Events, Enablement and Informal Learning

Coming up on the 18th of November, Melbourne Uni and IBM will be hosting a public forum to discuss the project Virtual and Physical Spaces as Places for Informal Learning . It was great to be invited to participate in this project along with around 30 others from Melbourne Uni, IBM and a number of different organisations. Our working party’s theme was segmentation – for instance, how do you integrate and connect different segments whilst helping them to reserve their unique attributes and identities? These are a few of my own personal observations & contribution to this collaborative project.

connecting a distributed workforce

connecting a distributed workforce - originally uploaded by kolya

Physical spaces within large enterprises like IBM transforming to meet the changing demands of an increased mobile workforce. As employees work from home more often, or have a laptop and work on–site with their customer – they are less likely to have a permanent desk in the office. Groups of peers may be geographically dispersed. Additional demands in large global enterprises include:

  • Global workforce
  • Maturing workforce & retirees
  • Gen Y attrition and retention

The greater sense of connectedness can occur through online communities. Individuals are enabled through access to social computing. They can create personal profiles on social networks and use social media to share and connect with others around the globe – behind the firewall and in the public domain.

Events provide opportunities for people from different teams and lines of business to connect. Virtual events, competitions and challenges give individuals the opportunity to innovate and use their skills. Online communities become a place for connection across the company. Communities may be based upon business unit, special interest groups, projects, skills or personal interests.

Online communities are enhanced with access to social media and social networking sites. For instance Secondlife, Facebook, YouTube, Podcasting, Twitter, Ning communities, Flickr, blogging, social bookmarking, BluePages and Fringe+1

Three key considerations for addressing the issue of segmentation:

Purpose. Workplace example – IBM Values, Innovation Jam events, Beehive (Internal Facebook) Events, Group projects.

  • Decide on the types of initiatives for individuals, groups and larger events
  • Determine the benefits to the organisation and the individuals
  • Consider including strategic organisational issues and challenges for collaboration

Enablement. Workplace example – IBM Social Computing Guidelines. Give people access to the tools and and provide guidelines.

  • Provide the tools/websites/learning environments
  • Provide education “what’s in it for me?”
  • Promote awareness

Facilitation. Workplace example – Voluntary social computing ambassador roles. Departments host and facilitate virtual and physical events.

  • Nominate individuals as advocates and facilitators
  • Decide on events
  • Measure success of events

What do you think about the need for the creation of physical and virtual events, enablement and facilitation to connect segments in an organisation?