At an All-Employee Meeting in November 2011, our CEO Herbert Hainer announced that the adidas Group will invest further in our employees by building a Corporate University for all our employees to learn and develop. A team was formed in HR in the Centre of Excellence Learning to develop ideas on how learning should look for present and future generations. And instead of just re-packaging our training and learning offers and re-branding it ‘Corporate University’, the team realised that this was a unique opportunity to re-position and re-wire learning in the 21st century, to acknowledge training, learning and development as a competitive advantage.
Our vision of a capabilities incubator
Our Learning Campus is inspired by the Cluetrain Manifesto, open knowledge initiatives such as TED conferences and open education movements such as Coursera, edX and others. We want it to serve as a capabilities incubator to create innovative and engaging learning environments and solutions for present and future generations. It will enable our employees to achieve their personal best and set us apart from our competitors. To this end, we believe we need to further and more drastically transform the company into a learning organisation by creating a culture of life-long, self-driven learning in a collaborative environment: an environment in which all employees equally teach and learn, and acquire knowledge and skills in a variety of ways to best suit present and future generations – reflected in our motto: ‘YOU LEARN, WE GROW’. The first thing we did after some initial brainstorming was to go public: we started a collaborative experiment by kicking off a ‘Blog Carnival’, an open article on the adidas Group Blog on the Internet, where we asked all of you to help us define the new way of working and learning. And we got tremendous feedback: in over 70 comments you told us what you envisioned future learning to be. Most of the feedback urged us to open up learning, make the access to learning available to anyone, everywhere and anytime, that learning is becoming more networked and should become an integral part of work, to have a combination of both formal and informal work hand in hand, to leverage open-source learning content found on the Internet, on Coursera, TED, YouTube, Twitter, etc. And, last but not least: don’t forget to go mobile! So we crowd-sourced some initial ideas on the Internet and benchmarked with a lot of other companies. We used these results as inspiration to re-think and re-position our corporate learning approach. Our business strategy of The New Way of Working already includes the principles of being open & honest, fact-based and non-political as well as collaborative and efficient. Based on these principles, and in a quest to develop answers to the learning needs of today’s generation in a networked society, we derived the New Way of Learning.
The New Way of Learning
Please watch this short video on The New Way of Learning:
To lead and grow, the adidas Group needs to create a culture of collaboration and innovation. To encourage collaboration and innovation, we need to create a new system for learning and development, challenging the way our leaders and our employees share, teach and learn. Companies that continue to learn continue to thrive and learning doesn’t only take place in a classroom, nor is it delivered by traditional roles of teacher and student. Research shows that more than 80% of learning happens informally, yet as a company we spend the largest part of our learning budget on formal top-down training. We have set out to change this approach to something that makes learning fun, engaging and sustainable. What we really want to bring to life is the integrated life cycle of innovation, learning and knowledge retention & transfer. The New Way of Learning (NWoL) brings learning back into the workplace, where it is delivered by colleagues, friends, peers, in teams, online and, above all, in real life. Many of our employees represent some of the youngest working demographics in the world. They are already wired to live and work in a highly connected, digital world. In order to nourish their creativity and hunger to learn, we need to offer them new and more dynamic ways of learning.
The New Way of Learning consists of the following five principles:
- Working is learning and learning is working.
- Provide an open and collaborative, connected ‘social’ learning environment.
- Leadership means constant sharing, teaching and learning.
- Innovation is part of everybody’s daily work.
- Create a new culture of self-driven, life-long learning, in which every employee owns his/her career and his/her personal development.
With our Learning Campus, we will provide open, innovative and collaborative learning solutions to grow our people and the business. This very concretely means for more than 50,000 employees worldwide:
- You decide when and where you learn.
- You choose how and what you learn.
- You teach and you learn.
- You network and collaborate.
To illustrate this approach, the adidas Group Learning Campus has chosen the Dazzle Camouflage design as its visual identity, symbolising the New Way of Learning. We have been inspired by the challenging nature of it: We want to challenge and flip the perception of what learning is (or was). Read more on Dazzle Camouflage here. We will launch the adidas Group Learning Campus globally this summer – and we’ll keep you updated with more information as we go on. Thanks again for all your constructive feedback, your comments and suggestions – please accompany us on this journey by commenting and sharing this.