3 Ideas for Knowledge Sharing at the Workplace

Workplace knowledge sharing ideas

3 Ideas for Knowledge Sharing at the Workplace

Most successful learning organisations are great at sharing knowledge, both formally and informally. As more and more organisations comprise of knowledge workers, we should no longer undermine information exchanges as a tool for keeping the expertise up-to-date. At the same time, even companies with more practical jobs face a challenge of getting employees up to speed through onboarding as well as staying on top of the constant change in the business. These are all areas where fluid workplace knowledge sharing can make a big impact. Naturally, social media and collaboration platforms are a relatively easy way to get things started. However, here are three ideas that go slightly beyond that.

Letting employees train employees

In the conventional corporate setting, L&D is usually quite a top-down effort. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. An interesting experiment could be to provide employees with tools to train their peers in the organisation. For instance, small group webinars could be a low entry point way of easily sharing knowledge. But you could also go a step further, and let employees start creating training content. This could take the form of micro-programs, short lessons and topical updates. Nearly all of us nowadays carry a smartphone – a powerful content production tool in its own right. Should you want to shoot practical how-to videos or capture work processes, you don’t have to look any further than that.

As many digital learning platforms nowadays come with rather easy-to-use content authoring tools, this kind of an approach doesn’t necessarily require much training. If you think about this as simple knowledge sharing rather than rigid learning design, the content should be valuable as long as the topics are relevant!

Sourcing tacit knowledge from employees

Now, if you’re still hesitant to give away the keys to the L&D kingdom, there’s another approach you may try too. No matter the job, people and teams always develop some specific, tacit knowledge about the tasks at hand. This may be e.g. improved workflows, better practices, systems knowledge or stakeholder insights. This is the kind of expert knowledge that you don’t learn “in the book”. However, it can be extremely valuable for the job in question.

Similar to employees training each other, we could surely extract this knowledge and formalise it into a learning experience. For instance, if you’re looking to train retail staff on store operations, you could ask the people at different locations to document and submit pieces of information to the L&D team. The L&D team could then use this “raw material” to build a more structured learning experience, or curate a pool of resources. In terms of knowledge sharing value and relevance, this is likely much higher than conventional content.

Employee or team challenges to unlock new ideas

While the previous parts have dealt with employees sharing existing knowledge, that’s not to say there’s no value in tapping into them for new ideas. On the contrary, the “front line” of any given job usually knows the workflows, routines, challenges and problems so well that they can be a major source of incremental process innovation. Most likely, there are a lot of ideas out there. It’s just that people don’t voice them for a variety of reasons. And often these are things that the company would be better off listening to as well!

So, instead of losing out on all those possibilities, how about trying to extract some of these new ideas? Now, this could take many forms. In the digital realm, the process could be similar to the few outlined above. Employees can submit their ideas, review others’ and suggest improvements. Alternatively, this could also take the form of a design sprint or a hackathon. With these facilitation mediums, it might also be convenient to prototype the ideas further. You could also turn this into a problem-based learning challenge. Regardless of which medium you choose, the relevant decision makers could then tap into this flow of ideas, and see which ones could be successfully implemented.

Final thoughts

Overall, effective knowledge sharing can be a huge tool of competitive advantage. It helps you to constantly improve, stay on top of change and even lead it. However, when implementing these kinds of initiatives, don’t forget to incentivise. If you wanna create a sharing culture, you need to establish a safe environment for it and then reward the behaviour accordingly. And if you think you may need help in figuring out how to implement these kind of things in your own organisation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’d be happy to embark on an exploration with you.

How to Enable Mimetic Learning in Organisations?

Mimetic learning in organisations

How to Enable Mimetic Learning in Organisations?

While we have a tendency to over-estimate the learning value of formal learning activities (e.g. teaching a class), we tend to underestimate some other activities. Throughout human history, people have learnt trades, professions and skills through a much less rigorous approach, learning by imitation. This type of learning by “copying” others also occurs on much wider scale. For instance, learning how to deal with different cultures or social settings may often happen through imitation. But could there be value in enabling mimetic learning in modern organisations? Let’s explore.

What’s mimetic learning?

For definitions’ sake, let’s quickly define the term “mimetic learning”. To avoid misconceptions, mimetic learning shouldn’t be seen as to only consist of copying and imitation. Rather, we should view it as the act of relating to other persons, situations or “worlds” in a way that in turn leads us to improve our own views, actions and behaviours. In simple terms that would mean not just mindless copying, but first imitating and then critically implementing relevant behaviours.

Potential Value-add Cases in Organisational L&D

To understand how to facilitate this type of learning, we first have to understand what it may be good for. Here are a few ideas:

  • Learning practical or trade skills. For instance, novice engineers developing their technical skills could vastly benefit from being able to imitate and follow more seasoned experts. The better the knowledge transfer, the better the results.
  • Developing soft skills. For instance, new frontline employees in customer service roles could benefit from being exposed through mimetic learning opportunities to how senior employees approach and resolve conflicts and communicate in difficult situations.
  • Understanding culture. Each culture, whether an organisational one or something else, has its own artefacts, social rules and common behaviours. What a better way to learn about these kind of unique traits than through observation and learning by imitation?

