Archive for category Working Out Loud

The Sacred Duty of Recording how our (L&D) Strategy has Evolved

It’s been almost 12 months since I returned to working independently.  Very shortly after leaving my last role as an employee I started a two month assignment at Qantas to undertake a strategic review of the current state Learning and Development (L&D).  It was a pilot focussed on three L&D teams which developed into a Group-wide review, and then into a transformation program.  Twelve months later the program is well underway and several internal people have been appointed to Project Lead roles.  It’s time for me to handover to the new Project Leads, complete some specific deliverables (including a learning technology road map and an L&D Capability framework) and to step back from day-to-day project involvement.

My primary task this week has been to prepare “handover packs” and start on boarding one of the new Project Leads.  I’ve spent most of my time this week using OneNote to compile the handover information.  It’s the same tool I used in September 2016 to finalise handover to my team at Coca-Cola Amatil.  Again, I’m finding it a very versatile way of compiling history, current state, and next steps for a range of strategic and tactical work items.  However, this post isn’t really about OneNote so I’ll move on.

This post is about the importance of having a documented history, something that captures the arc over time of how and why your strategy has evolved.

For example, at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) I recorded how the Supply Chain Technical Academy had been set up in early 2012 with a mission to develop frameworks and programs to develop technical capabilities for new platforms that the business had invested in heavily over the preceding three years in order to ensure sustainable capability development and reduce reliance on equipment manufacturers.  By early 2014 we had largely met that mission, and the business strategy had been refreshed to focus more on efficiency and business continuity.  Our maturity as a learning organisation had developed, and our strategy expanded to include continuous workplace learning, with a particular focus on improving business continuity through knowledge sharing.  As I approached the end of my time at CCA the business strategy was shifting again and it was unclear at that point how the capability strategy should adapt to best support this shift.  The team member who was stepping into my role had spent a significant amount of time in Indonesia setting up a new Academy to support CCA’s local operations so there was a gap in his experience of how our strategy had evolved in the Australian operations, what had worked well, and the lessons we’d learned.  I felt significant responsibility to bridge that gap as best as I could, and spent time telling him stories about what had happened in addition to writing up this history and preparing presentations that would help him to link the future strategy to the past.

When I started preparing handover notes for the Qantas project I was aware that there had been several key shifts in insight and direction over the 12 months we had been grappling with the question of how to set up a higher impact L&D operating model.  And this was where I started – the arc of how and why the operating model had evolved.  The past seven months in particular on this project have been a period of intense activity with well over 25 workshops conducted, a LOT of stakeholders engaged, and  range of surveys and analysis of existing data sets undertaken.  We’ve spent too little unstructured time just ‘thinking out loud’ and making sense of all of these discussions and analyses.  Rather, we’ve been thinking on the run with a shifting cast of stakeholders.  It felt like a sacred duty as the one person who has been involved in this program from the start to retrace the path and document it to inform the thinking of others.

We have such a bias to action, an emphasis on delivery, in today’s organisations that we make too little time to think – to look back and look forward, connecting the two, making sense of where have come from in order to inform where we are heading.  This is as true of me as most people.  I make too little time to pause, reflect, and record how I got to a particular point and how this links to where I am headed next.  It’s time to reinstate and improve upon the personal quarterly reviews I used to undertake as part of my personal routine.  Don’t wait until a ‘handover’ or transition point to capture where you’ve been – it’s a good argument to both work out loud on a continuous basis and also to periodically reflect on and record whatever is important to the ‘big picture’ in your world.

 

 

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My Working Out Loud Posts move back home

I tried a little experiment.  I set up a new WordPress site (michelleworksoutloud.com) for my working out loud posts and hid the page on my primary website (michelleockers.com).  I explained the rationale for this move on the first post on my new site .  In a nutshell, I thought that having a separate site to work out loud would free me from the barrier of being concerned about not looking adequately ‘professional’ on my main business website.  I thought I would post more often and in a less inhibited manner.

