The New Collaborative Culture


The saying goes that there are three kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who cannot. When it comes to learning new concepts or skills, there are “readers”, “seers” and “doers”. Readers can spend time scouring books or other written media to translate into results. Seers, typically learn through reading as well but for the content to stick they require watching examples or maybe participating in a lecture. Doers, likewise learn through the written word, pick up more by observing, but also require that extra step of applying what they have learned. What about the longevity of knowledge retention?

With the prevalence of on-line learning content coupled with the need for speed, a typical person goes at it alone to learn something new. Collaborating with others for learning is almost nonexistent in today’s professional world which poses a few problems. Studies show that studying alone retains only about 28% of what you learned with an increase of 18% once repeated (LINK). Change the dynamic to a group setting and that initial retention jumps to 64%. According the Josh Bersin Academy (LINK) there’s a marked increase in the depth and retention of learning directly correlated to the level of collaborative design. Simply put, the closer you are to group learning, the more likely you will retain and apply all you have learned.

Harnessing collaborative learning is increasingly becoming widely adopted through platforms such as Nomadic Learning or NovoEd which enable organizations to better collaborate and share knowledge. This is a far cry from the eLearning model we’ve been accustomed to over the years. We can also take cues from the educational system today in that they’ve been adopting more and more collaborative, cohort models of learning. Products like Google Classroom along with the proliferation of laptops, MacBooks, iPads, smart phones, etc. are beginning to unshackle students from tackling homework or projects alone. Technology tools not only can increase group learning, they make our lives more efficient.

In previous blogs, Can We Talk? and Awkward Much there’s a recurring theme I use around effective human interaction balanced between technology and physical connections. The push and pull between technology and in-person collaborating is ever-present. Finding ways to rapidly learn new skills and share ideas fits well within this journey. You can easily pull in a team on a Webex to kick around a challenge or problem to solve, but sometimes you just need a room with a whiteboard. The path you and your team choose, and the success of the desired outcome is clearly best served if everyone is working as group and not in isolation.

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