Crowdsourcing in the College Classroom and Implications For HR

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 07.22.10  »

I recently read this excellent article on crowdsourcing which explores ways in which the tool is expanding in different fields. Here are five of the best examples they came up with:

  1. GrouperEye: This “survival of the fittest” project was started by and for college students looking for contract gigs. Businesses post a case on GrouperEye’s website and leave it open to students to solve. The company picks the best solution, and the student who came up with the idea is paid.
  2. “This Is Your Brain on the Internet” Course: In the fall of 2009, Duke University professor Cathy Davidson started a new class called “This Is Your Brain on the Internet.” It introduces students to crowdsourcing by letting them accept some of the responsibility of running the class, including grading and teaching.
  3. Crowdsourcing Help Desks: IT help desks are a necessary service on college campuses, as so many students depend on their computers and Internet access to complete their school work or even attend class online. At Indiana University at Bloomington, new IT help desks began implementing crowdsourcing to alleviate the cost and pressure of having to answer so many calls. Students and professors post their IT problems on an online forum, where other students and amateur IT experts answer them.
  4. SOS Classroom: This program has helped sustain the Los Angeles Unified School District’s summer school system. USC students — along with teachers and parents — designed and collected online educational materials to teach K-8 language arts and math to summer school kids. Much of the program includes volunteers.
  5. National IT database in the future: Notre Dame’s Chief Technology Officer Dewitt A. Latimer hopes to engineer a national IT database — powered by crowdsourcing — in the next few years. It would be based on the success of user-generated sites like and Wikipedia, and if the economy can get off the ground, the Hosted Integrated Knowledge Environment Project, or Hike, could become reality.

What ways can you think of to use crowdsourcing in human resources & corporate learning? Are you using crowdsourcing in your department? If yes, how? What implications can you see for it? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Best Buy: Using Crowdsourcing For Human Resources

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 06.17.10  »

Best Buy

Affinity groups have been around for some time in forward thinking companies. But now some of these companies are taking Affinity Groups to a new level: they are using them to crowdsource new products and services.

Consider Best Buy: While sales in 2009 accounted for roughly 22% of U.S. consumer electronics sales, its share of sales to women was just 16%.

Solution: Best Buy leveraged its Women’s Leadership Forum, composed of female Best Buy employees and female Best Buy customers plus a network of teenage girls to suggest new ways to sell to women.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:

The suggestions from these groups led to local businesswomen advising on retail strategy, and while others helped female Best Buy workers balance family and work demands. Most recently, the effort spawned a network of teenage female consultants who help the retailer sell phones and videogames to young people… Mr. Dunn and other top Best Buy executives are now behind the idea, seeing it as a crucial way to even the field against Target Corp. and Wal-Mart, where executives have long called their target shopper she.

Bottom line, this strategy of using networks formed in Human Resources to crowdsource new ideas for sales is one of the many innovative approaches detailed in The 2020 Workplace, recently published by Harper Collins: The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today. Buy the book or visit our website for more info!

Share with us if your company is leveraging groups–especially female groups to source new ideas to grow the business. I want to hear from you.

Mentoring Millennials: HBR article

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 04.25.10  »

My co-author for the upcoming book, The 2020 Workplace, Karie Willyerd and I have some exciting news to share with you all: our article on innovations in mentoring is in the May 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review! The title is Mentoring Millennials and the article is part of HBR’s theme for this issue: How To Keep Your Star Talent.
To read more and to order a full copy of the article, please visit Harvard Business Review’s website. The following is the introduction to the article:

The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.

That shift may sound daunting to the managers charged with coaching these young workers, who have a reputation for being attention sponges. However, our research into the varying expectations and needs of employees across four generations has given us a more nuanced view of Millennials and uncovered several resource efficient ways to mentor them.

We polled 2,200 professionals across a wide range of industries, asking about their values, their behavior at work, and what they wanted from their employers. The Millennials, we saw, did want a constant stream of feedback and were in a hurry for success, but their expectations were not as outsized as many assume. That’s good news for organizations wondering just who will mentor this rising generation. Baby Boomers are retiring, and Gen X may not be large enough to shoulder the responsibility alone. In the U.S., for instance, the 88 million Millennials vastly outnumber Gen Xers, who are just 50 million strong.

