The Workplace Learning Revolution (Jane Hart)

The Workplace Learning Revolution


 how the Internet has dramatically changed the way we live, and is now changing the way we work and  learn... 




Learning in the Social Workplace

I also regularly write about the changes that are are taking place in workplace learning in my blog, Learning in the Social Workplace.

New skills for the networked era

I also work with Harold Jarche on two other initiatives:

    1. The Connected Worker - helping organisations develop the new social skills for the digitally connected workplace
    2. The Connected Knowledge Lab - helping individuals to build a new personal skillset and toolset to take effective charge of their professional lives and careers

- See more at:




Last updated: July 5, 2013 at 10:18 am

PART 1: How the way we learn at work is changing






PART 2:  New thinking, new doing



The Evolving Social Organization (Harold Jarche) ... 

Complexity and the new Enterprise (Organizations and Complexity Harold Jarche)



Implementing Social Learning

Knowledge workers get things done by conversing with peers, customers and partners, as they solve the problems of the day. Learning from these social interactions is a key to business innovation. In a globally networked economy, based increasingly on intangible goods and services, constant innovation is necessary to stand out.

Hyper-linked knowledge flows have made organizational walls permeable. Official channels are competing with an expanding number of informal communications. Acollaborative enterprise is becoming  the optimal organization for such a networked economy, capitalizing on these expanding knowledge flows. To innovate, organizations need to collaborate internally and this is social. To participate in their markets, organizations, customers and suppliers need to understand each other and this too, is social. Social learning is how knowledge is created, internalized and shared. It is how knowledge work gets done.

In complex environments, learning is much more than just a matter of structured knowledge acquisition. However, that is all that training enables.  There is often a gap between training and doing. Training alone cannot address the wide variety of informal learning needs of workers. Nor can it help to transfer the tacit knowledge on which many of us depend to do our jobs.

We know that informal learning happens all of the time but often the best answers or experts are not connected to the person with the problem. Social learning networks can address that issue by giving each worker a much larger group of people to help get work done.  Regularly publishing to our networks is how we can stay connected. Here is an approach to embed social learning into organization work flows. This is an iterative process that can be adapted to fit the context.

Listen & Create: Being open to self-education is the foundation of individual learning. Part of this is the development of habits of continuous sense-making by recording what we hear, read and observe; e.g. personal learning environments (PLE) & personal knowledge management (PKM).

Converse: Sharing is an act of learning and can be considered an individual’s responsibility for the greater social learning contract. Without sharing, there is no social learning. Through ongoing trusted conversations we can share tacit knowledge, even across organizational boundaries; e.g. social learning.

Co-create: Group performance enables the creation of new knowledge and is a source of innovation; e.g. collaborative work, customer experience.

Formalize & Share: Some informal knowledge can be made explicit and consolidated through the formalization and creation of new structured knowledge; e.g. taxonomies, document management, storytelling.

Enterprise social learning

Social learning consultant Jane Hart has created a comprehensive, and growing, list of social learning examples in the workplace

A business imperative

Deloitte’s Shift Index of 2009 highlights the challenges facing several industries today, that of declining return on assets and the need for innovation. One recommendation is to enable knowledge flows, a key benefit of social learning:

Given the growing importance of knowledge flows, perhaps the most powerful form of innovation in this context may be institutional innovation –re-thinking roles and relationships across institutions to better enable them to create and participate in knowledge flows.

Getting started

According to Rebecca Ferguson at The Open University, social learning can take place when people:

  • clarify their intention – learning rather than browsing
  • ground their learning – by defining their question or problem
  • engage in focused conversations – increasing their understanding of the available resources.

Following the process explained earlier:

ListenThe first step in social learning is paying attention and watching what others are doing. Finding trusted sources of information is very important. Hearing what others are doing and connecting to them with social media such as Twitter or blogs increases the chances of accidental and serendipitous learning. For example, one can follow conversations on Twitter by searching for “hashtags”. Typing “#PKM” shows current conversations on personal knowledge management.

Converse: By engaging in conversations and providing valuable information to others one becomes part of professional networks. Many experts are willing to help those new to the field but newcomers first must say what they don’t know.

Co-create: Over time one can engage more in co-operative activities, such as adding comments to a blog post or extending the thought in an article or discussion thread. For many people used to traditional work, working transparently in the open takes some time to get to used to.

Formalize & ShareWriting professional journals or lessons learnt can ingrain the important process of formalizing aspects of social learning. Sharing with others, internally or externally, over time becomes part of a normal daily work flow.

