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Advanced AI Manager Onboarding

OPWL 547



For my Learning Experience Design class at the Boise State University's Master's in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) program, we designed an onboarding experience for new managers. We had an unlimited budget and very few paramaters; we only had to solve the problems our research revealed to us.

Our main methodology was to follow Stanford University's model of Design Thinking. As such, we progressed through the 5 stages of Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.



The first step of the Design Thinking process was to understand our target learners and their critical pain points. We wrote and sent out a survey on Survey Monkey which gave us a breadth of responses. We then interviewed three experienced corporate managers, one senior manager in a university, and one senior HR business partner to get a depth of information. We supplemented this primary research with further reading of business publications like Harvard Business Review, and podcasts like Ask a Manager.


Based on our research we created personas of target learners, their direct reports, and key stakeholders who they may impact. These are the learners whose problems we needed to address, and to whom our learning experience had to provide value.


The second stage is to define the problem, who is experiencing the problem, synthesize these ideas in one cohesive statement, and anticipate any potential problems.


​Who is experiencing the problem:

New managers at Advanced AI, and by extension, their subordinates, peers, and managing managers.

Key learning needs and challenges:


  • HR related tasks

    • Workforce planning/management, HR tools and processes, recordkeeping


  • Defining goals & measurements, selling vision & inspiration, setting expectations


  • Empathy and personal relationships

    • Demonstrating vulnerability, asking for help, understanding others’ perspectives and drives


  • Systemic thinking, e.g.: understanding the impact of decisions across the organization.

  • Managing people and work

    • maximizing strengths, avoiding micromanagement, challenging/managing upwards, time management (operational vs managerial)


Problem Statement:

At AAI, new managers must develop the capacity to balance human-centered management with achieving organizational objectives. They face challenges in setting and executing KPIs, managing projects, and delegating tasks to their team and across departments, leading to potential misalignment and wasted resources. To address this, managers must empower their subordinates without micromanagement and foster collaboration with other department leaders. Developing the ability to identify strengths, recognize areas for growth, and effectively communicate clear KPIs and performance metrics is crucial for maximizing their impact on the organization.


Key Constraints & Considerations:
  • Fixation on KPIs to the detriment of the “human element”.

  • Employee desire for flexible work environment, e.g. remote working opportunities

  • Global work environment – relocation services.

  • New managers feeling overwhelmed, insecure, wanting to prove themselves.


Mural Board


Next we spent a couple weeks coming up with ideas on Mural. No idea was too crazy or expensive or outlandish. Everything was allowed.

We started by putting our learning goals on the top right of the board and worked our way around the board.

Click here to see an interactive version.

547 Ideation board for public display_2023-06-15_10-28-35.png

For the prototype phase, we simply submitted low fidelity designs of each of our ideas to the class and elicited feedback from the professor and students.

Our design was guided primarily by Social Constructivist learning theory, with a heavy emphasis on mentorship and reflection. For learning the tools, we leaved heavily on Constructivist learning theory, building in plenty of opportunities for new managers to interact with the software, make mistakes, and learn in a low-stakes sandbox.

Click here to see how we aligned our learning activities and theory.


The Final Deliverable

We ended up creating a manager onboarding experience that spanned 5 years. We planned most of the experience at a relatively high level, starting with the first week orientation in Thailand where we challenged new managers to work together to rescue Matt Damon from a deserted tropical island, to their fifth year where they are experienced coaches and are responsible for the development and mentorship of their own new managers.


In between we planned:

  • A podcast series where managers ask an experienced manager about an issue they would like help with.

  • Group learning circles where new managers meet with experienced manager and share their struggles and solutions.

  • A structured mentorship program.

  • A book club and lecture series where managers learn from experts in their respective fields.

  • A guided e-learning tool that can teach new managers about the tools and processes they need in their job.

  • An AI game where new managers can practice soft skills, hiring and firing, and get experience having difficult conversations.

Click here to see the entire 5 year program!


This was one of the most difficult projects I have ever worked on, but it is easily the most satisfying and rewarding! I had so much fun making this learning experience. I would like to thank my professor, Dr. Seth-Aaron Martinez for creating such a fantastic class and giving me this opportunity. And I would like to thank my wonderful partner Mariola Diawara for teaching me so much about Instructional Design and helping me in innumerable ways during this project.

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