These represent some of the most current and cutting-edge strategies pursued by learning and development practitioners today. L&D professionals are pushing the boundaries of technology but unfortunately, in many cases, pushing themselves beyond their limits as well.
The capacity and appetite for this way of learning have many organizations and instructional designers working overtime (literally). Why? Because realizing an appropriate return on these sophisticated learning system investments requires generating and populating content at previously inconceivable volumes and speed. The task can be daunting.
Happily, forward-thinking L&D professionals understand that sustainable development demands tapping those beyond their teams. By looking past their immediate colleagues, these L&D pros find new and different ways to feed the system with ever-refreshing content sources. They are inviting others at all levels of the organization to contribute to and be co-creators of the learning experience (and in the process, they are discovering untapped reservoirs of expertise and accessing information that may be more relevant and authentic than what L&D could have generated on its own).
But here’s the problem: while most of today’s leading-edge systems allow for learners to curate and share their own learning collections around themes of particular interest or need, it doesn’t matter if employees don’t step up and take advantage of this feature. So, L&D departments are challenging themselves to find creative ways to inspire people to engage. Here are some of the strategies they have discovered to encourage employees to become active partners in (not just their own learning but) the learning of others.
Fight for the feature
is among the most complex and choice-filled decisions learning leaders have to make. Ensure that your organization chooses a system with independent curation and social sharing features… then make sure those features get turned on.
Objectify the task
Peter Drucker was right when he wrote: “What gets measured gets managed.” And what gets measured and managed gets done. So, work with leaders to include annual goals and objectives language around not just taking advantage of the learning system but also contributing to it. Suggest an appropriate number of posts, collections or “likes” as a way to create quantifiable performance measures.
Show them the money
Money talks. And it doesn’t take much to get people to listen. One technology firm offers small spot bonuses for particularly helpful or effective contributions to the learning platform. Another puts everyone who contributes at an agreed-upon level in a quarterly drawing for a weekend trip. Expressing appreciation in a tangible way sends a signal about what matters and can help to.
Spotlight thought leaders
While tangible rewards are powerful, meaningful intangible rewards can be even more so. Consider elevating “super-contributors” to the learning platform to the level of “thought leader.”Just the title (and perhaps a badge that comes along with it) carries cache. But don’t stop there. Leverage and highlight these colleagues and their contributions in creative ways. Ask them to lead a webinar on a topic of interest. Invite them to speak or be honored at annual leadership, sales or technical summits. Offer a guest column in your newsletter. The opportunities to recognize these individuals – and to communicate throughout the organization new expectations related to co-creating learning – are limited only by your imagination.
Learning, like so many things, is moving toward an open source model. And most organizations have rich sources of content and curation right in their employee ranks. The key is to find the right strategies to open those sources up – and leverage their expertise and insights for broader learning.