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An avatar asks the right questions in coaching sessions

Marcus Pierk
Marcus Pierk
Partner, macc - a Qvest Company
Tags
Avatar training
Augmented Reality
Software Development
Digitalization
Change Management
Published 13. April 2022

An augmented-reality app supports employee development during digital transformation

One of the many areas affected by digital transformation is employee development. Alongside established methods and tools such as design thinking, Scrum, Cynefin and the Golden Circle, unconventional tools also produce success.

For example, an avatar in an augmented-reality application, as demonstrated by the best practice of the consulting experts at macc, a Qvest Company.

Change without consulting buzzwords

When the topic of change is discussed in the boardroom, it's often with regard to best practices, processes or tools. Usually, management models such as design thinking, Scrum and Cynefin then ensure that not only business processes and products but also staff are adjusted in line with the changes. However, the experience gained across many transformation projects by the team at macc, a Qvest Company, shows that often, it is highly unconventional ideas that bring about a radical change in thinking – and that can turn the typically tedious change management process into a real experience.

The avatar is never embarrassed

For example, the training of managers, skilled employees and even trainees does not always have to take the form of lecture-style classroom teaching involving the entire working group, as demonstrated by the "avatar training" implemented by the Bonn-based organizational consultants macc at a large logistics group. The philosophy behind this is that a digital avatar is never embarrassed to address topics, including those that coaches and participants do not necessarily want to bring up. The avatar poses provocative coaching questions, motivates employees to consider new perspectives and even learns from the feedback of its human companions.

Augmented reality: A game changer in consulting

In this way, the developed augmented-reality app led to a completely new understanding of the topic of knowledge transfer among the logistics specialists too. The "avatar training" was based on the principle that a digital, virtual companion would be used in parallel with workshops and help to transfer the learnt content outside the training sessions.
The smartphone app makes it possible to control aspects such as goals and activities, share new stimuli even after the training session, and also support the digital networking of the participants. Unlike traditional methods for implementing changes in company management, the scalable avatar concept can be used to convey changes in a fun way. The format introduces levity into the learning situation – regardless of whether the training participants are managers or employees. However, before it was possible to convince as many of the staff as possible, some persuasion was required: ultimately, the change in thinking begins high up in the company. Only then is it possible to implement the change in method comprehensively.

Anytime, anywhere

In practice, the smartphone-based augmented-reality application allows the avatar to appear in a whole host of different environments. It crops up on business cards and walls, in break rooms and even in the kitchen next to the coffee machine. To make it easy to get to grips with the app, a user-friendly design was a priority. Even the personality of the avatar can be adapted to specific target groups.

After only a short while, the virtual companion from the smartphone app has already paid off at the logistics group: since the app was introduced, it has been possible to intensify traditional training and coaching sessions in a highly scalable way throughout the company and in very little time. However, the biggest advantage is most likely the flexibility of the app because the digital coach can appear whenever its human companion would like it to, without the limitation of fixed times or appointments. Once the app has been opened, the digital companion's job is to ask simple questions and open up new perspectives.

More open communication

The consultants have found that employees are much more open when interacting with the avatar than they usually are in an analog, lecture-style class as part of a large group. Thoughts that are in general rarely voiced find a sympathetic listener in the avatar and lead to open communication.
In practice, this has shown that augmented-reality technology can be a useful addition, especially in the field of consulting. Its main advantages are that the individual and pressure-free dialog can lead to fast and personal results.

Avatar

Expansion of the method is under consideration

These experiences are something that the logistics group too can no longer do without. With the micro-learning concept, the company is not only able to overcome emotional obstacles, but is also able to convey specific information about new products and their features to employees from departments such as sales in a playful way and an appropriate format. And in the future, the avatar may even be used as a tool for conveying product information to customers.

The advantages of the "avatar training":

  • Unconventional and interactive knowledge transfer
  • Digital depiction of the avatar in a real environment
  • Learning anytimeanywhere via smartphone app
  • Modern preparation of content
  • Scalable for all business units and departments
  • Expansion and customization for use with customers
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