Working Smarter in Social Business

If you’re not plugged in and running fast at work, you’re falling behind.

Continuous improvement
Business people face more and more novel situations every day. You have to be learning continuously to deal with the onslaught of unfamiliar, complex problems. There’s no longer time to learn things in advance; you have to learn what you need in real time. Leaving work to go learn something is not an option. This is a game changer.

Learning and work are fusing into a single process. To be successful, a social business’s learning function must break out of the training department and spread throughout the organizational infrastructure. Increasingly, learning is the work and the work is learning. Smart organizations will get good at it.

Installing social network software and encouraging people to exploit their connections is only the beginning. The fabric of the social business must incorporate structures and guidance to help people learn. After all, learning underpins continuous improvement and helping to create a culture of continuous improvement is what this is all about.

What it takes
A sustainable social business provides the means and motivation for workers to learn what they need: the know-how, know-who, and know-what to get things done and get better at doing them. This takes more than access to social networks, blogs, and wikis. Organizations must provide the scaffolding that focuses on discovery, practice, sharing, and reinforcement. Organizations that lack a clear understanding of their learning architectures are doomed to descend into an aimless world of social noise and meaningless chit-chat. Facebook-itus.

Social business is a recent phenomenon. Social media has taken hold in customer relations, marketing communications, limited social networking, and niche silos. The corporate learning function is only now sticking its toe in the enterprise 2.0 water. The Internet Time Alliance is helping L&D and HR professionals hop aboard the social business train before it leaves the station.

New scope of learning
Traditionally, training departments provided workshops and courses. They selected the curriculum that determined what workers were supposed to learn. The focus was on knowledge, not skills, and learner satisfaction counted for more than business impact. Training departments focused on novices and paid scant attention to improving the learning and productivity of experienced workers, those people who generate the profits.

In a social business, L&D (learning and development) professionals nurture learning within the larger organizational infrastructure. Social L&D optimizes learning by making it easy for workers, novices and old hands alike, to find the information they need from FAQs and knowledge bases or from coaches, experts and peers. Instead of tracking butts in seats, they monitor the fow on information in social networks and its impact on key business metrics.

Successful social businesses insure that software and tools are available for such things as bookmarking reference information, collaborating on tasks, searching organizational content, recording knowledge for peer learning, reinforcing key concepts, locating experts, accessing outside information, and connecting with customers and partners. They also play a key role in capturing and curating the expert-generated content that fows through easy-to-use social tools and platforms.

My next post will describe examples of learning in a social business environment.

To see how to integrate learning into your workflow, visit the new Internet Time Alliance website.


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