As our work environments become more complex due to the speed of information transmission via ubiquitous networks, we need to adopt more flexible and less mechanistic processes to get work done. Workers have many more connections, to information and people, than ever before. But the ability to deal with complexity lies in our minds, not our artificial organizational structures. In order to free our minds for complex work, we need to simplify our organizational structures. According to the authors of Getting to Maybe, in complex environments:

  • Rigid protocols are counter-productive
  • There is an uncertainty of outcomes in much of our work
  • We cannot separate parts from the whole
  • Success is not a fixed address

This is the basis of the evolving social organization

Some additional thoughts on social learning...

New thinking; new doing – 10 guidelines for the future 

10 guidelines for the future


1 – We must remember training is not the only way people learn at work

  • Learning is more than just training 
  • Learning is not all about studying – it’s not about memorization
  • Learning can be an independent or inter-dependent activity
  • Learning happens both intentionally and unintentionally
  • Learning happens both consciously and unconsciously
  • We therefore learn in many different ways at work; training is only a small part of how we learn



One-size doesn’t fit all training solution isn’t the answer to all learning or performance problems at work. training solution isn’t the answer to all learning or performance problems at work. How best to help your people will depend o Who they are -  knowledge workers v rooutine workers What  they need to learn and their level of existing knowledge Their own preferences - we all like to  learn differently. 

The main message here is the one-size-fits-all doesn’t work; we need to think in terms of one-size fits one. - See more at:

2 – We don’t just need to learn the old” but also “learn the new” 

3 – We need to focus more attention on supporting continuous – or rather constant –  learning and performance improvement

In this day and age, in order to keep up with the speed of business, we can no longer try and organize and manage everything everyone needs to learn (ie by training or “blending”), so we need think more  about supporting individuals and teams as they organize and manage their own learning and performance needs.

4 – We need to move from being “order takers” to business partners

Currently the role is, manager asks for a course, L&D finds someone  to carry out the work with a SME. The course is created, tracked and managed. The manager has very little to do with it.

The L&D needs to build a new role for L&D in the business, will will involve having a much closer relationship with the manager and working together as full partners to support team and individual needs in the best and most appropriate ways.

5 – We need to move from “packaging” content-based solutions to “scaffolding” frameworks for learning to take place

Traditionally the Training role has been about organizing and managing workers’ learning by “packaging” up lots of content, delivering it to them “on a plate”, and then managing access to it all.  But there is an increasing need to support the self-organised approaches to learning we have seen in Part 1.

This means working in partnership with team leaders to help scaffolding learning, by that I mean helping to provide the framework – the most appropriate infrastructure (platforms, tools etc) as well as the right conditions for continuous learning and performance improvement to take place

Although there will be a need for organised “packaging” content, there will be far more opportunities to support “scaffolding” learning right across the spectrum as the diagram below shows what this means in practice.  As a consequence this means a shift from creating knowledge objects (courses, etc) to supporting knowledge actions.

Here’s a summary of what this will look like and mean for the different types of learning activities


6 – Moving from a focus on  learning to a focus on performance 

It’s remembering that it’s not JUST about the learning – rather that learning and collaboration are means to an end, not the end goal – which is improved performance. So the focus will be

  • on performance analysis to identify the most approach interventions for any problem – and this wont just result in training; it might involve some performance support, but might even result in changes in process or tools.
  • on identifying performance success metrics in terms of performance change – rather than identifying learning outcomes
  • on tracking performance change – rather than tracking “learning” or “social activity”, but on

It’s also worth pointing out that most managers won’t have the time or inclination to trawl through activity data to try to identify  the patterns of high performing individuals. And even if they did, this wouldn’t be immediately transferable to others, since there are many other factors that influence high performance which won’t have been tracked. Rather, if the manager wants to identify influencers in his/her team, then doing this through a value network analysis. (ver lo anterior de Harold Jarche- Organizaciones y Complejidad)

7 – Moving from teaching “old skills” to modelling “new skills”

Many people are already developing new skills to help them make sense of all this new information. For many people constantly “learning the new” has become a familiar activity and one on which they thrive. Others who are new to social media and are not used to dealing with the huge amount of information they are being subjected to, struggle, and find it an overwhelming experience. They can’t work out what is important, so it all becomes noise – and they often just “tune out”. But this state of affairs is only going to increase, as organisations ”go social” and encourage widespread enterprise knowledge sharing. Workers will be inundated with a constant stream of information, so they will need to have a good set of new skills to deal with it all, in order to flourish and work productively. There won’t be time to wait for someone else to make sense of it for them, and deliver it to them on a plate!

