall it’s not your wall and gets rid of again that exclusion factor and drives that home I’d like we built this together. Well, let me think here. Hmm. If we built our action plan together, would we all be more committed to doing it than listening to a leader or coming back from you know, or had this start this weekend? Let’s go this direction. That leadership style, which I sometimes practice, my name is Doug I sometimes have that I think are really great. You all of a sudden other people can be like, okay, yes. And how would that layer on top of what we’re already doing? And yes, and haven’t we already designed three programs that already do that? Yes. And Couldn’t we leverage all that stuff and we’d already be done? Yeah,yes. And that’s a good thing.

Tom Lyons 16:30
Okay, so to finish off, a lot of people are going through a lot right now, especially with the stress of figuring out what to do with their business. In this time change. What is your closing advice for those people? What should they be thinking about doing?

Doug Bolger 16:49
So I think first and foremost is you’ve got to find time to get your team together and have a conversation about where you are. And daily check ins I think are really powerful and valuable. Our teams getting great traction out of that just seeing each other’s faces, we get these images of teams getting together, and they’re all holding their coffee cup. And I think the biggest thing is, the world has changed. It’s it’s changed already. It’s not changing. It’s changed. So now it’s time to find inside of you. What are you going to do? What’s your stand inside this conversation for your team? So how do you get them together? How do you get them aligned? How do you get them engaged? And that’s why these tools now are so powerful, because that’s really what we’re doing inside these experiences is showing people here’s how you do it, and we do it in zoom. We do it in any platform. It doesn’t the platform’s irrelevant. We’re all focused on our new platform. In a way we’ve been using zoom for years. We’re Using zoom, there’s nothing, that part of the equation just allows you to hide from dealing with the part that’s important, which is, okay, what are we doing? How do we do this better? How Who are we supporting? Who are we supporting? How are we going to do it? Where our clients at? How are we going to get out and connect and still deliver the value that all of us want to do everyone out there, even if they’re furloughed? They want to contribute?

Tom Lyons 18:31
Okay, then. Okay. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us on any of our channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, the website, all of those work we have the old phone style works as well. You can get a hold of us that way. Even if you’re just looking for some advice on how to move forward in this time.



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