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Learning and Collaboration Technology Conundrum – The struggle is real!

This week, six new interns started at GP Strategies. We are thrilled to have them here for the summer, working on some great initiatives for our clients as well as future-proofing our offerings and solutions. As we worked tirelessly to plan and decide what their onboarding experience might include – from meeting our president to participating in design thinking exercises – we also had to decide on team norms, including collaboration and learning platforms.

Some of us had a preference for Slack. Others liked Microsoft Teams. Or Yammer. Or just keep it simple with email and Skype. And because we get to work with so many great technology partners, we were also considering a series of learning experience platforms to tee up curated resources on topics such as augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, and chatbots.

And it gets more complicated! Because many of us work remotely and the interns will all be located at our World Headquarters near Baltimore, MD, we could integrate video coaching, as well, to practice common situations our interns might face throughout their experience. But, how would we track time and projects? With Excel or bring in another SaaS provider to provide utilization optimization?

We were having a tools and technology meltdown! The choices were too many! This made me realize that large organizations have to navigate this every single day, and I’m only planning for a small group of six!

One school of thought was to give them access to everything. Allow them to navigate and determine what experience best worked for them. Make it personal! But then, if everyone is using different platforms to collaborate, then no one is collaborating! I imagine this is what it’s like for a lot of organizations. The choices are too many. Many features can be redundant from one technology to another. What tends to be a deciding factor is where the “work gets done.” If work is getting done via email, then email may be the best choice. If work is getting done via Slack, there you go!

So, we needed to come up with a specific experience for the interns. How do WE want THEM to get the work done? What tool had the best support from our IT partners? What was the easiest learning curve that most of the support team for the interns had access to and knew how to use? When we crafted the answers to those questions, it became easier to decide. I was surprised by our decision. We did NOT choose the latest, whiz-bang technology to collaborate. We used one that is standard and consistent, integrated with emails and calendars, and allowed for the functionality we needed for a small team to collaborate with each other. I’m not going to tell you what it is…that will ruin the fun.

Moral of the story—we made a choice (for better or worse) and we are going to stick with it for 12 weeks. At the end of the summer, I’ll share what we did, what went well and what didn’t.

About the Authors

Britney Cole
Britney is a learning leader with experience in organization development, human performance, and corporate learning and has worked remotely, managing virtual teams for more than a decade. Britney lives in Minnesota with her husband and three small children (ages 5, 7 and 8) where she keeps warm with plenty of blankets and cozy hats. She likes to talk, so you might see her at learning conferences as a speaker. Britney has provided consulting for clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, steel, chemical, media, technology, retail, manufacturing, and aerospace industries. She forms lasting partnerships with her clients helping them with learning design and architecture, content development, leadership and professional development, performance consulting, technology implementation, and change management. Most recently, she is helping pioneer new experiential learning methods and defining learning 3.0 taxonomy.

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