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Changing Learning Cultures: A How To Guide [PART 2]

Making the most of what you've got

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In my recent post around changing learning cultures, I started to delve into the process and approaches that L&D departments can adopt to truly start working towards evolving their internal learning cultures. We examined what it really takes to kick-start this process and some of the core ways that mindsets need to change and evolve. So, what are the next steps? Let’s dive right in!

2. Connecting people to content and people to people

Ultimately when we break it down to its very foundations like this, learning is just information. Information consumed via content, or via people and experiences. This is why when embarking on designing our LXP, our main focus was: “How do we connect people to content and people to people in the most personalised and effective way?”

Making more of learning content

Let’s take content first. Content is something that we know a lot about in our personal lives. We are constantly attached to it (I think it’s fair to say a fair few of us are obsessed with it). It’s in our pocket all day long and we can’t get enough of it – Pinterest, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, LinkedIn, podcasts, articles, the list goes on. In every single minute, the following is happening:

  • 300 hours of video consumed on YouTube
  • 4.1 million likes on Facebook
  • 6.9 million videos watched on Snapchat
  • 86,805 hours streamed on Netflix

We watch 1 billion hours of YouTube a day! More than Facebook and Netflix combined; YouTube has 1.9bn users per month – that’s ¼ of the world’s population! I can’t believe that ¼ of the world’s population logs into YouTube each month. If you actually look at how many people have internet in the world as well this increases to 60% of that population.

That’s a lot of information and a whole boatload of content. So the key here, in my opinion, is once we recognise that a large part of learning is just content, which we’re all very familiar with, we can begin to build better solutions for our teams. What does that look like? Now, this is where technology can help. Here are some ideas.

1. Simplify experiences with single platforms

Some of the most successful learning cultures I’ve seen have done away with their siloed systems and used one platform for both learning, communications and intranet type stuff (policies, procedures and more operational resources.) After all, it’s all just content, whether it be an update from comms, a how-to video, or a policy document.

Consumption of content in this way is very familiar to us in our personal lives – we don’t have separate YouTube sites for learning, entertainment, cat videos etc. It’s all in one place, but personalised so well to us and coupled with such a powerful search that we don’t even really notice.

By merging these things together in this way, you’re simplifying the user experience; they get used to relying on the platform daily, all which ensuring learning is tightly stitched together and right there for the user when they need it. For example, imagine I’m looking at an expense claim form which I found online but I’m not sure how to fill it in, then sitting there next to it is a ‘how to claim expenses’ video. Easy!

2. Shake up your content strategy – or get one!

On the subject of content, get some and get A LOT of it. This is another prime example of where technology falls down – shiny new beautiful platforms and absolutely no stuff for people to look at. But at the same time, generating all this content is a massive task for L&D. The only way to do it effectively is not to worry so much and to move away from more traditional methods. Embrace external, web-based content, use every tool you have, share content and resources with other people and don’t always feel the need to make everything bespoke. This is a really good demonstration of one of the areas where we need to let go.

That said, even curating content can take a lot of time and you need to know where to look, so you might want to look at some auto-curation tools to help you out a bit here as well.

3. Provide consumer-grade experiences

Bringing our content (and learning culture) in line with how we experience it in our personal lives is one thing, but it also needs to be presented to people in a way which is familiar. First things first, it’s got to look good – we’re competing with the Instagrams of the world here. It’s got to be personalised, easily accessible on mobile and have a killer search. There’s no point having all this lovely content if you don’t give it a good home and subsequently, people can’t find it.

But, if you can do all this, you’re really getting to a place where you’re essentially creating an internal Google and it truly becomes a one-stop shop for anything an employee would want to know about. And that’s where we really need to be trying to get to.

Better connect people with people

So what about people? How can we use technology to better support people learning from each other and creating more human connections?

I’m not going to harp on too much about what social learning is, but I will say what it’s not.

Social learning is not a controlled, sectioned off part of an online course which includes a forum for people to discuss what they’ve learned and it’s not something that can be put to one side and ticked off a checklist.

Social interactions are so innately embedded in human life that the concept of having a place where I go to ‘do’ social learning seems wildly illogical. So why is it that I still hear phrases like ‘Social Learning Module’, ‘Add-on’, ‘Plug-in’ from so many providers, which to me suggests there is a single place you go to ‘complete’ social learning and more importantly, it’s separate from where you do your ‘non-social’ learning. This is not how life works, not how people behave and not what we recognise. Now I know something we do recognise…

1. Support user-generated content (UGC)

92% of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded/official content. And this isn’t just people they know, this is any random person. This is why things like reviews and user-uploaded photos of products are so important to us, we trust them more as they have no alternate motive.

UGC can be really powerful. There is so much amazing knowledge in the heads of your employees, it needs to be let free! I’m sure you all have that one person in your team that you think: “If they got hit by a bus tomorrow, we’d be absolutely screwed!” This is what UGC can help protect you from and gives employees some real practical control over their learning.

Also, if you look at it selfishly, it’s also really going to help you with all that content you suddenly need to build too – your teams will do some of it for you. Cheers guys!

User-generated content is one of the biggest steps you can take towards modernising your learning culture as it sends a very clear message that you are embracing change. Managers can suddenly communicate instantly with their teams, people can ask people questions and get quick answers and people can, at last, share all the knowledge that’s been bottled inside them.

2. Foster and support human connections

A really interesting area we’ve been looking into recently is how we can use technology to better connect people. Now I’m not talking about just online, I’m also talking about in the real world. How can we simply get people to talk more?

Last year I had my first experience working for a very large organisation – 70,000 people. It was huge! And as a result, I really struggled to grow my network, know who to go to and who could help. I just didn’t know where the knowledge sat in the business and had no way to find out other than asking people. I think this is a real problem for a lot of businesses and this is definitely one area where technology can help. It’s especially pertinent for newbies and onboarding.

This is something that can be done in many ways but I’m going to share how we’ve approached it in our LXP to provide some inspiration. We have created tools which allow users to search for certain skills and it will suggest recommended people. They can also search for people by name and choose to follow them if they like – much like you would on Instagram. The idea is that we allow people to find people at the point of need – i.e. ‘I need a PM for a project I’m running’, but also to seek out experts to help mentor them in their areas of interest.

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We’ve taken this one step further however and have included a ‘grab a coffee feature’ which literally allows employees to ask someone for a coffee. As simple as that is, we’re hoping is that this little button might actually prompt more people to connect in the real world, face-to-face and encourage things like mentoring, coaching and cross-departmental working.

I’ve had clients in the past do this manually as well, one of my client’s HR department used to send out monthly matching emails which randomly matched 2 employees in the business and it pretty much just said: ‘Hey, you two should meet!’ As simple as that.

I think it’s a great example of how we can be using technology to increase collaboration, without trying to do everything online.

Right, so what we’ve looked at so far is how we need to reposition learning in our own minds before rolling this out to the business, and indeed how to use content to connect people, but what do we do if our audience doesn’t come on this journey with us? This brings us to the third element of this culture change journey we’ve embarked on. Motivation. How do we encourage people to embrace this new approach? They may be very familiar with it at home, but people’s attitude at work and at home can be different.

It’s the biggest cliché, but you need to take the time to understand your audience and what makes them tick. Next time, we’ll be exploring how to explore what motivates your learners and how this will shape your learning culture strategy! See you soon for the final part!

Missed Part 1? Check it out here! 

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