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Level Up Your Workforce and Organizational Change Strategy

How Dojos Transform the Organization’s Learning Culture

The Change Agent

As organizations embrace innovative approaches to learning, they pave the way for a future-ready workforce capable of navigating the challenges of the digital age.

Achievement Unlocked: How Dojos Can Power Up Your Workforce

In the evolving landscape of today’s professional world, the pressing need for continuous skill development has never been more apparent. The pace of change, fueled by digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI) and the swift adoption of cutting-edge technologies, has created a significant skills gap that traditional learning methods struggle to bridge. But that hasn’t stopped investment. In fact, U.S. training expenditures passed the $100 billion mark for the first time between 2021 and 2022.

Rapid advancements in technology have outpaced the ability of traditional educational systems to produce professionals with the requisite skills. As organizations adopt and implement new technologies, their workforce can struggle to keep up with demands for new skills. This gap not only hinders innovation but also leaves organizations vulnerable to the next disruption.

Bridging this divide requires a multifaceted approach, including robust training programs, strategic collaborations with educational institutions and a shift toward cultivating a culture of continuous learning within the workforce. Failure to address the skills gap may impede an organization’s ability to harness the full potential of emerging technologies and to adapt to the dynamic demands of the digital era.

small group of business professionals discussing culture at the office
bar graph showing growth
$100 billion

spent by U.S. companies on training in 20221

icon of business person in front of a checkmark
1.1 billion

jobs expected to be transformed by technology over the next decade2

group of creative professionals huddled around a drawing table collaborating

Any IT professional will tell you that training is an ongoing endeavor, essential for seasoned professionals and employees who are just entering the workforce. Recognizing the strengths of this foundational training, we see an opportunity to enhance and extend its impact through our dojo approach:

  • Complementing knowledge retention: Training gives learners an essential knowledge base. The dojo can reinforce this knowledge through applied practice, ensuring long-term retention and skill mastery.
  • Extending learning adaptability: Training provides comprehensive core content. The dojo adds-on a customized experience that adapts to the evolving needs of each learner.
  • Broadening inclusive learning: Training introduces concepts to a diverse audience. The dojo expands on this by providing varied interactive experiences that cater to individual learning styles and preferences.
  • Enhancing applied knowledge: Training imparts critical theoretical knowledge. The dojo enables learners to apply this theory to real-world scenarios, bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical application.

By recognizing where traditional training concludes, the dojo seamlessly takes the baton, offering an environment for learners to apply, practice, and perfect the skills and concepts they have acquired. This dual approach not only solidifies the knowledge base established by training but also accelerates the learner's ability to contribute effectively and innovatively within their roles.

At the heart of this transformative approach lies the concept of "dojos". The dojo establishes a foundation for technical excellence, with a focus on technology strategy, execution, cloud, DevOps, infrastructure, software development, engineering best practices, and exploratory work in artificial intelligence. Drawing inspiration from the traditional Japanese training spaces for martial arts, modern dojos in the educational and professional development context serve as immersive environments where learners actively engage with highly tailored content. This adaptation of dojo culture proves pivotal in creating an atmosphere conducive to skills acquisition and mastery.

As organizations embrace these innovative approaches, they pave the way for a future-ready workforce capable of navigating the challenges of the digital age.

Market Perspective

Here, we explore part of a white paper from IT Revolution that provides perspective on what organizations should consider.

Navigating Barriers to Change

There are many barriers to changing an organization’s learning culture. Leadership plays an important role in that transformation. Here, we explore part of a white paper from IT Revolution that provides perspective on what organizations should consider.

Why is culture and leadership important?

IT Revolution: A product-centric operating model requires high levels of empowerment, collaboration and experimentation. As Peter Drucker is widely attributed as saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

It’s critical that you focus on leadership behaviors and fostering a culture to ensure that the organization can thrive as it moves to this new model. Core DevOps principles such as collaboration and empathy are necessary when an organization is striving to accelerate its ability to deliver highly targeted value to customers continually.

gaming team in matching shirts and headsets celebrating a win

What is culture and leadership?