I was wrong.  I didn’t post more frequently.  I suspect that posting frequency is related more to how much priority I place on working out loud and my effectiveness at allocating time to make short posts as part of the flow of my work and learning.  There is still a niggling voice in my head warning me about the risk of appearing unprofessional as a result of reintroducing these half-baked, less polished posts back to my website.  I’m going to stop fighting with it, thank it and get on with it anyway.

There were two bigger concerns that having a separate site for working out loud raised for me:

  1. Authenticity and integrity – in part the strength and value of my work is related to me visibly practicing what I advocate, for all to see regardless of my relationship or potential relationship with them.
  2. Weakening my SEO – now, I’m not even sure if this is the right way to put it.  My technical knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation is very limited.  However, someone in my online network who has a decent grasp on the topic sent me a thoughtful message my new website was in no way connected to my current one and it had the potential to reduce my appearance in online searches as I moved activity off my primary website.

So, here I am again, reunited with myself – whole and intact.  Ready to continue working out loud in a familiar place.

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Michelle Works Out Loud – DD#1 WOL ‘So Much to Share’

I’m in Week 5 of a Working Out Loud Circle (must be my 4th or 5th Circle).  The title of this week’s Circle guide is ‘Make It Personal.’  The Circle Guides are available as free downloadable resources from workingoutloud.com – here’s the link to the Week 5 Guide.

I couldn’t attend my Circle meeting this week (clash with a client meeting) so am catching up on the activities in the Guide, and sharing output with my Circle members on a Slack group that we’ve set up to stay connected between weekly meetings.

One of the activities in this week’s guide is one of my very favourites from the whole 12-week Circle process.  It’s called ‘so much to offer’ and is aimed at helping Circle participants to appreciate how many aspects of their experience could potentially be of value and form the basis of a contribution to someone else.  I like how this exercise makes me look broadly at my life experience and how I could draw on this to offer support and insight to others.

The exercise instructions are to write 50 facts about yourself.  Use the link provided earlier in this post to read the full instructions for the exercise and examples given.  As I’ve done this several times before and I’m in an expansive phase right now I pushed myself to put 100 things on my list, and to think about both my professional and personal life experiences.  Here’s a link to my list (made in Evernote) as an example of the range of things that could end up forming the basis of a contribution to someone in my network.  If you have done this exercise or proceed to do it and you are comfortable sharing this list please post a link in comments or share on Twitter and mention me in your post so I see it.  I’m curious to see what others put on their list.

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Michelle Works Out Loud

I’m back!  It’s time for me to get back into Working Out Loud on my website.  I haven’t posted much on my site since leaving my job eight months ago to resume working independently.  I’ve given myself all sorts of ‘reasons’ (excuses?) for this.  The shift to working for myself has pushed me to rethink a lot of things.  One of these was my approach to blogging.  Since starting my blog in early 2014 my primary goal has been to Work Out Loud.  Now I also want to use my website as a marketing tool.  This shift has thrown up some fears/considerations for me.

I was afraid that if I Worked Out Loud about things I am learning or processes that I am improving (aka things that aren’t going as well as I’d like), that people might think that I didn’t know what I was doing or lacked expertise. I didn’t want to look unpolished or unprofessional.

I was afraid that it might allow people to apply my approaches without engaging me to work with them.  Would I be ‘giving away’ what I know and how I work?  I have discussed this concern with others who work independently and have grappled with it, endeavouring to find a balance with how much they share about how they work.

I was also concerned about whether people might respond differently to my Working Out Loud as an independent than they did when I was an employee.  Would they perceive that my posts were all about marketing rather making a contribution?  How might they judge me?

