by Geoff Horsfall, Senior Product Manager
All organizations face obstacles and complicated decisions. These challenges are often compounded when different stakeholders, each with their own perspective and experiences, offer viable but competing solutions. In moments like these, it’s helpful to have a North Star, a guiding principle that informs decision-making. At Remote Learner, our North Star is simple: Make an impact. Our priority is to positively impact the lives of learners in a measurable way. “Impact” is an idea that we talk about constantly. It’s even in our new tagline: Bigger Ideas. Smarter Training. Greater Impact. We talk about “Impact” so much that when I went in search of a professional development opportunity, one immediately caught my eye: Impact Denver.
About Impact Denver
Impact Denver, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, is a civic-oriented professional development program that advances the skills and experience of its participants through exposure to the complex issues the city of Denver current faces, study of the nature of leadership, and a small-group community project. In developing a professional skill set by activating the civic engagement of its participants, Impact Denver aspires to that old adage of do well by doing good.
I’ve long been interested in civic engagement and community-based issues. One of the things that drew me to Remote Learner is the RL Giving Program. The RL Giving Program is an employee-led, company-wide suite of giving initiatives that extends the impact of our work and generosity of time and spirit. I wrote about one of my RL Giving activities last year. So participating in Impact Denver seemed like a perfect fit for me. It did not disappoint.
Over six months, I had the opportunity to survey some of the biggest challenges Denver is facing, from housing to education to traffic, all guided by experts in their respective fields. I empathized with much of what heard because of my work with Remote Learner.
Connecting Impact Denver to Remote Learner
As Senior Product Manager for Remote Learner, one of my responsibilities is assessing options – new product ideas, “bugs” to fix, efficiencies to add – and weighing their relative value for prioritization given limited resources and time. The answers aren’t always easy to find. The same fundamental processes and challenges used to arrive at those decisions revealed themselves during our discussions in Impact Denver – only on a much larger (and highly public) scale. I found myself coming back to one theme for successfully navigating these challenges, particularly as it relates to my work with Remote Learner: listen.
With any topic my Impact Denver class discussed, I started with an opinion based on personal experience, study, and values. But invariably, an open mind could see that the issue at hand was far more multifaceted than any one opinion could capture. For anyone willing to start the process by listening to as many stakeholders as possible, it was all but certain that their perspective would at least shift if not change all together. Information gathering can be slow and painstaking but without it, the great satisfaction of learning that you were wrong, in finding an opportunity to grow, or in discovering a new solution to an old problem, is lost. To make an impact, it can’t be about the decision maker. It’s about the people the decision maker impacts.
I loved the relationships I built in Impact Denver. My classmates came from all industries: from health care to construction to finance. There were individuals representing non-profit organizations, professional associations, and government agencies. It was inspiring to work collaboratively with people from different professional worlds. It was also inspiring to get a fresh reminder of the impact of training and learning. Regardless of their industry or background, everyone I spoke with seemed to have a question or an idea about what training and learning could mean for their organization when I told them about the work of Remote Learner.
Making an Impact: Maria Droste
The most impactful work I did during my time in Impact Denver was a small-group research project done on behalf of Maria Droste Counseling Center. Maria Droste bridges the gaps in available counseling services for underserved populations in the Denver area. Recognizing that people need access to counseling services regardless of their ability to pay, Maria Droste is dedicated to meeting the significant, unmet mental health needs of the community. Maria Droste submitted a proposal to Impact Denver asking for assistance with establishing standardized partnership criteria and candidates for their Integrated Care programs as well as identifying opportunities for improving existing partnerships. As a result of surveys, interviews, and independent research, our team provided Maria Droste with comprehensive tools and recommendations that will help them to improve outcomes for their clients.
I am grateful to Remote Learner for allowing me to participate in this program. I’m a better professional for it and I believe I’ve honored our company’s North Star as well. I’m also grateful for the opportunity that my work at Remote Learner affords me, an opportunity that the Impact Denver program frequently reminded me of: to help improve lives through learning. To everyone making an impact, keep up the good work.