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Posts Tagged ‘corporate culture’

How Branding Your Learning Management System Can Influence Culture (and Create a Fun Place to Learn)

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMS

The best companies I’ve worked with have had great workplace cultures. Management in these companies understand that happy team members are more productive and less likely to jump ship the next time an opportunity arises elsewhere.

Whenever I speak to anyone about workplace culture, I often end up pointing them to a great Harvard Business Review Blog post by Nilofer Merchant titled “Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time.” Compare an organization with happy, motivated people to a similar-size organization filled with demoralized walking dead, and it immediately becomes clear why a positive workplace culture drives success.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur hoping to start the next billion dollar company, you should read the Merchant post and other resources about workplace culture before you even have your first business card designed. If you’re a manager, you need to be aware that you are a key driver in defining the culture within your organization. Speak to anyone who’s worked for a few years and they’ll have stories about managers from hell who were the impetus behind staff calling in sick and eventual mass exoduses.

In a previous Blog post titled “How to Use a Learning Management System to Support Your Workplace Culture,” we looked at how changing the wording of system prompts and interface labels can create learning environments that more closely reflect the culture you are attempting to create and promote. Textual communication, however, is only one tool to support culture; the visual design of the learning environment is equally important.

In branding visually your learning management system (LMS), you should think beyond simply being faithful to corporate colors and placing a logo at the top left-hand corner. Imagery including illustrations, photos, and icons can enhance the environment and help eliminate the preconception that your learning management system is just another boring piece of business software. Most importantly, these visual elements can create a more pleasant place to learn.

Need some inspiration? The following video presents some of the ways the Absorb LMS user interface has been branded for various clients.

How to Use a Learning Management System to Support Your Workplace Culture

October 18, 2012 2 comments

Richard Nantel, Vice President, Enterprise Learning Solutions, Blatant Media | Absorb LMSNilofer Merchant wrote a blog post for Harvard Business Review last year titled “Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time.” It contains a fantastic definition of organizational culture that I would have printed on a t-shirt if I wore an extra large instead of a size small:

“Culture is the set of habits that allows a group of people to cooperate by assumption rather than by negotiation. Based on that definition, culture is not what we say, but what we do without asking. A healthy culture allows us to produce something with each other, not in spite of each other. That is how a group of people generates something much bigger than the sum of the individuals involved.”Barry White photo from Wikipedia

Blatant Media is a culture-centric organization that fits Ms. Merchant’s definition above. Blatant culture isn’t dictated in a memo from headquarters—”please respect our culture by being supportive of your colleagues”—rather, the culture is defined by many small things, habits as Mr. Merchant calls them, that together create a positive and effective workplace:

The Virgin Company, for instance, understands the style of communication can have a significant impact on culture. Call a typical telephone company and you’ll get a message saying…

“Your call is important to us. Please hold the line until the next available customer service representative.”

Call Virgin Mobile and you’ll first be asked what type of music you’d like to listen to.

“If you want to chill, press 1.”

This style of communication isn’t limited to Virgin Mobile. I once took a flight on Virgin Airlines where the safety announcement was narrated by someone I assume to be Barry White, over sexy background music. The final line was…

“Please be careful as you open the overhead compartments because, you know, shift happens.”

Your organization’s communication style should be consistent across different media and applications, including your learning management system. Take a look at the labels and system messages learners encounter. Do they project the culture of the company? If not, explore whether these can be changed, either by your system administrator or by your LMS vendor.

Edited learner prompt in Absorb LMS

Edit system prompts and labels to better project your workplace culture using your learning management system.

A Few Small Changes While You Were Away on Vacation

True story: My mother once went on a short trip with her sister. When she returned home, she discovered that my father had cedar shingled the bathroom walls.

Cedar shingles (Photo: Muffet/Flickr)I don’t know what inspired my dad to do this. He wasn’t the type to read home decorating magazines. And, he wasn’t the sort of guy who commonly undertook home renovation projects. I picture him sitting on the couch reading the newspaper one Saturday morning and having the epiphany that, since shingles look great on the exterior of maritime houses, they’d look fantastic on the walls of our upstairs bathroom.

