Can you really implement ‘grassroots’ social learning?

Social learning is leaving the standard LMS behind.

YouTube is THE social learning platform. The range of learning available on YouTube reflects the growth in informational data being created every minute of every day.

When you are faced with a computer issue, where do you go? If you are seeking to learn a new Excel skill? If you want to learn how to French polish an antique? The same process applies to people in your organization. According to research by Degreed in 2015, respondents to a survey indicated:

  • Almost 85% search online at least once a week for learning they can apply at work.
  • Nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week.
  • 53% learn from videos in any given week.

Not much of a mention for the corporate LMS? Social learning is based on speed of access, accuracy of subject matter and easy to apply learning. Does your current LMS and the content offered from it, comply with these parameters?

To address this issue by giving up on the LMS is not necessarily the best way to go. Many LMS platforms have been designed with an emphasis on ‘management’ as opposed to ‘learning.’ Many modern learning management systems include configuration options to support better social learning. It can often mean a change of mindset as opposed to a change in technology to achieve effective social learning outcomes.

You should check out this post by David James of Looop.co that gives an excellent example of how Sanoma Group ‘re-imagined’ L&D and successfully tapped into subject matter experts and created learning content that was easily accessible and improved peoples’ ability to do their work effectively.

If this interests you, get in touch by clicking here.  We will share some insights and a case study based on helping organisations achieve better results with ‘grassroots’ social learning.

How we do professional facilitation

You will have a facilitator who has deep experience in senior organisational leadership and has worked with a wide and diverse range of clients. You are assured that the work will get done and clear outcomes and next actions are identified from your facilitated workshop.

We make it easy for you to conduct a great workshop. Our facilitators use visual information mapping tools that ensures participants are always engaged with the content and understand the connections between concepts, ideas and decisions.

We will meet prior to the workshop(s) to undertake careful planning and preparation. You will have the option to include individual and team behavioural profiling as part of the workshop. Our facilitator will do extensive research to understand your organization deeply. You will be confident that our facilitator will remain within the parameters you set for the workshop and we will honour the unique culture that exists in your organization. 

We understand the dynamics that exist when you bring people together for a facilitated workshop. Our expertise will ensure we get the best input from all participants and prevent the workshop being dominated by individuals or a lapse into ‘group-think.’

The most requested facilitated workshops include:

·        Strategic planning

·        Building an execution culture

·        Executive retreats

·        Sales strategy

·        Marketing strategy

·        Scenario planning

·        Team effectiveness

·        Culture change

·        Tactical response

·        Innovation, new product and services development

This is how we do professional facilitation. We suggest scheduling a call or personal meeting to discuss your vision for the ideal facilitated workshop. We will discuss your strategy, goals and concerns. Our facilitator will ask questions and offer some ideas you can use whether you choose to engage us or not.

The CEO is stuck. Which way out?

Feeling stuck. Feeling tired at the end of the day. Feeling frustrated more easily and more often. This is how one of my new clients described her personal situation during our first project meeting. This CEO was stuck and could not get enough head space to find a way out of it.

I was hired to help her develop business development processes and build a sales team. There is no point trying to build business development processes when the CEO is not performing at a high level.

As the business grew during late 2016 and into 2017 the business became more complicated. Clients were asking for changes to the standard contracts. The person she recruited for a customer service role needed more time to become effective than anticipated. The salesperson was performance was mediocre at best with low levels of prospecting activity and demanding more time from the CEO to create proposals and close deals.

My client is naturally a person who is very strategic, goal focused, makes fast decisions and may appear a bit brash and aloof to other people. She thrived as an entrepreneur focused on strategy and growth. Now she was withering.

Conduct a personal audit of your daily activities. I suggest using your calendar software and applying categories and/or colours to denote different activity types. You may need to change your current calendar set up to conduct your audit. I would recommend a minimum of one month to conduct your audit.

My client and I worked out the following categories for her audit. She uses Outlook so these categories were created and colour coded.

·        Sales activity

·        Existing customers and responding to requests

·        Internal meetings

·        Contracts and negotiation

·        Networking

·        Marketing

·        Business Admin

The month long audit delivered some staggering insights.

My client was getting more involved in work that demanded attention to detail, meetings and adherence to processes.  She was being forced to move away from her natural behavioural style and adopting attributes that are not natural. She was becoming less and less productive and using more of her energy.

We proved what we both knew but the audit was a great exercise to view her in action as well as provide some quantifiable we can use to measure the change we were introducing to her and her business.

Where did we start? We assessed the people already in the business with behavioural profiles and personal interviews. As it turned out, the customer service person was behaviourally well suited to the role and its responsibilities. The sales person was borderline. This person was incredibly easy to get along with and great at creating and maintaining relationships. This sales person was going to have real difficulty closing deals.

