This post reviews progress against my 70:20:10 Certification pathway. It focuses on improvement of SharePoint infrastructure to better enable knowledge sharing in my business unit, Supply Chain.
SharePoint is the platform that Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) uses for intranet, shared file storage, and Enterprise Social Network (ESN). CCA does not use Yammer. In early 2014 CCA decided to upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. In the same period we also updated the Supply Chain Capability strategy to include ‘continuous workplace learning,’ and decided to introduce Communities of Practice. At this time use of the SharePoint newsfeed was negligible, and discussion forums were not used. I had been actively using Twitter as a professional development tool for several months and could see the potential of online social to enable knowledge sharing.
The upgrade scope included migration of all shared files from servers to SharePoint document libraries. If most people started using SharePoint on a daily basis for file management there was a leverage opportunity to encourage the use of other platform features, including online social. I volunteered to assist with the SharePoint upgrade to position myself to take advantage of this opportunity.
What I Set Out to Achieve
My goal was to create an infrastructure that promoted online social interaction and supported Communities of Practice. Of course, simply ‘building it’ would not guarantee that ‘they would come.’ However, improving the infrastructure was a pre-requisite to creating vibrant communities.
Prior to the SharePoint upgrade there were almost 150 Australian Supply Chain SharePoint sites – around 1 for every ten permanent employees. The range of sites largely reflected the geographic organisation structure. Most teams had a dedicated SharePoint site, each of which had it’s own newsfeed. This impeded online social. It was a lot of effort to find and follow either individual people or the sites of teams with similar work roles and challenges across the organisation. People could see little point in engaging in discussion on a site newsfeed if the only people they could interact with were those they saw face-to-face every day.
I took a two-step approach:
1) Rationalise the range of SharePoint sites to make it easier for people to find other people and resources relevant to their work, while retaining the ability to use SharePoint as part of local team workflows.
2) Build hubs to provide spaces for Communities of Practice to interact.
SharePoint Site Rationalisation
In conjunction with IT, we redesigned the high-level site infrastructure, setting up one site for each Supply Chain function e.g. Planning, Manufacturing, Logistics. These are accessible via a dashboard. A small number of existing project sites were also retained.
Each site has a single newsfeed on the home page. This makes it easier to interact with others who work in the same function, regardless of where they work. Every geographic area (State) has a landing page on each functional site, with a dashboard containing links to document libraries or other pages required for local team use.
We formed a Supply Chain SharePoint migration project team with one to two representatives from each State. These people were local change agents and coordinators. They worked with local stakeholders to promote the benefits of the new infrastructure, set up dashboards, and coordinate file migration from local servers.
Migration commenced in July 2014, and is now 95% complete, 18 months later. This timeframe far exceeded the estimate of 3-4 months. While the rationale for the change was readily understood and generally accepted, there were several practical challenges. The effort to clean up existing files and folder structure exceeded our estimates. Migration activity halted during our peak production season (October to January inclusive). Both Supply Chain and IT were restructured during this period. Within IT the physical migration tasks were handed over twice. Technical issues arose (if you are interested in these please leave a comment on this post and I will provide more detail). Due to these obstacles the project paused several times and needed to be kick-started again. It has taken persistence and a commitment to the long-term vision (knowledge sharing to create business value) to continue the migration.
Improvements and Next Steps
Although not traditionally the remit of a Learning and Development team, within Supply Chain my team has taken the lead on governance and support to our SharePoint infrastructure. This is an extension of our remit to support knowledge sharing and to contribute more broadly to value creation in our business through social practices. Sustainability of the new site infrastructure is a key goal.
Requests for new Supply Chain SharePoint sites come to me in the workflow. I discuss the business need with the requester and help them find ways to address this need within the existing infrastructure. There have been very few site requests in the past twelve months since we implemented and promoted use of the new infrastructure.
