How collaborative learning can change your business for the better

Collaborative learning is nothing new. We all know that people spend time looking for, reading and watching content to help them do their work. In most cases, this informal learning is in reaction to an immediate need and the source of the information is an online search.

Imagine if all the informal learning achieved in this way was captured and available to everybody in your business. If one person needs to fill a gap in skill or knowledge to perform their work, it is likely others in your business share the need.

Is the knowledge already held by people in your business available to others? Does your business have a collective knowledge base that is aligned with the work your business performs? Collective, accessible knowledge and information that is created, curated and shared is one of the powerful contributors to engagement and culture in a business. Collaborative learning is also an effective means of providing recognition to people that contribute to the collective knowledge.

Our clients are using training and information created by people in their business to deliver effective onboarding to people joining the business. This has standardised the onboarding  experience for every person. Using collaborative learning also assists people to identify subject matter experts in the business and get a feel for the work other people perform in the business.

Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Ideally every person in your business has some knowledge of your strategy and how their work contributes to achieving it. If not, this is where I would suggest you start. I would suggest taking it a step or two further by breaking your strategy into supporting goals and team objectives. If your business is small and does not have teams, consider assigning objectives to functional areas of responsibility in the business and this could be one I recommend the strategy, goals and objectives are documented and communicated regularly.
  • Use the strategy framework to open up a clear line of sight between the work they perform every day in the business to what needs to be completed to achieve the strategy.
  • This process will help guide the types and content of learning, information and ideas developed by everyone to be directly relevant to both the strategy and the work performed everyday. This is a great place to start and it will get collaborative learning embedded in your organisation.
  • Once you have collaborative learning embedded in your business and aligned with strategy, you can take it much further. For example, you may choose to use collaborative learning in your marketing, sales, customer retention, product development and any other aspect of your business.
  • Implementing a cogent collaborative strategy in your business will have a positive impact on the development of intellectual property that will add significant value to your business.

Is your business exploring ways to improve the culture? Boost engagement? Retain your best people? These factors and more will be developed and sustained with a planned collaborative learning strategy and implementation.

If you are interested in learning more about collaborative learning and ideas about how to implement collaborative learning in your business, you are welcome to contact me directly via LinkedIn. You can also request a demo from this page.

Check out our WorkPlan website to learn more about our work in collaborative learning and engagement.

 

The Case for Performance Support

Performance support is not instructor led or e-learning.  Performance support is all about providing easy access to knowledge and information that people need to execute their roles.  Performance support delivers information at the point of need.  Performance support must support traditional learning but neither is a substitute for the other.

The case for performance support is being made globally.  The competitive and environmental stressors facing organisations are varied and expanding in size and impacts.  As most other competitive advantages decline and blur, people and teams are still primary to sustainable growth and success.  If you understand the competitive advantages that learning and development can delivery then you will also understand increasing the pace and pertinence of shared knowledge in an organisation results in benefit flows within and outside the organisation.

Some key realised benefits in our clients who are in the process of a performance support implementation:

  • faster response times to client help enquiries.
  • higher productivity levels of all client facing teams.
  • greater cross-team sharing of best practices.
  • emergence of thought leaders within the organisation.
  • less resources committed to instructor led training and issues with retention of information.

To further distinguish performance support there are three characteristics of performance support:

  • Information is available within a ‘workflow’ and available with a minimum of navigation.
  • The information is directly relevant by being contextual to the work being performed by the individual.
  • The user accesses enough information to get the task done without too much information or opportunity for distraction.

Performance support may be digital or analog.  There are plenty of examples of paper ‘ready reckoners’ or ‘quick start’ guides that qualify as performance support in an analog format.  Paper based content tends to be less easily accessible and searched.  The most common place you will find analog performance support material is pinned to a cubicle wall.

Digital performance support takes many different forms in different media across many different delivery channels.  In many cases the content is accessed from a computer, tablet or mobile phone from a platform of some type; for example MicrosoftSharepoint, in application contextual support, Google sites, Salesforce Libraries, deep links to an LMSOneDriveDropbox,Box, among many others.  We have worked with all of these tools as well as some more social style channels includingHootsuite, Yammer, Lync etc.

Performance support needs a change program to be successful.  A learning culture must not only exist in the organisation but a shift to adopt performance support changes the way information is shared and sourced.  Performance support demands a self serve, self reliant mind set removes any anxiety around finding the right information and applying it quickly.  There are always those that prefer asking a question to solve a problem over sourcing an answer via search.

There are some key planning measures that are critical to success, among these are:

  • Understand the different ways people learn and catering for this diversity.
  • Ensure the means of accessing information is simple.
  • Choose simple, easy to use technology platforms.
  • Use search technology.
  • Your content must be fit for purpose; fast to read and easy to comprehend.
  • Performance support requires ongoing commitment and administration.

The Next DOTS LMS Webinar

Welcome to our 2014 webinar information series. These webinars are offered monthly on a range of topics to help you get the most out of your DOTS LMS.
 
This online webinar is the final webinar in the series on ‘Everything You Wanted to Know About Managing Your Users.’  In this session we will cover:
•    Import User Enrolments – for current and historical enrolments
•    Import User Competencies
•    Import User Certificates (Training Programs)
 
This webinar will be hosted by Kathleen Bosworth.

