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Live blog: Social practices, principles and platforms

James Tyer and Mark Britz have the honour of the last session of the day. I already knew @britz (Mark) through Twitter so it is nice to meet him live. James and Mark have also interacted over Twitter on a daily basis and are now presenting together. What I like about them is the hands-on practical experience they have. There is so much talk high over, so I hope this will really be practical. They share being at the forefront of social learning in organizations.

How to nudge people into networks?

We start with the Cynefin framework: the work of James and Mark falls into the complex domain. Working on from hierarchy to wirearchy. How to nudge people into networks?

Conversation is the single greatest learning tool in your organization -William O Brien

10 principles 

They are sharing 10 principles which underpin their own practices in organization:

  1. You don’t own social – it is connecting and conversations which drive change. You need to be able to spread out the ownership. The last thing you want is to be the centerpiece of social. One person in the room has the lead for the social platform, for all the others it is IT in the lead, or communications.
  2. Psychology, sociology over technology – If you start on the technology road it fails. You need a true understanding of how people work. Vendors say “we have a technological solution to your people’s problem“. “People will be able to learn on the bus”. How will this help them really? It may just give them an extra burden.
  3. Getting outside – how many people have spoken over the last month about their work to at least 10 people outside the organization? about 15% did. People say they have too much work and don’t know who to contact. Ask the question: what keeps you up at night?
  4. Start small, go slow, scale success – you don’t need a huge investment upfront (like a huge platform).
  5. Practice what you preach – so many of you are on Twitter, but many L&D managers are starting a working outloud circle without being part of it. Start by making your calender open. Unless you do what you are telling others to do, you may not be believed. It is about modelling. There is more pushing of content. In this space it is about showing yourself
  6. Quit the buzzwords – We’re talking agile, virtual, community. Even social is a buzzword. Help engineers work on their practice rather than talking about a community of practice.
  7. Think like a marketeer – Social marketing is when the audience is talking about themselves. Let’s do this inside the organization
  8. Expect and accept

    surprises – if people are talking about their pets and politics, don’t be surprised or condemn it. It is only making clear what people are already talking about. (Collaboration happens between collaborative people” (harold jarche)

  9. Passionate ambassadors – Find them. The more people you talk to, the more they can be ambassadors. Go to IT, communications, the business. You are building your sales pipeline. Some people are the go to’s. If you can get them onboard you can fly. A nice word is intrapreneur.
  10. It takes time- it is a very new area. Change takes time.

This isn’t learning!

James Started talking to a group of managers. At some point they proposed a facebook group. I advised them to rather start with Linkedin and had a 100 managers and some experts in a LinkedIn group. “That’s not learning” was the reaction of the manager. In another job with Kellogg James started with 0 budget. He thought of starting on Yammer. Thought about using the business models template to find out about the pain points calling people to identify actual problems. In Kellogg’s the executives have their own floor. How to get the technology conversation in without putting the technology upfront? I ended up having a lot of success but it took a long time. One of the problems was to capture ideas. We started a pipeline ideation group, with the aim of capturing all ideas. Another group was the travel tips group. The biggest success was with the sales group. They were really not connection. So we did short competitions stimulating them to share their work and what the competitors were doing. Another example was a Working Out Loud group. HR wasn’t involved and when they learned about it – again they said this wasn’t learning.

Redundancy is not a training problem

Mark worked at SystemsMadeSimple. In a conversation with a manager about training needs redundancy came up. Mark replied that this is not a training problem. The average life span in the organization was 1,3 years. People worked on short term contract. Training was not going to be a solution to this. How do we get them to share knowledge? They started implementing Jive. Then they went to look for the groups en networks already talking. This led to the first test group. The networks existed, all they did was superimpose the technology. They developed guidelines, not a policy. All things formulated positive like “be yourself”. Jive is very powerful in features. However, to start the platform was stripped down to the most important role the platform would play: online conversations. At certain office hours, Mark was available for help with Jive. He calls his strategy the groundcover, small plants in your garden which can grow slowly. The biggest challenge was moving the executives over. He organized a state-of-the-network meeting, which didn’t work. One manager had the problem of timecards. People working on multiple project were not filling their hours correctly, loosing money on the contracts. Question: “Did you ever post a question on Jive?” There were responses with tips and tricks.  Somebody pointed to the handbook. They discovered the information was wrong and a rapid increase in the filling of time cards. Another question was for an Academy. Why don’t we reinvent the academy putting social at the center. Using as a basis and facilitating discussion around it.

Mark and James – Thanks for these practical and powerful experiences! It shows you have to move strategically, know what you are after and be practical enough to translate talk into action.

Live blog: Clive Shepherd on the changing skill set of the learning professional

Clive Shepherd has extensive experience in blended learning and calls his approach “More than blended learning“. He is currently diving into the areas of the skill that learning professionals need in the blended era.

Technologies changes learning. We can now have a more continuous learning process because of learning technologies. Clive personally has experienced a continuous retreat of focus on technologies- it now comes at the end of the design journey. Technology doesn’t make an effective learning experience. A good design does.