IT Revolution: Effective leadership is critical to the success of any transformation. In this context, leadership includes technology executives, business executives and middle management. In the interviews, we asked what was done to align these different stakeholder groups and what specific leadership behaviors were focused on.

Culture is a frequently discussed topic in the DevOps community. The levels of collaboration, sharing and learning orientation needed to operate effectively when you are optimizing your organization for speed often require a significant cultural change. There are a lot of great tactics in the DevOps Enterprise Forum paper Tactics for Leading Change that will help you on this journey. Additionally, we will identify some key tactics that enterprises have been leveraging to ignite and grow their project-to-product transformations.

group of men and women high-fiving at the office

How do dojos enable culture change?

IT Revolution: Some of the ways a dojo can enable culture change include:

  • Space: You can create a space to specifically foster openness, collaboration and sharing. You break down the walls and create a fun and engaging environment that inspires creativity. Create teaming spaces that encourage different groups to come together, demo and share their learning with each other. In more than one company, dojo participants commented that they feel like they are working at a different company due to the different experiences they have in the dojo.
  • Process: You can orient your processes in the dojo to get teams comfortable making decisions for themselves. The dojo can be a safe zone. People experiment, fail and learn in an environment where such actions are explicitly allowed and encouraged.
  • Coaches: Dojo coaches are often cultural experts and evangelists. They know exactly what is wrong with the existing culture within the company and are very well-positioned to guide participants through the things they need to do to change. They also become a voice of the teams in the dojos and coach management on what they need to change to enable and empower their teams.

Our Perspective

TEKsystems leaders Prakamya Choudhary, Drew Deal, Jason Gibson and Danny Lopez share their points of view on how the dojo model transforms the organization’s learning culture.

Leveling Up Amidst Change

Advancements in technologies, business models and work methodologies significantly influence a company’s foundation—their people. While transformation introduces new technology, the absence of the right talent to drive initiatives reveals vulnerabilities. Companies must focus on identifying, quantifying and delivering training and development programs that foment new skills, behaviors and mindsets across the entire organization.

The rapid pace of change demands that teams and individuals embrace accelerated learning, unlearning and relearning. This environment requires novel perspectives, innovative work methodologies, and a leadership and cultural norms shift.

Four colleagues reviewing a whiteboard in a conference room

Enter the dojo, a term borrowed from Japanese culture, meaning “the place of the way,” or a place where a student comes to practice. Essentially, the dojo—in the context of digital transformation and software development—embodies a cultural movement geared toward aiding organizations in enhancing and expediting their software delivery. Teams and leaders emerge from the dojo experience invigorated, having applied contemporary software delivery techniques to their own products. Successful organizations recognize the dojo as the paramount vehicle for team modernization, where newfound knowledge and the drive for continuous improvement take root. Optimal learning and growth occur when individuals apply newly acquired skills to their product backlog, transcending existing organizational constraints.

The dojo offers a hands-on, immersive experience that refines a team’s thinking and working methods, empowering organizations to expedite product delivery to customers. The dojo method of learning offers a long-term solution and has a lifelong impact on participants, which reshapes their thinking and mindset in professional and personal pursuits.

african american woman showing two male colleagues work on her laptop

Co-Created Coaching Backlog

The dojo coaches bring a unique perspective, working closely with company leaders and participants to co-create a backlog tailored to their needs and objectives. : In the discovery phase, we base our recommendations on a combination of data, observation, and metrics, aiming to identify opportunities for improvement, skill enhancement, and other potential areas of advancement within the organization. For example, our dojo coaches closely collaborated with company leadership to target a pivotal issue within the team's backlog. They zeroed in on a manual process that was a significant time sink each quarter. With the dojo's guidance, the team they coached not only automated the process, streamlining their workflow and minimizing errors, but also cultivated an automation-first mindset. They embraced a team-first approach, leveraging mob programming to develop a proof of concept that not only met immediate needs but also scaled across the enterprise, This win symbolized a shift towards a culture of collective problem-solving and continuous improvement.

