Social Learning or Collaborative Learning has come of age: A radical concept just a few years ago, most organizations now aspire to being a learning organization. Firms recognize organizational learning is taking place on a real-time basis, with the pool of knowledge shared always evolving, changing and becoming more valuable. When the mentor matches work, mentoring is a powerful tool for encouraging social learning.
The vocabulary around knowledge management seems to change every few years. Earlier today, I was visiting Josh Bersin’s blog and learned that his 2009 blog on “We-Learning” remains among the most popular blog ever written by the firm. Bersin & Associates’ blog offers meaningful insight into the development of social learning. (I had truly forgotten that there was a time when trainers and managers worried employees were spending too much time in front of computers.)
Still, as I reread the article, I was stuck by how he missed the “social” in “social learning.” Social-based, knowledge management, which includes mentor programs, works best when people feel connected. It’s a human thing. Whether we are talking about 17th century barrel manufacturers and blacksmiths or today’s knowledge workers, their motivation is the same human needs: Pride of work, connection to community and compensation.
The imagery is amusing, jumping from a craftsman in an apron working at a forge to an analyst on the road armed with a PowerPoint and iPad. But here is the takeaway: if you organization's mentor program can help employees feel a connection to a community and they can see that social learning is tied to success in the organization and pride of work, with this alone you have a “killer app” for knowledge management, social learning and employee engagement.
It's time to talk to a mentor guru about how your mentoring program can be modified to enhance social learning.