A Few of My Favourite Blogs

feedly logo

I subscribe to a range of blogs using Feedly as my RSS Reader.  This makes it easier to keep up to date with industry blogs and reduces email clutter.  I currently have 488 unread Google alerts and 211 unread blog posts in Feedly. I could do better with regularly checking and reading my subscribed feeds.  I tend to Feedly categoriesfocus on a small number of my favourite blogs.  Here I reflect on what I enjoy about three of these.

Harold Jarche

Over 10 years of blogging Harold Jarche has published 2,650 posts. Two themes I enjoy are Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and networked working and learning .  He continually evolves his thinking on topics, reusing, updating and refining content.  I like his approach of writing primarily for himself.  If others find value in his work then that’s a bonus.  I use this as a model for my own writing.  It reduces the pressure , and helps me to focus on learning and improving my practices.  While not quite stream of consciousness, I can see his thinking and work developing over time.   He has compiled his “best posts” into two e-books.  I’ve read the first, Seeking Perpetual Beta, which he Perpetual Betadescribes as “a cohesive narrative that covers learning, working, and managing in the emerging network era”.  While he writes clearly I sometimes feel too trapped by my paradigms to see how to apply his vision of the future of work in my world.  His thinking stretches me and motivates me to question the status quo.  His practical guidance on personal and organisational knowledge management is valuable.  I completed his PKM in 40 days program in 2014.  This gave me skills to filter relevant information and make sense of it.  His model of “How Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) add Value” is a useful framework.  It has helped me speak with people in my business about why and how we can better use our ESN.  I look to Harold as a pathfinder, helping me to find different ways of working and learning.

Helen Blunden

Helen and me working together - after I got to know her through her blog

Helen (on right) and me working together – after I got to know her through her blog

Helen Blunden writes on her business blog, Activate Learning Solutions.  While not as prolific as Harold she does write often – 13 posts in first 2 months of 2015.  Helen writes about modern learning approaches, her networking activities and working experiences.  I most enjoy the case studies where she describes programs she has developed and how she worked.  Her social on-boarding case study is a good example.  The open, detailed way she writes gave me a good sense of who she is and her professional approach.  Helen is inquisitive, interested in others, seeks to understand the business environment and people, designs practical solutions to improve performance and results, and has an eye for detail. After several months of reading Helen’s blog and connecting with her online I met her briefly at a conference in mid 2014.  Face-to-face she was consistent with her online persona.  I felt that I knew her well from our online interaction and portfolio on her blog.  I did not hesitate to engage her to help develop a Community of Practice.

Sacha Chua

Sacha chua

Finally, the blog I get the most pure pleasure in reading is Sacha Chua’s Living An Awesome Life.  Sacha is in the midst of a five year semi-retirement experiment that she started in her late 20s.  I admire her courage and resourcefulness in making this happen.  The way she thinks is fascinating.  She is an astute observer who asks interesting questions, breaks down a topic into smaller pieces to analyse and develop  insights, and provides helpful visual summaries (sketchnotes).  Her writing is simultaneously intensely personal and broadly relevant – as exemplified by her recent post on common goals.  Her blog is a place to think and learn.  She posts almost daily, and she has written over 7,000 posts in 14 years.  Her motivation, originality, openness and willingness to share are inspiring.  She makes me want to live a better quality self-directed life.

You can imagine my delight when I recently saw a video of Sacha and Harold discussing blogging and PKM on YouTube.  The two take very different approaches to developing their thinking and managing their blogs.

What are your favourite blogs and why? 

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Community of Practice Case Study

In September 2014 we decided to get strategic with social learning in Coca-Cola Amatil’s Supply Chain and establish a Community of Practice for our Maintenance and Engineering team members across Australia and New Zealand.  Helen Blunden of Activate Learning was engaged to help with this initiative.  Helen and I are Working Out Loud about the development of this Community.

