Building Communities of Social Learning

Lone wolves, vagabonds, and anarchists all make for seductive characters in fictional epics, but if there is one thing that Game of Thrones has truly taught us is that when winter does come “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”. The same applies to real life – whether you want to label it community, network, social sphere, or tribe, the point is always the same: humans are social animals.

Communities are built into our instinctive operative systems. It is easier to get along with other individuals that share similar beliefs, values, or interests. And unlike most other species, humans have the luxury to untether themselves from the social systems they are born into and create a completely new community if they so choose.

I can only imagine the moment the internet made virtual communities possible – something I personally believe we take so sadly for granted. And I am not talking about the faux sense of belonging fabricated by Instagram influencers or crazy political groups on Facebook. I am talking about the absolute pleasure of being able to create a group chat with a few select friends, or your family, or some colleagues, and continuously share anything you think is funny or scary or concerning or simply interesting going on in your life, and having people join in and react to your thoughts whether you are checking it second-by-second or hours later.

Those connections, and their feedback, is what gives our lives context. Making those micro-communities better is what gives our lives meaning.

Since corporations have gotten into the community-building business, it has become clear that their aspiration for creating communities of social learning proved rather challenging – first and foremost because building the foundations for an environment conducive to learning means creating a community based on trust and honesty. Not exactly two prominent qualities one can easily find in most places of business.

However, organizations can, in time, create an ecology for learning that assists leaders in building the leadership capacity of next-gen talent. The first step is to approach learning as a process. For the process to work, organizations must support environments and behaviors that build trust, commitment and accountability within every aspect of how individuals accomplish goals, lead, grow, and manage talent.

Part of the magic invariably comes from learning together through shared experiences. When people feel safe during structured experiential activities, they build the self-confidence and capacity to learn and work collaboratively to solve problems, make decisions, plan, organize and evaluate results; have fun and be engaged while learning and giving back to the community.

Author Credit by:
Marta Antonelli

Photo Credit by:
Nathan Dumlao