New learning skills therefore include developing a trusted network of people as well as sources of information (from both inside and outside the organisation) that individuals can draw from on a daily basis, filtering out the “signal from the noise”, “connecting the dots” in the pieces of information they receive to make sense of it all, and then sharing what they know with individuals for whom it is relevant and who will value it.

These new skills are collectively referred to as personal knowledge management (or PKM)PKM skills are vital in a social workplace, and they are also an essential set of skills for managing one’s own professional development through continuous learning. It’s up to every individual to manage their own knowledge in the way that best suits them, but some people will need help in doing this. They will need help to develop their own Personal Knowledge Management approaches, as well as how to work and learn collaboratively in their teams in the Connected Workplace.

Team leaders will also need help to manage and support a connected work team, and community managers will need help to build and sustain communities of practice .

9 - From course designers/trainers to performance, collaboration and professional learning specialists 

This new area of work will also demand new L&D roles and skills.Rather it will need specialists in performance, collaboration and professional learning, - See more at:


10 – From learning technologies to working technologies

Currently the technology focus of the L&D department is on technologies that support training, aka learning technologies, e.g. authoring tools and learning management systems. Although these tools will undoubtedly be required (at least in the short term) for traditional training efforts, with a new focus on supporting constant learning in the workflow, there will be need to move to supporting “learning” as it occurs as a part of work and within using the working technologie – not as a separate silo-ed system. As more and more organisations adopt enterprise collaboration platforms, then these platforms can be used to “join up” both formal learning (training) and continuous learning in the workflow.

In Managing learning, Charles Jennings used this diagram to show the evolution of the LMS




We need a new model for the learning function that reflects the way people are learning at work and new business needs -

The new Learning Collaboration and Performance Department model incorporates three 3 streams of activity – with the new area of supporting constant learning and performance improvement highlighted. 

Currently most L&D efforts are focused on designing and delivering training or e-learning. So how much time/effort/budget should be spent on supporting constant learning and performance improvement?  70-20-10 framework suggests that this should be at least 70% with only 10% on formal training and 20% on coaching, mentoring and networking. Some people complain about these figures, but as Charles Jennings says it is not about the numbers but about the change.

To adopt this new approach  requires a number of other significant changes for the LCP department –





Why change?

The Need to Adapt to the Speed of Change or Die: lessons for L&D from the retail industry - Charles Jennings, 16 January 2013 

Yes you do have to change, Clark Quinn, Learnlets, 18 March 2013 

Why is change slow?




PART 3: Enabling and supporting new ways of learning 

New ways of learning

In the diagram below I show some ideas and suggestions for all of the four key areas of formal learning (training/e-learning), performance support, team/group collaboration and professional learning.

Remember that, as Harold Jarche explains in No cookie cutters for complexity (28 March 2013) – there is no “cookie-cutter” solution; there is no one best or right way of doing things that fits everyone’s needs – no one-size-fits-all solution – because ..

“Each organization’s situation is not only different, it’s changing.”

Furthermore, he warns …

“Beware the cookie-cutter salespeople. They abound, and are aided by marketing departments that do not have a clue about complexity. There are some real advantages in avoiding the large consultancies and going with smaller companies and free-agents.”



Supporting team and group collaboration


Continuous team learning is essential in any organization, for as my colleague, Harold Jarche  'It’s not about knowledge transfer'points out, quoting Peter Senge.

“It is team learning, not individual learning, that adds to organizational learning.”


Lost Knowledge: What are you and your organization doing about it? -

Executives have known about “lost knowledge” and retiring Boomers for years, and yet very few companies have taken steps to insure that there is some sort of effective knowledge transfer from Boomers to younger employees.

Knowledge cannot be transferred. This is the big conceit of knowledge management. This “loss of knowledge” when older workers retire is a symptom of a structural problem. It shows that the company never gave any thought to organizational learning.



Three Principles for Net Work... Are employees narrating their work in a transparent environment?

Work is changing







These three simple principles of narration, transparency and shared power should provide enough guidance to motivated leaders in an organization. Implementation depends on the specific context of each organization and the ability to keep things in what I call, “perpetual Beta”.

Power-sharing and transparency enable work to move out to the edges and away from the comfortable, complicated work that has been the corporate mainstay for decades. There is nothing left in the safe inner parts of the company anyway, as it is being automated and outsourced.

The high-value work today is in facing complexity, not in addressing problems that have already been solved and for which a formulaic or standardized response has been developed. One challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they already know has increasingly diminishing value. How to learn and solve problems together is becoming the real business advantage.






