Tag Archives: knowledge management

Some thoughts on Don Taylor’s 2014 Learning Trends Poll

If you haven’t already seen Don’s blog on 2014 Learning Trends, then check it out here: http://donaldhtaylor.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/what-will-be-big-in-learning-in-2014/

At this time of year, we are often asked what we think the next “big thing” will be and this year is no exception! A great thing about any poll that Don Taylor puts out there is that it will be seen and responded to by a lot of people across the broad spectrum of learning – not just a subsection of those specifically interested from a technology angle.Make sure you check out the results too!

However, the reason I felt the need to blog on this topic was the reference to Open Badges. I have to say that I like the concept and my present employers have a good use case for them. Indeed, we are already using badges in both our Internal and Customer communities, both of which are on the Jive platform. And this is where it gets interesting! I recently attended the Jiveworld conference in Las Vegas which by coincidence, was across the street from DevLearn. Thanks to the backchannel, I was able to pick up that there was keen interest over the road in open badges which wasn’t matched at Jiveworld. Even spending time in a session with one of the gamification partners in my conference didn’t seem to be able to drum up any interest at all in linking the community tool to Open Badges.

One could draw the conclusion from this that the elearning development people get this but the community folks don’t. And that worries me! I am very fortunate to work in an enlightened organisation where our customer & staff community efforts are run out of our Academy and collaborative learning is already here.

I have believed for many years that the worlds of Learning and Knowledge Management are a little like twins that were separated at birth but are now coming back together. (see this earlier post: http://andywooler.info/wordpress/?p=362). For this to be a reality, Community & Learning professionals could do with being more closely aligned – it would be a tragedy to be once again sat in a Collaboration conference feeling that maybe, the guys across the road get some of this better than we do!

As a final comment on the poll, Mobile Learning has been the next big thing for so long now one has to ask why it hasn’t actually taken off yet for many of us!

Knowledge Management + eLearning + Web 2.0 = Learning

At a presentation to a team of IT leaders back in 2011, I was asked what Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management (KM) had to do with my role as a Learning Technologist – and the answer is of course, it has EVERYTHING to do with learning! Our role as learning professionals is surely to enable our people to have access to the knowledge and tools they need to do their job. Personally, if that makes me a digital publishing company or a provider of Electronic Performance Support systems then it doesn’t actually matter as long as the end result is an engaged and productive workforce. Consider the following 2 definitions:

 “A Community of practice is a community of people who care about the domain, thus creating the social fabric for learning, sharing, inquiry & trust.”
Source: Wenger, McDermott, Snyder, Cultivating Communities of Practice, (Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press, 2002) 


 A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, sexual relationships, kinship, dislike, conflict or trade.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_graph

Not a lot of difference really – what these statements do highlight is that the success of what we used to call “Communities of Practice” and the newer “Social Networks” is all about like minded people being involved. We used to say in the eLearning world that “Content is King” – in the world of informal learning, the King is dead and there is a now a new King on the block called “Context”!

But where does Knowledge management fit into all of this? Some of you will believe that KM is the domain of the IT Community. Others will think of it as being owned within the Corporate Communications team. But the reality is that ensuring there is a culture that encourages the free sharing of knowledge is a People problem – IT systems are simply enablers.

Those of you that have read Nonaka & Takeuchi’s 1995  work “The Knowledge Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation” will be familiar with the “Knowledge Spiral”. The challenge here is to capture Tacit Knowledge and move this around the organization, enhancing and improving at as it  matures and creating new knowledge from the combination  of what we know now with new information from outside of the organization. Many of the tools that are frowned upon in some organization can actually be of real benefit here, especially when looking to add to what we know from new and often external sources. 

The Knowledge Spiral

The Knowledge Spiral - Nonaka & Takeuchi

The sharing of tacit knowledge does of course happen – often known as the “water cooler culture” and of course, Web 2.0 brings a new dimension to this with sites such as Twitter being used very effectively for sharing knowledge – and now, not just 1-1 but 1-many. For those of you who work in the Learning & Development world, the weekly LRNCHAT on Twitter is an absolute wealth of useful information!

If we map some of these tools onto the Nonaka model, we can see that the technology really can enable a knowledge sharing culture: 

Social Media mapped to The Knowledge Spiral

(TLN Communities are internal Communities at L&G – this could equally be a Yammer Community for example).

At the heart of this though are the communities or social networks – and if you hire me, you hire my network at no extra cost!

