The key to effective training and communications? Simplicity.


What you'll learn on this podcast episode

Building a winning culture of ethics and compliance requires efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of a program—including training, communications, and a code and conduct. But how do you ensure these elements all work together to create a meaningful and intentional learning experience? While also contributing to desired business outcomes? In this episode of LRN’s Principled Podcast, host Carolyn Grace explores why a deep understanding of curriculum design is essential to developing an effective program. Listen in as she speaks with Erick Sawyer, the chief ethics and compliance officer of Inhabit, (recently rebranded from Inhabit IQ), and Damien DeBarra, the leader of Curriculum Design and Communication Strategy in LRN’s Advisory group, about the learning curriculum they created by leveraging Inhabits code of conduct. 

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Guest: Erick Sawyer

Erick Sawyer – Grayscale

As Inhabit’s chief ethics and compliance officer, Erick Sawyer leads the company’s day-to-day compliance operations to ensure Inhabit is in compliance with various regulatory requirements and employees are in adherence with internal procedures and policies. Erick creates strategic programs that are paired with tactical plans to positively impact customers and employees across the software ecosystem. Prior to joining Inhabit, Erick held various roles in legal, compliance, quality, and learning and development in the financial services industry. He has focused his career on bridging the gap between people and process to drive a culture of ethics and compliance, protecting the brand and reputation of leading organizations.

Guest: Damien DeBarra

Damien DeBarra – Grayscale

Damien DeBarra brings more than 20 years’ experience to the instructional design and strategic workforce planning spaces.  As the Leader in Curriculum Design and Communication Strategy at LRN, he focuses on creating training solutions that ensure business buy-in and connect hiring practices to day-one learning roll-outs. In the last few years, Damien has helped organizations such as United Airlines, Sun Life Financial, SITEL, Astellas, MFS Investments, and SAP create 90-day action plans for their solutions and develop supporting communication strategies. He has worked with over 200 clients in areas ranging from retail to pharmaceuticals, call centers to nuclear plant manufacturing. Prior to LRN, Damien spent more than nine years as the Learning Solutions Director and Head of Instructional Design at Interactive Services. He has also worked as an instructional designer at NCALT, Electric Paper, and Epic. Damien received his BA from Maynooth University.

Host: Carolyn Grace


Carolyn Grace is a content writer on LRN's global marketing team and co-producer of the Principled Podcast. She specializes in writing compelling stories about ethics and compliance that resonate across business segments, industries, and personas while hitting critical KPIs for traffic and engagement. Topics she frequently covers include ESG, data privacy and protection, DEI, the role of boards of directors and leadership, corporate training and e-learning, and ethical corporate culture.

Prior to joining LRN, Carolyn was a writer and content strategist at Thinkso Creative, a boutique creative agency in New York City. At Thinkso, she wrote internal and external communications for clients in technology, nonprofit, law, logistics, and financial services sectors. Before that, Carolyn conducted trend research and cultural strategy at Horizon Media, specializing in entertainment, travel, media and technology, health and wellness, and food and beverage categories. Carolyn graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in American History and French Studies and a minor in Journalism.


Principled Podcast transcription

Intro: Welcome to the Principled Podcast brought to you by LRN. The Principled Podcast brings together the collective wisdom on ethics, business and compliance, transformative stories of leadership and inspiring workplace culture. Listen in to discover valuable strategies from our community of business leaders and workplace change makers.

Carolyn Grace: Building a winning culture of ethics and compliance requires efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of a program, including training, communications, and a code of conduct. But how do you ensure these elements all work together to create a meaningful and intentional learning experience while also contributing to desired business outcomes? Hello, and welcome to another episode of LRNs Principled Podcast. I'm your host, Carolyn Grace, content writer at LRN and co-producer of the podcast. Today, I'm joined by Eric Sawyer, the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Inhabit IQ, and my colleague, Damien DeBarra, the leader of curriculum design and communication strategy in LRNs Advisory Group. 

We're going to be talking about why a deep understanding of curriculum design is essential to developing an effective program, using Inhabit IQ as a prime example. Eric and Damien recently completed a learning curriculum for the company's code of conduct, providing the business with a simple narrative for training communications and rearranging future training around that approach. Eric, Damien, thank you both for coming on the Principled Podcast. 

