There was a lot happening at Microsoft Ignite when I was there early in November in Orlando and to date, remains one of the best technology conferences I’ve ever been to – for sheer size and scale but mainly, for the mind blowing applications of modern workplace programs and the realisation that the way of work as we know it, has effectively, already changed. You can check out my Microsoft Ignite videos here:
- What’s It Like to Be a Community Reporter at Ignite
- Working with a Production Crew at Microsoft Ignite
- Rehearsal Day at Ignite
- Key Lessons Learned at Microsoft Ignite
What Is the Modern Workplace?
I subscribe to many YouTube channels and methodically go through many of the programs. I watch YouTube more than I do any other television (no, I don’t have Netflix). I saw this clip come up in my feed so decided to watch it on Sunday morning and bring back memories of Ignite. I also tweeted out some thoughts as I was watching it.
Whoever had gone to Microsoft Ignite, would have seen the big area just outside the food hall that was a showcase to Modern Workplace.
Large monitors in each booth demonstrated various aspects of how tools such as Teams and Yammer (and many others) would change the face of work as we know it. The booths were specific to industry too so you can chat to people who could demonstrate how the program could be used by say, health professionals or shift workers so they had customised the demonstration and online environment (Contoso, of course) to suit the case study they were demonstrating.
In amongst these was what looked like someone’s lounge room (you can see the image above). You stepped into it and there were again various demonstrations and I spent a bit of time in there chatting about the My Analytics function which is something every week I use (you get email in Outlook that shows you how you’re interacting with different people and programs and gives you some insight into where you’re spending your most work).
Where is Learning In All This?
This video is a collation of various interviews and customer case studies that is of interest to watch. Every time I watch anything to do with Microsoft Modern Workplace I’m effectively, in my head, matching and aligning to what teams in say, Learning and Development can do to help their workers get onboard with all these changes however, to date, I have yet to see any L&D team actually working with IT and Change on this. I’m sure there are many organisations who are but to date, I just haven’t seen them. I think it may be because usually, any move of systems to the cloud is really (initially) and IT issue and focus. They may be getting help from say, Microsoft or Microsoft partners or even just asking for help by their Change teams.
(I did however, see one company on a job recruitment site. I check these out every so often so I can see patterns emerge over types of jobs and skills being advertised. They advertised for an instructional designer to develop e-learning courses around Microsoft programs for their people which I thought was a nonsensical idea especially when all of it is already created and sitting on Microsoft sites – just link to those !?).
Anyway, I checked out the above video and here’s some things I got out of this:
- Team Learning (Let’s call is social and collaborative learning but it’s done with the entire team using the same tools and platforms they have at work. It’s learning in the flow of work. We cover this in our recent book on Microsoft Teams: A Manager’s Guide to Communication, Collaboration and Co-ordination. If there’s opportunity to bring the entire team together (by that I mean the team that works on a process together centred around a particular project), you’re more likely to have people discuss, debate, experiment, trial and devise how to design or redesign the workflow using the tools at hand). In effect, their working AND learning at the same time. They’re APPLYING what they’re learning to a real life problem or project, experimenting how it works and test it all out.
- “Productivity is not about efficiency, it’s about harnessing knowledge in your organisation so that you can do something you haven’t done before,” says Jared Spataro, Corporate VP of Microsoft. Throughout the Ignite Conference, I listened intently to the messages articulated and the words were all about knowledge, teamwork, business problems, adoption, change, AI, work flow. Absolutely nothing about learning – even though it’s ALL about learning. Of course, learning is the meta process to get all the above done but it’s not the focus – the focus is the output work or a change from the situation.
- “Community” – if I had a dollar every time this word was mentioned at Ignite! (I even have a jeans jacket with the words “Community Rocks!” on the back). The focus on community is in effect, a focus on the realisation of the value that everyone brings to work and the opportunities for co-operation and collaboration – learning from each other and with each other.
All up my biggest a-has and wake up call was the fact that my Learning and Development language and focus on the ‘meta’ processes – the in-between – at the expense of the ‘output’ which is where all business people are focusing anyway, needed a massive overhaul. My L&D and ‘education type’ lingo was holding me back.
I’ve been writing on about social learning on this blog since 2013 and yet, to many Learning and Development, this was never – and probably still isn’t – a focus. Similarly, to business, they don’t care much about it – in fact, it’s not even in their vocabulary. It’s not front of mind.
Admittedly at the time I started writing it, the enterprise social systems and work systems were still in their ‘collaborative infancy’. Business people and Learning and Development teams never considered them as critical business – or indeed, learning tools – preferring to stick with email (for business) and clunky Learning Management Systems (for L&D).
Now, with smarter collaboration systems like what Microsoft has developed and linked to AI, data and metrics – IT’S BRINGING SOCIAL LEARNING FRONT AND CENTRE.
However, my lesson is not to call it “social” and hell, not to even call it “learning” because it brings up “Facebook/Bad” first and secondly, “training classrooms”.
Learning always seems to denote that it’s about someone – usually a non-expert teacher, ‘telling’ us how to do something; getting people OUT of their work environment for days on end to teach them something that the workplace doesn’t even do anyway. Waste of time on everyone’s part frankly.
Like this below…if you’re putting your people through this as part of your adoption and change program for your technology implementation, you have no one else to blame but yourself if people aren’t working or using their systems effectively.
So I have to start using general words – and metaphors – that denote a softer, helpful, supportive, equal and respectful approach to working with others and these will be:
So it’s time not to use the L word anymore because really it’s all about that – but why knock your head against the wall trying to explain it. Use the language of the business and be done with it – you’ll have more success with people understanding what you mean.
- Social Learning is Personal
- Social Learning – It’s Not What You Think It Is
- The Enigma of Social Learning
- Four Myths of Social Learning