Thursday, April 12, 2018

Harnessing Social Media in e-Learning-Part III

In the previous post, one of the barriers identified was the entrenched viewpoint that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat...etc are just for socializing with family and friends.

Credit: www.

In diagnosing the problems with the entrenchment of the common social media attitude in regards to its purpose, we are faced with a couple of questions that need to be addressed if we desire to capitalize on the potential that social media holds for effective e-Learning:

"What are the characteristics of social media and how can these characteristics be harnessed in the cause of effective e-Learning?"  

Step #2:  Identifying the Characteristics of Social Media

The elements that describe social media could simply be described by the following:


Credit: Carmella Howard

Community: In defining community, it is necessary to point out that the nature of community has changed from what was considered community in the past. The community of the past had common bonds such as occupation, morality ( A community church used to be placed at the center of a community in the western world), beliefs about education, and common traditions as represented by ideas such as holidays on the calendar). The connections with other communities globally were through the transportation and communication technologies of the time. The common restriction was that use of such technologies were constrained by time.

With the advancement of technology in the 20th & 21st century, the nature of community was transformed. With the advancement of knowledge and information brought on by the exponential changes in technology, the idea of community lost some of the constraints involving time and place with community transforming from being localized to global. Due to the growth of information and knowledge across many disciplines, a new community or "culture of learning" became one of the important prerequisites for both business and education in order not just to survive but move forward within a global context. This "culture of learning" is what e-Learning strives to establish in a totally online environment. Community is important in the online world. In order to establish this "culture of learning", there is a need to break away from a status quo which is decades old and definitely not in sync with the needs of 21st century communities.

Conversations & Participation: With the removal of the constraints of time and space, opportunities were opened up for the development of a way to extend personal relationships from the local stage to the world stage. Part of the growth of this "culture of learning" was the development of global networks focused on inter-relationships that we call "social media networks". When we compare these two elements with what is needed in effective e-Learning we realize that these terms correspond to the elements of "collaboration" and "engagement".

Just as within the social media networks, conversations often focus on current events common to the inter-relationships, collaboration and engagement in effective e-Learning must focus on identification and solution of real world problems where feedback on decisions that are made have real world consequences. This brings us back to a change in the role of educator and student. The educator becomes a mentor and guide in effective process skills that students need to develop in order to become much needed "agents of change" in societies that need to separate and interpret the forces of change in technology and the generation of information and knowledge. The bottom line is that"

"... both business and education must become proactive in dealing with the perfect storm of technological and information change rather than continuously retreating into steadily shrinking comfort zones through being reactive to change."

So, this brings us to a very pertinent question:

"Given that social media and effective e-Learning have so many of the same elements, how can we use social media as a tool for effective e-Learning?"

The answer to that question involves the re-design of learning experiences so that they are irresistibly engaging and make use of the very concepts of social media that has made it a spectacular world wide phenomenon. This involves re-designing learning experiences so that they focus less on the acquirement of information by the student for the sake of becoming a "human database" to be tested and approved by education systems. Given the exponentially growing amount of information and knowledge that is happening in the 21st century, maintaining this type of focus presents the student with an impossible task. Instead, teaching students how to engage, think and collaborate on the web for real world purposes that is key to enriching the societies they will live in should be the prime directive for education. This means that education becomes far more meaningful and relevant to students because now they are learning how to contribute to their present and future in meaningful ways.

The next step will focus on how to incorporate the use of social media in innovative ways that addresses this previously mentioned "prime directive". As can be seen in the following diagram, the possibilities are endless in achieving this goal.


Next: Step #3---Re-designing Learning Experiences

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Harnessing Social Media in e-Learning-Part II

Social media has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately because of a mistaken perception that people who use the web have that they are entitled to the maintenance of some form of personal privacy. With the recent disclosure of data breaches on Facebook, a major social media platform, much to the chagrin of owners and users, the personal data that they indiscriminately added to their Facebook area, is now out there and now subject to the growing use of predictive analytics. Now through the use of big data collection and access to Facebook data, companies such as Google, Amazon and others can make suggestions to you, unsolicited,  on products that should interest you based upon their analysis of your digital footprints. Note that words such as "might interest you" is not used because the advance of predictive analytics have raise the percentage of probability out of those shadowed areas.


