At ustwo I am lucky enough to be regularly wowed by the amazing work and enthusiasm of my colleagues. We have an unpretentious work environment where people openly share ideas and techniques. Therefore, it made perfect sense for us to set up a framework which enables ustwobies to learn from each other in a more efficient way. We call it “Skilling UP”.
In-house knowledge sharing
Simply put, ‘Skilling UP’ is an initiative to help people share their knowledge and experience with others in the studio. By establishing structure around teaching and learning from each other, and pushing people to share their expertise, we’re trying to create an even more social and open sharing environment where both the business and the individuals can benefit.
Using a Trello board, we collect ideas and topics on what people want to learn or teach and once we have enough participants we set up a session – workshops, Q&As, show-and-tell, anything goes. So, how can this help your organisation?
6 reasons for ‘Skilling UP’
**A chance to meet and exchange ideas **
People who work on different projects get a chance to meet-up in a more creative space, instead of only seeing each other in the kitchen or by the coffee machine. Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and author of the book Creativity Inc., believes that encouraging colleagues to randomly cross paths, leads to unexpected and fruitful collaborations.
New skills and perspectives
It gives people the opportunity to learn something that may be outside of the skills required for their daily work. This is extremely valuable because it only takes a small insight to inspire someone to think differently about how they might tackle the next thing they do. Much like when learning a new language, it isn’t only about the grammar and vocabulary you pick up. The nuances between the languages can also teach us about culture and values, and influence how we think.
Cost effective training
Sharing knowledge internally helps your company save money on training costs. Sending three people to a conference costs a pretty penny. Now, I’m not saying that learning from your colleagues internally can substitute the experience of attending a conference, but it is less expensive, takes place in a familiar environment and is potentially more rewarding. If you’re really into a specific topic, it only takes a small effort for you to inspire people to think differently. Let’s imagine, it takes you two days researching and learning a new skill or technique. To then teach that technique to ten people, might only take you one hour. BOOM! Exponential learning and development.
Public speaking and confidence
Positive side effects of delivering a Skilling UP session are that you’re building your confidence and practicing in delivering a message. This is valuable when working with clients and selling great ideas. Designer and author Mike Montiero made it clear at the Interactions15 conference: “The most valuable designers are the ones that can sell good design”.
Share your skills
Skilling UP can be a great opportunity to spread your ideas. In our studio we believe in the power of motion design and some believe that we as a studio should put even more animation into the products we create. Skilling UP provides the group that started this movement with a platform to promote that agenda. Afterwards, we evaluate and share the things we’ve learned.
When you’ve been working on the same project or with the same client for a long period of time the learning and personal development rate can suffer. Getting your brain into a different creative space gives you a much-needed invigorator that re-energizes and boosts motivation levels.
The talks and sessions we’ve had so far would undoubtedly be interesting to people outside of the studio, for example, students from local schools and universities, or people attending conferences. Some of the things people are teaching can also expand into content for marketing initiatives or function as material for design or development labs.
Planning and executing a session takes time, and time can be hard to find in a busy schedule. But if a business is striving for an open culture and emphasize the importance of actively fostering and invest in people and culture, then ‘Skilling UP’ is a good way to go. All it takes is a simple framework and the will to provide people with the time needed to develop and learn from each other.