It’s time to move on from these considerations and fears.  During the recent International Working Out Loud (WOL) Week it struck me that it’s poor form for me to be advocating WOL and not role modeling it.  It lacks integrity.  So, I’ve set up two blog pages on my website.  This post is on my ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page.  This is my sandpit.  My posts on this page will be about what I’m working on and learning, and how I’m doing it.  I will also write about things that are on my mind – topics that I’m thinking about.  They will generally be written in less than 30 minutes, and may not be very polished.  They may ramble a little and jump around a bit.  That’s okay when I’m working out loud.  I’ll use theses posts to reflect and learn.  I’ll share them via Twitter – but generally not on LinkedIn (where I’m more concerned with how I present myself).  It would be great to get some comments and input from others with an interest in the things I’m working on and learning, to generate conversation.

My formal blog page (the ‘Blog’ tab) is where I will publish more mature and well thought-out posts.  They will be a mix of opinion pieces and show-casing my work more coherently that the WOL posts.

Regardless of which page my posts are published on I aim to write with courage and authenticity.  I’m pushing beyond  my fears and relishing the learning and opportunities that Working Out Loud more frequently will create.

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#WOLWeek Day 7 – Plan Next Steps

Last week (7-13 November 2016) was International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek). I used it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

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Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com

In addition to consciously completing the WOL activity each day I committed to writing a blog post about that activity.  My posts described both what I had done on the day as well as my experience with that activity during my current WOL Circle.  Over the past few days I’ve been reflecting what I’ve learned and what I will do differently in coming weeks.

Reflecting on my Goal

A goal needs to be something I care about in order to motivate me.  I’ve realised that to be a high enough priority for me to put sustained effort into it over the 12 week period of a WOL Circle it also needs to be highly relevant to my current work.  It needs to be something I can apply to a current project.  In the nine weeks since the start of this Circle my work focus has shifted.  I’ve started an assignment with a new organisation, but I didn’t update my goal to be relevant to this project.  Consequently my attention has moved to the new assignment and I’ve struggled to make time to progress my original goal.

Working Out Loud is a Force Multipler

On Day 5 I described WOL as a ‘force multiplier‘ – “it amplifies your presence and accelerates you work.”  Although it’s challenging to change your practices to build WOL into the flow of your daily work, the value of working in a more open, connected, generous way is tremendous.  WOL has helped me to:

  • build my network and forge deeper relationships
  • improve my practices and the quality of my work by helping me find resources, get early input and feedback from others, and build on the experience and work of others
  • make faster progress on my goals
  • create new opportunities

Power of Making Your Work Visible

Making your work visible (also known as ‘showing your work’ or ‘narrating your work’) is powerful for many reasons.  For me, one of these reasons that it forces me to consciously reflect on my work rather than plough on in a near-continuous stream of activities.  Secondly, it increases my accountabilty to make progress.  It also leads to connection and conversation.

Power of Conversation

When I work on a project, especially where there is something novel about it for me,  my thoughts shift over time.  There is a process of discovery where I gather information, start processing it, hypothesise, gain insight, make some progress then find something new which results in me updating my view.  The quality of my thinking greatly improves if I can ‘think out loud.’  I can do this by sharing my progress – making my work visible in any appropriate format.

Having a conversation about what I’ve shared is even more powerful, especially if it’s with someone who has some relevant experience or is able to challenge and extend my thinking through the use of powerful questions or different perspectives  The way in which I make my work visible can increase the number of helpful conversations I generate.  I can:

  • target who I share my work with
  • practice empathy and share my work with people to whom it is relevant, and explain why they should care (what’s the WIIFM?)
  • make it easy for others to consume and process by keeping it brief and clear
  • share early in the process
  • ask for input and help
  • maintain and communicate an open mindset
  • thank people for their help
  • acknolwedge the contribution of others

What next with WOL for me?

The reflection on my goal and the power of Working Out Loud have led me to change my goal for the remaining three weeks of my WOL Circle.  My new goal is:

“to Work Out Loud in the flow of work in my current role.”