The frightening thing about the above scenario is not that the fact that the breach of the data was huge but that a whole generation of highly connected social media users never thought that such a thing could happen. Despite the fact that most of this youthful generation of users have never known a day in their lives when they were not connected, they still remain rather ignorant and uneducated about how the web works. This leads us to the question:

"If we are going to capitalize on the potential that social media has for e-learning, what steps need to be taken to educate users of social media?"

Steps in Positive Directions

There is no doubt that the attraction to e-Learning has hit "prime time". Statistics bear this growth and transformation out.


Step #1: Change an Entrenched Perception of Social Media

Many of this 21st century generation have never used social media for anything else than to socialize with others online. How entrenched this perception of what social media exists for is again revealed in glaring statistics. If we take an example from the United Kingdom in 2015, it becomes very clear what people perceive as the purpose for social media.

Credit: www.
Another interesting development in the business world is how social media is now seen as a potential tool for digital marketing. It is in this area that outrage has a arisen recently in the media due to the harvesting of data or data mining that is being carried on by big business which sees such an activity as quite reasonable given the fact that effective guidelines or even a consensus of guidelines for data mining of social media has not been established in the "wild west" we know as the Internet. The temptation is too great for them to resist.

So given the entrenchment of these attitudes over the use of social media, how do we change direction so that it becomes focused on effective e-Learning for all? It starts by realizing some of the realities:

  • The reason students do not use social media for purposes of enriching their education is because they have never been taught to see social media in this light. Unfortunately, educational institutions, enforcing the command and control mantra of the typical classroom, have devoted their resources to banning smart phone use, blocking cell signals completely, restricting cell phone use to obscure times of the day rather than seeing mobile devices as another tool to be used to enrich student learning.

  • A second reality is that in order to change the perspective, we need to re-design learning experiences in innovative and creative ways that engage students to use social media collaboratively in irresistibly engaging learning. This flies in the face of prescribed government curriculums which are more obsessed with redundant assessment than creative and innovative instructional design. The great irony here is that if we are preparing students to be effective citizens working in a business world, we are employing a system that runs counter to the needs of 21st century businesses which are placing a high value on innovation and problem solving.

Next post--Step #2

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Using Social Media As a Tool in E-learning: The Challenges and Potential

There is no denying that the rise of social media in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat...etc has created a level of engagement among people globally.



 When we consider that level of engagement from a business perspective, we wish that our own business culture could boast such percentages. The even greater dilemma dealing with social media focuses on the following questions that every business organization needs to confront and solve which are:

  1. How do I ensure that our business organization is not losing important hours of productivity as a result of employees using company time to be on social media?

To respond to such a question, one needs to ask is this really a widespread problem or is it a problem at all? Looking at how employers deal with employee access and their reasons for their approach shows their concerns with social media. A survey was performed by Robert Half Technology of 1400 chief information officers from companies across the United States to find out their policy on visiting social media sites. The results were that:

  • 54% do not allow employees to access social media sites under any circumstance at work.
  • 19% allow limited access and then only for strictly business purposes only.
  • 16% allow limited access for personal use.
  • 10% allow for unlimited and unrestricted access for personal use.

Business organizations have various reasons for blocking social media sites. It is interesting to note the prime reason in the following list:

  1. Loss of productivity.
  2. Potential exposure of computers and business networks to spyware, malware and viruses.
  3. Greater chance for corporate information that is strictly proprietary to be leaked.
  4. Potential legal liability for the company as a result of employees accessing certain social media sites that have poor security measures.
The elephant in the room underlying the above rationales is the question:

"Do employees feel that they are stakeholders in the health and the future of the business organization or do they feel that they are merely paid pawns in an enterprise that they have no credible input into?"

   2. When are employees most likely to access social media sites and which ones in particular?


What is interesting in the statistics shown is the fact that employees will access social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter,...etc intermittently throughout the day (40.0%) as well as during lunch (41.4%).