This post provides links to all our posts which collectively form a case study that we’ve developed as we worked.  I’ve arranged them in a  logical sequence for you to read if you wanted to follow the case study in rough order in which things happened (although there is a lot iteration).  I’ll keep adding to it as we post more on this case.

1.  Context - Michelle’s post about the background to the decision to get strategic with social learning and establish the Community of Practice

2. Strategy and Analysis Phase – Helen’s post about how the need was analysed and strategy for the Community of Practice developed

3. Work, Connect and Learn Program – Helen’s post about the guided social learning program we decided to develop to help community members learn skills and behaviours required to participate in online community activities

4. Development of the Work, Connect and Learn Program – Helen’s post about how the program was developed

5. The online community hub – Michelle’s guided tour of the community infrastructure set up using standard SharePoint 2013 functionality, integrated with Microsoft Lync and OneNote

6. Change Management approach – Michelle’s post (to be written) about the approach taken to change management before Community launch

7. Evaluation strategy – Michelle’s post (to be written) about the business objectives and evaluation strategy for the Community

8. Pre-Program Survey – Michelle’s post (to be written) about what we learned about our community members through a survey before we started the Work, Connect and Learn program

9. Reflections on Module 0 of Work Connect and Learn – Helen’s video log reflection before and after delivering webinars for Module 0 Learn How to Learn Online

 

 

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Community Hub on SharePoint 2013

To support the launch of Coca-Cola Amatil’s Maintenance and Engineering Community of Practice we’ve built an online Community Hub in SharePoint 2013.  I invite you to take a video tour of this Hub.  As the tour is 15 minutes I have also provided a brief written description of the spaces set up on the Hub for Community members to connect, share and collaborate. (Note – I’ve recorded this video using Microsoft Lync.)

Key Hub Features

The Hub sits on our Maintenance Engineering SharePoint site, and is basically a dashboard with links to a range of spaces and resources on both SharePoint and the internet.  In the video I walk through the spaces we’ve set up on SharePoint for Community members to interact online, connecting, sharing, solving problems and improving practices together.  All of these spaces are accessible from any mobile device or computer using an organisational login.  The mobile access is particularly important for maintenance tradespeople who spend most of their time in the production environment, away from desks.

CCA Community Hub

The CCA Links on the hub are:

Discussion Forum – standard discussion board with ability to create new discussions, reply and like.  The board can be sorted and filtered in a number of ways, and search is available on the site which will include discussions in results.  A useful function I don’t discuss in the video is that an individual can quickly set up an alert to receive notifications of changes on the discussion forum via email (immediately, daily or weekly).  This is helpful to stimulate those who aren’t working on SharePoint regularly to participate in forum activity.

Shared Notebook – a Microsoft OneNote notebook set up on the Maintenance and Engineering site.  OneNote is a very easy to use, flexible collaborative tool.  We have set up a section for use during the Work Connect and Learn program, and there is currently another section being used for Maintenance Managers meetings.  We expect to see use of OneNote increase as Community members become familiar with it.

Contact Directory - a directory with expandable sections containing SharePoint profile key data.  A person can be added to multiple sections reflecting the different groups to which they belong (e.g. Maintenance Managers, members of a physical site team, system Key Users).  From each person’s directory entry you see whether they are online, start a Lync IM chat or call, create an email, access their contact details, or open their SharePoint personal page.

SharePoint directory

 Example of Contact Directory popup with interfaces to Lync and SharePoint personal page

Supply Chain Knowledge Bites – a separate SharePoint site where anyone can share a short ‘bite’ of knowledge or ‘how to’ information.  Documents and multi-media files can be included in a Bite, along with links to internet resources.  People are often unsure about where or how to share their expertise, so we’ve set up this space to provide a common way of sharing and accessing documented know-how.  The second half of the video explores Knowledge Bites in more detail.

