What is an ecosystem and why build it?
To enhance individuals and orgs by connecting people with a broad range of techs that drive performance.
There's formal training -- and then there's all of the ways that we learn within the flow of work (performance support, collaboration, access to experts, knowledge management. ALL of these are included in an ecosystem.
Guild research: We continue to see a trend to replace more scheduled training (classroom, webinars, etc.) with more on-demand training. And we see a trend to provide more options for learning within the work environment and the workflow.
The six components?
- access to experts (consult)
- knowledge management (research)
- performance support (perform)
- talent management (advance)
- structured learning (train)
- social networking and collage (share)
Let's walk through 'em now:
Talent Management: people have competencies, they need them, jobs requirement them. Talent management options match up people with competencies, identify gaps -- allows you to improve in your current job or prepare for the next one.
Performance Support: complete processes and tasks, make decisions
- software help (sims, walk-throughs, etc.)
- task & process support (explanations, sample outputs, step-by-step instructions, advice links)
- diagnostic tools -- to help you diagnose and solve complex problems (calculators, comparison tools, etc.)
Access to Experts: ask questions, get guidance
A directory of experts in your org (could be Sharepoint).
You're interested in getting guidance on a topic - you search your org to find who has that expertise. You can read their profile, see what they've written/published, see how others have rated them, see how to contact that person.
Social Networking & Collaboration: discuss experiences, exchange ideas
A valuable way to support people to connect and learn from each other.
Structured Learning: enhance skills, achieve certification
Formal learning for new hires, compliance, etc.
Where do you start? Where you are! You should leverage what you have and go from there....
More on these components:
Coaching is part of talent management. But you might also have a structured learning program that involves mentoring and shadowing. Cohorts may be part of structured learning, but could be part of social networking where cohorts work together to complete an assignments.
These components aren't discrete. There's lots of overlap.
The three building blocks?
Each component requires content, process, and technologies
Content: you might have the content, or you're designing an environment where content can emerge
Process: what's needed from a business perspective? What problems are you trying to solve? You need to look at HOW the work happens. Where are the bottlenecks and inefficiencies? That will help you identify where to provide work-based solutions. Each component has its own set of processes.
When designing ecosystem solutions -- especially those built seamlessly within the workflow -- it needs to be kept alive and thriving. It's not a case of "we've delivered the course and we're done." So they require ongoing processes to maintain and keep the content relevant.
Lots of different techs to support an ecosystem.
Talent Management, software help, search engines, CMS, DMS, analysts, blogs, wikis, social network, authoring tools, LMS, assessments, etc.
These can be loosely joined -- with a backend that lets you pull out data. They don't have to be tightly integrated.
Your culture will determine how this goes down.
- You need management leadership and sponsorship.
- Tech advocacy -- partnering with your IT group.
- Content needs to managed and curated. Important to have ongoing ownership and control of your content.
- L&D function and its perceived charter -- if you think you're about training, then you won't go far with ecosystems. If others think you're about training and courses, it'll be hard to overcome that. You need to broaden your scope. In ecosystems you want to impact the work where and when it's happening.
- Budget, resources and time -- this may take time.
- Standards, governance, process.
How do the pieces fit together?
- Search Engine
- knowledge base, communities, courses
- Learning Record Store
How do we create ecosystem solutions?
Design needs to focus on strategic links.
Your business strategy drives your learning strategy which drives your ecosystem architecture.
Don't let the tech drive what you can do. First focus on what your organization is doing. Think strategically, analytically, holistically.
Find out what keeps the exec leadership team up at night. Get access to top level execs.Be sure to identify that you're solving the right problems. Ask them "What do you see as our top five business goals over the next 3-5 years, and what are the challenges? What do you see as the top human performance challenges impacting those goals?
This will build credibility, gain influence and sponsorship, and helps you focus your effort.
Figure out where you should focus. Talk to middle managers. How does the work happen? What are the problems and why? How do you measure the problems? What are your business metrics?
If you can clarify task, work outputs and workflows you'll set the right context.
If you identify obstacles, bottlenecks, you'll uncover opportunities for your ecosystem.
Prioritize by frequency, complexity, and level of impact. Pick the problems that are marked HIGH for all three dimensions and focus on those ones first. Then tackle the next tier. This will help you demonstrate impact.
What kind of solution will increase productivity?
Look at the components that you have available to you -- what you have right now that you can leverage.
Establish metrics that are focused on those business metrics. This is what you want to impact.
Identify the right components and your requirements.
Start with the end in mind so you can establish your goal.
Establishing a phased goal helps you deliver value at each phase -- you get started more quickly.
Focus on productivity and not learning, then you'll be impacting business metrics -- what sponsors care about.
If you focus on environment and not just content you'll find that content emerges from the users.
Examples may not include all six components.
Steve shares an example from a healthcare company that built off structured learning, performance support and knowledge management.
Financial services: structured learning, talent management, knowledge management, access to experts. Wanted to decrease time to access and find information -- time spent searching for info rather than working with customers estimated at $11M/year. Created some standard learning paths for new hires, development plan creation/review/tracking, knowledgeable of product and sales collateral, product expert contacts w/office hours.
Communications company: wanted to change their culture to move towards more of a solutions selling company -- where selling suites of products and solutions. So they measured revenue and the size of the sale. Their solution included knowledgebase, process based performance support, ask an expert, CoP, learning/mentoring program.
All case studies driven by business problems. Each used different components or "recipes." Measured success using business metrics.
Check out the Ecosystems: The Whitepaper from the eLearning Guild and the Ecosystems research report coming in January.