S 2 E6

May 27th, 2020

EPISODE 6: The Mindset Organizations Need Right Now with Ford and Comcast

Shawna Erdmann, SVP of Learning at Comcast, and Melanie Davis, CLO at Ford, work for companies that have embraced growth mindset over the past few months, shifting from one set of expectations and roles, into brand-new operations. Their stories show how keeping an open mind benefits not just individuals as they work to adapt, but entire organizations looking to transform.

Episode Transcript

Host:

Here’s a not so hypothetical.

After weeks or months of working hard on one set of jobs, suddenly you find yourself forced to take on a whole new set of responsibilities. Your teammates take on new roles too. And try as you might to go back to the old ways, everything is just…different.

In order to succeed in this new role, you and your colleagues must confront a new landscape—and one that none of you are used to. You need to see your skills and others’ as fluid, not fixed. There’s a name for this particular mindset, which research suggests is critical for turning moments of disruption into opportunities for innovation. It’s called: growth mindset.

I’m Chris Weller, and you’re listening to Your brain at Work, from the NeuroLeadership Institute.

For this episode, and the ones that follow, we’ll be drawing from a weekly webinar series that NLI has been hosting every Friday, between our Co-Founder and CEO, Dr. David Rock, and two distinguished guests. Together they discuss the science of leading through crisis and what impact they have seen as leaders.

Today’s guests are Shawna Erdmann, Senior Vice President of Learning at Comcast, and Melanie Davis, Chief Learning Officer at Ford. Both work for companies that have embraced growth mindset over the past few months, shifting from one set of expectations and roles, into brand-new operations. Their stories show how keeping an open mind benefits not just individuals as they work to adapt, but entire organizations looking to transform.