At Legal & General, we implemented an LMS that included Community features and this gave us an advantage in that the LMS can provide the context that is vital for communities to thrive! Most of our communities were in fact formed without any corporate-led initiatives and were the result of staff seeing what others had done and understanding the art of the possible. The video on “Wikis in plain English” from www.commoncraft.comhas been widely used to show how you can use a Wiki for more than just an on-line encyclopaedia!

It was the use of communities for distributing meeting agendas and managing meeting minutes that fired up many of the newer groups. One group in particular decided to use a Wiki instead of email for gaining sign-off on critical documents. Instead of the process taking a week as the emails went around, they have achieved sign-off in ½ day!

Of course, not all communities will thrive – and some will have a natural lifespan as either the people or the topic moves on. One example we found was a community called “Blue Sky Thinkers” – you might be tempted to think that was a great idea to have a community especially for people who want to be innovative. Sadly, that wasn’t the case! The community was setup and nobody came. This was further proof for me that if there is no context for a discussion to take place then it won’t! Context really does make a community work.

But context in isolation isn’t all you need – here’s an interesting thought from Harold Jarche and http://connectedworkplace.co.uk/

The basic skills ALLworkers will need are:

  1. Personal knowledge management skills so that they can make sense of, and learn from, the constant stream of information that they encounter from social channels both inside and outside the organisation.
  2. Collaboration skills so that they can share their knowledge as well as  work and learn productively and purposefully in teams, communities of practice, and social networks.

For more of Harold’s thoughts on PKM (Personal Knowledge Management), do check out http://www.jarche.com/pkm/ – to whet your appetite, here’s a brief introduction video:

But this isn’t just about enabling our people – every night, all of our tacit knowledge walks out of the door and we hope that it all comes back the next day! In these days of rightsizing and outsourcing, that isn’t always the case though. Add to that natural turnover and retirements, and this could mean that over the next 5 years, some 50% of the current implicit knowledge held by our people walks out of the door and doesn’t come back. Ever.
(based on HR data at a major Financial Services organisation)

It doesn’t have to be this way though!

If we get the culture right and encourage our people to share what they know, we can capture more of this knowledge whilst they are still here.

–         Blogs, Wiki’s, discussion forums
If we implement a culture of trusting our people with the Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Blogs and Facebook, we may still have access to them after they have gone.
–         My LinkedIn.com contact list contains a large number of current and former colleagues. (and I suspect, some future ones too!)
.–         Make some of our eLearning Public Domain – if the Defence Acquisition University can do it, so can we! If we expect to receive then we must be prepared to give. (DAU content is on Itunes)
In summary, I can’t put it all much better than this quote, attributed to Al Gore:

“Our challenge is to process data into information, refine information into knowledge, extract from knowledge understanding, and then let understanding ferment into wisdom”.

And now, we have “Big Data” to add into the mix! It seems you can’t go anywhere these days without reference to “Big Data” – but what is it? I am indebted to Michael Hay, Vice President of Product Planning at Hitachi Data Systems and Chief Engineer at the Information Technology Platform Division (ITPD), for this definition:

“Big Data of the Future will become at scale agile processes realized by multidiscipline teams leveraging a variety of data categories and types flowed through various technologies, including provisions for security and privacy. The end result – timely discovery of sparks of insights leading to valuable innovation and knowledge.”

And that timely discovery is exactly what we are looking to achieve with the sharing of information and data. But of course, data analysis isn’t new! What is perhaps new for many is the variety of data types & sources that are now in the mix – you can see from the different sources of information shown in the diagram above  that we have not only text but the social media elements such as video & audio in vast volumes from external sites to make sense of as well.

Of course, technology to assist in knowledge sharing isn’t new and organisations will already be looking to deploy such tools. So, who is best placed to create the context, which to me, is fundamental to the success of any collaboration or Knowledge sharing programme? The answer to that lies in understanding the sort of communities that would add value to our people such as:

  • People with the same job – sharing success and ideas across locations & borders
  • People with the same competency requirement – helping each other to achieve competence quicker
  • People in the same location – adding the social aspect by way of location specific knowledge sharing
  • People attending the same training event – adding value to existing classroom activities by including collaboration outside of the classroom, changing learning from an event to a process. (very successful in the UK with the Open University)
  • Communities that are created dynamically based on these and other criteria – you don’t have to look for the group, the group finds you!

I don’t believe that this can be as effectively done outside of the HCM space as the source of the data to support this sort of dynamic environment exists in one place – your Human Capital “eco-system” of LMS, HRMS, Talent & Performance systems.

