Future Trends 2021: People Experience and Challenge-based Learning

5 min readJun 16, 2021


8+1 Best practices and tips on how to go beyond the engagement of people✨

Watch back the Future Trends 2021: People Experience & Challenge-based learning event here

✨ From 2021, organizations have an obligation to not just engage (virtually), but empower people every day. In 2020, the world changed. The boundaries between work and life were suddenly removed, health and safety became a critical concern, and cultural turbulence was everywhere. In a challenge, an opportunity emerged: For the first time we meant our question to each other: ‘How are you?’ and we were there to listen, support and share. Since 2020, a new approach to employee experience design — the whole person framework as RADICL puts it — emerged to flip the paradigm so every person can thrive at work and in life.

🎯 We captured our takeaways on a Problem & Opportunity Map about how to go towards fully empowering people:

  • LISTEN AND BUILD EMPATHY. We need to understand and act on what people are saying, thinking, feeling, doing, and how they are connecting with an organization’s purpose. Dan Riley stated that organizations need to move beyond traditional employee engagement, performance management, and leadership development that happens only once a year. Managers have been shifting from an annual questionnaire towards doing virtual pulses and 1on1s weekly / biweekly / monthly.
  • CREATE A SAFE SPACE WITH ANONYMITY. When we talk about sensitive topics, David Jacobson added that anonymity and providing the opportunity for participants to uncover their identity only after the teams are formed, only after feedback is given creates a safe space even at hierarchical organizations, and also in flat ones to suggest new ways of doing things, ask even uncomfortable questions and question the status quo.
  • CONNECT THE TEAM WITH THE ORGANIZATION’S PURPOSE. Let them ask questions that reframe the original problem they are working on. Luis Rodriguez shared his go-to method is using the 5-Whys to really understand and find what matters. Dan Riley shared crafting a purpose statement, just like: ‘We exist to….., we provide……, we serve…….., our values are:………..’ help the team to align on the big picture and think 3–5 years ahead. Even if this purpose is just for the project team, asking ‘why do we exist?’ is probably the most empowering question we can start a collaboration with.
  • GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER ON DIFFERENT LEVELS. Solving meaningful problems as part of company-wide challenges, wellbeing programs, and new generation virtual ice breakers all engage people on new levels: physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual wellbeing. As Dan Riley has put it: By widening the lens across work and life, the whole person framework brings significant benefits to people through more fulfilling work & careers, and it accelerates teams and organizations through better alignment to goals and culture.
  • EMBRACE TIME PRESSURE. A tight timeline with the steps of a problem-solving process can also cause excitement for participating teams as Luis Rodriguez shared. We live in a fast-paced world with an exponentially changing environment, so short cycles of frequent iterations, just like in a Design Sprint, or even in 15-min or 30-mins sessions makes sense for the teams.
  • LEARN BY EXPERIENCE — BY SOLVING CHALLENGES, DOING, EXPERIMENTATION AND VALIDATION. The future will transform the way people learn and upskill to be capable of doing more tomorrow than yesterday. In a constantly changing world, where we are surrounded by sensations, we need new triggers to engage talents. We need to empower them to solve real challenges with real companies — this will add genuine value for both the problem owner and for the learner.
  • MENTORS & FEEDBACK CULTURE. Priszcilla Varnagy added how important it is to design the way people get feedback not just yearly in a survey or 360 evaluation but for their work-in-progress. Instead of a one-time judgment, it should be a helpful suggestion that we can do best by allocating mentors to teams, who are working on solving complex problems or building impactful new solutions. David Jacobson shared how important it is to invite the original problem owner and those who will benefit from the outcome to give constant feedback while the team is working on a solution. Answering questions, sharing what has worked so far and what was found challenging is important information for people to feel valued and empowered to go beyond what exists and create something meaningful.
  • CELEBRATE SUCCESSES AND FAILURES PERSONALLY. Reflecting back and actually talking about recent successes and valuing trials but failures is one of the most important and talked about, yet least kept methods to empower people. Through digitalization, there are new doors to talking about successes just like opening a Slack or MS Team #celebrate channel or incorporating them on a slide of a team meeting, we need to find new ways to get the message across, that leaders do pay attention to moments that matter.
  • +1 BE HUMAN-CENTERED FIRST, REVENUE WILL FOLLOW. Values come into play where there are frameworks provided just like how Kim Scott explains in the book ‘Radical Condor’. The more we can make purpose questions real, personal and honest it will talk to employees and clients more than they matter — which will eventually result in better financial outcomes. As technology progresses, we will value more and more the true personal care and human touch even to virtual experiences.

People Experience & Challenge-based learning 2021 was an exclusive, early-access event of Be-novative for top C-level executives, Chief People Officers, CHROs, consultants, professors, and technological pioneers who want to learn how to empower people in the post-covid world to solve complex problems and upskill them for what comes in a virtual or hybrid world. Through 2 live talks discussing real stories of how the method of challenge-based learning developed by Apple in 2008 is more trending than ever.

We were talking with:

- Dan Riley, Co-founder of RADICL, an authority in people science and the whole person experience, enabling organizations to move beyond traditional employee engagement and unlock what people are saying, feeling, thinking and how they are connecting with an organization’s purpose.

- David Jacobson, Executive Director of Online Education, Professor of Practice at SMU Cox School of Business, plans and leads immersive learning experiences for MBA students solving real-life enterprise- and startup challenges where talents apply complex problem-solving methods and perspective change for building a strategy suited for driving engagement and business results in the post-pandemic era.

- Luis Rodriguez, Graduate Teaching Assistant and MBA candidate at SMU Cox School of Business, an IBM Enterprise Design Thinking Practitioner, with a unique overview on the changing needs of young talents, facilitates challenge-based learning programs from USA to Asia.

Host & Facilitator:

- Priszcilla Varnagy, CEO & Founder of Be-novative, a Design Thinking process management platform to solve the right problems together involving everyone’s diverse viewpoints.

👋 Continue this journey with us! Check out Be-novative features on people experience or features on learning and development in talent programs or get in touch with us. We are here to give you tips on your own project or even facilitate your first workshop for free to act on our purpose contributing to a more creative way of work.




Be-novative is a Design Thinking and Innovation platform that helps organizations build breakthroughs collaboratively. http://be-novative.com @benovative