The Power of Peers – Peer Academy


I recently agreed to become an Ambassador for Peer Academy, because I see enormous potential in a new platform for organisations to bring together all their employees in the experience of sharing expertise, growing strategic capabilities and realising potential in new ways. Peer Academy is an exciting Melbourne startup founded by Kylie Long and Onur Ekinci that already has great traction in creating a public marketplace for skill-sharing and delivering tailored peer academies for organisations.

Designing Peer Learning Academies for the Future of Work

Yesterday I participated in a design studio session on the Peer Academy product roadmap with the team and a number of clients and prospects. What became evident quickly was how much potential there is untapped in organisations and how new solutions can make it easier for people to share their expertise and collaborate to achieve personal and work goals.  We cannot leverage what our people already know when their skills are hidden, when collaboration is not recognised and when building capabilities takes unvalued time and effort.

In past learning projects with organisations, I have seen the power of peer mentoring.  Focusing on the exchange of learning and experience by peers expands the learning culture in an organisation from a culture of giving to the more junior and less experienced to a two-way dynamic exchange of skills and experience through networks. That benefits all in the organisation, reinforces collaboration and flattens the power dynamic in the organisation. The more people you engage in peer mentoring the value of that learning accelerates and scales exponentially.  This is one of the key reasons why I believe so strongly in the power of working out loud to help others to learn by watching work in progress.

Ultimately, peer learning is powerful too because the feedback of your peers is a way to understand and validate the skills and capabilities that you have developed.  Every time a peer shares their learning it is a two-way gift, both teacher and student benefit from the experience. Tacit knowledge is made explicit. Knowledge is validated and the teacher learns something from feedback. The organisation benefits too as understanding of the capabilities of the organisation develops through the platform and learning can be far more responsive to business needs than a centralised learning team developing courses to plan.

As we move into the fast paced agile future of work, organisations need to move more to leverage the collective potential of people. Social learning mediated through peers in networks are a key part of this opportunity.  This kind of learning is more than just peers delivering courses to each other. Ultimately peer learning becomes part of a Big Learning culture in the organisation, a systematic approach to ensuring every interaction in the company is a learning experience for individuals and the organisation.  This personal collaborative approach to learning is at the heart of organisational effectiveness in the digital era.

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