Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies at BWBR

“We don’t have 20 years to develop a 20-year architect.”

BWBR, a Minneapolis-based design firm, faced a converging set of business challenges over the last few years, including:

  • the retirement of their long-serving technical director
  • an influx of new talent direct from the college classroom
  • an increase in the complexity of their projects
  • accelerated project schedules driven by client demand, industry competition, and technological disruption

Sound familiar?

Enter the Landmark Learning Series—a wildly successful, grassroots technical learning program—created by BWBR to help bring architects and designers with less than five years of experience up to speed on the fundamentals of designing and documenting buildings.

Dan Hottinger and Stefnee Trzpuc share their behind-the-scenes story of creating the Landmark Learning Series in their KA Connect 2017 talk, Teach Them How to Fish: Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies.

If capturing and sharing technical knowledge is a top priority for your AEC firm, you won’t want to miss this talk.

Teach Them How to Fish: Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies

Dan Hottinger and Stefnee Trzpuc of BWBR at KA Connect 2017.

01:18 “How do you plan for the retirement of senior knowledge leaders in the firm?”
01:35 Challenge #1: Long-time Technical Director Retired
02:10 Challenge #2: Two-Thirds of Newest Hires Are Recent University Graduates
02:23 Challenge #3: A Perceived Decline in Drawing Quality from QA Team
03:00 “It’s the same ten problems on every project!”
04:00 “First-year students out the university are not coming in with basic technical skills.”
04:15 “We just need to teach them how to fish.”
04:43 Challenge #4: Can Younger Staff Be Brought up to Project Speed Faster?
05:19 Challenge #5: Can We Develop Metrics to Measure Their Progress?
05:50 “Why Is BWBR facing these challenges?”
08:21 “How do we pay down our ‘technical debt’?”
09:13 Goal #1: We Wanted an Adaptable Continuing Education Program
09:30 Goal #2: We Wanted to Have Focused Learning with a Targeted Group
09:42 Goal #3: We Wanted to Reinforce the Importance of the Fundamentals
10:18 “Just ready, fire, aim this!”
12:59 Overview of Introductory Year Technical Learning Topics
13:48 Basic Requirements for Learning Sessions: Set Learning Goals, Identify Office Resources, and Use Project Examples
14:46 Example Slides from a Technical Learning Session
19:20 Tips on Selecting the Right Space for Technical Learning Sessions
20:10 How can a Knowledge Manager support Technical Learning?
22:50 KM Strategy #1: Capturing Technical Learning Sessions for Reuse
24:38 KM Strategy #2: Share Technical Learning Sessions and Supporting Materials via the Intranet
26:30 KM Strategy #3: Integrate Technical Learning Sessions into our Broader Learning + Development Program
28:14 KM Strategy #4: Use Learning + Development Approaches to Identify and Solve Key Business Problems
30:00 KM Strategy #5: Measure Business Outcomes of Learning + Development Efforts
32:17 Tips for Planning a Technical Learning Curriculum
34:11 Lessons Learned Along the Way
38:24 “We want to build a learning obsessed culture.”

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Q+A with BWBR: Enhancing Technical Learning with KM Strategies

Christopher Parsons of Knowledge Architecture interviews Stefnee Trzpuc and Dan Hottinger of BWBR at KA Connect 2017.

00:29 “What growing pains did you experience building the technical learning program?”
01:40 “Why do you think senior architects wanted to attend learning sessions on fundamentals?”
02:20 “How did you decide to draw the eligibility limit at less than five years of experience?”
04:35 “How do you fold new hires into the program?”
05:39 “Do you assume that the same person would teach the same class the second time?”
06:46 “Are you going to adjust the content of the sessions based on technical performance over time?”
08:01 “How do you identify new topics for learning sessions?”
08:57 “How do you make training effective for people who can’t attend sessions in person?”
10:22 “How much time does it take to set up and produce the learning sessions and manage the learning program?”
12:43 “What kind of qualitative feedback have you received from learning session attendees?” 
14:25 “Do you use your learning program to attract new employees to the firm?”
14:51 “How do find the time to teach everything that needs to be taught?”
17:26 “Do you record other training sessions in the office beyond the technical learning sessions?”
18:08 “Have you ever had a topic which was so hot and juicy that you had to do a Part 2?”
19:35 “Do you have training which teaches people to be successful at BWBR, in addition to teaching general technical knowledge?”
21:16 “Have you connected your technical learning program to your marketing or social media programs?”
22:21 “Do you encourage attendees to discuss learning sessions afterwards on your social intranet?”
23:35 “What have you learned about architecture through teaching?”

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Posted: August 29th, 2017 | Filed under: Insights | Tags: | No Comments »

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