Jane McConnell conducted a survey not too long ago to try and figure out what the greatest challenges were in the workplace. The top two that she discovered were related to:
- finding information to do the work and
- changing the mindset towards more collaboration and cooperation.
See her results and interpretation here.
She is very much focused on the “How To” from these findings and stated “I feel our industry is communicating too much theory and not enough operational and workable ideas today.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately most companies will turn to some new tech as their operational idea. However, the rate of change far exceeds the ability of a single tool or approach to keep up. The solution lies in strategy and more specifically a people-centric strategy not a tech focused one.
The two areas Jane surfaced are not exclusive of each other really as both are learning related but I’ll say up front, what I propose is not a quick fix – sorry, but it is workable. The answer lies in supporting greater informal and social learning made operational through a 70:20:10 framework. But unlike an initiative, you do not roll out 70:20:10, rather you must reveal it. Remember people already learn from doing their work, and they learn through and with each other. A 70:20:10 Framework not only makes this more apparent, it amplifies these activities, encourages them. Small, powerful changes at different entry points build and transform the system over time. In other words 70:20:10 IS a Catalytic Mechanism:
“organizational mechanisms that are extraordinarily powerful at aligning a business behind a chosen strategy.”
70:20:10 lifts the divide between learning and working by creating new behaviors around cooperation, openness and sharing. 70:20:10 shifts power into the hands of employees because, as noted in Jane’s findings, strong central power is not the answer in complex work environments.
Revisiting Jane’s two findings with a 70:20:10 lens:
- Finding (relevant) information is best done in trusted networks that add valuable context
- Collaboration is an outcome of greater cooperation (through connection)
Here’s a workable idea (a small powerful change), that I’ve promoted before that will increase social activity among employees:
Promote a development plan make-over that reduces training time allocated or training dollars significantly. Goals remain the same, but formal learning opportunities are constrained, can’t be first option. Then open up dialog on “how can we do this?” Create the space for better connection (tech aside). Make mentoring and coaching more a part of the planning. Encourage people to share their sources of new information. Model open question/answer opportunities. Frankly these things have been happening all along, in small sets. Now we work to expand them.
However, beware, 70:20:10 is more than a strategy, it can be an organizational change agent which disrupts the status quo. 70:20:10 won’t just help people better meet the demands of today’s work it can change the very nature of work.