It is time for organisations to figure out how to support social business. Here’s how.
to do parts of their jobs that are not sanctioned by their IT department” and expected this number to rise to 60% in 2011. An article in CLO Magazine around the same time said that between one-third and two-thirds of employees were meeting their learning and performance needs by working around L&D departments. My own analysis of the situation, looking at the contributions to my Top 100 Tools for Learning activity over the past five years, shows that this is an increasing trend. Individuals who have used social media in their personal lives are now using them in their professional lives in many different ways – both for working and learning purposes. It is also clear that many individuals recognise the need to learn continuously in their jobs. Although they acknowledge that training and self-directed study have a valuable part to play in this learning, they also realise that formal approaches alone cannot provide them with everything they need to know, nor do they have time to learn in traditional ways which take them out of the workflow. Rather, they need to have ongoing access to a range of sources – both content and people – to acquire that new knowledge and those new skills, both individually and socially – and it is here that social media is providing them with the vital tools to do so.
ack in April 2011 Forrester Research estimated that around 47% of business users were “using one or more website(s)
For instance, they make heavy use of Google to search the social web for solutions to their problems rather than use the internal LMS to find courses – preferring to solve their problems by accessing quick and simple resources on sites such as YouTube, Slideshare and Wikipedia. In other words they make significant use of resources that have been created and freely shared by others – but which frequently prove to be valuable performance support materials for them. And in the same way they are also happy to share what they know – using the very same social tools.
They rely on a trusted network of colleagues that
they have built in public social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, as well as in private online communities. And they interact with these colleagues in many different ways, e.g. to ask and answer questions, to share and receive ideas, resources and experiences, to solve problems and brainstorm together, to keep up to date with what their colleagues are doing and thinking, to learn from them in many different ways – sometimes without even realising it.
They also keep themselves up to date with what
is happening in their industry or profession through blogs and news feeds as well as aggregated and curated content from their peers, and constantly review their productivity in order to find better ways to do their jobs using new social media tools. To summarise then, many individuals and teams
… many individuals and teams now realise they have the tools to solve their own learning and performance problems more quickly and more easily, without leaving the workflow – since a solution is often just one click away in their browser
now realise they have the tools to solve their own learning and performance problems more quickly and more easily, without leaving the workflow – since a solution is often just one click away in their browser. So how are organisations responding to this? Although some still ban access to public social media tools in the workplace, others do now appreciate the power of social media for their business, not just for marketing purposes but also as a vital way to support employee collaboration and engagement. Some are even implementing their own internal social and collaboration platforms – either by upgrading their intranets into social intranets, or by adding extra social functionality onto their existing systems – and in doing so are transiting into social businesses.
But it is also becoming clear that there is a
need for a function within the organisation to support all of these new activities – one with a much wider remit than just creating and managing training or e-learning – one that can also support continuous learning and performance improvement as well as collaborative working. I have therefore been developing a new framework of workforce development services which identifies four key service areas that will be required within organisations, as follows.
Training (or instructional) services. These will of course continue to be required, although the need for the traditional type of top-down formal learning interventions (including e-learning) will likely reduce over time. However, they will probably involve more social approaches, and will need to be integrated far more into the workflow by being embedded into working (rather than learning) platforms.
Performance support services. These will focus on supporting access to a wide range of resources which individuals can ‘pull down’ as
e.learning age april 2012
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