At a recent industry conference, Thomas Otter, formerly Research Director for Human Capital Management at Gartner, suggested that we should “Work on your strategy for social software in HCM and Learning now.“ I have to agree fully with this viewpoint to avoid being second in the race behind IT and/or Corporate Communications!

If this truly is a “People Problem”, then it requires “People Solutions” to fix it!

(Excerpts from this article have been used in earlier blog posts but having had a discussion last week with a colleague around the Knowledge Spiral, I thought the entire article was worth an airing! And since writing this, “Big Data” has become a buzzword and has been included)

Saba People 2010 Trip Report – Part 2

Wednesday 3rd November

Well, what a way to start the day – a highly entertaining keynote from Gary Whitney from the Intercontinental Hotel Group.

  • “To have customers live your brand have to engage your people”
  • “A brand is delivered by the people at the front line.”
  • “if you want people to love your brand, you had better love your people!”
  • “It’s the first follower who makes the leader”

The last point was very amusingly demonstrated by the use of the video below – this came back to haunt us later that day during dinner when Jeff Carr started the dance in the restaurant!


Next up, the Saba Customer Excellence Awards – I am delighted to report that Legal & General were awarded the Collaboration & Social Media Power Award for our use of the Saba Collaboration tools within Saba Learning. This is another well deserved tribute for the team – well done team!


The next session was led by Saba founder, Bobby Yazdani and featured 6 young  entrepreneurs – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but this turned out to be a great session! Here’s some brief notes and links from this session:


  • Qwiki – this is a really cool way of delivering content – go visit the site to get the true experience of this. Pure genius!
  • Meet Seymour, the AI Concierge courtesy of Cleversense
  • Get your customers to add themselves to a web based CRM system – from the people who bought you webs.com, this is contactme.com.
  • We saw him last night with Fitz and the Tantrums, this  morning he shared his work in creating music for advertising . newmath.tv
  • A moving story which led to the creation of 1000 Memories.com, a place to remember loved ones.


Next session up was my own session – I’ll be devoting a separate post to cover my material for that shortly.


The next couple of sessions I attended were product related – firstly, as we are just about to upgrade to 5.5, a session on product improvements which included:

  • More support for blended learning
  • Informal learning can now be used to close competency gaps
  • Tasks can be assigned to all types of learning
  • Ad Hoc reporting
  • Mentors can be assigned in your profile

The next session was on the mashup portlet – as we have already deployed something similar from our friends at Comenius, I was interested to see the difference. The only addition is the ability to use Javascript as well as XHTML.


Final session was on Content – a few new things to consider apart from the social aspects which have already been mentioned:

  • Saba Publisher 10 is now GA
  • Detect and fix – regress SCORM to find errors.
  • Export Centra to flv, mp4, mp3
  • Saba “Webster” – a new free tool to tag informal content on your intranet
  • Sabasociallearning.com

David Koehn of Saba was predicting that there will be less formal learning but it will become higher value.

To finish the day, another great summary from Peter Olguin.

Saba People 2010 Conference trip report – Part 1

It’s always a re-energising experience attending a conference and this one was no exception!

Monday 1st November

The event started off on Monday with a “Town Hall” meeting of the global Saba user group – most of this discussion was around support related areas and was a good first opportunity to meet other customers. This was followed by 2 separate special interest groups – I went to the Collaboration group which was well attended and resulted in a decision to keep the group active using Saba Live. If you haven’t yet seen Saba Live, perhaps this video might give you a clue as to what the fuss is all about!



The day ended with a networking event and a session with the EMEA team and fellow EMEA customers – we already have a good informal network in the UK so this was another opportunity to catch up!

Tuesday 2nd November

Jeff Carr from Saba opened the event with a highly entertaining look at the birth of the American Revolution and how that might have looked had Web 2.0 tools been around! First major keynote of the conference was delivered by Gary Hamel – he had some great content – here are some key soundbites from his session:

  • “We are not limited by our resources, we are limited by our aspirations”
  • “passion, creativity, initiative- new skills for the knowledge economy”
  • “it’s not so much work sucks, it’s more management blows”
  • “most important invention of human time in last century is management . It is the technology of humankind”
  • “The flows of knowhow are becoming more important than the stock of knowhow”
  • “Be Bold”! (a recurring theme during the conference!)

