How will you take advantage of your in-house social network?
Use networks to create services and share collective intelligence
Your company will install an in-house social network. The only question is how soon. Wise Chief Learning Officers are thinking about how social networks will augment learning & development.
Imagine that a Senior Executive in your company returns from Thanksgiving weekend having read white papers from IBM that say social business is the next step in the overall evolution of business. Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company had already told him that brainpower has become the engine of innovation. It’s inevitable that businesses will construct networks that connect everyone in their ecosystems to co-create and deliver services that delight customers and share collective intelligence. Social business is the flavor of the day in the C-suites of the Fortune 500.
The allure of social business is captivating. McKinsey, MIT and others report that companies that embrace social business models:
- reduce time to market
- increase the level of innovation
- speed up access to knowledge
- reduce operating costs
- make in-house expertise easier to tap
- increase employee satisfaction
The social business juggernaut has arrived and the time to get on board is now. Front-running companies are installing social networks like Chatter, Jive, Connections, Socialcast, Yammer, Socialtext, Sharepoint, Ideo, and HootSuite like there’s no tomorrow.
The exec secured a mandate from the executive committee to experiment with social networking in three areas of the company, international sales, manufacturing resource forecasting, and learning & development.
You’re Chief Learning Officer. You’ve been doing your own research on “Enterprise 2.0” and learning networks. You appreciate that social business — connecting everyone in the organization in networks makes sense. You’ve also sensed a groundswell in the learning and development community favoring social, self-directed, “pull” learning.
You recently read a compelling argument that people in knowledge organizations learn three to four times as much from experience as from interaction with bosses, coaches, and mentors. And they learn about twice as much from those conversations with others from in classrooms and formal learning programs.
Social business is the flavor of the day
in the C-suites of the Fortune 500.
You could deliver a much bigger bang for your training buck by greasing the skids to make experiential learning more systematic, coached, and attractive.
The senior exec called you to his office and explained, “We’re going to experiment to find out how in-house social networks might strengthen our L&D and a few other areas in the company. Several vendors of social network suites have offered us incredibly deep discounts if we make up our minds in the next two days. I know it’s a sales gimmick and they don’t think we can do it. I need you to give me a one-page list of the capabilties you require from social software to make the most of social learning and carry out your vision of what we need to do. It’s an outrageously short fuse request but do your best.”
Let’s test your skills and ability. What functions would appear on your list?
Close the magazine, take out a sheet of paper, and jot down your requirements. What features would you need and why?
Here’s an example
Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce sometimes works away from the office. Smart phones have surpassed PCs for connecting to networks. More people Tweet from their phones than from their computers. If we don’t have mobile capabilities, we’ll lose more than half of our audience.
Jot down what you need. Turn to page ____ to check your list against the nine features on our wish list.
EDITOR.* This answers section goes on a page further back in the book.
Requirements for in-house social learning network
Profiles – for locating and contacting people with the right skills and background. Profile should contain photo, position, location, email address, expertise (tagged so it’s searchable). IBM’s Blue Pages profiles include how to reach you (noting whether you’re online now), reporting chain (boss, boss’s boss, etc.), link to your blog and bookmarks, people in your network, links to documents you frequently share, members of your network.
Activity stream – for monitoring the organizational pulse in real time, sharing what you’re doing, being referred to useful information, asking for help, accelerating the flow of news and information, and keeping up with change.
Wikis – for writing collaboratively, eliminating multiple versions of documents and email, keeping information out in the open, eliminating unnecessary email, and sharing responsibility for updates and error correction.
Virtual meetings – to make it easy to meet online. Minimum feature set: shared screen, shared white board, text chat, video of participants, ability to record. Bonus features: persistent meeting room (your office online), avatars.
Blogs – for narrating work, maintaining your digital reputation, recording accomplishments, documenting expert knowledge, showing people what you’re up to so they can help out.
Bookmarks – to facilitate searching for links to information, discovering what sources other people are following, tracking down experts.
Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce sometimes works away from the office. Smart phones have surpassed PCs for connecting to networks. Phones post most Tweets than computers. Google designs its apps for mobile before porting them to PCs.
Social network – for online conversation, connecting with people, and all of the above functions.
Search – for locating needles in haystacks.
* Note: This is the version of the article I submitted to CLO under the title H0w Will You Take Advantage of Your In-House Social Network? The article that appears in the magazine was edited by CLO editors. The edited version is always close but rarely the same as what I send in.