Enjoy.
——————-
Dr. David Rock:
Great to be with you all. Shawna and Melanie, so great to be with you. Thanks for making time. I know you guys are running very busy organizations and lots to do, so we really appreciate your attention to focus. Shawna, great to have you here. Thanks for making time.
Shawna Erdmann:
Sure. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah, fantastic. Now first question on everyone’s lips, really important question is, is the internet going to keep together or are we going to really freak out?
Shawna Erdmann:
Isn’t it amazing how we have really put it to the test? And it is held up and done us a really good job of… I know, and of course I am a Comcast customer and I’m sure many folks are, who are in our footprint. I have four kids and we have multiple Zoom meetings going on for school and I’m online, and so we are testing it and it’s held up incredibly well. So [crosstalk 00:16:13]-
Dr. David Rock:
Bless you and everyone at Comcast for maintaining essential services.
Shawna Erdmann:
Thanks for letting me get a little plug in there.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah, fantastic. Bless you for that. So let’s shift gears a bit. I want to just kind of help everyone have a chance to learn about kind of what’s been most useful to you. Because we’ve all been doing incredible work. I know every company we’ve spoken to it’s been doing heroic things, but we’re all curious about what’s been sort of most effective. So first of all, what’s been most effective in terms of helping people through this? Helping your employees, and there’s a lot, right? On average, what’s been the biggest thing that you’ve found? And tell us a story about that.
Shawna Erdmann:
So I think there’ve been several things. As everyone has lived over the past couple of months, there’s been a push to work from home. And how do you actually do that in a thoughtful and meaningful way where folks are feeling safe and are able to be productive? So we have thousands and thousands of people that we’ve moved from office buildings and call centers to be able to work from home. I think the communication is probably been the biggest key for us. Being really deliberate and thoughtful about making sure that folks know why, what we’re doing, what the process is. And it’s giving them that certainty of knowing what to expect and then the consistency of the messaging and the communication I think has been really key for us.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah, it’s interesting you said the why. So we’ve been thinking about the challenges of communication right now, and we think about kind of five levels of focus in any interaction. There’s the vision, which is like, why are you doing something? And there’s actually a network in the brain for that. There’s a network in the brain that lights up when you’re thinking about why you’re doing something. It’s actually quite positive, quite abstract. And that separate to the network for how you’re going to do it, like the plan, which is kind of more about timing and a little bit more concrete in the brain and there’s a separate network for the doing, the detail. And then there’s a network for when it doesn’t work, which is problems. And then there’s the network for level three threat, which is [inaudible 00:18:23].
Dr. David Rock:
And I think people have been really down the bottom of that with problem and drama. And then in a detailed problems, right? And then detailed problems. And when you live up to the Y, it reconnects them back to the positive, also creates shared goals between people, and creates more certainty and more autonomy. So it’s really, really useful. I think that’s been one of the things we’ve been trying to teach people is like, “Start every meeting with reconnecting to why you’re doing something, where you are in the plan, what’s going on?” To lift them up also just because everyone’s frazzled from so much. So anyway, back to you.
Shawna Erdmann:
Yeah, no, I agree completely starting with why this is so important, and there are so many other pressures in the environment from folks trying to manage their home lives and what’s happening with their families and extended families and trying to manage their own work from home life. And I love what you said earlier about the human side of it and that’s been a really big thing. You have connections with folks at work and when you’re able to connect and see somebody, a leader, or a colleague, or a team member within their own home and in their home office and kids sometimes pop in, or their pet, and you really are able to connect in a different way. And I think that’s been a bit fun to have that relatedness and that connection where otherwise we’re so incredibly isolated. So I’ve been grateful for the video.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah, I’m thinking about that. It’s been really meaningful. It’s been really interesting. So in a crisis, certainties plummeted. Thinking from a [inaudible] perspective, certainties plummeted [inaudible] plummeted sense of control. And a normal go-to in a crisis is relatedness. Literally, we calm our nervous system when things are really uncertain by hanging out together. We haven’t had to do that. And I think it’s left such a void that smart leaders, the perceptive leaders have stepped in and said, “Wow, we need to create a strong team, a strong sense of we’re in it together,” as opposed to maybe a week earlier when the leader was always like leading through status. Always leading through, “You have to listen to me, I’m a different person,” and like within a week like, “Hey, here’s my pet, here’s my crisis, here’s my disaster. We’re all here.” And it was just such a flip from leading through status through leading through relatedness [crosstalk]
Shawna Erdmann:
Yeah. And it feels good to know that I don’t have to be perfect and I think that’s a huge… It’s like a huge leveling of the playing field and being able to then share ideas or feel comfortable talking about something that you might have been worried about or have some trepidation around in the past that I know you’re dealing with figuring out how you’re going to feed your family tonight, and I hear your dog barking or whatever is happening to going in your life, and I know I can relate to you in that certain way and it just brings more of a realness and a humanness to the workplace that I think was maybe in some cases not there.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. It wasn’t there in many places. It’s been really inspiring. There’s a whole lot of interesting research on that. When you feel like you’ve got a shared goal with a team, you actually can literally experience like higher levels of pain before you have to say, “That’s too much.” And it really does help in a crisis to go through that. The other question I have is, maybe you’re already answering it, but what’s been most inspiring to you over the last few months at Comcast or broadly. What’s the most inspiring?
Shawna Erdmann:
I’m still new here. And so, I’m about six months in. And I think what has struck me even from before this crisis is, the way our teammates come together to support one another. And when this crisis hit us, I think it just strengthened the bonds that our teammates have for one another and the way that they can help. By no means it was easy and there are definitely challenges that we have on the daily basis. But I think that the inspirational piece is that we know that we have supports, we know we have folks that are willing to help and ship in.
Shawna Erdmann:
And I think also what’s amazing right now, is we have this ability to be really innovative and I think there’s a much higher appetite for others to say, “Gosh, that just might work.” Whereas before, there may have been a lot more, “Oh, it might take a little bit longer,” or there might not have been as big of an appetite to dig in and try something new. So I think that’s been inspiring as well, that you can really explore new areas. There’s more of a willingness to say, “Yeah, let’s make that work and how can we do that?” Instead of the opposite.
Dr. David Rock:
Right. I’ve been thinking about this a bit and sort of riffing on this, that companies universally did incredible things in like two or three days that if you’d ask them a week before, they would have said, “That’s three months minimum, a year,” whatever. And kind of how do we hold onto some of that? And we don’t want to hold onto the adjuncterial we all felt that drove it. But I think there are some variables that drove it. Like everyone in the whole company focused on one thing for just like a short period. I think that if you could make something everyone’s priority just like for a week, I think companies could do really big things, think there’s a lessen there, sort of how do you do that?
Shawna Erdmann:
Absolutely. And I just double down on that and say we did when we had to move all of our folks who were supporting to make sure that we were able to have internet and if there were challenges that we were able to move on those, we can take calls from our customers. We were able to shift that and do all of our training, for instance, that we had for frontline, shifted all to a digital format in a matter of a week or two. This was an amazing accomplishment. And before, I think we probably would have said, “Oh, that’s going to be a long project.” [crosstalk 00:24:53]. But when you have to, you’ll find a way and when everyone stacks hands and says, “Yep, we’re on it, we all believe in it, we know why we’re doing it,” it gets done. And it’s amazing how fast something can get done when you are all focused.
Dr. David Rock:
And I think it’s something about the priority level. Like what happens is you can have a project, and for the project team it’s their number one priority. The people around them might be number three, but other folks it might be number 27. And so it just keeps hitting roadblocks. Whereas if everyone, even if it’s like a day, two day, whatever, even an hour sometimes, if everyone make this their number one priority, all the stuff move
Shawna Erdmann:
It’s clarity too, right? Clarity on what you should deliver. And you’re ruthless about that for a period of time. It’s phenomenal.
Dr. David Rock:
Fantastic, that’s a great background. Stay with us Shawna, I’m going to bring Melanie in. We’re going to kind of hear her inspiring stuff. Then we’re going to bring both of you together to talk about, so what for learning now? What are we going to do with learning now? And we’ll have a great conversation.

