Beneath the surface

This post is inspired form informal conversations I had with friends, blogs I read and some that I had commented on… what is this about? Here we go…

I am noting that Social technology is inquired about and adopted first, before taking the time to learn more by questioning and understanding the actual thought process that goes behind using it. We sometimes get impressed with how social tools offer basic but swifter workflow capacities, that we overlook the true potential this technology has to offer.  The enabling side of it!

What’s the real risk? The threat lies in a possible missed opportunity, or, the complete lack of Value adaptation, value creation and culture redefinition.

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” – Karl Albrecht

How we perceive social technology …

We think social tools are made to alleviate some tasks in our work, or at least we think that, and by simply playing around with them, we will get it and consider that we use the tools well. Not true at all…what’s beneath the social technology surface, or behind the tool, our leadership philosophy turns out to be as important, if not more then the social technologies.

Unfortunately, not all vendors do a great job of explaining the impact on the culture and professional fulfillment opportunities associated with usage of social tools … Who ends up by paying the price? Organizations because of unchanged rigid, closed minded cultures and missed opportunities to drive greater results.

Social Platforms are not like Content authoring tools, or Microsoft office suite tools that deliver functions; the design of Social technology is inclined to offer capabilities that are based on catering to basic working human needs and urges. Some of those working needs are to engage with one another, converse, connect and learn, from one another to grow together.  Making work more meaningful.

Yes, there is mindset change that is needed, by realizing that we can’t achieve great results by ourselves. We need each other to make social media at work for us in the workplace.

By adopting values that demonstrate openness to learn, we are able to achieve an important milestone and that is adapting to a new concept of work. One of meeting and working in a domain where the crossings demonstrating leadership and adoption of social technologies thrive. Leadership Behavior and Technology, the two go together

The true power of social technology lies within the end-user, and it is innate; it is powered by our intentions, motivations, our values, not by technology itself.  The tools become our instruments, should we decide and know how to play.

Below is a metaphor we can use, to help anyone understand the value of good social technology usage…

Think of a musical instrument, a guitar that costs thousands of dollars, made of the best material and looks very good.

If the player can’t play, does not tune his guitar accordingly, or has bad taste in music, who will ever want to join in, recruit this player in a band, or even listen?

Get the point? Social technologies combined with the right leaders (players) could have an immense reach and influence within communities (musical categories). And if the so called leaders don’t lead well (can’t play), they mind as well kiss the idea of becoming a social organization goodbye, (hello garage band).

Social tools are there to help us mimic collaborative thinking, ( exuding the right sound) play well so to speak, they are not simply there to perform some conventional tasks or be used maliciously ( play bad).   Social tools are all about proving the end-user capabilities and opportunities to exude leadership behavior, putting the emphasis on relationship building, value creation and thinking outside the box, everyday to drive the best possible results, collaboratively… Isn’t this what all engaged workers want ?

Our true ways of thinking and being in the workplace will manifest on Social Platforms. These tools, in most cases, tell the truth about us, they are like an X-ray of our internal selves, what we stand for and what our true intentions are.

Understanding what lies beneath the surface of social technologies’ usage, who is using them and how, clarifying their existence’s purpose, and lastly how we measure the returns on usage are all crucial items to think of.

They are considered among the first and right steps in helping drive the change to become a better learning organization, and eventually a social enterprise.

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Connecting Learning, at work

Connecting the dots

Connected Learning, now I ‘’get’’ it, or should say, starting to ‘get’ it, more & more each day. This post is one of a few more on how I was able to ‘’get’’ the concept what Connected Learning is.

One summer in my hometown, and among other great face to face exchanges, an intellectually generous, creative and passionate Learning Leader, Dan Pontefract says to me …

We will need to embrace the fact that ‘’Learning, will forever be Part Formal, Informal and Social’’

Hearing it live from the man himself resonated well with me…I fully agree with that Connected Learning declaration. This chat took place in the summer of 2011. Thanks for being attentive and giving to a great cause Dan! Let’s hope for many more similar chats, and more amazing weather.

In 2012, I do ’’get’’ a good concept of what connected learning is, but this did not happen overnight, sorry, it does not

I will tell you how I got to meet Mr. Pontefract & other learning leaders little later, in other related entries, however for now, we will focus on getting to know how it all started!

It all began, 5 years ago …

Being part of a formal Training team for over 5 years now, and as a facilitator, I was hearing a lot of buzz about e-learnings and training design, how integral they are in a learning organization. I was also hearing how people can learn fast and grow thanks to good design & facilitation techniques and amazing content authoring technologies etc… All this is 100% true.

