Friday, 21 September 2007

Web 2.0 vs. Enterprise 2.0

Up to now I have been using these terms interchangeably - however a posting on our intranet has helped me realise that the differences are significant (and extend beyond the obvious - namely that Enterprise 2.0 is use of Web 2.0 tools in the workplace).

"Both Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 use the same tools, but the environments they are used in are very different.

In Web 2.0 there are millions of users based in a flat organisational structure where a culture of sharing predominates. In Enterprise 2.0 we have hundreds/thousands of users in a hierarchical structure where a culture of hording predominates. " [Gardner]

Consequently, while a lot can be achieved at a 'grass roots' level, moving blogging etc to the mainstream of internal workplace communications (and learning !) is unlikely to occur without significant top-down support.

So what are the implications for Learning & Development ?

I'm struck by the similiarity with the need for Senior Leader sponsorship to embed learning (as we know - even the best designed training will fail to change behaviours of the majority of delegates without it !)

... helping early adopters build such sponsorship is something that could be in our own interests (assuming we believe blogs etc drive reflection & informal learning)

...time to start building stakeholder maps, engagement strategies etc !?

Friday, 14 September 2007

Organizational Circulatory Systems

I recently read an interesting article from the related field of Organisational Development (so hopefully this is relevant to L&D Professionals - looking beyond training to influence learning processes).

Art Kleiner writing in the OD Practioner (Vol 39, No 3 2007) [paper copy - so sorry no link here] present a paper on 'Organizational Circulatory Systems.

While I cannot do justice to the whole article in a short blog posting - the comparison made between current management science and previous state of natural science understanding is thought-provoking.

This work citing Elliot Jaques state "Management is in the same state today that the natural sciences were in before the discovery of the circulation of the blood". In brief the argument is that OD practioners base interventions primarily on practical experience from trial & error - rather than there being suffient depth of theory to underpin action [OD practioners please don't shoot the messenger here !]

As we know from human physiology - the human body relies on a set of complementary communication channels (both electrical - via nerves, and chemical - via the bloodstream) to coordinate cells across large distances.

So the argument made, is that we should focus further on characterizing the communication channels of organizations. Then in OD interventions, we should use this knowledge to influence interventions (akin to how modern medicine influences the body's electrical & chemical pathways).

FOUR 'Organizational Circulatory Systems' are suggested:

  • Hierarchy (flow of authority)
  • Network (flow of knowledge)
  • Market (flow of work)
  • Clan (flow of allegiance)

Given the power of Web 2.0 tools in influencing all forms of communication flows (e.g. leader blogs [Hierarchy], project team wikis [Network], social bookmarking [Clan]) - maybe this points to the impact OD (& L&D) practioners can contribute if our profession invests the time to understand these tools.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Thinking of Banning Facebook - Time to Focus on Performance Management Training ?

The following link provides a great summary of the case against trying to ban Facebook (or any other tool that can be used to waste time at work)

interesting site (strong language) -

For corporate L&D Professionals - maybe our take-away from this should be to reflect on how robust are the 'performance management' training and support tools provided to the workforce !

So what differentiates L&D Consultants ?!

The increasing focus on 'Learning' rather than 'Training', by definition blurs the boundaries of what is the role of the L&D Professional, vs. other HR roles such as:

  • Organisational Effectiveness Consultants
  • Business Partners ('Client Consultants)
  • Diversity & Inclusion Consultants
  • Talent Management Consultants
  • Change Management Consultants

This raise the question, as to what is at the core of a L&D Consultancy Role (and hence what differentiates L&D from these other associated roles).

In recent discussions I have participated in, it was suggested that:

L&D Consultants need to be able to translate organisational performance & development needs into skills, knowledge and behaviours to be learnt by the individuals involved.

does this work for you ?

"Blogs are no fad ..."

I recently read 'The Corporate Blogging Book' by Debbie Weil

I found this to be a solid text - if somewhat focused too much on the role of blogging for external communications for my own interests.

