Secrets to a Successful Grown-up Playdate

October 31, 2018

With the right planning, knowledge-sharing events can be powerful (and fun!)

As parents, we try to teach a lot of things to our children. Things we were taught by our own parents. One of those things is sharing. When my kids were younger, my wife and I spent countless hours encouraging our kids to share.

But a funny thing happens during the aging process and as adults, we forget to share — particularly at work. In some extreme situations, we may even reward knowledge hoarding. Why is that? The truth is, some people think knowledge is power — and they’re not wrong. Knowledge is powerful, but only when you share it.

Getting back to playdate basics

There is such a positive energy that gets created when you share. People seem less guarded. They tend to build from each other instead of tear each other down. They begin to see the commonality of the group and they respect the differences that exist. Most importantly, they learn, grow and build stronger relationships.

Knowledge is powerful, but only when you share it.

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As parents, we know how easy it is for true friends to share. They trust each other and they care about each other. They have more fun playing together than they do apart.

Last week, several of us “adults” got together at work (the grown-up playground) with one single purpose: to share. My team and I traveled to London to meet with our teammates across the pond. We had been trying to plan a knowledge exchange (the adult version of sharing) for over a year.

What I learned on my playdate

In the spirit of sharing, I would be remiss (and my parents would be disappointed) if I did not share some of the key takeaways from such a phenomenal knowledge-sharing event. So here are the 6 key things I learned on my playdate.

1. Create a common framework to organize content.

The framework for us was examining the client journey and experience from marketing all the way through to after sales service and relationship management. The framework created an organizing structure in which to share content.

2. Allow flexibility on content creation.

You need a common framework to organize content, but you need to allow the content creators the flexibility to share their unique perspective. Give them the ability to describe “how and why” they do it.

3. Prepare jointly before the event.

Have the owners of each process prepare the content together. Have the content structured to enhance learning by describing:

  • The process
  • What works well
  • What could use improvement
4. As leaders, model behavior that focuses on learning, not judging.
  • Make it about dialogue, not presentation — let people share and allow others to ask and build.
  • Find things that you think you have learned and openly describe your learning or what you will take away.
  • Discuss ways to come together continually throughout the year.
5. End with action and accountability that integrates the learning.
  • Have the teams present their next steps or actions.
  • Make at least one action a unified action that can be done across teams.
  • Have at least two actions or learnings that one team can take from the other and apply back in their office.
6. Make it social.
  • Make sure it is fun. An event like this is about relationship building, but don’t forget to have some fun while you’re doing it.
  • Organize team events that involve conversations and getting to know each other more personally

Make the friendship last

I want to thank our U.K. hosts for a fantastic couple of days. It was great fun and we learned a lot. Notably, our global team is stronger because of the bonds we formed through knowledge sharing. We strengthened some key relationships and going forward we will work more closely together in the spirit of continuous collaboration. That is the gift that keeps on giving to our clients, our markets and ourselves. I left London feeling inspired and excited. I’m already thinking about the next one.

And isn’t that how most successful playdates usually end?

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