Enterprise 2.0 transition

The E20 Meetup in Paris today discussed the role of “Organizational Development” (OD) and “Human Ressource Management” (HR) in the Enterprise 2.0 game play. The discussions focused on how and in what manner OD and HR can support adoption & transformation processes.

What is the difference between the adoption & transformation process?  organizational design

Culture is an emergent property of people working together. Designing a new work system is only part of the solution; it merely sets the stage. Marinating in the resulting complex adaptive system is essential. Monitoring all systems by engaging with them is how we can understand the organization as organism. It cannot be done by managers or OD/HR disconnected from the work being done. It cannot be done from behind a desk. To know the culture, people have to become the culture. One cannot engineer human or organizational performance. [I noticed that the gardener metaphor to explain a new  OD/HR role was used more than once during our discussions]

What is the role of OD & HR within the Enterprise 2.0 transition process?


Taking in account the “Yang & Yin” factors of the technology: Though a lot of E20 evangelist have sent out the message – “Enterprise 2.0 is not about technology but about culture!” – the two sides of the “social technology coin” is IMHO very determining for the E20/social business project. On the one side we have the process enhancing characteristics of the technology (“Yang factor”) and on the other side the transformational characteristics of the technology (“Yin factor”) – with the Yin elements coming as successor of the Yang elements. So yes – it’s about culture, but technology is a critical mean to the cultural change. And the cultural change needs to go hand in hand with the technological adoption plan


What is the role of OD & HR within the Enterprise 2.0 transition process?

OD/HR need to connect with the work being done. First hand observation means getting out of the office, where a higher level perspective can help with pattern recognition not possible by those involved in the work. OD/HR should help identify gaps in knowledge networks and play the role of network weavers. They need to model network learning behaviours, such as learning out loudpersonal knowledge management, and thenarration of work.

What are the OD/HR implications for the Enterprise 2.0 transformation process?

The future will not likely be “HR 2.0″ but rather a new organizational development approach, where learning is integrated into the workflow, and OD/HR is much less directive. Many departments outside OD/HR are already staking this new ground and building their expertise, with social media as an enabler. It is like the Wild West and there may not be a role for those who do not understand and actively participate in the networked workplace. OD/HR may get left on the sidelines with Enterprise 2.0 if they do not engage now.





What are the foundational pillars of the Social Enterprise?

foundational pillars for the design of the next enterprise model that I also want to discuss in a further post soon:

  • Culture of Openness & Collaboration
    A wide spread acceptance of the added value in sharing knowledge and intellectual property in order to gain and enhance the business value creation.
  • Leadership 2.0
    Role of a forward looking, risk taking and opportunity driven “mover and shaker”
  • Customer-Centricity & Customer Value-based Market Approaches
    A strong focus on the customer value & satisfaction within the market approach and interaction
  • Installation of a Digital & Social Workplace
    Implementation of a work environment that provides a transparent view on the business activities and supports a collaborative work whenever and wherever it is needed.
  • Fluid Organizational Design
    Establishment of a mental model of emergence with a strong technology driven backend that matches competencies with business process requirements.
  • Socially extended Business Processes


 Enterprise Social Dimensions


Durante el último año he estado trabajando en iniciativas de cambio para mejorar la colaboración y el intercambio de conocimientos con dos grandes empresas, una de ellas una multinacional. En cada caso, la aplicación se ha reducido a dos componentes: habilidades individuales y de apoyo organizacional. Colaboración organizacional eficaz se produce cuando los trabajadores narran regularmente su trabajo dentro de una estructura que fomente la transparencia y comparte el poder y la toma de decisiones. También he aprendido que el cambio de las rutinas de trabajo puede ser un proceso complicado que requiere mucho tiempo, muchos de ellos dedicados a modelización de comportamientos.

In social networks we can learn from each other; modelling behaviours, telling stories, and sharing what we know (Harold Jarche)

 Modelling, on the other hand, is the foundation of social learning:

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation.

There is strong evidence that we need to integrate learning into our work in order to deal with the increasing complexity of knowledge work.The valued work in the enterprise is increasing in variety and decreasing in standardization. I have suggested that communities of practice are the bridge between work teams and open social networks, with narration of work an enabler of knowledge-sharing, and of course, modelling behaviour.



 Open Mentoring platform is a current example of a tool that could enhance social learning (modelling) in the bridging area that communities of practice can offer


 Jane Hart, notes, ”  as for the new social and collaboration skills that workers require, well you simply can’t train people to be social! What was required was getting down and dirty and helping people understand what it actually meant to work collaboratively in the new social workplace, and the value that this would bring to them.

Jane refers to the collaboration pyramid by Oscar Berg, an excellent model to show what needs to be addressed to become a social business.




