In a previous post, I mentioned the Kick Ass Award and discussed how it served as a mechanism to recognize the great effort put in by a teammate. The same company, Pepper Group, has another fun thing they do to foster an engaging work environment and it’s called The Higgie.
The Higgie was inspired by Dave Higgins, hence the odd name “Higgie.” A long time ago the president of Pepper Group, Tim Padgett, worked with Dave at another company. One day he came into Tim’s office really excited about something he learned. Tim always remembered that Dave’s genuine excitement was reflective—and contagious—of how we all can learn from each other. (Think about the last shortcut that someone taught you. I bet it is safe to assume that you were excited to put it to use because it was so valuable to you. And I’m sure it spawned from a simple question.) What stuck for Tim was that we can all learn from anyone at anytime. The purpose of the Higgie is to highlight the process and call attention to ongoing learning.
But what exactly is it?
Similar to the Kick Ass award, it is a traveling trophy. At their Monday morning all-company meeting, whoever has the Higgie recounts what coworkers shared or taught them the previous week. It can be intricate design techniques or how to better care for the office plants. The important aspect of it is that it stimulates knowledge sharing. So the person that has the Higgie recalls what he/she learned from whom and gives the Higgie to the ‘teacher’ that shared the most significant knowledge. Then for the next week that person has the Higgie on their desk.
However, learning doesn’t focus only on the person with the award. It creates a learning environment. It gives special attention to the importance of mutual support, working constructively, and having an interest in the success of others as well as the company.
Now, for you data geeks, here are the fun facts. The Higgie has been passed around Pepper Group for 15 years. Assuming that it makes 50 moves a year, that totals 750 moves. That’s a program with longevity and impact!
Furthermore with each handing off of the Higgie, the person recounts about 3 things they learned from teammates in the previous week. That is about 150 learning moments per year. But since the learning is shared with the entire team (averaging 12 people), 1,800 learning opportunities are recounted per year because of this award. Over 15 years, that’s roughly 27,000 knowledge exchanges. Now that is a metric!
What is the impact? Here’s what Tim said:
“I have the Higgie this week and just learned a “quick keys” shortcut on my Mac from our Creative Director. I’m more efficient than I was an hour ago. Nice. (And she didn’t even know I had the Higgie, but asked after she taught me.) I think the key is having a physical mechanism (funny little statue) that stimulates the desired activity.”
If you’re looking for an organic and sustainable learning culture, implement your own version of the Higgie, and let him inspire your team!