A weekend in a beautiful thatched cottage or another Zoom call? (and why I think Collaborate-Live is a game changer)

I don’t know about you but I’m a bit fed up with online meetings. Yes it’s great to see people’s faces and to connect, but it just doesn’t compare to sitting in a park with someone, or going for a walk, or having a weekend away with friends in a beautiful rural cottage.  The world of online connection and collaboration has never been as strong.  It’s enabled families to see each other and businesses to keep running despite people working from home.  But there are some obvious challenges.  Challenges that are difficult to overcome for even the best communicators.

As a people development consultancy, we’ve built our reputation and brand around face to face interactions.

We know that when we get people together in a room (or a field) we can help them to have difficult conversations, break down barriers, explore challenging issues and say the things that need to be said.  We do it with kindness, compassion, support and lots of space. We know that people need space to breathe, to think and for all voices to be heard – not just the loud ones.  So when the world changed, our concern was that the online world would allow people to step away from difficult conversations, turn their videos off, stay silent and not deal with the challenging issues.  We worried that the space for breathing and thinking would shrink and that those things that need to be said would remain unspoken.

Lots of people embraced the online world quickly and with gusto.

Training content was being posted online quicker than ever before.  My email inbox was bombarded with offers of webinars full of top tips for remote working, leading a remote team, looking after mental well-being. The list goes on.  Lots of companies welcomed the opportunities that online learning created.  More people having access to learning.  Lower carbon footprint because people were no longer travelling to training venues.  Lower travel and accommodation bills.  Less administration and logistics. It’s clear to see the many advantages.

But whilst many people were embracing this new way of learning and generating lots of online content, we took a moment to pause.

Yes, the world had changed, but people’s needs hadn’t.  How could we design something online that would still allow people to have difficult conversations, break down barriers, explore challenging issues and say the things that need to be said?

Rather than generating online content for the sake of it, we asked ourselves the questions ‘how can we design out the shortcomings that exist in online learning?’  ‘How can we create the best of both worlds?’

Collaborate-Live has been born out of this desire to maintain the magic and intimacy of face to face learning whilst acknowledging that online learning does need to exist.  So we identified the shortcomings and then challenged ourselves to do it differently.  Here’s how.

Online learning can allow people to disappear and to switch off.  In response we’ve designed an online, experiential programme that mandates everyone’s involvement.  Without each person contributing it’s not possible to reach a successful outcome.

It’s easy to disengage from online learning.  We’ve created a programme that is both immersive and engaging and generates a genuinely visceral response. People want to reach a successful outcome. The complexity and uncertainty involved means that people care.  They want to uncover the answers, they want to iron out the complexities, they want to know that they have been part of solving an initially impenetrable challenge.

Online learning can be very transactional.  Content is delivered but there isn’t a lot of opportunity to reflect and challenge.  We’ve created ‘pauses’ throughout the programme which are facilitated by experienced coaches.  They are there to hold the space whilst people reflect; whilst teams challenge each other’s behaviours; and whilst people begin to notice their own emotional responses and impact.  This ensures that the learning isn’t transactional.  It’s transformational.  And in a short time frame.

Online learning is often theoretical without an opportunity to experiment or practice.  We’ve created an experience rather than a series of slides or lectures.  And we weave learning into that experience so that people understand what is happening and why.  It brings the theory to life in a meaningful and memorable way.

It’s easy to forget any learning as soon as the online learning ends. We’ve designed an emotional and engaging programme that stays with people long after it has ended.  We’ve also designed sophisticated reflection opportunities throughout the programme that are facilitated by an experienced coach, as well as offering one to one coaching following the programme to ensure that everyone takes something positive and useful away from the programme.

So do we miss the world of face to face learning?

Absolutely.  Nothing will replace the intimacy of working together in a room and helping people to discover new insights about themselves and each other in a safe, vulnerable and magical way.  Can we achieve something similar online?  Definitely.  We weren’t sure at first and now we’ve created it, we’re really proud of what it delivers.

If you’d like to find out more about Collaborate-Live, just give us a call or watch our videos.  We’d be delighted to share more.

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