Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Support your learning efforts

Much has been made of how we follow up learning and development efforts and how we can facilitate knowledge transfer and improve the take up of skills and knowledge in the workplace. I have recently been using Communities of Practice (CoPs) to foster take up of these skills when individuals attend formal education. They provide a network of informed and enthusiastic individuals who truly believe in the subject matter and genuinely want to foster adoption of skills and capability improvement.

Taking this to the next level is my passion and these CoPs are perfectly positioned to support knowledge management efforts. They are continuously capturing and sharing relevant knowledge with each other. Often, though, the knowledge captured is not directed towards a business objective and isn’t codified or validated in any formal capacity. Nor is the knowledge stored in a format that enables easy retrieval.

Leveraging these CoPs to further KM objectives by stepping back and letting the community capture and share based on effective learning transfer seems to be providing a common platform of sharing! Because the sharing is captured around a learning event, the shared objects/knowledge directly maps to business goals and represents what individuals "need to know" to be more successful in their role. This in turn creates impacts at the marketplace and organizational level.

After the learning program has completed, CoPs should be approached to more formally capture and roll out subsequent organizational leaning's as encountered through the use of a wiki, social media or informal networks. If there aren’t any communities of practice naturally aligned to the learning outcomes and skill sets, then new ones could be organized. Some large organizations with a history of knowledge management successes structure their communities of practice to do this for them on a regular basis. However, these aren’t always successful initiatives because the CoPs have a hard time striking the right balance between knowledge explorations and being focused on the learning goals.

Maybe it is time that we not only concentrate on life long learning but also on community fostered learning that enables collaboration and support that enhances skills transfer. Worth ruminating over? Me thinks so...........

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