According to a recent McKinsey report on social business, each major industry has the ability to improve its margins between 60-100% by leveraging social technologies. Those improvements are based on a fundamental change in the way people work, feel about their work and collaborate.
I do not know if the numbers are right - to be honest, I doubt they are - but I am convinced that our way of communicating within and outside of our companies is about to change dramatically. While a lot of us still think that E-Mail is the best way to communicate anything, many have started to realize that you are much more efficient to not use the same communication channel for everything but rahter explore the whole bandwidth of options, depending on the message, on the target group, on the time zones, etc.
Get to know the 7 habits of highly effective social leaders by Daniel Kraft is President and CEO of NewsGator Technologies :
Well, I am sure you will ask yourself:
a) why has he not written anything new for more than a year? Doesn't he know that blogs are only read if they produce a constant flow of information?
b) why does he even dare to think about the topic he is about to enter into?
I can assure you: I know that blogs should be fed regularly - and at the same time I think I do not have to follow common principles all the time. And the reason why I want to write about Employability versus Job Security is that I heard an senior HR Manager talk about it at a recent conference.
For many years of my managerial work-life I have always told my teams to not hope for job security any longer. I always was very transparent about my own view: Loyalty is a high value. I expect loyalty to the company for the duration of the contractual relationship. However, this relationship can come to an end - it is not a promise for a lifetime. Therefore it is crucial to always be conscious of one's employability: In case the relationship ends - voluntarily or unexpectedly -, you would want to be able to enter a new one. Therefore an investment in the development of your own skills should always also be an investment in your long-term employability. The paradoxon I have seen happening: When I encourage my teams to invest in their own employabilty, in order to be ready to do something else, once the day comes where the relationship with the current company ends, they tend to be even more loyal than before. They realize that the company cares for them - which increases their willingness to stay.
I am happy to see that his concept is now starting to get noticed and implemented in other companies as well. It is the right approach for today's workforce and for the future we are facing.
Recently I started a self-motivated experiment. As I am about to implement what I call "Learning Experience" - and what in fact is a huge change initiative to change the company's learning culture - I thought I should grab the chance that Jane Hart (see my blogroll) gave me and attend a two-week workshop on her "Social Learning Centre". The workshop is run by Harold Jarche and the title is "From Training to Performance to Social".
The concpet of this workshop: "In this workshop there are 6 (web-based) assignments (3 each week) that provide an introduction to the topic with links to additional reading (if desired), as well as individual activities and a group discussion. "
Attending this workshop was very inspiring and I took away 4 main learnings:
- Stick to the simplest instructional design you can think of. Participants have to read blog entries of the facilitator's blog and comment on his ideas and inputs. They can - if they want - share their own ideas too, which is called 'narrating' their own experience. That's it.
- Do not bother to define learning goals. When I asked Harold, our facilitator, about the learning goals and the instructional idea behind the chosen approach, he pointed me to the marketing slide where it says "In this workshop there are 6 (web-based) assignments (3 each week) that provide an introduction to the topic with links to additional reading (if desired), as well as individual activities and a group discussion." This is not a learning goal, it is the concept and that should suffice.
- Do not get engaged in discussions with your participants. When I asked the question about the goals in the group - and if we could discuss and share our ideas and motivation to attend this workshop - I was told off in public by both Jane, the owner of the platform, and Harold, the facilitator of this workshop. They reminded me to just read the input and stick to the assignments.
- No social skills required in a virtual environment. Because I felt bad, having been told off in public, I wrote a private message to Jane Hart, asking her why she reacted like this. Her answer was: "We try to address all learner needs but this is a simple, and very cheap workshop based on a model that tries to encourage written participation."
This approach seems to be very successful, as Harold points out in this article: http://internettimealliance.com/wp/2012/07/10/training-performance-social-workshop-notes/
Formal versus informal learning: A topic that was brought up again under the umbrella topic of "Workplace Learning" at the Swiss e-Learning Conference 2011 in Zurich.
