Monthly Archives: June 2017

Your employees DO want to generate their own content. So trust them to do it.

This week I’m indebted to the Learning Technologies Summer Forum for blog inspiration – and it came in the form of a great new piece of research on user generated content from Kallidus, presented by Tim Drewitt. The findings are important for those who are moving, as many are, towards more collaborative forms of working and learning in their organisation. It holds important clues around how best to encourage employees to generate User Generated Content (UGC) to underpin vibrant, self-sustaining communities in the workplace.

There are several interesting findings from the research, but what leapt out at me was the difference in perceptions of those who planned to make use of UGC – and those who already had. The biggest stated challenge to the creation of UGC of all who took the survey was a lack of time (54%). No surprise there – time is always the enemy in everything we do, but the stated reason perhaps masks deeper fears employers may have around trusting their employees to generate their own content at work.

So the research cleverly probed further by breaking down responses into: 1) Those with plans for UGC; 2) Those who were using it already; and 3) Those who were using it with some success. The chief concerns of those with plans (but no action to date) were that there would be “no interest” from users in generating content, while concerns over the accuracy of the content produced and the “risks” that this presented also featured strongly. Yet those who had enabled employees to generate their own content had found their fears around a lack of interest to be largely unfounded. And those who had employed UGC most successfully had quickly realised that the risks around were less of a worry than they had imagined. To me the message is that employees will be willing to generate their own content if given the right encouragement and opportunity – and while content of course needs to be moderated, they can largely be trusted to do so responsibly.

The type of UGC seen as most successful by early adopters, relates largely to those demonstrating expertise or technical skills around a product or service, perhaps ahead of the “views from the top” from the organisation’s leaders. Our own research shows that the impact of genuine enthusiasm for user generated content from senior management cannot be overstated for kindling the fire of participation – and yet it is the widespread production and sharing of content from all over that fans the flames of a vibrant workplace community.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Why Collaboration really is Child’s Play

Yesterday, I took my 10 year old son to school. We discussed why the dirty football kit was still in his school locker, the baffling contents of his pencil case and the need for (yet another) missing water bottle lost property search. It’s the sort of conversation parents have with their children everywhere each weekday morning.

Then, out of the blue, he said: “Daddy. I’ve been thinking. Let’s smash down the garden fence on each side of our house. Then all the other children can play with us in a much bigger garden together.”

After a few seconds contemplation, I explained that while this might be the good idea, the neighbours might not want this. They might want some privacy.

“What’s privacy?”

I tried to explain what “privacy” meant – not very well.

“But the grown-ups will get more privacy if the children are in the garden playing together. You keep telling us that we play so nicely together – and it will give you time to get on with all that “other stuff” that you always say you like doing but can’t, because we interrupt you all the time.”

Fair point. So I told him that even if the neighbours thought it was a good idea, the removal of the fences could create all sorts of highly complex issues long term around property rights and boundaries.

“What does “long-term” mean?”

I tried to explain what “long-term” meant – not very well.

“But you always tell us to enjoy each day of our childhood – and not to worry about the future. And if there’s no garden fence, isn’t it easier anyway for the grown-ups to talk to each other and sort it all out?”

Hmm. So I told him that while this may be so, the neighbours could sell the house one day and the new neighbours might not want someone else’s children in their garden. This could involve a lot of fence-building DIY for grown-ups and maybe even discussions with expensive property lawyers to help us remember where the fence used to be. It could all get very messy.

“But why would people pay other people to do things that stop them talking to each other? Isn’t talking a good thing? You always tell us to try and sort out our rows first, before coming to Mum or Dad.”

I was on the ropes, but fortunately the school run is a short one. But it made me realise that while we all instinctively “get” the benefits of collaboration, in work as well as home, entrenched thinking and systems can sometimes obstruct otherwise excellent common-sense ideas.

My son returned from school later, once again without the dirty football kit or the missing water bottle. But at least he reminded me that in some respects, collaboration really can be as simple as child’s play, if we only have the imagination to let it happen.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.