How to facilitate mimetic learning in organisations?

Facilitating learning through imitation should be about providing opportunities for it and connecting “novices” to “experts”. There’s obviously a whole lot that can be done via traditional means. However, we’d like to focus on a few ideas involving the use of digital:

  • Digital communities of practice. Let novices follow experts via digital channels, while the experts showcase their techniques, methods and secrets through videos, writings, etc. Focus on practical applications. These digital communities of practice can have similar technical functionalities to social media platforms.
  • Enable curated sharing on organisational level. What if an employee thinks that they have a better, novel way of doing a particular task? What if you let them share it across the organisation to make more people aware of it? Don’t want to spread false practices? You can always curate and moderate what employees share.
  • Provide opportunities to practice. Encourage employees to take up new things and practice on their jobs. Have the experts chime in and watch over the process if possible. Perhaps even some digitally enabled coaching could be possible.
  • Enable wide exposure. Share things with your employees. A lot of the mimetic learning is reported by employees to happen thanks to “just being there”. Hence, expose your employees to different lines of business, problems and challenges as much as possible.

Final thoughts

Often, organisations fail to pay attention to a lot of the “natural” processes of learning, while focusing on a very narrow subset of formal, instructor-led techniques. Mimetic learning represents one of these highly natural ways of learning. While it’s hardly the solution for every learning need, it could help to solve some of the common organisational problems related to knowledge transfer and upskilling people on their jobs. The great thing is, that just like community-based learning or user-generated content strategies, facilitating people learning by “just being there” can be quite a low investment-high impact initiative. If you’d like to do that, or enable other methods of informal learning, feel free to contact us. Let’s try and solve your problem together.

3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal Learning Digital Approach

3 Digital Approaches to Facilitate Informal Learning

Informal learning arguably makes up a large majority of all workplace learning. According to the 70:20:10 theory, informal learning accounts for up to 90% of all learning. Yet, the corporates often focus and drill down on the 10% – formal learning. As informal makes up such a large part of the learning mix, it’s important that we try to facilitate it in our organisations. It starts by doing more ‘pull’ instead of ‘push’ and creating channels for open communication, collaboration and internal influencing. Here are three easily implemented digital approaches to support informal learning in your organisation.

1. Creating communities for Social Learning Experiences

As with so many other things, communication is always the key. For informal learning to happen, you need to establish peer-to-peer communication channels within your company. These can be totally unstructured, like employees using their own social media tools to exchange information. However, it is generally advisable to adopt a semi-structured approach, whereas the company provides the platform for social collaboration and knowledge transfer. As such, the company also controls the knowledge being exchanged, and is able to intervene in problematic situations. With proper learning data tracking, you’ll also be able to pinpoint who are the internal influences and key opinion leaders within your own organisation.

In these communities, whether online or offline, employees can collaborate, exchange ideas and provide peer support. The approach is supported by the social learning theory, according to which students learn by mimicking and following others.

2. Curating accessible ‘Pull’ learning resources for on-demand needs

While corporates have generally adopted a ‘push’ model of learning, whereas content is authored by the company for to fulfil certain learning objectives, a ‘pull’ approach might is required as well. Instead of engaging in time consuming instructional design processes, companies should make the best use of free resources. The internet is full of free videos, documents and knowledge bites to use. Instead of designing content from scratch, corporate L&D professionals should focus some of their time on curating these types of content. A ‘course’ is less and less frequently the best solution to individuals’ learning needs.

Resources in various bite-sized formats, on the other hand, provide informal support at the time of need. Providing a library of curated supporting resources based on observed business needs provides a good basis for informal learning. Learners don’t have to waste time on searching the open internet for alternatives, as you’ve already curated the best resources for them. Furthermore, it’s much more easier and agile to produce curated resources than author formal courses! Hence the L&D team can save a lot of time as well.

3. Enable learning ownership and user-generated content

With a ‘pull’ approach to learning, you’re enabling individuals to take ownership of their own development. To take it further, you could also encourage them to take ownership of the organisation’s informal learning by allowing user-generated content. This type of sharing of best practices, tacit knowledge and tips and tricks is nothing new. Yet, in the age of social media, you can reap the benefits of it by providing a collaborative social learning platform. Therein, the employees can create their own content (e.g. videos) or share external resources (lectures, blogs, etc.). Even simple discussions and comment chains can provide valuable knowledge nuggets to others in the organisation.

Realistically speaking, the L&D team no longer has the best knowledge or the time to develop formal courses. Due to the speed of the economy, they might not even have time to curate all the necessary resources. By enabling users to be a part of the learning content development process, you’re able to scale up much faster. Meanwhile, you’re encouraging a more collaborative culture and letting employees to take ownership of the learning process, which should increase engagement by quite a bit. That’s the power of informal learning.

