Posts Tagged ‘learningcircuits’

What's the real question?

July 7, 2008 4 comments

The Learning Circuits’ big question for July focuses on whether or not learning professions should lead the charge in adopting web 2.0 technologies. In short:

  • Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?
  • Shouldn’t they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?
  • And then shouldn’t the learning organization become a driver for the organization?
  • And like in the world of libraries don’t we need to market ourselves in this capacity?

I had a great professor in university, who used to tell us during an exam, “If you can’t answer the question that I’ve asked, rewrite it. I don’t want to know what you don’t know. I want to know what you know.”

I loved that class. I also rewrote a lot of questions.

I think what we should really be asking ourselves is:

  • How do we* help people recognize the value of social connectedness in the workplace?
  • And, how do we support them on that journey?

The original questions are preaching to the choir. Posted in a blog, asking bloggers or blog readers if they should be leading the charge in using/adopting social software is…well… kind of silly. The readers and commenters already are.

So, what can we* do?

* the “we” here refers to everyone, not just learning professionals. But anyone that’s already using the technology to make it easier to do their job.

Instead of preaching the values of blogs, wikis, IM, Flickr, Facebook, etc. to a large group of people. Find two or three people with wide networks and help them solve a workplace issue using these tools.

You overhear Bill grumbling to Sue while warming up his Lean Cuisine that he’s just answered the same question AGAIN for the fourth time this month. He wonders why other people can’t share the information he emails out. You don’t know Bill well, but think, what the heck, I’m going to offer some assistance.

You: “Hi. I couldn’t help overhear, mostly because I was eavesdropping. I think I might be able to help you with your problem.”

Bill: “uh, hi. ummm… yah. ok.” {Gets his Lean Cuisine and starts to walk away}

You: “It would only take a few minutes… and you’d never have to answer the question again.”

Bill (stops and turns): “Oh… that I AM interested in!”

You: “If you have 20 minutes, I can help you set up a blog, post the answer to your common question, and give you some tips that will start diverting people to your blog, instead of your inbox.”

Recruit other people that are passionate to start sending out the same message. Create a task team, with a diverse group of people, from different divisions, departments, or teams. You’ll expand your network far beyond what you could accomplish if only the learning department is involved.

Remember that it’s not about the technology. It’s about the people. The goal of these “tools” and “technologies” is to connect people with people, information, and context. In order words, it’s not about having a blog or editing a wiki. It’s about adding value to your community, sharing information that will save someone else time, creating more value in your own work, etc.

I work for IBM. We have a community at our company that anyone can participate in. It’s called BlueIQ. Our objective is to support and encourage the use of social software throughout the organization through focused education sessions, lunch and learns, success stories, etc. Anyone can participate… it’s not driven my our Corporate Learning department. It’s driven by a division VP that recognized the need for his practitioners to use these tools to enable better performance.