This goal will help me to build my network in my new organisation, find people with an interest in the work I am doing, access a range of assistance, and reduce the risk that I duplicate work that has already been done.  While waiting for access to the organisation’s IT infrastructure I have had the opportunity to present in person to a range of forums, and have accepted all subsequent invitations to meet with interested people.  I have IT access from today, and look forward to the experience of using Yammer within an organisation for the first time and observing how the learning community is connecting and collaborating online.  I will use Simon Terry’s 3 tiny habits to build working out loud into my day as I familiarise myself with this new environment.

On the flip side, I felt that while I was blogging daily last week I spent more time in ‘output’ mode than in ‘listening’ mode in my networks.  I feel a need to redress the balance and listen more in my public networks over the next few weeks, looking for opportunities to engage and contribute too others along the way.

What did you learn during WOL Week?

Please post below to let me know what you learned during WOL Week, or at any other time when you have worked out loud.

 

 

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#WOLWeek Day 6 – Celebrate Help

International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek) is 7-13 November 2016. I’m using it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

7-days-ofworking-out-loud

Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com

I’m now into Week 9 of my current Working Out Loud (WOL) Circle.  Today I celebrate the help I have received from the three people in my Circle as I’ve worked towards my goal to “to clearly explain the impact of knowledge and expertise on Australian organisations.”   Among the contributions my Circle buddies have made are:

  • suggesting how I could find people relevant to my goal
  • offering a different perspective on reading recommended in each week’s Circle guide, giving me the opportunity to strengthen my WOL practices – even though I’ve read these articles several times in previous Circles, new insights and examples continue to arise in Circle discussions
  • providing a safe space to reflect on my progress each week, discuss my WOL challenges, and helping me to identify adjustments to get me back on track with my WOL habits and routines
  • encouraging me to keep going when I was tired or busy (or both!)
  • inspiring me with their own progress
  • showing me different ways that Working Out Loud can be accomplished, reminding me that there is no one best way and to stay flexible and open in my practices
  • giving me a sense of responsibility as the WOL Circle coordinator to set a good example
  • holding me accountable to do what I say I will each week

This is the fourth WOL Circle I have participated in.  It will not be my last.  It’s a joy to share the experience of Working Out Loud with others, to see them make progress and experience the impact of generosity on relationships and the value of working in a network.  The peer accountability and structure of activities over the 12-week period also move me consistently towards a goal, helping me to achieve far more than I ever could without support.

Have you been in a WOL Circle?

If you have been in a WOL Circle please take a moment to share below about the contribution that your Circle buddies made to you.

Further resources:

 

 

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#WOLWeek Day 5 – Share A Need: WOL is a Force Multiplier

International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek) is 7-13 November 2016. I’m using it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

7-days-ofworking-out-loud

Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com

Working Out Loud is a ‘force multiplier.’  When you Work Out Loud it builds your network – both in terms of breadth (the number of people you are connected to) and depth (familiarity or intimacy with specific people in your network).  Others in your network then start to act on your behalf.  When you share your interests and needs, others send you relevant resources and connect you with people with the same or related interests.  On Day 5 of WOL Week I didn’t have to share a need – because someone in my network did this on my behalf.

Based on my Day 1 WOLWeek post where I shared my purpose, Bruno Winck shared my need with the #PKMChat community via Twitter, with a specific request (communicated via the use of ‘ping’) to Stephanie Barnes (@MPuzzlePiece).  Stephanie replied with an invitation to contact her.

It’s wonderful the way that Working Out Loud amplifies your presence and accelerates your work.  If you have a story to share about how someone in your network has helped spread the word about something you needed help with please share it in reply to this post.  Stories are a good way of communicating the value of Working Out Loud.

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#WOLWeek Day 4 – Share Your Progress: Resources on Impact of Knowledge and Expertise in Australian Organisations

International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek) is 7-13 November 2016. I’m using it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

7-days-ofworking-out-loud

Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com

My Purpose

On #WOLWeek Day 1 I blogged about my current WOL Circle goal:

“to clearly explain the impact of knowledge and expertise on Australian organisations.”