3. Given that 54% of the companies surveyed blocked social media sites completely, should the rest     follow this lead?

Simply put the answer should be "no". Why? Such a response creates a whole host of problems which impacts a relationship with employees when we want them to engage with the vision and mission of the company. One of the great characteristics of the new generation of employees is their ability to be creative. In the 21st century, we need employees who are creative, collaborative and actively engaged as innovative solution creators.

"It is far better to have employees use their creativity to further our business case than to have them use their creativity to subvert, in a covert fashion, policies they find out of date with the truly connected lives that they lead outside the work place."

4. Does granting access to social media sites impact employee productivity?

The answer to this is both yes and no. This may sound like we are hedging our bets but anyone who has used social media for a length of time will tell you that it can be a very healthy place to connect as part of a personal online community but it can also be a "cesspool" which harbours unhealthy and potentially dangerous attitudes which can impact a company.

Employees have even made a case that use of social media sites actually improves their productivity.


One area of increased improvement is that it exposes employees to the effective use of web 2.0 tools that can be applied to tasks in the workplace.


This brings us back to a very important question in regards to the idea of engagement which is:

"How can a business organization harness the engagement that social media offers to business tasks and still not lose productivity time?"

Using e-Learning and Social Media: Time to Get Creative!

One key term that should have hit you in the above was the word "community". Despite the fact that we constantly say that employees live very connected lives, there is something that we once had that has become very elusive in the 21st century and that is belonging to a community. In the drive to adapt to and advance the use of technology, the idea of being part of a stable, reliable community has been fractured. Use of social media is the closest that some people get to being "part of a community". You will also note that when people feel that they are part of a community, they are far more engaged over time.

The goal for business organizations is to transform their organizations so that employees feel that they are part of a community that welcomes their input and ideas as bona fide stakeholders. This has been attempted in the past and has resulted in success. The airline company, Westjet, is such a success story. The benefits of engaged employees as part of a community has been well researched and stated.

Keeping such statistics in mind, how can we create high levels of engagement by harnessing e-Learning and social media?

The drive and energy that employees devote to personal learning both for the advancement of their job skillsets and to interpret their world is a personal part of their lives. The only other people who would care about how they are learning are people who are close to them and part of a personal community. It is within this context that a business organization can empower employees to become stakeholders in the business community and the use of e-Learning as a means of creating that personally meaningful community is one tool to make it happen.

From a skeptic's point of view, why would a business organization want to do this? One reason is to close the digital skills gap that exists within business organizations. This means re-visiting and re-evaluating priorities now taking into account that the world has changed and that the digital skills of all employees either advance the interests of a business organization in a globally connected collaborative, digital business world or results in a constant loss of market share akin to the types of processes that such companies such as Kodak and today,  the Sears organization have experienced.


First Steps in Harnessing Social Media to Company Interests

  1. Recognize the value and potential of using social media: Since employees are tightly involved in social media outside the business organization, it becomes important to train or mentor employees in how social media could be used to help transform the community that they are part of each day. Both Twitter & Facebook have specialized groups that focus on many areas of the business world. Collecting these sites and making them focused links on the company's working organizational network accessible to employees 24/7 helps put into place one of the elements of a new and more vibrant community. Such sites will be accessible to employees regardless of the tool that they use thanks to the use of HTML 5.0 as a foundation for design. A site such as LinkedIn would also be an important site because of the many forums available for learning across many dimensions of business knowledge.
  2. Creating dynamic learning profiles: If learning is a personal element in the lives of employees then those who enable growth of skillsets within learners are considered valuable members of that transformed community. This requires a re-visioning of the roles of HR, Instructional Designer and even the CLO of a business organization so that they are in tune with nurturing the growth of intellectual capital found in the persons who are employees. If information in the 21st century is the new currency, then learning is the key to creating digital capital in this new age.
Next---Part II will plot out the paths to this needed transformation. Please feel free to  share this post on e-Learning Industry forums on LinkedIn.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Business Organizations and Learning Culture--Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skillsets

Business organizations need to re-assess their understanding of the importance of critical thinking and problem solving skillsets for their organizations. News articles are appearing with such titles as :

"New Graduates Will Not Be Employable Unless They Possess the Soft Skills of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving"

At first glance such a statement seems entirely reasonable and given that we are living in an age of increasing information and knowledge many organizations would agree with such a statement. However, suggesting that critical thinking and problem solving are "soft skills" does not recognize that these skillsets are essentials and not the "nice if you have them type of skills".