Coaches work very closely with the participants to understand each individual’s unique ways of working and approaches to problem-solving. Our human-centric approach empowers us to develop a customized roadmap tailored to each team's unique journey, guiding them through practical application and consistent practice to achieve their goals. Through repetition, the coaches help participants retain information and master the content via a “see one, do one, teach one” method. A core tenet of the dojo is that coaches teach participants how to think rather than what to think. This approach accelerates a shift in mindset for participants and acts as a foundation to change the learning culture across the entire organization.

In the Dojo, we bridge the gap between theory and practice, guiding teams to bring their learning to life within their unique work environments. It's about making learning stick and resonate in a very real and impactful way.

Prakamya Choudhary TEKsystems

Putting Training To Work in Real Time

Traditional training methods can cycle large numbers of workers through training sessions, but the training is often abstract, and employees quickly find themselves back at their desks wondering how to apply the lessons.

In the dojo model, participants practice by doing and teaching others. The dojo's distinctive approach lies in its immersive learning environment, which goes expands upon traditional training programs. Participants engage directly with actual work from their backlog, applying new ways of working and technologies to solve real-world problems in their own business and technical environments. This hands-on experience is pivotal in building practical skills and catalyzing organizational change efforts.

modern office space with bright colors and glass walls

Our vision is to redefine how companies adopt and implement cutting edge technologies and ways of working. It's about investing in people and preparing them for the next wave of business and technology challenges. We're committed to making real, impactful changes by working closely with our clients, getting our hands dirty, and collaboratively solving the actual business problems they face. It's a partnership for the future, walking side by side in this transformative journey.

FIRST LAST Danny Lopez TEKsystems
dojo style training room full of professional students and an instructor in the front of the room.

Key outcomes include:

  • Cultural shift: Aiming to transform the hearts and minds of individuals, teams, and leadership groups to catalyze meaningful organizational change.
  • Pragmatic Results: Drawing from our extensive coaching and consulting experience, we guide organizations in crafting processes, cultures, and methodologies tailored to their specific needs and situations.
  • Experimentation: Cultivating a mindset of 'experiment fast, learn fast' within teams, our dojo encourages the practice of rapid, short-burst experiments using a scientific approach to drive learning and fast-track innovation.

TEKsystems Portfolio

  • As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner, TEKsystems covers the full spectrum of Amazon Web Services (AWS) initiatives. From design, migration and implementation to adoption and improvement, continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) to infrastructure as code, lean Agile, and more—we’re there.
  • As a Google Cloud Premier Partner, we support the full spectrum of delivering Google Cloud initiatives, from design, migration and implementation to adoption and improvement, covering CI/CD, infrastructure as code, Lean Agile, data analytics, AI, ML Gen AI.
  • As a Microsoft Solutions Partner, we bring qualified expertise and deep experience to help you maximize ROI and achieve real value. From discovery and design to adoption and improvement—we’ll tailor our solutions to meet your needs and help you stay ahead of what's next.
  • As a Red Hat Premier Business Partner, we provide qualified technical leadership, open-source expertise and scale to help you get the most out of your Red Hat products—no matter where you are in your modernization journey.
  • With 30+ SnowPro certified architects, our Snowflake Elite Partner status highlights our proven skills and experience to help you leverage Snowflake’s innovative technology and achieve data-driven results.
  • As a ServiceNow Elite Partner, we bring experience and subject matter know-how to help you drive your ServiceNow initiatives. From implementation to optimization—we’ll tailor our services to help you stay ahead of the curve and accelerate the adoption of ServiceNow solutions.
  • In good company
    Transformational technologies demand equally transformative partnerships. Full-stack capabilities coupled with depth and diversity of experience in leading platforms that help organizations grow, innovate and thrive.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of TEKsystems, Inc. or its related entities.

Meet Our Contributors

color headshot of prakamya choudhary

Prakamya Choudhary

Principal Coach & Consultant

Drew Deal

Dojo Coach, TEKsystems

Jason Gibson

Dojo Coach, TEKsystems

Danny Lopez

Practice Lead of Product Management & Dojos, TEKsystems