#cipdLDshow – Supporting social and collaborative learning in the workplace

Jane Hart (C4LPT), chaired by Gill White (CIPD)



Jane talked about how we need a different organisational culture to view learning not as just training courses, but to think much more widely. Successful social learning takes place where there is motivation (people want to learn with and from each other), a social learning culture (where social learning is encourages, supported, and rewarded), and there is appropriate underpinning technology. It isn’t about technology. or learning. It is about people, working, and collaboration. This has a bit impact for L&D away from being a training provider, to enabling and supporting.



1 – Work with managers to help them become more effective social leaders

Social collaboration helps to foster continuous learning and performance improvement, capture and retains organisational knowledge, and helps to improve communication.  One of the key things managers can do is to set goals that encourage this social leadership and collaboration. There are plenty of technologies that can help. Effective social groups often go through 4 stages of development, from connecting to sharing to collaborating to innovating. You can’t go straight to innovating. We also shouldn’t worry too much about adoption of the tools; we don’t need 100% participation, we just need meaningful outcomes. Often 90% of users will lurk, 9% will participate occasionally, and 1% will participate a lot. Some managers won’t share because they don’t believe that what they have to say is of value, or they don’t view sharing as part of their work, or believe that they need to retain knowledge in order to have power (with Jane arguing that the opposite is true, and sharing leads to power).  There can also be organisational barriers to participation, and being forced to participate can disengage people, as can a lack of trust.

There are loads of ways that we can help managers to become social leaders. Some want a bit of advice, some might want coaching, some might want peer support, and some might want a social leadership programme.



2 –  Help groups to become effective social teams

Jane talked about how to help a team become more social, suggesting that we need to role-model what we want to see, and start sharing things which include some personal stuff as well as things that are work-related. This can raise a question about what is appropriate to share, but Jane advised that we keep policies to a minimum.

‘Working out loud’ can be powerful, where we share more about what we’re doing. This might involve sharing thinking about a new project, sharing difficult experiences, or sharing stories that reinforce difficult decisions. The best support for a team depends on what they want; they might want anything from a group conversation through to working alongside the team (to really understand how to help them), or all the way through to a guided social learning experience (GSLE). When Jane runs a GSLE with a team, she follows these five principles: focus on performance outcomes, design social outcomes, promote self-governance, guide the learning journey, set and manage expectations.

Facilitated discussions (e.g. world cafe) can be powerful to get teams moving, as can ideation challenges and hackathons.



3 – Foster relationships across the organisation

Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes loads of things to get and keep the ball rolling. Regular informal learning events (e.g. lunch & learn, book clubs) can help, as can company-wide networking events alongside unconferences and open space events.


Where do we need to start? It needs to start with us.



(This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD L&D show 2016 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)