The discussion about formal and informal learning seems to motivate professionals so much that they do not consider themselves too good for loopy comments. Professor Dehnbostel, for example, said very excitedly: "If you cook a soup, you are practicing informal learning!" This actually means that every single thing we do - breathing, eating, walking, etc. - is in fact learning. In the final consequence this comes down to the equation life = learning = me, myself and I as training professionals are so incredibly smart and important.
The other quote comes from a tweet I saw about a presentation from Dr. M. Rohs. I hope the quote was not correct: "Informal learning needs a sheltered place." If that's true, then cooking a soup must only happen in sheltered workshops. And I always thought that in the contrary informal learning is informal, because it does happen in real life. Not sheltered. Exposed!
[It turns out that the tweet I was referring to was omitting the most important part of the statement (see comment from Dr. M. Rohs to this post) . Please read the very interesting article from Dr. M. Rohs as well.]
My position: Informal learning is probably happening a lot. And I am sure it plays an important part in our lives. As a training professional, however, I am not so much interested in trying to formalize informal learning but rather let it happen and - maybe - facilitate it, if possible. But I think that the big bonus of informal learning is that it is informal. As soon as training professionals start structuring it, it becomes formal - and less exciting and less effective.
Social Media is changing the world. I guess we agree on that.
When I started to get involved with Social Media my motivation was to see what it could do for corporate learning. In the meantime I am also investigating what it can do for the whole HR function and the whole employee lifecycle. An interesting blog article I found comes from Kelly Dingee: She shares "7 Things Employers Should Tell Job Seekers About How to Get Considered":
Sometimes it is hard to explain to Subject Matter Experts how they should organize / structure their content. They naturally are under the impression that everything they know is equally important and thus must be packed into the training they ask you to create for them. Instructional designers know, though, that not every content is equally important for each learner. We also know that learners are very different in the way they acquire new knowledge or adapt new behavior. Until now, though, it was always somewhat difficult to provide SMEs with a comprehensive approach to structure their ideas.
For this purpose I have developed a new model to structure training. I call it the 4-T model:
Teaser - Make people aware of the content, of what might be in it for them, show them why they should invest some time to learn more about this specific topic or why they should indeed change their behavior.
Teaching - The part where knowledge transfer happens. This is often referred to as 'training' but that's actually incorrect: The teaching part explains the processes, the structure of the content, the reasons why it is important and how it is interlinked with other topic areas.
Training - This is where most of the initiatives fail: In order to learn something, you have to practice it. Training means like in sports or when playing an instrument: Do it over and over again and get better and better at it. More often than not we do not foresee enough time for training in so called 'training' initiatives.
Testing - If individuals want to be sure that they have mastered a topic, a test can help. If a company wants to be sure that a certain group of people have the same level of know-how, a certification might be a good idea. If testing is well designed, it can be an important part of a learning concept.
The advantage of this model has proven many times already, even though it is barely a week old. Amazingly enough it not just helps SMEs but also training professionals a lot. Some of them came back to me and told me that they were waiting for a structure like this to understand what they are producing even better. It also turns out that in the field of technology-based learning this structure is very helpful - whether you produce a Learning Nugget (Teaser) or a Web-based Training (Teaching) or an online simulation (Training) or an eTest (Testing), it all falls into place.
Feel free to start using this structure, but please remember to mention my name if you do.
Training organizations have realized, that they start loosing their monopoly on learning. Employees do dare to organize themselves. More than 90% of what you need in your current job was not learned by formalized learning interventions but in informal learning situation, such as learning on the job, discussions with peers or mentors, etc. etc. That's the answer you usually get if you ask the question. This situation frightens training organizations - but it shouldn't.
The new world of learning is based on a new mindset - sharing instead of hiding, collaborating instead of instructing, acting instead of reacting. Technology enables us to support learning processes in companies at the workplace. Today it is more crucial than ever to stay up to date. Life long learning - it's not by chance the title of this blog - is an integral part of our lifes. Not too long ago, training organizations did nothing else than deliver training content. These days one of the most important tasks is to facilitate learning at the workplace. Probably the biggest difference between the two models is the fact that modern training organizations today need to provide platforms and options - not just solutions. They have to make sure that employees are able to intaract with each other. That they are able to collaborate and share their knwoledge. It's no longer key to collect know-how within the training organization and spread it from there. It's more important to tap into the existing know-how of the organization.
