Sharing is #Learning; Social Learning Communities in Corporate Environments.
Recently I wrote a blog on the value ESN (Enterprise Social Networks) bring to organizations. I ended with an important remark that organizational culture is an important reason for success and failures to the adoption of the community. Recently I was talking to some of my customers and noticed that those communities can bring actually the desired social learning culture to the organization.
Social Learning means learning by observing, conversing or questioning. The learning takes place in an informal or formal setting or even occurs without the learner realizing that learning is taking place. We learn without making a conscious decision to learn. It's organic and in many occasions not formally organized. It happens on social media such as LinkedIn or Twitter. So why is it so difficult to implement them successfully in a corporate environment?
What's in a Name?
There are many names given to ESN that strive to stimulate collaborative learning or/and the flow of knowledge within organizations. Last week I was reading an interesting article in a Belgian Magazine DataNews that stated, "Enterprise Social Media, does not fulfill its expectations yet". This article also pointed out the importance of a good culture and moreover the "WIFM". Tools like yammer and Jive had an average growth rate of 8% in 2013 compared to 78% in 2012. What went wrong?
Remember a blog I wrote on technology we use to collaborate and communicate in organizations, "from Data Repository to Social Collaboration". When I see "Media" I think of broadcasting and not sharing, and this is what happens. According to an analyst referred to in the article of DataNews, Social will not happen when it is a façade for a hierarchical top down structure. The average adoption rate of "ESM" is below 20%, people are not involved, not even interested in sharing and learning.
So can we solve the issue introducing it as an ESN which is another popular name for collaboration technology? If it was that simple…
What's in it for me!
Why do we create "social" tools, what is the problem we try to solve, the value we want to create?
Learning is vital for any organization to stay ahead or even more important, not to fall behind. As global and hierarchical boundaries disappear we need tools to make knowledge flow, create learning organizations with empowered employees. Our knowledge workers spend hours searching for the same knowledge, simultaneously within the organization.
Corporate decision makers influenced by sharp salesmen believe trending tools make knowledge flow by themselves. However collaboration tools are not effective when the team is being told what to do. To feel engaged we need joint ventures. Top-down mandates and bottom-up energies need each other to be successful. The process involves sharing diverse ideas and making compromises so that all members feel part of the direction in which the organization is moving.
So what goes wrong even when we have all intentions to bring down corporate silos and hierarchical barriers? Intentions do not work in change. We want our best knowledge workers to start sharing what made them unique without giving them something back? Remember NoNo ?
Why force something on a all the penguins, if we know from basic change management courses that success is almost impossible if we don't get a first group of believers to show us the way.
Online social learning communities are redrawing the lines between leaders, employees, brand and culture. To ignore this force is to cede advantage to competitors. (Megan M. Biro, Forbes , 11/2012)
Empowered employees will challenge hierarchal decision making by breaking down the brick walls of HR owned, curriculum and content based corporate universities. Learning will be available on demand and expertise will be found in all off us. Social learning and online corporate learning communities are changing our notions of leadership, talent management, collaboration and employer branding.
Enjoy being part of a learning organization, a sharing culture, a place where talent is nurtured on a personal level.