A learning culture is a cornerstone for any organization today. Our Human Resources departments are often on another page and leave the learning for us to take care ourselves. My POP-session practice is a simple way to start your learning culture while HR are busy with your timereport or other traditional HR stuff.
The purpose of this practice is to transfer knowledge of any kind within the organization with a short session, held by anyone who have a topic they want to know more about or spread the word of, rather than being alone with this skill/interest. The name pop comes from the minimal preparation – it just pops up whenever there is a need or/and a lust.
Example: You have some basic knowledge about a great chat tool called Flack and your organisation need to boost the internal communication. So you put up posters on the coffemachines for this POP-session about Flack and just do it. Afterwards you give each new Flack master a certificate or diploma and explain they are now able to certify others as Flack masters. The students become the teachers. Sit back and wait for things to happen, or not. If nothing happens you probably doesn’t have a learning culture in your organization and need to start with your leaders/managers first. Redo the course and make sure they attend. Otherwise undo all ambitions of a learning culture and go back and wait for the agile coaches to arrive.
1. Find a topic
What are you burning for and want to discuss with peers at work? Or do you have a hidden superpower the organization should need more of? I am sure everyone has a topic to conduct a POP-session on. It could be a tool, a practice, a good habit or just a weekly bet on the horses. This step should be easy, but if it’s difficult to find a topic, don’t force it, wait until you have one. When you are done go to next step.
2. Prepare the course
- Reserve a small room for one (1) hour with all the facilities you need. Ideally the course is on your daily lunch hour. I recommend a small room for max 4 people in favor of the discussions evolving in smaller teams.
- Invite the people to the course 15-30 minutes after your reserved time. Ideally you invite on your morning meeting the same day, so people can commit to the course. Another way of invitation is on your team page or intranet a couple of days ahead. I do not recommend using your calendar for the invitation as it tends to be make the course more formal rather than fun. Make sure people wants to go – pull rather than push. Make sure you have a max limit set on participants. In the invitation explain registration now is open and you accept participants based on first come – first served basis. If too many people enroll at the same time, use rock-paper-scissors to select the participants.
- Google and get some extra information about the topic so you feel comfortable as the teacher. Write you findings down on a post-it. Perhaps as a mind-map? Do not use PowerPoint as I tends to formalize the course rather than a doing a fun event.
- Bake a cake or just bring some candy to the course to make it even more attractive.
- Write a time-schedule for the course. Ex:
- 12:00 Set the scene
- 12:15 Conduct the course
- 12:40 End course, feedback, expectations
- 12:45 Clean and leave the room
- 13-14 Aftermath
3. Set the scene
- Be in time 15-30 minutes ahead of the starting time
- Open the windows to get fresh air if possible
- Arrange the room with the facilities needed.
- Put the cake on the table.
- Close the windows
4. Conduct the course
- Start exactly on time. Put a sign outside the room ”Session is ongoing – laggards go home”. Next time they will be in time.
- Do a quick round gather expectation from your students.
- Explain the format and purpose of POP-session. This should be the same as the intro to this guide until you change it in favor of your own process. This is your chance to market the POP-sessions for other to continute with.
- Start your course. Max time for the course is 30 minutes. Take some photos.
- End your course 5 minutes ahead of time and do a round of feedback so you can improve the course and yourself as teacher.
- Ask if expectations were fulfilled?
- Write down the feedback and make a backlog of improvements for next POP-session. Put the improvement backlog visible for all to get tips and tricks from and add the photos from the session.
- Congratulate your new teachers (ex students) and be crisp that the topic (as well as the POP concept) only evolves if they take the torch here and now. You were the spark only.
- End the meeting minimum 10 minutes ahead of your reserved time so people can get to the next meeting or restroom in time.
- Open the window and make the room tidy.
- Close the window and leave the room min 5 minutes ahead of your reserved time.
- Print out the diplomas/certificates with the new teachers name on. Use funny titles such as “Flack master” if you use certificates. Tip: MS Word has diploma templates you can make your own organization template from.
- Hand out the diplomas on the next day team meeting or go to each person and hand over it.
- Take a photo with the new teachers and their diplomas and post on team wall, intranet, team page etc.
- Step back and wait a couple of weeks. Ideally the new teachers should take the next step and call for a new POP-session on the same or other topic. If the feedback from the course was good but nothing happens, ask your new teachers if they need help to get started.
- Review and Improve the format of the POP-session with the feedback collected from each teacher and make it your own process.