Eric Sawyer: Thanks, Carolyn. I'm really excited to be here and to share this conversation with you and Damien today. 

Damien DeBarra: Thanks, Carolyn. Pleasure to be here. 

Carolyn Grace: We are so happy to have you both. Eric, I'll start with you. For those who may not be familiar with Inhabit IQ, can you start by telling us a bit about the organization? 

Eric Sawyer: Sure, happy to. So, Inhabit is a PropTech software company that's only been around seven or eight years, private equity backed, the great story of just growing extremely rapidly over that period of time. And we really focus on two specific parts of the market. One is the residential community. So, if you've ever rented an apartment complex, Inhabit provides a lot of the software for many of those apartment complexes and properties that you may have yourself rented a property at or leased at some point in your life. And on the other side of that, we provide property management software solutions in the vacation industry. So, if you've ever been and booked a short term rental through Airbnb or HomeAway or Vrbo or one of those types of booking agents, it's likely that you've had some interaction potentially with Inhabit in the background. 

So, we're a company around of 1100 employees spread across the globe, made up of just under 40 different entities over a period of extensive mergers and acquisitions. So, we're kind of a mixed group of offering software solutions and services. And we're at the point in our company history where we're moving away from what was once a startup mentality to now a leader in this space as we look at best in class solutions and best in class employee experiences. 

Carolyn Grace: Thanks. That's quite impressive. Damien, you and I, of course, have collaborated in the past, so I have an understanding of your position. But share with our listeners the nature of your work at LRN. It's a really unique blend of advisory and instructional design expertise. 

Damien DeBarra: Yes. Thanks, Carolyn. So, the background to it is that I've spent most of my career as an instructional designer. Originally, I was an instructional designer or a script writer, then moved up to being what was called a learning manager, and then became head of instructional design at one point. So, I've spent most of my career making e-learning courses, making classroom training, making documents that are used to support those efforts. And over the years, that morphed into going from one learning event up to multiple learning events or, to give it its proper name, curriculum. So about four years ago, I made a pivot and joined the advisory team at LRN in a new role, which is leader of curriculum design and the communication strategies that are rolled out to support those curricula. Those curricula can be really on anything. The bulk of them are in the ethics and compliance space, but they can also involve onboarding curricular for new hourly associates at a big box retail, out to wrap chicken burgers at a fast food retail outlet, and everything up to complex financial products for financial institutions. 

So I've been doing this longer than I probably care to admit, but most of my background, as I said, is in instructional design. These days, I worry about reducing efficiency in training time, trying to get people to proficiency in their job faster, trying to make an onboarding experience or an ethics and compliance experience enjoyable, or at the very least not awful and trying to make things fun, trying to make things simple. And overlying all of that, at the top of all that, is a focus on good, simple storytelling. I'm a firm believer that if we tell learners a simple story about what they're going to learn, why they need to learn it, how it'll help them in their job, they're much more likely to pay more attention, they're much more likely to enjoy what they're doing rather than resenting it. Trying to get them to understand that we're not ticking a box, we're trying to move a needle, and that investment in training and development is in their own interest. 

Carolyn Grace: And that makes a ton of sense, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more about how that was applied to Inhabit IQ. So Eric, it got me thinking, prior to our recording, I remember you mentioning that you have a background in learning and development as well. That's a very valuable perspective to bring to the ethics and compliance space, especially given the nature of the curriculum work that you and Damien ultimately produced. Tell me more about that initial spark for this project. What challenge were you trying to solve? 

Eric Sawyer: Yeah. No, that's a great question and I love Damien's view of the world on how this should look, because I think that aligns very much with some of the things I'll share. My professional career has always been in roles that kind of stood between the business and the ethics and compliance space, oversight governance. But always had the keen mindset around the idea of, how do you make this real for employees? When you think about compliance training and initiatives. And I did have the opportunity, in a prior role, before joining Inhabit IQ, to lead the learning and development team as part of my responsibilities. And that gave me a great deep dive into what is the most effective training approach, what's the most effective ways to deliver messages that are impactful for employees? 

