The Education Revolution (Part 8): Social Learning

Now that social networks are here to change the way we do business, we might as well have a look at how they enable us to learn better. Today, Harold Jarche published an excellent whitepaper on this subject and it includes a lot of organizational truthtelling.

Allow me to summarize some remarkable quotes in telegram-style for those of you who are not die-hard learning professionals. For those of you who ARE learning professionals I would highly recommend that you read the full article and check out each link in detail.

Here we go:

For the human resources department, the question becomes one of preparing people for jobs that don’t even exist. For example, the role of online community manager, a fast-growing field today, barely existed five years ago. Individual training for job preparation requires a stable work environment, a luxury no one has any more.

Peter Senge has made some important clarifications on terms we often use in looking at work, job classifications and training to support them.
1. “Knowledge”: the capacity for effective action.
2. “Know how” is the only aspect of knowledge that really matters in life.
3. “Practitioner: someone who is accountable for producing results.

Next is the notion of a “Wirearchy”. This is “a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority, based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology”. We are seeing increasing examples of this on the edges of the modern enterprise.

What Jarche calls wirearchy is closely related to what I have called “Social Architecture“, because it refers to the blurring of the boundaries of an organization, as well as to the new balance of trust versus control in order to cater for more co-creation.

As customers, suppliers and competitors become more networked, being more wirearchical will be a business imperative. Wirearchies inherently require trust, and trusted relationships are powerful allies in getting things done in organizations. Trust is also an essential component of social learning. Just because we have the technical networks does not mean that learning will automatically happen. Communications without trust are just noise, not accepted and never internalized by the recipients.

Here are some ways to make social learning work in the enterprise:
1. Think and act at a macro level (what to do) and leave the micro (how to do it) to each worker or team. The little stuff is changing too fast.
2. Engage with Web media and understand how they work. The Web is too important to be left to the information technology department, communications staff or outside vendors.
3. Use social media to make work easier or more effective. Use them to solve problems for work teams and groups.
4. Make traditional management obsolete. Teach people how to fish or better yet, teach them how to learn to fish themselves. If the organization is maintaining a steady state then it has failed to evolve with the environment.

The focus on formal training, for skills and knowledge, missed out on our social nature. There are new forms of learning to replace ‘training’.

Finally :

A free flow of information is an incredible tool.