It’s a hot June morning as a black taxi pulls up on a tree-lined road in front of what was once an officer’s mess. The rambling corridors have now become the perfect rabbit warren for Bunnyfoot and other innovative businesses in what is now “Harwell Innovation Centre”.
As 4 people climb out and I hear the chatter and laughter of different accents, excited about the day ahead, I remember why I was drawn to this company in the first place. I see the laptops, the overnight bags and large art cases hiding a multitude of intriguing props they’ve brought to take part in Bunnyfoot’s Annual Training Day.
In 1999, all Bunnyfoot’s staff would fit into one taxi. Not that they needed to. They talked and worked together, sharing and developing each other’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in an organic way. Today, with 5 offices spread across the UK and over 40 staff from across the globe with different experiences and specialisms, the ways we share and develop our skills within Bunnyfoot have changed.
I think it’s obvious WHY we do it, we want to make sure our good practices continue, improve and are communicated. HOW we do it is the interesting bit…we want to maintain our quirky sense of individuality, we certainly don’t want to be bogged down with forms and procedures and we need this to work for everyone from marketing, office managers, visual designers, user researchers, consultants and more.
Does it sound like what you’re trying to achieve? Why not try some of the following activities that work for us.
One Minute Madness
Everyone in the room has one minute to tell a story of an insight, a hero, an inspiration, a nightmare, an experience. Your story can be anything you think will engage and inspire. You can tell it how you want – sing songs, write poetry, build paper castles…anything goes! One rule: you have a minute.
Mentoring and being mentored
This is very important to us at Bunnyfoot. You can read books, you can read blogs but nothing beats being able to sit down with someone and share experience. It’s not all about finding a mentor, it’s about staying in touch with new experience and giving something back. You learn both ways.
You don’t need to know about Donald Schön and the theory of reflective practice to get the benefits from doing it. You do need a learning journal. We’ve found that encouraging reflective practice by providing a space, and place to write those reflections is a great start to encourage the benefits. Many of our staff have found that having a small paper clip-folder is great. You can write things in, stick things in, add pages, remove pages, share and organise your thoughts as you go. In the garden, on the train, up a tree…wherever you like. Some people enjoy using electronic means to record, search and reformulate their reflections. Reflection is the key
Partnering people temporarily with different experience levels to observe, reflect and practice a skill or an attitude is something that we all do, often the person being shadowed learns from their protégé. Having explicit time for shadowing and learning on the job is motivating and builds strong healthy relationships between staff of all levels and specialist areas.
Get together informally to share new learnings or discuss an idea you’re developing. We call these Bunny Brainfoods because we schedule lunchtime meetings where we all pile into a meeting room and eat lunch whilst sharing things like design patterns.