So as Damien mentioned, it's not a check the box type mentality, but that you're actually driving a message in a culture that is moving a needle and it's not the dreaded compliance course or fill in the blank exercise that you have to do, taking team members away from their day, but it's something that's actually meaningful, value added, and folks can begin to wrap their head around what we're trying to do as a organization as well as giving those bite size and simple knowledge tactics that they can apply to their day-to-day. 

So to your question, Carolyn, my exposure to learning and development as a leader was really impactful for me and also drove a passion to say, how do you do this well? I think we've all been with organizations, or many of us, in which we had to take a course or some type of company required learning, and we've walked away and said, "That was probably not the most enjoyable experience." And I think, for me, I've always had a mindset around, how do I maybe shift that needle just a little bit so our team, our team members and our leaders can actually wrap their head around and digest learning modules that mean a lot to them and how they show up every single day when they run our businesses or be a part of our teams. 

Carolyn Grace: Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. So Damien, when Eric approached you with the request to work together, what was your initial reaction? How did you two arrive at this idea of designing a curriculum for Inhabit IQ? And, if I believe, it was for specifically their code of conduct? 

Damien DeBarra: Well, initially, it didn't actually start out as a code of conduct related request. What happened was Eric and the Inhabit team came to us and said, "Look, we've got a certain identified set of risk topics that we need to provide training to the business on." So, the classics you'd expect in an E&C program, anti-harassment discrimination, conflicts of interest, anti-bribery corruption, some stuff on DEI, which is becoming increasingly important, and environmental health and safety. The difficulty is, sometimes, that when you present a learner with the story, "Hey, here's six e-learning courses for you to do." It can seem a little bit overwhelming, it can seem a little bit dispiriting, and perhaps a little technical. So what I did was... Very early on, in a conversation Eric and I had, I asked if his company had a code of conduct. Now, the code of conduct document, which most companies have, it's sometimes very celebrated, but oftentimes, after it's initially launched, it can get a little bit forgotten. 

What I wanted to do here was actually put that front and center in the training strategy. Because every company has one, and if you look at codes of conduct, I'm being very reductive now, but most codes of conduct have the same three or four or five sections. There's usually an introduction by the CEO or the CCO, there's a statement of the company's mission, vision and values. And then, below that, you'll have three or four sections. And those sections, generally speaking, again, speaking very broadly, the first section is usually about people. So, that's like anti-harassment policies and training around that, all that kind of stuff associated with people. The second one is usually around the workplace or industry in which you're working. So, that might be particular laws which you have to be cognizant of in the industry you're working in and the country that you're working in or the region that you're working in. 

A third section is often around the company. So protecting company assets, data privacy, records, bookkeeping, that kind of stuff. And then, a fourth bucket, or fourth area, is usually around what we might call citizenship. So environmental, social governance, awareness of human trafficking and how that might impact on supply chains. Every code of conduct is different, and I can say that with confidence because we write a lot of them at LRN. But generally speaking, you find those four buckets. When you looked at the Inhabit IQ code of conduct, which was in existence, it's organized around four values. So going back to what I said in the beginning, a lot of the value we add is actually not in adding, it's actually in taking things away and trying to arrive at a simpler story to tell the learner. 

And the story goes something like this, "Hi. Hey there, thanks for joining the company. If you want to be successful around here and you want to keep the company safe and so the company can be successful, you essentially need to be able to do four things." That story, basing it around the values in the code of conduct, is an altogether less intimidating experience for a learner, it's a simpler story to understand. And also, we talk a lot in training about WIIFM, what's in it for me, which is frankly what most learners are thinking when they get the email saying they have to do some training. But what's in it for them is understanding what the company's values are, understanding what the company's commitments are will help you in performance reviews. It'll help you in conversations with your manager. It will help you in your conversations with your clients, and it will help you in conversations when you're trying to recruit great talent. 

