The Experience Accelerator

Tell me about the start of The Experience Accelerator

One thing  you should know about me – I’m really passionate about great leaders and managers. I think they impacts the world, communities and businesses in so many positive ways.  Unfortunately, in my career I’ve seen a few bad managers and I’ve seen the negative impact those individuals can have on their teams and employees.

The idea was really designed to tackle two problems – One is for the many young managers who are going into their first leadership management assignment with little support about what that transition should be.  As you know, the rules of the game change significantly.  As an individual contributor, you rely on yourself. It’s up to you to perform or not.  Suddenly have to deliver results through other people; and that transition is different and hard to make.  I believe there needs to be more support to do that well. We need to get the foundations right when the managers are young and early in their career; that’s going to bear fruits as they become more senior. The second problem goes to the other type of managers. They’ve read all the books and the theories, but haven’t made the shift from knowing to demonstrating it in their behavior.

There are three principles that define the purpose of this program. I wanted it to be affordable, focused on practice, and tailored to the individual.  I didn’t want it to be generic but something that has personalized feedback for you personally.  It should be pertinent and relevant to you.

Walk us through the steps of the program

  1. Watch colleagues role playing the behavior you are trying to master

  2. Your virtual coach then helps you deconstruct the critical elements of the task

  3. Next you practice your new skills with the system and a live tutor. Sessions are recorded

  4. Upload your footage to the system

  5. Get personalized feedback within 24 hours

we give you two or three scenarios “Fatema, you are meeting your boss for the first time. How will you open up the conversation to make her feel that she’s welcome?” You create those videos via your webcam and then get to watch these videos back. You get to self-assess and reflect in this step.  The criteria is sent  to you on what that scenario would look like and then you would score yourself based on that.  This is a very helpful step from a cognitive perspective. Think of this is a warm up before you actually pick a timeslot and jump on a video with a live tutor via the Zoom application. You role play a different scenario that you have prepared in advance – this is recordedand then coaches then review live video and give back feedback – what you’ve done well and  where you need to improve  . It’s a very detailed report that scores against the skills.  We use well known frameworks for the reports – we take something that is well proven in the market.

Interesting note is when it comes to female leaders. Privacy and being able to do this on a platform that is personal and private is key to female leaders.

Who would benefit from this accelerator?

Back to the purpose we were talking about. Especially the area of young managers. We work with companies who have or want to develop either the employees who are soon to become managers or  those in their first and second years. There is considerable interest at a university level. I’m working with all the top universities and their faculties to discuss how we can incorporate something like this. This program can be complimentary after they leave the classroom.  It really helps them prepare for the realities of the working environments they will encounter when they graduate.

 

Why did you call this ‘The Experience Accelerator’?

One of the biggest challenges that managers have when they start out is their lack of experience. It’s a double play on words – this program accelerates their experience by allowing them to practice within different scenarios so they’re ready for the main event.

Did you try this program live yet?

Yes! Over 100 learners have already gone through the learning journey.  The platform went live in January of this year.

Why the use of personalized avatars? That’s your second type of solution provided by The Experience Accelerator?

The Avatar is in Beta right now, however the video solution is out in the market. We are selling that currently. I find avatars fascinating. There’s a whole body of research that sits under the Proteus effect.

 

The Proteus effect describes a phenomenon in which the behavior of an individual, within virtual worlds, is changed by the characteristics of their avatar. Basically, the research demonstrates that if you watch an avatar performing a skill or behavior, especially if the avatar looks like you; you are more likely to adopt it more quickly.

I would say to think of this program as the digital visualization for the modern era. We create an avatar that actually looks like you – you take a selfie and upload it to the platform which later you can also adjust in terms of body, hair and so on.  We are still early in the experience but we’ve already got a working proof of concept!

This cognitive activity that happens is pretty interesting. This has been proven over a whole suite of different activities whether its negotiating or something so simple as being more social. It’s similar to visualization techniques used in sporting environments where  the concept of visualizing the future has been used for years.

Do different cultures play a role for the program? What do you do to test a market?

Part of what we are trying to do now is ‘Do we need to develop the content that is suitable for a GCC audience?’ we have deliberately chosen behaviors that are universal  and we are also running some focus groups to get insights for what we need to change and evolve.

“The Proteus effect describes a phenomenon in which the behavior of an individual, within virtual worlds, is changed by the characteristics of their avatar. Basically, the research demonstrates that if you watch an avatar performing a skill or behavior. Especially  if the avatar looks like you; you are more likely to adopt it more quickly. ”

 

If you approach a university or an institution, you would want to show results on how the program can improve performance.  How do you measure those results for those situations?

Whilst we don’t share any personal information to the head of HR unless it was agreed upon initially, we can provide aggregated feedback on how a group of learners performed.

For example, we worked with a large Swiss company and we saw this interesting pattern irrespective of age and gender. 

 

The corporate culture was much stronger than the personal culture.  They were very task oriented but had low levels of empathy. We provided detailed feedback – 90% of them scored high in terms of corporate and significantly low for empathy. This is gold for an organization.  In short, we aggregate information for larger groups such as this example. However, on an individual level - we would prefer to keep it private.

In terms of the leadership experts you have on board with this program giving the feedback – do you have local Bahraini experts as well? Or thinking of doing that?

Yes, I’m doing that actively now.  I think it would be helpful and important for a Bahraini to evaluate a Bahraini’s performance. I would be very interested in training them for my solution and bringing them on board. If we do this well, we create a positive employment loop a since we are  getting local tutors and coaches involved and on board. 

 

Give an ULTIMATE REASON for your MISSION – Great managers can change the world in all kinds of way. They change the fortunes of the companies they work for, the wellbeing of their employees and happier employees make a better home. It’s a self-fulfilling  virtuous cycle.

 

Will you be adding additional elements to The Experience Accelerator?

Yes! Future wise, I would like to incorporate Artificial Intelligence into the equation. It would allow you to role play with a tutor bot. Imagine if we could generate your feedback fully or semi-automatically – that would allow us to lower the price considerably. We can  then take this to markets that haven’t been able to afford high quality management and development courses. 

Are you scared or anxious about anything specific?

The challenge I face is getting the right balance between contract teams and full time employees when we are in our launch phase.I need the right people in place and I want to work with people that have the same values. I’m scared I might hire the wrong people. It’s a much bigger problem to unwind. The most thing I feel  the most anxious about is getting the right team.

 

 “I’m really passionate about great leaders and Managers. I think they impactthe world, communities and businesses in so many positive ways.”

What are your next 3 mini goals?

They’re not so mini but here my goals that I’m trying to focus on:

  • Complete my market listing exercise and make adjustments to the program

  • Secure 20 pilots within the GCC

  • Be able to incorporate an artificial intelligence component that would allow us to reduce the cost significantly

 

Thank you Sarah for having coffee with us and we will make sure to follow your journey. We are sure it will be epic  - KEEP GOING