In ways of effective trainning post I mentioned something called Book Club. The purpose of this post is to describe the way we ended up running it internally.
One simple yet efficient way of professional development for your managers could be running a book club. The idea is to kickstart the process of obtaining a knowledge which is later combined with a knowledge exchange. We were running a book club internally at Bravado for quite a while and I want to share a bunch of learnings that can help you make the process smooth and entertaining.
Make it inclusive
As practice shows, some people will come unprepared (and that's OK), some people will read only half, etc. Since your goal is to make this process to be useful for your people maximize your chances of a good discussion - invite everyone who loves reading and is interested in learning something new. Don't limit it just for managers or just for engineers.
Set the deadline
One thing we noticed pretty quickly when we started internal book club was the fact that without having a deadline, or the date of the final discussion people don't care much about finishing the book in time. They will always think they have more time to finish the book and will focus on other things. Set the deadline so that the date of the final discussion is transparent for everyone and there's no one to blame if you are coming unprepared for the discussion call.
Have a thoughtful discussion
It is important to have some discussion where people share what they learned from the book, what they think is controversial and what they want to apply in their day-to-day practice. This will help to bring back memories about the book itself, its main ideas or learn something that was missed initially.
The way we ended up running this discussion is similar to the retro session format. We open an EasyRetro board using the same column template - what went well, what went wrong and action points. We then add our cards containing learnings and have a discussion. In the end of this discussion there's a list of action points, which can be everything - what else to learn or read about the topic, what new practice to use with the team, how to change existing process, etc.
The Book Club is a simple practice at a first glance, but it can become a powerful tool brining positive changes and learning to your organization. Try it once and share your experience with me.