Each national site has two site owners who are responsible for site management. Along with one of my team members I provide direct support to these site owners. We are rolling out a training plan and site management routine for site owners. Additionally, migration project team members have become local SharePoint Subject Matter Experts. They provide advice and responsive local support to people on how to use SharePoint more effectively. We will sustain this SME network.
We are documenting the governance framework and principles that have evolved. These include the overarching infrastructure, role of site owners and my team, support available to users, key infrastructure decisions and the principles that apply. For example, the principle of openness, means that the majority of sites, document libraries and forums will be public.
Community of Practice Hubs
Four community hubs are now set up on SharePoint using a common design. I’ve previously described the hub design and set up process.
The hubs were all set up using standard SharePoint apps and have not required any maintenance. From an end user perspective, it is straightforward to post on each element of the hub. However, community interaction is impeded by limited SharePoint notification functionality. Community management, administration and reporting functionality is also limited.
By default SharePoint displays newsfeed posts made by any person or on any site that someone follows. However, notice of posts on discussion boards will only display in the newsfeed if the individual posting has ticked this in the advanced settings on their personal profile. Few people take the time to adjust their advanced settings. A person can set up email notification of discussion board activity, however the way to do this is not obvious to users. After several attempts to encourage community members to set up their own notifications I manually set these up for every individual member. I also set up email notifications for members on the custom list in the Knowledge Bites site, where user-generated content is published.
SharePoint social lacks the fluidity of open social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. As both an end user and community facilitator I find this frustrating and inefficient. As a result it has taken a lot of effort, support and encouragement to build online community interaction.
Improvements and Next Steps
The value of Communities of Practice to Supply Chain has been demonstrated but is well short of being fully realised. We will expand the use of communities in 2016. Before we do we will assess scalability and user experience of the current community hub infrastructure. We need to decide whether to:
- continue to use dedicated hubs for each community with any improvements identified in our review; or
- move to a new design with a single community site for all of Supply Chain using a new design recently adopted by our IT department.
Some variant of these two options may also be possible.
The new IT community and knowledge base that uses functionality not available in the standard SharePoint apps used by Supply Chain. This provides an alternative template for our online communities. However, it represents a shift from separate hubs for each community to one community for the whole of Supply Chain. One of the lessons we learned from our Maintenance and Engineering community is that members need to have enough common interest for them to get value from interacting. A single Supply Chain community exacerbates this challenge. We will explore the use of tagging as a means of associating content (posts or knowledge base entries) by domain to address this challenge. In effect, this could create ‘virtual communities.’ User experience and adoption are key factors to guide community infrastructure design, so we will involve a range of existing and new users to provide feedback in a test environment.
I’m up for another round of grappling with SharePoint to improve the user experience and community management. Getting the infrastructure right is an important hygiene factor for building online communities. This takes more effort than it should in SharePoint. It’s effort and time that I’d rather invest in building habits and behaviours to generate community interaction. However, it is the platform that the organisation has invested in so I shall do the best with my colleagues to make the most of it.
This post is part of a case study on the development of a Community of Practice (COP) for Maintenance and Engineering teams at Coca-Cola Amatil. A previous post outlined the COP evaluation strategy. This post summarises evaluation following completion of the five-week Work, Connect, and Learn (WCL) program.
This evaluation examines:
- Increase in networks (potential value)
- Engagement with work and Community (potential and applied value)
- Opportunities for community value creation
Data gathering methods used were:
- Pre and post program surveys sent to all 200 (approximately) Community members. 115 people responded to the pre-program survey and 78 to the post-program survey.
