Leading a Learning Organisation – Sydney Fishbowl Discussion

On Wednesday 14 March 2018 PSK Events hosted a Fishbowl Discussion in Sydney on the topic of ‘Leading a Learning Organisation.’  While I couldn’t attend I joined the #PSKevents backchannel on Twitter and participated in an active discussion on topics such as:

  • shifting how Learning and Development is perceived in an organisation
  • creating a learning culture (or, more accurately – an organisational culture that promotes learning)
  • creating a learning environment
  • speaking business language
  • learning from failure
  • user generated content

It was a lively backchannel discussion, with some differing perspectives on the use of business language versus ‘L&D’ language in particular.

I’ve curated a collection of the tweets and organised them by theme.  You can access this discussion record in ‘Wakelet.

There will be two more Fishbowl discussions on the same topic (you can register at the links below):

I will update this post with curated collections from the backchannel after each event, plus a separate analysis / commentary on themes across the three events.

Thanks to Trent Rosen the powerhouse who organises these events, and sponsors Learning Plan and Good Practice.

 

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Preparing for Podcast Interview on Learning Culture

I’m the guest on an upcoming episode of The Good Practice podcast on the topic of Learning Culture.  The discussion is being recorded tonight.  I’ve long been a fan of this podcast, so am delighted to be invited to be a guest.  I’m conscious that the episodes are around 20-30 minutes and include a ‘what I’ve learned this week’ segment.  This means that the discussion is relatively short, so I wanted to get my thoughts together in order to ensure that I can contribute concise, clear points that people will hopefully find thought-provoking and valuable.

Step 1 – Figure out what I already thought and knew

I started preparation about a week ago.  My first step was to figure out what I already knew and thought about the topic.  To do this I simply started writing short declarative statements and jotting down examples in longhand.  Before long I had three pages of notes.

I proceeded to organise my thoughts using a mind map, which quickly gave me:

  • a potential structure for the discussion (What, Why, Who, How) – turns out the guys at Good Practice liked this structure and we’ll use it as a start point in our discussion
  • a list of examples and stories I could use
  • a list of sources for further reading to round out and update my thinking

I transcribed and organised my notes into the new discussion structure in Evernote and shared this with the podcast organiser.

Step 2 – Additional Reading

The sources I found most helpful were:

10 Principles of Organisational Culture, a post by Jon Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel and James Thomas – this post helped me refine and simplify my definition of what culture is.  I also found the idea that behaviour leads mindset resonated with my experience and helps to explain why values based ‘campaigns’ that don’t align with the way things get done tend to create cynicism rather than change.

The Transformation Curve, Towards Maturity’s 2018 global learning benchmark report.  This report marks a shift in Towards Maturity’s ongoing research of what top performing Learning and Development teams do differently to provide a four stage maturity model as organisations move from optimising training to shared responsibility for learning.  Their analysis helps identify the characteristics of a culture that promotes learning.

Driving the New Learning Organisation. In this article and paper Towards Maturity identify six characteristics of the new learning organisation, where learning is a mutual responsibility.

 Step 3 – Final Talking Points 

I created a new document and made a dot point summary of the key talking points, stories and recommended sources for further reading in each section of the discussion .  I won’t share that here so I don’t spoil the podcast episode.  Also, I’ve been warned that the podcast discussion could be quite tangential.  It will be interesting to compare the final product to my talking points.

Bonus Step – Blog Post Outline

Regardless of what happens in the discussion, my preparation has helped me to clarify my thinking on learning culture and supplement it with current research.  I’ve prepared an outline of a blog post intended to inform and influence business leaders to step up in their role of building an organisation culture that promotes learning.

I’m not sure when the podcast episode will go to air – I shall be sure to write and tweet an update on this when it is live.

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Using Google Alerts to Stay Up to Date #futurereadylearning

If you do an internet search your search results will include resources that have been published up to that point in time.  If you would like to stay up to date with a topic or industry tends you can set up Google Alerts to efficiently monitor the internet for new content being published.

Here is some guidance on  how to set up and use Google Alerts for research.

Once an alert is set up Google will automatically repeat a search that you have defined on a recurring schedule and email you the results.  If you are concerned about emails alerts piling up in email inbox you can set up your alerts in Feedly,* which is a content aggregation tool / reader by following these instructions.

Although the mechanism to set up alerts and direct them into Feedly has changed in the past few years, here’s an example of why and how I did this back in late 2014.

To get the most relevant results from your Alerts be sure to improve you Google search skills.

* A separate post on using Feedly is coming as part of the #futurereadylearning series.

