Skip navigation

In organizational development (OD) circles there’s a model called Appreciative Inquiry. When you’re looking to retool, restructure or reinvent – whether it’s teams or processes – this model essentially uses previous accomplishments and existing strengths as the springboard for doing things differently.

Whether at the individual, group or company level, we all know that change is hard. The thinking behind Appreciative Inquiry is that you’re more likely to succeed by identifying:

1. what’s already working and
2. what factors contributed to that higher level of performance.

Armed with these insights, existing capabilities are clearer and confidence is higher. Not only are you better able to tackle the new challenges when you’ve “inventoried” what you’re good at, but you have also essentially been “reminded” that past challenges have been overcome and future ones will likely be no different.

While there are of course all sorts of external, market-driven catalysts for change, improved/different performance only results when internal changes have been made. Appreciative Inquiry suggests that building up from the inside – as opposed to tearing down from the outside – is a more favorable path to reaching new goals. I don’t claim to be an expert in the change management principles that are a part of this model. What I do know, however, is that the “next level” lies within, the “killer app” will be developed down the hall and being a “game changer” starts with the playbook of past successes. Hidden in plain sight are the things we can do to be more efficient or effective, to be more successful.

Where do we go to get these performance-changing insights? How do we find those best practices where things are working well? Part of the answer requires that we focus on what’s going on inside the “four walls” of our organizations and that we are willing to learn from one another. Mining our own success stories also requires that we invest in solutions that enable us to surface what works. For example:

  • Implement collaborative solutions that allow you to leverage the combined knowledge of your co-workers
  • Create opportunities for peer-to-peer connections and relationship-building outside the lines of the org chart
  • Support innovation by also capturing the learning that occurs outside of an online course or a classroom

Like the seedling that boldly and vulnerably breaks through, successfully changing what we do or how we do it is all about creating an environment where the right combination of elements can interact.

What ingredients would you include in a “recipe for workplace success?” What tools do you and your team need in order to do your best work? We welcome your responses and comments below!

 

About the author

Stan’s first experience with instructional technology occurred in 1999 when he used SMART Boards to help employees learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite. He then became an instructional designer and systems trainer for a variety of proprietary CRM software solutions. From there, Stan worked as a Training Manager and later as a Project Manager for an early leader in online education. As his experience with online learning grew, and as his understanding of the need to connect strategy with technology evolved, Stan began to focus on the relationship between blended learning and social business. It was these insights that attracted him to Jive and Pokeshot’s SmarterPath LMS the first time he saw it in 2012. Stan’s current role with the company not only allows him to support the sales, marketing, and product development teams, but it also allows him to work directly with customers as they implement SmarterPath. Prior to joining Pokeshot in October 2016, Stan spent several years working as a freelance consultant, successfully completing learning technology projects for such clients as Right Management, National University System and the U.S. Forest Service.

Connect with us on facebook | twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube – we will keep you posted!

A few years ago, our PO Sandra Brückner wrote about the 4 questions companies should ask themselves when thinking about introducing a social collaboration tool within their company. Today these questions are more relevant than ever, because, as Sandra pointed out, “a fool with a tool is still a fool”.

A question that companies often face today is not: What is social collaboration? But rather: what is the status of our efforts? Experience has shown that most companies know perfectly well what modern collaboration is. They are no longer asking: What is Web 2.0? What is a blog? What is social business all about? Instead, they are interested in the maturity level of their own collaboration initiatives. This concern is usually accompanied by questions such as:

Companies without a clear vision of what they are trying to accomplish and without a well-defined process framework will be unable to answer these questions in a way that furthers their aims. Thus they should first be well aware of the current state and know where they stand on the issue and know exactly where they want to go.

However, for some of the reasons noted below, many clients fail to ask these questions.

 

1. Starting point:

“Modern collaboration – at the level of a ‘social business’ – is not present in my company, so I’m starting from scratch.” Is this really the case? Informal systems of collaboration have developed in most companies over time as more and more Millennial employees have joined the workforce. Whether it’s WhatsApp or a Facebook group for an after-work beer or the use of an external chat client such as Skype for quick communication while working, modern collaboration exists in many different forms.

 




2. Goal definition:

“We know exactly where we want to go with our collaboration initiative.” Are you really well aware of everything that such an initiative entails? Have you examined questions such as: How do my employees communicate? Who are the stakeholders? Which IT systems do I use? It is important that you have sufficiently analyzed all aspects of what’s currently in place before taking further steps to implement a social business platform.

 

 

 



3. Employee collaboration:

“We know exactly how our employees collaborate.” Do you really know this or do you just think you do? Employees often find ways to communicate that circumvent corporate guidelines. Engage in dialogue with front-line employees in order to get to the bottom of such questions as: why do they bypass the rules? Why are other forms of communication better for them?

