Social Learning and Exception Handling

December 9, 2010

We know that most learning in the workplace is informal. Most observers put it at around 80%. Recently, John Hagel and John Seeley Brown contended that “as much as two-thirds of headcount time in major enterprise functions like marketing, manufacturing and supply chain management is spent on exception handling.” Of course, that fact is a result of the successes of process automation over the past few decades. Yet, still, The Barely Repeatable Process (BRP) persists as an organizational challenge for business.

Earlier discussions here focused on the importance of exceptions, to business process and formal learning. I examined the implications of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation model to the use of social media in learning experience design, while addressing the challenges facing learning leaders. Leading the Business-Centered Learning Experience noted that evaluating formal learning is as much about organizational learning and change management as it is about individual learning, largely because much of the learning, and performance, that matters today occurs at the group level. Marc Rosenberg recently echoed the point in an article in Learning Solutions Magazine, The Special Sauce of Social Learning. Marc noted that social learning is largely a change management challenge for organizations.

 The most basic point to remember is that exceptions to formal business processes require efforts to design a scalable learning architecture that supports content co-creation needed to adapt to emergent challenges and manage the flow of that adaptation through an enterprise’s ecosystem. Whether judging an adaptation successful requires it to result in new formal learning content, i.e. content co-creation, or a new business process, i.e. organizational innovation, or both, remains an open question.

Echoing John Hagel, John Seeley Brown, and Lang Davison’s focus on The Big Shift, Tim Young recently noted the following about  social networking and exception handling,

When an exception happens, we have to step away from our PowerPoint, stop typing an email, or exit a meeting in order to take care of it. Routine work stops. And, our modern reliance on technology to find, aggregate, and alert us to these exceptions has made the task of managing them more burdensome than ever before. Systems that manage exceptions provide the enterprise with vast amounts of data points that have become overwhelming for employees to handle. The applications that we rely on for managing exceptions still rely on process owners to make decisions and respond to the issues. The result is a workforce that isn’t dealing with exceptions well at all. (my emphasis)

The importance of social networking to increasing the effective handling of exceptions is a major focus for those interested in social learning.

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Leading the Business-Centered Learning Experience

April 13, 2008

Claire Schooley of Forrester authored a report this month, Learning Director: Are You Ready for your New Role?, that merits attention by everyone interested in how to manage the learning experience in any organization, but especially in corporate organizations selling products and services. Schooley’s major point leverages a key issue in the measurement of the learning experience’s effectiveness in organizations. She contends that the most significant challenge to current learning leadership in organizations is for the learning executive to take a holistic approach to employee training, rather than a course-centric approach. Read the rest of this entry »


Engagement and Curiosity

March 21, 2008

Johnnie Moore offers an interesting insight into the way curiosity and playfulness lead to engagement and learning. The insight comes from a story told by Donald Winnicott on how mothers and babies relate.

He [Winnicott] noticed that if a mother placed a spatula near the child, and waited, it was very likely the child would become curious about this new object and play with it. If, however, the mother tried to get the child to play with the spatula, the child was likely either to reluctantly play along, developing a passive kind of engagement. Alternatively, the child would react against this intrusion and become healthily defensive. …For myself, I’d like to experiment a lot more with the careful placing of spatulas than shoving them in people’s faces and expecting them to play.