My Progress

For six weeks I played internet detective and asked people in my Australian network for advice on case studies and research relevant to my goal.  I did start out with some case studies from conferences, but was looking for more comprehensive research and analysis.  While there is a lot of online content on Knowledge Management (KM) I haven’t yet identified many detailed case studies or research that directly addresses my goal.  The most promising resources are:

Australian Studies in Knowledge Management (free online access) – This book is a compilation of articles by Australasian academics and practitioners founded on their research and experience. It brings together a range of approaches seen in Knowledge Management (KM) research and practice in a logical sequence incorporating the most important elements of knowledge management.   It explores knowledge management frameworks and identifies some common elements that are explored in subsequent parts of the book.  Of particular relevance to my goal is the chapter ‘The Strategic Question: Why Manage Knowledge.’  This book was recommended by Rob Wilkins, who works in Information Management in the NSW Department of Education. Rob suggested that although this book was published in 2003 much of the content remains relevant.

Knowledge Management Survey (available to purchase for 95GBP = approx. AUD$160) –   This report on a global survey conducted by Knoco in 2014 includes data and analysis of a range of KM aspects in organisations including:

  • The focus areas, business drivers and strategies for KM across business sectors.
  • The benefits delivered through KM, in dollar terms, and intangibles.
  • Business metrics impacted by KM.

I hesitated to spend the money on this report, but did eventually as I’d not found any free / cheap data elsewhere. I’m waiting to receive my copy and hope that it will provide a geographic breakdown of data or commentary on common trends versus differences by region.  Even if it doesn’t, the global data should be of considerable value towards my goal.  Thanks to Ian Fry for recommending this resource and for our ongoing dialogue on KM from a practitioner’s perspective.

KM Body of Knowledge (BOK) Site Mockup – This is an interesting resource which was recently created as an example of what an online BOK might look like.  It was automatically generated using a data compiler (visit the site for more information on how it was created).  It provides links to a range of KM resources including book lists, communities of practice, capability frameworks, and tools.  I’ve given it an honorary mention as it is a launch pad for further discovery, and also as I think I could use this compilation method to efficiently create and maintain similar resource gateways for other knowledge areas. I discovered this resource by following a discussion on the Australian Society for Knowledge Management forum http://www.auskm.org where the community is ideating about a KMBOK.

My Next Steps

  1. Focussed effort reading these resources and identifying the information that will help me construct my explanation of the impact of knowledge and expertise on Australian organisations.
  2. Start compiling a list of relevant Australian case studies.
  3. Start drafting my explanation in response to my goal.

 

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'Speed' Mentoring – My Responses

AITD Mentor Qs.pngI’ve participated in the mentoring program run by the Australian Institute of Training and Development for the past two years – first as a mentee, then a mentor.  Last night was the end of program celebration event in Sydney, which Neil Von Heupt facilitated.  Neil ran a ‘speed’ mentoring activity.  Each mentee had a two minute conversation with each mentor to discuss their response to the three questions on the flipchart below.

 

The mentors were not forewarned of this activity, so our responses were very ‘top of mind.’  With the possible exception of the first question, my responses would be unsurprising to anyone who had worked with me in the past two years.

Most important aspect of my work

My gut reply to this when asked was ‘conversations.’  It’s not what I expected, and if I’d had more time to think about my response I may have crafted a different response.  However, I think it’s true and is at the heart of much of my professional practice and development.  I find it vital to talk with others to help me reflect, solve problems, ideate, explore, strategise and plan.  As an Learning and Development leader, having a performance consulting conversations with people who ask for a ‘program’ or ‘course’ helps in identifying underlying causes of performance gaps and appropriate solutions (which may not require training).  Conversation is also at the heart of social learning.

I’d like to acknowledge the influence of Harold Jarche in shaping my awareness of the power of conversation in learning  – fittingly, through two very memorable conversations we have had at Edutech conference in 2015 and on a Skype call earlier this year.

edutech-conversation

In conversation with Simon Terry at Edutech 2015 – photo taken by Harold Jarche

Favourite tool for L&D

As a personal and professional development tool, it’s definitely Twitter for me.  It’s turned my learning on it’s head since I started actively using it three years ago by enabling me to access people to engage with in a mutually beneficial interchange of sharing resources, ideas and experiences.  It’s one place where I have useful conversations.  Need more convincing?  Read what others have to say about Twitter as a development tool.