Having joined the Learning team a few years in already, I have to say that this work experience is bringing much needed internal awareness and wisdom, helping me bridge gaps, being cultural or performance based, and provide learning solutions as support for on the job performance.   This position, in the learning domain, made me much more conscious about the culture and responsibilities I carried as a corporate citizen.

Dating back to mid-2008, it’s when I took upon myself to expand my knowledge on the topic and usefulness of good training and e-learning design; it’s when I wanted to take my learning professional journey to another level. It was the next step, the natural thing to do.  Also, Along the way, it was a lot fun, was experimenting with technology, chatting with likeminded folks about learning theories, helping each other out, very much still the case today, … good times, good feeling…

The excitement was irrepressible, and my quest being to appeal to and accommodate different learning styles , I decided to discern the e-learning and formal training design concept a little more, and took a stab at designing few short e-learnings and training modules myself. This I thought would be the obvious next step up for me, in contributing in the learning domain. I turned to some colleagues for help in sharing their experiences, used references like the Addie model and tools like captivate for authoring and the results and ideas were rightfully decent, for an apprentice such as myself.  I had a blast not only with other learning leaders, but also with using and making the best out of  technology .

Making the connections between behaviors and environments

Understanding adult education principles helped realize that adult workers carry so much valuable experience and knowledge from previous work or life events that it contributes or affects their learning results and relationships with others.   I also learned how a working learner’s engagement is based what the actual sentiment  is, whether  feeling relaxed, anxious, insecure or confident.   And ultimately, I learned how much is happening behind the scenes, in the learner’s head, and why adults act and react the way they do in formal settings.

And as a result of my discoveries, I was able to understand without judging, why lots of adult learners yearn to unleash their talent and gifts once more, demonstrate their true worth to everyone.  Were they feeling held back ?  The question deserves to be asked …

Even other questions come to mind…

Does a formal learning setting alone provide theses fulfillment opportunities ?  Is the approach used blocking or fostering dialogue and openness ?

It all depends on lots of things,  such as the existing organizational culture, the values in place, the  ecosystem.  I also like to think it is  up to the facilitator’s knowledge of the craft, overall intentions and leadership philosophy to make the best of any dedicated learning time.

Putting it all together

It is when I started to see a formal training session as a potential to capitalize on an opportunity and bring something extra to the adult worker’s life, outside of classroom walls.    I embraced their urges to express themselves and made sure they could do this, from day one.    All this is done in an informal setting, where open conversations take place, everyone can participate and contribute with their knowledge and experience.

That is when I made a connection between two learning approaches, formal and informal and grasped that they both are effective and required for learning and development, in their own ways. They are both valuable to an organization however, their context and approaches bring different feelings on the table.

I will post what happened next, in the coming days. I will talk about what emerges as a result of taking an informal approach in a formal setting . Till then, enjoy the read, the links and references. They’re all worth taking a look at…


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The journey to becoming a social entreprise

Thanks Open Web

To begin, I need to clarify that this blog entry is inspired by Luis Suares ( sorry folks, not the soccer player, but the learning leader that is living and working without e-mails) He once wrote about how much time it takes to become a Social Enterprise , and I have to be honest with you,  I totally agree with him.

I had connected with Mr Suares a few months ago, on Google+, and shared my take on the end-to-end course that includes the initial stages of  a sparked interest to become more social at first , then onto the ultimate, the icing on the cake, the emergence of Communities of Practice  .

Here we go, re-posting my thoughts

I enjoyed reading this post…
Agreed, no big bang approach will work for massive adoption. It’s a journey, marathon in deed.

This great social work movement can be considered as working in complexity, which is all about playing a new role, more of a redefined way of being at work than just doing work. It’s where people matter most and networks can determine one’s net worth.

‘’Social Business is about connecting the right actors together to create value and provide deliverables that can fit the immediate context, making an organization more responsive and agile.’’

Good People systems create trust and collaboration during social business cycles and directly impact the culture.

This type of reinforced value will influence the good actors to evangelize about their work experience, their ongoing journey to fulfillment.

The new empowering effect and demonstration of word of mouth will peak other’s interests, and this is when learning by lurking manifests itself. Only then, gravitation towards the core of work communities will make work experiences more human and connected.

This is what I had shared a few months ago…What do you think? How is your journey going?

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Welcome to my Open Learning House

In this space, I choose to write my own thoughts based on life and work experience. I invite everyone into my Open Learning House to share what you think, if you care to. Once in a lifetime, we walk this earth, try to make a difference, given we care and can, so why not on this space ?

Visit this Open House and see for yourself if you learn something, and want me to learn from you … Either way, we all win…

Welcome … and be yourself…

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What is Social Learning ? The Million dollar question …

What is Social Learning? The Million dollar question …

This question has been asked on Quora , and there has been many insightful takes on it… Also, another interesting article regarding this very topic and valuable citations can be found here.

