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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

Reflecting on 2023

Reflection is a critical component of deep learning. And for us, our annual reflection exercise is an opportunity to explore who we've been and who we are becoming as an organization.


Where We Started

At the top of 2023, we proudly declared "We are a social learning agency." We left behind the old ways of working and sought to inspire people to connect through learning and collaboration.


What We Accomplished


We worked with 8 clients on 11 projects including:


  • needs analysis

  • training audit

  • certification program design and development

  • interactive instructor-led workshop design and development

  • cohort blueprint and development

  • social learning network setup

We created 1,245 minutes of training content, including 488 presentation slides, 35 modules of microlearning, and 815 pages of workbook and job aid content. I couldn't keep track of minutes of video content or pages of scripts, but there was a lot of that too.


We used tools like Workplace, Articulate 360, 7taps (affilate partner), Synthesia, Pictory, Camtasia, Canva, and Adobe Creative Cloud to bring big ideas to life.


We wrote 14 blog posts that were viewed over 2,200 times.


We published 9 episodes of our podclass The Social Learning Lab, totaling 329 minutes of awesome conversation that has received over 450 downloads in just 2.5 months. And we started recording season 2.


We grew our Facebook community for freelance IDs, LXDs, and eLearning developmers from 4,000 to 5,400 members.


We presented at 2 international ATD events (ATD ICE 23 and ATD Virtual Core 4 2023), 1 regional event (ATD NYC Subway to Success Conference), and 2 online events (Anchored in Learning Summit and TLDC Community Day).



We grew our YouTube channel to 275 subscribers. Our most viewed video was a short with over 1.3k views, followed by this short with 878 views. We had 3.1k views in total and about 42 hours of total watch time.


What Worked and What Didn't


What Worked

Why

Documented processes. Packaging our services into 3 main domains (consulting, frameworks, and development) allowed us to map out our processes and templatize our approaches to our most popular offerings.

We advise our clients to do this, so it's not surprising to us that documenting processes in detail (hello, 30 page Cohort Blueprint Template) made it easier for us to train up our team and maintain consistency in our deliverables. What I didn't account for is how much of an opportunity documentation would be for process improvement. Having everything mapped out enabled us to explore ways to be more effective and more efficient.

Collaborative brainstorming and strategizing. Every major decisions and every project kickoff meeting was followed by a collective brainstorming sessions

Collaboration leads to innovation. Period. Having multiple perspectives allowed us to avoid pitfulls and be more creative. Collective problem solving and play also allowed us to bond as a team.

Your ID Days. Once a month, the whole team blocks out the calendar to work on internal projects. Client project work is not allowed.

These internal days allowed us to build the business. We used it to do things like determine our strategies for the next quarter, create marketing content, work on our podcast, improve our processes, assess professional development needs for the team, identify gaps, and consider what we will need to stay competitive.

Staffing with employees. We added two new on-the-payroll team members this year.

We love our freelance network and couldn't do what we do without calling in external help from time to time, but there really is something magical about having a "squad" that works to support the same vision and purpose.

The Social Learning Lab podclass. Our podcast and community about social learning at work are amazing resources.

Aside from being an amazing learning opportunity for our listeners, preparing and producing episodes of 🧪The Social Learning Lab has been an incredible learning opportunity for our team. We've had to read up about social learning and social learning adjacent concepts, learn to prep interview guides, and improve our interviewing skills. It's not just made our Season 2 better but our ability to work with clients and produce innovative learning design as well.

What Didn't Work

Why Not

Removing Needs Analysis from our packaged service offerings.

Needs analysis is something we do incredibly well. It's an intensive process, and in comparison to other consulting firms, the rigor has often blown others out of the water-- even large organizations. We tried to move away from it to focus on our social learning design services and minimize the large time burden needs analysis puts on our learning strategists, but we continued to find it was the best way to move clients so forward with confidence. Organizations need to understand their gaps and opportunities before investing in learning programs and technologies. So lesson learned, NEEDS ANALYSIS IS BACK IN 2024! (Schedule yours today!)

Forgetting that innovation comes with an adoption curve.

We believe strongly that social learning needs to be embedded in all organizations to create strong cultures of continuous improvement. But most people haven't seen social learning done effectively at scale or considered how to make learning a way of working. It's been challenging to sell something unfamiliar that requires explanation. So next year, we're going to offer more education and opportunities to "see" what we do behind the scenes.



Where We're Headed

We still deeply believe in scalable social learning, but we've realized that we're speaking a different language than most leaders. Social learning is not new, but the way we deliver it is different and sophisticated and multilayered.


So we're going back to our roots: yes, friends, needs analysis as a service is coming back.


Additionally, we hope to implement new certification programming.


On top of that, you'll continue to see us push forward with the exciting initiatives we began in 2023, such as:


👩🏼‍🏫 Speaking engagements and train-the-team opportunities

🖥️ Enabling Employee Development for Team Leaders Workshop Series (free for non-L&D professionals)



 

Are you confident your organization knows the best way to meet the skill demands of the future?


Our needs analysis can give you a cohesive view of the now and a prioritized set of recommendations for the future.


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