What do business schools undervalue?

November 24, 2008

At the Presidential Inaguration of Babson’s new president Leonard (Len) Schlesinger, Jack Welch gave the guest speech. Jack and Len worked together at GE as part of the GE Path Forward re-engineering of GE. Jack gave a short speech on the current economic crisis and then took a couple questions. One question (I’m paraphrasing here): What do businesses need, yet business schools undervalue?

Jack’s answer (again paraphrasing): Business schools do not emphasize enough of the soft skills needed to succeed. Organizational Development, Human Resources and Communication are the areas businesses desperately need competent and qualified candidates.

Coincidentally the professor, who was asked to welcome our new President, was the department lead in Organizational Development.

You can read more about the inauguration here.


Mashup (KM + LD + HR + SN) = Culture 2.0

November 15, 2008

Mashups are generally used in discussion of Web 2.0 sites such as http://www.housingmaps.com/, a combination of Google Maps and property listings on Craigslist. Mashup is also a musical term where two or more songs are mashed together to create an entirely new song. Check out: http://www.djearworm.com/ for some good examples. In each case two stand alone and complete works are mashed together to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

This week I came across a third mashup: combining Knowledge Management, Learning and Development, Human Resources and Social Networks. I’m not sure if there is a name for this, perhaps Talent Management or Organizational Development but these are still too limiting. For now let’s call this mashup Culture 2.0. If you have a name suggestion let me know.

By mashing traditional Knowledge Management ideas such as:
• Knowledge Repositories
• Communities of Practice
• Knowledge Capture, Sharing & Reuse
• Content Management

With Learning and Development techniques such as:
• 70:20:10 rule
• Mobile & Online Learning
• Skill Development

With Human Resource support structure around:
• Recognition Programs
• Job Descriptions, Job Families, Competencies
• Measured Business Objectives
• Career Path Opportunities

And leveraging Social Network & Web 2.0 tools:
• Facebook & LinkedIn functionality
• Instant communication (IM, Skype)
• Expertise Location / Employee Histories
• Forums, Wikis, Blogs, Global Search, Tags, etc

By taking a strategic look at combining and reinforcing the efforts in these areas I think one could have a positive impact on the company culture, how it innovates and improve overall collaboration. This is not an easy task. Individually each area has a large degree of focus and bringing together the right team and setting the right priorities would dictate the degree of success.

Individually each area is traditionally seen as a cost for the business, continually having to justify budget and staff. Mashed together and taken as a whole, suddenly Culture 2.0 defines how successful your business can be. I’d be interested if you have seen companies take such a mashed-up approach.


November 4, 2008

I recently attended the Learning Innovation Network conference in New York city. The conference is a joint venture between Jeanne Meister and the folks over at the Human Capital Institute. The event was hosted by Merrill Lynch.

I was invited to present on my experiences with Communities of Practice at HDS as part of a panel with Tracy Dodd from CA. Together we talked about our experiences with communities and the tools we use to support them. I noted that the folks at CA are using SharePoint 2007 to connect their communities.

The coolest part of the conference was the demo of how Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) uses mobile learning. Merrill Lynch’s application MoBull (great name!) pushes content to their employee’s Blackberries. Read more about the application at CLO Magazine.

Overall I learned a lot. Having never attended a ‘learning and development’ event it was interesting to see how companies can focus on developing their people. I was even more struck by the 70:20:10 rule. I’ll be posting more on that soon.