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Management Training Through Social Media

From where do you get your management knowledge?

I follow several Linked In discussion groups. I learn more from them than I do from reading articles and attending seminars. I also contribute to some; making the ‘learning’ highly interactive. It is the first source I turn to for real-time information within the industries in which I work. Information sources I drew on 20 years ago have been supplemented (dare I say replaced) by Google, You Tube, Facebook, Linked In and other social media sites. Yet, recently, a registration auditor told me that Linked In does not count towards Professional Development (PD) for a trainer or manager of a registered training organisation (RTO) in Australia. I enjoy teaching business, management and marketing at several levels; Diploma, Degree and Masters programmes. The lower level programmes only include historical business information; often describing concepts that were researched or practised 10-20 years ago. Those who have studied Apple, Google, Facebook or any successful contemporary company will understand that things have changed in business and management methods over the past 5-10 years. The things we taught in courses 5 or more years ago, that are still included in most business related courses, simply do not work in contemporary business. Much of my personal formal and informal research focused on ‘socially distributed cognition’. In plain language, it refers to sharing of tacit knowledge (un-recorded knowledge stored in the minds of people) that is transferred amongst people through ‘social’ interactions. In the workplace this translates to providing people with opportunities to chat informally so that ideas, concepts and un-documented information can be passed on to others. This could occur through informal lunches, morning tea, drinks after work, office parties, chat sites, Facebook, Linked In and any other medium that encourages interaction. Amongst the research I studied, there are numerous examples of professional and occupational skills that are taught entirely through “participation in workplace groups”. If I had any control over the development of the business and management courses in educational and training institutions, I would ban classroom delivery and immerse students in an enriched organisational environment where they could learn through interactions with knowledgeable people and by participating in work activity groups. I see Linked In and some other social media sites as providing such environments for my personal development. Why should it not be considered as legitimate on my professional development register? Whilst I do not discourage formal study, it is a 'thirst for knowledge' that should drive Professional Development. I love the passion that is expressed by many contributors to Linked In and other sites. It inspires learning and professional growth. I urge Managers and Business people to take control of their professional development and use social media and any other mediums they can find to seek-out real-time knowledge, debate and other stimulants for inquiry and learning. I welcome comments and opinions - even if you completely disagree with me! Tim Sillcock

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