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I guess the one advantage of having no WiFi on the long train journey from Dresden to Berlin (thank you, Deutsche Bahn) is that it gives you plenty of time to think.

I first explained this model in a blog entry that I wrote some two years ago on the way back from Learntec. At that time, it was virtually an unknown concept. Fortunately, however, attitudes towards learning in the workplace have changed. I have recently been hearing more and more of this model being brought into the learning environment, and the first customers have already asked us for assistance. So I think it’s time to delve a little deeper into the topic: What is the 70:20:10 model and how can SmarterPath help me to implement it?

 

 

THE 10% – LEARNING THROUGH STRUCTURED, FORMAL TRAINING PROGRAMS

Creating an intelligent learning path in SmarterPath is simple, and allows you to incorporate all possible types of learning content: documents, videos, quizzes, SCORMS, etc. Linked together, this content forms a “smarter path” that can be used for in-house training purposes in areas such as quality assurance, compliance, or fire safety. You can also integrate blended learning elements such as live trainings (ILTs).

So what sets it apart from other applications? SmarterPath isn’t the sort of app that floats around outside the employees’ familiar working environment. It is fully integrated into popular enterprise social networks such as Microsoft Office 365 and Jive, so that users searching for information find a pre-prepared collection (keyword: content upcycling) of information and knowledge compiled into a compact smarter path. It is precisely this integration that sets SmarterPath apart and allows it to support both the 20% and the 70% of the learning model.

 

THE 20% – LEARNING THROUGH OTHERS

To be able to learn from others, employees must first know that these people exist. This involves establishing a network of experts. To help achieve this, SmarterPath also allows intelligent pathways to be assigned to people and places: “This is your trainer,” “This is a place you can exchange ideas with your team,” “This is your supervisor,” “This is the expert on topic X,” etc.

  • SmarterPath enables discussions and collaborations on content and topics that employees can continue and develop further even after the training session itself has ended. The opportunity to share ideas about the pathways enables employees to gain new input from other perspectives.

Have you thought about user-generated content (UGC)? My colleague Linda Werner recently wrote a very interesting blog article on this topic. She explains that the creation of UGC is not confined to specific departments. Thanks to the simple usability of SmarterPath (select the content, create an intelligent pathway), every employee can, in principle, create content. Each and every member of staff is capable of building smarter paths and sharing these paths with their colleagues. Learning through others – it’s as simple as that!

 

THE 70 % – LEARNING THROUGH EXPERIENCE

SmarterPath provides everyone in the community with the opportunity to learn from first-hand experience. Its intelligent learning pathways can be integrated wherever there is a need for information – links can be inserted into documents, blog entries, and group discussions, and discussions can be created on each individual pathway. The paths can also feature various calls-to action (CTAs), ranging from live training sessions to “Complete this” or “Do that” tasks. Embedded in the community itself, SmarterPath accompanies the learner from the initial information through to the independent implementation of training activities. Most people find the distinction between the 70%, 20%, and 10% a fluid one, as in principle learning from others also involves personal experience.

 

SmarterPath is particularly good when it comes to presenting new employees with training scenarios (onboarding) – whether they are new to a particular tool (e.g. Microsoft Office 365) or have just joined the company and would require a great deal of time and resources to be trained up if it weren’t for SmarterPath. With these first intelligent learning pathways, you acquire all the knowledge you need, find the right contact partner, exchange ideas, and gain your first experiences – this is the SmarterPath solution!

 

SUMMARY


But don’t forget that SmarterPath alone is not enough! A use case such as this should be well thought through. An independent onboarding community can help in this regard, as can involving training instructors as moderators of this group. Otherwise, the only advice I can give you is: give it a go! Your employees’ knowledge is right there in their minds. Create your own intelligent pathways or take the content created by your employees and compile this into smarter paths (content upcycling). Learning has no limits, and neither does SmarterPath.

 

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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Pokeshot CPO Sandra Brückner talks to Reinhard Heggemann von „Das Wissensmanagement“ about how to extract and make visible the knowledge that is stored in the minds of employees, about the role of corporate communications, and about implementing the “Learner as Creator” concept. This interview ties in with Sandra’s previous article on the four steps of content upcycling.

 

Sandra Brückner:

I saw on your website that you talk about the six steps to successful knowledge management. Could you briefly summarize these steps and what they involve?

Reinhard Heggemann:

The first step for those who want to introduce or initiate knowledge management within a company is to continuously ask yourself the fundamental question: What am I aiming for and what knowledge do I need to get there? This applies both at the company level and at a personal level. Everyone should always ask themselves: What am I aiming for, what are my goals, and what do I need to know in order to achieve them? Otherwise, the knowledge transfer and knowledge management processes won’t have a clear target. That is the first step.

The second step is to ask yourself: What knowledge already exists within the company and its employees? What knowledge do I, myself, possess? As Heinrich von Pierer of Siemens once said: “If Siemens only knew just how much Siemens knows, it would have a bigger bottom line.”

