Dojo is the Way – An Alternative Learning Experience
Creating a continuous learning atmosphere is essential in any Agile implementation. Learning new skills and refreshing one’s knowledge about their craft is essential. This helps make sure that your team stays effective in their tasks and that your processes are streamlined. This is what makes a learning dojo important for organizations. But what is it for and how can it be implemented?
What is a Learning Dojo?
The goal of a Learning Dojo is to create a learning environment that allows teams to master their craft so that they can be more effective at work. Originally conceptualized in 2015 by Target CIO, Mike McNamara, the goal of the Dojo is to train his team to adopt the mindsets of Lean, Product, DevOps and Agile. This was implemented to help Target modernize its tools and methodologies in order to increase its efficiency. Implementing the Learning Dojo concept can reshape the way you train your team. It can help your organization merge learning and performance to enable a more conducive learning environment to employees across all levels and functions.
The Challenges of Learning in the Workplace
Every organization should have a learning and development plan for its employees. Often, we’ll see this in the form of training or courses – both classroom and online – where employees need to sign-up or have their boss assign them to attend and complete. While this can help to some degree in the skills development and growth of the employee, learning acquired through traditional training can sometimes be difficult to apply to one’s own work. Here are some challenges that may arise from traditional learning:
- The audience of these training activities is varied. You from the Software Development team may be attending a training with someone from the Marketing and Finance teams. This makes the curriculum and style of the training materials to be more general in nature so that it caters to the various skill sets and experiences that the attendees have.
- Exercises given are not directly related to one’s work. Being more generic and conceptual in nature, this makes it a little more difficult for the learnings to be applied to real-life work problems that employees need to tackle daily.
- Training activities usually have a yearly budget allocated by the organization. This limits the number of courses that employees can attend each year.
- The irregularity of employees being able to attend courses isn’t effective at creating a continuous learning atmosphere. More so, the topics and problems that are discussed in traditional courses don’t create a long-lasting change in the way employees do their work.
When you think of it, this ineffective approach is actually costing organizations money. But if we can find a way to introduce a learning experience that invites experimentation to solve real-life work problems, we can see employees being more engaged and teams actually making better products for the organization to flourish.
So, how do we achieve just that?
If you’re ready to take your learning experience to a new level, start planning your own Dojo. You don’t need to rent a big space in order to have one. You can actually start small. You can select a pilot team for your first Dojo. Then, book a meeting room within your office that has ample space for collaboration. After the first rollout, you can then try to open your doors to more teams and improve through each experience. Here are a few other steps to follow as you setup your organization’s learning dojo.
1. Identify the skills you want your students to learn.
While Dojos can cater to the full spectrum of skills needed for software development, we have also seen variations that are more specific like Coding Dojo, Testing Dojo, and Agile Coaching Dojo. Depending on your need and also the accessibility to skilled experts within your organization, you can actually tailor fit what your Dojo aims to deliver out of its students.
2. Set a process or framework for your teams to work on while in the Dojo.
This allows for a structured type of learning where attendees are guided on how to move along with the learning process. This can then be presented using a Kanban board so that they are visually guided as they go through learning the new skill sets and solving their outlined problems. The process may start with defining the problem or skills that need to be learned within the period that they are in the Dojo. The team then lists these and as in Kanban, moves it along the process.
3. Start your learning sessions.
The next step could be about learning the new skill. During each session, the training heads should see to it that the attendees gain enough knowledge to be able to apply their new learnings to their current functions and work environment.
4. Trainees should apply what their learn to their work.
After the learning sessions, teams should apply the new knowledge or skills they have acquired to solve their problems or develop something relevant to their work. It can then be followed by the coaches reviewing the output with the team and providing points for improvement so that they can iterate when needed. Finally, when all is done and work is accepted, the teams can move it to the end of the board to signify completion.
Having this framework will actually make it easy to facilitate and implement a Learning Dojo.
Are you ready to take your learning experience to a new level with Dojo?