::INTERSTITAL::

Thanks so much Shawna. Melanie, great to have you with us.
Melanie Davis:
Thanks for having me here.
Dr. David Rock:
And firstly, how’s the whiplash from building cars to like sewing PPP and of course thank you for doing that. But how is that experience up there at Ford?
Melanie Davis:
This is one of the things that Ford has been known for is, they are here to help. And the first question that is always on someone’s lips is, “How can we take what we have and do something for others with it? How do we help our nation through this crisis?” And so it’s been really amazing. I’m newer to Ford too, but it’s been really amazing to see how quickly that was the first reaction and they were like, “How do we turn around and do good here?”
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah, that’s great to hear. It’s an old company, right? How many years has it been around?
Melanie Davis:
Over 100. So yeah, very old company, has seen a few evolutions of the world [inaudible 00:26:59].
Dr. David Rock:
And so similar questions. The first one is, what do you think has been most helpful at Ford? Like the number one thing in terms of helping people through this crisis, what’s really helped? Like if you could say to hundreds of companies, “Hey, Ford has done this one thing really well, what would that be?”
Melanie Davis:
So I have to echo the constant communication that we have from our senior leaders has been really great. They’ve been hosting a weekly huddle with all of our top leadership team to talk about how we are doing as people, as well as how the business is doing, as well as how we’re helping kind of the world. And just being able to connect through those experiences, they include a Q&A with the whole company during that. And the most recent one that happened yesterday, they showed this video about working from home, this music video, Stuck Home Syndrome, which had us all laughing together, which is great. And a lot of times the topics are based on… We do a weekly kind of pulse to the company that says, “Hey, how are you? What’s going on? Are things going better or worse than they were last week? How can we support you?” Our talent analytics team does that. And so they’re very responsive to kind of keeping a pulse on the workforce.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. Amazing. I was thinking about you saying about the impact you’re having. When you know that your work has a pro-social impact, like helps other humans, it becomes deeply rewarding. Knowing that fact really creates a stronger word response. And I think that’s an important thing for leaders to keep reminding their companies, whether you’re making PPP or whatever you’re doing, you’re helping in some way. Because I think folks overall are actually stuck in quite a negative state and it’s really easy to forget the positive impact and just reminding them of that lifts them out of that threat state quite a lot. But that’s great to hear. The communication has been the most helpful. And what’s been most inspiring to you at Ford? What’s the thing that’s really kind of inspired you about the organization, what they’re doing, and what you’re doing in talent?
Melanie Davis:
So obviously, it’s extremely inspiring what our manufacturing team is doing with PPE so that’s in the news. I’ll talk about what I get to see internally. So what I’ve been super inspired about as a learning leader, is seeing everyone shift to growth mindset immediately. So things that were impossible or as you said before, would take three to six months to do, those barriers are no longer there and it’s all possibility thinking. And so, I think that’s been most inspiring.
Dr. David Rock:
Right. Fantastic. Growth mindset. I know we’ve worked with you and a couple of organizations before. I’ve definitely noticed a trend that some of the organizations that really embedded growth mindset are adapting fast and are doing fantastically. And one of those, for example, let’s call Microsoft out. They’re heavily invested in growth mindset the last few years based on our work. And I think just people kind of being ready to experiment and know that experiments are okay, being willing to just constantly improve. Not try to just always prove that they’re okay and then just constantly get better rather than look good. It’s this dynamic of look good versus get better. How important do you think growth mindset is, for the road ahead?
Melanie Davis:
Oh my gosh, it’s critical. Even without what’s going on right now with the pandemic, obviously growth mindset is what’s going to take any company from where they are today to where they need to be as rapidly, of course, as they need to get there. And I think one of the biggest things that this pandemic is allowing growth mindset to kind of come into the ether of the community, is we no longer have the same amount of time to prevent failure. And so, because we can’t prevent failure because we don’t know what’s happening and we’ve never done this before and we have to do it right now, we don’t get distracted by all the fear that goes into that, which allows us to really seek and try things new and truly experiment without fear.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. And I think it’s very much a habit that can be embedded. We’ve been doing a lot of research on growth mindset. We actually just published another study on it. In the last few weeks, we published like a third or fourth industry research piece on growth mindset. As we’re studying it… Because we’re sort of becoming anthropologists as well as neuroscientists, putting stuff into literally hundreds of thousands of people, actually millions now, every year. And we’re kind of studying. And I think with growth mindset, it’s really the number of times a week, you notice a fixed mindset and you say, “Oh, interesting.” And you shift to a growth mindset. Whether it’s adding the word yet, which I know we worked on it like 100,000 people in the past. But I think that the critical factor is kind of just how many times a week do you notice that fixed mindset and go, “Ooh, how do we shift to a growth?”
Dr. David Rock:
But then I think at a systems level, there’s a lot about really encouraging experimentation supporting it, allowing it, and really valuing learning as a critical factor. So fascinating time. We’re doing a ton of work in that space, but I know it’s a really interesting experience. What do you think is next? What are you thinking about the road ahead? How you thinking about the road ahead at Ford, and what are you excited by?
Melanie Davis:
So I think I’ll speak specifically in my capacity as the Chief Learning Officer. I think what’s really next, and sorry, I don’t know if you can hear my [inaudible 00:32:25] apparently. What’s really next step forward for our learning team is to really accelerate our shift into digital. So I’m sure many, many learning teams across the nation are starting to go, “Okay, we’ve always known that there should be some sort of online asynchronous learning.” We even have some of it. But if we were to really look at our active portfolios, what are we managing for [inaudible 00:32:50].

