User Experience Training & Development
My Roles: UX Learning & Development Program Owner, UX Research and Design Coach
Skills Applied: Program Management, Training Development and Delivery, Skill Assessment, Content Management and Delivery, UX Research, UX Design
With strong demand for user experience skills and a limited budget to hire more additional supply, I architected and launched a framework to provide an infrastructure to foster enterprise-level internal UX talent opportunities. The program included an internal User Experience certification offering that provided just-in-time learning experiences, with additional services in place to support ongoing skill opportunities and attainment.
Over time, as the enterprise environment shifted from waterfall to agile, the model additionally integrated with DevOps and Agile training / coaching methodologies and practices.
Scale Enterprise UX Talent Skills
While there was management recognition of the increasing need for employees with user experience skills to support ongoing enterprise demand, there were also conflicting budget limitations making it challenging to simply hire more user experience researchers and designers. To fulfill the gap, I led an internal UX Learning and Development Program designed to continuously foster ongoing user experience talent opportunities. The program included an integrated online presence, UX Communities of Practice, as well as targeted coaching, training, and certification opportunities.
The goal of the UX learning and development program was to support emerging user experience talent opportunities within an enterprise workforce. To make the program vision a reality, I followed a process that very much aligns with W. Edwards Deming’s “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust” learning cycle.
For “Plan”, my approach was to first architect a framework that would provide a balanced and modularized structure for just-in-time learning and experienced based on-the-job practice for employees who were also oftentimes simultaneously fulfilling other full-time roles. I additionally leaned in on fellow UX co-workers to support various aspects of the program, which helped to distribute the work, as well as provide coaching and leadership opportunities for my colleagues.
The “Do” Stage involved program managing the multiple facets of the initiative. This included (1) Coordinating centralized and distributed (i.e., by site / geography) User Experience Community of Practice (CoP) chapters; (2) Care and feeding of an integrated online presence for UX content, services, and collaboration; (3) Orchestration of targeted coaching offerings; (4) Continuous development, maintenance, and delivery of User Experience training resources; and (5) Setting certification success criteria for six different domain areas, and facilitating evaluation sessions and feedback for employees seeking certification achievement.
The “Check” phase involved continuously monitoring the relevancy and effectiveness of the various program elements. This involved utilization tracking of the various service offerings (e.g., CoP attendance, coaching sessions, training completions, certification achievements, and online presence usage) as well as periodic check-ins with fellow colleagues, learners, and management to assess how well the program offerings were meeting their needs. I used learnings from the “Check” phase to support continuous tweaks to “Adjust” the program accordingly.
For “adjust” I took the goodness of what was working in the program, and enabled appropriate pivots along the way. Throughout this process, I was vigilant to incorporate just the right amount of experimentation, keeping in mind cultural and environmental context along the way.
Initial learning and development efforts were highly focused on training, and specifically external vendor-based certifications that simply required course attendance and passing an exam. Over the duration of the program, it transitioned to a highly formalized apprenticeship offering that required learners to practice and demonstrate their skills on a selected project while receiving 1-1 coaching. While the results were successful, I experimented with a certification achievement model that enabled a consistent, yet flexible approach allowing learners to practice their skills more independently and in a just-in-time fashion. This reduced the overhead of running the program, while significantly increasing the amount of learners who applied for skill assessment and received certification(s). I also added a highly coveted “badging” system as a public display of certification achievement. To enhance a synergistic culture between learners and UX researchers and designers, I additionally delegated Community of Practice and coaching responsibilities to my UX colleagues, providing them leaderships opportunities and increasing their investment in learners’ successes.
Growing UX Professional Network
The outcomes of the program resulted in a growing and healthy network of user experience professionals. Global monthly Community of Practice sessions averaged 100+ attendees, while site-specific offerings continued to strengthen and build high-touch supportive networks. An integrated online presence for UX content, services, and collaboration peaked at over 500 members and provided a centralize hub for all UX related information sharing. Over 130 certifications were granted, significantly strengthening UX culture and the number of available practitioners to work on projects and initiatives.
Furthermore, there were significant savings for the integrated Agile and DevOps training courses I delivered with over 130K in cost avoidance savings for over 500 learners, also increasing the reach of user experience learnings and practice.