Yesterday I tweeted photos of my ‘September 2015 Professional Development Outcomes’ and ‘October 2015 Professional Development Goals’.
My reply to Fiona Barr’s comment below made me realise that over the past few months I’ve actually created 40+ hours per month for Professional Development, in addition to integrating learning into my work activities. In effect, I’ve created an extra week per month to invest in my own Development.
Doing a little bit, consistently, each day, accumulates quickly into a lot of development and the creation of new possibilities – particularly when I do things that connect me to others and put me in a situation of co-learning. So, in this post I describe how have done this. For context, I work full time, commute by public transport around 2 hours per day (including walking either end of the trip), have a 10 year old child whom I solo parent during the week without extra child-care, and a dog that I walk at least 2 x 30 minute walks per day. I share this detail just in case anyone thinks that they have commitments in their life that would preclude them for investing more time in their development. Note – this is not a prescription, just an example of what works for me. The underlying principles could be adapted by anyone to suit their life situation and preferences.
1) I manage my energy. Most nights I get 7-7.5 hours sleep. I’m a lark and rarely work in the evening (when I do, I definitely feel the drain on my energy and productivity for the next two days). I walk with my dog 2 x 30 minute sessions per day. I take short breaks from my desk during my working day. I eat reasonably well. I find a strong sense of purpose in my work. I recommend the book “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, which is appropriately sub-titled “Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.”
2) I have a routine and invest in myself when I am freshest. After my morning walk I sit in my home office and invest an hour in professional development. This works for me because my mind is clearest and my energy best first thing in the morning. I generally do this on weekends too – at least one day every weekend. This routine works with my circadian rhythms and makes the most of my periods of highest mental arousal and creativity. I recommend the book “Manage Your Day-to-Day,” a series of short articles on the theme “Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind.”
3) I have a theme (or small number of themes). While I have many interests, I have a small number of themes to orient my professional development activities and minimise the time I spend down rabbit holes (it’s very easy to meander on the internet and social platforms). Currently my key themes are Social Learning, Communities of Practice, Personal Knowledge Mastery and Modern Workplace Learning. It’s probably at least one theme too many, although the degree to which I focus on any one shifts from time to time.
4) I set goals and track my activities. Three months ago I was feeling overwhelmed. I had over-committed to delivering presentations (conferences, webinars) on top of work projects. I felt like I had lost traction and was spinning my wheels. I decided to make a list of what I needed to achieve in August, plan each week’s activities, and track what I had actually done. I downloaded a calendar grid, added space to write out goals and outcomes, and took note of what I did each day. This was a high leverage thing to do, and a really ‘easy win.’ Tracking my activities made me aware of how much I was actually doing and helped me to focus on doing the things that would help me most to achieve my goals. It also helped me to be more careful about what I took on. Although it may look like my October list is ambitious, most of this is discretionary and I am not letting anyone down if I don’t get it all done this month.
5) I make the most of ‘incidental’ time. I have around 40 minutes per day sitting on a train or bus 3-4 days per week. During this time I am online – reading blogs (often via Feedly) or online course content, viewing Twitter feeds (I use lists to focus on key themes) or reviewing Twitter chats relevant to my themes, and engaging in conversation online. I spend 7 hours per week walking my dog. I often listen to podcasts or YouTube videos during my walks. Sometimes I dictate a short reflection. Other times I simply let my mind wander and use it for renewal. All of these are good uses of this time. Here’s a podcast directory in case you want to explore podcasts.
6) I am part of a network. I am not alone. I have the force multiplier of a global network of people with similar interests who share good content, engage in conversation, and sometimes co-create with me. I use my network to filter content for me, to spark ideas and help me to gain insight, and I endeavour to contribute by showing my work, being curious and engaging with others. I feel that I have barely scraped the surface of what is possible through networks, yet am in awe of their power and potential to accelerate my professional development.
Do you have any other tips for how to create more time for Professional Development or make the most of your PD activities? Please share by commenting on this post.
I recently wrote a post where I applied the ‘5 in 5’ technique for reflection. This technique uses the following three questions to quickly generate ideas for small improvements:
- So What?
- Now What?
After running a half-day performance consulting workshop last week I’ve realised that there is a critical question missing from this reflection formula. The purpose of the workshop was to define current performance gaps in an area, desired future state (desired behaviours), identify causes of the gap and identify potential solutions. We used the ‘5 Whys’ technique to explore root causes of the gap – asking ‘Why’ a problem is occurring, then iteratively asking ‘Why’ again until you reach the root cause of the problem and can identify a counter-measure to prevent it recurring.