We established a training routine for the customer service person that included 1:1 meetings with my client. We brought in a trainer who set up workflows that are aligned with the productivity tools used in the business; OneNote, OneDrive, Outlook and a CRM.

After some consideration it was decided the sales person would be retained. This person’s natural competencies are being applied to developing relationships with new potential clients and deepening relationships with existing clients. We created a methodology and process for this work to be undertaken and aligned this with some configuration of the CRM. This work paid huge dividends in productivity and we have a very happy and very successful relationship builder.

This has not solved the sales role requirements fully. For the next 3-5 months, my client will be introduced to prospects late in the sales cycle and execute the close and negotiate the agreements. We have set a revenue goal, at which point we will recruit a sales person with the needed behavioural competencies to close deals and work in partnership with the existing person working on client relationships.

Disruption in accounting; building advisory services

There is no doubt accounting firms are under pressure for both fees and service delivery. This can be considered disruption. There are a few reasons for this pressure and it will only intensify. Here are some reasons:

* Businesses are questioning the amount of fees they pay annually for compliance services against the perceived value they receive from these services.
* Accounting firms are facing a technology tidal wave that will shift much of the compliance work to ‘bots’ that deliver higher accuracy and cost a fraction of a qualified accountant.
* The complex operating environment facing companies is encouraging them to seek outside expertise to remain competitive and sustainable; unfortunately they rarely look at their accountants to provide such services.

These disruptive changes are compelling proactive firms to focus on developing other capabilities to maintain and grow revenue. The most common focus is on building revenue from advisory services. One would normally think accounting firms are well positioned to delivery advisory services. They may be well positioned, but many lack the competencies needed to uncover opportunities, scope advisory projects and execute the delivery phase for a successful result.

We were engaged to help a firm build an advisory capability without increasing the headcount. Our project including a number of phases that included strategic planning, business model development, behavioural competency assessment, training and coaching. Our process included a small digital transformation with the inclusion of work to improve use of the incumbent information management system, CRM and the introduction of a learning management system, (LMS).

We implemented a learning management system to support our transition strategy as well as sustain competency development across the firm. Below are some of the key outcomes we have achieved thus far with the LMS.

* Communities of practice to foster sharing of ideas, best practices and content.
* Learning linked to performance reviews and career planning.
* Tracking learning and participation in communities of practice.
* Self-publishing content using standard tools like PowerPoint, Sway, audio and video.
* Team publishing by practice teams to share with teams in other locations and colleagues.

Our ongoing strategic focus for the LMS includes:

* Eliminate knowledge drain.
* Replicate the learning across the organisation at lower cost.
* Develop individual learning pathways for advisors based on subject matter expertise and market sector focus.

Strategy without learning is flawed

Leaders of organisations around the world understand the strategic need to build capabilities in their organisations to remain competitive. There are many methods used to build capabilities and on-the-job training remains very common. Strategy that is designed without learning is seriously flawed.

Online learning is a key part of any strategy to build capability. In my experience, many organisations start out with a compliance focus for online learning. When moving to include other purposes for online learning, e.g. leadership development, it is critical that a framework is developed to support the learners and measurement of outcomes.

How do you create a learning strategy that will help drive performance and be fully aligned with your strategic objectives?

  • Build your learning plans based on customer feedback and adapting to changes in expectations that customers have in dealing with your organisation and your competitors.
  • Assess how much of your learning and development resources are allocated to frontline employees. Performance increases in your frontline employees are often easier to measure and possibly faster to achieve.
  • When you develop learning plans, align the curricula to strategic objectives. A capability gap analysis is going to provide more accuracy to aligning learning with strategic objectives. I like to see capability gap analyses performed as part of a strategic planning project.
  • Learning and development needs to be predictive. Your strategy is designed to keep your organisation competitive. I recommend you drill down from macro-environmental changes in your market all the way down to succession and recruitment needs within a time horizon that makes sense for your business.

To support your learning strategy and sustain performance improvements, I suggest the following:

  • Consider incentivising self-directed learning. There are so many effective ways to do this.
  • Standardise learning processes as much as you can to assist in measurement. You may choose different target populations for standardisation as opposed to standardising across the organisation.
  • Some of the most effective capability building strategies include directly linking learning to the performance management process.
  • I encourage my clients to build learning more deeply into the fabric of a culture by adding learning engagement to the key objectives for managers. I have seen excellent results when managers include learning in their weekly and/or monthly team and individual meetings or catch ups. The benefits achieved include higher levels of learning engagement and a feedback loop on learning experiences and future needs.
  • Encourage blended approaches to learning by identifying subject matter experts in your organisation. You might consider adding communities of practice or a coaching/mentoring program to leverage knowledge in support of learning activities.

If you would like to discuss these ideas or want to explore implementing a new learning strategy in your organisation, you are welcome to get in touch with me via the contact details on this site.