- Data from monitoring Community SharePoint site
Community members are from nine operational sites and two head office locations in Australia and New Zealand. Job role and age distribution are shown in the tables below. The geographic and age distribution of respondents was similar between the two surveys. The percentage of trades-people who responded to the post-program survey declined compared to the pre-program survey. This is consistent with feedback about barriers to entry for this group to take part in the online community.
|% Program Respondents|
|Tradesperson – Fitter (performs hands-on maintenance and repair of mechanical equipment)||27.4%||23.1%|
|Tradesperson – Electrician (performs hands-on maintenance and repair of electrical equipment)||24.8%||16.7%|
|Maintenance – Other (e.g. Coordinator, Planner, Manager – plan and manage maintenance tasks and resources)||17.7%||28.2%|
|Engineer (production line design, project manage changes to production equipment)||12.4%||19.2%|
|% Program Respondents|
|< 30 years||10.5%||10.3%|
Increase in Networks
Completed Online Profile
By default, all employees have a brief personal profile in SharePoint and contact details in Lync (now Skype For Business). We also set up a contact directory on the Community site, organised by work location and job role. People were asked to update their profile with details such as experience, past projects, and interests. Profiles are included in SharePoint search results, so these details make it easier to find and connect with relevant people. As an entry level networking activity, updating a profile is an important step in community participation.
31% of respondents updated their SharePoint profile during the program. This increased members with complete profiles to 40%, against a target of 80%.
Interaction with People at other Locations
Unfortunately, we are unable to gather any network analysis data from SharePoint or Lync. We asked about the interaction between Community members in different locations using SharePoint and Lync. We compared the number of people respondents interacted with in the four weeks before each survey. WCL webinars were excluded from the data.
The graph below shows two key shifts:
- Approximately 20% increase from no interactions to 1-5 interactions
- Approximately 6% increase from 6-10 interactions to 11-20 interactions
We asked respondents to list up to five people they had interacted with at other sites in the previous two weeks. However, we lacked an effective tool or method to analyse this data.
Interaction across sites increased during the WCL program. Sustaining and building interaction would require effort.
The Maintenance and Engineering Community used an existing SharePoint site. General updates and transient chat could be posted on the newsfeed. However, the newsfeed was rarely used before WCL.
An early WCL activity was for everyone to follow the SharePoint site. Following a site ensures that site newsfeed posts appear in your personal newsfeed. SharePoint does not ‘push’ notifications of newsfeed activity outside of the newsfeed itself. This means that the only way a person will be aware of newsfeed posts is if they check their feed. The graph below shows how often respondents checked their feed. The number of respondents who never check their feed dropped from 62% to 27%. Those checking at least once a week rose from 18% to 48%. There was a slight increase in the people who check their feed daily from 9% to 13%.
Two discussion forums were added to the site: one for the WCL program, and a second for ongoing Community use. During WCL, we gradually moved activities from the program forum to the Community forum. We encouraged people to use the Community forum to share knowledge, solve problems and collaborate on improvements.
Forum posts do not appear in the SharePoint newsfeed. An alert can be set up on a forum to receive email updates of activity either immediately, daily or weekly. WCL participants were shown how to set up an alert and asked to set one up on the forum. At the end of the program only 30 people (approximately 14% of the group) had set up an alert. However, only 30% advised that they ‘never’ check the forum. This indicates that most are visiting the forum without being prompted by email alerts.
Activity on the Community forum was analysed. The count excluded activity on the WCL program forum and by program facilitators.We counted the number of questions, likes and replies, and the number of active individuals. There were 115 interactions from 23 individuals, representing 11% of the Community population.
Participation rates are consistent with the 1-9-90 rule which is a positive start. A small number of community champions are emerging.
Barriers to Community Engagement
The survey listed a set of activities and asked respondents who had not done at least two why they had not been more active. The table below shows frequency of different responses.
Respondents identified the key barriers to community engagement as:
- Time – finding the time to do activities
- Skills – not being sure how to use SharePoint and/or Lync
- Need – not having identified a need to engage
- Technology – Inadequate access to computer or mobile device
- Who would be interested? – Uncertainty about what they can contribute and who would be interested in their contribution
Opportunities for Community Value Creation
Two open-ended questions gathered views on how participation in the Community could add value. The questions focused on improving business results. The were also phrased so that the answers reflected personal pain points and opportunities.
Q1: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to improve work practices and maintenance results at your site?
