Leadership / Management | Technology & Social Media | Training & CPE

The experience curve just can’t keep up anymore


The "new normal" is moving from push to pull or from command and control to connect and collaborate (the i2a way!).

This is showing up in learning as well. The pace of change, coupled with the massive increase in information, is making our knowledge inventory obsolete. The experience curve has been cut short.

What will replace it? How will we keep up?

I think it will be the collaboration curve, to use a concept from one of my favorite books, Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. This book is also the first pick of the MACPA's new book club, started by our internal "culture club."

Let me explain how I think the collaboration curve works:

I recently attended an annual best practices conference (Northeast CPE 2011) about the future of learning in the CPA profession. The theme of the conference said it all: Today You Can See Tomorrow. This group of CPE directors put together their own conference for their own development. The conference itself is a great example of the collaboration curve in action as it is just that -- a group of state CPA society CPE / learning professionals, the AICPA, and even learning providers who come together to collaborate and share best practices and, in this case, next practices.

This year they took it a step further as a social media panel (moderated by CPA Success co-blogger Bill Sheridan) began a lively discussion about social media and learning. Can social media tools like Twitter, blogs and Facebook actually enhance learning? Several in the audience were skeptical and some said there is no way.

You probably know my answer, but let me show you what happened next.

First, one of the members had created a Twitter hashtag for the conference (#NECPE11) and there was an active Twitter stream going. Then I noticed a tweet from a young CPA (http://www.twitter.com/cfarmand) that said, "Love all the chatter coming out of #NECPE11, forge on industry leaders," which led me to ask the question being discussed in the room out to the Twitterverse.

Within minutes, several young professionals began weighing in via Twitter with their insights and we read them out loud to the live group. I want to point out that those comments also went to more than 4,000 of their followers, spreading the learning and insights even further.

Here are a few of their responses:

  • Sharing and note-taking through Twitter.
  • Able to engage with a variety of top minds and specialties, yielding resouces to call on when needed.
  • For starters. we are social creatures and learning together is fun!
  • By encouraging tweeting, you are promoting a level of engagement.

Next, look at the TweetBook from the conference's tweet stream and see if any learning nuggets are in the 19 pages and 225 tweets.

Then look at how I shared my presentation (which I shared via Twitter and Facebook using SlideShare.net) and used our blog as a post-event learning recap and tool.

Professional Issues Update - Leadership in the New Normal View more presentations from Tom Hood

But wait -- there is more. My tweet with the link to my presentation inspired a blog post from our chair-elect, Alan DeLeon, titled, The New Normal: Learn to Surf the Waves of Change in his blog Driving Your Success.

As Lang Davison says in an HBR blog post titled Introducing the Collaboration Curve, "Collaboration curves hold the potential to mobilize larger and more diverse groups of participants to innovate and create new value. In so doing they may also reverse the diminishing returns dynamics of the experience curve and deliver increasing returns to performance instead."

I think this is an example of a collaboration curve in action. What do you think?

Keep the conversation going by adding your comments and insights in the comments below.

Also, see our post on the Biz Learning Blog titled, Can Social Media Help You Learn?

Come see Bill Sheridan and me continue this conversation as we talk about Virtual Learning with Avatars and The State of Social and Informal Learning at the NASBA CPE Conference in San Diego on March 9, 2011. And see my article titled, Learning and Leadership in the NASBA CPE Monitor.