Tag Archives: collaboration

Online Communites are Changing my World

Should online communities have a better reputation?  Should you join and participate in one more online community?  Are online communities profoundly changing the world for the better?

Here are four examples of how online communities have changed my world:

  • I was organizing a conference in London UK for a client.  I researched the internet (blogs, discussion threads, social networks, etc.) and found 2 very interesting speakers to participate.  One was from Finland and one was from the USA.   The first time we met in person was at the conference.  We continue to network and collaborate to this day.  One of the speakers connected me to an incredible career opportunity.
  • I created a post on my blog and promoted it via Twitter and some of my Linked In groups.  I received an invitation on Linked In from someone who wanted to join my network.  I accepted the invitation after reviewing his profile, and confirming a mutual interest and benefit.  This contact invited me to help create a new social learning website for a professional community, introduced me to some other people who included me in a conference event, and provided a professional recommendation for me on my Linked In profile.  I recently arranged a 6 month contractor role in the home country of this contact and we are planning to meet in person for the first time.  He has a yacht and wants to take me sailing.
  • I targeted a few companies where I would like to work.  I used Linked In to identify people in leadership roles in these companies and introduced myself.  Two of the leaders willingly spoke with me to explore opportunities to work together.  I did not go through the traditional RFP process and spent very time and money on business development and marketing activities.  I am presently discussing a 6 to 12 month contractor role.
  • I participated heavily on the blog of a well known thought leaders in my field.  I contributed to discussion threads, commented and rated contributions made by others, and helped connect some of the other community members to each other and to “content.”  One of the leaders reached out to me.  This leader acted as a coach and mentor, and a reference.  Eventually this leader hired me for a contractor role.  The first time we met in person was just 30 minutes before meeting our client for the first time.  We are now talking about a longer term partnership.

How have online communities changed your world?

The authors of “the 2020 workplace” make the following predictions for online communities:

  • You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputational capital (for example – successfully turning professional communities into increased business value for the organization and creating a stronger personal brand).
  • Recruiting will start on social networking sites (at least 80 percent of recruiters will tap into online communities as the first stop to recruiting global talent).
  • Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies (corporate participation in social networks may be as critical in the 2020 workplace as managing cash flow).

I was inspired to write this post after receiving a link from one of my network members (Kim Burt) to Richard Millington’s blog post where he shared examples of how online communities have changed his world.


Creating Safer Peer-to-Peer Learning Experiences

As a learning and development professional you are probably always on the lookout for ways to create more value – particularly for any ideas that don’t take a lifetime to develop and cost the Earth! But not all learning solutions of value need come at a great investment.

The most powerful – and least leveraged – learning solution is peer-to-peer learning. Workers learn more from mentors, coaches, peers, and members of their professional networks than from any other source. Recent advancements in social media make it possible for you to take peer-to-peer learning to a new level with a surprisingly low commitment in terms of time and money.

Is it safe to use social media for learning?

Is peer-to-peer learning safe? A major concern or fear expressed by business leaders is that widespread and facilitated peer-to-peer learning will create an unusable mess of low-quality and inaccurate exchanges and content. Business leaders typically demand that all training content must be reviewed, approved, or tested before it is published and delivered. No wonder employees often receive too little training, too late.

Are learning professionals suffering from a “one size fits all” content quality policy? What sort of training situations must have high quality content in the first instance? The answer is any situation where there is no room for error. We expect and need our surgeons, nuclear power engineers, and police officers to go through high quality learning programs. Otherwise we might see a rise in wrongful death or injury, legal battles, and other severe consequences. The point is that only some training situations require high quality content in the first instance.

Is the concern about content quality in a peer-to-peer learning system legitimate? What are the chances that some employees will pick up and follow an incorrect approach suggested by another employee, and that this would result in a wrongful death or injury, or a legal battle?

Guess what? This already happens today when employees provide inferior advice and suggest inaccurate methods of working, through e-mail correspondence, phone calls, and face-to-face discussions. There are no controls in place to ensure that employees share only high quality, approved, and relevant content in an e-mail, phone call, or face-to-face discussion. The good news is that social media will bring many discussions and content exchanges, good and bad, to the surface where the information in those exchanges can be seen and appropriately addressed. Good social media policies will help contain corporate risk and liabilities. And an appropriate mix of content quality control points will help identify and remove low quality content. Tools and methods are available to help create safer peer-to-peer learning solutions.

Want to know more?  Read my article on Learning Solutions Magazine: learning solutions

Is Collaboration Bad for Your Company?

I read an interesting article in the  Harvard Business Review (April 2009) titled “when internal collaboration is bad for your company” by Morten T. Hansen.  HBR article

Here are some of the key ideas from the article:

Conventional wisdom rests on the false assumption that the more employees collaborate, the better off the company will be.  Collaboration can just as easily undermine individual and business performance.  The question is not “how can we get people to collaborate more?” but “when will collaboration create or destroy value?”  To collaborate well is to know when not to do it.

Look before you leap.  Do not promote collaboration for collaboration sake  If so, you may be putting your company at risk.  Collaboration has potential to deliver tremendous benefits (such as innovative offerings and new sales).  But it can also backfire.  The Harvard Business Review article will help you to distinguish good collaboration from bad.

Three kinds of collaboration are especially valuable in a recession:  Cross-selling, best-practice transfer, and cross-unit product innovation.  Such collaboration will help you to generate profits by exploiting existing assets and capabilities – and to do more with what you already have.

After reading the article I started wondering about the implications on social or networked learning where collaboration is key.

We should not promote social learning for social learning sake.  We need to apply some design principles and discipline when deciding when social learning creates or destroys value.  The idea is not to cultivate more social learning.  Rather, it’s to cultivate the right social learning so that we can achieve the great things not possible when we have only formal learning opportunities.

Using a Wiki for Distance Learning

Over the course of the last semester, Andrew Lister’s class of over 250 students at Queens University have been using a combination of a Student Notebook and an online Wikispaces wiki.

Follow this link to learn more and to see a demonstration.  This is a good example of how to use a Wiki in a formal learning setting in order to increase collaboration and instructional effectiveness.  The best part is there is no cost to using the “software.”


Social Learning Strategies & Trends

Some podcasts that you might want to hear if you are thinking about deploying social learning in your enterprise.


Mass Collaboration for Learning and Development

TiddlyDocs (opensource and free) will enable people to collaborate on the development of documents such as training materials, user guides, and white papers.  I have not yet used this tool (still a prototype) but plan to learn more about it then share my thoughts and conclusions on this blog.

From the creators:  TiddlyDocs is a document editing and collaboration system, in early prototyping phase. The prototype was developed at Osmosoft, primarily by Simon McManus, and with contributions from Paul Downey, Michael Mahemoff, and Jeremy Ruston.


Phenomenal Learning

Web 2.0 technologies enable the development and delivery of phenomenal learning.  Learning is naturally a social experience and comes about primarily from discussion, collaboration, sharing, practicing, and feedback.  Watch this podcast to understand what I mean by Phenomenal Learning and a way in which we can employ Web 2.0 technologies to the learning experience.