Tag Archives: social media

How social media is shaping the workplace of the future

This podcast by Teemu Arina effectively illustrates the imperative for change and how social media are shaping our future workplace.


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

Verifying Virtual Value

“Learning via social networks and other Web 2.0 tools is anything but formal. Yet, when it comes to measuring its value, a structured approach should still apply. How can learning leaders assess whether the benefits live up to the hype?” – CLO Magazine March 2010 Issue.

I co-wrote an article with Craig Mindrum about verifying the virtual value of networked learning.

The article begins with this introduction:

“Networked learning — namely, the use of social media in the workplace — has taken on a kind of religious fervor among learning practitioners during the past couple years. And not without good reason: It often creates more powerful and enduring learning experiences; it helps people establish and leverage social connections to accelerate the distribution and sharing of experiences, content and guidance; and it allows learners to be more productive, learn faster and work smarter.

At this time, however, the enthusiasm for networked learning isn’t necessarily shared by everyone. This creates a gap between believers and nonbelievers — or, perhaps more accurately, between believers and those who still need some convincing.

On one side of the fence are those who have witnessed the transformative power of networked learning — its ability to enable faster and better knowledge sharing and more effective decision making and problem solving, as well as a substantial reduction in error rates and learning costs. On the other side of the fence are those looking for a clear business case and return on investment (ROI) — some assurance that it definitively impacts the business.”

Here is a link to the article:  Verifying Virtual Value (article in CLO Magazine March 2010 Issue)

Please let me and my blog readers know if you have successfully measured the value of networked learning or whether you are planning to try and measure the value.  We would also appreciate knowing if there are other good articles, white papers, or presentations on the subject.

Finding In-House Experts Isn’t Easy

Why is it so difficult to quickly find someone in my organization to answer a pressing question, provide advice about a procedure, explain how to use some software, or tell me where to find an expert, course, or document?

I rely on my network to connect me to other people and information because I cannot know and will not try to know everything.  I use the internal “knowledge management” and “learning management” systems.  I am not completely helpless.  But sometimes I just don’t know what I don’t know and I need input from an expert.

I know there are in-house experts in my organization.  What can my organization do to help me connect to and leverage these experts more easily?  Experts with specialized knowledge and skills are an invaluable resource for me.

No t leveraging the in-house experts seems like such a waste.

How many problems go un-solved, how many new ideas never get imagined, how many experts feel underappreciated because people like me cannot easily tap into the in-house pool of experts?

My organization deployed a “expert locator” and “social networking” system in order to help employees quickly find and leverage in-house expertise but these systems provide a half baked solution.  I need to know more about the experts and not just their organizational affiliation, work experience, competencies, and certifications.  I also need to know some “softer” qualities such as their trustworthiness, communication style, personality traits, and willingness to help others in need.  I would also like to know how others feel about the experts when they tapped into them.

What do you look for in an expert and what “tools” are best suited for conveying the information you want to know about experts?

Dorit Nevo, Izak Benbasat and Yair Wand conducted a study to answer this question.

Dr. Nevo is a professor of management information­ systems at Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. Dr. Benbasat is a Canada research chair in information­ technology management at Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Dr. Wand is a Canfor professor of management information­ systems at Sauder School of Business.

This following illustration (click on “key findings”) summarizes the key findings of the survey distributed to users of “expert locator” systems:

Key Findings

Some key conclusions from the research:

  • Activities and interactions that occur in blogs, wikis and social networks naturally provide the cues that are missing from current expert locator systems.
  • A search engine that mines internal blogs, for example, where workers post updates and field queries about their work, will help searchers judge for themselves who is an expert in a given field.
  • Wiki sites, because they involve collaborative work, will suggest not only how much each contributor knows, but also how eager they are to share that knowledge and how well they work with others.
  • Tags and keywords, which are posted by employees and serve as flags for search engines, can reveal qualities in an expert that are far from transparent in any database or directory.

I like this study because it demonstrates the hidden value of blogs and wikis.

This study also helps us further understand that the formal organizational chart and company designated experts are not necessarily the best “maps” for finding expertise or the most qualified experts in the company.

