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Why do we need collaboration?

Learning Systems



The Darwinian pressure on organizations today is to learn and adapt quickly and effectively to an environment that is exceptionally complex and turbulent.


Learning from what we do rather than from what a school or book can teach

Formal learning, sourced from traditional schools, is years behind best practice in the field. Universities and formal schools are trapped by the traditional methods of organization and cannot keep pace with rate of change that is pressing down on the workplace today.


Companies such as BP and organizations such as the US Army have recognized that only real-time organization-based learning can keep up with what is required in the field. In addition they have discovered that, by giving the role of teacher to their own workers, they provide an important ingredient in the new workplace – that of providing meaning and value to workers that is much more powerful than pay. Everyone in BP has knowledge that is of value to others. Few things are more affirming that to be heard and valued. Think of the knowledge locked up in the Health System?


BP Have set up a number of processes that “Connect” (Connect is their Program name) individuals and groups within BP so that they can learn from each other. Every staffer has a personal web site and the whole ecosystem is connected by powerful search engines.


An important underpinning idea behind this process is that it is easier to find a person or a group that knows that to manage a huge database of knowledge. Practice in BP is to use their search engine to find a person or a team who can help you. This is where BP are ahead of all others who have taken a database approach.


Learning also occurs online through Facilitated Web Based Communities of Practice and in person as teams from one area spend time with the team that needs to learn more. This part of the system deliberately sets up cross functional communities of Learning to improve major processes. Imagine how for instance you could approach say Day Surgery or a health issue such as Cancer requiring many providers with such an approach?


What does this mean in practice? It means that all the BP drillers talk to each other around the world and that any new practice is instantly tested and installed everywhere. It means that those involved in managing BP’s entry into a new country can learn from country managers that have dealt with similar political issues. It means that when you have a question, you can put it out into the system and a real person will respond and help you.


Corporately it means that BP saved $700 million in the first two years from the practical implementation of this system. It means that the US Army achieved in 4 weeks in Afghanistan  what the entire Russian military failed to do in 15 years.


Importantly, BP and the US Army have learned however that it is not technology per se that has enabled BP to accelerate its learning, although the tools that they use are important. The key has been to unlock the mental blockage, so common in men, about asking others for help.  BP has found that the US Army’s After Action Review (The AAR) has been exceptionally powerful in making asking questions horizontally the norm. The AAR has supported asking for help and asking tough questions. It has therefore has unlocked the power of new web-based technology to connect staff.


We attach a short review of both the US Army and BP’s journey to learn and adapt faster than their competitors.


  • The AAR has been found to be simple fast and effective to use as the door opener to the new culture. We attach a number of articles that describe how it is used and its impact.
  • Personal Websites – the technology around personal websites has improved dramatically in the last 3 years. The key is a tool called a “Web Log”. “Blogging” its practice is the fastest growing part of the web. In essence it is a diary on the web where you can post any time what you want to and connect to a feed called a News Aggregator that connects you to other Bloggers who interest you.. We attach a number of articles that will explain this.
  • Group centered technology. Until recently the optimal group facilitating software was Lotus Notes. Notes was complex, expensive and demanded major central support and servers. The man who invented Notes has developed a new system which his much simpler to used, is more powerful and is distributed onto each PC. Called Groove. Inexpensive to use and manage, Groove is one of the most exciting tools available today. Microsoft are so impressed that they have invested $50 million and are working to seamlessly integrate Office with Groove. We attach a number of articles that describe Groove as well.


Approach to  Learning Systems

Corporate intranets are poor communication devices in that they are one way push and are written in corporate speak. They are also expensive and complex to manage.


Web logs and Groove are interactive and personal and as such fit the need for interactivity and authenticity. They are distributed systems and as such are cheap and simple to manage.


We will show you how you could use a mix of these tools to make a major shift in the workplace environment.

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Last update: 05/01/2003; 3:23:46 PM.