Delivering the right learning solution begins by looking at the data

Designing meaningful learning – data-driven approach creates more relevant and sustainable learning experiences

Author

Michelle Verburg, MA

Building a collaborative partnership was vital to the design and development of the Foothills Medical Centre’s (FMC) Leadership Development Program for patient care managers and unit managers from across various departments. When working with the FMC Senior Leadership Team to co-create this customized program, open dialogue was key to building a relationship of trust and collaboration. Last fall, we shared how the data from the diagnostic self-assessment tools was used to encourage the learners to identify potential areas for improvement prior to the beginning of the program. We will now highlight how this data was influential in selecting the right program elements for the context and the learners.

Data-driven program design

Designing a custom leadership development program is a complex undertaking and requires a significant amount of data to make informed design decisions. As part of the needs assessment phase, we collected various data points related specifically to FMC’s context, such as the strategic plan, existing leadership competencies, current continuous improvement initiatives, as well as current research connected to the healthcare industry and leadership development. In addition, before designing the learning program, we had the opportunity to identify developmental trends across both patient care managers and unit managers using the collated data from all of the individual assessments. This data helped the design team validate the learning needs and the opportunities for growth amongst the two cohorts (63 learners) as well as select the relevant subjects that would be explored throughout the program.

Sustain results: spaced-learning

To ensure the greatest return on investment for FMC and the learners, the program design was layered into blended workshops over a 4-month period. Research indicates that designing “longitudinal” learning solutions increases the likelihood that learners will change and improve, and therefore will ultimately affect the entire system and sustain the learning. Spaced-learning increases learning transfer because the brain requires time to consolidate new knowledge from short-term to long-term memory. To foster an environment of continuous learning, alumni from the program, along with members of Senior Executive Team, are connecting this month to explore a new subject related to building better teams within healthcare.

Learning Teams: peer coaching network

As another mechanism used to increase the longevity of the learning experience and foster accountability, peer coaching teams (learning teams) were integrated within the program design. These learning teams connected during the workshops and, more importantly, between the workshops, to reinforce the learning from the program. Informed by the respective development plans of each member, the learning teams met to discuss their progress and challenges in pursuing their identified developmental goals. They productively challenged each other to apply program principles in real-time organizational situations, provided supportive feedback, and reinforced the focus on their development on a continuous basis. This maintained a linkage with the program and a connection with the learning community. To learn more about this process, consider reading an article in our archive.

Summary thoughts

Designing and delivering a relevant and practical leadership development program is an iterative process and evolves as more information is uncovered. In our next article, we will explore how data and feedback is collected during the delivering of FMC’s Leadership Development Program and how this data influenced the program design for the new cohort currently being delivered.

In reflecting on the FMC Leadership Development Program, the Senior Leadership Team at the Foothills Medical Centre offered these thoughts:

“Management of complex healthcare environments requires a combination of effective decision-making skills, strong leadership abilities, and an advanced educational foundation. This formal leadership training is an essential component necessary for addressing challenges and opportunities of healthcare in the 21st century.

In partnership with the Executive Education team of the respected Haskayne School of Business, and the FMC executive team, the program was ingeniously designed and customized to incorporate both a personal and cohort-based learning journey. The joint effort between AHS and the University of Calgary was paramount to the success of the program and provided an academic foundation to the practical aspect of the program. Leadership development is of the utmost importance to achieving our vision and mission, and to living our values whereby patient-and-family centered care is at the heart of everything we do.”