Millennials view work as a key part of life, not a separate activity that needs to be “balanced” by it. For that reason, they place a strong emphasis on finding work that’s personally fulfilling. They want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose. That sense of purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction; according to our research, they’re the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s.

The article goes into depth on three innovative ways to mentor Millennials: 1) reverse mentoring, where a Millennial is matched to a senior executive, 2) group mentoring, where the company sets up a technology platform allowing employees to create their own self-organizing groups on such topics as lead generation or leadership development and 3) anonymous mentoring which uses psychological testing and a background review to match mentees with trained mentors outside the organization.Exchanges are conducted entirely online, and both the mentee and the mentor, who is usually a professional coach or seasoned executive, remain anonymous.

I would really enjoy your comments on the article and if your organization is using any of these types of mentoring, share with us here your results.

Social Learning: Re-invented, Re-defined and Re-imagined

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 04.04.10  »

There are many announcements this month. First and foremost, along with the publication of my book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Business, 2010), I am also joining partners Karie Willyerd and Rick Von Feldt in a new consulting firm, Future Workplace ( dedicated to innovations in attracting, developing and keeping talent. Please visit our site. I look forward to your comments!

Next, the April issue of CLO Magazine has an article authored by Karie Willyerd and myself called Social Learning Unleashed.

Social learning is becoming even more critical as studies continue to be released like the one at University of California, Berkeley by Peter Lyman and Hal Varian stating that knowledge is doubling every three years, and the interval for doubling appears to be getting even shorter. As if that weren’t enough, analyst firm IDC reported in a recent study that knowledge workers spend on average 2.3 hours per day — 25 percent of work time — searching for critical job information.

For a growing number of companies, the answer to all this change and to the shortening of the shelf life of knowledge is to formalize informal learning so that it is collaborative, immediate, relevant and presented in the context of an individual’s unique work environment. The heart of social learning is usually a social computing platform that includes many of the capabilities of social networking sites that employees use outside of work, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to tag, rate, comment, and network.

Our book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Business, 2010) has a number of case studies on how companies are developing social learning for the enterprise. Five lessons surface as critical success factors in how companies can plan, develop and launch social learning. These are excerpted from the article and include:

    1. Get senior executives to lead by example. A good way is to have a wiki set up for the work group, and each time an executive sends out a message to the team, provide a link to the wiki.
    2. Build enterprise 2.0 tools into the workflow. Rather than building a community supported by a social platform around extracurricular interests, ensure that the way people get work done relies on going to the platform. If the call center has a knowledge center, the social community and the knowledge center need to be combined. People need fewer places to go, not more.
    3. Develop and seed new communities with content through community managers. Social learning communities are not a case of “if we build it, they will come.” Communities need to be kick-started by recruiting members, seeding the community with content, building performance incentives to contribute and introducing thought-provoking conversation starters.
    4. Consider creating communities as a follow-on to formal training. Wherever there are cohorts, the ability to connect and support can be enabled by social learning platforms. There are many things to learn when starting with a new company or after promotion to a new management role. The ability to connect with others on the path to competence can accelerate performance while providing emotional support.
    5. Err on the side of creating an open culture. Allow as much learner access to communities as possible so that knowledge can pass virally across the organization.

The article Social Learning Unleashed has five more critical success factors in planning designing and launching a social learning pilot. I hope you read the entire article and share your comments here.

What have your learned that is critical to the success of social learning? What should your peers avoid doing?

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How Millennial Are You?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 03.04.10  »

The Pew Research Center has created a very engaging quiz that asks the question “How Millennial Are You?” That’s right. You may think that being part of a generation will dictate your media habits, and a predisposition to engage in social media. But think again.

First, a refresher on the generations:
Traditionalists born prior to 1946
Baby Boomers (that’s me) born between 1946 and 1964
Generation Xer’s born between 1965 and 1976
Millennials born between 1977 and 1997

Pew Research says that on average, the higher your score, the “more Millennial” you are in your habits and mindset. One of the questions is “Have you ever created a profile on any social networking site—such as MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn?” See below for the breakdown on this question by generation:

Now it’s time to share my score. I scored 78 but Traditionalists on average score 4, Baby Boomers 11, Generation Xers 33 and Millennials 73.