There were some obvious elements of the solution identified before we got into 5 Whys – like improving processes and tools, updating role descriptions, standardising reports and review processes, and developing knowledge and skills. However, when we started asking ‘Why’ the desired behaviours might still not materialise despite having great processes, tools, reports, reviews, role clarity and skills in place, we delved into underlying factors that need to be addressed. Factors such as a short term focus on operational KPIs, conflicting KPIs, ‘fire-fighting’ being recognised and celebrated but not investments in capability building, teamwork, communication, and engagement. ‘Why’ was probably the most useful question asked during the workshop, leading to deeper insights and the potential for higher impact solutions.
To access the power of ‘Why’ the new formula I shall try for quick reflection is:
- What? (Identifies current situation/performance)
- So What? (Identifies the impact of current performance, providing rationale and motivation for improvement)
- Why (5 times)? (Identifies root causes)
- Now What? (Potential solutions – including measures to prevent recurrence of root causes).
I shall apply this updated formula to a challenge I am having with my personal organisation that I recently reflected on using ‘5 in 5’ and post a comparison of the identified solutions.
This post reviews progress against my 70:20:10 Certification pathway.
Coca-Cola Amatil Supply Chain is developing knowledge sharing using Communities of Practice (COP). It’s six months since our first COP was formally launched, in Maintenance and Engineering, and shortly after this for our Systems Super Users and Key Users. As we are starting to develop our 2016 business plans and budgets this is a good time to consider progress, benefits and next steps.
We set up a single Maintenance and Engineering COP and invited all maintenance and engineering team members in Australia and New Zealand to participate – around 200 people. In the Systems area we launched three COPs – one for each operational system in scope, approximately 50 people in total. In both instances we launched these communities using a five week guided social learning program (Work, Connect and Learn – WCL) to develop skills and behaviours to participate in the COP. We ran WCL initially for the entire Maintenance and Engineering community, and then separately for the Systems communities. I shall post separately on evaluation of the WCL program.
The current maturity of these COPs is shown below on the Community Maturity Model from the Community Roundtable.
The three crucial COP characteristics (as defined by Wenger-Trayner ) of domain, community and practice were used to identify factors impacting COP maturity – as shown in the table below.
Examples of value creation were identified in the Maintenance & Engineering and SAP Manufacturing COPs in particular, including:
- Streamlining of processes
- Sharing resources for troubleshooting
- Cross-site input on problem resolution
- Sharing improvements / lessons learned
Case studies and examples of successful COPs within organisations in similar industries and environments (manufacturing, engineering and technically oriented settings) were identified and reviewed (view curated articles). Lessons drawn from these case studies and our experience include:
- Carefully define the domain and purpose of COP – keep it narrow enough to be attainable
- Form strategically designed COPs aligned to business goals, set tangible outcomes, and find ways to integrate activities with work (e.g. link to projects, build activities into work flow), support and guide them closely
- Provide guidelines and a lighter touch for other COPs that form
- Provide guidance and support to help people access and interact in COPs
- Make sure that interesting content is available
- Enable Subject Matter Experts to become COP champions
- Generate active senior management support
Most importantly, it is clear that value created by COPs can take considerable time to materialise. The key insight is that to generate tangible performance improvements you need to put effort and resource into community management. Accordingly, a key review recommendation is the appointment of a dedicated Community Manager.
Next steps identified are:
- Create community strategies and road maps to build existing COPs.
- Advocate for creation of the Community Manager role
- When the Community Manager role is established (assuming it is), identify and design focused cross-functional COPs aligned with business processes with high impact on priority goals in our business strategy
This week I joined a 702010 Forum Community of Practice teleconference where one of the participants discussed how she uses voice dictation to reflect. She uses Siri on her iPhone to translate voice to text notes. I have two blocks of at least 30 minutes per day when I walk my dog, and voice dictation may be viable during these times. This would give me a written record of my reflections, and potentially material for blog posts.
This post is based on my first attempt at dictating a reflection. I used Dragon Dictation on my phone. I find it accurately transcribes my dictation and exports the text easily to a range of tools / platforms. I’ve transferred it to Evernote by emailing to my Evernote email address. Another alternative is to copy and paste from Dragon to other software where it can be edited.
Another technique I’d like to try is a short reflection method called the “5 in 5” technique which I heard about from the Curve Group at the Australian Institute of Training and Development 2015 national conference. The idea is to generate ideas for small improvements (5%) in a short time (5 minutes). You simply answer three questions: (1) What? (2) So what (3) Now what? I dictated my road test of the technique to identify how I could improve my reflection practices. Then I expanded on this short reflection to create a blog post.
