How To Use Slack To Support Learning In Your Workflow

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Which company has over 1 million paid users and is the fastest growing SaaS company of all time? A company that has 77% of the Fortune 100 using their software and over 4 million active daily users. A company that is now valued at $4 Billion after just 4 years and adding $1 million in new contracts every 11 days. Welcome to world of Slack. If you’re like us, you’re already living in it.

Slack is revolutionising and redefining the way people communicate at work. It is also changing the way people learn at work. Let’s look at why and how it works, and what’s in it for learning.

How Slack Builds Communities

There has been no shortage of attempts to develop corporate social networks and learning communities. However, very few of these have lived up the hype or expectations, many learning communities lie fallow and unloved. Harvard Business Review and Altimeter called out this problem when they showed that most corporate social networks are just not that popular:

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One of the main barriers to uptake is that often these platforms feel quite separate from your workflow. You have to remember to go to them. To borrow Thomasz Tunguz’s phrase, they need to build a share of habit. And we’re just not that good at building new habits at work if they don’t feel essential to getting the job done.

Then Slack Happened. Slack isn’t separate from your workflow. It is your workflow. For the first time we have a platform that teams use extensively every day, a platform where collaboration, communication and sharing takes place continually.

People spend many hours each day in the Slack platform (if you’re like us, you’re never really out of it). They enable notifications, they chat about work issues and share. Slack works because it is continuous, it is fluid, works on multiple devices seamlessly, and enables more natural and immediate conversations than email or other systems. The platform is your friend and helps to streamline what you do. It is welcoming and very easy to start and use (and it’s free up to a point). It also works across large teams as easily as it works across small teams. And its out to kill email, and doing a pretty good job of it.

We’re All In This Together

Slack is unusual in that its adoption has been driven by end users. For example, David Fong rolled out Slack to anyone who wanted it at Zappos and over 1,400 employees chose themselves to get Slack on their computers. “It feels right to so many people,” Fong says. “Zappos is very focused on culture, and Slack is a fun user experience. It’s like, if you go to work in a drab, colorless building, work can feel sterile. Slack isn’t sterile.”

Slack also reflects changes in the way people communicate. Instant Message and Chat apps such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp have become increasingly popular and are replacing email. Email can feel isolated and slow, whereas in Slack you are invited to join teams, there is no blind copying of the boss and unlike with being copied in on emails you can opt out of conversations where you are not needed.  Slack uses channels which you can set up and which can be dedicated to different topics, private channels for invited groups, and direct messages. There is often at least one general channel that acts like the office water cooler which is informal and fun.

Building Collective Intelligence, Powered by Slack

We’re all smarter when we work together to share insights. Collective intelligence requires the sharing of knowledge openly and without fear. However, this requires a climate of psychological safety and trust. There seems to be something unique about Slack that has enabled teams to build this trust and which encourages conversations. As a consequence teams are increasingly sharing and learning from each other inside Slack. They may not call it learning. It’s just sharing knowledge to get things done.

If you’re in L&D, you should be sensing the opportunity here. For continuous learning to be effective, you need to embed it in the workflow. Corporate learning departments need to place learning where where teams are already collaborating. Everyone’s already in Slack. That’s where learning should be hanging out too.  

Leveraging Slack for Learning

How can you use Slack to help bring more learning into the workflow? Here are some ideas 

  1. Create topic/team focused channels: It’s easy to create a channel in Slack. Channels can have a team focus, e.g. “EMEA Sales team” or a topic e.g. “Big Data Trends”. Keeping a channel focused and specific makes it easier for users to select which ones they should join. You can make channels public and open, or invite specific people.
  2. Add content: Once you create a channel you’ll want to add content to it. You could do this manually by simply dropping in links to articles, resources and whatever will be helpful to your teams (hint – there’s an easier way if you want to skip to the next section…). Talk to the team you’re creating the channel for. Understand what kind of content they’ll find useful.
  3. Provide context:If there’s a resource that is particularly relevant or useful, add a comment. Say why it’s relevant. Notify people if it’s specific to them, e.g. “@John this report has some points you could use in your next proposal”, or “@everyone this article on leadership habits is a good way to put the ideas we talked about into practice”.
  4. Keep it fresh:  You’ll need new content, ideally every day, to keep the channel fresh and relevant. You could do this manually – going out to the web, finding relevant content and dropping links into Slack. But that’s time consuming, and one more habit for you to build – and not really scalable if you’re supporting multiple teams and topics.

You can make it easier on yourself by automating this process to pull in recent and relevant content every day to your Slack channels.  We’ve built a Slack integration that enables you to do just that and we’re delighted to launch it.

Anders Pink + Slack = Continuous Learning Right in your Workflow

Slack’s open approach to integrations means you can embed learning resources and content directly into Slack. There are various ways you can do this including using Anders Pink’s Slack integration.  You can create a Slack channel for the latest industry news, for recent content published by competitors or for any specific topic. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create Briefings in Anders Pink:

Briefings are collections of articles on any topic you’re interested in. You can filter them by your preferred topics, sites, Twitter influencers and RSS feeds. They update every few hours with fresh content. Here’s how to create a briefing.

You can do it for free here.

  1. Choose the Slack Channel you want to Post to:

In Anders Pink top menu, Click “Add AP To Slack”:

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Click the “Add to Slack” button:

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You’ll be taken to Slack and asked to choose which channel you want to post content to:

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Then click “Authorize”.

Tip – you can create new channels in Slack first, e.g. Big Data Trends, so they show up in this list. You can also post to multiple channels – we’ll get to that in a sec.

3. Select the Briefings to Post to Your Channel

Select the briefings you want posted to the Slack channel you’ve chosen. You’ll see the channel you chose, and a drop down list of all the briefings you’ve made or public ones you’ve followed from your personal account or any Anders Pink team you’re in. Just start typing a briefing name to jump to it:

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Choose the briefings from the drop down list. You can add multiple briefings to a channel:

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 21.23.45You can do this for multiple slack channels. Just hit “add to Slack” again. Hit Save. You can now choose to post to the channel immediately. Or wait until tomorrow (why wait though…).

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4. Stay up to Date Every day, The AP + Slack Way…

You’re all set up! The top content from these briefings will then appear directly in the Slack channel you have chosen every day at 8am GMT. Here’s what you’re going to get:

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Click on an article link to open it in a new tab.

Everyone in your channel can now quickly access the latest insights and thinking on the topics that matter to them, without leaving Slack.

From here you and your team can take the conversation further using all the great Slack features that help teams collaborate:

  • Pin/Save an Article
  • Start a conversation thread
  • Share it with others
  • Remind themselves to read it later
  • Read it on the move in the Slack mobile apps

The best social learning platform is probably already in your organisation. It’s called Slack. See what you can do with it to support your teams and help them continuously learn where they’re already working. Help your teams stay smart every day by integrating Anders Pink with Slack.

 



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