Building Corporate Culture with Social Learning in 5 Moments of Need


Written by Katja Schipperheijn August 7th

Recently I was asked for a keynote speech on social learning and a debate on the topic afterwards. Two questions where prominent and remained unanswered for me that evening. I will try to elaborate on those questions in this blog.

  • When can we use social learning
  • Is our companies’ culture ready for social learning

Rethinking and discussing those with my partners, we found that both were closely related and actually can be answered linking it to the 5 Moments of Need from Dr. Conrad Gottfredson 1.

What we learn from this approach is that in an organizational context learners need to acquire knowledge in different stages of their career or to accomplish a task.

Acquisition of Knowledge

The first and second Moments of Need are aligned with the more traditional approaches of learning and training and therefore mostly answered with more traditional ways of formal learning.

  1. When Learning for the First Time
  2. When Wanting to Learn More

New social learning tools can make the learning journey more efficient and effective as it enables agile and versatile learning through Social Apps such as Yammer, Twitter or ESN’s.

What I have seen with some organizations are Social Learning tools to offer a blended and interactive learning approach along the formal training event, offering pre-work, extra tasks, quizzes, backchannels, forums, wiki’s , ..

By using this interactive approach where the learner actually takes the driving seat, we notice that also Jennings’ 70-20-10 model 2 applied and that serendipity or accidental learning was achieved to stimulate the total learning process.

Application of Knowledge

The remaining three Moments of Need are directly aligned with performance support and therefore social learning tools are powerful building blocks that can transform the way we enable learning and the application of knowledge in organizations.

  1. When Trying to Apply and/or Remember
  2. When Something Goes Wrong
  3. When Something Changes

Most of what we need to know at work in the above Moments of Need can be acquired by participating in new ways of social learning3. When learners engage in networks where people co-create, collaborate and share knowledge freely all without spatial, temporal or hierarchical boundaries, learning happens with and through other people as a matter of participating in the community not just by acquiring knowledge.

Training often gives people solutions to problems already solved. Collaboration addresses challenges no one has overcome before. Marcia Conner

I’m not saying here that social learning will replace formal learning for the application of knowledge. Social apps and networks make learning and development Lean4 focusing only on direct benefit for the learner taking in account time, methodology and transfer of learning.

Screenshot 2014-08-07 11.55.48

Impact on Corporate Culture 

The benefit from social learning is that it builds a culture that makes learning fun, productive and commonplace. However the shift in culture will not happen by merely launching an Enterprise Social Network.

Recently I interviewed Peter Crombecq who is CEO of Digipolis and CIO of the City of Antwerp and he explained how they implemented Yammer as core communication, sharing and learning tool. Only 6 months after introducing the new ESN the adoption was a success where learning and sharing is part of everyday routine.

I believe that one of the main reasons for this success is C-level engagement. As the CEO is actively sharing information, posting blogs and answering questions from all co-workers, he is setting an example motivating others to follow.

At Digipolis the management team is aware of the Nielsen 90-9-1 rule5. Internal communication people are offering their services to help editing text before publishing addressing fear for mistakes. Subject matter experts are found in all levels of the organization. A positive performance management system is implemented to encourage both introverts and extraverts to join the conversation in ways they feel comfortable. Silo’s disappeared and the informal hierarchy became almost flat!

To conclude, I believe culture of sharing and learning is inspired by leaders, enabled by technology and carried by all.


We would like to thank Peter Crombecq for his visionary view years ago, his sharing of knowledge and inspiring conversations!


1. Gottfredson, Conrad and Mosher, Bob. “Vodcast: Learning Burst Series – The Five Moments of Learning Need.” Ontuitive.  Accessed August 6, 2014.

2. Jennings. “Slideshare “The 70:20:10 Framework for Building Workforce Capability” Accessed august 6,

3. Bingham, Tony and Conner, Marcia, The New Social Learning (San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, 2010)

4. Schipperheijn, Katja and Verhasselt, Christine. “Why Social Learning Amplifies Lean Learning.” Habit of Improvement.  Accessed August 6, 2014.

5. Nielsen, Jacob. “ Accessed August 6th

Published by Katja Habit Of Improvement

Lifelong learning and an unstoppable drive for innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Katja Schipperheijn is a digital learning strategist and internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker on learning and engagement in the connected world. Her area of expertise focuses on the interaction of people and technology to achieve sustainable growth based on commitment and well-being. She has worked for more than 15 years with tech companies and learning organizations and holds a Master Degree in Economical Science, an Executive MBA from the Antwerp Management School and Digital Learning Strategy from MITSloan

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