Reflection is one of my personal learning tools. It helps me to identify what is working well and what I could improve. I currently reflect by:
(1) Thinking things through in my head, which is efficient and mobile. I can make observations and extract learning on the go. However, I can get a little lost and go around in circles. Depending on whether the responses or feedback of others enter into my thoughts, it may only be my point of view that I’m considering, which can limit the range and quality of insights. I am also left without a record of my reflection for later use.
(2) Talking with others and engaging in reflection either intentionally or in the natural flow of conversation. Asking others for feedback can be done in many ways (e.g. “What are you happy about with this piece of work?” “How do you think we/I could be making better progress?” “How else could we/I improve on what we are doing?” “What would we (could I) do differently next time?”). Different points of view arise. Talking helps me to discover and clarify my thoughts (it’s not unusual for me to be unsure what I am about to say when I start talking), so I find this method of reflection very effective. There is also a level of accountability to take action on improvement opportunities I’ve generated with someone else. Depending on the action I take I may have a record or artefact as an output of the reflection.
(3) Interacting with others online, e.g. by commenting on blog posts or via Twitter. While it doesn’t give me the same direct feedback as talking with people I am working with, it provides opportunity to consider my own practices in comparison to theirs and identify adjustments or new approaches I could try. Diversity and difference can yield ideas, insights and resources that help me to innovate. If the idea is powerful enough I will make a note of it or add it to a task list to follow up.
(4) Writing a personal reflection in a journal I maintain on Evernote, accessible any time that I have a computer or device. However, I sometimes prefer privacy when I am writing (no prying eyes on the bus!). I also need to slow down and be still for long enough to write. If I write soon enough after reflecting using the methods above I can quickly capture insights that I can elaborate on later. Even if I don’t manage to elaborate my notes, the brief points can trigger my memory and further insights if I refer back to them.
(5) Writing blog posts, and delivering presentations (e.g. webinars, conferences). Knowing that this content will be shared publicly I document my reflection more thoroughly, providing context and thinking about key opportunities and lessons for both myself and others. It provides a more complete record of where I have been, what I have learned, and where I am headed. While I take care to present honestly and authentically, there are times when I omit some things out of respect for others, commercial confidentiality (which is far less of an issue than people sometimes imagine), or privacy for myself. Working Out Loud so openly increases the accountability I feel to follow through on any improvements or next steps I commit to. It’s a way of stretching myself. However, this method of reflection takes a lot more time than any other that I use; and I am far less likely to do it if I am busy. This is particularly true of blog posts where I don’t have a deadline to meet.
After writing the ‘What’ response I identified factors that differentiate these reflection methods for me and used them to rate each of method, as per the table below. The first four factors have been discussed above. I added the fifth, ‘likelihood of use,’ to reflect how strong my current habits and triggers are to reflect using each method.
An interesting aspect of this road test of both voice dictation and ‘5 in 5’ is that as I edited the dictation transcript to prepare this blog post my insights deepened and shifted. I have expanded my dictated text significantly, resequenced it, and added new ideas. Nonetheless, dictating my initial reflection gave me a head start on this post and enabled me to write it quicker than if I had started with a blank sheet of paper. In many ways the combination of these two methods illustrates what the ratings in the table indicate – that all of these methods have a place in my reflection toolkit.
While I find reflecting privately efficient, the quality of my reflection and depth of my learning is greater when I Work Out Loud. While this may seem obvious, I had not realised how much more effective Working Out Loud was as a reflection tool for me than more private methods. If you are new to the idea of Working Out Loud you may find value in Sahana Chattopadhyay’s post Working Out Loud 101/Some Thoughts.
My commitment to Working Out Loud has increased as a result of this reflection. However, the reality is that life gets busy and it can be challenging to find time to blog and prepare presentations. I shall use my dog walks as a trigger to reflect and capture key ideas into my Evernote journal using Dragon Dictation. This shall provide source material for deeper reflection when I do have capacity.
I have missed blogging in the past two months as I have had a number of presentations to deliver. I shall ‘catch up’ on blog posts by sharing content from these presentations, have another big push to finish the remaining 5 posts for the Social Learning Practitioner Program, then look through my journal for inspiration for future posts.
The 702010 Forum recently launched a 70:20:10 Practitioner Certification program (watch a video overview). I participated in the pilot of this program last year and see tremendous value in the way it supports me to improve the application of the 702010 framework in my organisation, while also recognising my development as I do my work. There is real integrity in the 702010 approach that is built into the certification.