Key themes in responses were:
- Access to information
- Communication and collaboration between production plants
- Relationship and collaboration across departments at a local level
- Improving troubleshooting and speed to resolve equipment faults
- Time / workload, improving workflow
- Standard processes, setting standards, accountability
- Maintenance planning
- Improving technical knowledge
Q2: How do you think the Community of Practice could help you with this opportunity?
Key themes in responses were:
- Drawing on everyone’s experience
- Allowing information to be shared
- Ease of communication with others
- Having a greater number of people to ‘bounce’ ideas, solutions and improvements
- Use forums to ask questions and access feedback/experiences from other sites
- Learning from mistakes and successes of others
- Not reinventing the wheel
- Alignment to common goals through interaction in new ways
- Training on technical skills
I am actually writing this post seven months after the WCL program. This gives me the benefit of knowing what has happened in the intervening period. I recall being positive immediately following the WCL program. The WCL program had helped us to launch the Maintenance and Engineering Community of Practice. Participants understood how a Community of Practice could create value. The interaction between people in different locations had increased, and community engagement was growing. We could build on this with strong community facilitation. We had some barriers to address, particularly if we wanted to enable the trades-people to take part. There were also opportunities. Community Champions were emerging. The Community had identified improvement opportunities that we could build activity around.
The National Engineering and Maintenance Managers had a deeper understanding of tacit knowledge. They had a stronger appreciation of the value of networks and potential contribution of a Community of Practice. Our next step was to support them to develop a strong plan to build and sustain the community. We engaged Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions to provide coaching on Community facilitation.
This post is a continuation of my list of Key Takeaways / Actions form Learning at Work Day 1.
Idea #6 – Seed/introduce Working Out Loud Circles as a self-organising development program within my organisation. From Mara Tolja, Community Manager and Collaboration Specialist, Deutsche Bank, “Working Out Loud: a grassroots movement to make work better and more effective”. I’m now in my second Working Out Loud circle, and find it a great way to work purposefully towards a goal while developing relationships with a spirit of generosity and contribution. In August I spoke about Working Out Loud at a National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) event my organisation hosted, out of which five circles started. About 1/3 of the participants are from my organisation, so I guess I’ve started seeding it. I’m concerned that if I try introducing it as a ‘formal’ program it will get bogged down, or ‘ambushed’ and the self-organising, self-direction element may be lost. I also don’t want people to be confused about where it fits with the remainder of my role as manager of Coca-Cola Amatil’s Supply Chain Technical Academy. Perhaps the simplest approach is to keep it grass roots and support others to spread the word. I’m open to suggestions and different points of view on this so please feel free to comment on this post.
Idea #7 – Take another look at MOOCs. 18-24 months ago MOOCs were on the agenda of most L&D conferences as a standalone topic. Now they are mentioned as part of the corporate learning tookit in presentations on broader topics and discussed amongst delegates. It’s been over 12 months since I last searched for MOOCs on topics relevant to Supply Chain, at which point I didn’t find much. It’s time to take another look, and also to consider how we could promote MOOCs as a broader option in the context of self-directed learning (Day 1 Idea #2).
Idea #8 – Get more targeted with development of L&D capabilities. From Vivien Dale, Manager, Organisational Development, North Coast TAFE, “Opportunity knocks: improving performance through 70:20:10.” Vivien spoke about the skillset that needed to be built in her L&D team in order to implement 70:20:10. I’ve recently asked all members of the Coca-Cola Amatil Supply Chain Capability Community to complete the LPI Capability Assessment. Over the next two days we have a Community workshop where we will review our strategy, 2015 ‘wins’ and 2016 ‘opportunities’ and capabiliity plan. We will analyse the LPI capability profile across the group, look at how well aligned our skillset is with what we need to contribute to the performance of our organisation, and create a development plan. Although we have been developing a modern workplace learning mindset and skillset in recent years this will be a more focussed approach than we have previously taken.
