I’m limiting myself to 30 minutes to write this post. Whatever state it is in when my timer goes off is the state it gets ‘shipped’ (i.e. posted) in (as Seth Godin says ‘real artists ship’ – and I ship less in the form of blog posts than I would like). Limited myself to a shorter time period to write a post is a little ironic as this post is about the value of creating larger blocks of time for learning and Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) activities rather than cramming it into small chunks of time completed between other activities. It’s just that I’ve had an insight that I wanted to capture in the moment, with a sense of immediacy and none of the usual hyperlinking, polishing and refining that goes into my posts.
Two week’s ago I started another of Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning courses – this one on Modernising Training content. I’d previously read / viewed the Week 1 content during my daily commute on the bus and train, and started doing the same with the Week 2 content. There is an activity to complete each week which involves creating a piece of content. I’ve been so busy with work and parenting that I’d not started the Week 1 activity.
Today, a Sunday, I found myself alone for several hours and decided to go back over the content for Week 1 – on the topic of ‘micro content.’ I have just spent two hours of sitting at my desk looking at various examples of microcontent, bookmarking and commenting on articles and examples in Diigo, learning to use Diigo’s Outliner function, and taking notes in Evernote. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this block of time to concentrate and do some decent sense-making as opposed to the short grabs of time I tend to use while commuting or between evening washing up and my child’s bedtime to get online and read / view content. It’s important to highlight that the course is not presented as a ‘micro-learning’ program, although all of Jane’s programs lend themselves to being able to consume content on the go on mobile platforms. Nonetheless, I thought it ironic that my experience was that a longer focussed block of time on the topic of ‘micro content’ was far more enjoyable and effective than the mobile, short attention span blocks I’ve been allocating to this activity.
I’m now reflecting on my PKM and networking routine, which I’ve been trying to follow this year. During my commute I’m mostly seeking through Twitter and Feedly, and doing a little sharing where I find and read a resource that I think worth an immediate share. However, due to the morning and evening routines involved with walking my dog and solo parenting for about 90% of the time I can’t actually fit in the number of one hour blocks of time required for decent sense-making and high quality sharing as I have put into my planned routine. The only way I could do this is by getting less than my target 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night, which I find essential to think clearly and work productively.
I’m going to halve the number of blocks of time I try to allocate during a typical week for concentrated sense-making and network management activities. I think this will be more realistic than the current unachievable objectives I’ve set for myself. Giving my brain a few more breaks (e.g. more nights off, and more commutes where I simply listen to music and start out of the window) could well result in better quality thinking and higher productivity. Not to mention greater presence in the moment, especially when I’m with family.
Two skills covered in both the Modern Workplace Learning’s Social Learning Practitioner Program and Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Management in 40 Days are advanced online search techniques and validation of online content. One quick peek at the internet in real time to watch the mind-boggling rate at which content on the internet is growing confirms the value of these skills.
The Purpose of my Search
At one level the purpose of my search was to try out new search skills. However, I needed to look for something specific so decided to search for resources that would help middle managers to identify what actions they could take to effectively develop their team members. Given that my organisation uses the 702010 framework for learning I started by searching for resources about how they could use 702010 approaches.
Searching Using Google
I used Google as my search engine and started with a broad term which I gradually refined to see how it would impact the number of results. As shown in the table below, simply adding one word at a time to the search string reduced the number of results to 1% of the starting point within 3 search iterations. However, over 3,000 search results was still a large number.
I realised that the search term “702010 for middle managers” would include resources about how middle management skills could be developed, which didn’t fit the purpose of my search. I wanted to shift the emphasis to the role of middle managers in using or implementing 702010, so searched the term: middle manager role in 702010 implementation. While this may have shifted the emphasis, it didn’t reduce the search results.
In Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014 Guidebook I read that Google ignores common words like ‘the’ ‘an’ ‘in’, but will include them in a search if you add a ‘+’ before each one. My next search was on the term: middle manager role +in 702010 implementation. This significantly reduced the search results to just 6. Oddly, none were relevant. They were mostly about strategy implementation.
Jane’s next tip was to use quotation marks to use a phrase string to search for an exact phrase rather than just the occurrence of the words entered. I searched on “middle manager role” +in “702010 implementation” and received just 3 results. While one of these was relevant and included a list of ideas for activities that could be used to develop people through experience and exposure, it was not written for my target audience. Perhaps I had been too specific in my search. I changed tack again and searched on “702010 outline” +for “middle managers”. Interestingly, while Google found no search results for this term it automatically searched without the quotation marks and brought back 9 results.
The second item, 50 suggestions for implementing 702010 (5), was a blog post by Jay Cross, an authoritative source on this topic. The post referred to quantitative research by the Corporate Leadership Council that identified three management practices that significantly improved performance. I had seen this research quoted in more detail previously and recalled it contained useful information.