I’ve decided to post my certification pathway and progress reviews on my blog rather than just on the 702010 Forum so that I can share it more widely. In this post I share how I have scoped my work requirements and certification pathway. Participants are asked to apply a performance analysis approach to the scoping step, which is then used to structure this initial post.
Overview of Situation
Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) produces and distributes a range of beverages and some food items including carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, water, dairy drinks, alcoholic beverages, fruit, coffee and tea. In early 2012 CCA established the Supply Chain Technical Academy. After a number of years of capital investment, a need was identified to ensure that we could continue to develop the capability of our people to use these platforms and systems. The Academy developed competency-based blended learning programs. These programs include theory (10), learning from others (20), and learning from experience (70). The three elements were included in structured programs, culminating in skill assessment on-the-job.
By early 2014 the Academy had largely delivered on the initial mandate of developing training programs to support the major capital investment program, which had come to an end. CCA’s market conditions had become tougher and profitability was reducing. Supply Chain’s business strategy had been updated, shifting focus to productivity in order to realise the benefits of the capital investment program. It was time to refresh our Capability strategy.
I had joined the 702010 Forum in September 2013 and became aware of how many different ways there are to support social and experiential learning. It struck me that CCA had narrowly interpreted the 702010 framework, and were missing many valuable, lower cost opportunities to support learning and improve our business results.
While I commenced individual 702010 certification as part of the Forum’s pilot in September 2014, I have used the Forum to support development and execution of the refreshed strategy described in this journal post.
Who is Involved?
Sponsor – My manager, the Head of People and Productivity – Supply Chain, is sponsoring my certification.
A Supply Chain Technical Capability Governance Board was established in mid 2012. The Board consists of a range of senior National and State managers. It sets and oversees Capability strategy. The Board helps me to align capability activities to business strategy and priorities.
National and State managers of functions such as manufacturing, maintenance and logistics – The Capability strategy must help them to improve their team’s business results. I work with them to develop specific learning programs that suit their team’s characteristics and working environment.
Capability Community – This group are both stakeholders in my certification and support in that they are co-contributors to the work that is in certification scope.
Academy team – five people in addition to myself, who develop and coordinate national learning programs.
Additional ‘Capability Consultants’ – people who take a lead role on development of specific Capability, but are not a permanent part of the Academy team.
State Capability Managers – one per Australian State (geographically structured role). These roles report to State Supply Chain Managers. They plan and execute technical and compliance training locally using a mixture of Academy and other programs. They are key local change and communication agents for the Academy.
Indirect Support – I shall work with IT and HR on specific initiatives. I shall also use my external Personal Learning Network for support. I may also engage external specialists to assist with specific initiatives.
The business context in early 2014 was introduced at start of this post. Key business performance factors were:
– Reducing business profitability due to changing market conditions, with a negative impact on share price.
– Business cost reductions, reducing workforce size.
– Completion of a multi-year program of investment in a range of Supply Chain platforms and computer systems.
Capability performance was reflected in a SWOT analysis undertaken in March 2014. I conducted individual discussions with the Governance Board members and Capability Managers gathered input from functional managers in their States. The SWOT was finalised at a 2 day Capability Community strategy workshop.
In summary, we had embedded a new consistent, clear model of competency-based Capability development aligned with business priorities, and the Community had earned credibility in the business. This has been a significant shift from the previous model where each State independently developed technical capability. Managers across Supply Chain told us that we had focussed on the right capabilities, and they felt that the programs met their needs. However, activity metrics showed that utilisation of formal programs was low. Engagement of local teams with Capability needed to improve in most States. We were also concerned that knowledge sharing across States was low.
Performance Outcomes to be achieved:
The Supply Chain business strategy was updated in late 2013 and emphasises productivity. Specific 3-year stretch targets have been set in the following business KPIs:
– Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
– Unplanned equipment downtime
– Reducing finished goods inventory
– Cost of finished goods
To support these business outcomes, the Capability strategy must:
– rapidly develop emerging technical skills required in the business. For example, improve maintenance planning skills in order to reduce unplanned equipment downtime.
– use more responsive learning strategies. While the competency-based programs provide a foundation by sustaining critical core technical skills and knowledge, they do not enable continuous learning while working. They also require a lot of resource and time to develop.
Implications of Doing Nothing
Our Capability Strategy clearly needed to be refreshed to maintain alignment with the business strategy. To continue developing capability-based learning programs would mean that we invest a lot of resource in increasingly lower priority business capabilities. We simply could not keep up with business needs and risked becoming irrelevant.
Key Activities or Solutions
The refreshed Capability Strategy contains five elements as per the diagram below.