So, if we can take a series of risk topics like the ones that Eric had identified, and then map that to the values or the commitments made in a code of conduct document, and then use that as the structure for the whole training story, the whole training message, that makes it a lot simpler for learners to remember. The other great thing about values, as we like to say here at LRN, rules are good, but values are better. The great thing about values is those values in the code of conduct, they're often, quite literally, on the walls in the business. So when you walk into large organizations, you walk up to the reception desk, and somewhere in that area, those values are often literally written on the walls. They'll have badges, they'll have pictures. The business knows about them. You don't have to go through a round of reviews or ideate to get them. They're there. 

So, what we do is we use the codes of conduct, like a framework, to hang all of the training off. So the aha moment, if you want, was Eric and I looked at the code of conduct and I said, "Eric, look, let me go into the library..." Because it's vast, right? Our library has over 500 learning topics in about 70 different languages. That could be a little overwhelming. It's a bit like the Netflix effect where you open the library and you go, "Where do we even start here?" And you start lots of things for two minutes, maybe don't complete them. This was an attempt to curate that content for those audience members. 

So, rather than paralyzing them with too much choice and saying, "Be free to explore and take the training as you want." We wanted to respect people's time, we understand that learners in an organization like Inhabit IQ are busy people, they're time poor, they're training weary, and they want to be, in some ways, told what it is they need to learn. So, hanging the training framework of those four values made the story simpler and it enabled us to move very quickly towards deploying those training courses for Eric and the organization. 

Carolyn Grace: Yeah. That's so interesting, putting the code at the center of this curriculum. I mean, frankly, maybe I'm nerd-ing out a bit, but I find that fascinating because, most often, I hear conversations around codes where the code is still framed as if it's an entirely separate entity from training. So I'm curious, in your opinion, why you think that isn't happening more often or really what was the thinking behind making it so integral to the learning experience? 

Damien DeBarra: Well, the reason for making it integral is because oftentimes, as I said, it's already there. That bunfight has happened. A code of conduct authoring process and review process from initial meeting to town hall where the CCO or the CEO launches it, that can take 12 months. And there's a lot of hoopla around it when it gets launched, a lot of attention and energy. But it can quickly fizzle out and get a little bit forgotten. But that has been an exhaustive process. Writing a code of conduct, the actual copywriting of the document is the quick biff. It's getting it through all the stakeholder reviews and getting it through the board reviews, that takes a long time. So, if you've spent that much time and energy and, frankly, resources on getting it done, let's use it. It's already there. You've got that simple storytelling framework, as I said, literally written on the wall. 

As to why that doesn't happen more often, that's an interesting question, which we could take an hour to unpick. But I think, very quickly, it's because sometimes one part of a business might take care of the authoring and construction of a code of conduct, and it doesn't get... The training department, for [inaudible 00:16:42] a better expression, over on the other side of the building, might not actually know about it. So, we've often had the case where we're working with clients and I'll be talking to, say, a training team, and that training team will be actually unaware that another part of their company is talking to another part of LRN, and we're making the code of conduct. 

So, what we always say is that the code is the hub in the middle of the wheel and everything else, the training deployment, the communications, the town hall, everything else around it, supporting it are the spokes that come off of it. We focus on codes, partially because that's what we do in advisory, it's our bread and butter, it's most of what we spend our time doing, but also because it's there. Every company usually has one, and they usually have simple three and four part structures. So our thinking is, hang the training framework off of that, keep the story as simple as possible. 

Carolyn Grace: Yeah. Absolutely. So, let's talk about the implementation then. What did you... And I'm asking this of you, Eric, and you, Damien, what did you need this curriculum to address, and how did you bring it to life at Inhabit IQ? 

Eric Sawyer: So, I could start. I think sometimes it's really all about where you're at on the journey. And when we came to LRN and got connected with Damien and the team, we had our code baked for about a year, and we had spent a lot of time, just like Damien mentioned, on trying to get that right. We are a company of many business units, a lot of diverse perspectives and, quite frankly, products and services that span the globe. So when we talked about or thought about, "Okay. What does true ethics and compliance training look like at Inhabit?" One of the things we really leveraged was, "Hey, we really feel good about this code of conduct that we've developed. It's simple, it's digestible, folks could wrap their head around it. They're values that just make sense to every team member across the organization." 

