Crowdsourcing solutions to common business challenges at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN

In the ‘Business EDUCA Opening Conversation’ at ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2012, delegates shared their common challenges where they hoped to find fresh insights from attending Business EDUCA.


A guest post by Laura Overton, previously published here.


The programme provided plenty of opportunities to share ideas and hear new perspectives but we also wanted to provide a unique opportunity for delegates to get together in an un-conference format and help themselves as well.


On the second day of the conference I joined 24 people at a Business EDUCA crowdsourcing session facilitated by Charles Jennings to enable us to reflect on what we’d learned so far and to draw on the experience within the room to help each other solve outstanding business challenges.
How did it work?
Participants were presented with 6 themes that had emerged from the Opening Conversation and were asked to add any additional themes and then vote on the top 4 that they wanted to concentrate on over the next one and a half hours. The themes chosen by participants were:


1.    What are your specific challenges for measurement of impact? What ideas do you have to address them?
2.    What advice can you give to help move from a ‘push’ model of learning to a ‘pull’ model?
3.    How can you engage managers more effectively with learning?
4.    Talk about one example of good practice you have implemented or know about – and how success was shared?


We were then divided into 4 groups. Each group was provided with a question to research within the room.


Each of us then participated in a series of short one-on-one interviews with members in other groups. I was in group 1 and had interviews with 3 people from groups 2, 3 and 4. In each interview I had 5 minutes to ask my colleagues about their perspectives and experience on my question and they in turn interviewed me about my views on their question.


After 3 rounds of questions, each time meeting someone from a different group, we gathered together with our original group members to compare the answers.


Between us in each group we had gathered the opinions of 75% of the room on our specific topic and we consolidated our findings to present back to the rest of the participants. It was a powerful learning and networking experience, carried out at speed, with lots of new ideas, sources of research and case studies generated through the process.


Here are the crowdsourced ideas from our discussions – we hope you find them helpful as well.

Interview 1 – What are the challenges in measuring the impact of our learning solutions and how can we do this more effectively?


The crowd highlighted the following challenges of demonstrating value of learning:


How do we know what success looks like?

  • How to overcome the challenge of understanding impact once trainees have left control of training as there are too many other factors
  • The challenges aren’’t just about measuring impact but the need to demonstrate value more effectively.


How can we do this more effectively?

  •  The power of questions – Smart use of surveys – we shouldn’t concentrate on ‘ did you like it?’ but ask relevant questions e.g  To what extent has your confidence increased as a result? Have you been able to do XYZ since completing the training?
  • Ask managers – has the performance, attitudes or behaviours of your staff changed as a result (360 degree appraisal)?
  • Ask customers – has your experienced of working with this company changed?
  • Encouraging staff to log their achievements and behaviour change after the programme
  • Use of e-portfolios or learning logs
  • Use of action learning communities where they work together after the programme and share results with peers on line
  • Sharing lessons learned online following the programme


It is difficult to measure direct impact but that shouldn’t stop us tracking progress against important business outcomes. Examples of how to do this included:


  • Track data that is already being tracked and is important to business e.g. customer satisfaction, sales, attrition rates
  • Consider incentives linked to directly performance. The example was given of an L&D manager agreeing with the line-of-business manager that they would all be measured and bonuses paid on the direct impact of Customer Satisfaction statistics. This ensured that everyone – L&D and business managers – were all working towards the same goal and supporting each other in achieving it


Interview 2- How do we shift from a push model to a pull model of learning?


  • Get managers involved by helping them to understand the value and benefits of continuous learning
  • Help teachers and trainers to understand their own role and the benefit of a model of learning that is pulled by learners e.g. their role in:


o    Engaging the learners with new techniques for learning
o    Providing learning credibility
o    Curation by experts  and simplifying the learner experience


  • Help Learners to see the advantage of pulling down learning when and where it is needed e.g.:


o    Help them understand how relevant the content is to their job
o    How the content is related to their task in hand
o    How the content is related to their job, to their objectives, to their business


  • Access to information must be easy, clear and simple


o    Delivered in a system that filters the information that should be pulled
o    Delivered in a process that is not complicated and requiring multiple logins


  • New ideas are best introduced in a blended approach
  • Crowdsourcing value:


o     Encourage peer reviews to demonstrate value =  if it has lots of reviews – 5  star others   will come, e.g. amazon /tripadvisor
o    Content created by the crowd

Interview 3 – How do we engage managers more effectively?


What are the challenges in engaging managers?


  • Need to understand that some managers believe that ‘workers should work and not learn’ – starting from this basis helps us to identify how we can support them better
  • Need to spend time with managers to understand what their needs are in order


o    To answer the question “What’s in it for me?”
o    Get their attention – do they even know about the problem?


  • Manager’s own learning experience e.g. via the classroom or of a poor online experience, will colour their perspectives.


Solutions discussed:


  • Keep managers informed about the progress throughout, not just at the start
  • Lead by example – consider how you can introduce new learning approaches to managers to extend their own learning experience – the use of mobile, sharing peer-to-peer, discovery of just-in-time online content. Once they have experienced the personal benefits, they may be more inclined to encourage staff to engage
  • Use research wisely to engage them e.g.:


o    Help them understand the importance of their role. e.g. the Broad & Newstrom research highlights that the managers’ roles before and after a learning intervention is the most powerful influencing factor in encouraging new behaviours and improving performance in team members
o    Highlight their influence on performance – Corporate Leadership Council research highlighted that managers who are effective at developing their people and their teams find their teams outperform those with managers who are not effective at developing their people by 16%. Their performance goes up a further 9% simply through better attitudes and behaviours
o    Use independent research to open up conversations about the bottom line benefits of innovative learning approaches e.g. the Towards Maturity 2012-13 Benchmark study.


  • Use managers’ experience and build into training, let them lead by example

Interview 4 – Tell me about an example of good practice


  • Encouraging innovation -The Scottish Social Services were looking to find solutions to chronic issues in the workplace. Staff were invited to contribute on an ideas Platform and were asked to identify quick wins and short tem actions to common concerns. These were then refined. The L&D were pivotal in engaging the groups with the ideas platform
  • Crowd learning – An example of a young masters programme in secondary schools. Students met local teachers and peers offline and then came online to share ideas within global classrooms. The process provided instant feedback and connected local learning within a global community
  • ICT skills by stealth – One school encouraged children to learn to use the computer by providing them with an interesting offline challenge/experience e.g. create a rap song or in participation theatre – and then asking them to use the computer to reflect on their experience. As a result they learned indirectly how to use the computer. This demonstrated that if you change the context you can encourage individuals to pick up the skills.

One Response

  1. Target Training GmbH

    Really enjoyed this article, thank you for sharing! From the intelligent and inspirational ideas, it sounds like you had a great ‘crowd’. Many of the comments and ideas remind me of Kirkpatrick’s theories.


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