March 7, 2011 at 12:22pm
This story shows how one company made a complete 180 degree turn in management development by letting managers into the wild and letting them do what's natural while developing them through peer-to-peer collaboration.
Essentially, managers can now crowdsource solutions to their everyday problems. Got an immediate problem to solve? Well, there're millions of managers out there. Chances are, someone had encountered a similar problem before and already knows the answer.
Let's face it. Traditional approaches to management education are highly ineffective. People walk into classrooms and forget 80% of what they've learned the moment they walk out. What's worse is that they don't know how to apply the 20% they do remember!
The following are some of the problems with today's management education:
- Whether educated or not, managers face problems every day and they typically rely on themselves or the very few people around them to solve these problems.
- With millions of managers out there, there's a huge untapped knowledge base containing practical solutions to real world problems. Before TalkingVillage, there was no way to access this knowledge base.
- You can't develop managers and leaders in the classroom. They'll forget what they've learned quickly.
- Management is a practice, not a science. You become good when you practice management, not when you learn it.
- Professors, consultants, bosses, and leadership coaches have limited experience themselves and only teach what they know. By learning from them, you limit your own knowledge to what they know.
- Traditional management development methodologies are way out of context. Most management educators don't have the knowledge of their student's exact type of work and teach generic concepts, rather than concepts that directly apply to their everyday work.
The truth of the matter is... managers learn the best on the job, while solving real world problems!
Key Innovations & Timeline
In late 2010, a team of entrepreneurs put together Talking Village, a web site allowing managers to develop by collaborating with their peers, consultants, and professors. In addition to featuring a ton of resources managers can refer to, this site allows participants to ask questions and solicit community feedback, essentially crowdsourcing problem resolution and management education. Because web site members come from different companies, different countries, and different backgrounds, the range of answers is wide and is not limited to mental blocks of single organizations. Thus, a manager trying to figure out how to solve a tough problem may receive dozens of innovative ideas from people working in other industries.
Here's another way to look at it: Talking Village allows you to crowd source management education and problem resolution and give your managers the knowledge they otherwise wouldn't receive. You can do so at no cost, while keeping managers on the job. Because managers stay on their jobs while they use Talking Village, they are also able to better apply their new knowledge, making this learning effort far more effective than traditional management development methodologies.
Challenges & Solutions
For privacy and confidentiality reasons, some companies hesitate putting their competitive or sensitive information on the web. To solve this problem, Talking Village allows individual large organizations to create their own, private instances of Talking Village, which they can run internally or share with their partners or customers.
Benefits & Metrics
The new approach to problem solving and management education carries a number of benefits:
- A more effective, more practical approach to management development and problem solving.
- A much lower cost of education and operations.
- Greater knowledge retention.
- No need to take people off of their work.
- No need for general theory or useless hypothetical exercises - it's all about real world problems.
- A greater and more diverse source of knowledge.
- Ability to solve immediate problems without leaving the desk.