Once upon a time...

A world-renowned team of thinkers, makers, and doers wanted to focus on nurturing innovators and building the best place for creatives to grow.

As they worked on an array of great initiatives they met a team of educators designing new ways for individuals to learn through experiences.


Both teams believed that every employee should continue learning throughout their life, not just at the beginning. Doing so would make for better teams, better work, and a better world.




Because of that, in 2013 they collaborated on various projects to bring working and learning closer together.

Design Thinking

This led Leo Burnett and Experience Institute to co-create the Leo Leaps program.

The Leaps program was a 90-day professional development opportunity for Burnetters to design a project of their own rooted in a curiosity or skill set they hoped to pursue. Participants applied to be part of the program and used a tool designed by Experience Institute to design and pursue their ideas together.


Together, both teams learned about Burnetters' needs at the agency:

Danielle Bergstrom

“Account managers often aren’t seen as creative types at the agency. While working at a creative space it is great to feel like more of a creative. This program allowed me to connect with the creatives I work with at Leo Burnett. It creates a better sense of belonging at the agency.”

Getting the opportunity to connect and relate with people from other roles at the company creates a greater sense of belonging.

Demiah Bryant

“It helped me become more aware of personal learning, and it’s helped me increase that personal learning.”

With such a fast-paced work environment, it is easy to put personal learning on the back burner.

Agency Employee

“I’m scared to share my ideas because if it’s wrong, my superiors will think poorly of me. What they think of me determines the success of my career.”

If an employee feels that the success of his or her career is determined by “not failing” it makes it hard for them to feel like they can take risks in their work.

Kent Weber

“I participated in the program to get support from the company to learn something that I have been interested in learning.”

Leo Leaps gives permission and support to explore a curiosity.

Agency Employee

“In this industry, you have to keep growing and learning to be successful.”

In such a changing, iterative industry you can’t stop growing and developing if you want to continue to produce the best work.

Kelly Alesso

“It’s good to push myself to explore what I’m not naturally good at.”

When you are in the same role for a while, it can become easy to lean into your strengths and not stretch outside of your comfort zone. Staying creative means learning continuously.

And now they want to continue helping employees develop their skills in prototyping, collaborating, and tackling complex challenges.

Here are four ways
LB & Ei could work together in 2017:



Learning Leaps in Chicago


The 2016 Leo Leaps tests went well. People are tapping into things they’re really interested in, doing interesting projects, and telling great stories. They’re beginning to take a more active role in their learning and development.

We want to continue the program in 2017, helping more employees hone the meta-skills of identifying and pursuing challenges, prototyping and testing possible solutions, and documenting and sharing their learning with others. And, ultimately, we want to help people build careers that are meaningful and rewarding.


Run 3 sessions of Leo Leaps, led by Ei alumni.

Use Leo Burnett to continue running experiments and working on ways to scale the program.

Market to new employees, but keep it open to all employees, and invite employees from other Chicago Publicis companies to participate.



Redesign & Build Onboarding Process


Leo Burnett is a leading creative agency, and working at Leo is extremely demanding. New hires need to be able to work effectively on teams, produce consistently high-quality work, and function in a fast-paced environment. In this context, employees need the support and tools to take ownership of their ongoing learning and growth in a meaningful way.


Help Leo Burnett re-design its onboarding program for new hires, developing a series of workshops and experiences that help new hires integrate onto a team with greater confidence, agency, and purpose.

Build a foundation of self-directed learning for all new employees.



Pilot Leaps Program in Other Locations


The vision for learning and organizational development for Publicis North America includes more opportunities for collaborative, self-directed, flexible career development. The Leaps program is one concrete way to move that vision forward.

Running Leaps programs at multiple sites provides opportunities to collaborate and learn across Publicis companies. Having a common framework for designing learning projects across companies allows companies to learn from one another, and provides an initial platform for discussing and collaborating on other, more complex initiatives.


Run complete pilots in L.A. and New York, including marketing, launch, workshops, and storytelling event.

In L.A., work with Rachel as point person, with Victor and Aaron present for launch night and storytelling event, and using Rachel or online format to run the intermediate workshops.

Build relationships and the infrastructure in New York to support successful programs.



Build a Design by Learning Framework


We want to re-define what professional learning looks like. Learning is not just training. At its best, learning is active, self-directed, and just-in-time. Through this project, we will collaboratively develop and test a set of mindsets and tools that can be flexibly applied to a range of situations. The tools will support teams pursuing curiosity; quickly and collaboratively generating and testing ideas; having conversations that matter; and developing and refining solutions through ongoing, iterative cycles.


Collaboratively scope and run two learning experiments.

Experiments would either tackle an organizational challenge or support client-facing work.

Use experiments to decrease the time between learning and doing, and to begin to build a framework for Design by Learning.

"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people." - Leo Burnett