Block out one hour in your calendar on Tuesday 25 March.
• 11.00am AEST (Brisbane)
• 12.00pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
• 11.30am ACDT (Adelaide)
• 09.00am AWST (Perth)


You can register by sending an email to dotsinvitation@dotstalentsolutions.com 
Your registration will be confirmed by email with a link to the online webinar.

Places are limited so book your spot as soon as you can.

L & D Department or Catalyst for Change

In the spirit of the New Year and all the hoped for changes we have planned in our personal and working lives I thought about how some of our clients might be thinking of transforming their professional endeavours to a whole new level.

If 2013 went by quickly for you then there is little chance 2014 will be any different.  We are living and working in environments that are changing so quickly that often we may not recognise change until it has already occurred.  Organisations are facing challenges dealing with change both within their workforce and outside in the macro environment in which they compete.

I had a discussion with a CEO of a state based Association.  He was lamenting the fall-off in memberships and the struggles they are having finding new ones.  He indicated they are certainly not alone in facing these challenges.  When you begin to analyse the issue you can see some of the reasons they are facing this predicament.

  • The demographics of their membership are changing fast.  The older members are retiring and the younger ones have not ‘grown up’ with a concept of what associations are or what they do.   Similarly in organisations there may not be the loyalty or sense of deep commitment to an organisation ‘out of the box’ with younger workers.
  • The associations are competing against so many other choices for spending time.  It is harder and harder to get a person to come to a face to face sit down meeting after a hard day of work.  Do workers want to take out a half or a full day to sit in a room for training?  If the training is aligned with a personal interest or identified real benefit yes, if it is intangible or unidentified then no.
  • People still want learning and development but they want it delivered more flexibly and not necessarily involving travel away from home.  Most associations offer learning and development as a core service to their members but when was the last time they asked the members what they wanted?  What they are interested in?  Are there some courses of interest that have nothing to do with the association but are still of interest?  The same goes in any organisation.  The courses that fit in the budget are those that are typically aligned with a strategy or initiative or compliance requirement.  Few companies consider other dimensions of their employees’ lives when considering interesting content to offer.

There are a few of these issues that could have at least some part of a resolution using technology.

What does this have to do with Learning and Development?  Everything. The same challenges confronting my friend in his association faces business leaders across the board.  How do you engage effectively with other people in a process of learning, development, collaboration and performance improvement?  I believe this challenge is one that the Learning and Development Professional is ideally suited to address with the right resources.

Whether it is an association seeking members or an organisation seeking to attract and retain great people, these are some ideas I have about transforming L & D from a department to a catalyst for change.

It is one thing to have an LMS, it is altogether another to use the LMS platform to enable personal learning journeys.  You need not cease the compliance management but you can add so much more to enable people to chart their own course to development.   I believe feedback using surveys and personal assessment tools enable greater insight into how people are working together and making decisions.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing platforms can be so powerful to communication vision, ideas and best practices.  Some of the systems I have seen are obviously imbued with fear as they have less than optimum levels of participation and even less honesty.  There is plenty of ‘vanilla communication’ but nothing approaching open and frank sharing of ideas and concerns regardless of title and status.

The catalyst for change can include inviting other persons to contribute and participate from outside your organisation.  The best examples I have seen of this include a focused approach that invites persons who have expertise or experience in topics of interest.  Of course if your collaboration/communication system is healthy you can measure interest in certain topics.

There are business people, entrepreneurs, academics, physical and mental health professionals, and so many others that are out there right now contributing in the ‘social media universe.’  You can provide some amazing learning and networking opportunities for your people by inviting thought leaders into your organisation.   I have seen this work with short webinars, PowerPoint presentations converted to e-learning content,  informal and formal coaching and engaging via the normal platforms such as Google + and LinkedIn.

These are just some ideas I felt I had to write down after conversing with my friend.  I meet so many learning and development professionals who demonstrate thought leadership, proactivity and innovation all the time.  It is the wise CEO and executive team who encourage and promote learning as both a means of attaining competitive advantage and encouraging people to become the best they can be.

Who is Your Chief Collaboration Officer?

I came across an interesting blog on the Mindjet site by Troy Larson.  There are individuals in some very successful companies that hold the title of Chief Collaboration Officer.    In my experience, the contribution that collaboration makes to a competitive business includes:

  • A culture focused on activity and execution
  • Knowledge and learning is informal and effective
  • There is greater resilience against both internal and external forces acting on the business
  • Reduced risk of knowledge drain when people leave the organisation

Many of my clients see the use of an online learning platform like DOTS LMS to be an integral tool in supporting a collaborative environment.  I have recently been introduced to an online collaboration platform called Podio that is a feature rich, multi- faceted solution that includes knowledge capture, sharing, project and task management, recruitment, customer relationship management among many other features.  The client using Podio has a diverse workforce operating in corporate and home offices.   The employees are able to access the online Podio environment via a link in the DOTS LMSuser interface.

The technology is only the easy part of collaboration actually.  The more difficult aspects of collaboration relate to organisational and individual change processes.  The best collaboration tools will not overcome a reluctance or unwillingness to engage in collaboration.  The people side of collaboration is where most efforts fail.

There are many reasons for such failure.  In his blog, Troy Larson covered the idea of having a person or team accountable for collaboration as opposed to leaving collaboration to individual whim or interest.  In your organisation, is there a person accountable for collaboration?  If not, what role would be most likely best aligned to plan and execute a collaboration strategy?