We had also seen a little bit of insight into this kind of motto that we created, which was all together, all driven. And as an organization, we began to see how those words began to resonate with people. So, there was this idea that if we could begin to get that same mindset running across the organization with our values and our code of conduct, that folks would begin to harness those tenants of that in their day-to-day work. So, I think we had hoped for, and now what we're seeing, is this idea that we were able to marry up the code with the LRN courses that matched specifically to the code. And I'll be quite honest, when Damien approached us with this, I thought to myself, "I don't know if this is really going to work. This seems a little bit like trying to fit something that something's already been created." 

And when we got back to it and Damien spent some time really understanding the words on the page that had created throughout the past 12 months or so, it was really easy to fit that into our story. And when you took a step back, you were able to see that we're trying to drive good work and good behaviors at Inhabit, and you can do that both from a business success standpoint and from a culture of compliance as well, and it all ties together. So, there was a little bit of skepticism at the front end saying, "Can this really work? Can this really come together and feel natural from an employee perspective?" One of our big initiatives at Inhabit is we're probably not trying to do stuff just to do it. We want it to be impactful to our team members. And in order to do that, it may take us a little bit more time on the front end on how we connect those dots, but we also know when we have it right, when you can see it all come together. 

So, I think we're at the early stages of seeing what that really means and looks like as things get deployed here over time. But I would say that the effort at the front end looked pretty daunting, but when we got... We said, "Hey, let's try this. Let's see what this looks like." It came together really, really well. And it was really exciting from my end because I was able to take a step back and say, "We're not just checking the box here, we're just not doing this to do it to say we have a compliance program, et cetera. But we have the option here to really drive something that makes a lot of sense to every single individual contributor across our organization." And I'm excited to continue to share that, and share that with not just our existing team, but any new hire that joins the team into the future. 

Damien DeBarra: Thanks, Eric. Some very kind words in there. I suppose my thought, Carolyn, would be to bring this to life, what we did was, as I keep saying, we hung it onto these values that are articulated in the code of conduct, and it's worth talking about those maybe for a moment. So, the Inhabit IQ code of conduct is based around four core values. And they are simplicity, act with integrity, achieve as a team, and support progress. So, that's the overarching architecture. We're going to build a bunch of e-learning courses, maybe four or five of them, around those themes. So for example, in the first course, which is on the theme of simplicity, I was then able to go into the LRN library and identify learning topics. Because for anyone listening who doesn't understand or isn't familiar with our library, all of our courses are built around five to seven minute learning topics. Each of those have an internal instructional design model, which is called Learn it, Work it, Prove it. 

So, think of them as Lego blocks. They can be picked up and moved around. So, what you get is a mix and match approach. So, I took one topic from this course over here and another topic from that course over there, and it bolted them together and I called the course Simplicity. So, that first course covers ask before acting, speaking up, commitment to non-retaliation. The Act With Integrity course, which was actually broken into two parts because that was the biggest need, that covers stuff like aback, export controls, conflicts of interest, business courtesies. And we designed the courses around those values, as I say, mixing and matching the topics. 

And then, to make it flow, to make it harmonious with the Inhabit code of conduct, we top and tailed. So, there are screens inserted at the stop that say, "Hey, as an employee of a Inhabit IQ, you'll be familiar with our code of conduct. It has four values. This learning program is wrapped around this four values. This is the first course of five based on the theme of simplicity or act with integrity." Upfront, you tell the learner exactly how many minutes it's going to take, how easy it's going to be and how it's going to help them. So, at the start and the end of each course in that curriculum plan, the learner is always told, "Here's where you are, here's where you're going next, and here's how long it's going to take." 

So, it was designed to... We're able to take that library content, which, as we know, has been built and written over a quarter of a century now. It's solid, really good content. But we're able to modify it in certain places and, obviously, brand it so that it looks exactly like Eric's business. So, the learner isn't getting an LRN product, the learner is getting an Inhabit IQ product with LRN content threaded through it. So it feels, the whole time, as though this has been considered for me, it's been written for me, it's been written in an understanding of the fact that I don't have a huge amount of time and it maps to the values that I know and I'm aware of because they are literally written on the walls in the business. 

