What we can do for you

Social learning strategies

Strategizing, implementing, supporting, and evaluating an initiative
Wenger-Trayner - what we do
We help devise strategic plans for developing communities of practice, networks and social media policies and for carrying out strategic conversations with executive sponsors. This includes: High-level meetings. We hold strategic meetings with executives who will be playing an active role in setting the direction of initiatives and integrating the cultivation of communities of practice and networks in the strategy of the organization. Strategic plans. We explore the potential of social learning approaches in your context and develop strategic plans to leverage this potential for improved performance. Ongoing consultancy. We carry out audits and hold ongoing conversations at different levels of the organization written up as a report with recommendations.
We work with internal teams to help them plan, run, and review organizational initiatives aimed at developing strategic capabilities through communities of practice, networks, and the use of social media. Plan. We help the team conceive and prepare the initiative, including developing a workplan, securing sponsorship, and working together. Implement. We coach and advise the team through the various phases of the initiative, getting involved in implementation details when necessary, but always very conscious that our goal is to develop the team’s internal capability. Renew. We participate in strategic reviews of the initiative, interviewing participants, analyzing data, reporting to sponsors, and planning next steps.
We develop capacity through different types of training activities that can be carried out online, face-to-face, or as a combination of the two. Awareness presentations. We give general presentations (including via broadcast or recording) to raise awareness of the existence and potential of communities of practice and social learning. Educational workshops. We conduct focused workshops for people who are interested in exploring the value and implementation issues of communities of practice. Leadership coaching. We provide specialized training or coaching for leaders and sponsors of communities of practice and other social learning processes, focusing on the art of launching, cultivating, sponsoring and supporting such communities and processes.
We get involved in the nuts and bolts of implementation. We help design, launch, facilitate, and revitalize communities and networks. Community events. We work in partnership with you to design small or large events, including agenda, learning activities, use of technology. Community launch. We prepare and conduct community launches – or renewal workshop to revitalize existing communities – including designing and implementing an agenda and developing internal leadership to carry it through. Facilitation. We facilitate or coach the facilitator for one-off meetings or series of community or network events.
We pay attention to technology and the potential of social media. We integrate the use of social media into your overall learning strategy in innovative and pragmatic ways. This includes: Social media audits: reviewing existing tools in the current technology infrastructure Exploration of possible solutions: jointly exploring further needs with the support team and possible IT groups Recommendations for practice: thinking strategically about the use and practices of social media for community or networked learning
Convening learning processes and spaces across complex social learning systems with difficult boundaries is a key form of leadership that is still largely misunderstood in organizations. We work with people who are taking on (or are thrust into) a convening role to help through the challenges of this delicate art. Coaching conveners. We act as coaches to conveners who are often isolated in their role and benefit from the partnership of people with experience with their challenges. Convening events. We work with conveners to organize small or large gatherings and social learning spaces that bring together voices from across the system. Value proposition. We help the convener to create a value proposition that is compelling across multiple constituencies and institutional sponsors.
We are increasingly asked to help organize small or large-scale learning events in complex settings that involves multiple or cross-boundary stakeholders. Or we are called in to help develop the learning potential at such an event. Participants at these events are usually expecting high value for time. Beyond presentations. Involving us often reflects an attempt to move beyond a series of presentations with Q&A and find ways to engage people in active learning processes. Active participation. We use social learning rather than content as the driver and design a set of learning activities ranging from participant-driven discussions to a tailored mix of scaffolded, collaborative tasks. Boundary crossing. We create cross-boundary learning spaces to bring multiple voices and constituencies into productive dialogue. Taking ownership. We coach groups of participants to take leadership in facilitating the process as a way to cultivate their sense of ownership of the event. Technology. We integrate the appropriate use of technology to connect people, bring different voices into the event, and produce artifacts that capture the learning.
We carry out on-demand research to serve the purpose of our clients. Examples of the type of research we do include: Case studies. We interview people and tell the story of a community, a network, an event or an initiative to capture what was important to remember and communicate it in a compelling way. Literature/document reviews. We conduct reviews of the literature and documentation on a topic of interest and produce a synthesis of findings for the purpose of the client. Benchmarking. We collect information about how different organizations address an issue of interest and what the best examples suggest for action. Social network mapping. We map the networks of relationships in a social system to highlight important patterns.
We monitor the value creation of communities through a value assessment framework developed in partnership with the Open University of the Netherlands. The framework uses story telling and traditional data collection techniques to monitor the value creation of a community or network. The outcome is designed to be useful for sponsors, community members and other stakeholders. Evaluation processes. We work with our clients to set up processes for capturing the value created by communities of practice, networks and social learning processes. Business case. One reason for assessing value creation is to produce a business case to sponsors. Reviews. We conduct broad reviews of social learning and communities of practice initiatives and report on our findings and recommendations. We specialize in participatory processes that involve all constituencies in the evaluation.


