England, UK

Peer to Peer Learning

Peer to Peer Learning

By Jeremy Ambrose

Why does it work so well?

You will have seen us use this quote before “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together” 

Recent events have given us time to step back and reflect on everything that has gone before. As we move into the third cohort of our 20th Accelerator (Ignite Bermuda) we have come a long way. We have not been able to do it alone, that’s for sure. The foundations of our business and the methodologies that we have refined over nine years of working directly with entrepreneurs has had one strong pillar which remains the lynchpin of accelerating great people who accelerate great businesses. This lynchpin is the community itself. Facilitating the inception of and galvanising sharing and collaborative cultures remains a focal point for any success that comes out of our accelerators. Couple this with the entrepreneurial mindset and people working on themselves as entrepreneurial leaders, along with equal measures of support and challenge, you have a recipe for business growth which is both inclusive and collaborative.  

Now, we have always had our own language for what is commonly known as Action Learning. Enablement, Power Hours, Mastermind Groups and Hacks being just a few. Action learning is an approach to problem solving and learning in groups to bring about change in individuals, teams, organisations and systems.  It is based on the principle that the most effective learning takes place in the context in which people are working. And there is a solid method underpinning the approach we’ve mastered and importantly several studies to prove its effectiveness.   

One such study (here) found that participation in a peer to peer programme of support yielded a 2.5% higher labour productivity, another study (here) found that businesses participating in such a network had 5% more assets and 7.4% higher value-added growth.  

The role of Entrepreneurial Spark has always been to act as a facilitator or a catalyst for growth. We have “enabled” over 4,500 entrepreneurial leaders to overcome their barriers and challenges in the face of uncertain circumstances. Let’s face it, when starting and growing a business the monotony of wading through uncertainty and facing risk head on, becomes second nature. Being in a room of like-minded people, who also mitigate risk daily and continually use it to improve both themselves and their business, is somewhat homely. Suddenly you don’t feel alone, suddenly you feel like there are others going through what you are going through. The power of this connection, sharing of best practice and helping each other over hurdles is truly one of the most powerful aspects of business support that you can be part of.  

How we have used the power of peer to peer networking and acted as a facilitator is a carefully crafted art. Becoming expert question askers, leaving no stone unturned and being able to see meaning in what is actually being said, helps us to move the conversation forward and towards a solution. This facilitation is deeply rooted in emotional intelligence, the psychology of active listening and simply clearing the mind of any pre-conceived ideas or notions of solution.  

Active dialogue and true conversation are amazing to be part of. There is however one thing that needs to be in play to complete the circle, to fully overcome the hurdles in front of you. The clue is in the title of Action Learning, you must actually go and do something. Taking action, be it small steps or a larger move is essential to overcoming barriers faced by business owners. If you have the knowledge and have mitigated the risk, then the next logical step is to try something. Lean methodology points to iterations after learning something from a small test. Minimal Viable Products are such that they are minimal, and you learn something and move to the next viable product up the scale until a fully formed product is achieved. The cycle of testing, learning and taking action is what helps small businesses stay agile, flex when they need to and build in resilience for uncertain times.  

There is no stopping others from learning and utilising this action learning methodology, and that’s exactly why we are able to translate our methodologies in to large organisations, where teams help to change the culture, challenge the status quo and learn entrepreneurial behaviours which can help them change the world.  

When you get the cross-pollination of large organisations and entrepreneurs, the blend of technical expertise, flexible energies and mitigation of risk, action learning in peer to peer settings become even more powerful. Large organisations learning from smaller ones and vice versa has mutual benefit and the tangible results we have seen from facilitating this kind of a session is something which could benefit active recovery from the current crisis.  

Symbiotic growth in large and small businesses benefit more people and communities than growth in isolation. This action learning in a peer to peer setting therefore becomes pivotal in wider Inclusive Growth strategies across the country right now.  

Our action learning network delivers ratified results. The output and result which cannot be measured is the community spirit created through thousands of interactions. These communities stand the test of time and continue to produce growth through methodologies learnt during their time working with Entrepreneurial Spark. These deeply embedded relationships engrain a sharing culture which is action oriented and continues to be a crutch for business growth in thousands of entrepreneurial leaders globally.  

When is the last time you joined a peer to peer network? When was the last time you sat in a room of like-minded people and helped someone to overcome their barriers? The true benefit of conversation and shared problem-solving means that we are stronger together, we can go further, and we can truly recover at pace from where we are right now.