This post is part of a series by Michelle Ockers outlining different ways of taking charge of your own learning.  It was developed following delivery of a keynote on the topic ‘Future Ready Learning’ to provide resources for participants to explore approaches covered briefly in the keynote.  Michelle can be contacted regarding keynote speaking on this theme at Michelle@michelleockers.com 

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Internet Search – Improve your Google Search skills #futurereadylearning

Most of us use Google to get a quick answer to a question or problem, or to find online resources and help.  Few people are aware of some of the tips and tricks they can use to get the most relevant search results.

Refer to the following for tips and shortcuts to improve your Google skills:

Next time you need to do an internet search refer to these resources and try out one of the tips.

You can also use Google Alerts to efficiently stay up to date with a topic or field you are interested in.

If you have any more suggestions or resources to help people improve their skills using Google please leave a comment and/or link below.

 

This post is part of a series by Michelle Ockers outlining different ways of taking charge of your own learning.  It was developed following delivery of a keynote on the topic ‘Future Ready Learning’ to provide resources for participants to explore approaches covered briefly in the keynote.  Michelle can be contacted regarding keynote speaking on this theme at Michelle@michelleockers.com 

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Journaling for Learning #futurereadylearning

Keeping a journal is a common approach to both building self-awareness and learning from specific events or activities.  Journalling can be a regular habit (e.g. daily or weekly), or done when specific triggers occur.  Either way, keeping a journal is one of the most useful personal development and learning habits you can develop.

Benefits of keeping a journal

Writing in a journal can be what Charles’ Duhigg refers to as a ‘keystone habit’ in his book The Power of Habit:

“small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

A keystone habit helps lock other habits into place.  As such I recommend regular reflection via a journal as a high leverage learning habit, and an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to be more effective with their personal learning.

The following articles discuss a range of benefits of keeping a journal:

More specifically, if your intent is to learn, keeping a journal is a form of sense-making; it helps you to make sense of and experience or even, see patterns and connections over time, and improve how you learn.

When to Write

You can either write on a regular schedule (e.g. daily or weekly), or when a specific event occurs (e.g a project milestone, after a recurring meeting).  Research on habit formation indicates that you are more likely to develop a habit if you identify a cue or trigger for doing the action you want to take.  For example, when you sit at your desk after your afternoon coffee, after your morning walk, after your weekly team meeting.

For many people scheduling an appointment in their calendar / diary helps to protect a block of time to write.

The time required to write in journal regularly does not need to be large.  You could invest as little as ten minutes a day to gain significant benefits over time.

What does a learning journal look like?

There is no set format for a journal.  A blank page can be daunting, so having a standard structure will make keeping a journal easier.  The following articles have some suggestions regarding structure and prompts:

One simple structure developed by John Driscoll is to use three questions:

  • What?  Describing an event
  • So What? Analysing the event
  • Now What? Identifying what you will do (or do differently moving forward)

Experiment with formats.  Combine different formats to figure out what you enjoy and find effective.

Journal entries can be made either by hand-writing or typing.  Each has their pros and cons – try both and see what you prefer.

My Personal Journal Practice

My Year 8 English teacher introduced me to journaling, and I’ve maintained this practice on and off for close to four decades.  When I commenced journaling hand-writing was the only option.  I enjoyed the tactile sensation of writing on paper, the look of my journals lined up on a bookshelf, and the ease of flicking through the pages.  However, I was always concerned with privacy as it is easy for someone else to look through a physical notebook, and this led to some self-censoring.  I’ve recently gone fully digital, including scanning a one-metre high stack of old paper journals (as shown in the photo).

I use Evernote for my journal as it synchronises across all my devices and has very good search capability. I’m interested to explore how my thinking on different topics has developed over time by searching for entries by word, phrase or tag.

I primarily use two formats – freeform writing for deep reflection and prompted entries on a daily and weekly basis using the following lists of questions:

This post is part of a series by Michelle Ockers outlining different ways of taking charge of your own learning.  It was developed following delivery of a keynote on the topic ‘Future Ready Learning’ to provide resources for participants to explore approaches covered briefly in the keynote.  Michelle can be contacted regarding keynote speaking on this theme at Michelle@michelleockers.com 

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How to Take Charge of Your Own Learning – Master List #futurereadylearning

This post is part of a series by Michelle Ockers outlining different ways of taking charge of your own learning.  It was developed following delivery of a keynote on the topic ‘Future Ready Learning’ to provide resources for participants to explore approaches covered briefly in the keynote.  Michelle can be contacted regarding keynote speaking on this theme at Michelle@michelleockers.com 

There are many ways to take charge of your own learning.  One way of identifying your options is to look at three broad approaches:

  • Learning from yourself
  • Leraning from resources
  • Learning from others

For ideas about how you can learn, tools and links to further resources choose from the list below.  Select a hyperlinked item for further information.  You can use this post as a master list to access posts on each item.