This wasn’t an easy project for my dad, who was, like me, a member of the measure-once-cut-multiple-times school of craftsmanship. He had to saw holes in the shingles for light switches. Adding to the challenge, the small finishing nails he used wore away at the dry wall, making the shingles a bit wobbly.

Upon her return home, my mother wasn’t pleased.

The shingled bathroom walls were a continual irritant in their otherwise happy union for about 15 years until my father finally gave in and allowed my mother to call a contractor to renovate the bathroom.

I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation and was relieved to see that no one undertook to shingle the walls of the Blatant Media games room while I was away. What is new, though, is the arrival in our Atlantic Avenue Art Block offices a fourth painting by David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists. You can see the others here and here.

Painting by David Brunning, TheKidBelo

In Praise of Beautiful Work Environments

June 14, 2012 3 comments

My youngest daughter’s bedroom looks like a war zone. She’s presently in her final exam week in high school and so her floor is covered in papers, clothes, dishes, and detritus—hopefully inorganic—that I can’t identify.

(I can safely tell you this knowing that no member of my family ever reads my Blog posts.)

Comparatively, my eldest daughter’s bedroom is spotless. She finished classes more than a month ago and is now travelling in Europe. Prior to leaving, she did a massive clean up. Not only can you eat off her floor, you could likely perform surgery in that room without risk of infection.

Last night, I discovered my youngest daughter studying for an exam in her sister’s immaculate bedroom. The order and cleanliness made it a better environment to learn and work. “Fewer distractions,” she said.

The point is that we all know deep down that our environment has a huge impact on our work and mood. Distractions can impede our ability to focus and learn. Beautiful environments make us feel good.

Our own work environment just got better. The walls of Blatant Media’s new office in the Atlantic Avenue Art Block in the trendy Inglewood area of Calgary are now adorned with two new paintings by David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists.

Feels like home.

We Have Art! (And it Isn’t `Dogs Playing Poker’)

June 1, 2012 2 comments

You know you’ve settled into a new home when art starts appearing on the walls. The presence of art indicates that other parts of the move, like getting lights-electricity-doors-network-a kitchen-boardrooms-etc. are likely resolved.

As you’ve probably noticed from past posts here and here about our games room, creating a fun work environment is a priority at Blatant. A nice environment helps to create a positive culture.

Wishing to contribute to this positive culture, I was about to bring to the office the print of “Dogs Playing Poker” that hung in my parent’s basement playroom for 35 years when this painting appeared on the wall I had targetted:

The painting is the work of David Brunning, TheKidBelo, one of Western Canada’s premier visual artists. From everyone at Blatant Media, thank you to TheKidBelo for making our new home even better.

At Last, a “Blatant Media” Google Alert Worth Reading

May 18, 2012 1 comment

Most of the Google Alerts I receive for the words “Blatant Media” are for Blog posts by enraged political activists who feel that there’s a conspiracy by the media to defame their preferred candidate. These posts can be entertaining at first (lots of exclamation points) but after a while, they become repetitive and predictable.

So-and-so was a shoe-in to become school commissioner until BLATANT MEDIA BIAS ruined her chances by printing the article about her dog killing a neighbour’s cat yada yada yada.

So, you can imagine my excitement when this week, Google alerted me to this Metro News article about the Blatant Media games room located in our new offices in the Inglewood area of Calgary.

Metro News: Calgary company’s $20K gaming room aims to bond employees

Where We’ll Be if Aliens or Zombies Attack

May 11, 2012 5 comments

When dot coms start clashing with dot nets (ok, you’re on to me. I’m not a programmer), Absorb LMS team members regroup and recharge by blowing virtual things up in the new Blatant Media games room.  The secure vault look suggests this would be a great place to escape post-apocalyptic scenarios such as zombie or extraterrestrial alien attacks. Of course, we’d need to somehow squeeze in the coffee machine and some cookies.

A professional photographer just took some new panorama shots of the Xbox room. Click the image below to access the panorama. Here’s a second panorama of the space.

(I’ve never before tagged a bog post with the words zombies, aliens, and corporate culture.)