Carolyn Grace: Right. And I absolutely hear you on the importance of that simple narrative as well. 

Eric Sawyer: Carolyn, if you don't mind, I'll add something there. I think really what was meaningful in the pre-work and the project itself was Damien and team were really listening to some of the needs for our particular organization and what we were trying to get to. A great example that Damien just shared about is just the need for the right bite size content throughout. I think probably some of my earlier comments was, "This sounds like a great idea, but I can't have a team member sitting down for multiple hours trying to get through that kind of program." 

It has to be digestible, it has to be in the micro-learning type vein in order for us to be able to achieve it. We run very lean teams, which means that we have to get training and development in front of those team members in the right time and in the right format as well as within the right timeframe. And I think we were able to accomplish that and still make it all connect back to what we were driving as a business and as an organization. 

Carolyn Grace: Absolutely. I completely hear you on that. So Eric, tell me, you were touching on it a little bit earlier, but I'd love to follow up and ask what the reaction has been to this rollout. I understand it's fairly new, but what are you hearing from employees and leadership so far? 

Eric Sawyer: We're really early on, Carolyn, in just our rollout process here. But I think what we were hoping for and what we're hearing is this all makes sense, this all makes sense to me. So, I think those are the pieces that we were trying to drive and get to, and it's really exciting that that's the immediate reaction that our team members are saying. 

Carolyn Grace: Yeah. That's fantastic. So understanding that, of course, we're still in early stages here. Where do the two of you go from here with this project? What's next? Damien, I'll start with you. 

Damien DeBarra: Sure. So right now, as Eric says, from the Inhabit point of view, is the deployment is happening and it's going to be fascinating to see what the business's reaction is. The most heartening thing I've heard so far today is what Eric just said, is that this all makes sense, because that's exactly what we were aiming for. We want a simple story which Eric or anyone else in his business can tell to anyone else in the business in less than 30 seconds. That's it. We literally want an elevator pitch. So, all the time when we design a curriculum and come up with that high level story, we're looking for the simple story. Looking forward, we've been doing this for a while, this curriculum design thing. But I'll be candid, most of the curriculums I've designed have been huge. So with some clients, we design curriculums for six months, sometimes more commonly it's a year, but in many instances there are three and four and five year plans, and they take three to six months to work out. 

So, you're working out a plan for six audiences and 40 risk topics. Buckets of under five values spread across a five-year plan. Not every client can plan that far ahead. Part of it's because they're in fast moving industries and things change and the law changes and Department of Justice guidelines change and get updated. So, not everybody can plan that far ahead. A lot of clients are thinking a little bit more strategically in short term. So, they're thinking about the next year and they come to us and they'll say, "I know I need training, but I don't know what training I need and I have no idea how to organize this and I don't know where to start." So, what we're doing is now we're actually going to launch this as a formal service from LRN. 

It's going to be called Code of Conduct Curriculum Design. And the idea is you come to us with some identified risk topics. We say, "Show us your code of conduct. If you don't have a code of conduct, don't sweat it. We can write one for you." But when we get the code of conduct document done, what we'll do is we will curate those learning materials for you from our library into a recommended playlist with a simple story or narrative at the top. So, it's actually a pretty quick way for an ethics and compliance department or an ethics and compliance team to bring a quick bit of storytelling coherence to a learning strategy, which gets rolled out every year. So, it can be a quick refresh for an existing or annual repeated learning strategy and one which makes it much simpler for the learner and much simpler for the communications within the business to tell that story. 

So, we'll be launching that, I think, over the next... I'm guessing here sometime in the next month. And as I said, if you drop by, if you're a fan of LRN or you're a regular listen to our podcast, drop by the website, you'll see a button at the top called advisory. And hopefully, in the coming weeks, there'll be materials there related to this service and offering. Anybody's curious, you should be able to hit a big fat prominent button on the website to get to talk to us. And chances are you might end up getting your ear bent by me on the phone. So, that's the immediate future for us in advisory. 

Carolyn Grace: That's great. And how about you, Eric? What's next? 

