Originally posted 14-Apr-22
Marcia Conner is a former corporate executive who now dedicates her time to reinventing a vibrant and healthy global ecosystem. She specializes in social learning.
Marcia advises executives on how to unite technologies, analytics, and human power into the energy that drives outstanding performance.
Often brought in as a fixer, she quickly aligns collaborative strategies with organization culture and amends skill shortages to radically change the speed of innovation. She describes herself as “Learner. Womanist. Speaker. Accomplice. Parent, Neurodivergent.”
SIKM Leaders Community
The New Social Learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work., 2nd Edition with Tony Bingham
- Chapter 1: Reach Out and Connect
- Chapter 2: Embark on the Journey
- Chapter 3: Transition and Engage
- Chapter 4: Never Give Up
- Chapter 5: Analyze Insights and Returns
- Chapter 6: In-Person Learning Reimagined
- Appendix: Social Media Governance
Of all the reasons corporate leaders give why they don’t invest or actively encourage people to learn from one another socially, one disappoints me most: the excuse that social value approaches allegedly can’t be measured.
Perhaps “social” (communicating through relationships) seems too ephemeral or tacit for hard analysis. I encourage them to look again.
In The New Social Learning: Connect, Collaborate, Work we created a compendium of measurement approaches that analyze how people are learning and working in social ways — connecting them to organizational priorities. Most methods are free. All are straightforward. None require leaders to participate themselves, though we know from experience this accelerates their organization’s success.
Here is one approach, from the many quantitative and qualitative approaches that we feature, that every organization can adopt right away.
Use Social Network Reporting to Glean Real Insights
The dashboard most social networks deliver for administrators to track online participation is usually designed for maintenance, not necessarily aligned with business outcomes. It provides aggregate numbers of visits to a network, growth in that over time, and the number of people who subscribe to particular news feeds.
Although easy to dismiss as not useful overall, the data provided can tell a compelling story that can further meaningful objectives.
The power of collaborative learning is a trusted and repeatable activity, where people can bring their ideas together, vet them with their peers, and share them in a way that can be revised and revisited, representing multiple viewpoints.
Three qualities stand out as markers of success: vibrancy, socialness, and relevance.
Vibrancy characterizes the inviting, energizing places that showcase people’s needs, interests, passions, and emotions — so they must mirror the vitality humankind can provide. If the network is alive with energy, people come back because they find value.
Rather than looking at participation alone, gauge:
- if the number of participants is growing.
- if an increasing proportion of members is actively involved.
If showing up is 80 percent of success, at least half of the rest requires socializing with others, building off one another, interacting and amplifying contributions in innovative ways.
Measure if people are joining together in different combinations as well as:
- if they are engaging in multiple kinds of activities, and if that’s increasing.
- if membership is increasingly diverse.
What good are vibrant social exchanges if they aren’t pertinent to the people and mission of your organization, though?
Convene a group of community members that meet periodically to discuss how they know if your network is “healthy,” and the sorts of topics and conditions essential for the network to achieve its long-term goals.
While numbers will always ebb and flow over time, track if an indicator that’s important drops too soon to create a sense of vibrancy or dramatically, for reasons that can be addressed and turned around. This is the sort of data easy to watch for, useful to learn from, and vital to improve over time.