 

 



 

4. Technology:

“We have already decided to use a particular solution, so we don’t need to conduct a pre-implementation review.” Be sure to remember that “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” The right technology is a crucial factor in determining how frequently modern collaboration and social business tools will be used. Here usability and simplicity are key factors. How can you be certain that one solution  – out of all of the tools available – is the right one for your employees? Be sure to involve them in the decision-making process and familiarize yourself with how they currently collaborate.

 

 

 

 

You should find answers to all of these key questions before rolling out a modern collaboration and social business platform in your company. Through a so-called “collaboration review,” Pokeshot works closely with our clients to do just that. We support you in finding the right answers, identifying gaps in your strategy and providing you with a road map that allows you to successfully realize your modern collaboration initiative. Get in touch with us!

 

About the author:

Sandra Brückner, who studied business informatics at the Technical University of Dresden, has worked as social business consultant since 2012. She joined the Berlin-based social business consultancy and technology provider Pokeshot in the beginning of 2014 and has served for more than two years as Chief Product Officer for all products.

 

Connect with us on facebook | twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube – we will keep you posted!

There is widespread agreement that the Information Age will continue to see significant – if not exponential – growth in the volume of data that we create as employees (and consumers). Not only does this kind of increase create challenges related to storage and management, but it also creates a need for new positions to support these expanding environments. In addition to IT-related roles that administer the back-end functions and data analysts that help make sense of the data, roles such as user experience specialist and digital knowledge manager are projected to become more important to an organization’s success. For example, according to a recent Forbes posting:

“Digital knowledge management will emerge as one of marketing’s most important responsibilities. With the rise of more intelligent systems, the importance of ensuring your company’s information is accurate will be even more critical. Too many businesses have yet to make digital knowledge management a priority. There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement here.”

Another recent posting, this one via Entrepreneur, states:

“A Digital Knowledge Manager, or DKM, is first and foremost someone who can track down all the authoritative sources of knowledge about your brand, people, products, events and locations from within your organization.”

While the “digital knowledge management” explored in these postings is primarily related to marketing and not learning and development (L&D), knowledge is clearly an asset that requires our attention, regardless of functional area. A recent Time magazine posting supports this point. In the article, leaders at IBM and other large technology firms project that the future of the digital revolution will be about both social networks and knowledge. “The next phase is not about the network alone, but also about knowledge. That, she said, will depend on proprietary data, as well as the expertise in the hands of companies…” The author goes on to state “core expertise is more important and more relevant than ever” and that most of these companies “are either building, or participating in, platforms, which are vital to their future.”

What does all of this mean for the learning professional? I believe there are three key implications:

  • now is an unprecedented time for L&D to extend their reach and impact
    • seek out opportunities to collaborate with the DKM and other related roles
    • advocate and/or manage technologies that connect co-workers between departments and across locations
    • partner with operations teams to curate existing job aids, tip sheets, how-to manuals, etc. to help scale insights
  • the traditional “course” can’t be the only way to codify know-how
    • shifting our view of the learning function from something that is event-based or time/location-bound to more of a performance support approach allows us to see valuable content and meaningful interactions everywhere
  • the depth and breadth of the overlap between work and learning is essential to managing knowledge
    • through solving problems, making decisions, innovation, etc., day-to-day work is where expertise is demonstrated. This dynamic often occurs in one-to-one or small group contexts.
    • converting this expertise into organizational intelligence requires that the learning function act as the bridge to scale this dynamic into one-to-many contexts

 

What new roles do you expect to see in your organization over the next few years? Which departments in your organization would benefit from the insights and ideas of another department? Who or what do people turn to when they need to learn something quickly and correctly? We look forward to your comments below.

For more on the evolving role of learning and development please see one of our earlier posts: Using Social Technologies to Reshape L&D´s Role

 

About the author

Stan’s first experience with instructional technology occurred in 1999 when he used SMART Boards to help employees learn how to use the Microsoft Office Suite. He then became an instructional designer and systems trainer for a variety of proprietary CRM software solutions. From there, Stan worked as a Training Manager and later as a Project Manager for an early leader in online education. As his experience with online learning grew, and as his understanding of the need to connect strategy with technology evolved, Stan began to focus on the relationship between blended learning and social business. It was these insights that attracted him to Jive and Pokeshot’s SmarterPath LMS the first time he saw it in 2012. Stan’s current role with the company not only allows him to support the sales, marketing, and product development teams, but it also allows him to work directly with customers as they implement SmarterPath. Prior to joining Pokeshot in October 2016, Stan spent several years working as a freelance consultant, successfully completing learning technology projects for such clients as Right Management, National University System and the U.S. Forest Service.

 

Connect with us on facebook | twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube – we will keep you posted!