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Following on from my article “101 reverse mentoring – what is it and why do we need it?”, I now want to take a look at how reverse mentoring can help companies implement their specific objectives in the digital age. A key aspect here is to ensure that management staff receive the help and support they need to expand their professional skills and potential with regard to digital workplace collaboration. This includes learning how to increase their influence in the “social sphere” and how to strengthen contacts with clients and partners.

 

To strike the right balance between available skills and required learning effort (see chart below), individual mentoring programs can be designed with focuses and objectives that vary depending on the level of existing knowledge. At Merck, for example, the mentor role is filled by trainees. As these staff members do not yet have sufficient professional experience, the company opted for a basic Web 2.0 mentoring program. Companies like Bosch, on the other hand, use trained staff who can cover a wide range of topics relating to social media and even provide mentoring on digital workplace collaboration.

Reverse mentoring can assist in the implementation of various strategic goals and organizational development targets. In addition, many organizational development topics are so closely linked to a company’s change management processes that they almost always constitute a learning process for the mentee.

Here, the opposing considerations are the “change effort” required on the part of the company and the benefit it gains from this initiative. For the moment, we can map out five thematic blocks with varying learning objectives (see image above). These blocks are further divided into individual, succinct tutorials that the reverse mentoring pairs can use as a starting point in their sessions.

The content of the program helps the mentees enhance their skills in a variety of ways. The least change effort is required in the introductory operational block Insights into the Digital Workplace Platform. Examples of possible tutorials here include how to create a profile, how to build your own network, or how to find people and information.

Slightly more change effort is required for the insights gained in the Social Media & Digital Workplace block. The focus here is on strategic orientation, with tours of the company’s social media presence and the internal communities of the company’s social networks. Important topics in this area include employer branding and guidelines.

More demanding still is the Social Media Insights & Principles block. The operational orientation here is similar to that of the Digital Workplace Platform block, but the change effort required on the part of the mentees is far greater. They gain a better understanding of the theory behind social media and familiarize themselves with the terminology. They also gain a deeper understanding of blogs and external social networks (Xing, LinkedIn, Kununu, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) through practical experience.

The Digital Workplace Collaboration Applications block is even more challenging. The goal here is to demonstrate how to implement new ways of working and, ideally, follow through with actual implementation. It addresses both the strategic and operational use of the new opportunities that enterprise social networks provide. The focus here is on processes such as finding experts, communicating with your own network, and finding, collecting, and combining new ideas and information.

The Digital Workplace Collaboration for Management Staff topic block goes one step further, representing the most demanding reverse mentoring level to date. At this level, the management staff are familiar with the new technology and possibilities and, at best, are able to come up with their own strategic ideas. Examples of tutorials at this level are: “How can I get more involved in social media and digital workplace collaboration?” or “How can I promote the use of the digital workplace in my own area of responsibility?” Various ways of implementing digital workplace collaboration in the company are discussed, as well as topics taken directly from the mentee’s working environment.

All these learning processes can be positively influenced by introducing reverse mentoring as a way of supporting change management. In my next post, I will take a look at some feedback from mentees and mentors with regard to the 1:1 learning situation and how it offers flexibility in terms of content and time as well as other beneficial aspects.

 

About the author

profilbild-milos-2Milos Vujnovic, who studied technical oriented business economics at the University of Stuttgart, has worked as a social business consultant since 2010. He joined the Berlin-based social business consultancy and technology provider Pokeshot in September 2016, where he leverages his extensive social collaboration and user adoption expertise to consult organizations on how to optimize their change management and enable the usage of social collaboration tools and practices. He is also responsible for setting up and executing reverse mentoring programs for executives, enabling them for digital leadership. He further has deep insights into various studies regarding the current state of social business in general.

 

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Lately, I’ve been working intensively on the topic of knowledge management. Along with posts on content “upcycling” and “making knowledge visible”, this post is the third in this series.

 

What is it all about?

If we think about knowledge management, or “knowledge” in general, it is not something we “have.” After all, we can’t possess knowledge, so it’s hard for us to “manage” it. This is something we should remember. Instead, we are in a constant process of acquiring and disposing knowledge: if we don’t use or apply something, we tend to forget it – everyone is familiar with this. So how can we repeatedly turn new information into knowledge that can then be used directly?