Melanie Davis:
So our active portfolios. We’re not really engaged in, how do we truly do digital learning? How do we do asynchronous and synchronous digital learning? And I think this is a huge opportunity to really quickly reskill the way we think about, design development and deployment of learning, and even the concept of what it is. So I’m super excited about that.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. What do you think about this comment. I’ve got a strong position on this that I think technical skills can be asynchronous, largely not have to [inaudible 00:33:39]. I think you have to modestly have technical skills asynchronous, basically because with a technical skill, you know you need it and you think you’ll be better when you have it. Whereas with human skills you tend to not think you need them and you’re sort of scared about what you find and the more you need them, the more you think you don’t need them also. And so the self service of human skills aspects might be hard. So my hypothesis, strong hypothesis doesn’t have to be a full rule, but as a principle, asynchronous… or just purely digital, not real time for technical skills. Synchronist in some way, or social learning in some way for the human skills. What’s your perspective on that?
Melanie Davis:
Yeah. So I think this is a really good point because in the technical learning where you’re sort of doing it to do your job, if you will, you have natural built in practical application where you get feedback from doing your job about how well you’re learning so it causes reflection. With the more human centered skills, your feedback, you might not be able to read it depending on how much you’re paying attention and that sort of thing. So I think you can get the information on human skills asynchronously, reading great articles maybe from NLI or other sources, I do think that there’s this opportunity for live reflection. This is where the social learning comes in and sort of design it differently. I don’t necessarily have to design an entire learning program to have the reflective conversation with people or give them the opportunity to have a reflective conversation. People could have been reading topics for a month and then we can meet together for an hour and say, “Okay, what do we think about this?
Dr. David Rock:
Right. It can be a blend as well. I definitely believe there has to be some component of synchronous I think. And it’s because that’s where you get the attention, the insight, the [crosstalk 00:35:34] pressure generation, all that stuff. I think this is a great segue to bring Shawna back in and let’s talk about the next chapter.

