The Tumblr archives: The Power of the Social (Spring 2013, updated with images Dec 2013)

We’ve been looking at all sorts of digital and social media during a ‘23 things’ programme at my organisation and last week we focused on screencasting and webcasting. I’ve become convinced over time that we’re underestimating the power these, and other, tools have to allow us to make the most of the best learning network we have at our fingertips: each other (or to use the jargon our personal learning/knowledge network). I know many of my colleagues are absolute whizzes at technical things which I have no idea about, rather than going on a training course or receiving a three page ‘how to’ document I’m dreaming of the day that I can encourage them to share their knowledge with me and others with a quick screencast. I know that for simple technical things I’d much prefer that to a long email or a lengthy session taking me away from my desk. This illustration from Julian Stodd sums up the potential of social learning perfectly:


I work with a great bunch of committed, smart and interesting people who I’d love to engage with more creatively. In any organisation people’s ideas, brainwaves and reflections are the dynamo which will keep that organisation succeeding in the future. It’s perplexing then that so many companies and organisations are fearful of tools and approaches which could support the sharing of that learning. In a recent blog Harold Jarche argued that we should be aiming for loose hierarchies and strong networks in our quest for personal and organisational learning and I completely concur. Euan Semple’s book ‘Organisations don’t tweet, people do’ should be compulsory reading for all managers, expertly making the case for the social workplace in simple, easy steps.

As an L&D professional this revelation (and it really has felt like a revelation over the last couple of years) means that I’ve had to ‘readjust my set’ as well. Training sessions and workshops have a place in the (hopefully) rich mosaic of blended learning which goes on in the workplace. But we need to be making much more use of the social (both the social tools and the social ethos – sharing, co-creating and learning together) and that means letting go, moving from being the ‘expert on the stage’ to ‘the sage on the side’. All of us need to take some time to start thinking more socially, about how we can become the ‘sage on the side’ for others. As with any learning, walking the walk is the most important thing we can do – moving to a truly social workplace is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight but the journey sure is fun!