In my recent webinar I shared a slide that showed the 5 stages of workplace learning. This has attracted a lot of interest, and I’ve been asked to talk more about the differences between “learning” in Stages 1-4 and Stage 5.
Working and learning in Stages 1-4 is based upon a Taylorist, industrial age mindset. Although the advent of e-technology in the late 1990s changed businesses into e-businesses, this was essentially about automating existing business thinking and practices. Similarly e-learning was also about automating traditional training practices. Although in the last decade we have seen the emergence of new technologies and trends, these have been merely “retrofitted” (and often “force-fitted”) into this old model of training, and essentially we have seen little more than “tinkering” with this flawed model.
Stage 5, however, is quite different. Although a “social business” is powered by new social technologies, it is not the technology itself that makes the difference, it’s not about layering social approaches on the old industrial age thinking, but a fresh, new mindset and approach to working and learning. So whilst e-business is about automation, social business is about innovation – doing things differently.
Now, let’s be clear about what a social business is. IBM describes it succinctly
“A Social Business isn’t just a company that has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. A Social Business is one that embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community throughout its organization—both internally and externally.”
In the chart on my post I’ve briefly summarised some of the fundamental differences in thinking and practice between “learning in an e-business” and “learning in a social business” – and how it can be supported.
As more and more organisations transform into social businesses (aka collaborative organisations), workplace learning professionals are going to have a hugely important role to play in that transition process, although it is clear their role will not be the same as it has been hitherto.
And despite the fact that many other organisations appear to be well and truly entrenched in the old e-business/e-learning model, it is also clear from many of the interactions I have with learning professionals worldwide, that their own personal mindsets and networked learning activities are much more akin to those of a “social business”. So I am often asked how they can move their own organisation’s thinking and practice forward. I’ll be addressing that point in further postings in the coming weeks as I take a closer look at Learning in a Social Business, and the role of the Workplace Learning Professional in a Social Business.