Note – I am writing these posts as a follow-on action from a keynote presentation on Future Ready Learning at a professional development conference in February 2018.  I will gradually add linked posts on all items in coming weeks.  Consider this a ‘work in progress’ which I am sharing as it is developed so that people can start using it immediately and provide me with feedback and suggested improvements.  If you have any comments or suggestions please message me via Twitter, LinkedIn or email (Michelle@michelleockers.com).

The image below shows some of the ways of learning that I will add to this master list.


Learning From Yourself

Learning from yourself consists of both doing and reflecting.  They are complimentary, iterative actions.

Doing

To be added

Reflecting 

Reflection is a powerful way to learn from our own experience.  It is a process of thinking about a past event and thinking about what happened and what you can learn from it.  We can reflect either with others or on our own.  We also have the option of keeping individual reflection private or sharing it with others.

While you can reflect in your head, it can be very helpful to make a record  both to improve the quality of your thinking and to have a record that can reviewed at a later time to gain further insight as you look for patterns and further learning.

Learning From Resources

Resources for learning come in a wide range of forms.  This list predominantly covers online resources.  It will also cover books (which can be consumed electronically or in hard copy).

Online Resources

One of the great things about the internet is that it’s given us access to an incredible amount of resources and content.  This is also one of the really challenging things about the internet.  To get the most out of online resources requires that you can find good quality content relevant to your needs.  Fortunately there are tools available to help with this and skills that you can develop to critically evaluate sources.  You will also find your online network will assist you with this both directly and indirectly through their use of common tools that enable resources to be readily shared between people with common interests.

Skills to develop:

Types of resources to explore:

  • Blogs
  • Website resources
  • Subscription sites – courses and toolkits
  • Youtube
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
  • Webinars

Content tools:

  • Social bookmarking
  • Feed readers (e.g. Feedly)

Books

To be added

Learning From Others

To be added

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Be Future Ready – Themes from Professional Development Keynote

Source – Shutterstock

This is a summary of key themes of the keynote presentation I delivered at the 2018 Administrative Professionals Conference at University of Wollongong.  The overall theme of the conference was ‘Be Future Ready.’  This summary will be used in an internal publication reporting on the conference.

Ongoing change is normal in today’s workplace, with much of it being driven by advances in technology.  We have entered the 4th Industrial Revolution where computers and robotics are replacing or supplementing work done by human brains.  Digital technology has already changed the way many products and services are purchased and delivered, and has radically altered industries including banking, travel, music and movies.

All occupations will be impacted by automation and people will increasingly interact with digital assistants and other forms of Artificial Intelligence to get their work done.  Besides being able to work effectively with technology, social skills which are difficult for computers and robots to replicate are becoming increasingly important – such as empathy, compassion, listening, influencing and leading people.

The employment relationship is also changing with more people being engaged on temporary contracts and short-term projects or tasks rather than being permanently employed.  Many of the conference participants indicated that they have already worked in this way as part of the ‘gig economy.’

To keep our skills relevant and be future ready in an environment of ongoing change and increasing competition for work roles it is imperative that we take charge of our own learning.  This requires us to shift our mindset to learning continuously as we work rather than expecting training courses to be adequate to maintain our skills.  Michelle explored ways of doing this by learning from yourself, from resources and others.

Michelle invited participants to recap key content from her session and access further information on learning strategies, resources and tools in the ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page on her website.  Everyone is welcome to follow these posts and join the conversation using #futurereadylearning on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Future Ready Learning #futureadylearning

Toady, 15 Feb 2018, I’m speaking on ways of taking charge of your own learning at a professional development conference for Administrative Professionals at the University of Wollongong.  The conference theme is ‘Be Future Ready’ which I’ve aligned with using the notion of Future Ready Learning.

The first half of my keynote focusses on the WHY – what’s changing in the world of work and why it is now imperative for people to take charge of their own learning.  I then provide a high level overview of three approaches to stop waiting for the training bus and getting on your bike to head off on your own or with others to learn for yourself.  These are learning from yourself, from resources, and from others.

In 30 minutes I barely have time to touch the surface of the range of ways people can engage in continuous learning.  So I’m inviting the session participants to continue the conversation with me by connecting with me on LinkedIn or following me on Twitter.  Over the coming fortnight I’ll be posting more about some of the learning approaches and resources I introduce in my keynote so that people can explore them further.  I will make posts here on my ‘Michelle Works Out Loud’ page, and share them on my feed on both LinkedIn and Twitter with the hashtag #futurereadylearning so that you can search for them on either platform.

