Michelle Works Out Loud – Crown College L&D Case Study

Today I attended the Forward Government Learning Conference (#govlearn) held in Melbourne, Australia.  It was an intimate event, with fewer than 30 participants.  This meant we had more opportunity for interaction and discussion than at larger conferences.

I take notes on conference sessions using Evernote, and post a link to my notes on Twitter.  In 2017 I have replaced my old habit with a high volume of short tweets during presentations with focusing on taking better quality notes, polishing these up a bit and adding links to relevant resources, writing up my key takeaways and reflections on each session, then sharing these more comprehensive notes.

There were some excellent case studies at #govlearn today, most of which were new to me.  I’ll post all of my notes in the next few days.  Meantime, here is a taster with my notes from a case study presented by Shane Thomas from Crown.  What I especially liked about Shane’s work is how he had deepened his understanding of his business, built credibility by adding business value, and now has excellent stakeholder support.

Summary of my takeaways / analysis

  • Value of building and leveraging a brand for L&D.  In this case Crown College (as an RTO) is the brand.  Building L&D brand around strong Crown business brand has worked well given the industry turnover and need to attract Allen.  Also, having own RTO suits this business and industry (see noes below on industry).  In this case Shane used industry awards to build the brand, both internally and exernally.  you need to figure out what brand and approach to brand-building will suit your business context.
  • Importance of business buy in, especially at executive level.  This is evidenced by high involvement of leaders in programs, especially leadership programs.  Linkage has been created to business outcomes in leadership programs via workplace projects (see detailed notes for more)
  • Importance of L&D developing a deep understanding of their business.  There is a virtuous cycle in evidence where Shane has sought to understand the business, hence been able to better meet their needs, building credibility, and earning a ‘place at the table.’  Given Shane’s long tenure and deliberate efforts to understand business context, drivers and financials, and add business value, he has been able to build deep relationships with senior leaders in the business.

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Michelle Works Out Loud – A Tool to Capture & Communicate What You Know

Today’s daily dispatch is about a tool I use to help me record and communicate things I know.  It’s called a pink sheet.  I was introduced to pink sheets in a business school program that I’m currently undertaking.  After several months of using them I’ve finally gotten the hang of the template and am finding it a useful way to capture my body of knowledge in a subject area and figure out how to communicate it in a more rounded way.

The template is shown on the left.  The idea is to convey a single key point on one page in a range of ways.

Moving vertically through the template from top to bottom the point is presented from big picture through to detail as follows:

  • Context – big picture, what’s it about
  • Concept – what does it mean, explained using a brief statement followed by a short explanation of the statement
  • Content – detail and specifics that illustrate the point

Moving horizontally, left and right brain thinking are covered as follows:

  • Left  –  studies, statistics and a model
  • Right – metaphor and stories

Here is a completed template to illustrate how the elements come together.  You can take a closer look at a PDF version of this pink sheet.  Note that it’s not ‘perfect’ – it’s a working document that can be used as source content for a range of purposes.  As I use the material I can continue to refine and improve it.  When I find new research or a better metaphor for instance I can add it to a pink sheet.

I can also ‘layer’ pink sheets, going deeper into a specific element of a high level pink sheet.  For example, there are several different elements in the model on this sample pink sheet.  For each of these elements one or more further pink sheets can be created to drill down into these elements.  Over time a set of interconnected sheets is built up.

Another very elegant aspect of pink sheets is that I can combine different sets of pink sheets in a subject area as required to create a presentation, a workshop, a paper, even a mentoring program or, in time, a book.  It becomes very efficient to repackage what I know in a range of formats and communicate it.  All in all, a very useful tool.

This post is part of my daily dispatches experiment, inspired by Austin Kleon.  This is Daily Dispatch Number 4.

 

 

 

 

 

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Michelle Works Out Loud – Working with a Graphic Designer

“Good design encourages a viewer to want to learn more.”

This tweet caught my eye this afternoon.  Some Learning & Development (L&D) professionals are really good at visual design.  My forte is L&D strategy, so I’m really good at organisation design, but not so good with visual design.  Yet, I want content that I produce to look visually appealing, to encourage the viewer to want to look closer, to enhance the content rather than detract from it.

