Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Collaboration in a Multi-Department Environment

Presentation: Collaboration in a Multi-Department Training Organization
Presenters: Bruce Baumgarten and Shane Verheyen, California State Automobile Association

I find myself now working with multiple training departments. Especially as we move to SkillPort and start converting ILTs to eLearning.

(Grrr...computer gets lonely without power......)

This one is a bit more free-form than my other notes due to the nature of the session. Many of my thoughts are in italics (when I thought about it).


Implemented an instructional design community of practice.

- Thinks and acts beyond one's own work group
- Puts enterprise needs and goals ahead of individual objectives
- Takes responsibility to help others succeed
- Freely share information
- Celebrates successful performance - results and values

How do you turn "collaboration" into an outcome?

One approach - develop a Community of Practice - process of social learning. Stable group formed through regular interactions on a common interest. From informal to formal.

(This is a "Working Meeting")

AAA has cultural value of collaboration.
- Is this idea helping to support or augment one of your core cultural values?
- They are also helping to support a DIRECT business line.
- Organized as formal "University" group. Support the university but report to business line.

One change to one product can affect 4 different training groups.
- How do you create those lines of communication so that one minor change can be communicated to everyone affected and the message is consistent.

Community of Practice
- Create consistent learning experience.
+ Develop consistent templates and writing standard. Minor customizations.
+ Streamline processes.
- Meetings to develop common vocabulary and processes.
+ Reduce redundancies and utilize resources.
- Sharing information
- Culture of sharing even minor tweaks to information.
+ Share experiences and best practices.
+ Developed culture where asking questions OK.

SWOT Activity (my thoughts)
- Strength (Internal)
+ Trainers starting to communicate with each other
+ A couple of members from other groups starting to work together more robustly

- Weakness (Internal)
+ Training groups still very siloed
+ Roles in new environment not well defined.

- Opportunity (External)
+ Lots of incoming eLearning conversion work
+ Compliance beginning to want more robust reporting through LMS - centralized project.

- Threat (External)
+ Time constraints
+ Demand
+ Unknown upper level politics - reporting to different Senior VPs.

(Yay! I got a Flash Drive!!! 1GB, but its something)

Communities of practice can be synchronous, asynchronous and both.
- AAA also a grassroots start.
- As grew, developed site with standards and other important info (maybe where a wiki might work?)

Formal vs. Informal
- AAA more formal
+ Got a sponsor, business plan, have 3 subcommittees (standards (closed mostly since developed the standards), technologies, professional development), meetings and frequency (they are every other week. Committee also have own meetings)
- Trying to serve as an advisory group as well as self-governance.
+ Need to justify existence.
+ Later, can then ask for money for projects.
- Developed business plan with mission, goals and strategies, formal organizational structure
- Membership can serve as part of professional development plan.

How started - created steering committee of other instructional designers in other departments to develop the business plan.

What are the outcomes of the 2 different formalities and what do you want to accomplish?
- Community of Practice there when you need it, but may be problems with participation if someone doesn't need it.

My notes: What are you going to center your community of practice around? I suspect for us, if we are going to build a community of practice it will be more around our LMS and eLearning conversion. May need to be more of a project-based community.

Return on Investment
- They documented everything that the community did.
- Included - writing standards, HTML standards, ID systems document (streamlining an on-boarding process), Enterprise vocabulary, file naming conventions, folder taxonomy for shared projects etc, LMS administration).
- Cost v. Benefit
- Tangible v. Intangible
- Do you actually measure the benefit?

How do you measure enforcement?
- Seems to be more self-enforcing across the community.
- Assuming that everyone is professional. People tend to catch any issues within the standards and documentation.
- Found a cultural change - because realizing don't have to go it alone and tools exist.

Buy in - easier since makes job issue.

Can create formal review cycle. AAA thinking about creating a review cycle with the standards group involved.

Much of the building of the Community of Practice out of sheer need
- New LMS
- New corprate university structure
- Folks struggling to get stuff to work within the new LMS

The success of the Community of Practice also dependent upon topic at the time. More representation based on what is going on. (This may be the big takeaway here).

Things to think about
- Over participation vs. NO participation - is one group making ALL decisions for everyone?
- Individual company culture
- Importance of ROI (what do you want to measure?)
- Elevator speech
- Formality (how much)
- Be prepared for the "Why"
- Organizational buy-in

The activity of documenting decisions serving as a knowledge management tool for all members. Also regular re-evaluation of old decisions with experience.

AAA Community of Practice sponsors - Manager level. Governance at manager level - cross college.
- If did it again - would focus more on the enterprise level. Lacking Bill-back structure and selling that idea.

Problems with streamlining technologies?
- Decisions already made by IT departments. Community of Practice - What and WHEN do you use the technologies.

Representatives for making decisions on technologies?
- Yes - Shawn a member of that group. They were moving from Centralized to Decentralized with the university structure. Now becoming more centralized to address technical issues and more consistency with product.

- The Technology sub-committee were the ones who did later recommendation and testing with the products with their own tools (Captivate into the LMS, as example).

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