Originally published on Medium by Sean Dukes of Learnsmarter


Just recently we’ve seen some great stuff coming out about taking Trailhead into your communities. The timing is great, because we’ve been working on doing just that and finally had our launch event today.

The charity we’re working with is called Trinity Winchester. They’re based in the city where I live and work, helping vulnerable people in the community and particularly the homeless and victims of domestic abuse. Winchester, like many cities, has changed greatly in recent years and I’m sure that many of us have felt that it would be great to do something really positive to help the people you see living on the streets. I’ve raised a bit of money doing a few charity sleepouts, but after hearing about some of the Trinity clients and talking to a few of the staff, I thought “wouldn’t it be awesome if we could help someone get a job by teaching them new skills using Trailhead?”

Turning that thought into action took a while. First, we had to sell the idea to Trinity. They were interested, but it was hard to get beyond that. I kept pestering them and finally we got a meeting. Things progressed pretty quickly from there, but it took six months from our first conversation to our first session.

I realised I couldn’t do this on my own. I’m a leader of the Hampshire user group so asked Alison from the group and Elise from my team to help out. That was a good move.

We did some prep for the big day. We set up our developer org to track the badges, installed the Trail Tracker and had a quick go at setting up some Chatter Free test users and linking them to Trailhead. Alison bought biscuits and I even wrote a speech!

The first thing you notice when you go into the Trinity Centre is that there are a lot of homeless people that you never see on the street. There’s a friendly atmosphere at the centre and we were greeted enthusiastically by the learning manager, Niamh, but neither she nor we had any idea what was going to happen next.

Before we started, I thought if we got three people that would be great and five would be amazing. We had one. The speech seemed a bit pointless so I started talking to Felix explaining what Trailhead was and tried to encourage him to have a go. He signed up.

Then Jade and Adrienne walked in. I explained again and they signed up too. It was so helpful having Alison and Elise there. We had all the technical issues you could wish for — PCs running windows updates, monitors that didn’t work, locked email accounts; you name it. The team did a great job of smoothing the path, but it wasn’t easy.

And then more people came in. Soon we didn’t have enough seats and it was getting quite hectic. We had questions coming at us from all directions. Someone just got a badge. Fantastic! What was amazing was the energy in the room. I’d been a bit sceptical that anyone would really be interested at all but there was a real buzz. We were getting more and more interest. By the end of the day we’d got nine people signed up and we’d lost count of the number of badges. I just need the Trail Tracker to update so we can get the final score! (now done …)

An amazing start to this program

It was a fantastic morning and we all came away buzzing with enthusiasm. We’ve already booked up the next session and have promised cat recognition. I can’t wait and I have the feeling that some of our customers can’t wait either! I was careful not to promise that we could get anyone a job, but some of the group were really flying by the end. I wouldn’t bet against it.

Finally, a special mention of thanks to Scott Luikart who blazed the trail ahead of me and gave me so much great advice and support.

Key Takeaways:

  1. You need to sell your idea. Use examples from people who’ve had success already such as PepUp Tech and Scott Luikart.
  2. Get help. You can’t do this by yourself. Our little team is hoping to make this a weekly event and we’re going to need plenty of volunteers to make that happen.
  3. Prepare as much as you can. There’s a new Trailhead Workshop Basicsbadge which is the perfect place to start. Set up your developer org, the tracker, create any users you can, check out the room you’re going to use and practice the user experience so that you have some idea about what’s going to happen.
  4. Choose your trails ahead of time. Trailhead Basics and Trailhead Playground Management are my recommendations. And tell everyone in your team; I didn’t and we had to play a bit of catch up. Also have some trails ready to suggest for people to move on to. Users will find the choices quite daunting to start with.
  5. Give people a reason to come back. We’ve promised Cat Recognition for next time and people are genuinely interested. We’ll find out next week whether that works.
  6. Have fun. The biscuits were helpful and we had prizes. Not everything will go as you expect, so be prepared for that. Encourage all the positive signs you see around you and build on the enthusiasm you generate.

Make a difference where you are

What could you do to bring education and opportunity to people in your area? Join the movement and Be A Multiplier! Trailhead gives you the tools you need to be part of the change. Through five custom trailmixes, you’ll be guided through each step in organizing and hosting a learning event, wherever you are. Give back and lead a learning event today.