In fact I would go so far as to say that business organizations should NOT hire university graduates who can not demonstrate efficiency in these skillsets.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Hard skills have been defined as teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. Typically, you'll learn hard skills in the classroom, through books or other training materials, or on the job. Some examples of hard skills as pointed out by HR departments are:

  • a degree or certificate
  • proficiency in foreign languages
  • computer programming
  • machine operation

Soft skills have been defined as subjective skills that are much harder to quantify. Also known as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills," soft skills relate to the way that you relate to and interact with other people. Some examples of soft skills as pointed out by HR departments are:

  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • communication
  • team work

I would like to turn this balance on its head by suggesting:

"Soft skills in a digital age should be "primary tier skillsets" because they are foundational to accomplishing all that is involved with the use of hard skills!"

Why change? The reason is tied to the fact that more and more business will be conducted online where collaboration, communication, problem solving and critical thinking are essentials to developing a healthy "brand" in a much greater market for being known. Also, with the development of digital simulations that involve employees collaborating as a group, soft skills are the key to the development of hard skills.

Looking at the definitions and examples above, we are left with an important question:

"Do these definitions align effectively with the 21st century expectations of a globally connected digital business world?"

I would say no and it is getting worse. it has been the goal of business organizations to achieve a balance between hard skills and soft skills. The hard skills would get an individual a job but it was the soft skills that would allow the individual to keep the job.

The balance as a result of advancing technology and the opening up of a business friendly online environment has shifted towards the importance of soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. So, what then is the problem??

Higher Education and Development of Critical Thinking

Coming back to the original headline which was:

"New Graduates Will Not Be Employable Unless They Possess the Soft Skills of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving"

we have to ask what is happening with the development of critical thinking and problem solving skillsets in higher education. After all, this is the pool from which we will draw our future workforce from.
Critical thinking as a skillset is not being nurtured on many university campuses where teaching students WHAT to think has become important than teaching them HOW to think. A recent article is but one of many articles that are coming under the media spotlight in many universities.

You might ask yourself, from a business perspective, why I should be concerned? If you look at the soft skill traits that non-critical thinkers possess, you should be alarmed.

All the soft skills, as important as they are, will be dispensed with. So skills involving collaboration, problem solving, communication, team work will not work unless they fit the mindset of students who have have bought into political correctness as the right mindset for approaching all things in life. They may be proficient in the use of technology but will they use it to develop and encourage the soft skills or will they use their proficiency in technology to challenge and paralyze the need for soft skills to the detriment of the business?

Your solution might simply be not to hire such individuals but what if it is entrenched in a generation? If you think that I am exaggerating then Google news items about free speech and critical thinking on university campuses. I think that you will be surprised.

So, what is the solution to such a dilemma? 

Political pressure needs to be brought to bear on educational institutions in our societies to make sure that critical thinking and problem solving are systematically embedded, emphasized and taught across all curriculum boundaries and not just in the sciences. It needs to start in primary grades and flow throughout the education system into the realm of higher education. Teaching students how to think instead of what to think leads to employees who know how to think, will listen to all points of view, evaluate evidence presented by different points of view and then be able to make decisions based upon valid, verifiable evidence. It is also a key to arriving at creative and innovative solutions that our societies need in order for effective change that improves the quality of life of all people.