The low visibility activities link directly to personal knowledge management (PKM) skills, based on the process of Seeking information & knowledge; making Sense of it; andSharing higher value information with others... Every person’s PKM processes will differ.

It is a difficult path to get acceptance that each worker is responsible for his or her own learning and additionally must be a contributing member of a network. PKM is individuals retaking control of learning, and making it transparent. It takes time, but it also requires a receptive environment.

Creating a supportive social environment is management’s responsibility. These activities are shown on the upper part of the pyramid, above the water line. Some specific examples of activities I have been involved in over the past year include:

  • Support for small innovation teams to initiate and practice the new collaboration and knowledge-sharing skills.
  • Daily routines of posting observations and sharing with team members.
  • Weekly “virtual coffee” to catch up and help build social bonds.
  • Adding activity-stream technologies to productivity tool suites.
  • Constant analysis of activity data.
  • Providing dedicated time for reflection [this is a tough one to get management buy-in].
  • Regular mediated events like “Yam-Jams” on a select theme.
  • Creation of internal communications material to make social learning and social business more understandable.
  • Professional development activities using the same social media as will be used to work.
  • Face to face social activities.
  • Many conversations [usually Skype or telephone] and much one-on-one support as people work at becoming more social.
  • Social & Value network analyses to visualize network thinking.

 My experience is that changing to more collaborative, networked ways of work requires coordinated change activities from both the top and the bottom. It has to be a two-pronged approach and it will take some time and effort.(Harold Jarche)





“Extracting learning from work employs very different approaches to the additive form of workplace learning. Firstly the focus is not on learning but on performance improvement from the outset.  It’s also not about requiring workers to adjust their working time and flow to include specific activities that have the explicit purpose of assisting learning. 

It’s simply about developing approaches that help workers to learn more from their day-to-day work


Supporting self-managed team learning is also about working in partnership with teams – either to address and support specific performance problems or to build or enhance existing sharing practices.  So it will not involve designing a programme of instruction for a team, but rather will comprise a quite different set of “scaffolding” activities undertaken in conjunction with the team, which include: encouraging workers to “connect and collaborate” and engage in new collaborative work practices, so that there is a  symbiotic relationship between collaborative working and learning; and developing the new collaboration and community skills  to enable groups and teams for effective working. 

Difference between work teams and online communities - 

In the workplace people belong to a variety of work and project teams as well as communities. Harold Jarche uses the following diagram to show the difference – and overlaps –  between social networks, communities of practice and work teams. 





A major difference between communities of practice and work teams is that the former are voluntary. People want to join communities of practice. People feel affinity for their communities of practice. You know you are in a community of practice when it changes your practice. If the groups are mandated by management, they are work teams, or project teams etc., but not communities of practice.”


 Supporting work teams

 The work is going to be much wider than just supporting informal social learning which is how teams learn as an integral part of working collaboratively, but it is going to be about helping them with social  collaboration. What’s the difference between “traditional collaboration” and “social collaboration”? 





The majority of the value-creation activities in an enterprise are hidden. They happen below the surface. What we see when we think of collaboration in the traditional sense (structured team-based collaboration) is the tip of the iceberg – teams who are coordinating their actions to achieve some goal.  We don’t see – and thus don’t recognize – all the activities which have enabled the team to form and which help them throughout their journey. We see the people in the team, how they coordinate their actions and the results of their actions, but we rarely see the other things which have been critical for their success. For example, we don’t see how they have used their personal networks to access knowledge, information and skills which they don’t have in their team already but which are instrumental for their success.” 


The layers which are below the surface are usually not recognized or valued. Below the surface you typically find:

  • The direct and indirect contributions from people outside the team – by the extended team, stakeholders and external contributors
  • Other kinds of broader and ad hoc collaboration (social collaboration) than those that fit within the traditional definition of (structured, team-based) collaboration
  • The ongoing community building that makes people trust each other and commit themselves to a shared purpose
  • The efforts of gaining the workspace awareness that is necessary for making the right decisions in any collaborative effort

The first step towards improving these layers of collaboration and support other kinds of collaboration is to recognize their existence and value.

Helping teams work collaboratively will start with:

  • Understanding the sharing practices that are currently taking place  - or not.
  • Considering how these could be enhanced or built upon, or developed.
  • Considering whether any technology could underpin knowledge sharing, and if so identifying appropriate technologies, preferably employing existing collaboration technologies or enterprise social networking that are being used to underpin the work (so a separat
    Enrique Rubio

    Enrique Rubio

    Reflexiones sobre aprendizaje, tecnología y sostenibilidad