Google Advanced Search
Before I move on to validating content, it is worth noting that the Google Advanced Search page could have been a quicker alternative to constructing powerful searches. However, it was valuable to learn the mechanics of refining searches by going through the manual exercise described above.
Validating Online Content
While Jay Cross is a credible source on informal learning and 702010 I wanted more detail so followed a hyperlink from his post that I thought would take me to the original research. While it was a document from the research organisation, it did not contain the referenced research. At this point it became more important to me to validate the content, ensuring that it was accurate, authoritative and current.
Searching on the report title led me to three further secondary sources quoting the research including Charles Jennings and the 702010 Forum. I now had three sources I knew to be authoritative discussing the research conclusions consistently, and two sources providing the same detailed findings. Even so, I wanted to increase my confidence that the content had been interpreted / reported accurately so added the name of the research organisation to the report title in the search. While unable to access the full report I did find a presentation by the Corporate Leadership Council with enough information to cross-check the secondary sources.
So, although I couldn’t access the ‘members only’ original report from the Corporate Leadership Council, I was satisfied with the validity of the data available from other sources and had enough detail to effectively communicate with middle managers about what they could do to effectively improve performance of their team members.
This post is one in a series sharing the case study of the development of a Community of Practice for Maintenance and Engineering teams at Coca-Cola Amatil.
As discussed in the case study post on context, this initiative is expected to contribute to reducing equipment down-time and decreasing risk associated with concentration of deep process knowledge in a small number of long-tenured Engineers. A number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were identified up-front to evaluate the value created by this community. This was informed in part by the conceptual framework of value creation from online interactions from Etienne Wenger, Beverly Traynor and Maarten De Laat. See Jane Bozarth’s article for an introduction to the value creation cycles in the framework.
KPIs and Measures
Measurement Points & Methods
Three main measurement points have been identified:
- Prior to community launch – to establish a baseline
- Immediately following the Work Connect & Learn program (guided social learning program to support the development of skills and behaviours to participate in the community)
- Six months after completion of the Work Connect & Learn (WCL) program
Monitoring of some of the measures will occur on a monthly basis during this six month period to help inform community management.
Data and feedback will be gathered using the following methods:
- Surveys of all maintenance and engineering team members at the three main measurement points
- Monitoring of activity on online community spaces in SharePoint
- Interviews / discussions with Maintenance & Engineering Managers and Capability Managers (who are providing on the ground supporting to community members to participate)
- Focus groups with community members immediately following and six months after the WCL program
- Capture of value creation stories on an ongoing basis in the six months after the WCL program
Additional Thoughts on Value Creation Cycles
The careful reader may have noticed that indicators of Reframing Value have not been explicitly included in the KPIs. While we have not explicitly set objectives for value at this level, it will be surprising if this does not follow success in the other value creation cycles. Reframing Value will be identified through value creation stories.
The value creation framework has recently been expanded to include strategic value and enabling value. We’ve not yet considered whether / how to include these in our evaluation strategy.
Last November I set up some Google alerts in order to receive automated updates on the latest internet search results on topics that I’m interested in. It distills the results from the first 20 or so pages of its search engine results and sends you an alert. Rather than receive results by email, I set my alerts up as an RSS Feed into Feedly by following the instructions at How to Curate Content With Feedly and Google Alerts . (For those unfamiliar with RSS Feeds, refer to this article for a straightforward explanation.)
A scan of the alerts that I set up shows that I’ve used alternative terms with minor variations to increase the range of search results. You’ll also notice the use of quotation marks around phrases to ensure that results only include items that use the full term,not the indivudal words spread out throughout an article. (Here’s more tips on setting up Google alerts.)
Automating searching allows me to be fed new articles and information on topics I’m interested in. So long as I am reading on Feedly a couple of times a week it is a reliable way to be pushed new content without having to make the effort to do manual searches.
Reading Alert results helps me to stay abreast of industry trends and developments. It supplements the content that the “human filters” in my online Personal Learning Network feed me through Twitter, LinkedIn and the blogs that I follow. It also allows me to increase my value and contribution to my networks by sharing content that may not already be in circulaton in those networks.
Google Alerts have been a valuable addition to my Personal Knowledge Mangement toolkit.
I came across the idea of using value creation stories to assess the value of online interactions in an article by Jane Bozarth. She used a conceptual framework from Etienne Wenger, Beverly Traynor and Maarten De Laat to write the story of how her online interactions create value. Their framework thinks about value in terms of five different cycles, which Jane summarises clearly in a diagram in her article.
As Jane urges, I have read the full text of this framework, and have used their guiding questions to write a value creation story about my participation in the 702010 Forum. This is my practice run in preparation for gathering value creation stories to evaluate communities that I am helping develop in my organisation. I’ve written this post by responding directly to the guiding questions relating to each cycle of value creation. However, I would document value creation stories within my organisation by writing or recording (audio or video) a more natural narrative.