Idea #9 – Adopt an “appreciative inquiry” approach to turn problem statements into positive lines of inquiry. From Jeremy Scrivens, Work Futurist & Social Business Catalyst, Roundtable “Digital @ Work and social buisness strategy: think outside the box.” Take a problem statement and convert it into a positive inquiry in order to figure out and amplify what is working, and to find innovative ways to create a positive future. For example, instead of asking “Why are people not active on our knowledge sharing discussion forums?” ask “Where and how are people actively sharing knowledge?”
Idea #10 – Understand where my organisation is going with HR Analytics. From Tym Lawrence, SumTotal Roundtable “Leveraging Technology and big data to provide individualised learning journeys”. There’s been a lot of investment in HR Technology in my organisation this year, and I am aware that HR and our business intelligence team are defining our HR data strategy and introducing new reports through our business intelligence platform. What insights might be possible using a combination of our HR and business data that will help to not only focus our Capability development efforts on areas where we can make the biggest contribution to organisational performance, and also where we can better identify and meet the performance development needs of individuals?
This links back my Day 1 Idea #1 about using data more in decision-making, so a ‘data’ theme has emerged. It also got me thinking again about the power of self-directed learning and communities of purpose to enable individuals to create their own learning journeys. Two different, complementary ways of achieving the same goal.
Idea #11 – Get access to relevant results from our employee engagement survey and see if/how we can use it to inform our learning strategy and capability plan. From Tina Griffin, Kineo, Roundtable “How do you get buy-in for your learning initiatives?” Another potentially valuable data set that I’ve never tried to access. On Day 1 we heard from David Mallon that the Bersin by Deloitte 2015 Global Human Capital Trends identified the #1 global talent issue is engagement, and that organisations need to constantly re-engage their workforce. I’m curious about what insights might be available about how learning and development approaches and opportunities are viewed by our employees, how this impacts engagement, and what we could to amplify areas of positive engagement.
Idea #12 – Add simple, powerful questions to learning evaluation. (1) “What else do you think you need to learn or would like to learn?” Asking this question at the end of, or at key points during, a learning program is a simple, timely way of getting learner input to needs analysis. It’s a start point to a conversation we can have with people rather than a commitment by the organisation to ‘provide’ the learning, and could be a good opportunity to enable self-directed or manager-led development. Thank you to fellow delegate Victoria Oettel, Uniting, for this idea. (2) Ask participants to rate their performance of a target skill on a simple scale at three points in time: start of program, end of program, 3 months after program completion. Ask managers to provide the same ranking. We have been using a similar approach, but sometimes it feels like people are getting weary of responding to surveys. The potential improvement is to make our surveys shorter. Thanks to Tina Griffin of Kineo for sharing this idea on her Roundtable.
Idea #13 – Make our eLearning even better. From Clark Quinn, Executive Director, Quinnovation “Building an Agile organisation: optimal execution and continual innovation.” Clark asserted that eLearning done well remains important to optimal execution in organisations. I’ll follow his recommendation to examine the Serious eLearning Manifesto and discuss it with my team to identify what we can do better.
Idea #14 – Build specific collaboration skills in my organisation. I couldn’t resist adding a second idea from Clark Quinn. He identified collaboration and communities of practice as two key strategies for continual innovation and advocated that L&D has an important role to play in developing both within organisations. I intend to research collaboration skills, starting with those listed by Clark in red in the image below and work with my team to figure out how well we are currently supporting development of them, and how we can do this more effectively.
So, 14 ideas to take back to work and discuss with my colleagues. Given that six colleagues also attended the conference it will be interesting to hear what resonated with them, throw their ideas into the mix, and sort through them together to figure out which we will apply and how.
For other Learning at Work attendees – what ideas have you gathered to take back to your organisation and try?