Social media such as blogs and wikis will help us to identify the established and emerging experts and to go beyond the “usual suspects.”

Here is a link to an online article with more details: Source for this post

Social Learning Primer

I created this 16 minute social learning primer (podcast) to address some of the frequently asked questions and concerns about social learning, and to share some of my insights and suggestions gained from my experience helping client organizations with their social learning agendas.

I hope you find this primer useful.  Please feel free to comment and provide feedback.

Click on image to see primer

Is Social Media Vital to Your Company?

Will social media improve productivity?  Is it vital to the company’s success?  Will “employees” use the media?  A recent study provides some interesting insights and evidence.

Workers using social networking sites instead of doing their jobs has long been the bane of human resources departments across every industry.  However, a recent survey questioning oil and gas professionals has revealed that 40% of them believe that companies who encourage the use of social media tools, including social networking sites such as Facebook, to share knowledge and information would boost productivity.

The survey, released today at the Microsoft Middle East & Africa Global Energy Forum 2009 in Dubai and carried out by computer software giant Microsoft Corp and management consultancy Accenture, found that despite the findings, only one in four of the oil and gas professionals questioned reported using the said tools to capture and share information within their respective companies.

The survey questioned a broad spectrum of professionals across the global oil and gas industry including, industry engineers, geo-scientists and business managers. It found that 70% believe collaboration and knowledge sharing are vital for driving revenue cutting costs and health and safety. In spite of this most of the respondents admitted that face-to-face meetings, e-mails and conference calls are still mainly used even though more sophisticated technology is freely available.

The survey also reports that 61% of respondents admitted to spending at least an hour a day searching for information and knowledge sources necessary for them to carry out their jobs. With an estimated 65,000 engineering professionals currently working in the global oil and gas industry this translates into a potential loss of 10 million man-hours a year, that roughly translates as a US$485 million loss to the industry (according to U.S. Department of Labor salary statistics)..

“During this time of economic upheaval, when every dollar counts and effective decision-making is crucial, new technologies such as social media tools can help oil and gas industry professionals find information, collaborate and generally be more productive,” Ali Faramawy, vice-president, Microsoft International said.

“In an environment with fewer workers and less resources, this is incremental productivity our industry can use in finding new reserves, improving execution of capital projects, driving new innovations and reducing costs,” he added.

Whether companies in the oil and gas sector actually incorporate the social media technologies into their businesses remains to be seen. Only 37% of the respondents in the survey think that their respective companies have the foresight to encouraging knowledge sharing by using the said tools.

“Companies are dealing with several trends right now, not only the aging workforce walking out the door with decades of knowledge, but also experienced hires coming into their businesses who need to understand a new corporate culture,” said Omar Boulos, Accenture’s Middle East Managing Executive .

“Companies have an opportunity to supplement their existing collaboration capabilities with newer tools such as podcasts and social networks to accelerate the sharing of knowledge, increase teaming and augment communication between their workforces in different regions,” he added.

What’s so social about social media?

Venkatesh Rao wrote a thought provoking piece that made we think about  the kind of characteristics an individual might need to be a successful “social media” user – and the expectations we might need to set with people or teams that have expressed an interest in using “social media” to improve the way in which they collaborate and work. I see technology as an extension to human capabilities and as “things” that help us do what we naturally do but much better. My expectation is that people will use “social media” in addition to all of the other ways they interact, collaborate, and share with people in their network or community. I do not see “social media” as a replacement and something that will eliminate the need to use a phone, meet with people in person, etc.

I like using social media because it helps me grow and nurture my relationships, helps me learn new things, and enables me to share my ideas and (hopefully) help other people.

Do “social” people have what it takes to be successful social media users?  I feel like I have become even more social after I started using social media.  I even see a difference (an improvement) in how I socialize in the “physical” world after having used social media.  I think “social” people might not like social media at first because it is not as good as the “physical” world – you cannot see people’s expressions, cannot touch people, cannot smell people, etc.  However, over time they might see the virtue of having another option for socializing – and social media does provide some benefits and capabilities that are unavailable in the “physical” world (such as observing and hearing how others are socializing).