How to empower teams to connect, share ideas and navigate uncertainty

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This is part one of a two-part article. You can find part two here.

You might be familiar with the following quote -: "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Roughly [50] years since Alvin Toffler (an American author, philosopher and futurist) wrote this, his theory has developed into a concept we call learning agility. Learning agility can help us to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and remove workplace relationship barriers - two problem areas we’ve either seen, heard of or experienced first hand as large parts of the working world have had to change their perception of work and the workplace recently.

In part one of this article I will provide you with real examples of what learning agility is and how it plays out at Fast Track. More specifically we will look at:

  • How we cultivate learning agility at Fast Track
  • How our culture supports our team in connect and grow strong relationships
  • How we benefit from learning agility as individuals and as an organisation

Fast Track’s vision is to digitalise the iGaming industry and deliver the first self-learning engagement platform. On a day-to-day basis this means that our teams collaborate to build game-changing products; a challenging development process which involves radical change, risk-taking, and innovation. This all happens in a truly fast-paced environment where change is encouraged and where failure is always a possibility - an environment particularly attractive for learning-agile individuals.

Learning agility is not something that we’ve deliberately worked towards at Fast Track. I first came to reflect upon it following one of our knowledge sharing sessions about agile working. The content presented in the session helped me realise that our work environment turns out to be one where learning agility behaviors are enabled and empowered.

During my 9 months at Fast Track, I have experienced the successful practice of learning agility. Our team is driven to learn from experience and apply those lessons to find alternative ways of doing things. This drives behaviours of openness to new ideas and situations, reflection and collaboration. Another impactful outcome of learning agility inside Fast Track is the shared belief that we’ll find strategies to navigate our way forward whatever uncertain situation we may be faced with. This belief is as empowering as it is essential for us to remain future-focused and stay cutting edge.

I have also observed that individuals who are drawn to new ideas and experiences tend to be curious and open-minded towards others. They enjoy interacting with a diversity of people and want to help bring out the best in those around them. In this light, learning agility helps us connect and grow strong relationships.

How do we cultivate learning agility at Fast Track?

Based on my experience so far, here are some of the factors I think help us cultivate learning agility:

Flat organisational structure
Our organisational structure is designed to help us work efficiently and effectively as a team. Right now, it makes sense for us to have as little hierarchical structure as possible based on our size and team makeup: we operate from two locations and we’re growing towards 50 employees.

Clear and inspiring vision
We have a clear vision that demands innovation. To digitalise the iGaming industry and deliver the first self-learning engagement platform calls for teams that are willing to not only accept changing conditions but truly embrace them.

Our values reflect what we stand for and include statements encouraging continuous learning and a growth mindset. We believe there is always a better way to do things and space radical thoughts is needed to discover them.

Core HR Processes
We intentionally incorporate elements of learning agility in our core HR processes (e.g., recruitment, onboarding, and performance management etc.) as they are designed to support the achievement of our company vision, values and strategy.

Our promise to our partners
One of our roles  as an organisation to help our partners replace old approaches with new, better solutions. In different ways we help our partners learn, unlearn and relearn when we integrate our solutions and make them part of their workday. We wouldn’t be able to support other organisations’ change management and transformation journeys if we didn’t walk the talk ourselves.

Psychological safety
Our culture creates a psychologically safe work environment where it is safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. It is safe for us to admit mistakes, learn from failure, and share different views and ideas openly. It is not always comfortable to do these things, but since we feel safe to take the risk of being uncomfortable, we are able to grow and make progress.

Helping each other to connect and grow strong relationships

While the above factors help to create a safe environment for our team to share ideas, we also specifically encourage and celebrate learning agility through knowledge sharing sessions. This in turn helps our employees to connect and grow strong relationships.

Team members from across the organisation regularly arrange these sessions and everyone is encouraged to join during work hours. The topic is chosen by the employee hosting the session. It can be about anything from a personal interest or passion, to technical know-how specifically related to our work context.

The open format has made it possible for us to share knowledge and learn about a wide range of topics. Only since July this year, our team has shared learning experiences about: agility at Fast Track; what it’s like to be a professional DJ; the basics of machine learning; how we can better manage our time; what dyslexia is and what it is like to be dyslexic; how we should configure Slack and Gmail to reduce noise; why our use of language matters, and a halloween makeup tutorial! The history of affiliation within iGaming and an introduction to cryptocurrency are also lined up in the coming weeks.

I recently had a video chat with a group of employees to better understand what they think about our internal knowledge sharing sessions. It was evident that the opportunity to share or receive knowledge is as appreciated as having the opportunity to get to know each other better:

Yolanda (Business Development Executive) shared; “I appreciate that we set aside time for this during work hours. It’s a nice way to get to know each other, especially whilst Covid is still around. It makes us feel that people are important beyond their job title. The fact that Simon and Chris (co-founders of Fast Track) take the time to join the sessions shows you that our leaders care about getting to know their people too.”

Isla (Marketing Manager) continued; “Many new team members have joined since I started working from home. The knowledge sharing sessions are a really nice opportunity to get to know people and find connections with each other. Because we don’t focus just on things that are related to our job it’s an opportunity to show a different side of ourselves and encourages us to bring our whole selves to work.”

Rob (Integration Manager) compared the sessions with team- building sessions; "It gives us insights about personal hobbies and interests, as well as professional aspects about the day-to-day. I learn about who people are and what they do, and it helps us have a more personal connection with each other.”

Miguel (Product Designer) arranged one of the more personal sessions, speaking about what it is like to be a professional DJ: “Normally nobody asks me to talk about this subject in such an extended way. I think that the format is very nice - one uninterrupted hour when we can construct a full narrative around whatever we think is adequate for the subject”.

How learning agility benefits individuals and organisations

When I reflect on the culture within Fast Track and how our team works together, it is clear that the practice of learning agility greatly benefits our organisation and our individual team members. It creates an environment where we feel safe to share, allowing us to learn from each other. The psychological safety created in an environment where the team are connected, and feel able to take risks and ask questions, is also what allows us to keep driving forward with new ideas and innovative products.

If you would like some tips on how to bring this into your own work, I invite you to read part two of this article where I will be sharing some advice on how to cultivate learning agility in yourself and your organisation. We will look at simple practices to implement within your teams, and what it means to practice learning agility successfully.

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