Provide people with room to dream, and a challenge — the results will inspire.
Work with what you have, and host a workshop today! We have hosted unconferences in the Cartography Lab, for the purpose of developing new skills, in a low barrier to entry way to bring people together. What it takes to offer useful workshops for your employees: time, space, and lunch is always good. Ask your team to provide the topics, then let them share common knowledge, let them self organize. This experience increases the connections between employees, and increases their personal awareness of their strengths.
Here are some examples that we've run:
Tool development and training
We are committed to developing tools for all levels of experience. This is, of course, true within the Cartography Lab, but also beyond our industry. Within the lab, it is important for new staffers to understand that we all started where they did. When someone starts to disparage his/her personal abilities, it is common for someone across the room to shout out, "No fear!" This has become a shared language of support for one another as we all grow and learn together. As we go along, we recognize deficiencies within our organization and address them by creating tools or seeking training. Additionally, we keep an eye out for opportunities to do this more broadly.
Here are some examples of things we've worked on:
- Into the Map: I served on the advisory board to this project, which is a phenomenal way to meet experts, and connect expertise.
- LifeMapping: this project has required technical training, as well as education in how to launch a startup
When I began at the University of Wisconsin, I wanted to teach students everything I could, so that when they arrived to their first day of work after completing their degree, they could be shown the where to eat lunch and how to connect to the server. This is of course, a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is, I wanted them to be leaving my lab with the professionalism and technical expertise that someone who had been working in the field for 12-18 months has. This is done through the training and workshops mentioned above, but it is also achieved by intentionally creating space for the softer skills.
A few things we do to encourage professional development:
- Professional conferences, for everyone!
- Connect to alumni and industry experts
- Coaching conversations, where students evaluate personal goals, and values