So how is it that my score is so high? Without admitting to body piercings and tattoos, over the course of writing my new book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, I have developed the mindset and social media habits of a Millennial—creating several profiles on social networks, getting most of my news from blogs and social networks, admitting to sending more than 50 text messages a day to work colleagues and family members. I am also liberal in my political views and have both a landline and a cell phone. And I might add, I love my new hyper-connected life.

Bottom line, if we want to stay employable in the 21st century, we need to experiment with using various forms of social media. Why? Because we need to understand how these media have the potential to improve our productivity at work and create fuller lives at home. As we engage in the workforce of the future, more of us will likely adapt a Millennial mindset. Millennials are simply leading the way and showing us the power of interacting and engaging with social media.

So take the quiz here: How Millennial Are You?

Now ask yourself:
1) What can we all learn by adapting a Millennial mindset?
2) Does your organization leverage the Millennial mindset in how you attract and develop all generations in the workforce?
3) Are you creating learning programs which meet the Millennial mindset where they live—engaged online?

Finally I am excited to share that the new book I have written with co-author Karie Willyerd is now available for pre-orders. You can learn more at
OR pre-order directly at

And if you are interested in attending an author tour, send me a message and I will be sure to send you a notice.

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Is Your Sales Department Ready For Social Media?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 02.09.10  »

Last week I participated in an interview with ZoomInfo, a a news and information hub for sales and marketing executives.. Read below for an excerpt, or visit for the full article.

ZoomInfo: What are some of the initial steps sales managers can take in developing a social-media strategy?

Meister: The first step is a change in mindset. It’s not going away and it’s the way people are communicating and connecting. For example, a person’s resume is no longer just an eight-and-a-half inch piece of paper but that person’s ability to engage on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social media has become part of working life and that entails all sorts of guidelines for employees. The guidelines shouldn’t necessarily be what a person can or can’t say [on social media channels] but what the company considers fair play and what [information] is off limits. The initial strategy requires input from cross-functional teams, including HR, Legal, Internal Communications and IT. The sales departments must reach out to this cross-functional network and participate in brainstorming to create a strategy for using social media both inside and outside the enterprise.

ZoomInfo: What are the benefits of using social media to drive sales and cultivate prospects?

Meister: It’s a way of being more open and having a conversation with the client rather than pushing them to agree to a sale. It’s moving from push to pull in the sales interaction and in marketing from campaigning to conversation. And as more millennials (generally considered people born between the mid 1980s and early 2000s) enter client positions they’re going to want to communicate and partner with vendors the same way they communicate with everyone else – through social media.

ZoomInfo: What about the cost of using social media?

Meister: There’s a lot you can do in Open Source for zero budget. The sales team should collaborate with marketing, IT and communications departments to work out a pilot for experimenting with social media. What many companies are doing is taking one department like Sales, HR or Learning & Development, and testing out how social media can drive greater business impact with one or two business challenges. Remember, this is not a technology fad but needs to be driven by how it can improve the business. You can explore what’s possible that your company has already invested in (regarding social media) and explore how to leverage this for greater collaboration. For example, many companies already have Microsoft Sharepoint and this has a tremendous capability to share content and videos as well as participate on wiki’s. Some companies that are using Sharepoint as their social media platform include BT (British Telecommunications) and CA (Computer Associates).

Your Feedback To Five Words To Describe Corporate Learning in 2010

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 02.01.10  »


As we head into 2010 we have some exciting news to share with you: New Learning Playbook was honored to be listed on the Digital Learning People blog as one of the top 50 blogs focusing on learning, technology and business. See all the 50 blogs here.

A big thank you to all our readers for following us, including us in your RSS feed, and contributing your comments!

We had a huge response to our last question: what are the five words you would use to describe corporate learning in 2010? I am including just three of them and I want to thank everyone who took the time to contribute their responses, thoughts and feedback.

If you want to continue the dialogue on Five words To Describe Corporate Learning in 2010, please register for this webinar organized by CLO Magazine and sponsored by Blackboard. The webinar is on Thursday February 25th at 2:00 pm EST. You can register here.

Jonas Stalder, Managing Director, BTS Norway, had this to say about the five words to describe corporate learning in 2010:

1. Link between corporate strategy, behaviorial change and learning points

2. Experiential based instead of lecturing

3. Results-focus to efficiently secure and measure business impact

4. In depth customization to what is relevant and actionable on the job instead of “off the shelf”

5. Blended/Connected solutions that are integrative with learners’ role in the organization so they can see the big picture impact of their learning outcomes not just the impact on their tea or their business unit silo

    Thanks Jonas!

