This episode is called ‘Work, Connect and Learn.’  It’s about a collaborative work and learning initiative that was created and delivered over five years ago and was very progressive at the time.  It is an approach that is still highly relevant in 2020 as learning professionals seek to support people to connect, work and learn in a digital environment.  It also serves as an example of how knowledge sharing can be used to reduce the risk of dependency on a small number of experts or ‘go to’ people in an organisation.

My guest is Helen Blunden, who was the lead designer and facilitator of Work, Connect and Learn.  Our conversation is a reunion of sorts in that I actually engaged Helen to work on this project with me when I led a technical academy at Coca-Cola Amatil.  Together we tell the story of how we used a guided social learning program to onboard engineers and maintenance teams to a Community of Practice. A key reason that this project was successful was the time taken during the analysis phase to understand the work environment and daily experience of the participants, and to align the outcomes to business goals and use cases.  The program was also facilitated using technology and tools that the participants could use as they worked rather than on a learning platform.

You can explore this story further in a collection of blog posts shared in the show notes.  Helen and I wrote these posts as we worked out loud on this project.  We trust that how we worked and learned together helps you to see the value in walking the talk as a learning professional when it comes to social learning.

Episode Highlights

– The request from the National Engineering Manager concerned about the looming retirement of a long-tenured senior engineer to “extract all the stuff he knows and put it into courses and resources.”  Followed by a six-week long series of conversations to get his agreement to explore a knowledge sharing approach.

– How Helen sharing her work through her blog (‘working out loud’) led to Michelle engaging her to support this initiative.

– The value of an analysis phase which involved several site visits to shadow and speak with engineers and maintenance team members about their work, connections, interactions and the technology they used.  What the network analysis revealed.

– How knowledge sharing can unblock ‘choke points’ and decrease reliance on individuals with high levels of expertise and tacit knowledge.

– Linking the benefits of knowledge sharing to business strategy, goals and use cases generated by the community.

– The challenges that people faced sharing what they were working on and learning, despite being motivated to do so and curious about what others were doing.

– How Work, Connect and Learn was designed as a guided social learning program to onboard people to a community of practice.  The structure, workplace activities and ‘working’ tools used for the program.

– The impact of enterprise social network design and information architecture on collaboration and knowledge sharing. Considerations for governance.

– Should you go ‘big bang’ with a community launch or start with a core group of managers / change agents?

– How Helen and Michelle learned and worked together throughout the project, role modelling the behaviours and practices embodied in Work, Connect and Learn.

Episode Preview


Full Episode

Listen to the full episode and access transcript and additional resources on the podcast website or your favourite podcast platform.

Did you catch the Emergent series wrap-up episode?

Regardless of how many episodes you’ve listened to from the special Learning Uncut Emergent series, as a learning professional you’ll find the series wrap-up episode valuable.  I discuss key themes and what we learned about how L&D can emerge from the pandemic stronger and more relevant than ever with series co-hosts Laura Overton and Shannon Tipton.  Published on 9 November, you can listen to the Emergent wrap-up at this link or on your favourite podcast platform.

Also be sure to check out the Emerging Stronger Masterclasses (which we were referring to as the Emergent Summit – the new name better reflects the event format) – register your interest if you would like to know more about this series of interactive masterclasses and online community of learning professionals to collectively develop practical solutions to pressing business challenges based on what we learned in the Emergent series.

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