If you are one of the people who attended the University of Wollongong session please let me know via the comments below and/or by messaging me on LinkedIn or Twitter.  It’s great to see you following up on the session and eager to take charge of your own learning.

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Thoughts on Thought Leadership

Last year I was part of Thought Leaders Business School.  I undertook this program to help me figure out how to build an independent business practice where I help others whom I want to choose to work with to create value in my field based on my expertise, insight and experience.  However, I didn’t tell a lot of people I was undertaking it.  I felt uncomfortable about the ‘Thought Leader’ part of the title.  I was concerned that because I was undertaking the program it would sound like I was wanting to claim the title of ‘Thought Leader’ for myself.  It’s a label that has a lot of negative connotations if someone applies it to themselves, and it made me cringe a little.

A recent post by Helen Blunden titled You Are Not a Thought Leader touched a nerve with me.  She described how she had “begun to tire of the self-claimed accolades of “thought leadership” ” which she characterises as being about people building a following through publishing and speaking in order to gain credibility and a reputation in their field.  I had to read her post a few times to get beyond my emotional reaction and see that it is the superficial reputation-building through slick marketing that she is criticising.  Her response is for people to build credibility through action, and to let their body of work and the impact that it makes on others be the basis of their reputation.

I agree with Helen’s view that credibility and reputation need to be earned through valuable contribution.  However, we live in a society with a bias to action and we struggle to make enough time and space to think.  The success of Nancy Kline’s book series ‘Time To Think’ is indicative of how we struggle to create conditions conducive to thinking.  There are people who make the time and effort to think deeply in a way that challenges the status quo who make a valuable contribution and impact upon others.  Harold Jarche’s body of work on Personal Knowledge Mastery and Jane Hart’s on Modern Workplace Learning are examples of this.

A month after Helen’s post I came Dr Liz Alexander’s perspective on thought leadership.  This was via one of Tanmay Vora’s wonderful sketch-notes, which he created after interviewing Dr Alexander about her book on thought leadership.  Her definition of a thought leader is someone who disrupts others habitual approaches to issues that concern organisations, industries or society at large.  Like Helen, she asserts that if you are calling yourself a thought leader you most likely are not one.  “It is other’s assessment based on your ability to shift their thinking.”

I’ll leave you to read Tanmay’s interview with Dr Alexander for yourself.  What struck a chord with me was the spirit of intent she ascribes to thought leadership – that it’s about curiousity, courage, and challenging established points of view in order to provoke meaningful change.  Ironically, this is a spirit I see in Helen.  It is also a description that would make me comfortable to one day truly earn in the eyes of others.

(Please have no doubt that this post is not a disguised plea for others to tell me I am a thought leader.  Think of it more as a post exploring my aspiration to become a much better thinker in my field so that I may be part of a network of people who are contributing to positive change.)

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Anecdotally Speaking – a Podcast to Improve your Business Storytelling

A good story engages people emotionally, and is a great way to inspire and influence people.  As Connie Malamed, one of my favourite Learning and Development authors, outlined back in 2011, stories can make learning more effective.  In the domain of workplace learning, it’s not only learning experience designers and facilitators who could benefit from improving their storytelling skills.  As we adopt more socially connected approaches to workplace learning the ability for people to tell stories effectively will enhance the sharing of knowledge and experience in networks.

Anecdotally Speaking is a new podcast that will help you to improve your storytelling in business settings.  In this podcast Shawn Callahan and Mark Schenk from Anecdote share great stories that you can tell and, even more importantly, why they work and when to tell them.  Shawn and Mark founded Anecdote in 2004 and have been focussed on helping learners to develop the skills to share stories ever since.

After listening to the first three podcasts I’m confident to recommend it as a ‘must listen’ resource for not only leaders, but anyone involved in learning or seeking to influence others through storytelling.

Shawn and Mark are excellent storytelling role models.  In each episode one of the them tells a story, then they discuss why the features of the story or the way it was told that make it effective.  They also suggest contexts in which the story could be used.  Even if you choose not to use the specific stories that they share, their discussion provides guidance as to what to look for in a good story and will help you to craft and tell your own.  They make their points clearly and concisely, with a little humour.

I enjoy the conversational tone of the podcast and the (mild) Aussie accents – at least they sound mild to me as a fellow Aussie.  At approximately 15 minutes per episode this podcast is a convenient length, and will readily hold your attention.

Listening to this podcast is a great, free way to improve your storytelling skills and repertoire,

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