The strategy, endorsed by the Governance Board, states that we will focus on:
1. Continuing to develop and drive utilisation of evidence based programs for key capabilities
2. Driving leader engagement with, and accountability for, Capability Development
3. Building a continuous learning culture
4. Facilitating effective Communities of Practice for key capabilities
5. Implementing modern technology enabled approaches for learning
6. Implementing strong governance practices
We have a three year road map of key initiatives for each element by year.
I shall focus on knowledge sharing as part of building a continuous learning culture for my 702010 Certification. This includes Communities of Practice and other forms of embedding and extracting learning through knowledge sharing. However, I shall also use the 702010 Forum resources and community to support other activities included in the strategy.
Following development of the strategy my next steps in regard to building knowledge sharing were to:
– Improve SharePoint infrastructure so that it could be used effectively for knowledge sharing.
– Engage and enable the Capability Community to support knowledge sharing by other groups in the business.
– Develop knowledge sharing across CCA’s (1) Maintenance and Engineering teams, and (2) Systems Super Users and Key Users.
International Work Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek), 15-21 June 2015, took me a little by surprise. Realising it was happening only 3 days out I scrambled for ideas of how to use the opportunity to promote the benefits and practices of working out loud in my organisation. For context, I have been talking to people in my business unit Capability Community about WOL over the past year, and since February 2015 have included it in the Work, Connect and Learn program which we run to introduce people to skills and behaviours for building a network and participating in a Community of Practice. Of course, people have been sharing their work with others in a range of forms as a natural element of how they work for a long time before the terms ‘work out loud’ or ‘show your work’ were invented. What we see now is a movement which encourages doing this in a purposeful, open and generous way to amplify the benefits to the individual and those who see their work and engage in conversations with them.
Every Monday at 9am people who work in my business unit on the same floor of my building gather and briefly talk about one or two things they are working on that week. I enthusiastically introduced WOL Week and let everyone know that what they were doing right then was a form of WOL.
Next I got onto our Enterprise Social Network, SharePoint, and introduced WOL Week in a post on the home page where everyone in the organisation could see it. I included a link to a punchy introduction to Working Out Loud that I’d prepared using the new Microsoft Sway tool. (This is the public version – the version I shared inside the organisation included links to examples of WOL on SharePoint as well as the internet.) At the end of the post I asked the questions “What is one thing you are working on or learning at the moment? How are you doing this?” No-one replied, 1 person liked the post.
I made a fresh post sharing a link to Jane Bozarth’s explanation of how (and why) to show your work which I find clear and practical. I did include the WOL Week image (always try to add an image to my posts so they are more noticeable). However, the text was a little longer and the link to the article was only revealed after clicking on ‘show more’, along with the question “What was something you did yesterday? What problem did you solve or what did you learn?”
I role modelled replying to my own post, sharing a model for having engaging conversations. 8 people liked the model. No one else shared or asked further questions.
Day 3 – what else could I do? I decided to run an experiment – SharePoint versus Flipchart. I kept it simple. I wrote “What Have You Learned Recently” on a flipchart and stuck it on a wall in a corridor leading to our well-frequented cafe, along with an A4 poster about WOL Week. I also took a photo of the question and posted it on SharePoint. I made one reply in each location to get the sharing started.
Bearing in mind that the number of people who passed the flipchart was in the hundreds, while the number of people with access to SharePoint is in the thousands (a ratio of 1:8 at least) – what do you think the outcome was after 3 working days, not counting my replies?
FLIPCHART – 6
SHAREPOINT – 1
More people replied on the flipchart than on SharePoint.
What did happen on SharePoint was follow on conversation. I had posted that I had learned “In-box domination” – how to get my in-box to zero at the end of every day. Two people commented or asked questions about this. There may have been conversation generated by the flipchart, but I wasn’t there to hear it. This is a key difference between the two modes – conversations are accessible by more people on SharePoint, and you get the opportunity to interact with people that you may not have physical contact with.
Another observation is that the simplest of my three International WOL Week SharePoint posts got the most responses. So, I shall keep posts brief, continue using graphics, and ask direct questions to encourage interaction.
I posted a photo of the flipchart on SharePoint, compared the number of replies and asked why people more had replied to the flipchart. The one response to this question was interesting:
The implication then is that there was not a lot of traffic on SharePoint. It’s a pity I can’t get data on how many people visit their SharePoint newsfeed daily – probably fewer than visit the cafe on my floor. Apart from traffic, I’m sure there are other reasons why people didn’t post a reply, although not specifically which reasons were in play here. What I do know is that this number is higher than it was 6 months ago as more people are interacting with me on SharePoint. I have faith that over time it will continue to grow so long as people like myself continue to champion enterprise social within the organisation.