Social World but Unsocial Workplace? Trust in Collective Wisdom

Social Learning has very often been a ‘bolt-on’ to learning. So what’s needed to successfully implement Social Learning?

Forums or chatrooms have commonly created to encourage learner-led discussion post-learning. These have often fallen down through a lack of participation and absence of learner alignment.


How can we encourage higher participation?

How can we build trust in social platforms and learning?

How can we seed quick changes in behaviour?

Supportive collaborative culture

We need to start endorsing a knowledge-sharing attitude. This is easier said than done. Many organisations and individuals strive for that competitive-edge: people are more likely to keep a good idea to themselves for fear that sharing information may give a colleague an advantage when it comes to moving-up in the organisation. This certainly drives the wrong behaviours for social learning, and by extension strong collaboration in your organisation.

Learning in a social context should be short, sharp and relevant. The content should be user-driven but needs a degree of cultivation and curation to ensure the content is sustainable. Most important is that you have a sharing culture at your organisation.

A way of sharing

I was at a conference recently where a lot of my peers in the learning industry were recommending the ‘top-down / bottom-up’ approach as the best way to facilitate Social Learning.

At one of our clients, the CEO contributes his learnings for the week on their internal social media platform: this is an endorsement of social learning at the highest level. It represents shift in the behaviour of the senior leaders by making themselves more visible in their community and also acts to reassure staff that sharing is advocated. It demonstrates a cultivation culture and encourages participation (even for those competitive people in the organisation!)

The ‘bottom-up’ aspect is all about letting people know what they don’t know – i.e. did you know do that we have a brand new X? Or we have developed a Y way of doing things? This combined approach challenges people to keep up with developments whilst raising awareness that the organisation puts stock in this kind of collaboration…

Provide the resources

The curation of a social platform is crucial to its longevity, but this doesn’t have to be onerous or time-consuming. You just need to make sure the right resources are available. Then the results, much like if you planted seeds in your back yard, could result in a flourishing social garden.

So, have you got a thriving Social Learning culture in your organisation? What have you done to cultivate your social garden?

Stayed tuned for the 2nd part of this blog for tips on how to initiate and nurture a Social Learning culture.

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