Choosing the right training can be challenging. But it's my team's responsibility to make sure that the 5,500 or so marketers across Unilever's three business divisions get the learning, curriculums, programmes, skills and workshops that they need to do their jobs well.
As part of a large organisation with many moving parts, it's imperative we can stay well connected, adapt quickly to change and remain resilient to the unexpected – in other words, be agile.
Agility is something our business recognises as critical to future success – so much so that we've been rapidly embedding agile thinking into our processes and culture all across Unilever.
For my team and I to gain practical understanding of agile fundamentals and support its wider rollout throughout our organisation, we opted for QA’s ICAgile Fundamentals training programme.
The course helps learners to understand the principles of Agile and Scrum, for example the importance of “being agile” as a foundation for success in “doing agile”. Learning objectives include concepts such as adaptive planning, value-driven development, team collaboration and frequent feedback for continuous improvement. The QA team has worked with Unilever to also include examples of Unilever teams successfully using the Agile mindset and practices.
Working well together
To accommodate our close team of a dozen innovation, capabilities and learning experts, the three-day course was tailored for Unilever but importantly condensed into short bursts to maximise our time and energy. The course varied in learning formats to help us digest and discuss what we learned together. And all the training took place remotely.
You would think that with every participant scattered around Europe, getting together virtually would make for a disjointed and disengaging learning experience. Not at all.
From using visual collaboration tools to engaging with learning materials as large and small virtual groups, we had time to reflect, to work individually and communally, and build understanding as a team – even though we weren't all in the same room.
Compared to the pre-Covid norm involving international flights, hotels and juggling availability, it was easier, faster and much less wasteful organising a virtual session. Committing to uninterrupted training time over consecutive days helped to focus everyone's minds on the same matter. There were no downsides to making it virtual.
Sailing through the intense course couldn't have been possible without an experienced, enthusiastic facilitator. Shout out to QA's Paddy Dhanda who helped everyone contribute and have their voices heard. Paddy's facilitation in the virtual experience helped anchor our attention and let everyone pitch in equally.
It can be easy for day-to-day work to feel transactional, especially when working in physical isolation or mostly online. One of the key advantages of QA's training, besides learning and then applying new knowledge to our jobs, is simply the chance to forge stronger bonds as a team.
Having dedicated time to train helped us break out of the usual rhythms of back-to-back meetings and re-establish common ground. We were able to connect more deeply and rally everyone towards the same shared goal. A virtual learning session exposed for the better how easy it can be to learn effectively without compromising on the quality of experience.
Would we do it again? Definitely! The QA trainer’s ability to facilitate complexity and galvanise our team gave us a great return on investment.
This is one in a series of blog posts on digital transformation. In previous posts, we looked at how to emerge stronger from this crisis, how to lead an L&D revolution, how IT leaders can develop tech talent, how to win the war for tech talent, why digital capability assessments matter, why it’s time to change our attitude to aptitude tests, three teams that drive successful digital transformations, why understanding digital tech is now everyone’s job, and why Squad-as-a-Service is a faster, risk-free way to boost tech talent.
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