Shawna Ferguson, Associate Director Diversty and Talent Development at Genzyme Corporation shared her point of view on what she will be focusing on in 2010:

1. Practical Application
2. Blended Solutions
3. Global Perspectives
4. Behavioral Change Agent
5. Accountable (ROI)

    Thanks Shawna!

Finally, Luanne Stevenson, Training Consultant and Business Coach based in San Francisco, created five R’s for us to consider as we head into 2010:

Five R’s of Corporate Learning in 2010
1. Responsible
2. Relevant to the business
3. Respectful of learner’s time
4. Results oriented
5. Reliable across geographies and cultures

    Thanks Luanne!

Three themes emerged from these comments and scores of others as our readers thought about what they will focus on in 2010. They were:

Business relevance first, CLO second
Learning professionals have re-discovered the power of setting up an advisory board of senior business people to prioritize the strategic business issues that corporate training must address in the coming year. Companies like Cigna, Deloitte, and Cerner Corporation rely on their Advisory Boards to keep them focused on what matters most to the CEO and C-level executives.

Fun, engaging and experiential learning
Video games for corporate learning are seeing increased interest among companies that attract and develop Millennials. While the military has been using video games for training since the 1980s, now a growing number of companies including my favorite ice cream store: Cold Stone Creamery, to Cisco Systems Inc., and Canon Inc. are creating video games to hook young, media-savvy employees. These games provide a fun and engaging way to teach employees such complex skills as resource management, collaboration, critical thinking, and tolerance for failure. Look for more of this in the coming decade.

Global perspective
The growth for many companies is outside of USA. Case in point: At GE Healthcare (GEHC) more than 50 percent of its revenues and 50 percent of its employees come from outside the United States. So it’s no surprise that according to Bob Cancalosi, CLO of GEHC, one of the ten leadership characteristics for a global leader is being cultural agile, or being able to leverage the unique skills of all global cultures within the organization. This translates into developing a global perspective when thinking about the range of solutions to address business challenges.

Let’s continue to discuss here where you will focus your efforts in 2010!

Jeanne Meister

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Five Words To Describe Corporate Learning in 2010

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 12.17.09  »


As I think about corporate learning in 2010, five words come to mind:
: If the 90’s were the “e” decade: e-learning, e-libraries, look for 2010 to be the “s” decade: social learning and social networking. When the word “social” is applied to learning it means: learning which is collaborative, immediate, relevant and presented in the context of an individual’s unique work environment. In the context of social networking, social learning becomes less about learning and more about how efficiently and effectively you can impact the business by increasing the frequency of innovation, shortening the time to competency and decreasing errors.

Mobile: The same-time, same-place model of learning will slowly disappear, as corporate learners look to mobile devices for their learning. In a number of countries, there are now more mobiles than people. For example, as of 2009, for every 100 individuals in the United Kingdom there were 123.64 mobile subscriptions. Global System For Mobile Communications projects that by 2012, there will be 4.5 billion mobile subscriptions out of a global population of 7 billion. Already, several financial service firms such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo are exploring using mobile phones to deliver compliance training, product training and performance support/on-the-job aids.

Collaborative:. More companies will strive to be like P&G, who two years ago took a visionary stance on product development, mandating that 50 percent of product innovation come from collaborating with partners and customers. While collaboration has been thought of as employees collaborate internally, the workplace of the future will strive for much more external collaboration and will provide employees with access to external networks to make this collaboration possible. But while employees will push for greater access to external networking sites, the HR issue for 2010 will be how to moderate access to external sites and what rules and regulations should be put on the books to ensure that organizational resources and property aren’t compromised and that reputations aren’t risked.

Engaging: Employee engagement will continue to be a top issue on the dashboard for HR and Learning executives. The reason is simple: according to a survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, (CEB), companies with highly engaged employees demonstrate a 3-year revenue growth of 20.1%, compared to the 8.9% their industry peers will average. They also establish a 3-year EBITDA growth that is three times higher than their industry peers. What’s more, CEB research shows that shifting an individual employee from low engagement to high engagement can improve employee performance by up to 20%, and can thus significantly reduce recruitment costs. Look for more learning objectives to be tied to increases in employee engagement.

