January 31, 2017
Lunch and Learn
By: Ami Shirley

Happy New Year! :) (even if you are reading this in August…)

I’ve heard a lot about people’s resolutions so far this year, so I thought I would talk a bit about one of the ways that Accenture (and lots of other companies) provides opportunities for personal and professional development. You might already know about ‘Lunch and Learn’ and if you haven’t, it pretty much does what it says on the tin: a group of people come together to learn about and discuss a topic, while they eat their lunch. Pretty straightforward idea. I’ve been to a few so far, covering some different topics: Sustainability, gender equality at work, Design Thinking, Prototyping, and Health & Public Services. My advice: definitely ask about ‘Lunch and Learn’ wherever you are now, or organise your own as these sessions are extremely informative.

The sessions are usually small, with maybe ten to twenty people listening to an overview of a topic, or opinion. Everyone is there to learn, so the questions and discussions bring important points and problems to the surface. Obviously, a lunch hour isn’t long enough to really get your teeth into a new concept, but often sessions have resources to look up in your own time (or people to pester afterwards). On the other hand, if it turned out to be the complete opposite of what you hoped, at least they’re only short, plus you had somewhere comfortable to eat your lunch!

Two of the ‘Lunch and Learns’ I mentioned earlier were part of a competition I entered: the Innovation Challenge. Teams of analysts were asked to design something to help London deal with air pollution. The launch was attended by representatives from City Hall, who spoke about the Mayor of London’s plans to tackle air pollution and potential solutions already out in the world. (Before I continue, if you’ve missed the news about London’s air pollution, or think you don’t need to worry about it, please please search ‘London Air’ online and spend 5 minutes having a look.)

Anyway, the Design Thinking and Prototyping ‘Lunch and Learns’ squeezed some great information and resources into less than an hour, giving my team loads of ideas and processes to try out. Unfortunately, our entry didn’t make it to the final round. :( The ideas that did, though, were amazing! There were VR headsets, prototype apps, interactive designs, chat bots - all sorts! It’s definitely worth entering next year if you get the chance to join Accenture. Plus, retrospectively, the ‘Lunch and Learns’ helped with our team’s ideas, but they also gave me something to think about in my daily role.

This has been true for all of the ‘Lunch and Learns’ that I’ve attended so far and is why I wanted to write about them! You can get so carried away in your own little bubble of work that a bit of discussion of a new (or newly remembered) topic can really shake things up and get you motivated to try something different!

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