There’s no “I” in “We”

July 7, 2008

Ooooo, some juicy questions at the Learning Circuits Blog this month. Let’s go…..

  • Should workplace learning professionals be leading the charge around these new work literacies?

Yes and no. I think we should be hardcore advocates for 2.0 tools and join other thought leaders in the org who might rally around the cause. But I think we should primarily limit our leadership to the realm of influencing the further evolution of a learning organization. 2.0 has implications beyond the learning function, and we need to let other groups discover and figure out for themselves how they want to use them.

  • Shouldn’t they be starting with themselves and helping to develop it throughout the organizations?

I would have to say “Yes” on this one. A big mistake made by way too many folks is to preach the good word without having gone through the transformation themselves. Web 2.0 represents a whole mind shift, not just a set of tools. It is the power of “we” not “I”. It is about people creating content together, not the lone, brave hero leading the pack. The only way to “get it” is to try it. To get the power of finding or creating your own community of practice with others who you may never have even met, you have to try it out. You have to discover a community and contribute to it. Without experiencing it for yourself, you become another old-world “leader” using all the right buzzwords and pretending to know.

  • And then shouldn’t the learning organization become a driver for the organization?

This seems similar to question #1. I think we should be thought leaders to the extent that we influence the establishment of a learning organization (including in the continuous improvement sense, not just creating a bunch of courses). An advocate or influencer, yes. Driver? Not so sure. I reckon that as organizations (and especially our own learning colleagues) get the importance of informal learning, our position as “driver” here might become especially important.

  • And like in the world of libraries don’t we need to market ourselves in this capacity?

Absolutely we need to be marketing ourselves. I see my role, and my team’s role, as having a unique set of skills that the organization needs to leverage. If I don’t market myself and/or my team, the rest of the org has no clue what they are missing. Marketing is absolutely crucial. And, unfortunately, it is a skill-set too lacking among too many learning professionals.