Eric Sawyer: Honestly, I think this is just a start, right? I think we will continue to think about how do we reiterate and develop our team members in a way that they think both about business goals and ethics and compliance as a part of what they do every single day under the guise of probably our first value, right? Simplicity. And I think this initial first step has taken us to a place of a very simple story that we can tell to our teams, no matter if you've been with us for years or you're coming in the door for the first time as a new hire. And how we continue to find ways to reiterate that message and leverage what we've built here in partnership with LRN and with our teams internally, I think there's going to be a journey ahead in a good way. 

Carolyn Grace: Absolutely. And we certainly can't wait to hear how that goes for you. So, looking back on everything that we've just discussed, Eric and Damien, what advice would each of you give E&C teams or leaders who are looking to create similar initiatives at their organizations? 

Damien DeBarra: Only two or three? Okay. I could talk about this for an hour. But off the top of my head, and not in any particular order of importance, number one would be keep it simple. Keep it simple. Pick your simple story you're trying to tell your learners. So, the version you heard me say earlier on was, "Hey, if you want to be successful around here, you need to do the following four things." So, keep it simple. The tragedy we often see is brilliant training materials, bespoke classroom and online materials being created and then rolled out with poor or else communications. Do these 18 courses by next stage. And it's a bit of a tragedy. We see that a lot. So, keep the story simple. 

The second one would be... How do I phrase this? I alluded to earlier on, we often talk to clients, and one part of the business might be unaware on what another part of the business is doing. And oftentimes, we see codes efforts developed in a silo away from what the training and development team are doing. Putting it really boldly, I would encourage everybody working in those kinds of areas in their businesses to reach out to the people in the other parts of the business and find out what they're doing, see if they've got a simple story you can hang your framework onto. Because oftentimes, it's amazing... 

In LRN, frequently, we are the one that, bizarrely, brings some of our clients together and says, "Hey, did you know that this guy was doing this over here?" And they go, "No, I didn't know this." And when you get them talking, the story emerges and the structure and the program emerges, because innovation happens when smart people get to talk to one another. So, I would say those are the two big things that come off the top of my head. Keep it simple and reach out to other people in your organization and find out what they're doing, what are the stories that they're telling. And then, go from there. 

Eric Sawyer: Thanks, Damian. I think you took my first one on. Keep it simple. 

Damien DeBarra: Did I? I'm sorry. 

Eric Sawyer: But it's so true, right? We tend to over complicate these things. And I would say my second tenet of that is don't be afraid of that white sheet of paper. I think when, initially, Inhabit thought about our code of conduct and training and coming from a company that had some rapid growth over the last couple of years, it was the idea that you're really starting with nothing in some cases. And that, actually, is probably the greatest opportunity you may ever have to build a program and a culture of compliance and a code of conduct from all the lessons learned that you've seen go right or wrong in your past. 

So, if you're an organization and you're trying to figure out, where do I even start? I would say if you have the opportunity to start with that blank sheet of paper and to co-create that with your teams, with folks like LRN, jump in and do that. Don't let that hold you back because that may be one of the only opportunities you have to do that, and maybe one of the most rewarding. I know it's been for me and for my teams to start from nothing and build something that you're really, really proud of and that your team members are excited about when they think about your company values, your code, and how you implement that through training each and every day. 

Carolyn Grace: That's great. This has been such an insightful conversation, Eric and Damien. I've learned so much from you two, and I feel like we could keep going for another few hours, as each of you have mentioned at certain parts in this conversation. But unfortunately, we are out of time for today. So, thank you both for joining me on this episode. 

Damien DeBarra: Thanks, Carolyn. And thanks, Eric. It's been a pleasure. 

Eric Sawyer: It's been great to be here. Thanks for having me. 

Carolyn Grace: And thank you to our listeners. Once again, my name is Carolyn Grace, and I hope you join us next week on the Principled Podcast by LRN. 

Outro: We hope you enjoyed this episode. The Principled Podcast is brought to you by LRN. At LRN, our mission is to inspire principle performance in global organizations by helping them foster winning ethical cultures, rooted in sustainable values. Please visit us at to learn more. And if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And don't forget to leave us a review.


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