Here is my response to what Social Learning means…Lived many times, seen through my eyes, felt in the heart…

Having worked in the HR L&D and continue to collaborate (where Connected Learning is at the heart of every discussion), and now, being part of the Formal Training & Delivery team, as a facilitator…. I decided to combine my work experiences, share my thoughts and my opinions on What is Social Learning.

Here I begin
Social Learning is an approach, anavenue that smart organizations choose to take, in order to remain aligned with the market demands, and respond well to people’s (workers) needs.

As a result, there are three values that I feel emerge through my actions, based on my beliefs. This emergence is related to my attitude, my perception of things, the sentiment and engagement all around me

In my own opinion and repeated personal experience, I feel that Social Learning is the combination of three emerging values

  1. Learning
  2. Communicating
  3. Collaborating

I am basically referring to a mindset of demonstrating leadership and proactivity (Learning), a jovial and tactful approach (communication) and the safeguarding of a dynamic collaboration cycle . And those three occurrences or manifestations are very closely linked.

I can and will tell you that to be an active contributor in a profitable and learning organization, I Always project my ideal environment in my mind, why? Because it is possible due to the message the Org is sending to me each day, that I am empowered, always able to make things better, thanks to my colleagues and available resources. In return, I think positively when I wake up each morning, seeking and spreading good karma so to speak.

Some barriers to consider

Now, these values are not easily weaved into our work lives. We are talking about social and emotional intelligence here when dealing with being digitally public , added to cultural shifts in thinking it is essential to have a reproduction of yourself digitally to be findable, along with light requirements to some tech savyness…now that can cause pressure on our leaders, on ourselves as leaders.

Let’s start with learning and work…In 2012, what is called “do the job”, is now more about listening and learning or detecting the sentiment towards the “brand” and adjust along the way, become more agile. A worker is now using his brains a lot more that the good old manual work (automation) days. Brain work, or knowledge work, I can call it that, is done via learning, and that is knowing everything about the context (client) and adjust to them (process, environment, products ). Sigh, we still have a tendency to remain re-active, and work in automated ways.

Also, given the client is now more connected than ever (info and people), we as workers need to mirror his pace in living, listen, learn and understand, in order to deliver an appealing and matching product. It’s where cultures appeal to one another … And one needs to be proactive, which means thinking and acting ahead, use foresight … We no longer need to let someone do the thinking for us, and tell us what and how we need to learn to be efficient at work, we need to tell each other what we need to know in order to make the right decisions and drive results, we need to go out on the field, think on our feet… Not everyone feels they should get out there… roll up their sleeves and learn the true context.

And now, values and mental interference

About technology and work… if a person does not know their work offers Social Technologies as well as adequate support, or does not know how to use them, this can be considered a barrier to social learning…

About communication and work… if a person is tech savy, but cannot communicate well, is rude, abrasive, defensive, pushy, too top down, or even shy, etc… this also is a major hindrance to reach eventual collaboration.

And finally, collaboration at work…if the person is simply not authentic, is online to hoard information form others, does not give back to the community or be transparent with their interlocutor (s), truth be told, he/she would be at a loss, a major one, due to a bad reputation, negative influence, you name it… What am saying is that reciprocity between workers is what workers tend to detect in order to collaborate fully.

All it takes is one of those three values to either not be assessed, adopted or the slightest “breakdown” in that weaving an element of this “mechanism” or thought process, will hinder our chances to demonstrate how active and engaged we are when it comes to social learning. Results will be impacted one way or another.

I do realize that learning by lurking is greatly efficient as well, and has its immense rewards, but there is nothing else like highly engaged workers who exude an amazing leadership philosophy and learn with and from others, actively… And openly!

Adapting to a new concept

It takes a little getting used to, when it comes to putting social learning at the forefront of our work lives, as i mentioned, this shift is cultural and innate, we cannot simply turn the switch “on” and engage differently… we have been conditioned for over 20 years in schools and work to prioritize the teachers, trainers, the books and then ourselves, so much that we forgot how we naturally learn, and learn best, and that is with and from others

I think, the value and skill of adapting to this emerging trend is crucial in this case, and the value of adapting becomes essential to have or to at least assess, should we decide to change our leadership philosophy and Learn Socially.

As a closing statement

Social learning turns out to be the proof, or end result that folks that are conscious and caring about their own development and overall corporate and social responsibility, turn to others proactively to help and be helped (Learning) and jive well regardless of job title or level (communication) and share knowledge openly and enrich the community (collaboration).

What do you think? Share if you care ….

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