Do you need help facilitating the informal learning needs within your organisation? We’ll be happy to share you more in-depth insights, best practices and tools. Just contact us

Empowering Employees with Collaborative Learning

collaborative learning

Empowering Employees with Collaborative Learning

In the corporate training world, we face major constraints, mainly in terms of finances and time. Naturally, this limits our ability to curate formal and structured learning activities for our employees. Hence, there are much more training needs that we can address. Yet, it is often that we have subject matter experts for virtually all these topics in our own organisation. Whereas formal training can be problematic due to the lack of agility, social and collaborative learning can help to bridge the gap in upskilling the workforce. Thus, lets take a look at how we can seamlessly empower our employees through collaborative learning.

Defining the role of collaborative learning in the learning architecture

Firstly, it’s important to start by defining where this type of social learning activities work best. In terms of employee effort required vs. value-add, it is likely that peer-to-peer learning is more suited for acquiring advanced knowledge in given topics. Loss of employee productivity is kept to a minimum, as only motivated and interested learners seek out the guidance of others. Furthermore, when there is an existing base level of knowledge, the peer-to-peer activities can focus on more experiential learning. For instance, subject matter experts could collaborate with the learners to create solutions for real business problems. Hence, you might consider providing the base knowledge through formal e-learning and then let your own experts become mentors for the interested few.

Creating platforms for peer-to-peer engagement

Consequently, for collaborative learning to work, there should be a platform for subject-matter experts and interested parties to meet. Whereas some situations may warrant a digital platform, a face-to-face approach might work well for others. The important thing is that learners are able to find “mentors” within the organisation who can guide them on their learning journey. Furthermore, learners should be able to connect with their peers to solve problems, share ideas and learn through discussion and interaction. Whatever the medium, it should be one that can be seamlessly incorporated into the flow of work. Naturally, the advantage of digital platforms is the access to e.g. discussion analytics. Proper analytics help you to capture the learning needs as well as identify key experts in your organisation.

Encouraging and motivating knowledge sharing

Naturally, it is vital to get the employees to share their expertise with others. Helping others is an area of intrinsic motivation for many. However, due to hectic jobs and everything that comes with them, you might want to consider extrinsic motivation tools as well. Gamification, for example, is an easy way to reward, recognise and motivate subject matter experts to share more. Naturally, it works also for motivating the learners to achieve more. Also, it is important to trust your employees to freely formulate their own training activities. This type of user-generated learning content approach is quite agile, as many personalised learning needs can be fulfilled rapidly. By giving the employees the freedom to dictate the collaborative learning experience, you’ll likely see much more motivated individuals as well.

Has your organisation taken up on collaborative learning or social learning? Would you like to find out about different ways to better knowledge transfer within your organisation? Just contact us and we’ll be happy to share our experiences. 

Digital Knowledge Transfer – How to Get Started

Digital knowledge transfer

Facilitating the Digital Knowledge Transfer – Here’ how to get started

Knowledge transfer seems to have always been a major hurdle for organisations. Experienced employees leave the organization and new, fresh faces take their place. Departures happen for many reasons: retirement, switching jobs or extended leaves. Change can often be good too, to ensure the organization gets fresh new ideas and keeps innovating. Yet, the major problem of succession planning remains: new joiners take a long time to get to 100% performance. Luckily, digital knowledge transfer can solve many of the problems and help accelerate the performance development.

Thanks to new technologies, all organisations have the means to conduct efficient digital knowledge transfer, even for hidden knowledge. Imagine if you could equip your new joiners with the knowledge of the experienced industry veterans. Instead of throwing them to the deep end of the pool, you could enable them to start their duties and be instantly productive. Here are a few key steps you can take towards making that a reality.

Make your employees the core of the digital knowledge transfer process…

Naturally, the employees should be at the core of the knowledge transfer process. After all, it’s their experience, knowledge and expertise that carry the organisation and that needs to be transferred. Hence, you should make it your mission to extract the best possible information from your employees.

To get the best possible information, you should enable your employees to document their work processes. The most lacking aspect of induction for new joiners or promotes is that the programs often fail to address the actual work routines. Digital means enable us to capture the exact work processes in various formats, like in a digital apprenticeship. And the difference can be huge. Think of a new engineer studying manuals and guidebooks versus one having access to a library of recordings of seasoned engineers completing the same tasks. Luckily, the tools for enabling this sort of documentation are already there. Videos shot with mobile devices, screen recordings, augmented reality and online mentoring are just a few examples.

… Then pool the knowledge and extract the relevant best practices

Once you have your staff documenting their processes through e.g. video and screen recordings, you need to vet the content. A great way to do is to have employees upload their recordings to an internal portal or internal social media. Once uploaded, you can subject the content to a peer-to-peer vetting process. Let your own subject matter experts evaluate which video captures the specific part of the job the best. Furthermore, the experts can upvote or “like” the best uploads and even comment on them. From thereon, the HR’s job is rather straight forward: extract the best materials and build them into pedagogically sound training materials. If your organisation is a large one, resulting in a huge number of uploads, you might be better off using analytics to figure out the best content.

After doing this, you can have the “formal” training materials and performance support built on the organisations own hidden knowledge. Give the new employees access to this, and you’ll see them going from 0 to 100 much faster, directly affecting your bottom line.

Do you have problems with your organisational knowledge transfer? We’d be happy to guide you through a digital knowledge transfer knowledge to ensure your employees can always perform at their best. Just leave us a note here.