Community members are learning how to use these spaces along with other collaborative tools (notably Microsoft Lync) through our Work Connect and Learn program.  Program activities are being conducted in these normal working spaces so that people get used to using these spaces during the program, and continue to use them afterwards.

How the Hub was Built

Work on the hub commenced with a PowerPoint prototype which a colleague, Justine Jardine, developed with me in just one working day at the request of a keen senior manager who wanted to champion the solution at an annual planning meeting.  We were able to respond so quickly in part because we had seen a demonstration of a knowledge sharing space set up on SharePoint 2013 by a New Zealand engineering firm, Tonkin & Taylor, in a 702010 Forum webinar. We included additional spaces and resources in the prototype, all of which we modelled on existing internal SharePoint sites.  So, our prototype was low risk as we had working examples of all functionality included.

While our internal IT department provisions SharePoint sites using a standard organisational template, they do not build any functionality on sites.  They also do not allow custom development, which ended up precluding some of the prototype features as Tonkin & Taylor had done custom development.  Further, we were unable to use SharePoint ‘Community features’ as IT is still trialling these.

So, I developed the Hub using standard SharePoint 2013 functionality.  While I knew how to build a dashboard, almost everything else I had to learn how to construct.  I searched the internet for information and ‘how to’ articles and videos, with Helen Blunden (who was developing Work, Connect and Learn) researching SharePoint 2013 features alongside me.  There is a LOT of freely available information about how to set things up in SharePoint 2013.  I also got tips from our SharePoint SME in IT (he had time for quick questions), and appreciated some discussion with contacts at Tonkin & Taylor about their Knowledge Shots solution. Of course, the other way I learned was to experiment – to build things and see what they looked like, then adjust.

Several members of our internal Capability Community tested and reviewed the build as Hub components were developed.  Often their excellent suggestions could not be implemented with standard SharePoint 2013 functionality, but did push me to figure out different ways to do things as we continued iterative development.  The experience of building this Hub has made me more resourceful as a self-directed learner, and more likely to figure things out for myself than wonder why IT hadn’t “trained me” on using SharePoint.

 Updates

At some point I’ll post an update about how Community members responded to the Hub and what adjustments or additional features we introduce.  If you have any suggestions or feedback please leave a reply.

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Sharing Resources and Links with my Team

I enjoy it when someone shares a useful tip, tool or resource with me.  If they’ve thought carefully about my interests, know what’s relevant to me, and offer it to me in a “place” that’s convenient to me, then it’s a great gift from them.  This helps me to think about what and when to share with my team – to do it in a way that my sharing is a contribution and not noise or a burden.  I am also very conscious that I am role modelling new behaviours within my organisation, so want to help people to see the potential value in sharing by doing it judiciously and well.

The internal group with whom I work most closely are the Supply Chain Capability Community. The Community includes 12 people in a range of roles who collectively develop, plan and implement initiatives to improve business performance through the technical knowledge and skills of our people.  I share links and resources with this group in a variety of ways:

1) Verbally or in email with an individual or small group – a resource relevant to the specific topic or context e.g. an article on why measuring performance impact is more important than ROI shared directly with a team member who was designing a new evaluation approach for a learning program.

2) Scotty tweetPosting a link on Twitter and @mentioning specific team members – this works where the team members I want to share with use Twitter (4 out of the 12).  I thought I had done this several times, however when I did an advanced search on Twitter for examples I could find only one where I shared an article on leadership styles in different cultures with a team member who does a lot of work in Indonesia.

SharePoint post 702010 share

3) Posting a link or message about a resource on SharePoint newsfeed with a comment about why I am sharing this link – this is useful where the item is of potential value to a larger range of people in the group.  In the example I highlight a case study on the 702010 Forum in which we have organisational membership.  I don’t share resources in this way very often (despite there being a lot of relevant resources I could share) and have just resolved to add this to my daily sharing habits.  The other thing I could improve is to limit number of characters in post so people don’t need to click on ‘Show more’ to see the whole post, especially if links are at the end of the post.

