Four Heads are Better than One: A Chat about Collaborative & Social Learning

November 9, 2009 Dawn Poulos

I’m going to gloat a little bit. Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with training industry luminaries Jay CrossCharles JenningsHarold Jarche, and Clark Quinn of the Internet Time Alliance or ITA (formerly known as TogetherLearn) to record a podcast on collaborative and social learning in the workplace (if you would like to listen to the podcast, here it is in its 5 parts: part I – managing collaboration, part II – CLO’s and the needs of business, part III – collaborative learning in a corporate setting, part IV – social media in corporations, and part V – integrating learning in the enterprise).

Harold Jarche Jay Cross Clark Quinn Charles Jennings

A little background: We’ve been working on the Xyleme Voices podcast library for over a year and a half now. We consider it a contribution to the learning community so it’s something we take very seriously and dedicate a lot of resources to. To get not one, but four of the industry’s most notable experts together for a discussion as important as the future of CLO’s and their training organizations told me we were doing something right and I eagerly (and anxiously) awaited our discussion.

I’ll be understated here : these guys are good! During our discussion, Clark Quinn called the Internet Time Alliance a dream team and it quickly became obvious why this is indeed the case. While geographically dispersed across three countries and multiple time zones, they are nonetheless a cohesive unit and they truly build upon and leverage each other’s experience and perspectives. It’s obvious they practice what they preach regarding collaborative learning and social networks.

In addition to the obvious hands-on expertise these seasoned professionals provided throughout the 5 parts of their podcast, training executives can also glean some relevant insights on how to work with and get the best out of a top-notch team. Simply listen closely to how Harold, Clark, Charles and Jay worked so respectfully with each other in order to provide a discussion on social learning whose value is much greater than the sum of the points made by the individual participants.

OK, enough about how great they are, let’s get to the discussion. There were three common themes that ran through the entire panel discussion:

  1. The ITA feels it critical to challenge conventional thinking.
  2. The ITA is not afraid to call out the short comings of CLO’s and their learning organizations.
  3. The ITA is bold enough to believe that CLO’s can become major C-suite players.

These gentlemen had some pretty provocative statements to make. So much so, that I’ll be blogging about the topics discussed for the next several posts, but let me round up some of my favorite points made from each participant for you:

We’re not seeing the end of the training department, but the end of the training dept as we know it in the 20th century. As work becomes more complex, it becomes less about developing content and more about developing networks. Connect and communicating – adapting to the networked business model is what the training department will be all about. -Harold Jarche

I disagree that CLO will have equal footing. I think that the CLO should be more important than the others because human capital is the core competence of corporations, so I see the CLO going up and beyond where other C-levels have presided. Their role will be that of the super CLO. –Jay Cross

We cannot isolate learning in one business unit because that is not how you leverage knowledge for competitive advantage. Collaborative networked learning has to go across the entire organization organically as core infrastructure. Jay calls this learnscape, I call it the performance ecosystem. Regardless of what you call it, it has to be like air and water – it has to be everywhere. -Clark Quinn

There is a real discomfort of doing things differently when adopting social media. It’s a real barrier and an interesting one because at this moment in time there is a real pressure to innovate. You can’t innovate without doing things differently, so there is a real paradox here. When we step out of our comfort zones, we throw up barriers: i.e. we can’t measure it so we can’t act on it. But you can measure it, you just need different approaches. –Charles Jennings

And my personal favorite:

Compliance is the enemy of the networked business model. -???

Check out my next blog post to find out who made this bold declaration.

About the Author

Dawn Poulos

Dawn is the main contributor to the Dawn of Learning blog and her writing is behind its success, driving readers back time and again. She is a proud vegan and health enthusiast and lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. She is an accomplished speaker and writer, having written numerous white papers and trade articles and speaking yearly at numerous tradeshows on the popular subjects of personalized learning experiences, cloud learning, content strategy, single source and XML.

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