The third step consists of structuring this knowledge. At this point I want to distinguish between two important categories: knowledge that can be described, and that which is less easy to describe. There is a huge amount of knowledge held by employees that is hard to relate to others. Try explaining to someone the process of riding a bike, for example. It’s really difficult. It is important to realize from the outset that most people won’t even try to share the kind of knowledge that they find difficult to describe.

That brings us already to the fourth step, which is sharing and passing on knowledge, and the fifth step, which is growing and developing new company knowledge. This new knowledge can sometimes come from the company or the employees themselves by addressing the question: What do I want to know, or what do we need to know? This is the biggest challenge: generating knowledge and retaining that knowledge. But, generally speaking, I can use co-creation and other methods to produce new knowledge within my team.

The sixth step is knowledge maintenance. It is important to continuously reflect on which knowledge is still relevant, on what you still need, and on how you can integrate accumulated knowledge into competence development. So this means constantly introducing learning tidbits – little bite-sized learning modules – in a separate sphere to the classic staff development activities like seminars and workshops. They certainly have their place, but it is equally important to enable the knowledge that has originated within the company itself to flow back into company processes. That is the only way to achieve a truly holistic approach to knowledge management. And these are also the conditions that I believe constitute successful knowledge management.

 

Reinhard Heggemann: Six steps to successful knowledge management

 

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Sandra Brückner: We developed a similar model at Pokeshot that we call  Content Upcycling. This involves processing the knowledge that exists in the minds of employees into intelligent learning pathways. You talk about “making knowledge visible” – what do you take that to mean?

Reinhard Heggemann: Here, again, I see two levels. One is the level of company knowledge: Who in the company knows what? Who are the knowledge carriers and what knowledge do they have? Then there is the personal level: What knowledge do I have? And employees have to be brought in on this. Every employee needs to ask themselves: What knowledge does my day-to-day work require and what do I use? If employees go through their entire working day, they will realize that there is a huge amount of knowledge involved in their day-to-day tasks that they weren’t even aware of before. This is the hidden and valuable knowledge contained within the minds of a company’s employees.

 

Sandra Brückner: “The content upcycling process”

 

Sandra Brückner: What can companies do? Are there methods they can employ to make this knowledge visible?

Reinhard Heggemann: Yes. First of all, as I already mentioned, they can look at the company from top to bottom and ask themselves: Who knows what? This question can also be geared toward business processes: What knowledge is contained within each business process? In sales and marketing, for example, you will usually find the process “identifying customer needs.” So here I first need to find out what knowledge exists within my sales team: How do they figure out what the customer wants? What methods do they use? And so on. I can use this approach to analyze every process within the company and combine these analyses to form a knowledge map.

When it comes to individual knowledge, I already mentioned one method: Employees have to ask themselves what they already know. They need to examine their working processes and go over these steps – perhaps with other colleagues.

The next point relates to structure. Is this knowledge actually relevant? Here I can start with each individual and expand it to the whole company. Then the company should ask itself: Has this knowledge already been documented? Can it in fact be documented and formalized or not? If not, it should still be noted down and shared. This is how I can make employee knowledge and, thus, the knowledge of the entire company visible. It’s a challenge, but it works.

 

Sandra Brückner: Speaking of challenges, what are the greatest challenges involved in getting knowledge out of employees’ heads and making it visible?

Reinhard Heggemann: The company or management team can’t just say, “We’re now doing knowledge management,” and get everyone to enter their knowledge into some kind of system. That’s not how it works. It’s been tried many times in the past and it has always failed. I frequently notice in kick-off workshops that people need time and space when it comes to knowledge management. This means that I, as a company, have to give people this time in order for knowledge to be transferred. That is an investment, but it pays off.

The second point is transparency, which is becoming an increasingly important topic for employees. They want to know: What actually happens to the knowledge that I give to others? What are other people sharing? What do I get out of it, and what do others get out of it? And this transparency is also expected from management – employees want to see the management team employ an equally open approach to knowledge sharing. There has to be a general culture of openness.

Thirdly, I recognize time and again that there is a need for tolerance toward mistakes. Mistakes must be accepted and openly acknowledged. Mistakes are a positive thing. Everyone should be allowed to make mistakes and not only have them excused, but in fact be appreciated. Many employees shy away from sharing their knowledge with others for fear of making mistakes. Appreciative corporate communications are extremely important, therefore, when it comes to encouraging employees to pass on their own knowledge to others. It’s a psychological issue: “I’m not going to share anything if I don’t feel appreciated.”

So these are some of the challenges that I frequently encounter in kick-off workshops in terms of what employees want. I also often notice that, even if these approaches exist in theory in the company rulebook, it is not necessarily the experience of the employees – both on a small and larger scale. So this needs to start actually being felt, otherwise no one is going to have the motivation to share their knowledge.

 

Sandra Brückner: Okay. In terms of the progress of companies and perhaps even industries, how far along are they when it comes to making knowledge visible? Also with regard to supporting the learners, as you were just saying, through trust, transparency, and creating structures. What progress has been made in this respect? Particularly here in Germany.

Reinhard Heggemann: There’s an entire spectrum that ranges from very far along to not even at the starting line – by which I mean the company culture has zero interest in sharing knowledge or even make it visible in the first place. So it’s very, very varied.