4) Knowledge sharing sessions with the group during our SharePoint blogfortnightly Community teleconferences  – we’ve replaced status updates with knowledge sharing and learning discussions in these regular catchup sessions.  Format is presentation followed by discussion.  Presentations are most commonly on a topic (e.g. Gamification through badges), a work practice (e.g. how we can increase manager support to learners), or report back on ideas from an external event such as a course or a conference. I’ve also written a blog post on a topic with linked resources and asked people to read and reply to questions before the session (example shown is for a discussion on Working Out Loud). Participation in online discussion has been low and the group interacts far better in synchronous discussion than asynchronous (I hope that the Work, Connect and Learn program will help increase online interaction).  This is a valuable forum for our team to Work and Learn Out Loud together, and we shall continue to use and fine tune it.

5) Diigo – I set up a Diigo account for the team to use to curate and share online resources.  I am the only one who curates on a regular basis; however there are several team members who are comfortable using Diigo for joint research to meet a specific need.  Below is an example of curation of research into modern approaches to learning design.

diigo future design

6) “Learning Links” blog posts – I have started to share short collections of resources on a SharePoint Learning Linksspecific topic relevant to the group (e.g Social learning) on our SharePoint blog.  I write a short commentary about each resource and any overall themes.  As I bookmark items to Diigo I tag them with “LearningLinks” if I think they my be worth including in a post at a later date.  My intent had been to do a weekly Links post, but I’ve been erratic so have diarised this.  I shall also start posting these collections on my internet blog in case they are useful to others outside my organisation.

Diigo is at the heart of my resource sharing practices, allowing me to bookmark and tag links that I can re-use and share in a range of contexts and ways.  Being able to store links in a library that I can access anywhere I have an Internet connection means that I can share good quality resources at the right moment and with the right people to create value rather than generate noise.

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Networking & PKM Routine

WayOfLife PKMIn January I participated in a #PKMChat Twitter chat on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) Routines.  After the chat I considered my mixed progress against the goals I had set 9 months previously, and observed that I didn’t have a routine.  This prompted me to document me a weekly routine incorporating some of the tips from the chat.  I tracked my habits using the Way Of Life app to gather data so I could refine my routine.

After two weeks of data gathering I also reviewed my professional network and set goals for the coming year which will help me to purposefully and consciously develop my network.  I realised that in the past year most of my network development had occurred as a result of my online PKM activities.   However, there are other activities required to achieve my networking goals.

I updated my weekly routine to incorporate both PKM and focussed Networking activities.  You can review the complete routine at this link.  While it looks like a heavy investment of time every week 5 hours is time I am sitting on public transport and many of my daytime activities are integrated with my work.  This reduces the ‘extra’ time that I am investing in sense-making, content development and network maintenance – activities which I find require longer, quiet periods of concentration.

Weekly Activities

Key activities I’ve incorporated on a weekly basis (and updated in Way of Life) include:

– Twitter – favouriting, replying, posting, sharing links and resources

– Twitter Chats – attend 1-2 per week; review others – specific chats included in routine (here is link to a Twitter Chat directory)

– Reading & bookmarking (using diigo)- blogs & google alerts (via Feedly), Twitter favourites

– Enterprise Social Network (ESN) – liking, replying, posting, sharing links and resources, blogging

– LinkedIn – reading posts, contacting/contributing to others, finding new connections

– Sense-making & sharing – reflecting, writing, visual content & developing presentations (key tools – Evernote, WordPress blog, Storify, mind maps, Sketchnotes (maybe – will start learning this in April), Powerpoint, Slideshare)

– Completing courses – mostly online

– Face to face networking – both inside & outside my own organisation

– Relationship list upkeep – this is a list of people I am interacting with to support achievement of an important goal and the contributions I am making to them (it’s an approach I’ve picked up from John Stepper’s Working Out Loud book)

– Network maintenance & development – review some of my connections and their networks, update connections, interact with new connections, analyse engagement with content I’ve shared

Quarterly Activities

Each quarter I shall review progress against my PKM & Networking goals, and analyse my network.  This will be an iterative activity which shall build upon my weekly networking maintenance and allow me to fine tune my routines and specific focus areas.

