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The End of the Beginning: Laying the foundation for a strong community

It has been a little over a month since our new Chief Learning Officer announced that change was amidst us and that all learning professionals across North America and UK would be embarking on a transformational journey of change over the next 2 years.

Following the announcement, all L&D professionals were “invited” to join a private group on LinkedIn to begin getting to know each other as individuals apart from what he or she does at work. What initially started out as formal banter around “A Little Bit About Me and My Work” has now transformed into a collaborative online space filled with the active sharing of best practices, regional community news, fun facts, and even more so, comments to, adds and builds of those initial discussion posts with reactions and additional content.  As Vanessa DiMauro would say, my fellow learning colleagues are effectively using the social channel as a means to engage with each other leveraging the design elements within the ESN itself. We even have some colleagues sharing photos and videos!

What I personally found most inspiring and transformational is how our Chief Learning Officer (CLO) uses the ESN as a space for a weekly leader blog to tell stories, which Torben Rick identifies as a powerful medium to inspire and drive change.  Our CLO provides a weekly download of his activities (both related to the change execution and personal updates on weekend excursions with family) for all to view and get to know him better as our leader.  I mentioned in my previous blog post that his active participation and contribution in the online community has truly been a key BIG (small) win. Colleagues see him opening up both professionally and personally as a sign that he appreciates and truly welcomes openness, transparency, trust and wants to honestly build a strong community of learning professionals. Not only is he driving organizational change to centralize, standardize and create efficiency through common processes, procedures and standards, but he is also leading culture change by laying the foundation and being more open, transparent, and collaborative himself.

The momentum that is building up within the online social platform has added fuel to the change-related work as well with the establishment of core change workstreams.  Learning colleagues have been able to get to know other as thought partners and subject matter experts socially via LinkedIn that has accelerated the efforts to collaborate and get work done outside of the online space.  Networks, learning and work is coming together and the lines are becoming more gray as different workstream groups collaborate on individual SharePoint sites to build new ways of working through structured processes, standards, and procedures. The social networking has enabled employees to become more empowered to innovate collaboratively on new ways of working buying into the fact that agility and flexibility in processes, systems, structures, policies and decision making as a whole is integral  to becoming a cohesive learning organization in the 21st century and what Eric Savitz  argues is critical to the future of social businesses.

What I now feel is the end of the beginning as my colleagues and I have transitioned from networking to learning and online social collaboration, I look forward to seeing if all three components (networks, work and learning) stick and come even closer together as we form one global learning community.

To conclude, I would like to share the below infographic by Torben Rick as useful strategies for how we as learning and organizational change professionals can lead, drive and accelerate organizational change through online social networks and ESNs:

Improving organizational change management through social media




pna166 • May 14, 2016

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  1. Thyra Nast May 14, 2016 - 7:51 pm Reply

    Hi Pooja,

    I started reading from the beginning of your blog series and am pleasantly surprised by how well your L&OD knowledge management roll out is going (based on the initial post which seemed to imply a first 24 hours filled with quite an overload of information/requests). I think you are right that the leader’s active and open voice in the process has been absolutely essential for the success so far (and I am happy that we will be integrating this into our team case – this is evidence that it works!). My question is how much time time is spent on participating for the average employee. If it is somewhat substantial, is there any talk of this being built into your day/performance metrics around this?

    Thanks for your series, I found it very enlightening!

  2. Jeff Merrell May 16, 2016 - 9:43 pm Reply

    This is such a great example of leaders jumping in and, well, leading. Thanks for sharing!

    I’d be curious to know whether there was any feedback/insights about using a tool like LinkedIn for this purpose. Sounds like it was pretty positive!

  3. pna166 May 18, 2016 - 1:37 am Reply

    @Thyra, thank you for your comment! At this time there are no talks of “formalizing” participation in the private LinkedIn group and adding performance metrics especially as the entire purpose of creating a group is to build networks informally.

    @Jeff, I haven’t specifically heard any feedback around using a tool like LinkedIn but I did get the sense that people felt more open and willing to share about themselves, their work and best practices on LinkedIn which was easy to use, outside of the old “VPN-network enabled” technology that is only allowed on a work laptop and on the work network.

  4. Yulia Carson May 23, 2016 - 5:59 pm Reply

    Hi Pooja,

    I love following your journey through this cultural change at your organization. It seems that you and your colleagues have built a nice online community of practice and are on your way to instill new norms of collaboration into your environment. Congratulations! Was there any resistance at this early stage? Or everyone was equally on board? Looking forward to learning more about your journey.

  5. pna166 May 23, 2016 - 6:05 pm Reply

    @Yulia, thank you for your comment! I appreciate your kind words. Yes, we are certainly off to a great start. I would say there was a bit of resistance initially back in March but the Chief Learning Officer has done a fantastic job with stakeholder engagement, traveling to various locations to meet with learning professionals face-to-face which was a nice complement to the online social networking via LinkedIn. He is an honest, transparent, respectful and collaborative leader so folks are more on board with the change and are actually excited about it!

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