How might we...
design, build, and sustain a deliberately developmental learning organization to attract, empower, and retain employees?

A rapidly growing fintech unicorn had its eyes set on an IPO. Until this point they had been in startup mode, focused on building the foundation of their business. With so much growth and change, people were being brought on, and in some cases, promoted, without the foundational knowledge they needed to succeed in their roles. 

To stabilize and set themselves up for future success, the organization wanted to roll out a learning and development (L&D) strategy. This would allow them to strategically develop employees in skills that are essential for success in their current role and develop them for future roles. With no existing structures around growth paths, an L&D strategy would also help attract and retain talent.

How We Did It

To begin understanding what needed to be included in the L&D strategy, we started with a leadership development pilot, consisting of three workshops. Through conversations and qualitative interviews, we uncovered the organization’s biggest needs. We combined these insights with our expertise in the science of how people learn and the organization’s mission and vision to align on initiatives to comprise the L&D strategy.

As experts in the science of how people learn, we were focused on ensuring that learning would actually happen. We wanted the initiatives to be outcome and objective driven and also took their unique context as a startup into account — part of our human-centered approach. Knowing that team members had a huge amount of work on their plate, we emphasized bite-size learning experiences rather than giving them an unsustainable learning plan.

The work with leadership created a dually beneficial opportunity: they were able to learn, while we gathered data to help us understand how to best address the organization’s pain points and co-design a strategy to move forward. We emerged with five initiatives:

  1. A blended in-person and asynchronous leadership development program
  2. The development of shared organizational norms or ways of working
  3. The creation of learning pathways that are unique and responsive to departmental needs 
  4. A learning and performance management program
  5. An associates program for those early in their career
The results
Learning as a cross-cutting tool.

We didn’t just create a strategy and outline corresponding initiatives. The process also served to get people from different parts of the organization communicating and interacting, breaking down silos that had long existed. We were also able to help the organization begin to think about learning and success in a more holistic way. Instead of focusing solely on teaching employees technical skills, these initiatives emphasize transferable skills that will set people up for professional success more broadly.

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