Strategy is more than a formal plan for me; it manifests itself as a consistency in behavior. Being strategic helps me look for patterns to guide my decisions, both personally and in work. Here is where we should be tapping into social tools by tracking and trending topics and conversations, in this way strategic learning can emerge from the analysis of conversations taking place. The future of learning is… social, and that is not training. It is learning and it is about performance however to make a difference we need to ask different questions to create smaller solutions and we need to measure differently.
Training focuses on managing people on both sides of the content, learner: facilitator/instructor. It is packaged with sound assessments to measure accurately the knowledge transfer process before we send them back to work. Passively we await results to see if change occurs. So let us look at this actively by tracking, monitoring, and measuring the trend of conversations taking place “socially”. My challenge is to identify a topic that begins to rise in the community conversation and determine if this is a performance improvement opportunity, a policy refinement or clarification need, or a cultural barrier that needs change to improve business process. Then during and after the <insert action made here> what is the change in the community conversation (in volume and/or tone) about the solution provided?
So how is this strategic? If you can identify a problem before it becomes an “issue” then you are demonstrating the long, or strategic, view. One of the greatest compliments I have received focused on my desire to see, and solve, the problem before the people I provided support ever knew a problem was on the horizon. This does bring one new challenge and an opportunity to create a stronger relationship.
In the traditional training mode, there is the opportunity to determine the financial impact to the organization, lost workdays, waste of materials, customer retention, etc. In a strategically social mode, the goal is to resolve the problem sooner so the challenge is to be able to identify the cost impact, or the savings impact you are having. Internal audit teams need to be a part of your network; they know how the process works, the time it takes and how to translate that into costs. Working together may be a new learning delivery model, Jane Hart suggests, “carrying out workflow audits – sitting down with individuals and teams to locate bottlenecks in processes and/or identifying better ways to accomplish tasks.”
For me being strategically social means being proactive to changes in the business before a problem becomes serious. Put in place ways to monitor the conversation in the community, watch for patterns and find new methods to help those impacted by the problem teams to design and implement solutions sooner. Foster, nurture, the community and create collaboration networks whether they be ones of practice or ones of support the path is social dialogue and that is a key part of being strategic.