Some thoughts from 2012

Here is a review of the five most popular posts here this past year, with a short synopsis of each. One year, distilled into a few paragraphs.

Informal Learning: The 95% Solution

Informal learning is not better than formal training; there is just a whole lot more of it. It’s 95% of workplace learning, according to the research reviewed by Gary Wise.

To create real learning organizations, there is a choice. We can keep bolting on bits of informal learning to the formal training structure, or we can take a systemic approach and figure out how learning can be integrated into the workflow – 95% of the time.

You simply cannot train people to be social

Effective organizational collaboration comes about when workers regularly narrate their work within a structure that encourages transparency and shares power & decision-making.

Creating a supportive social environment is management’s responsibility.

My experience is that changing to more collaborative, networked ways of work requires coordinated change activities from both the top and the bottom. It has to be a two-pronged approach and it will take some time and effort.

Three Principles for Net Work

Narration of Work – Transparency – Shared Power

The high-value work today is in facing complexity, not in addressing problems that have already been solved and for which a formulaic or standardized response has been developed. One challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they already know has increasingly diminishing value. How to learn and solve problems together is becoming the real business advantage.

The Learning Organization

  1. Learning is not something to “get”.
  2. The only knowledge that can be managed is our own.
  3. Learning in the workplace is much more than formal training.
  4. When we remove artificial barriers, we enable innovation.
  5. Learning and working are interconnected.

Cooperation trumps Collaboration

In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration. Collaboration happens around some kind of plan or structure, while cooperation presumes the freedom of individuals to join and participate. Cooperation is a driver of creativity.

Shifting our emphasis from collaboration, which still is required to get some work done, to cooperation, in order to thrive in a networked enterprise, means reassessing some of our assumptions and work practices.

Collaboration is only part of working in networks. Cooperation is also necessary, but it’s much less controllable than our institutions, hierarchies and HR practices would like to admit.

enhancing innovation

3 Responses to “Some thoughts from 2012”

  1. Debbie Morrison

    Great list. Thought provoking. Point two – most insightful; I’ve observed that an organizations’ culture is one of the key drivers of employee behaviour. If leadership within the organization values a collaborative and cooperative network, and ‘model’ this by creating a supportive and social environment, then employees usually will follow.

    Your point about collaboration vs. cooperation is an interesting take. I have written about cooperating vs. collaboration in the context of group work in online classes. In this context, the instructor wants collaboration; as learners work together to solve a problem and develop new knowledge and a product of representative of their learning. On the other hand, cooperation, students conquer and divide – each taking a part of a group project, working independently on his or her section, the it gets compiled at the end. Though there is some value in this, the collaboration activity can provide deeper learning for students. (This is a post on Collaboration vs. Cooperation here:

    However after I read your point, I can see there is value in the cooperative approach in group settings, i.e. a workplace environment.

    Thanks for the good read. Happy Holidays to you Harold!


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