Have you heard the saying “We eat our own dog food?” It’s corporate slang for an organization or group that uses its own products and services. It’s rumored to have been originated by Microsoft back in the 80’s to assure consumers that their products are of such high quality that they use them internally. Since then, thousands of companies have jumped on the bandwagon proclaiming they too eat their own dog food (or drink their own champagne – if they’re trying to be fancy!).
The other day I stumbled upon an article on Chief Learning Officer by Elliot Masie titled “Learning Professionals Must Be Learners” that echoed the same sentiment of eating your own dog food. Based on the title, I’m sure you can guess where this is going. Maise asked his learning friends and colleagues three questions:
- How often do you, as a learning professional, take a complete e-learning program?
- How often do you attend a complete classroom program?
- Do you currently have a coach to help you improve your performance?
The results – though quite revealing – aren’t much of a surprise. Learning leaders are no less busy than the rest of us, and if given the option to take a twenty-hour class program they would ask if there is something shorter available. Yet they develop courses and content at work day after day. The article goes on to explain some really interesting findings they uncovered from consuming their own learning content around sequencing, learner knowledge, course timing, technology overhead, and disruptive innovation to name a few.
What Maise took away from this exercise is simple: Learning leaders need to be continuous learners. In order to excel at their craft and develop engaging, sticky learning courses, they need to know what the consumers want. And one of the only ways to do that is to eat their own dog food.
But what is most interesting to me is that the impact of continuous learning and eating your own dog food casts a net far wider than learning professionals. We could all spend more time learning. We can certainly spend more time consuming and evaluating our own work output, whatever it may be.
Just some food for thought.