Posts Categorized: Informal Learning

Learn@Work Week

I’m a bit late, but I guess I should underline the fact that it’s Learn@Work Week in Canada; an event kicked-off by CSTD.  Our Premier of New Brunswick is the honourary chair. For me, and many of my colleagues & associates, every week is learn at work week.
In reviewing my own learning, I see that t it has been a very long time since I took any formal instruction. I find that much of what interests me is expensive and for the high price I feel that it’s not focused enough on my personal learning needs. That’s the dilemma with training & education programs. To be able to make any money you have to find an audience that’s willing to pay for the offering. However, in order to attract more people you have to make it less personal. I would love a personalised training program, but I couldn’t afford it and conversely, I find that the more general offerings aren’t worth my time and money. That’s the learner’s dilemma.
Currently, all of my learning is informal.

Performative Ties

An article on Performative Ties from Knowledge@Wharton (requires free membership) describes how professional services companies use informal transfer methods to leverage their knowledge. In a study conducted by Prof. Sheen Levine, it was found that:

…what gives firms competitive advantage isn’t just their repository of sheer knowledge, but their use and encouragement of so-called "performative ties" — those impromptu communications made by colleagues who are strangers in which critical knowledge is transferred with no expectation of a quid pro quo.

Performative ties, as described in this article,  seem to be similar to the weak ties that could help you get a job much easier than strong, familial ties can. The research on performative ties for knowledge-sharing inside corporations shows that loose peer-to-peer networks are effective ways to transfer implicit knowlede.
I think that those same performative ties exist outside these professional services companies, especially amongst bloggers. Reading or commenting on a blog creates a weak tie that can be used to ask a more pointed question via e-mail. I have done this on a several occasions, and have received similar requests. The responses are always quick and candid.
According to Levine, "What they [professional services firms] do well, is move knowledge around effectively, taking the company’s entire accumulated know-how and gathering it quickly to a single point to create a solution for a client." If that is their prime competitive advantage then looser groups of independent consultants, who share through their blogs, may be just as effective at providing professional services as these more structured companies that currently rule the market. That’s positive news for me and my associates 🙂