All forms of public speaking from our diverse experiences and in an interactive style
We are both experienced public speakers and can give talks and workshops individually or together. Duets. The tradition of keynotes is one person speaking and the audience listening, but we have received very good feedback on our two-person presentations. More lively. When we give a keynote together, we are both on stage at the same time and talk in a tight, but lively, back-and-forth manner. This creates more variety and a conversational style. People have told us they it easier to listen to and focus on this duet than the traditional solo speaker. More interesting. We also bring different stories and perspectives to the topics we introduce and this helps bring concepts and principles to life for the audience. Our pricing for keynotes reflects our preference for presenting together. It also gives better value for the audience.
Our styles range from the classic keynote to interactive presentations to workshop-like sessions: Traditional keynotes. We can do one-way presentations, where we speak and the audience listens (possibly with some quick Q&A phases). This works well for short presentations (up to an hour) to very large audiences. Interactive keynotes. We also create more innovative formats, which involve the audience in questions & answers phases, feedback, small-group conversations, and whole-group reflections. This works well for longer presentations and smaller audiences (though we are finding that interaction can work with surprisingly large groups). Workshop formats. At the other end of the spectrum, our presentations move toward a workshop format that engages participants in discussions, collaboration, and hands-on experience of the content. These require more time, but usually result in a deeper appreciation of the topic and in some cases in an immediate output. Technology. We like to explore innovative uses of technology to make our presentations interactive and engaging as well as being more participative for the audience.
We can give talks on all aspects of social learning, including (but not limited to):

  • Communities of practice: a social discipline of learning
  • Knowledge management as social learning
  • Social learning in the 21st century
  • Social learning theory and what it looks like in practice
  • Social media: strategies for social learning
  • Social learning capabilities and staying ahead
  • Social artists and social learning spaces
  • Learning citizenship and its significance in the 21st century
  • Crossing boundaries in landscapes of practice
  • Strategic HR

The way we work

Some of the principles that guide us in our client relationships
We think of ourselves as learning partners to our clients—offering our knowledge and experience in the service of a collaborative learning process with the client. Internal capabilities. Our approach is always to help develop the internal capabilities of the client rather than to simply parachute in our own expertise. Internal partners. Because of our approach, we need to have a well-defined internal partner in the client organization – a person or preferably a team who will engage with us and take our collaboration forward. Innovative and pragmatic. We offer to open up possibilities, push the envelope, and explore the cutting edge. At the same time we are pragmatic, realistic, and reflective about what will work and achieve the objectives of the client.
Our skills are particularly fit for international projects and the need to work across national, regional and political boundaries: Multiple languages. We have developed practices to work in several languages with multiple audiences and to deal with simultaneous translation; between us we speak English, French and Portuguese and have a working knowledge of several other languages. Cross-cultural awareness. We design and implement strategies, programs, and activities with people from different backgrounds and differing expectations. Delicate politics. While learning can drive cross-boundary connections, national politics often lag behind and can become an obstacle. We have worked in contexts where national sensitivities need careful consideration.
We are excited by the challenges of complex systems where multiple constituencies bring different perspectives, goals, backgrounds, affiliations, and expectations. Increasingly we find that we have to design for this kind of complexity. This includes: Multiple practices. We are familiar with the issues involved in getting practitioners from different practices to negotiate meaningful areas for learning together and collaborating on issues of potential common interest. Multiple voices. New tools and technologies offer many ways to bring different voices to the table. Our experience shows that the simplest of tools influence who gets heard – and we can work to bring diversity and practice together in new and blended ways. Organizational politics. Fast change, new and multiple practices, diverse and different voices – these all influence and are influenced by organizational politics. Our experience with this across sectors adds to the tapestry of our work with clients.
We work across sectors—in business, government, education, healthcare, non-profit, and international development. Depth and breadth. We have enough experience with each sector to understand its perspectives and be useful in its terms, but we think it is important for learning partners like us not to specialize in one sector. Synergies. Our experience across sectors allows us to see fundamental patterns and broker ideas among people who often see the world very differently and use different languages to talk about what they are trying to do. We connect the dots and use emerging patterns to improve the learning capability of the social systems we work with.
Our partnership builds on both difference and synergy. We love working together and share a contagious passion for what we do. Yet we have distinct strengths, ranges of experience, and perspectives. Our clients profit from this complementarity: More than two. Our collaboration produces more than one plus one. We riff of each other and unleash synergies that bring out the best in us for the benefit of our clients. Richness. Our work gains richness and depth from our combined knowledge and experience of social learning theory and practice, business, technology, organizations, relationships, and the world. Out-of-the box. We find that we are more creative when working together. Our thinking is broader and more daring. Our collaboration brings an innovative edge to our projects.

Strategic thinking

We share a framework for articulating aspirations, indicators, feedback loops, and value.

Innovative Ideas

How do we connect people in meaningful ways? Break down silos? Turn strategy into action?

Appropriate technologies

How do we leverage social media, new tools, and technologies in ways that make sense to people?

Working partnership

With our experience and your knowledge of the context we can work it out together.

Contact us

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Online consulting

We also offer individual online consulting sessions

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