Gary’s presentation will be available on the Saba Live Customer Community along with all the others from the event – recorded using Saba Centra. More about Gary’s thinking can be found on his blog: http://www.garyhamel.com/.


My next session was also about collaboration – Saba made a great hire in poaching Jim Lundy away from Gartner where he led the Social Software & Collaboration team. Much of this session focussed on an area that I have been talking about for a number of years – the power of community conversations to power innovation. This aligns very closely to my own thinking on where Knowledge Management meets Learning and was a good omen for my own panel session with Jim later in the day.

The next sessions were mainly about product enhancements plus a few items I gleaned from the solutions centre:

  • 3 functions now JSR286 – include Search, In progress learning & Approvals in any JSR286 compliant portal.
  • Saba Anywhere – off-line player which doesn’t need a special off-line version of the course to be created.
  • Centra 7.7 pm iPad.
  • They have hired some former Google staff to improve the search function.


Next up was a customer presentation from Hitachi Data Systems – some good examples of how they have used Web Services to “Make Saba their own”. One example is how they use this to extract data into an interim database which then feeds into a Business objects Universe or similar.


The day finished with a panel discussion on “Collaborating in your Enterprise: Managing Change”. I really enjoyed this panel working with Janice Watrous-McCabe from Allina Hospitals, Nick Howe from Hitachi Data Systems, Alice Harkin from Saba and facilitation from  Jim Lundy.  A great question at the end got these responses from the panel:


Q: What is the business case for collaboration?

1) 50% of your people will be gone in 5 years time
2) novice2expert
3) power of connectivity

The evening ended with a customer appreciation event at the Museum of Science featuring a live performance by Fitz and the Tantrums. (They have a free mp3 download on the site!). One highlight of the evening for me was the opportunity to meet again with Mike Fitzgerald, formerly Global Head of Learning for RSA, who was responsible for recruiting me into a role in the eLearning space – I remain in his debt for introducing me to the best jobs I have had in my career!


Another old friend, Peter Olguin, from Deloitte was making a video diary of the event – his day 2 summary will give you a flavour of the event!

KM World

The interview that I did with KM World a short while ago has now been published. http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=70847&PageNum=1

This week, I also attended a Saba “Power Up Your People” event in London where I presented the story of L&G’s LMS Deployment. What was interesting at this event, as with the Wake Up To Learning event I attended the previous week, is the re-emergence of Knoweldge Management as a theme. To quote Amar Dhaliwal of Saba speaking at the event: “The flow (and velocity) of knowledge is becoming more important than the stock of knowledge.”
I suspect my slide deck on Nonaka & Takeuchi has a few more years of life in it!


I first got interested in the links between Knowledge Management and Learning as part of my MBA studies with the Open University 10 years ago. However, for me, this is as current now as it was then!

In the last few weeks, I have been putting together a number presentations and also contributing to an article to be published in the November edition of KM World, all of which suggest there has been renewed interest in how KM, Learning and Social Networking/Learning are becoming a big part of how we learn today.

One area I feel strongly about is the use of Collaboration technologies and Social Networking tools to enable our people to actively share information. Unfortunately, all too often, these tools are not accessible within the firewall. I also believe that the best “home” for such technologies lies within the area of Human Capital Managament rather than IT or Corporate Communications.  And the reason for this? Context. eLearning people used to say “Content is King” – not any more! “Context is the new King!”

With the tools we have already, we have the ability to create “Communities of Practice” on the fly, based on information we already hold such as location, job, attendance of a training course or a shared competency/skill requirment. You cannot set up a group to for an abstract purpose – people need a context and a motive to share so give them the technology that enables this in the same way many of them do outside of the workplace. And remember that if you hire me, you are also hiring my network!


I’ll be presenting on this at the following events over the next month or so and hope to meet at least one person who read about it here!:

“Wake up to Learning” Morning Seminar, 19th October, The Mayfair Hotel, London




Learning & Organisation Devleopment Directors Strategy Meeting, , London,November

Saba People 2010

In additon to a presentation slot, I have now also been confirmed as a panelist at Saba People 2010 for:

Collaborating in Your Enterprise:  Managing Change:  A Conversation with Thought Leaders

Collaboration is a hot topic in the enterprise and so is the topic of getting people to use the tools you provide. Change Management is never easy, particularly in an era of empowered users who often know as much about collaboration as the IT department.  Attend this session and participate in a lively discussion about best practices in managing collaboration in your enterprise.

Looking forward also to a few glasses of Boston’s finest!