Peeragogy – What the ….

Image courtesy Terrence Metz

Image courtesy Terrence Metz

Although it’s been around for some time, peer-to-peer is the new big thing! Having worked in a peer review environment in the past (i.e. academia) I know how uncomfortable but useful it can be. Nowadays, peer review and feedback is increasingly used in a commercial environment but is also being recognised as one of the most productive process for successful leadership and business development.

In particular, the Internet is enabling a multitude of peer interactions through chat rooms, forums and other social media. However, there is also a significant increase in areas such as peer-to-peer lending, and most on-line retailers provide facilities for peer reviews of product and service. There is safety in numbers and honesty is encouraged by the protection of anonymity and remoteness.

The importance of these is that peer review is now commonplace, and even expected, and demonstrates that people take far more notice of peers than they do of traditional financiers and expert reviewers. In the world of management, there is, of course, a place for expertise and ‘mentoring’, but I have found that if people are seeking significant improvements in their impact as a leader and the success of their business, then challenge, feedback and shared experiences from peers work better.

So I suppose it should be no surprise that someone should invent the term ‘peeragogy’. I’m not sure exactly who, but it is probably derived from Malcolm Knowles‘ principles of andragogy i.e. an understanding of how adults learn.

Whatever the origins, the important point for people working in, or running, organisations is that here is something with unrealised potential:

How much use do we make of our peers to help us?

And where can we find a group of peers that will give us honest challenge and feedback?

Many people now join a group of peers where trust and confidentiality rules the roost. They solve the problem of ‘loneliness at the top’ and finding somewhere one’s thinking can truly be tested. The conditions for such groups must be absolutely no conflict of interest or such a degree of trust that the group becomes a community where regard for others overcomes any conflicting interests. Oh, and of course, a shared interest in the opinions of others and personal and business growth!

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