The 702010 Forum is a community of practice for learning and performance professionals applying the 702010 framework. Membership is subscription based, with some resources and webinars publicly available. A toolkit contains resources to support application of 702010, and members can participate in a range of events and an online discussion forum.
1. What meaningful activities did you participate in? (Cycle 1 – Immediate Value)
I have participated in a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities including:
– attending webinars or viewing recordings, especially case studies by members
– delivering two case studies on webinars
– attending face-to-face events
– initiating and replying to discussions in the forum – and extending this in one case to email and phone discussions on a solution shared in the forum (more below)
– participating in a pilot of the Forum’s 702010 Practitioner Certification
– sharing and applying resources from the Toolkit with others in my organisation to assess status and develop improvements
2. What specific insights did you gain? What access to useful information or material? (Cycle 2 – Potential Value)
Within a few months of joining the Forum I realised that while my organisation had adopted the 702010 framework a number of years ago, we had narrowly interpreted it. We were deploying blended learning where we used activities based on learning from experience (70) and others (20) within formal structured programs. However, we were not purposefully enabling people to learn as they worked or building ongoing social learning capability. From a webinar on the changing role of the learning function I saw that the skills of our capability team needed to be broadened. I gained an understanding and language to talk to key stakeholders about the opportunity to impact organisational performance more effectively if we added performance consulting, performance support, and social learning to our toolkit.
3. How did this influence your practice? What did it enable that would not have happened otherwise? (Cycle 3 – Applied Value)
These activities and insights enabled me to have different discussions about 702010, our learning strategy, and internal Capability skills, particularly with senior managers and our Capability team. The most significant shift it enabled was an update to our Capability strategy in April 2014 to include ‘Continuous Workplace Learning’ as an element. This broadened the remit of our Capability team and created the space for us to get strategic with social learning.
We revamped our Governance Board by applying the “Toolkit for Establishing a Learning Governance Board.” Consequently we get better value out of our quarterly meetings by focussing on alignment with our business strategy.
A specific initiative accelerated by a case study in a Forum webinar was setting up a knowledge sharing site on SharePoint. When a senior manager gave me 1 day to prepare a prototype of a community hub on SharePoint I recalled a webinar where Tonkin & Taylor demonstrated their Knowledge Shots solution. I incorporated this into our prototype, and went on to build a variant of this for my organisation. You can see what this looks like in the guided tour of a community hub now set up on SharePoint. (Big thank you to Tammy Waite and Mark Thomas from Tonkin & Taylor, Forum members, for the support they provided by email and phone.)
4a. What difference did it make to your performance? How did this contribute to your personal/professional development? (Cycle 4 – Realized Value)
As per the examples given above, application of ideas, tools and solutions from the 702010 Forum has enabled me to perform and contribute to my organisation in ways I may not otherwise have been able to.
The 702010 Forum was one of the first Learning & Development communities that I’ve participated in. During 2014 I got active on Twitter and started this blog. This helped me to create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) which encompasses many other communities (e.g. Third Place, OzLearn, PKMChat). Collectively my participation in a number of communities and interaction with my PLN has transformed and accelerated my professional development.
One way that the Forum has supported my development has been by increasing my confidence to work out loud publicly in order to learn and improve. In December 2013 I delivered a case study in a Forum webinar. I found the reflection and learning from delivering this webinar valuable, and saw that others could benefit from me working out loud. This was a catalyst – it gave me the motivation and confidence to continue working out loud by blogging and speaking at conferences.
4b. How did this contribute to the goal of the organisation? Qualitatively? Quantitatively? (Cycle 4 – Realized Value)
Realised value for my organisation is unfolding. It’s also difficult (and unnecessary) to unravel the influence of the 702010 Forum on my organisation’s performance versus that of other communities and networks I participate in. Our Capability strategy is better aligned to our overall business strategy as a result of applying ideas and tools from the 702010 Forum. We are using a broader range of Capability approaches and activities to achieve our goals. I think it will be another 6-9 months before we are clear on the outcome of these activities.
5. Has this changed your or some other stakeholder’s understanding of what matters? (Cycle 5 – Reframing Value)
An emphatic YES to this question. It’s shifted the perspective of two very important stakeholder groups, senior managers and the Capability community, about the importance of the 70 and 20 elements of the framework and the range of approaches we can use to build Capability. We’ve reframed our Capability strategy, launched communities of practice and embraced performance consulting.
Participate, Participate, Participate
I shall close by encouraging everyone reading this to reflect on the communities and networks they are part of and consider their current level of participation. The more you participate, interact with others, apply ideas from these groups and share back what happened, the more value you create for yourself, your organisation and other community members. So, what are you waiting for? Get in there and participate.
I’d love to hear about the value that others have found in participating in communities and networks – you can leave your thoughts below or pingback to your own blog posts.