Expediting Learning for Smarter Organizations #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speakers: Sandra Montanino, Director of Professional Development, Goodmans LLP and Ted Graham, Director, Knowledge & Learning, PWC

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: Does the Apple (iPad) fall far from the Tree (of Knowledge)? Organizations can no longer maintain a workable distinction between knowledge management and professional development if they expect to drive growth in the knowledge economy. Technology is driving change in both the learning and knowledge spheres, and innovation depends on new ways of sharing knowledge, experience, and information. Speakers spark conversation in this interactive session!


  •  Focus on the Formal Organizational Structure: When the learning & development function and knowledge management function are deployed in a formal organizational structure, it leads to KM that is focused on codification of “top” knowledge. On the L&D side, there is a focus on standardized curriculum and a very traditional view of the teacher and student roles.
  • Focus on the Informal Organizational Structure: A social network analysis (SNA;  for more information, see Rob Cross) of an organization can show which employees are critical to the smooth flow of information within the organization. With respect to L&D and KM, an SNA will reveal who in the organization is a teacher and who shares knowledge.
  • Gen Y Knowledge Workers: Gen Y employees now make up one-third of the workforce in Canada and the US. They have some key shared attributes:
    • they are like jet-skiers rather than deep divers — they prefer to skim the surface rather than focusing
    • they are achievement oriented
    • they like recognition, not only for achievement, but also for effort
    • they have short attention spans
    • they are interested in just-in-time information rather than just-in-case information
    • they are used to parent involvement — this leads them to expect authority figures to nurture and guide them
    • they expect constant feedback
  • Who is the Teacher?
    • The teacher is more than a single adult standing at the front of a classroom. Now people learn from Google, YouTube, Twitter, TED Talks, Khan Academy and Massive Open Online Courses.
    • The organization cannot prevent this shift. Rather it should find ways to take incorporate these alternative sources of teaching.
    • At Goodmans, they have invited to come to the firm to educate their lawyers and other clients. In addition, they have identified people in their organization who have the capacity to teach. For example, administrative assistants/secretaries have been providing technology training. Now they are given formal support for this. And the firm has been able to reduce the IT training staff. From the lawyer’s perspective, the lawyer gets just-in-time training from a resource that is at hand. Better still, the lawyers no longer have to spend endless hours in IT training sessions.
    • At PwC, they have shifted their budget and resources away from traditional classroom-style learning. Now they focus on team-based learning.
  • Fact-Driven Learning Design: What data is (or could be available) to help you improve the quality of your training?
    • What do PwC people search for externally? Should we design training on those topics?
    • Tracking engagement during training sessions — has someone navigated to another screen during a webinar? If so, use that data to move quickly to an intervention such asking that person a question to recapture their attention.
    • What is the auto-populate in your internal search boxes?
  • Critical Roles for KM and Learning Professionals:
    • Facilitator/Matchmaker: (1) Help people connect to expertise. This means seeing all sources of expertise, even if they are outside the traditional ranks of teachers. These informal sources of learning can be hugely helpful for just-in-time learning. (2) Make it possible for professionals to learn from the people they want to learn from. (These teachers may not be on the traditional list of teachers.) When you do this, the professionals often learn better.
    • Connecting the Dots and Closing the Loops: Use KM to close the loop after the initial learning has occurred. KM shares the explicit information, while L&D can help share tacit information.
    • Get out of the Way: Increase the opportunities for people outside KM and L&D to help teach and share information.
  • Focus on the Right Incentive: It is much easier to collect/create knowledge with respect to a training session that will be occurring soon than it is to ask someone to create materials without the potential/threat of an audience.
  • Try New Techniques: Rather than giving someone an assignment to create content, try interviewing them instead. They are more likely to contribute that way and they understand that there is no need to polish it endlessly.

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