For a number of months I have been using a strategy of role modelling, encouragement and positive reinforcement to support others in my work team to narrate their work. I have written previously about the Working Out Loud 3 Habits experiment that I tried. This strategy has had mixed results. Three of the ten group members are posting on our ESN at least once a week. On one hand, a 30% online community participation rate is relatively good. However, we are aiming to build online communities and encourage people across the business unit to share their expertise via narrating their work. As the Capability Community are key learning change agents, it’s important to increase their online narration as part of shifting their mindset and skills to enable them to lead and support others.
Recently I’ve been working with support of an external consultant, Helen Blunden of Activate Learning, on analysis and planning of a Community of Practice (COP) for our maintenance and engineering teams. During discussions with team members we have asked them about their view of narrating their work. Their responses have been similar to feedback from the Capability Community.
People don’t necessarily see the point of narrating their work. They’re unsure of the benefit to themselves or others. They can’t see how to fit it into their work flow when they are busy and it just feels like another task to do. They don’t know how to do it – either how to use the online tools or how to talk about their work. There are also psychological barriers – concerns about what others will think of them and read into their motives.
After discovering John Stepper’s Working Out Loud blog I have been thinking that a guided mastery approach could help to address these common barriers. Last week in her Learning@Work keynote address on learning in a social workplace, Jane Hart provided the term I have been looking for to describe the approach that we shall adopt – Guided Social learning. This semi-structured approach ‘scaffolds’ an online social learning process for participants providing them with some content/guidance and activities to get them started connecting with others and narrating their work. The intent is to enable them to transition to continuous, autonomous online social learning either as a team or individuals.
We shall be designing and developing our Guided Social Learning program which we will launch internally in early 2015. Although the program will include curated resources from the internet, it will be customised to our organisation – our tools, people and context. I’m looking forward to working on this as I complete the Guided Social Learning Experience Design Program offered by the Modern Workplace Learning Centre this month.