Challenge Accepted: Time Together + Time to Learn

Please don’t call us a “virtual team.” Though we live in different states and work in different time zones, there’s nothing “virtual” about our teamwork! While we thrive in this distributed arrangement, we know we need to have time together. We also know that we excel in our work together when we commit to targeted professional development. We accomplished both last month! Here’s how…

Artisan Learning participates in many excellent conferences each year, but it’s typically in the role of teaching, exhibiting, sponsoring, or even competing. All things we love, but we rarely get to fully attend a conference. For years, our president, Amy Morrisey, has dreamed of taking our entire team to a conference together. 

Annually, Artisan Learning clears a full week to allow our entire team dedicated, deadline-free days to spend working on ourselves, rather than on our projects. It’s a tough thing to make happen in a high-intensity production environment like ours, so we always spend the annual retreat week time very strategically. (Here’s a glimpse of our 2023 retreat.)

What better way to celebrate our 20th anniversary than to combine those two things and take the entire company to a conference–together? And what better conference than our industry standard, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference & Expo?

So, with the dual goals of spending time together in person and in professional development, all Artisans gathered in New Orleans, LA, for ATD24. This was the first time our entire team attended a conference together. Of course we packed our curiosity, bravery, and imagination, to make the most of every minute. 

The time together gave us many ways to forge and strengthen our team relationships. Naturally, much of that happened over awesome New Orleans cuisine, or in attending sessions together, but also in more curated experiences. We had a private meeting space at the convention center where we could gather to debrief our experiences. A naming contest dubbed it “The Green Room” in a nod to one of our new brand colors.

Artisan team members gathered in a circle throwing a ball.
The Artisan “Green Room” was a place to share conference experiences with each other…which sometimes involved playing catch!

To expand the experience (and to win prizes, of course) we had photo contests, daily challenges, and a week-long scavenger hunt involving things like taking certain selfies, pursuing networking targets, and posting session takeaways on Slack (plus a bunch more!). When our dinner/jazz river cruise canceled at the last minute, we simply fanned out across New Orleans and discovered unanticipated treasures. Affogato bar, anyone?! 

Melissa Little headshot

The ATD24 conference is an unparalleled opportunity for top-notch professional development and Artisans partook fully! Katie Schwieter, who joined Artisan in January said, “Attending ATD has been a dream of mine since I started in L&D over a decade ago, and it came true when the entire company went together! As a newly-minted Artisan, I was thrilled to meet my colleagues, and so proud to represent Artisan among thousands of the top L&D pros in the world.” 

An Artisan employee point to an ATD sign.
Artisan Videographer, Peter Poulos, takes a selfie for the scavenger hunt.

The team attended keynote sessions together, learning from Matthew McConaughey, Venus Williams, and author Daniel Pink (who taught us the value of making “To Don’t” lists, among other excellent productivity tips). The EXPO hall was not only a wonderland of free stuff(!), but also a great opportunity for Artisans to talk with current and potential vendors including Articulate, Adobe, WellSaid, Sythesia, Crucial Learning, Libby, Kairos, and so many others. 

Breakout sessions that will continue to inform and improve our work included topics like quality management, high-trust workplaces, accessibility, productivity, instructional design, learning technologies, AI, and so much more. A special treat was being part of the standing-room-only crowd at a session taught by Artisan’s own Amy Morrisey and Diane Elkins titled, “Are Your Courses Built for Yesterday’s Student or Today’s Learners?” It was a proud moment when they used our project for the Society for Pediatric Sedation as a real-life case study to give attendees an inside look at how Artisan designs compelling learning experiences. The response from the audience was awesome!

Artisan employees are seated in a row together at a conference.
Learning together with fellow Artisans is a awesome!

With time at a premium in our full-tilt production world, getting together and getting to work on our own skills is a tall order. But learning is in our name and it’s critical to doing our best work. We’re thankful for clients and contractors who not only support this annual pause in production, but who also continue working to keep their projects moving while we’re away. They know they are beneficiaries of our time spent in renewal and upskilling.  

It’s said that you can know a person’s priorities by looking at how they spend their time and money. The same is true of organizations. Our week together at ATD24 was a significant investment of both time and money. It most certainly reflects our priorities of a healthy team that produces best-in-class learning. It’s good to be an Artisan!

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