Let’s tackle things one at a time. If you look at common models, e.g. the DIKW pyramid or the knowledge staircase proposed by Klaus North, it quickly becomes clear that it is not enough to merely impart new knowledge to employees. It is interesting to note that these models were already developed at the end of the 1980s and early 2000s, yet topics such as performance and 70:20:10 are only slowly beginning to find their way into companies now.

 

Information overload, the outcome and the underlying problem

One model I’ve given thought to in this context is the DIKW pyramid. DIKW stands for “data, information, knowledge and wisdom,” and in models from the 1980s, the difference between the data flowing in at the bottom and the outcome (wisdom, performance) is not significant. This made me reflect on things, because there seems to have been a massive shift in recent years. A huge gap has opened up between the amount of data that we are subjected to daily and the amount of knowledge we hold onto. Don’t you feel the same way? How much of the information you absorbed this morning could you now reproduce ad hoc?

Our daily business life has completely changed (enterprise social networks, instant communication, etc.), leading to a significant increase in the amount of data and information we are exposed to. Employees are bombarded with this flood, making it increasingly difficult to extract the necessary knowledge, let alone improve performance. Jumping to the conclusion that people should no longer share their knowledge in social networks would be premature at this point. Rather, the conclusion should be a rethinking toward more targeted content processing for all employees.

The DIKW pyramid in the 2000s and today

 

In my opinion, there are two connecting factors:

  1. Reducing the amount of data and information that affects employees
  2. Reinforcing the knowledge and performance base

What does this mean exactly?Businesses have to succeed in “transforming” the knowledge pyramid into a more targeted knowledge rectangle. The amount of data and information that is “thrown in” at the bottom should, at best, come out on top as wisdom among employees. To ensure this, not all data and information has to necessarily arrive with employees; what’s more, the knowledge that employees receive must lead more quickly to performance.


Shift toward a knowledge rectangle

 

A company can access a number of tools that can be assigned to the individual corners of the new rectangle. Here are a few of them.Reducing the amount of data and information:

  • Stemming the flood of information/building knowledge: knowledge upcycling:As described in my blog post on this topic, companies should enable their employees to reuse and/or restructure content, as necessary.
  • Stemming the flood of information/building knowledge: the domain expert as filter: Specialist departments frequently know best which contents may be relevant for a department or colleagues. In line with the “Learner as Creator” principle, companies should offer their staff the chance to provide knowledge as intelligent pathways. And not only for content within a platform, but also outside of it.
  • Building knowledge: artificial intelligence: It may sound pompous, but A.I. starts with simple things. Based on various parameters, a system should be able to show me contents I am interested in, without my having to look for them explicitly. In the best of all cases, of course, this happens fully automatically.
  • Promoting employee performance: 70:20:10: Nowadays, it’s no longer enough to simply send employees out on training courses. This should be clear to many companies – at the latest with the emergence of 70:20:10 models. Staff performance needs to be boosted, preferably by employees acquiring their own experiences. Modern tools like SmarterPath, Epilogue and UserLane support this.

 

Is this how you see it, too? I’d be happy to have an exchange of ideas on these topics with you. Feel free to write me a message by email, LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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We are very pleased to introduce you to a new member of the Pokeshot family: Olli, welcome on board!

 

Olli, a 6-month-old Bodeguero half-breed, joined Pokeshot in March 2018 to support the office team. This is great news – both for him and for us – because at the beginning of his life it was not always easy for Olli. Born in Gibralta (Spain), he was found together with his mum and his 6 siblings in an abandoned area and taken to an animal shelter. From there, Olli stayed temporarily at a foster home where he was nursed back to health, but his future was completely uncertain at that time. Finally, the decisive contact with Charléne, our office manager, came about through the animal welfare association “Salva Hundehilfe.” Charléne immediately fell in love with Olli and took him in.

Since then, Olli has been in the Pokeshot Office on a regular basis to perform his new role as Chief Cuteness Officer. We are happy about our new member and give Olli a warm welcome.

 

Skill profile:
– Defend Pokeshot spaces from strangers
– Drive out DHL and Hermes couriers
– Sit
– Stay
– Shake
– Sleep without noise
– Daily cuddles

 

 

As a result of the expanding social business market, we plan to further increase the number of employees in 2018. Interested applicants will find up-to-date information about job opportunities on our Careers page. It’s definitely worth a look!

 

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