I recently read that Adidas is looking to start a corporate university that would serve as a “capabilities incubator.” I’m really impressed that Adidas is looking to step along side the 64% Generation Y employees they currently have and provide training and a place for ideas to flourish. I appreciate their commitment to innovation through new ways of learning. Not only is the company looking to enrich their employees, but they are already starting the process with a collaborative mindset. They have asked employees and consumers to comment on how they could be successful, and I couldn’t help but throw my 2 cents in too.
There is a lot to consider when you outline some of the lofty goals that Adidas is hoping to accomplish, especially comparing their future selves to TED and edX. And it is exciting to think how peer-to-peer learning could foster new ideas and change the paradigm of how people, no matter what level in the organization, could serve as a leader. However, the first thing that came to my mind is what all of their 48,000 employees have in common – their passion for sports, competition, and fitness. This passion cannot just be an underlying theme to whatever learning environment they create. But it serves as the common language for a global corporation that bridges as gaps between cultures, or even departments. Sport, should be routed at the very core of their programs.
Why not offer a class about leveraging your strengths in sales. And then have a chance to get to put some of that energy into sport. Have people learn some wrestling moves, and provide additional excitement by bringing in an elite athlete that will serve as a coach and referee.
Or how about a class on endurance in strategy and in the afternoon the employees are encouraged to participate in a friendly game of soccer. Or a workshop on focus and everyone gets to try yoga. Or even a personality test that serves as strength finder with a volleyball game at the end to illustrate how each role is needed in a team.
Each of these create an environment of learning, easily transfer knowledge from sport to business, and allows for cross functional innovation while people from all departments participate in different workshops.
If Adidas succeeds, it could result in stolen share from their largest U.S. competitor, Nike. Not only could they successfully retain employees (a very lucrative cost containment tool), but also build a more cohesive culture. I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I hope I get an insider’s look one day. 🙂