::INTERSTITSAL::

Dr. David Rock:
Shawna, do you want to come back on? Fantastic, there you are. And I’m going to just share a screen just a little moment. I think I’m-
Shawna Erdmann:
While you’re doing that, I just want to comment. I agree so much and I think that there is something so special there that we need to think about building and let’s go forward in a new way to sort of prime and ask for the feedback that we need to get in order to keep growing and developing and being really focused on what it is that we want to get from that interaction and what we want to develop. And I think that’s going to be an interesting opportunity, in the very near term because of how we’re interacting differently. And through this digital mechanism. So how I show up now might even be exacerbated in a way that it were to show up differently. I think that might be something to dig into as we figure out how to ask for feedback in a different way. Prime for folks to look for it and then give it back.
Dr. David Rock:
Well it’s a crazy thing. Now you could actually… Like I was imagining this terrifying solution we could roll out and scare the heck out of people is that we could Zoom bomb like your whole company’s meetings and give you feedback on your managers and like… We’d have to get an agreement, but we can basically be there, watch how managers run meetings and give them like really detailed feedback of all the accidental threats they create unnecessarily. What they could have said differently.
Melanie Davis:
That’s not creating threats.
Dr. David Rock:
frame up, and we probably could teach AI to do that, which is even scarier. But if everything’s on these platforms, it opens up some crazy opportunities. Anyway, let’s not terrify everyone. I guess the first question… Oh, firstly, it’s great to have you both. I know I worked with both of you at different organizations before and I know both of you have kind of worked with NLI’s work for a long time in different ways. What’s inspiring you about rethinking learning right now? The kind of opportunity of it. What’s exciting about kind of this opportunity with going virtual?
Shawna Erdmann:
I think you’ve hit on a couple of things, being able to be innovative and I think the shift to being radically digital. Any learning strategy and the way you think about learning, I believe needs to be mapped to the strategy of the company and make sure that you’re helping your company achieve its goals and its objectives. And then how do we do it differently? So as we transform digitally at Comcast and very quickly, now how do we shift our thinking around learning and how we develop and grow, frontline, et cetera in a digital way that’s just as powerful as meeting in-person.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. Fantastic and actually better. So I’m going to say something controversial, but I have data, I have insight and data, and tons of experience that actually doing learning virtually, the right way is dramatically better than doing in-person. And if you get the framing right, that kind of first principles right, and some tactical things right, you can massively reduce the cost and accelerate the impact in a virtual world. And while everyone might not always be virtual like this, everyone’s going to be able to be on platforms forever. So you can always say, “Hey, we’re doing this virtual experience now and you all get to spend an hour, a week or a month, whatever, on Zoom with your peers.” They’re all used to that now.
Shawna Erdmann:
Yeah. We’ve probably had like the greatest advancement in human skills around digital than we’ve ever had, in the last eight weeks or so.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. Right. Interesting. And what about for you, Melanie? What’s inspiring for you about this potential shift around learning?
Melanie Davis:
Oh, I’m just really excited to sort of have to let go of our old favorites. So intellectually, we know, okay, we can’t just have in-person learning intellectually, we know there’s lots of opportunity for digital. We read all of that, we know all of it, but we all have our old favorites. And it’s both learning professionals and learners themselves that are like, “No, I learned best in-person.” We’re totally biased. I also enjoy designing in-person best because you get a happy hour in that case, that’s usually paid for by the company. So like with all of that being true, what I am really inspired about and looking forward to over the next six months is really being forced to become extremely creative and innovative without having our old habits and biases being able to get in the way to tell us a new story. That’s why I’m super excited about that.
Dr. David Rock:
That’s great. What do you think some of the first principles need to be, some of your design principles? Tell me your kind of working hypothesis on… If you’re going to reinvent it or what are some of your design principles? And I’m throwing questions we never even talked about [crosstalk 00:40:38]-
Melanie Davis:
I know right. I think one of the key ones for me, and this is super important, I think this is why virtual is more effective actually, and that’s why the research shows that, is that when you’re designing for this format, you’re really talking about cognitive capacity. So you’re only designing just enough to get you through to the next day, which allows you to get to that spacing and as you have that attention, you’re not doing a two to four day long experience. And I think that’s one of the design principles that will really make this more effective and sticky longterm is making sure you just have enough. It’s just enough, it’s not [crosstalk 00:41:15]-
Dr. David Rock:
What’s happening is you’re attenuating the signal. So you can focus on the chairs, the layout, the food, the lighting, the… It’s like what you’re focused on is actually the thing that creates learning, which is attention. You focus on, do I have people’s attention and now that I have their attention, are we changing something? Which is insight. So are we creating strong insight? Now those things are super measurable. You can actually measure how much attention you have and how strong the insights are. And then are people now being willing to set actions and are they taking those actions? Again, you can measure that. So you can actually test things because you’re kind of… Like a science experiment, they’re moving variables. Just getting back to, did we move people in that 30 minutes, 60 minutes, whatever? It’s interesting.
Melanie Davis:
And not only can you test them quickly, but you can iterate quickly. So in this format, it’s very easy to really blow it and then on your very next one do it better. We print everything and you don’t have to… [inaudible 00:42:15] or order new furniture or whatever it might be.
Shawna Erdmann:
And getting really focused on what you’re teaching and what you need folks to do from building habits and showing up with their behavior. I think so many times when you have these long periods of time where you have class when you just… Everyone throws their thing that they want to have hit on it. And now it’s like cut out the stuff that’s unnecessary. Let’s get really focused and deliberate on what we want you to do. Again, that attenuation of focus I think is key. And then if it’s just in those short spurts using ages model, that’s brilliant.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. And so ages for newbies is a framework that’s… It’s a really powerful architecture for understanding basically how you design learning. It’s the four conditions that have to be all very high for learning to stick.
Shawna Erdmann:
I picked up on the terms.
Dr. David Rock:
Even better that you write it down as I explain it, you’ll learn more if you actually write it down because you’ll pay more attention if you’re writing and you’ll generate your own connections, which is the G and your emotional will be higher if you’re actually trying to get it, because you’ll be anxious about not getting it versus just reading it. And then the spacing effects will be there because you’ll know where this paper is and you can see it again. So what actually has to happen with learning is that all of these four have to be really high, like really high, for learning to stick, very high attention. And to be honest, in the classroom you only have high attention for a short amount of time because it gets tiring learning because you don’t have six hours of attention, you have like one or two in a classroom.
Dr. David Rock:
Generation, means literally you making connections. Emotions have to actually be high, which by the way is easy to do, with negative emotions than positive. Now you want to switch to positive, but it’s actually… People will learn a lot more if the facilitator of 20 people says, “Every one of you is going to be called on three times in the next hour randomly.” And everyone goes, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that.” Hate you for a while, and then at the end of it goes, “Wow, I really paid attention more than I ever had.” Now attention’s up. But emotions are negative but strong that’s actually important for learning. Now you want to give people some positive experiences maybe at the end to kind of do it, but people make the mistake that learning should be fun and actually it should generate strong emotions.
Dr. David Rock:
And then the spacing, this is the biggest mistake people make. We didn’t realize how big the spacing effects was till we started to experiment it seven years ago. The research says it can have a pretty big effect, 25% effect, 50% effect. From what we’re seeing, it is much, much more, but we don’t have data, we can’t state anything. But the spacing effect, particularly if you use it a certain way, can be enormous. So one aspect of space thing is just kind of, when you come back to something and reanimate the network, you’re growing memories through additional attention because memories are grown, not stored. So that’s part of it. But if you can get people to learn something and then have them have to go and teach it to their team, and then come back in a week or a month and tell them they’re going to have to present it out, what happens?
Dr. David Rock:
Now you’ve got spacing and social learning and positive pressure. And by the way, that thing they have to teach to people, it’s going to keep coming up almost every day for the whole month. So there’s ways of leveraging spacing where you’re also leveraging attention and emotion and all this other stuff. That’s [inaudible 00:45:55]. So that’s ages. How are you experimenting with social learning? So we’ve been talking a lot about social learning, and we were defining it as, you’re not just learning something on your own and you’re actually learning with others, preferably synchronously, but not necessarily. But how have you been experimenting with social media or want to experiment with social learning? Maybe Shawna first?
Shawna Erdmann:
Sure. We’re thinking about… Well, we’ve done a shift, all of our focus really has been getting our learning out of the classroom and into a virtual space. And so social learning, I’d say it’s always been a part of what we’ve done, it’s just a bit of a shift in the modality or the technology and then getting focused about how we learn afterwards, which is really what you were just talking about. So how do we continue the learning over time, bringing back what my insights have been from attending something or experiencing something and then sharing that. So we have a platform that we just developed called You Learn, which was really originally intended to have folks learn, our teammates learn about our products. But we’ve expanded that just a little bit to be able to have users who have generated their own insights to be able to post their reflections online and then we can share those and interact in a different ways than we have before.
