2012: The Year of Learning in a Social Business

Predictions for an upcoming new year are inevitably based on the “flow” from the current year, so if you have taken a look at my Top 100 articles of 2011 (or even my complete 2011 Reading List), you will not be surprised to hear that many predict that 2012 will be the “Year of Social Business“.

Up to now, for many organisations, Social Business has been about social media marketing and engaging customers, but as IBM explains …

“A Social Business isn’t just a company that has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. A Social Business is one that embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community throughout its organization—both internally and externally.”

And as Amin points out in Thriving as an HR professional in a social business era,

“With a 10-year delay, the social media revolution is finally entering the workplace and its influence is going to be comparable to the consumer social media revolution.”

As many others explain, social business will change the way we do everything, as organisations move from being traditional hierarchical businesses to networked organisations.”Social” will not just be something that is bolted-on to traditional processes but will underpin a fundamental new approach to working – and learning. Paul Adams summed this up nicely in Stop talking about “social”.

Social is not a feature. Social is not an application. Social is a deep human motivation that drives our behaviour almost every second that we’re awake … The leading businesses are recognizing that the web is moving away from being centred around content, to being centred around people.That is the biggest social thunderstorm, and all of us are going to have to understand it to succeed. So stop talking about social as a distinct entity. Assume it in everything you do.

For sure, many organisations are not yet ready to become a social business,  but a small number have already become so, and a growing number are in transition and others will start the process in 2012 – either through strategic decision-making or due to grass-roots initiatives.  Whichever way it happens, workplace learning professionals are going to have a hugely important role to play in the transition process, although it is clear their role will not be the same as it has been hitherto. Training practices will change as traditional, “command and control” approaches only perpetuate old thinking. Continuous, social learning, on the other hand,  is an integral feature of being a social business, and consequently workplace learning professionals will find themselves much more  involved in supporting non-training approaches to workplace learning in order to help the social business to flourish.

So one of my main themes for 2012 – in my consultancy, speaking and writing – will be around Learning in a Social Business – and in particular I will be focusing on supporting workplace learning professionals as they adapt to their new role of helping people learn and work smarter in the context of the evolving social business.

All in all, I think 2012 will prove to be an exciting year for those in workplace learning who are ready for this new challenge. Are you all set for it?

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