The problems of the skill set

The commonality of the learning professionals of today: the problems of the skill set. (possibly excluding the people in the room who are into learning technologies). What skills are we talking about?

  • Practical, physical skills. Playing the violin or golf
  • Social skills: being able to relate to people etc. “he’s brilliant at selling”
  • Thinking skills: designing a learning program, anticipating risks.

Changing the skill set takes time. The change to the new skill set makes people feels stressed.

What’s changing? 

  1. From organizing events to facilitating/managing processes. In facilitating learning processes time becomes much more fragmented than when organizing events.
  2. From face-to-face to online. You need knowledge about technologies to work online. A new field for many learning professionals.
  3. From dependency to empowerment. What we always wished for is starting to happen. Yet, it makes us feel uncomfortable. Everybody can look up everything online, we all have smartphones and other devices. People no longer accept what we say. The power of relationship has changed.
  4. From same-time to over-time. Think of facilitating a MOOC, you allow for a little bit of time every day.

However, the essential skills of the learning professional continue to be human skills. The teacher – student relationship remain important – though the teacher can be your neighbour or colleague and not always has to be the trainer.

The three essential skill areas for learning professionals

Three essential skill areas are: Interacting with stakeholders, interact with learning, interact with media.  (see graph)

About stakeholders: How do learning professionals behave when interacting with stakeholders? In many cases they behave like a salesperson- like order-takers rather than consultants. You have to build your credibility to act as a consultant. About media: Mind you: Media –  is not dehumanized. When you interact with a book you are not  interacting with a tree, but with the author. Equally, when interacting with media you are interacting with humans.

These three essential skill areas leads to new roles like architect, evaluator, analyst, instructor, expert, coach, facilitation, designer, journalist, curator.

EVERYbody should be up-to-date with tools and technologies 

In our book ‘learning in times of tweets, apps and likes’ we also write about the changing skill set and new roles for Learning and Development. It is interesting to compare our line of thinking. A difference with Clive is that we focus on different new roles like content curator, community manager, team coach which may or not be executed by a learning professional. These roles may also be fulfilled by professionals or managers. We see learning professional specializing.

Besides this we focus also on learning analytics which I don’t see reflected in Clive’s diagrams. Clive may be even stronger than we stating that everybody needs to invest in knowledge on tools and technologies.

Live blog: Julian Stodd on trust

Last year I wanted to attend the session by Julian Stodd at the Learning Technologies conference but ended up in the wrong room. So this year I made sure to arrive in the right room and at the right time. I’ve been following his blog in the meantime, writing about social learning, social leadership and trust. Julian Stodd talks about a ‘landscape of trust’. It is a landscape because when he asked for narrative accounts for trust, all were different, some talk about love and friendship others about technology. We don’t understand it to be the same thing.

We have to earn trust in organizations

34% of people have no trust, 20% low trust in their organizations. Why would I trust the organization? They don’t have my long term interest at heart. The Number 1 question in organizations: how do we get engagement? People will leave if opportunities sit elsewhere.

Socially dynamic organizations

An organization needs to become socially dynamic. We need high trust network and coherent community, for trust and engagement. True culture is co-created. We need to find unified values.  Why do organizations fail? They fail when their culture fails. Trust seems to reside in strong social ties, built through lived experiences.

Is the foundation of your trust invested in the contract of people? 65% thinks it is in the people, 35% in the contract. The type of trust between two individuals and an individual and the organization is different. We can look at different levels of trust:

  • no trust
  • functional trust (I know I’ll be paid)
  • invested trust
  • social leadership.

For social leadership, it is important how authentic leaders act. Charisma counts. There is a middle layer of managers which is sometimes seems as not trustworthy.

The dynamic tension

As always, social aspects dominate over formal ones. In the highly connected social age- this plays out in an even stronger way. There’s a difference between he formal and the social structure (see the slide here) – The two are superimposed on that. The formal system can never fully control the social system. That’s why tinkering with the formal systems often has little effect.

If you lack trust in organizations, you drive out people. They are less likely to stay, less likely to engage, less committed to help.

Organizations tend focus on systems and rewards, but in fact people appreciate the freedom (see slide below).








What is the influence of technology on this tension?

People trust formal technology less than social technologies. If they have an iphone 7, they will follow a technology differently if they installed it. They trust formal technologies less because for instance there is less space to experiment and to control it. It is very important who sets the rules for a social online space. If somebody takes a screenshot and uses it in a performance review- that lowers trust. There was a research with two different groups working with the same technology. The result was that if people get to set the rules, engagement was 5 times higher. It is important to know who can view: people decided managers that managers can participate only if they engage, not to just read on. Allow people to set their own rules.

I think there are some important point here about trust and the importance of trust. To me it reconfirms my idea that network (inside and outside organizations) and networks of independent workers will become more important, exactly because they can set the rules, there is higher social capital and trust. Ownership is high in networks which grow organically.

What I missed is the link between trust and honest practice sharing. I think you need trust to share what you really think and experience in your own practice, this is how you get innovation. If you share on a superficial level it doesn’t lead to real learning and innovation. How to get to this deeper level of trust?