Too social?

The main part of the mechanismBrandon Hall Group Analyst David Wentworth just posted an interesting piece on the growing problems with enterprise social network initiatives.

You can read what David is thinking here.

We have always believed in social learning rather than in the idea that HR or learning and development departments would end up “owning” enterprise social networks.

To that end we make a point of including core talent-related social affordances in our out-of-the-box offerings (learning and performance interest groups, forums, news, email, chat, file sharing, etc.) and supplying robust API libraries, including widgets, Google gadgets, macros and plugins for working nicely with clients’ enterprise social network choices, whatever they turn out to be.

We think of it as the good neighbor policy.

Learning and Talent in Europe

David-Wilson-photoGuest post by David Wilson, founder and Managing Director of Elearnity, Europe’s leading independent learning and talent analyst.

A major commentator on the learning & talent technology industry since its inception, David is the author of over 140 papers/articles on learning & talent technology innovation and a strategic advisor to many major organisations in the UK and Europe.

Whether it’s a talent strategy, management process or a solution, what does cross-European or global deployment really mean?

Does it mean responding to the diversity of peoples and cultures in different countries and businesses or the imposition of a single overarching and mandated approach for all? Does it mean single, homogenous processes or the provision of frameworks that allow local organisations to flourish? And what is the fine line that separates them? And makes them efficient and effective?

The sad fact for many strategic Learning and Talent initiatives is that they are focused on homogenised, mono cultures and standardised approaches rather than the realities and needs or different geographies and market maturities. The common response to diversity is not differentiation – but to drive conformity. The problem is that this conformity may not just be inappropriate, it may be illegal – for example if it breaks German Workers Council rules or French regulatory reporting requirements.

Also, do you really need mature bureaucratic processes, when part of the company you are servicing is effectively a “start-up”? Whilst they might be right for a mature business, they could just be the thing that stifles growth for an embryonic new part of your business. This is one of the biggest challenges for the delivery of cross-organisational talent strategies.

How do you enable businesses in a way that is focussed on their operating realities, but get the efficiencies of a standardised approach? How do you impose symmetry and consistency onto an inconsistent and asymmetrical world? Even though HR often tries, is it even possible?

A good example, of this is the instigation of a global, HR shared services operations as part of the Ulrich Model. Many global HR operations use this model as their foundation and the creation of central, single processing model for HR transactions – serviced within a global HR shared services group.

Whilst this may be all well and good for controlling the costs associated with managing HR, and be the dominant received wisdom for how HR operates; blindly following this approach, especially on a cross-European or global basis can drive some very dubious decisions. Top of the tree for this is Performance Management. HR frequently instigates annual appraisal processes that feed bonus payments and compensation and rewards. A standardised approach, with one size fits all. But the nature of those processes is often frequently at odds with the speed of business – you only have to look at sales targets and structures needed to support dynamic and fast moving sales cycles.

So why wouldn’t you look to create differentiated approaches for other groups too? The answer has been partly because the service model and supporting systems are unable to support the necessary diversity of process and approach.

In recent years things have changed significantly. Solutions have become much more configurable and more flexible – without needing high costs of external consultants to set things up for you. But the legacy view of ERP-style HR systems runs deep reinforcing the desire from some (often IT) for mono-answers to Talent and Learning questions, deployed globally. Whilst these stagnant approaches are deeply entrenched in the corporate psyche, we will continue to need to ask:

  • Why do pan-European projects fail to engage local audiences effectively?
  • Why do so few global companies really build effective cross-geography learning and talent deployment strategies that can deal with multiple languages, legal and cultural differences?
  • How can local business driven and the centralised learning and talent needs really be accommodated by philosophies and systems that champion cost efficiency at the cost of effectiveness?
  • Where the answers to these questions remain unsatisfactorily, the proliferation of local or departmental solutions rather than true cross-organisational solutions will continue to be a huge issue?
NetDimensions-logoElearnity-logo
Webinar invitation

David Wilson, Elearnity’s founder and Managing Director, will be discussing Elearnity’s research on the realities and strategies for cross-European Talent and Learning at a webinar with NetDimensions on June 26th at 2pm BST / 9am EDT.

Click here for registration.

Save the date

We have announced three Next Steps conference locations for 2011 — all in September. The first in Chicago; the second in London and the third in Bangkok. Please come.

At Next Steps you can network with your peers from different industries, share your best practices, provide your input into our new products, or just listen to how the latest developments in our enterprise knowledge, learning, assessment, compliance, and talent solutions can free up your people to do what they do best.

This year we will be offering a completely new NetDimensions Product Workshop on the second day led by our technical consultants and featuring two tracks with a total of eight different hands-on sessions. We invite you to enroll in this unique knowledge-packed training program to gain practical NetDimensions product insights that you can immediately apply in your own environments.

Come to the NetDimensions user conferences and let’s take the next steps together.

The sum of the parts

In Born To Win, his book about the 1983 America’s Cup race, John Bertrand relates the story of Dennis Conner bragging that Bertrand and his fellow Australians would never beat Conner because Conner had a better boat and a better crew to sail it, a crew 100 percent made up of world-class, individual champions.

Bertrand said he didn’t need a team of individual winners because he had something better — a winning team.

The Australians made a lot of mistakes and suffered some spectacular hardware failures but, in the end, did beat Conner, a four-time America’s Cup winner.

In fact, Bertrand’s win took the cup away from the Americans for the first time in 132 years.

Organise your content; there may be a need for librarians

If Only . . . Cover

The extended quote below is from a great book, O’Dell and Grayson’s If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice:

“For example, a manager who has just tried out a new sales technique has “tacit” knowledge of it. If he writes it down and posts it on his company’s intranet site, some of that knowledge has become captured and “explicit.” Next, another sales manager reads the description and uses the technique on her next sales trip (hence turns it into “tacit” once more). Knowledge has been captured, exchanged, and created (see Steps in the Knowledge Transfer Process, below). The learning process hence involves the continuous “intersection” of these two knowledge types and a never-ending, closed-loop transformation process.

“Other organizational experts, such as Leif Edvinsson of Skandia, further divide commercial knowledge into individual, organizational, and structural knowledge. Individual knowledge is solely in the minds of employees. Organizational knowledge is the learning that occurs on a group or division level. Structural knowledge is embedded in the “bricks” of the corporation though processes, manuals, and codes of ethics. At any one of these three “states, the knowledge can be either tacit or explicit.

“Knowledge is broader than intellectual capital (IC). Whereas some writers have chosen to expand IC to include practices and processes, in its purest form, IC refers to the commercial value of trademarks, licenses, brand names, formulations, and patents. In this view, knowledge-as-intellectual-capital is an asset, almost tangible. Our use of knowledge is broader: we view knowledge as dynamic — a consequence of action and interaction of people in an organization with information and with each other.

“Knowledge is bigger than information. Our organizations are awash in information, but until people use it, it isn’t knowledge. While you can’t have too much knowledge, you can certainly have too much information. Indeed, many organizations have already discovered that information, carried faster and in greater volumes by electronic media, leaves employees overwhelmed, not overconfident. Fumbling rather than focused. Paralyzed rather than proactive.

“Hence, our simple working definition: Knowledge is information in action. In the organizational and commercial context of this book, knowledge is what people in an organization know about their customers, products, processes, mistakes, and successes, whether that knowledge is tacit or explicit.”