Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ThoughtWorks: Day 1--Induction with a difference...

The ThoughtWorks University sessions started yesterday. An induction with a difference (many differences), it was a refreshing experience for a "veteran" like me. I have had first hand experience of induction programs in quite a few organizations--each org has been very different but displayed surprising uniformity in the way they conducted the induction sessions, the org values and norms, and so on...You get the point!
What happens in typical induction programs? A typical Values session experience goes like this...
  1. You walk into a semi-dark, fairly large conference room and sit on one of the plush chairs. (Experienced folks prefer to sit at the back and prepare for nap time.)
  2. The area around the podium is lit. A power point is projected on a large screen (the size can vary from org to org, the format usually doesn't). 
  3. The power point has slides with the dreaded bullet points (the color scheme varies between blue and grey; the org logo features on each corner; it's corporate, remember!)
  4. The slides transition from one set of bullet points to the next...
  5. Someone from the corporate function walks you through the Values of the orgs (basically reads out what is on the slide; and if you are quick reader like me, you are tapping your toes by the end of the second slide and wishing you could transition to the next). 
  6. The session ends...thankfully. You are informed that you are now "aware of the values of the org and need to follow it." Follow what!!! (Scratch head)...Then, you leave the room retaining blissfully little of the slides and desperately looking around for a cuppa and some intelligent conversation...
What happened at ThoughtWorks...I'll let some of the pics speak for me....but would like to highlight a few things.
The setting of the conference room:
No organized rows of chairs here but scattered around the room were round tables with 5~6 chairs grouped around each. This ensured that we were communicating, sharing at each point. You can get a feel of the ambiance from the pics below...Looks messy, disorganized...but that is what learning is like--messy, social, serendipitous...and TWU gives plenty of opportunity for all of this.
Back to my initial point on Values and how TW "teaches" them...(I have put "teahces" in quotes because there was no teaching, talking to, or lectuirng; it was a discursive, participatory experience).
There was a tiny snippet of a role play between two trainers that drove home the connection between Values and beliefs, emotions and convictions. You can see JK who was one of the trainers in the pic on top.
A very very short presentation with the Values of TW was displayed, and then it was up to the attendees to come up with their version of what they understand of each. This inclusive and interactive approach fostered the impression that the values were indeed an integral part of the org and not a set of bullet points.
The Diversity session actually simulated the diversity in the team that had gathered at Royal Orchids y'day, helping us to see beyond the color of the skin and the shape of one's nose. Without any bullet points!
It would take too long to explain so I will let the pics do the talking...
There were plenty of fun activities interspersed between the main sessions but the Wizards, Elves or Giants was my favorite...

Move back!!! Make room for the magic to work!! (My fav quote of the day from Julie).

I am ending the post a bit abruptly...I have to get ready for today. Watch this space for more in the coming week...
I have not yet spoken about the setting of the "training room" or about Open Spaces!
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