If you look at your future business needs and compare them with 21st century thinking skills that should be emphasized, you will notice a good and useful pattern of harmonization,

If the use of such technologies as VR , Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Robotics are going to be harnessed to enrich your business organization and increase ROI on a global scale, then you need employees who are good critical thinkers, problem solvers and can play nice in the digital sand box with others. Social attitudes that counter this are not only to be discouraged but also countered using whatever political and financial assets are available. With elections on the horizon, the time to re-shape and transform the importance of soft skills is now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Learning Culture or Training Culture--Part IV-- 21st Century Networked Collaboration

In the previous post I suggested that the type of collaboration that organizations should be involved in is not the version that they were familiar with during their schooling. The advancement of technology involving the World Wide Web has brought about a significant paradigm shift in regards to the reach and the removal of time as a factor in the new way of doing business. Businesses now have the ability to compete with the world on a more immediate scale than ever before. Networking between branches of an organization and its home organization on a global scale has allowed businesses to accomplish more by opening new markets previously untouched and form new partnerships which help multiply client bases in ways that are mutually beneficial.

This new type of collaboration is based upon some important traits that the learning culture of your business organization should have embedded in it. Some of these traits would be as follows:

  • The organization has  transformed the traditional "training culture" with its "sage on the stage" approach to the learning of employees with a "learning culture" where ongoing learning is valued and is systemic from the CEO's office down to the base level. This transformation is not just systemic within the home base but is systemic and networked on a global level. All leaders in the area of what use to be the training culture now become mentors and networkers across the many  tiers of the organization.

  • The organization has embraced the value of building a learning culture and no longer considers learning as a low priority when it comes to the health of the business. The decision makers consider the learning culture as a key to improved employee performance and their engagement in the mission and vision of the organization as well as an important step to making innovative thinking as a natural mindset throughout the organization.

Credit: Josh Bersin


  • The organization encourages innovative thinking on the part of employees by enabling them to collaborate with other employees across the global network of the organization by tasking them with problems that enable them to harness their talents to come up with innovative solutions. Then they are provided with a forum where teams may "pitch" and defend their solutions before decision makers. 

  • The organization also empowers employees to collaborate beyond normal business hours by providing a "virtual war-room" on the web that they can access as part of their informal learning. This would mean the harnessing of mobile learning as well as micro learning by enabling access for employees from any digital device to this war room, other participants globally as well as big data reservoirs and cloud data bases relevant to the problem they are tasked with solving. Engagement of employees occurs when the problem they are tasked with is memorable or challenging, meaningful and motivational.

  • The learning of the individual employee is nurtured, tracked and opportunities are provided for the employee to stretch beyond his or her capabilities. The business organization should have in place a staff member who would fulfill the role of a "Learning Principles Expert or Guru" whose principal duties would be some of the following:
  1. Establish a "learning profile" for each employee and track their learning as they progress through the organization. and determine their proficiency in regards to talents that could be harnessed for the continuing health of the organization.
  2.  Provide employees with opportunities through networked groups to grow their abilities while helping the organization grow and perform.
  3. Stay current with advances in learning, especially research dealing with Neuro-Cognitive learning.
  4. Develop irresistibly engaging learning experiences in coordination with the instructional designer that enables employees to collaborate by becoming engaged in simulations and branched scenarios where they are confronted with task problems that change depending upon the decisions they make. Feedback is immediate and displays clear consequences to the decisions that were made.  This should involve not only collaboration groups based in the home organization but also employees of the branches of the organization. This could be accomplished through a "blended e-Learning" setup or by a completely immersive virtual experience similar to "Second Life". 

  • Re-defining the relationships between the instructional designer and SME is crucial for the simple reason that in a 21st century learning culture, learning is not about putting huge amounts of facts into the heads of employees. We have computers for that and soon we will make use of advanced AI algorithms that will be able to take on many of the repetitive, time consuming, administrative tasks thus freeing human beings to use their creative and innovative talents to the fullest. The ability to wonder and be curious are characteristics that separate humans from machines. Subject Matter Experts can no longer claim to be the "fountain of knowledge" in a given subject because knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate across many disciplines. Their role needs to change so that they become mentors by directing employees to online knowledge banks or big data reservoirs and help them clarify their thinking on tasks by asking them the right but crucial questions. It is not about input of information and output. It is about guided thinking and systems thinking that will enable collaborative global groups arrive at innovative solutions to the problems that they have been tasked with.