Dr. David Rock:
Thanks Shawna. What about for you Melanie? How have you been experimenting with social learning or you want to, how are you thinking about that?
Melanie Davis:
So we have a couple of things that are coming up. So one of course, is we are doing something that Ford has not ever done before, which is we’re going to do a hive with NLI for our top 300 leaders. So later this month or in June, we’re going to be doing the cohorts of about 30 people doing these one hour calls to really start talking about leadership, kind of in this new format as we start our return to the workplace initiatives and begin production of vehicles again and not just PPE. So very excited about that part of social learning, this is something that our leadership hasn’t ever done before. The other thing that I’m super excited to try is this… So that’s more formal than the next one is more informal.
Melanie Davis:
And this is where I think growing our portfolio strategy has to happen as part of the digital transformation is to say, “Hey, we’re using a platform called Degree, taking a look at the analytics and seeing what content people are drawn to and then inviting them to a one hour, 90 minute kind of almost brown bag type session just to say, “Hey, what did you learn and how have you applied it?” And those are the two things and getting to a point where we can have our leaders come in as “teachers” or facilitators of that conversation to build networking connections and… It’s like no design. That that takes some logistics and that’s it. So pretty exciting.
Dr. David Rock:
Yeah. Fantastic. Few people are asking about the data showing learning can be better if it’s virtual. And no, we haven’t published a formal paper on that yet. I’ll tell you the data we have and then I’ll give you the thought experiment that makes it really obvious. But the data we have is we took hundreds of people in one company, in one training, one set of content and we delivered it completely virtually through what we call the distributed learning solution. And we delivered it in workshop format, same content, basically same ideas. And if anything, if you looked at the amount of time and exercises and practice and all this stuff, you’d say, “Well actually the workshop and way more time,” like two or three times the amount of focus time and everything, than the distributed virtual and so you’d bet that the workshop would be better.
Dr. David Rock:
And now, we don’t believe in happy sheets and NPS and all that for learning. We ask one question which is, “What percentage of people are applying the central habit a month or so later?” We look at, if you’re trying to get people to mitigate bias, what percentage of your target audience of 50 or 5,000 are actually mitigating bias at least once a week? What percentage is that? It’s growth mindset. What percentage of people are catching a mindset shifting? So we just look at that, which is measuring habits. And so the percentage was radically better. I don’t have the number on top of my head, but the percentage was very statistically significantly better for the scalable distributed which when it was virtual than it was for the workshops. And you sort of look at it and you dig in, you’re like, “How would that work?”
Dr. David Rock:
Because it’s literally, like an hour and a half of content versus like a whole day. How’s that possible? And I’ll now give you the thought experiment. And I’m sure people are nudging me and encouraging me to like, “Now we should study this more.” But if you take, let’s say growth mindset, you put people into a workshop, most will gets two days, that’s rare. Probably get a day. In that day, what you do, you’ve got lots of opportunity to generate things, but the problem is you’re learning all of it in one day. And in terms of applying habits, we can’t build tons of habits all at once so we actually need to build one habit at a time.
Dr. David Rock:
And so you give people kind of all the habits all in one day, all these ideas and they go away just kind of overwhelmed with very little support structure. But if instead you say, let’s break that up into three ideas, and let’s call it a Zoom or 15 minutes Zoom. Let’s give people a 15 minute Zoom on one of those ideas and then they’ve got to now spend a whole week applying that, and teaching their people, and talking to people about it and assessing themselves or so. So they’ve got a whole week on one habit, and they know that they’re going to be called on in front of their peers to report out on what they did so they really do it. Not everyone, but like 90%. And then the next week you can come back and you teach one, you have [inaudible 00:52:01].
Dr. David Rock:
So what you end up with is like a month of really focusing a lot on one habit at a time. Now, compared to an intense day and like a few days afterwards where they’re focusing intensely, and then it [inaudible 00:52:16] out. So over the month, they have not just the focus that people kind of forcing them to focus. So that’s the thought experiment, that when you kind of break things into chunks, spread it out and get people to apply and kind of come back together, it’s modeling the best aspects of coaching. It’s modeling the kind of great parts of coaching. Shawna, do you want to speak to that or just any sort of insights or questions on that approach overall?
Melanie Davis:
I think what we’re saying here is that virtual is incredibly effective for all of these reasons. And as a learning professional, what I have observed is that we’ve really built up this muscle of in-person learning. We know how to do it, we’re very familiar with it, and honestly, we get to a point where we have a bias with it. We like it, it feels good, all of those things. What I was saying about what we get to do for the next six months, is really built up the muscle of what David’s talking about here, which is, what do we optimize for when we he do it virtually?