Fun: Regardless of our age, we will expect to learn in much the same way as we shop, communicate and network with friends. This means corporate learning will become much more social, fun, and highly collaborative experience. Some of the tools that will grow in importance include video games, simulations, and alternate-reality games to develop leadership and complex critical thinking skills. Video games, such as World of Warcraft, are part of a category of games called massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). These games have the potential to become realistic simulators for training in leadership development, and a diverse set of skills, such as managing a virtual team, and analyzing constantly changing data.

In 2010, if you aren’t paying attention to how the world of corporate learning is evolving, you may lose your competitive edge.

What words would you add to this list and why? Share them here with me

Happy Holidays!

Corporate Social Responsibility 2.0: Integrate With Leadership Development To Build 21st Century Skills

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 12.01.09  »

Ask yourself: is your organization building new skill sets for the future workplace? If not, you will be interested in what Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is doing to combine corporate social responsibility with leadership development for high potentials.

Deloitte’s new program is called Deloitte21, and it refers to the concept of building 21st century skills in ethics, innovative thinking, and global awareness. While many companies may be on this track, Deloitte’s new program is especially innovative. Deloitte21 brings together 20 high potential managers for a year long program aimed at working with school age children to develop their skills in ethics, innovative thinking, and global awareness.

Here is how the program works:

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, each Deloitte manager will lead a local education project, and will work along side a non profit in their region. These participants take a monthly online course as well as attend a three-day executive education program focusing on how to work with local educators to build these 21st century skills into school programs.

This combination of corporate social responsibility with leadership development targeting high potential managers is what a growing number of other companies are as well, including IBM, Pfizer and Ernst & Young. The drivers behind this interest in building leadership development and real world issues into CSR includes the following:

  1. Millennials (those born between 1977 and 1997) say they will seek out employers who have social responsibility values that match their won, this according to a survey of over 4,000 new college hires by PwC.
  2. Employers are keenly interested in matching the long-term investments in corporate social responsibility to their strategic priorities. Hence the connection to building 21st century skills in the future workforce.
  3. Companies want to offer these type of development opportunities to high potential managers as a way to increase retention rates among this population.

A project like Deloitte12 gets the company brand out in the global marketplace as the first crop of Deloitte participants from 15 countries around the world begin to work with local school districts.

As you build to think about new initiatives for 2010, this may be one area you want to explore in greater depth. If you are doing this, please share your experience with our readers here.

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Multiple Generations @ Work: What Should You Do Differently?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 11.03.09  »

Will you be in the workforce in 2020?

If the answer is YES, I hope you read our recent blog at Harvard Business entitled Are You Ready For Five Generations Of Workers? We stirred up quite a dialogue about how companies will adapt to having five generations in the workplace in the year 2020.

Here is what we see in our crystal ball leading up to 2020 - five generations and they include:

    Traditionalists, born prior to 1946
    Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
    Gen X, born between 1965 and 1976
    Millennials, born between 1977 and 1997
    Gen 2020, born after 1997

    Note: While there several reasonable cut off dates used to define the generations, we choose these as they are widely accepted and currently used in a variety of sources such Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott.

The chart below shows Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce by 2015 to the Millennials. Due to their smaller size, Gen X will not have the majority spot in the workplace — and some employers may well focus development and promotion opportunities on Millennials.


So now I pose the question: How will having multiple generations in the workplace affect you and your learning or HR department?

Some thoughts to consider:

Recruiting New Talent: Are you sourcing the next generation of talent where they live? Rather than career fairs and job boards, does your company have a social networking strategy with a presence on Facebook a YouTube channel and a presence on Twitter?

Social Networking With Alumni:
Once mainly used by professional service firms and law firms, now JP Morgan and Lockheed Martin are developing elaborate alumni social networks as a way to attract the “boomerang” employees who already know the firm and can make an instant contribution.

Mentoring: Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen 2020s will increasingly want to develop their careers in the same social and personal ways they live their lives. Expect an increased demand for mentoring and coaching as we head into 2020.

Learning & Development: Look for learning & development to become “social, personal, immediate and highly relevant to an individual’s job.” This will translate into leveraging new technologies such as corporate social networks, alternate reality games and greater use of mobile devices.

So what’s your take on dealing with multiple generations in the workplace? How will your department, your role and your skills need to change?

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