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

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