 

Hot career tip

Make time for reflection using whatever method suits you.  It’s vital to make sense of your experience, figure out what’s working and what you’d like to improve, and to inform your future actions.  I do a daily reflection in Evernote using a list of prompter questions on this linked list.  I write a dot point answer to those that seem relevant.  At the end of the week I then use the weekly reflection questions in my list to draw out key themes.  When I have the capacity I also blog about my work.

Which leads me to my second hot career tip – Work Out Loud.  In essence this is what I do on my blog.  Make your work and working processes visible to others – both when it’s a work in progress and when it’s complete.  Search on social media platforms or an internet search tool (#WOL #showyourwork and #WOLWeek) for a wide range of examples of how you can make your work visible.  Follow Jane Bozarth who provides practical guidance and examples to help you get started simply and quickly.

To maximise the career benefits of making your work visible, adopt the expanded Working Out Loud practice using the Working Out Loud Circle Guides.  Adopting Working Out Loud has radically altered my professional development, enabled me to build a contribution-based network, and created many opportunities.

Your Turn

How would you respond to these three questions?  Post a reply below or share your response on Twitter with #LNDcareertips

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#WOLWeek Day 3 – Make A Contribution

International Working Out Loud Week (#WOLWeek) is 7-13 November 2016. I’m using it as an opportunity to promote Working Out Loud (WOL) and give my own practices a boost by following the 7 days worth of actions to get you started working out loud.

7-days-ofworking-out-loud

Image source: WOLWeek.wordpress.com

My Purpose

On #WOLWeek Day 1 I blogged about my current WOL Circle goal:

“to clearly explain the impact of knowledge and expertise on Australian organisations.”

Todays Contribution

Today’s #WOLWeek challenge is to “take the time to make a contribution to another person who is connected to your purpose.”  The day is drawing to a close.  While I have made contributions to others today, I have not made one specifically to someone connected to my purpose.  So today’s post is a reflection on my contributions during the eight weeks of my current WOL Circle as I worked towards this goal.

My Contributions During Current WOL Circle

My purpose is fairly specific in it’s Australian focus, and I did not start with well-developed relationships with relevant people. Most people have an online presence of some kind so I started searching for people I had met at Knowledge Management Australia conference to see if I could find an online social media account, a blog, or other online content they’d published.

When I found people on LinkedIn I sent them a personalised invitation reminding them of our prior contact, and identifying our area of common interest.  If I found them on Twitter I followed them and sent a short tweet with a similar message.  Following someone on social media and making a short introduction gives the simple, unobtrusive gift of acknowledgement.  Where I was able to find content they had published online I looked at it and, if I found it valuable, I liked it, commented on it, or shared it online with a brief statement about the content.  The intent of these small contributions is to move the relationship forward just a little, to make them aware of me, and extend a light invitation to engage without imposing an obligation.

One person did start a dialogue with me via email, and I was able to make further contributions by commenting on their work and asking questions about it.  I asked if they were aware of Australian case studies or research relevant to my goal.  They recommended a global study that contained some Australian data, and suggested I join the AusKm forum and post my question there.  I’m going to leave this thread of the story there for now as it leads into #WOLWeek Day 5: Share A Need.

On reflection, during my current WOL Circle I’ve not moved beyond simple contributions.  This has impeded my progress toward my goal.  I’ve been very busy recently with significant changes, including resigning from a job to commence working independently, moving house, and time off work during school holidays.  I’ve struggled to maintain a habit of keeping an eye on what relevant people are sharing online, reading longer content that they have published or referred to me, and identifying contributions I could be making.  Nonetheless, I have made progress – which I shall summarise in tomorrow’s WOLWeek post.

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