Connect, aggregate, filter; then train

The primary role of the “training” department [or whatever it becomes] for any knowledge-based business is to Connect & Communicate. As workers co-develop emergent processes they need to be supported through updated information, tools and processes to do their work. This model looks at knowledge flows inside the organization:

invert pyramid

Looking at knowledge flows outside the organization, Tim Kastelle says that successful businesses in digital environments need to Aggregate, Filter & Connect:

Connecting is critically important both in journalism and in education. So that makes three value adding activities in the digital economy: aggregating, filtering, and connecting. The lesson to take from the current states of both the music industry and journalism is that you have to have a clear understanding of how you’re creating value so that you build and protect the correct parts of your business model. Perhaps universities can learn this lesson before educational business models are disrupted as well.

Information-based businesses, like education, media, research or consulting organizations, are in the business of working with both information Stocks & Flows. Where revenue is made depends on several changing factors, as many industries are discovering. Understanding the overall flow of sense-making and intangible value creation is important and one framework for success in a digital universe is to create learning networks using social media.

Social media are also the means by which we can share our tacit knowledge through conversations to co-develop emergent work practices. Connecting, aggregating and filtering can be used to describe the cycle of workplace informal learning. This business process does not require formal training other than as a supplementary input. Training is only beneficial when it addresses a clear lack of skills or knowledge, not as a replacement for better work practices.

Informal, social learning is the primary way that knowledge is created in the workplace. The graphic below is a start to “put the horse before the cart” and situate training in the supportive role where it should be.

Connect – ongoing conversations while working collaboratively.

Aggregate – tracking, noting or tagging pieces of information while working collaboratively.

Filter – finding the right information, at the right time, in the right format,  from the information repositories of our subject matter networks.

Training – when there is an identified gap in knowledge and skills, then training can augment collaborative work practices and this can inform the conversations of workers.


Social learning and social networking are growing in importance for many businesses, often as customer support, branding or marketing initiatives. However, HR or T&D are not driving social media use in most organizations. Learning through social networks is becoming an integral part of business and many learning professionals are missing out on it.

There is an opportunity for those who can combine an understanding of business, communication technologies and human learning to develop better social business models. We are in a period when learning professionals are needed more than ever but many lack technology and business skills and cannot help their organizations. The challenge is to get out of the traditional training mindset and open up to the 92% of the business that is currently being ignored.

3 Responses to “Connect, aggregate, filter; then train”

  1. Tim Kastelle

    Thanks for the mention Harold. I like taking the stock/flow perspective on this – I hadn’t thought of that yet, and I think that it is a really important angle to take.


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