Next---- Collaboration and Virtual Borders in New Technology

Friday, October 27, 2017

Learning Culture or Training Culture--Part III--Collaboration

When considering the need for a transformation of a training culture into a learning culture, a third element to consider is the nature of collaboration.

The Roots of Collaborative Skillsets

The industrial model of education set the tone for how collaboration was to be conducted within the classroom often referred to as "group work". The usual process for bringing forth collaboration started with the teacher announcing a task or issue that groups were going to work on and arrive at finished product which could be the resolution to a problem or the position on an issue that the group had adopted. An example of such an issue might be: "Capital punishment should be restored for such crimes as murder and treason against your country". Agree or Disagree. The educator would choose groups, making sure that that each group had equal numbers, had mixed genders, and at least one above average student in each group. A time limit would be established for each group to either solve the task or come to a consensus on the stated issue. The teacher would then be the person who would listen in and check on the groups' progress.


The reality of this process was that group dynamics had several effects on the reaching of the goal such as:

  • Usually the above average student became the group leader
  • Usually the above average student ended up doing the "lion's share" of the work
  • The other students in the group usually helped to a limited degree or did very little work at all in terms of adding to the discussion portion of the work.
  • Some of the group members, not feeling that their input was valued, became distracted and did things that had nothing to do with achieving the stated goal of the exercise.
  • There also the problem of personality clashes

As a business organization, you might be asking yourself the following questions:

"Do you see parallels here to what happens in business organization groups?"

"Why should I care as a business leader about how kids do group work in school? It doesn't affect us."

The answer to your question is:

"You should care because this is the way the adult employees in your organization including your leaders have learned to collaborate! This approach has been entrenched and reinforced over many years of schooling.

Although, we have changed the terminology in that groups are now called "teams" and "group work" may be called "team projects", all the failings of this process have been transferred into the business environment. The teams and the make up of teams are still relatively the same as they were in school. However, to further complicate collaboration, the arrival of the Internet and social media have increased the level of distraction to new levels.

Credit: Fredrick Questier

For collaboration to be effective, individuals employed within business organizations need to see the following characteristics of the task that they are collaborating on:

  • The task needs to be personally meaningful for the individuals involved
  • All participants need to feel that their input is valued in that they see it as realistically contributing to the success of the goal
  • Individuals need to be able to trust the talents of those in their group and trust that each individual has the success of the group as a more important priority than their own personal "glory". Out of control egos destroy trust relationships in the collaborative setting.
  • Individuals need to be able to trust that the decision leaders who brought the project forward have analyzed the needs for the project and have carefully selected members whose unique talents sync with the talents of the other group members so that their performance and contributions to the group are vital to the success of the project.

Two Dimensional Thinking in a Four Dimensional Business World

The arrival of the online world has resulted in drastic changes to the ways that 21st century business organizations conduct daily business. It has also changed the way that collaboration should occur. Since the industrial revolution, business organizations were characterized and built upon two dimensional thinking, meaning that projects were often conducted "in-house" using purchased resources on site and having employees collaborate with other on-site employees in pre-selected teams with oversight given to on-site middle managers. All members of the team were usually in the same time zone or within a time zone that was workable. What you had is a closed system that included your clients, suppliers...etc.

The standard team project might take the form of the following:

With the exponential growth in new technology and its use to compete on a world class level, the restraints on time and place that characterized the two dimensional business environment all of a sudden were cancelled shifting business organizations into a world where information was the new currency and technology innovation became a necessity in order for a business to compete in a global digital economy. 

The training culture that has been in place since the industrial revolution was not able to provide the innovative thinking skillsets that were required and instead a new culture based upon learning principles that would allow collaboration to grow outside the confines of the local business organization and create collaborative global business networks became necessary.

In order to truly capitalize on the great potential of accessing world markets and to open up new ones, the collaboration approach of the past needs to be transformed. In order for the transformation to take place without significant disruption to the flow of a business organization, not only requires the establishment of a learning culture within the organization but also a new form of collaboration that fits with the new connected and collaborative world economy.


The question that needs to be asked is:

"What will this new form of collaboration look like and what will distinguish it as a benefit compared to the more traditional one we are used to?"

