Knowledge, From Productivity Source to Critical Component

ecollab - social learning blog carnivalThis post was cross-posted on ecollab carnival blog, as part of a collaborative thinking about the future of the training department.

Productivity: The amount of output per unit of input (labor, equipment, and capital).

Enterprise has for long understood, and applied, that training and education are an important part of its hunt for competitive advantages.  At operational level, first, training allows for better adequacy between employees, their role, and the hierarchy- and process-based ‘mechanics’ of Enterprise. At competitive level, then, acquisition of new knowledge is for companies both a way to keep best talents in house and a way to setup an innovation friendly ecosystem. In both cases, education and learning have taken a privileged position in professional environments, and is now openly recognized as an important productivity source.

It is quite striking to see how much this concept, rationalized, statutory, acquisition of formal and explicit knowledge in order to maximize individual productivity, is now spread across our whole society, bridging more and more closely business and education worlds, notably with generalization of internship requirements. This concept, however, ceases today to be legitimate.

While apparently justified by security and… productivity concerns, present trend of blocking access to main social networks rather looks like a desperate attempt in denying actual cultural and societal evolution. How could we otherwise explain such practices, as more than 40% of employees will use a mobile terminal to priority access the internet in two years from now? Whether they want it or not, companies will soon face a real organizational dilemma: to witness a drastic individual productivity dropout, for letting employees freely access the social web, or to provide them internally with an environment as much attractive as the one they can find outside. As the ideal enterprise will stay, for long, an almost unreachable ideal, other solutions have to be considered for a vast majority of companies. Finding the most relevant one? This seems quite an evidence for most of us: we have to recognize the importance of knowledge informal acquisition, and to include this activity in the general framework of individual listening and self-training task.

The growing importance of informal knowledge, and its necessary integration into professional education, doesn’t limit itself to external influence. Whether they wish it or not, companies are today involved into collaborative initiatives which question the very foundations of individual productivity. It will have to be more and more transferred to the community, one of its natural functions being training through implicit knowledge sharing.

From being considered today as a source for productivity, in our hierarchy and process-based structures, training will very logically and quickly become one of its critical components. This will ultimately modify existing relations between knowledge, innovation and production. Concretely, and naturally, social learning will pave the way for Enterprise 2.0.

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