Learning at the Workplace is fundamentally different than learnign in classrooms. Time is scarce. Distraction lurks behind every incoming e-mail. But: The problems are pressing. The need for an answer is immediate and often cannot wait. And: The situation is such that it optimally supports learning processes - if we find a solution to a problem and apply it, we tend to remember it much better than if we discuss it in a classroom session and are not able to apply it straight away. Because it is fundamentally different, learning organizations have to re-think the way they deliver formalized learning content as well. Also this content needs to be presented in short chunks. The Learning Nuggets format - as mentionned in one of my previous posts - is a very good example of Workplace Learning.
One of the next challenges we will be facing is to re-define the workplace. Worklpace and working time will be moving away from the actual premises of the company. Employees will be online whenever and whereever they are. Thus the workplace will be mobile and so will be workplace learning.
What do I do to support these changes? I am convinced that the first step to help the organization to start moving into the direction described above is to start talking about the changes. I run several workshops on this topic to show people of all hierarchical levels the changes that are looming ahead and raise their awareness for it. We have also started to provide much shorter self-paced training material: Our Learning Nugget concept is a great success. This year we will also start - against all odds - to run a Mobile Learning pilot on all major mobile platforms such as Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android. There is a pilot going on as well, where a whole new concept of how to build office space is tested - a much more flexible environment that leverages new technologies and new work-life-balance models. The combination of this with new ways of delivering/supporting training will be tremendously exciting.
The latest trend, which seems to create a lot of interest, are so called "Learning Nuggets". This piece of learning/information or information/learning is no longer than 5 minutes and consists of either an interactive learning program or just a little motivating movie.
When we started to produce and use these Learning Nuggets, I was very sceptical. How can one learn something in the span of just 5 minutes? Take learning a language, for example. You can hardly learn a single word in just five minutes. But then I realized that the potential of short pieces of learning lay in the chance to reach people and raise their interest in potentially interesting topics. It's like a marketing campaign for learning, tailored for a time where time is scarce. If we can wrap one single grain of potentially interesting information into a motivating short piece of learning software, we might have a greater reach than if we produced hours of designed learning material on this specific subject. Todays learners are used to learning at their own pace. They are used to get the information they need. What they might be lacking is the overview of what's out there. Something that grabs their attention. Once they find something, that interests them, they are willing to spend more time on the subject - the dream of every teaching professional.
The reality proves the theory to be right. Since we had launched the Learning Nuggets, people like them and our records also show that they spend more time on the topics we propose.
Please refer also to the little interview I gave about this topic (in German) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhns0DRPI44
And I am proud to present: Management in a Nutshell - open for the public:
The discussion is not brand-new, but the discussion seems to accelerate in the corporate world: How do we deal with the fact that more and more people start using Social Media in- and outside the work context? What does this change mean for us as professionals, what does it mean for a company?
In my opinion especially training professionals are challenged: They have to somehow leverage the gap between the generations - however you want to define them (I don't by age but by mind-set). Here the 'digital-savvy' there the 'digital dinosaur', both in the same training session, prepared to learn relevant content or behaviour for their job. Even though training professionals always knew that people learn differently, I think the change that happens at the moment is an important one. It is probably not enough just to integrate Youtube Videos into a traditional training setting to be up to date.
These and other topics were touched upon at the following workshop: http://sansch.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/workshop-unterlagen-social-media-changing-the-way-we-work/
#csmm - the Twitter Hashtag for yesterday's Social Media Meet Up in Zürich at cinema Razzia, organized by SOMESSO and Signorellfilms.
The learnings I took home:
a) it is possible to build a bank from scratch, using Web 2.0 functionalities: www.fidor.de The CEO, Matthias Kröner (@ficoba), know how to tell stories and he has to tell a very convincing one.
b) Riccardo Signorell (@signorellfilms) showed us the importance of telling strories - instead of selling products/ideas. He did this by showing many examples from all kind of different movies - from Hollywood blockbusters to Youtube perls.
Meeting in a Cinema that falls appart and talking about current and future developments in the way we interact and make business is a very cool combination. Makes you think twice.