E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Social Computing Training Is All About Changing People’s Behaviours

Tenerife - Puerto de la CruzLast week there was an article published over at Harvard Business Review‘s The Conversation blog that surely attracted plenty of attention all over the place, not only because it certainly is a very good read, but also because it touches base on a key point for a successful adoption of social software within the corporate world: Training on Social Computing.

I know there are plenty of people out there who have been claiming all along that if your social software tools would require extensive training and education for your knowledge workers you are not doing things right, because they are far too complex to be used in the first place. After all, Web 2.0 tools are relatively easier and much more friendly to use than whatever else we have been using in the past, right? Well, may be not…

Check out the article Intel’s Social Media Training by Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd. Like I said, it’s a good, solid piece that describes quite nicely what Intel’s strategy is for social media training and education for everyone of its employees. But the best part of the article is the listing of examples of the education provided as part of that strategy.

I am not sure whether you may have noticed the slight difference, perhaps, with other training strategies on social computing adoption available out there, but Intel’s puts the money right where it should well be: not on the social tools themselves, but on changing and adapting people’s behaviours. On provoking a social change both inside and outside of the corporate firewall and using the social tools as what they have been all along: just enablers!

That strategy is just so spot on! And I am really glad it’s been highlighted in the article throughout, although perhaps not using the same words; still, I have always believed it’s the right approach towards helping knowledge workers adopt some of these new social tools. Coming from a KM & Collaboration background myself, one of the main key issues that knowledge workers have always claimed has been the lack of training and education on Collaboration.

Yes, we are all social beings, we all like to socialise, both outside and inside our workplace, yet collaborating successfully sometimes is not as easy as what it may seem. In fact, there may be some challenges out there, like throwing collaborative tools (And I’ll be including email in here as well, even though I don’t consider it myself a rather collaborative one!) out to people with nothing else than a single "You’ll figure it out in its due time, not to worry; start using the tools today!"

That’s why I really like Intel’s approach; instead of throwing people out there to these new social tools to help them share their knowledge across and collaborate much more effectively, they are placing the focus on demonstrating actively how knowledge workers can change some of their work habits, and behaviours!, to make use of these social software tools much more effectively, so that collaboration happens much easier than ever before.

It takes a lot of effort and hard work to make it happen, I can tell you, but placing the focus on showing people how they can improve their day to day productivity with these social tools, vs. a focus on what the tools have got to offer is definitely the right step forward and one that is bound to be successful. That’s something that I can relate to as well in my day to day job.

As part of BlueIQ (IBM’s initiative to help drive the adoption of social software within the company), and over the last good few months, we have been putting together a very dynamic and active training program that keeps updating itself constantly, where our main focus are not the various social software tools we make use of, but more the tasks / activities that fellow IBMers can achieve using these tools.

That’s right! Those training modules are aimed at helping knowledge workers become more productive, because, at the end of the day, that’s what it is all about: improving people’s productivity on their day to day tasks and activities. And social software tools are just that, like I said above already, enablers that allow me to get the job done much easier, faster and much more efficient and effective than some of the various pain points we all keep suffering from, while we still make use of those other traditional collaborative tools. Yet, the focus hasn’t changed over time: pick up a good 10 to 20 of the most frequently executed tasks, activities and to-dos and show your employee workforce throughout how they could complete them, much more satisfactorily, using social computing tools.

So far that training program is one of the stars from the overall BlueIQ initiative with a really high % of acceptance by those attending the courses, as well as those consuming their content offline at their own leisure, which, to me, comes to confirm the fact that just because the tools are so easy to use it doesn’t necessarily mean people wouldn’t want / need additional education resources available to them, so they could be even better at what they do currently. That’s where traditional KM & Collaboration failed to deliver and why I do hope that things would be different for this new wave of social networking tools, both inside and outside of the corporate firewall.

Because the way things are at the moment, we probably don’t have much of a choice anymore if we would want to remain competitive…

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  1. I agree that many people need to be trained in not how to use the “new generation of tools”, but why they should, and which is the right for the job. When all people had was email, it was simple. Now people need to think about blogs, wikis, microblogging, bookmarking, voting, polls, and on and on. While open sharing via “2.0” tools is a great way to go, it is naive of us to assume it is second nature to employees, especially those that have been in the workforce for a while already.

    1. I couldn’t have agreed more on those comments, Alan! We are on the same boat! Which is why I’m hinting on this blog post that we should not just be talking about educating people on the tools themselves and their features, but more how they can use them effectively as their core business tools to help address current business needs or pain points they may be suffering from.

      It’s not about replacing traditional collaborative tools with new social tools; it’s more about empowering knowledge workers to be back on track with their own productivity taking it into new heights by leveraging the powerful capabilities from these tools, but all of that through a continuous learning process that doesn’t end with a single course: it’s a day to day learning experience of how they can apply social software tools for their own benefit. No one else’s.

      That’s where the challenge is and why I have been really excited about 2.0 Enablement Programs with this kind of flavour; to me, it’s just right on the money!

      Thanks again for dropping by and for the feedback comments! Appreciated, my friend!

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