How to Pitch Social Learning in your Organization

Certainly social learning is a hot topic among learning and development professionals. And we all know intuitively that people learn informally and socially, but our experience so far is that when we bring up social learning to executive management as a means to improve performance in our organization, we are met with a blank stare and/or downright skepticism.
Improve Your Pitch to Sell
Social Learning in Your Organization

But we know social learning, if designed properly, can improve performance in organizations, and we know that the future of learning and development interventions will include more and more social learning.

So what is the problem?

I suspect the problem is with our pitch. We need to craft a pitch that will convince our stakeholders that social learning is an urgent imperative that must be undertaken now.

I recently finished reading the book, Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff. In it, the author lays out a simple pitch pattern called Trendcasting that focuses on market forces to make your pitch.

The three step process looks like this:
  1. Economic forces
  2. Social forces
  3. Technology Forces
Your pitch could look something like this:

Economic forces: As the speed of changes in our business increases, competition moves faster, and we become more globally dispersed, it is becoming increasingly expensive for the learning and development organization to support the organization's learning needs with a formal training model of live classroom sessions and static e-learning modules. This model is expensive and does not move fast enough.

Social forces: Most, if not all, of our employees use social technologies in their personal lives to keep in touch with friends and professional contacts, look for recommendations from everything from food to movies to plumbers, and they look for expertise. It is a naturally occurring social phenomenon that could be leveraged at work to improve effectiveness and performance.

Technology forces: Just like web 2.0 technologies have become mainstream in our personal lives, there are enterprise 2.0 technologies that are just as easy to use and designed specifically for enterprises that increase people's ability to work more effectively together and get what they need faster from each other. This is social learning, and this will help our organization remain competitive in an increasingly competitive industry.

There are lots of ways to create an effective pitch, and I think a pitch like this can improve our chances of convincing our stakeholders that social learning is an urgent imperative for remaining competitive and for growing our businesses.

How would you use this technique to structure a pitch in your organization? Do you think it will work for you? Share you comments and ideas in the comments below.