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 linda.com 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.