Melanie Davis:
We’re optimizing for spacing, we’re optimizing for practice, we’re optimizing for cognitive capacity, we’re optimizing for just in time. We’re optimizing for the fact people don’t have to drive anywhere to do it. We’re optimizing for all of those things. And my hope is that as we start to conceive of our longterm strategy for our portfolios, that we really think about all of these muscles, because they optimize for different things. And so when we learn in person, we’re optimizing for network, we’re optimizing for relatedness, we’re optimizing for some five senses experiences. But our tool of virtual learning should be no less sharp as our tool of in-person learning and we can probably use it more.
Dr. David Rock:
Right. That’s a good point. And I think companies will still want to go back to in person learning. Here’s the funny thing, we’ve actually had some situations where companies have seen the data and seeing that the virtual learning is way better and they’ve said, “You know what, but we like the other one.” And literally people like the in-person learning more, they rate it higher but they learn more in the other one. So that’s the [crosstalk 00:54:28]-
Melanie Davis:
What are you optimizing for?
Shawna Erdmann:
Exactly. And you can get more focused. What I love about the virtual is that you can be really intentional about what habit that you want to build. And I think there are ways to build in that relatedness piece and I think we’re going to be learning about that even more as we go forward. And you’ll have the research, together with the practical that you’re going to try out and test and learn and then just continue to develop it. And I think the technology that we have is going to allow for it in different ways too, where you have breakout groups and cohorts where you’re just meeting in a different way, but you still can make those connections. The thing that we always, I think get back from the in-person, the number one is, “I built my network. I met people. I got to have coffee with somebody that I never met with before.” And so how do we capture that goodness and making those connections in virtual? And that’ll probably end up being the secret sauce.
Dr. David Rock:
And I think you can, I would just say I think you can. It’s like small group, like breakout groups but then also pair people up with a different person each time, each interaction. Like you got do 15 minutes Skype call with these three people this week one-on-one, and practice this thing and then… You actually can do it. I think there are ways to solve for it. We do need to wrap up. Just thank you so much for joining us. Lots of inspiring thoughts on learning and leadership and I think, in this time, we need to support people, all sorts of crazy ways and I think the learning function is more popular than it’s ever been, because people want to learn right now. People want to learn, let’s use that moment and give them incredibly effective tools for learning that are completely reimagined from the science.
Dr. David Rock:
I think that’s the opportunity here for all of us. Let’s reimagine learning completely for a world where people are hungry for it but also are overwhelmed. And let’s reimagine it in a way that really follows how the brain works. So look forward to connecting with you guys down the track. Thanks again for being here. I’m just going to wrap up,
Dr. David Rock:
But we have ones on DNI, we have ones on leadership, we have ones on for performance. I’m doing an overview on actually every week as well. So if you haven’t come to one of those, check it out. We get really richly into the things that you’re thinking about and supporting each other through that. We are now offering free briefings on building the better normal. It needs to be C-suites, could be chief learning officer at least, chief learning officer, chief jobs, CCHRO, CFO, but we’re offering free C-suite briefings on building a better normal. We’ve got a point of view on that middle chunk, on what do we need to do.
Dr. David Rock:
The third one is a free learning strategy audit. So this one is where we look at what your current learning strategy is and we give you advice on how you can radically save money and make it more effective. We’re not selling any specific solution. We’re literally giving you some free consulting, free feedback.
Dr. David Rock:
So we’re experimenting massively, quickly. We’re adapting, evolving, trying things. So, this is something we’re trying for a few weeks, we’ll see how it goes. So you can pick any of those. Also I mentioned the focus program. If you’re from an organization, we’ll give you a free place in one of our open enrollment focus programs coming up as well. Couple of things that we’re doing to help organizations, we’re still reinventing culture, learning performance. We’re doing a lot on growth mindset, inclusion. We’re also doing a lot of custom habit activation strategy, so a lot of building plans for developing leaders. And lots of individuals still coming to us, our brain-based coaching is full. We’ve had some incredible interest in that. There’s a six month certificate program as well. And that’s it. Just thank you very much for being here. And finally, just a big thank you to Shawna and Melanie. Really appreciate your insights to energy positivity. And thanks everyone for being here.

Keep Listening


In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a personalized browsing experience. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies as explained in our Privacy Policy. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information.