Journeying on the Enterprise 2.0 Networked Learning

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Remember the Star Trek Enterprise, traveling into space where no one had gone before? For businesses, organizations, and those in the workforce, the new way to travel to impact innovation and ROI is on the Enterprise 2.0 of networked learning.

Enterprise 2.0, coined by Andrew McAfee in 2006, is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies or organizations, or between them, and their partners or customers. Social software enables people to connect and collaborate online, and platforms are the digital environments in which these interactions are visible and persistent over time.

Harold Jarche, in his Organizational Learning in the Network Era blog post outlines the systemic factors and the necessity of sharing power to enable organizational learning in Enterprise 2.0. His main points are:

  • Knowledge gives us the ability to take effective action.
  • Learning is not something to get or is done to someone, but is created by groups and spreads through social networks.
  • Learning must be an essential part of doing business in the networked era, so structures that support personal knowledge mastery, working out loud to document processes and decisions that record learning are essential.
  • To enter the age of Enterprise 2.0, individual workers take control of their learning in this connected world. This changes the role of HR and training departments within organizations from providing a series of trainings to supporting and fostering learning as an essential part of doing business. The role of the CEO, Executive Director, CLO, etc. is to create the organizational environment that supports removing barriers to this type of learning.

A survey still in progress by Jane Hart [1] affirms that learning in the workplace is much more than formal instruction. In fact, her survey of 800 professionals  around the world (to date) in various industries on the top ways to learn at work show that company training/elearning is the lowest rated way to learn while self-organized and self-managed ways of learning are most valuable. More than 85% of the survey respondents rated knowledge sharing with teams as the most valuable way to learn. The second highest learning strategy chosen by 81% of the respondents was knowing how to do web searches (i.e., using search engines such as Google).

Hart concludes based on the survey that L & D departments should “focus less on the areas that are seen as low value, such as top-down design, delivery and management of content in training and elearning environments and focus more on areas that are seen as high value and support social and collaborative learning as it takes place in teams, projects, and across the organization as well as the independent personal and professional learning of individuals.”

Dion Hinchcliffe[2] uses this diagram to highlight the potential benefits of Enterprise 2.0 to transform the way an organization turns learning into a profitable ROI (return on investment):

Potential Benefits of Enterprise 2.0

Dion Hinchcliffe reminds us: “Innovation often comes from where you least expect it and harnessing collective intelligence, the core principle of Web 2.0 as well as Enterprise 2.0, is the very art of eliciting value from emergent systems such as the Web and our intranets. That this value is forming the bulk of the networked economy (open source software, social networks, social media sharing, etc.) is one of the signature lessons of the era of 2.0.”

As a CEO, HR Director, Team Leader/Manager, how do you begin to enter the Enterprise 2.0 world? That is the question!

Harold Jarche says, “If you are in a position of authority and you are not removing barriers to learning, then you are not serving your organization in the network era.”  Some ideas to begin:

  • Create time for work teams, colleagues, or divisions to meet regularly (face-to-face or virtually) to discuss key issues, goals, ideas, new directions or to solve problems.
  • Share pertinent papers, links, web sites, and other resources via a cloud application such as Diigo, Dropbox. Use tags to organize and categorize them so retrieval is easy and a common language is established.
  • Commission internal white papers authored by cross-discipline teams that focus on big ideas and organizational goals and objectives.
  • Create a regular showcase for all in the organization to highlight new thinking, learning, and exploration to spark innovation.
  • Create online communities of practice that explore organizational issues and/or goals in depth, and report progress and learning on a regular basis to everyone in the organization.
  • Make sure all of these ideas are documented and develop a culture of working out loud, either through internal blogs, updates, newsletter or websites.
  • Be an example. Blog about your work, learning, and organizational processes. Join a group of your peers to explore organizational issues. Tweet out your learning and accomplishments!

After all:

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way we can grow, is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself”

C. JoyBell C.

How does your organization support learning? What systems have you implemented to harness the power of working out loud at all or some levels of your organization? What questions do you have about Enterprise 2.0? Tell us below.

Want to begin your Enterprise journey? The Women’ s Learning Studio business-to-business services can get you started. Contact us today.



[1] Jane Hart is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT)

[2] Dion Hinchcliffe is the Chief Strategy Officer at digital business transformation firm Adjuvi and the author of Social Business by Design.

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