Personally, it would have been good to hear more about the use of blogging 'behind the corporate firewall' . Also from the L&D frame-of-reference - it would be good to hear more about how powerful blogging becomes as a tool for reflection and learning at the CxO level.

However, one memorable quote in the book is:

"Blogs are no fad. they are cheap and easy to do. And blogs fulfil that deepest of human needs as defined by psychologist Abraham Maslow: self-actualization. People write blogs because they want to know themselves and want to be known by others and because they want their lives to count. "

Rich Karlgaard, Forbes, Dec 26, 2005 (cited on page 148 of Debbie Weil's book)

It would be interesting to know if this is a widely held aim of those blogging - and how successful this approach is at contributing to a feeling of self-actualization (is the evidence out there ?)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Simulations, Games & Case Studies - Clarifying Learning Outcomes

Simulations, Case Studies & 'Games' provide interactive approaches to achieve workplace learning. However, I'd suggest that it is easy to lose focus on the learning objectives being sought - as the design team get drawn into the game play and scenario writing.

With this in mind, I'd offer the potential value of drawing comparisons with training in professional team sports, such as football (ie soccer for those reading this in the US).

[ albeit in the workplace, most learning is on-the-job, and off-the-job training is a small % of overall time - professional team sports is mostly off-the-job training and (possibly) 90 minutes on-the-job on a saturday afternoon ! ]

So is the Simulation, Case Study or Game designed to:

  • build individual skill & knowledge - e.g. improve decision-making skills by facing a number of simulated business decisions and comparing the answers given to model 'expert' answers (or actual actions taken in historical case studies)
  • build fitness & stamina - e.g. improving decision-making productivity by learning to cope with data overload (the 'old in-tray' exercise)
  • rehearse set-plays (free kicks, penalties etc..) - e.g. improving stakeholder buy-in of decision-making by repeated testing of playing out the likely reactions to a range of options
  • act as a pre-season friendly - e.g. improving co-ordination of decision-making via generating practical understanding of how different individuals/departments need to combine together to collectively identify and process the data required.

Typically these build together - until it is all put together in the 'pre-season friendly'

However, in the workplace ...I'd suggest there can be a temptation to go straight to the full practice simulation !

Thoughts ?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Web 2.0 - What are the broader implications for HR ?

Further to my recent reflection on 'the first 90 days' of blogging, I have also been considering what the wider implications of these technologies may have for the HR profession.

While this may not be directly relevant for those in Learning & Development - indeed much of the discussion on Facebook, LinkedIn etc. within the members forums of the UK CIPD websites are listed under 'Employee Relations' - it may emerge that L&D professional with their awareness of Knowledge Management, blogs, alumni networks etc.. are indeed well placed to partner with others in HR on this topic.

I can see three areas that drive the rationale for HR to 'get involved' in the Web 2.0 in the Workplace debate:

  • The emerging value of the Web 2.0 tools in the workplace - especially in industries where collaboration is essential between the different job roles, and/or between locations. Given the need for HR to align with & support the business strategy, as Web 2.0 becomes part of that business strategy, it is important that the HR profession keep up with these changes.
  • The 'psychological contract' will be influenced by the policies and guidelines organisations deploy in enabling/resticting social networking etc in the workplace. We see this currently in the UK media re access allowed/restricted to Facebook. While this is no different in principle to allowing personal calls on the telephone, it provides new challenges in enforcing any restrictions put in place.
  • The impact Web 2.0 technologies may have on employees health & well-being. Already it is common place to hear Blackberrys called 'Crackberrys' - as as stress remains the second most common cause of absence from work (after back problems), it will be important that additional technologies don't contribute further to any such issues. [hopefully some can actually reduce email traffic etc.]

At present the discussion threads seem to agree that HR & IT need to partner in this area - but given the complexity and rapid evolution of this topic, current best practices are hard to identify.