In the next post, the characteristics of this new form of collaboration will be more closely described. Some of the ideas that will be looked at within this new form of collaboration are:

  • the use of AI and intelligent assistants to enable business organizations to work smarter rather than longer
  • the use of big data in making collaboration more effective 
  • the use of  globally networked communities of business as resources
  • the engagement of employees in collaborated networked projects that are proposed by the employees themselves
  • the use of a Learning Principles Expert and the collaboration with SME's
  • the development and use of the "rapid prototyping" model in creating new innovative products and services

Monday, October 9, 2017

Learning Culture or Training Culture: Part II: Elements of a True Learning Culture--Engagement

As suggested in Part I of this post, the development of a true learning culture within business organizations is no longer a "we will experiment with this if we have time but lets keep doing what we have always done" choice. It has become an essential to healthy organizational growth that enables an organization to to truly compete on the new digital playing field.

It starts with admitting that we have a problem, as business organizations, in handling change in ways that do not disrupt what we already do well. In admitting this, we need to take a good look forensically at the nature of our present learning culture and ask some key questions.

Credit: www.24x7

Looking at these key questions, we see that they have one thing in common. They emphasize developing employee engagement as a part of their learning culture.

The Element of Employee Engagement

Looking at how much your employees are engaged in the mission and vision of the business organization means that business leaders have to ask themselves some hard questions that reflect directly on their leadership. Some of these questions might be as follows:

  • Do employees know and understand the mission and vision of the business organization? If not it is a problem of clarity and communication.

  • Do employees have faith in the mission and vision of the business organization recognizing that decisions that are made in relation to mission and vision have direct consequences for their professional lives and then their lives outside the walls of the business?

  • Do they see the mission and vision of the organization as being in sync with their connected lives in the 21st century or do they see it as contradictory to being meaningful in the context of the way they live?

  • Are they engaged because they are told to be engaged and must endure endless, meaningless training sessions that for the organization means just another check mark on the mandatory list or are they engaged because they are inspired by the vision and mission?

  • Are they in fact a picture of the "overwhelmed employee" instead of the highly self-motivated and engaged employee who is committed to a clearly defined and communicated vision and mission?


If engagement is such an important element in a true learning culture then it begs some obvious questions:

  1.  Why is employee engagement important?

Credit: Lewis Garrard

Business organizations are finding it is more difficult to retain employees with the necessary skillsets pertaining to 21st century, globally networked business. In particular, the "millennials" as incoming employees are proving to be the most challenging.



2. Given that engagement is a problem, how does this translate as a problem for the bottom line of a business?

Credit: http://

Comparing this with highly engaged employees within business organizations, the business case for employee engagement becomes even more convincing.


In regards to the branding aspect for a business organization that is very much customer focused, how engaged the employees are also translates into sincere efforts of employees to make known to the outside world that this company is not only a good one to work for but also to do business with because it can be seen in the engagement of the employees.


One of the key elements that gives rise to engagement in employees is that the organization is making efforts and progress to make ongoing employee learning systemic throughout their organization. This means that employee needs start to take precedent over organizational needs.

Credit: Harvard Business

In one sense it means that when the learning of employees is concerned that they are given a greater degree of autonomy to developing new skillsets, engaging with co-workers in innovative projects that benefit the company and having a forum by which their ideas may be explored, presented and defended in the presence of key decision making leaders within the organization. In order for an organization to take such steps it requires leadership in the corporate suite with the courage to be innovative in the way that they approach new ideas.


When leadership starts down this path to build and nurture employee engagement through the design of a better learning culture they can take solace in the fact that this is not just a local national problem but it is global in nature and that there is a relationship of need in regards to engagement and learning.

Credit: Deloitte University Press

Credit: Deloitte University Press

The questions that we are left with are:

  • How does the element of collaboration change in order to make a learning culture within an organization more dynamic and in tune with the globally connected economy?

  • What would the business organization look like as one that is different by design?

  • What steps can we take to change a stagnant learning culture to one that is innovative, vibrant and serving the future of the organizations to the benefit of all stakeholders, especially the employees?
These questions will be the focus of Part III...