Making the most of informal social networks

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exploring the implications of social networks for learning and development, learning professionals and learning

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  • 1. INFORMAL NETWORKS Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, how they are changing the call it a family:world of work Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. Jane Howard, Novelist Jeremy Blain, Director, International PartnersNetwork, Cegos Group
  • 2. CONTENTS OVERVIEW & EXECUTIVE SUMMARY1. INFORMAL NETWORKS A SOFTWARE HERITAGE2. THE RELEVANCE OF SUCH NETWORKS IN L&D3. THE SME QUESTION4. A LEARNING NETWORK IN PRACTICE SHIBUYA UNIVERSITY5. CHANGING THE WORLD OF WORK THE BENEFITS6. AND THE CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS7. WHERE NEXT? THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW TO GET STARTED Cegos Group, 2010/2011
  • 3. This paper looks at the growth of informal networks and how they have developed, the main characteristics that dene them, the environment in which they ourish, and their impact on the world of work.OVERVIEW & EXECUTIVE SUMMARYThis short white paper will look at the growth of informal networks and thepotential impact such networks are having on the world of work. The paperwill link in to a number of issues raised in the broader May 2010 white paperfrom Cegos Exploring and Interpreting the Most Important Learning Trendsacross the Globe.Its important at the outset, however, to clarify the parameters of this paper.While social media networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, areplaying a fundamental role in driving these networks forward and enablingother networks to be created, this white paper will not focus on thetechnologies and the use of these information dissemination vehicles per se.The paper will look at how these networks have developed from the softwareworld, the main characteristics that dene them agility and responsivenessand collaboration, and the environment and values in which such networksourish. Going back as far as the Invisible College in the 17th century,the paper will examine the relevance of such networks to L&D, why SMEsseem more able to embrace them, and the benets to organisations fromempowerment to improved feedback to sharing best practices.Finally, the paper will look at the challenges L&D departments face instructuring informal learning networks within existing activities and the maincriteria for success. Cegos Group, 2010/2011
  • 4. 1. INFORMAL NETWORKS A SOFTWARE HERITAGENetworks today play a vital role in the bringing together of people with distinct Cooperative, articulateinterests and the sharing of information. They can redene communities, and considerategeography and identity; can be formed around shared interests; and enablelearning, communication and knowledge sharing. people comprise the best teams. TheThe development of information-driven cross-country and cross-company Agile Manifesto, like anetworks over the last few years has been driven principally by the IT andsoftware industry. compass, helps guide the team towards aWith the Internet and related social networking tools providing the key medium common goal as anyfor the dissemination of information, open source software communitiesand their focus on agility, responsiveness, community building, and high member can deviate inperformance collaboration, have provided a model which is now starting to be the fog of uncertainty,followed within the world of learning. complexity and stressThe impact that such informal networks can have on organisations and theculture changes they can engender is well illustrated in the diagram below astatement of values from The Agile Manifesto, a group of software developerswhich originally formed in 2001 to dene the approach now known as agile Peter Lehman, Applied Innovations Research on the Agile Manifestosoftware development.Through their work, they acknowledged in the Manifesto that they areuncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helpingothers do it and that they have come to value individuals and interactionsover processes and tools; collaborative technology over documentation;collaboration with the customer the end user over contract negotiations;and the all important ability and exibility in responding to change rather thanadhering rigidly to an existing plan. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools Leveraging Collaborative over Comprehensive Documentation Technology Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation Responding to Change over Following a Plan/Existing Path Cegos Group, 2010/2011
  • 5. Another informal network that has direct application to the world of worktoday is that of the Scrum Alliance, a not-for-prot professional membershiporganisation that in the Alliances own words is an agile approach tomanaging complex problems.The Scrum Alliances mission is to increase awareness and understanding of ! KEY POINTS We have much toScrum, provide resources to individuals and organisations using Scrum, and learn from the agility,promote the iterative improvement necessary to succeed with Scrum. responsiveness, community building,So what is the Scrum process? It is is an agile process focusing on delivering and high performancethe highest business value in the shortest possible time. It is based around collaboration that denesself-organizing teams that create an agile environment for delivering projects the networks of theand determining the best means of achieving their goals. Problem solving software industry.consists of the team split into a series of sprints of between two and fourweeks of focused activity on one or a series of linked items. If anyone has Such networks requirequestions or needs re-assurance, the blog site doubles as a second self- a culture change withinorganized environment, where issues are dealt with without the need for a organisations and amanagers and a more hierarchical structure. In this way, Scum can boast to move from process andbe a truly empowered organisation. tools to individuals and interactions.While its main focus remains software and how it can change the world ofwork, Scrum today is relevant to every facet of an organisation and the means The Scrum Alliance isof acquiring information and skills. Read the articles on their web site and dened by self-organisingterms such as the agile manager and executive coaching come to the fore communities and trueregularly. empowerment. 712 courses offered worldwide. 100,000 global members. Ofces in New York, Brussels and Beijing. Recent Gatherings in Australia, China, India, the Netherlands, and Portugal.