 

Sandra Brückner: Are these differences attributable to company size or particular industries? Or are you saying that it is completely open?

Reinhard Heggemann: It’s completely open. There are some mid-sized companies with a corporate culture that is very strongly committed to the concept, and without which they would never have got to where they are today. Even if they are perhaps organized in a very patriarchal way. If the boss’s door is always open to employees, a great deal can be achieved. With large companies, you will find more knowledge management systems already in place. Although I just recently spoke with an employee at a large corporation who said, “We’re doing absolutely nothing on that front.” Quite the opposite. So you really can’t attribute the differences to specific sectors. It’s very varied.

 

Sandra Brückner: One last question: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Learner as Creator”?

Reinhard Heggemann: I think that’s the really exciting part. For me, that is the essence of the whole thing. Because this is the element that closes the circle within a learning organization – by which I mean the process of discovering knowledge within a company and then passing it on to others in the form of little knowledge bites. These could be in the form of short learning modules, perhaps a simple PowerPoint, or a micro article written up after a meeting. These are all ways that a company can close the circle of knowledge growth and pass the knowledge extracted from certain employees on to others. If I have knowledge I want to pass on, it has to first be created, it has to be given a form. That also means not simply distributing documents, but to pass on the very essence of these documents and also to reflect on it personally. That is an important aspect of knowledge transfer. It’s not about what I happen to think is really interesting right now, but what do others need and what could others really use in their work. What would benefit them. And it’s about using this perspective to create new knowledge within the company.

 

Sandra Brückner: Thank you very much, Reinhard, for taking the time to talk to us about this topic.

Reinhard Heggemann: My pleasure, thank you for asking me. It is always great to be able to pass on my knowledge.

 

THE INTERVIEWEE

 

Reinhard Heggemann has worked as a business consultant and concept developer for knowledge management and e-learning for 13 years. He develops solutions that make the know-how and process knowledge behind a company’s day-to-day work visible, structured, and available to all employees. His methods can be used to expand and maintain company knowledge through strategic competence development.

 

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!

In a recent webinar delivered by Brandon Hall – The Impact of Digital Learning on Strategy – one of the talking points had to do with the evolving role of the learning professional in today’s tech-enabled workplace. Rather than replacing trainers and facilitators, the online tools that enable things like real-time communication, global collaboration or blended learning actually provide an opportunity for expanding learning and development’s (L&D) role. For example, in addition to instructional design, system administration, coaching, etc., functions such as community managementand content curation are the kinds of things learning and development (L&D) could be involved in when an organization integrates Office 365 or Jive.

This, in combination with the fact that implementations of SmarterPath do not always originate with the L&D team, got me thinking about my own experience where the strategic value of human resources was a frequent topic at professional conferences, in publications and in those all-important “shop talk” sessions with team members. Described using the “seat at the table” phrase, it was this seemingly achievable goal we had to either earn or be given the opportunity by our organization’s leadership to align learning outcomes with business strategy.

If your experience is anything like mine your business acumen has evolved along with your pursuit of this so-called “seat at the table.” For example, you probably track learning hours by modality, by program, by employee, etc. This activity-/utilization-based data is then used to determine the cost of learning on a per unit basis. We analyze these data points because the more we have a handle on the numbers the more likely we are to at least be part of the conversation.

A “seat at the table” also seemed to imply that the organization believed that so many core operational functions rely on robust and relevant learning. Ask any salesperson and he’ll tell you product knowledge is at the top of the list when it comes to what’s needed for success. Ask any new employee and she’ll tell you knowing what to do and who/what’s available to help you get the job done are key to demonstrating value quickly. Ask any product development leader and she’ll tell you innovation comes from an elusive combination of in-house wisdom and real-world insights.

My point with these examples is how clearly they show that learning couldn’t be any closer to performance. Learning enables performance. Learning is the catalyst for getting work done and achieving outcomes. Learning done is performance. It is this clear connection between learning and work that provides L&D with the opportunity to reshape its role. How do we do that? One way is by implementing social technologies. By capitalizing on L&D’s central position within the organization, we can advocate for social and blended learning. It’s a universal, enterprise-wide use case that transcends all departments and for me it was:

  • the catalyst for implementing Jive at a $1B education services provider,
  • a driver behind a 50-plus percent increase in net new users in less than a year, and
  • an integral part of increasing and sustained adoption of the new technology.

Social learning? Training? Human Resources? I get it. These are probably not the first things that come to mind when you think about implementing new technologies, ensuring adoption or generating ROI. That’s the point. While it’s easily overlooked, employee know-how matters to all levels of any organization, no matter what industry it’s in. In the knowledge economy, when it comes to leadership development or compliance training or on-boarding – and everything in between – there’s a direct connection between learning and performance. Because of these far-reaching impacts, L&D can provide both the initial and on-going justification for investing in collaborative technologies.

Pull out that chair and take a seat at the table. It’s time.

Note: previous blog posts related to this topic include Community with a Capital C and Four Steps of Content Up-cycling.

 

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.

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