Your Activities & Routines?

Are there other PKM or networking activities that you perform regularly?  Please share by replying to this post.

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My Professional Network Review

It’s been almost twelve months since I reviewed my professional network, so it was timely to look at it again. Once again I’ve used Mark McNeilly’s article Ask These Questions About Your Professional Network Before It’s Too Late to guide my review.  I also used Twitter Analytics and the free network visualisation tools TweepsMap to look at my Twitter network and socilab to look at my LinkedIn network.

Twitter

In this time my Twitter network has grown substantially, with an increase in followers from 45 to 615, and I am now following 450 people.  I have been looking for a Twitter analytics tools that will help me to look at who I FOLLOW, rather than my followers.  I haven’t yet found a tool that does summary level data aggregation on this.  Knowing about who follows me and what people find valuable in what I share is useful. However, I also need to know about those I have selected to learn from and seek to create possibilities with – the people I follow.  So, by default I’ve looked at the analytics about my followers (approximately 2/3 of whom i follow) to consider this question, along with scrolling through my Following list.

My Twitter network has grown largely as a consequence of my Personal Knowledge Management and professional development activities, which use a number of online tools and communities plus face-to-face conferences and real-world work activities.  As such, there are a lot of people in this part of my network from the Learning & Development profession, plus others who have an interest in social learning and communities.  Geographically, my international network is predominantly in Australia, USA and UK as shown on the TweepsMap below. Given Australia’s business ties with Asia this is an area where I would like to grow my network.  In Australia my network is concentrated in Sydney; I would like to grow my network in other areas, especially Melbourne and Brisbane.

TweepsMap 2015Feb

LinkedIn

A year ago I said I would start sharing and learning through LinkedIn.  I haven’t done this often, nor purposefully.  I have found blogging, Twitter Chats, conference presenting, MeetUps, and using Feedly to aggregate blog posts and Google Alerts powerful ways to learn.  I’m unsure whether actively using LinkedIn would create adequate incremental learning value.  Having said that, I have recently noticed an increase in posts on topics relevant to me on LinkedIn so am not completely closed to the notion.

My number of LinkedIn connections has increased by approximately 25% to 630 in the past year.  Mostly others have invited me to connect.  I’ve accepted those connections where either I knew the person or felt based on their profile there was some common interest.  Socilab generated the visual image of my LinkedIn network shown below (I selected ‘hide names’ so I could share the map, but did look at names on the image to understand the clusters and identify ‘bridges’ and outliers).

Socilab LinkedIn Map 2015Feb

The map shows data for 499 of my 1st and 2nd degree connections.  It includes links between those who are connected to each other.  The clusters represent groups of people I know through roles in specific organisations (4 clusters), Learning & Development (L&D) professionals (1 cluster), and a non-work club (1 cluster).  With the exception of the L&D cluster and the club, the bulk of my LinkedIn connections are people I have worked with in the past.  As such they are concentrated in a small number of industries and professions, and mostly in Australia. My LinkedIn network is thus relatively ‘closed’ and lacking in diversity.  The outliers represent potential diversity opportunities and warrant exploration, as do the bridges between clusters who are people who are potentially good connectors.

“Real World” Network

My ‘real world’ network are those people I spend time with face to face or currently work with in my job.  Outside my organisational boundaries the people in my real world network tend to also be in my online network, but are located in, or have visited, Sydney or Melbourne.  Within my organisation my network within my business unit is strong, and includes most of the managers and Subject Matter Experts around Australia, who are key stakeholders.  It also includes a small group of people in our Indonesian operations, whom we supported to implement technical training in 2014.  With the exception of people in Human Resources and Information Systems whom I have worked with on specific initiatives, my network outside of my business unit is small and weak.

