This is a post in a series that I am writing about how the future role of L&D is moving from “packaging learning” to “scaffolding learning”.
In the first post I explained that “packaging learning” involves organizing and wrapping up everything an individual needs to learn in a neat parcel, delivering it to them on a plate, and making sure they do it, whilst “scaffolding” is about supporting learning in many other less top-down organized ways.
In my last post I talked about a move from “packaging instruction” to “scaffolding instruction”. But what these both have in common is that they are still a “managed learning” process .
In this and my next post I am going to look at self-managed learning in an organization, and how that might be supported and scaffolded. Today I’m going to look at “supporting self-managed team learning”, and next time I will consider ”supporting self-managed personal and professional learning”.
Team learning is essential in any organization, for as my colleague, Harold Jarche points out, quoting Peter Senge.
“It is team learning, not individual learning, that adds to organizational learning.”
But let’s be clear from the outset, supporting self-managed team learning is neither about packaging nor scaffolding instruction, rather it is about helping teams to organize and manage their own initiatives.
So supporting self-managed team (or social) learning is not about providing them with courses as they do their work, helping them to find their own courses, or even helping them to create their own courses for one another – rather it is about helping them to share their knowledge, experiences, ideas and resources as part of their daily workflow. It is, as my colleague Charles Jennings, puts it about helping them to extract learning from work, not trying to add or inject learning into work.
Supporting self-managed team learning is also about working in partnership with teams – either to address and support specific performance problems or to build or enhance existing sharing practices. So it will not involve designing a programme of instruction for a team, but rather will comprise a quite different set of “scaffolding” activities undertaken in conjunction with the team, which include:
- Understanding the sharing practices that are currently taking place – or not.
- Considering how these could be enhanced or built upon, or developed.
- Considering whether any technology could underpin knowledge sharing, and if so identifying appropriate technologies, preferably employing existing collaboration technologies or enterprise social networking that are being used to underpin the work (so a separate LMS is not the appropriate technology)
- Helping to provide the right conditions for ”team learning”, e,g. by helping to develop a culture of sharing and the value of sharing,
- Helping the individuals in the team to share – e.g. to create resources/job aids, curate links to share, share experiences or thoughts, and narrate their work – not by training them to be social, by showing them what it is to be social!
- Helping the individuals to manage their own knowledge – through a continuous process of seek-sense-share
- Helping to ensure knowledge sharing is part of the daily workflow – so it is not seen as an extra initiative – but an integral part of daily work.
- Helping to identify appropriate performance metrics to measure success – not by using traditional learning metrics or even social activity metrics – but in terms of actual job, team or business results.
There are an increasing number of examples of how L&D are supporting self-managed learning using new social technologies. An early one was the BT Dare2Share project, where L&D helped engineers to develop their own resources and share them with one another. Another example is Q&A’s internal Sales365 collaboration platform, which has recently won two Gold awards, and which was a collaborative initiative by both the L&D department and the Sales Team.
But successful initiatives in supporting self-managed team learning are not just about implementing new social technologies; they also involve developing a range of new social workplace worker skills.
Workers will need a new range of skills to be effective in a digitally connected workplace, e.g.
- Personal Knowledge Management skills – how to build develop a network of people and sources of information to draw from on a daily basis and how to make sense of the information, and share it appropriately
- Social collaboration skills – how to work and learn collaboratively and productively in a team
- Community manager skills – how to build and maintain a successful community of practice
- Connected Leader skills – how to lead a team in today’s networked, complex workplace
If you want to find out more about all these new skills, you can do so at the Connected Worker site
And learning professionals who wish to get involved in supporting self-managed learning in the workplace, will also need these new connected worker skills so that they can help others. As I said earlier, it’s not about telling others to be social, but helping hem to be social!. So for this reason we’ll shortly be releasing details of a new initiative which will help to build (and also certify) these key, new L&D skills.