Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

Experiences with Micro-learning in Corporate Environment

After trying out Twitter for some time, I started experimenting with Yammer sometime early this year. I would say we are still in the experimentation phase with micro-learning. I started with sending some invites and broadcasted some messages. It was a slow start with me invite some colleagues and then the pace picking up quickly as the joining went viral. People invited other colleagues and the membership soon grew (we now have more than 90 people on our Yammer network). Messages started to flow. The Yammer platform was used to generate ideas and brainstorm their implementation. The micro-learning environment opened communication between departments that traditionally had little or no interaction. People exchanged tips about frequently used software tools. Links to interesting posts were shared on the network.

And then things began to settle down. The pace at which new members grew has slowed down. The messages are now just about trickling in, only a few each week, mostly sharing external links. In the micro-learning usage hype cycle, I think we are somewhere in the shaded area in the Yammer usage hype cycle below.

Some of the challenges to micro-learning adoption:

  • Culture: Actually it is the culture of broadcasting yourself. Not everyone is used to broadcasting what they are doing. This takes some time to develop. We have a few champions and power users who are trying to push the usage and keep the networking going. It is important to identify as many champions as possible to get conversations going on the environment.
  • Training: Ok, let’s face it, not everyone knows how to get the most of a micro-learning environment. We haven’t done any training for the people using Yammer. In a survey of Yammer users, we found that most people use the Yammer web page and very few actually used the desktop application. Using the web page is cumbersome and can make participation daunting. Desktop application is ‘always on’ and provides alerts on new messages. And, more importantly, training required is also required on how to benefit from micro-learning environments, what people can expect and what is expected from them.
  • Competition: Micro-learning environment is new and faces competition from other more used services like email and instant messages. Yes, there are clear distinctions between the services, but people are more comfortable with email and IM. People need to see distinctive advantages of using a micro-learning environment.

The benefits of micro-learning environment are many and we will continue to push for its usage.

  • Opens communication across various departments of the organizations.
  • A great way to generate and build on ideas, not limited by the people in a room.
  • Easy to share links and useful info with everyone.
  • It’s a great tool to engage everyone in the organization.

In spite of the benefits, I am still not sure how to make convincing case for actually spending money on Yammer or another micro learning environment. I haven’t figured a compelling business case for me to go to my CEO and ask him to spend thousands of dollars on this, especially in times like these. Till then our experiment continues with the free service provided by Yammer.

Would love to hear about other experiences about micro learning in the corporate environment.

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Control vs. Influence

This is a guest post by S Ranganathan. I got a chance to interact with Ranganathan during a leadership development program that I attended at ISB. Ranga, as he would like to be called, is a regular Executive Coach at ISB where he partners with different trainers in their Global Leadership Program. Ranga holds a Post Graduate degree in Management from IIM Bangalore preceded by a Post Graduate degree in Mathematics from IIT Chennai. Ranga is the Founder-Director of SymIndia Training and Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.—an organization based in Bangalore that caters to the high-end Consulting and Training needs in both Technology and Management Domains. He can be contacted at ranga [at] symindia [dot] com.

What is the difference between Control and Influence?

This question was triggered when I read the following statement in a book recently:

“Our main source of stress stems from our desire to control things around us, people around us, situations around us and above all control ourselves.

I have been training many professionals on Leadership wherein the main leadership competence we discuss is Influence. The above question is indeed worth exploring in this context.

Before we come to the differences between Control and Influence, let’s notice that both of them have some commonality too:

- To challenge the current situation (than accept status-quo mutely)

- To cause a change in the thinking/behavior of others

- High belief in oneself

- High energy levels

Now, lets focus on the differences between Control and Influence: Here is how I see it… when Person-A is interacting with Person-B

Aspects to Consider

Control

Influence

Verbal Language

Judgmental, Comparing, Extreme

Balanced, Apt

Tonality of the Person-A

Threat, Command

Care, Respect

Emotions Triggered in Person-B

Fear, Guilt, Greed (Stress comes from here!)

Joyful Motivation

Final state of mind for Person-B

Insecurity, Helplessness (in extreme cases even Revengeful)

Trust and Security

State of Mind of Person-A (if he/she experiences failure in the attempt )

Anger, Irritation (Stress comes from here!)

Acceptance, Introspection

Communication between the two persons

One-way, Instructional

Two-way, Discussing

Possible techniques used by Person-A

Shouting, Closing channels of communication, Walk-outs, Broken-record (on final decision) (Stress comes from here!)

Polite persuasions, Objective and data-based, Open channels of Communication, Broken-record (on outlook and analysis)

Timing chosen by Person-A

Appropriate moment for Person-A, many times last-minute!!

Chosen appropriate moment for Person-B, Early in cycle

Information shared

Very selective

Open to any information

Final state desired by Person-A

As ‘required’ by Person-A!!

Outcome of open discussion

Attitude of Person-A to „home-work to be done before dialog

Not necessary

Very essential

Body Language

Aggressive, rude (sometimes projected submissiveness)

Assertive

Listening demonstrated by Person-A

Poor

Active Listening

Listening demonstrated by Person-B

Poor

Active Listening

Self-esteem of Person-A

Requires development

High

Self-esteem of Person-B (during and after the dialog)

Reduced

Maintained, Increased

Basic Temperament

Agitated, Restless

Calm, Excited

Belief in Higher-self

Low

High

Please note that the above aspects have NOT been listed in any specific order. These are just different aspects as I could fathom!

I Don't Want to Measure!

Now don’t get me wrong. I love measurement. Heck, I measure everything, Everything! I am the epitome of measurement. Okay, perhaps that’s stretching it too far but you get the picture. I believe measurement is a critical step to bring about any change and improvement. Yet, I have been shying away from measurement lately. Well, I am still measuring but am generally becoming resistant to pushing the envelope too far on measurement. Which got me thinking.

When does measurement become a pain in the wrong part of our anatomy? When do we start resisting measurement? I think this happens when:

  • we stop playing the game and become score keepers. When measurement becomes an end in itself.
  • measurement starts to be more difficult and time consuming than the actual work that you are trying to measure.
  • we look for absolute precision in measurement when accuracy is all that is required.
  • it is just hard to measure softer parameters and kills the fun of actual work, like trying to measure creativity, innovation, culture, learning etc.
  • we are afraid that measurement will be used against us in performance appraisals, or for comparing us with peers.
  • one measure will lead to the requirement of measuring another, will lead to… …

When have you resisted measurement?


Pic by HeyThereSpaceman.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.

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