Depth and Quality of Relationships

My network is deepest with those who I have had to collaborate most closely to deliver specific outcomes, and with those who share common interests that are related to my goals.  This is a much smaller number than the total size of my network.  I am comfortable to have differing degrees of intimacy and connection with those in my network.  However, I have not been deliberate in identifying relationships with the most potential to create possibilities and opportunity for both myself and others.  I’ve recently been participating in a Working Out Loud Circle. In the Circle Kits and his soon to be published book, John Stepper suggests the use of a relationship list – a short list of people who could support you to achieve a goal and to whom you could contribute.  My experience using this approach is that it helps me to deepen key relationships within my network in a genuine and purposeful way.

My Network Development Goals

I shall PURPOSEFULLY and CONSCIOUSLY develop my network.  My goal is to build a network which accelerates my learning, helps me achieve my goals, and creates opportunities in areas that I am most interested in for myself and those with whom I am connected.  I intend to act with a spirit of contribution within my network.

In the coming year I will:

- Connect with more people in Asia, Melbourne & Brisbane

– Increase connections and sharing with those with an interest in Community building, especially Communities of Practice (COP), and those in industries where COPs are most commonly used (am thinking Professional Services and Consulting)

– Expand and deepen connections with people in Supply Chain roles and FMCG

– Prune some of my online connections to help me focus on those which create higher mutual value

– Maintain relationship lists to help me achieve goals by deepening relationships with relevant people

– Rebalance my Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and networking activities in my routine so that networking is purposeful and not just a consequence of my learning activities

– Broaden my organisational network (e.g. through cross-functional projects and voluntary activities such as the ‘employee engagement’ committee)

– Do a review at least once a fortnight of my networking and PKM activities and conduct network maintenance activities.  I shall find useful tools for this purpose – will try MentionMapp, socilab and Commun.it initially

Blog post coming soon on my PKM, Networking and maintenance routine.

Please reply to this post below to share any tips you have for people seeking to improve their professional network.

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Get Strategic with Social Learning

Get StrategicI am an organisational learning practitioner, currently working in Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). In October 2014 I spoke at the Learning@Work conference held in Sydney, Australia about the development of my social learning skills and how this was impacting the application of social learning in my business unit.

When I was approached to speak at this conference an organiser asked me to describe what I was doing that may be of interest to the audience. She then wrote a session description and gave it a title. Unusually, this was not sent to me for review before the conference brochure was published. I was surprised by the session title that she chose – “Sneaking In The Social.” Gosh, I thought I was experimenting and role modelling!

Reflecting on the title and preparing this presentation was a turning point – it was time to move from ‘sneaking’ to ‘enabling’. It was two months before the conference, and I wanted something useful to share. I decided to get strategic with social learning. CCA adopted the 702010 framework at least four years ago, however we had applied social learning in a limited fashion in the context of this framework. In April 2014 we added ‘continuous workplace learning’ as an explicit element of our Supply Chain Capability strategy which expanded the endorsed role of our Capability team beyond structured learning programs to supporting informal learning. In September 2014 we defined a specific social learning initiative to contribute to a high priority initiative in our business unit strategy. This was the point at which we moved from experimenting with social learning to enabling it.

In a series of upcoming posts I shall write about this initiative – developing a Community of Practice in Maintenance and Engineering.

For now please enjoy viewing the presentation below as well as some videos that Vanessa Wiltshire kindly published of segments of my presentation.

Presentation of Slide 9 – My Social Learning Professional Development

Presentation of Slide 15 – Capability Strategy & Roadmap

Presentation of Slide 17 – Our SharePoint Sites

Presentation of Slide 20 – Maintenance & Engineering Community – Analysis Phase

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