Like that will work…not! Seriously, there are several things that have to line up to get social media working for you (which, if you’ve been paying attention, is the new and only sustainable competitive advantage). As I discussed a couple of days ago, your learners have to have the skills. But there are a couple of other things you have to have in place.
First, you have to have the tools. And, frankly, not just any tools. There are some nuances that will likely make a difference. Certainly usability is one. The closer the necessary usage steps are to a) familiar uses and/or b) user goals, the more likely the tools will be used. Similarly, the more they’re aligned with the user’s task flow, and tasks, the more likely they’ll be used to the benefit of the organization. The notion is that the tools are ‘ready to hand’ as the need strikes.
You also have to have a culture where contributing is accepted: safe, even rewarded. I previously commented on the dimensions necessary, including a supportive learning environment, leadership, and concrete processes and practices. People won’t contribute if it’s not safe, valued, and rewarded. As my ITA colleague Jon Husband says, wirearchy is based upon trust and credibility, as well as information and knowledge. Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham, in their new book The New Social Learning, similarly emphasize trust.
The fact of the matter is, if you build it, they may not come. There are lots of reasons why people may be hesitant, and really you have to actively recruit and support their participating in most cases. They have to experience it, perceive the value, and still be supported in adopting the regular use of a social infrastructure. It will take time, but the outcomes are powerful. Just don’t go into it naively; either be willing to take the time to experiment and learn, or bring in the outside help to accelerate your use of social learning to accelerate learning in the big sense: problem-solving, experimentation, research, creativity, etc (all those areas that contribute to organizational innovation and success).
Social media is the key to leveraging the power of people, to learn, and you don’t want to leave it to chance. Really, it’s learn or die. Which are you keen on?