First things first – Why?

I attended a webinar yesterday, run by the Learning and Skills Group and featuring the esteemed Clive Shepherd alongside a delegation from Saba. The webinar was very interesting with Clive, as always, providing some real food for thought and the team from Saba giving some good insights into the way people could use social and collaborative platforms to support learning.

One of the things that really made me ponder though was how, in the chat area of the session, there were several people who were seeing the way Steve Atkins from Saba was presenting as too much of a product based speech and were asking for examples of how it was actually used. But they were missing the point. He wasn’t just talking us through the features of a product, he was telling us how people collaborate and network and learn from each other on the site. Yes, this used the features within Saba’s platform but heck, they’re the same features pretty much in any collaborative/social platform out there. It was what they were doing with those features that was important.

When we began conversations at the company I work for around introducing a company wide platform, at the initial meeting there were so many people with agendas around which platform we should be using, whether it be SharePoint, Success Factors’ Jam , Yammer etc. It took some real effort to get them to focus on why we want to use it in the first instance.

Most of these platforms do pretty much the same thing these days, it’s what you do with it that counts. What’s the reason for introducing one. Work more on how to prove the value to people within the business rather than which one they should be using. Think ahead to help people see why it’s being introduced and what it can do for them. They don’t care which one you use. They just care about how they’re going to be able to use it to connect and build relationships and networks. How they can recognise colleagues for great work and collaborate with people across the company to make it a better place to be. How they can work out loud and be able to show what they’re doing and see what others have been upto. How they will be able to blog and reflect upon their experiences. How will they be able to go out to the network with a question to a relevant group and get an answer from someone in the know. Spreading ideas, collaborating to make them become a reality.

Once you know why you’re going to use one then you can start thinking about which one is going to be the best, most appropriate one. But let’s not take a leap before we know why we’re leaping and where we’re going to land.

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