Social learning for business

Here’s an elevator pitch, in 10 sentences, for social learning, which is what really makes social business work.

  1. The increasing complexity of our work is a result of our global interconnectedness.
  2. Today, simple work is being automated (e.g. bank tellers).
  3. Complicated work (e.g. accounting) is getting outsourced.
  4. Complex and creative work is what gives companies unique business advantages.
  5. Complex and creative work is difficult to replicate, constantly changes and requires greater tacit knowledge.
  6. Tacit knowledge is best developed through conversations and social relationships.
  7. Training courses are artifacts of a time when information was scarce and connections were few; that time has passed.
  8. Social learning networks enable better and faster knowledge feedback loops.
  9. Hierarchies constrain social interactions so traditional management models must change.
  10. Learning amongst ourselves is the real work in social businesses and management’s role is to support social learning.

15 Responses to “Social learning for business”

  1. Curious..

    “Training courses are artifacts of a time when information was scarce and connections were few; that time has passed.”

    What does this mean for HR / KM training programmes in organizations?

    We spend a lot of time updating skills of staff members (including raising awareness about social tools). The staff appreciate this and leave the room with added confidence even if not as experts.

    Thanks in advance for clarification.

  2. Don Bolen

    Thanks for the ready-made pitch.

    I’d expand #9 to Hierarchies constrain social interactions so traditional management models must change to foster networks at all levels.

  3. Kare Anderson

    Reinforcing your point re tacit knowledge is the increasing importance of it in learn, as described in the new book, A New Culture of Learned which I just finished reading and found apt to much of what I’ve read from you Harold

  4. Jack Vinson

    Good stuff, as always. One thing that worries me sometimes is the question of “why isn’t this already in place?” Given my interests, I tend to think there is something in the way we manage organizations that lead us to drive exactly the wrong behaviors. Instead of collaboration, we encourage individual action by demanding people meet individual deadlines for individual deliverables. This is done under the assumption that if everyone gets their work done “on time,” then the overall projects will finish “on time.” But it never seems to work – and this tends to leave no time for people to actually work together.

    One element of the solution has to be to work on the management end of things and find ways to focus on the overall goal, and then leave the team to figure out the best ways to get there. There is still the need to monitor project status, but focus on the PROJECT, not the individuals.

    • Harold Jarche

      That’s very much what Peter Senge found in his research on organizations; that organizational learning should be the focus.

      Guiding Principles of SoL

      Drive to Learn – All human beings are born with an innate, lifelong desire and ability to learn, which should be enhanced by all organizations.

      Learning is Social – People learn best from and with one another, and participation in learning communities is vital to their effectiveness, well-being and happiness in any work setting.

      Learning Communities – The capacities and accomplishments of organizations are inseparable from, and dependent on, the capacities of the learning communities which they foster.

      Aligning with Nature – It is essential that organizations evolve to be in greater harmony with human nature and with the natural world.

      Core Learning Capabilities – Organizations must develop individual and collective capabilities to understand complex, interdependent issues; engage in reflective, generative conversation; and nurture personal and shared aspirations.

      Cross-Organizational Collaboration – Learning communities that connect multiple organizations can significantly enhance their capacity for profound individual and organizational change

  5. Sreya

    All excellent points made Harold! I have linked this post from my recent post.

    I am only trying to tweet this article. What don’t you add a tweet button?


  6. Ben Tremblay

    I really appreciate the line about training; helps contradistinguish from education. (The term’s etymology is far from unalloyed!) And the whole list is … fabulous.

    But I find myself chomping at the bit; this untamed grunt finds himself thinking “Weak tea; thin soup.” Not really knowing your actual stock in trade leaves me searching/seeking/wondering. Long/short: too abstract for me.
    How does this play out? what’s it look like actualized? Would love to see some operational definitions.

    In a positive sense: the scent and sizzle are so fine, I want the steak! 🙂


  7. Harold Jarche

    Ben, mon ami, perhaps the answer is that I fly out west and we spend a few days talking together. I’ll let you know when my schedule points me westward.


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