Google recently announced that it is “launching an initial set of Google+ features designed specifically for businesses.”  If you don’t know, Google+ is a social networking platform similar to Facebook.  The plan is to make Google+ available to companies that are already using Google Apps.  This move has great implications from a performance improvement perspective.  Let me tell you why.

Informal learning has been a hot topic in learning circles for several years.  The struggle has always been to capture the dynamic of the water cooler without losing its value.  By adding social networking features to Google Apps an organization can bring the water cooler to everyone’s work space.  I will attempt to provide some examples of how this can work.

An analyst becomes aware of a shipping problem at the warehouse.  He contacts the supervisor to get a status report on the problem.  Using the Hangouts On Air feature, the two discuss the problem and work out a resolution via video chat.

The entire process can take minutes to complete.  The analyst and warehouse supervisor do not need schedule a meeting or even be in the same location.  The conversation can be recorded and shared for everyone in the organization to access or it can be shared with specific groups (called Circles in Google+).   When the video is posted viewers can comment and ask questions just like they comment on a post in Facebook.

The Circles feature is another great way to encourage and facilitate collaboration.

A circle enables you to decide who has access to information.  If a work group is created to develop a new sales strategy they can collaborate in a circle.  Throughout the process they can share selected information with other circles to solicit feedback or provide updates.  They can add members as the needs of the project dictate.  When the project is complete they can share their final report with other circles.

These are just two examples of how Google+ can improve an organization’s performance.  The company I work for uses Google Apps.  We have stretched the docs and sites features to improve collaboration within the corporate office and with our remote locations.  I think the social aspect of Google+ would take the work we have done already to an entirely new level.