Ethereum as a Christmas present. How can your employees be educated efficiently to really understand blockchain technology?

Authors: Karsten Treiber, Philipp Sandner, Mathias Scherf

How can employees be educated in the area of blockchain? Of course, seminars can be organized, reading material can be provided etc. However, in this article be outline another approach: Learning by doing. Based on efforts in 2017, we propose that a simply challenge for employees can be a highly efficient method to educate people. How would this exactly work? It is simple. A company should simply provide a little budget and tell its employees: “If you tell me your Ethereum address, we will transfer to you the equivalent of 50 Euro.” Full stop. Now it would be the task for employees, to do own research to understand what an Ethereum address is. Once they find out and tell it to their company, they (1) have understood large parts of the technology and (2) get an incentive transferred to them. Like a Christmas present.

But before we go in to detail, let’s start step by step.

For everybody in finance — working at banks, exchanges, services providers, or in finance departments of industrial companies — it will be of utmost importance to understand blockchain technology. Blockchain technology and distributed ledgers will change the way finance works in the upcoming 5 to 15 years. It is possible, that within this timeframe a significant share of financial transactions run on blockchain-like systems. This could be currencies such as the Euro, the US dollar or the Swiss franc. Financial intermediaries will have to adapt their business model. Most of them will not be replaced by blockchain technology, because banks for example might act as a gateway towards the ledger and do custody of digital assets. Further, traditional exchanges will engage in trading these assets — with blockchain technology underlying.

Technological progress and the process of digitization is changing our lives and is constantly transforming the way we work. Especially managers or employees, which were working in business areas or companies with a successful and profitable business model for the past years, sometimes see this transformation as a threat. However, technological innovation is natural and necessary for every company to grow and evolve.

Blockchain is changing the way we work.

One of the most discussed topics in the recent months was the distributed ledger technology, better known as the blockchain. Many business areas are discussing, how blockchain solutions can improve their processes, or if the new technology will make their business models obsolete. But how to examine, if the blockchain technology could also improve the way your colleagues work together or enhance the way you run your business?

In autumn 2017, the authors sat together and explored the possibilities to change that. And so they figured out this easy way to solve that.

The first step when managing resistance to accept new technologies is getting the company and your colleagues understand new technologies and closing the knowledge gap in the workforce. This principle sounds pretty obvious and simple. Nevertheless, as soon as one tries to apply this principle to the field of blockchain it gets disproportional complicated, because only a minority fully understands the concept of blocks, nodes, chains and coins.

How to motivate your workforce to adopt new technologies

There is no need that the whole workforce of a company fully understands the functionalities of the blockchain, as long as the employees are open-minded towards new technologies. This is what happened in a consulting company in Baden-Wuerttemberg (Germany) last year for Christmas.

The medium-sized enterprise, targens GmbH, decided to give every employee 0.25 ether (ETH) as a Christmas present, as long as they were able to create an own wallet until Christmas Eve. What happened after this promise was published on the Christmas party — and it was astonishing. For the last few weeks in December, everybody was talking about blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum and the distributed ledger technology during coffee break. Employees investigated different wallets and crypto exchanges. Some even got deeper and found out about mixing services. They also addressed the question where the private key are actually held: on a laptop, a smart phone, on a printed sheet of paper — or held by an intermediary company doing custody for him or her.

Although the value of the Christmas present has depreciated for the last twelve months, this example could be seen as a wonderful success story. Nowadays, the targens GmbH is operating as a reputable blockchain developing and consulting company in Germany and is working together with financial institutions and industrial companies. Together with these partners, the company is developing new business models and trying to improve the way, people work together.

So if you are still looking for a innovative and uncommon Christmas present for your colleagues, why not try some crypto coins? But as noted above, it is key to wrap this present in the right question: “If you tell me your Ethereum address, we will transfer to you the equivalent of 50 Euro.” Nobody has to dig into blockchain technology and Ethereum. But those that do, will be rewarded with a small present. Even more so, if an employee is able to present an Ethereum address, he previously has generated such an address. It is very likely, that he investigated the block explorer, various wallets and — on the go — educated himself or herself on this topic. Actually, this approach also shows how open-minded people are.

Merry Christmas.

If you like this article, we would be happy if you forward it to your colleagues or share it on social networks. Of course, for such education ideas it does not need to be two weeks before Christmas. Ethereum Easter eggs would also work.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner is head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center. You can contact him via mail (email@philipp-sandner.de), via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/philippsandner/) or follow him on Twitter (@philippsandner).

Karsten Treiber is blockchain expert at targens GmbH. You can contact him via mail (karsten.treiber@targens.de), via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karsten-treiber/) or follow him on Twitter (@katreiber).

Mathias Scherf is blockchain consultant at targens GmbH. You can contact him via mail (mathias.scherf@targens.de).

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