I’m at the Learning At Work Conference in Sydney for two days. I’m looking for ideas that I can put into to action to improve performance in my organisation. I aim to find at least one idea out of each of the sessions I attend,at Learning At Work – one thing I can apply to improve learning in my organisation. That I haven’t included an idea from a specific presenter does not mean they did not have interesting content with good ideas – just nothing that immediately struck me to take back to my organisation and apply (so don’t be upset if you are a presenter and I haven’t mentioned you here…..).
Theme – From these first two presentations the theme of being BOLD emerged, which David Mallon characterised as being creative and not being held to past practice. The things that captured my attention in subsequent presentations were those where people had taken bold action, anchored in data, sound analysis and design.
Idea #1 – Improve how I use data to drive decision making e.g. where to focus L&D team resources to have biggest performance impact. From David Mallon, Head of Research, Bersin by Deloitte “Leading in the New World of Work”. David’s presentation drew on Bersins 2015 Global Human Capital trends research. When people in my business request a learning program or initiative I ask them “How will you know in 12 months time if this initiative has been successful? Are there any KPIs we can track?” In many cases it’s difficult to get straightforward answers to this question. Recently I spoke with our business unit Commercial Manager about tapping into his team’s ongoing analysis of business performance to help identify specific performance gaps / opportunities that our L&D team can partner with stakeholders to address. We agreed in principle – my action is to find out what relevant insights they already have and understand how these are currently shared and actioned within the business unit. From there I will determine how I can use them to target our capability development work.
Idea #2 – Enable self-directed learning in my organisation – help people learn how to learn. From Laura Overton, Managing Director, Towards Maturity “Driving performance in the knowledge economy – the secret sauce for today’s people professionals” and also the afternoon’s Social Learning panel. The 2015-16 Towards Maturity benchmark shows that 83% of L&D leaders want to increase self-directed learning but only 22% are achieving it. “Top Deck” learning organisations are almost twice as likely to agree that self-directed learning is common practice in their organisations. I’m going to look closely at the insights on self-directed learning in the 2015-16 Industry Benchmark Report that will be publicly released on 5 November to identify next steps to ensure my organisation is in this 22%.
Idea #3 – Introduce the Seek>Sense>Share Personal Knowledge Mastery Framework from Harold Jarche. From Clark Quinn, Executive Director, Quinnovation, in the Social Learning panel. Clark introduced this as one approach to self-directed learning that some people may choose to adopt if it were introduced to them. Having found tremendous value in this framework for my own learning I’d like to figure out how to introduce it to others in my organisation.
Idea #4 – Use customer experience techniques to explore voice of the learner. Daisy Hoffman, NBN, “Case Study. The intersection of digital workplace technology, culture and the physical environment.” In the face of disappointing makeup of workplace technologies NBN used customer experience techniques such as data analytics, focus groups, visioning workshops, personas, ride-alongs and use of technology to connect with people in remote areas in order to understand why this was the case. Laura Overton had discussed the importance of voice of the learner, and I know that we could do a better job at turning up the volume and listening to this voice in my organisation. Daisy provided some ideas as to how we can do this.
Idea #5 – Assess proficiency on an ongoing basis. From Sunder Ramachandran, Head of Sales Training, Prizer, “Leveraging mobile learning and gasification to boost performance.” Proficiency is fluid; it changes on an ongoing basis and is better measured on an ongoing basis rather than at a single point in time. The mobile learning app that Pfizer have developed for use by the Sales team includes a monthly proficiency assessment consisting of a combination of 40% quiz completion (2 quizzes, best score of 3 attempts for each) and 60% coaching observation of workplace performance. In my organisation we currently assess proficiency on the job at a single point in time. I’d like to explore how we could introduce recurring / continuous proficiency assessment.
Note – the Pfizer case study was very rich. It showcased an ingenious mobile app based on consumer models, which provide learning for the sales workforce in their workplace context. I’ve picked one idea that I can implement independent of a mobile solution.
I’ve added to this list with my Day 2 Takeaways / Ideas.
For other Learning at Work attendees – what ideas have you gathered to take back to your organisation and try?