The five c’s of social learning

Learning doesn’t happen in the training room in the way lots of organisations would like it to. It happens from the moment we get up, to the moment we go to bed. And if part of that day is in a training room, that is quite likely to be the least effective part of our learning experience.

Learning and development folk know this to be true. For them it’s a scary prospect, because it totally transforms their role.

As Amanda Sterling, author of the soon to be published Humane Workplace says: “To transform learning we require cultural interventions, not learning interventions.”

So what should we aim to nurture with these cultural interventions?

Here is a model I co-created with some of the great minds that are part of the ipratice community of disruptive HR, L&D and OD folk (including Kat Hounsell, Jo Stephenson and Richard Martin among others).

The model aims to highlight the essential elements of social learning, ie the process by which we learn in a social context through observation and instruction. However, it applies equally to collaborative learning, ie the process by which we learn through mutual endeavour.

Have a look and tell me what you think.

Curation — moving beyond transactional training. Don’t package and pump out training. Let people decide what they want to learn and how they want to do it. Let them curate content, share and comment as they go to make their learning visible and aid other people’s.

Connections — of the neural variety. Create space and give people autonomy to make connections between the things they learn all the time at work, home, and out and about. This creates and cements learning and fosters innovation.

Conversations — ‘sitting next to Nelly’. Don’t tell people what they need to learn about your organisation, their role or the world — help them find out. Create the space and time for people to get together, ask questions, watch, learn and share.

Chaos — Disrupt the status quo. Habits are a powerful thing. Helpful in many cases, but also limiting in others. Get people out of their comfort zone and into the learning zone by putting them into new situations that challenge them in new ways. Make failure ok. Ditch the ‘all must have prizes’ approach to learning and build in lots of learning around ‘mistakes’.

Curiosity — Make it ok to ask questions. If you have a culture where people do what they’re told and questions are seen as undesirably disruptive — or, worse still, as an unacceptable threat to authority — you’re going to come unstuck. See Richard Martin’s blog post on curiosity.

It’s work on progress. So do tell me what you think.

More about me…

I’d love to chat, help, speak at your event, or facilitate something great

I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink lots of types of tea. So why don’t we do that together?

Or you can find out how I can help nurture more collaborative behaviours inside your organisation or create disruptive and engaging sessions at your event at

Or just say hi over on Twitter using @beegannaway.

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