I could learn more about design and improve my skills (yep, it’s on my wish list).  However, I need the materials I’m producing now to look good, and be presented in a way that improves understanding and conveys professionalism.  And that will take some time – I’m probably still at the unconscious incompetence stage, so it’s going to get more uncomfortable and challenging for me to work on this skill set before I see improvement.

For this reason, I recently started working with a graphic designer.  Actually, it was my second attempt this year to work with a designer.  I initially engaged someone overseas as I thought this would be cheaper and still produce an acceptable result.  It didn’t work for me (it might work for others, it just didn’t for me).  It seemed difficult for them to interpret my requirements, and they over-complicated the tasks I gave them.  Things looked heavy and dense rather than the fresh, bright, clear look I wanted.  I retained one or two aspects of their work, such as the updated colour palette on my logo, then got in contact with an Australian designer that I worked with over six years ago – Janine Warner of J9 Designs.  I’ve been delighted with the work that she has done for me. Based on our previous collaboration, she understands who I am and how I want my work to be presented.  In the past two weeks she has quickly created new business cards, a white paper, a workbook and a PowerPoint template.  All have used a similar palette and look coherent.  It’s been easy to work with her via email, and in all cases minor rework on initial deliverables has been turned around rapidly.

As for the output – you can see how much she’s improved upon my hand drawn diagram below to create the final model.

 

 

This post is part of my daily dispatches experiment, inspired by Austin Kleon.  This is Daily Dispatch Number 3.

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Michelle Works Out Loud – DD#2 L&D Capability Assessment

One aspect of my work is to help build capability in Learning and Development (L&D) teams in organisations.  In a classic case of the cobbler’s children not having shoes, often there is no capability framework or development pathway in place for L&D function or roles in an organisation.  A client has asked me to create an L&D capability framework and development pathway for their use.  Since starting to explore this need I am finding other organisations that have the same need.  Rather than create something bespoke I’d like to use an existing generic / industry framework, with adaptation if necessary.  Why create something from scratch if you can meet the need with an existing tool?  Taking it a step further, I wonder if I can find a generic development pathway against an L&D capability framework that uses as 70:20:10 approach, providing a range of ways that specific capabilities can be developed through a mix of experience, exposure and education.  If this was supported by a range of good quality curated resources with links to relevant, active online communities and networks it would be a powerful resource.  Who else would find such a resource valuable?

Starting with the L&D capability framework, one that I have used both individually and with teams is the Learning and Performance Institute’s (LPI) Capability Map.  The LPI developed this tool in 2012 as an online self-assessment diagnostic tool to help L&D practitioners assess and benchmark their capability against 27 skills.  It reflects the breadth of skills required in a modern L&D function. The descriptions of capability at four levels against each of the skills are clear and help flag what’s needed to move to the next level should this be your goal.  When using it with a team I’ve had each person complete the free assessment and send their personalised reports to a coordinator who collated the results to produce a diagnostic ‘map’ of capability across the whole team.  We used this an input to our annual planning session, doing a gap analysis of current L&D capability to what we needed to deliver on our annual plan, and creating a prioritised team development plan.  The LPI provides a paid team Capability Assessment service.  Today I spoke with Leon Boland at the LPI who is sending me information about the process and output from the team assessment, so I can decide whether to present this as an option to my client.

However, the piece that the LPI does not have in place currently is any form of development pathway or toolkit against their Capability Map.  I’m now exploring whether they have a desire to develop this resource, and how I may be able to help with this.

How have others tackled the need for an L&D capability framework and development pathway?  Can anyone recommend other resources that may help to meet this need?

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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 – Daily Dispatches Experiment

Yesterday Jane Bozarth generously delivered a webinar on ‘showing your work’ for the Learning and Development practitioners that I have connected into Working Out Loud Circles.  I always appreciate Jane’s practical approach to ways of making your work visible, and the way she talks about the benefits of this to individuals and organisations.  I’m feeling inspired to ramp up my working out loud practices as a result of this session delivered “at the speed of Jane” (I only gave her 30 minutes to cover the topic – the session ended up being 40 minutes).

When thinking about how what I could do I turned to another of my favourite authors on this topic, Austin Kleon.  Both Jane and Austin have published books called ‘Show Your Work’ – although both differ in format and approach.  (BTW – I love them both and draw inspiration from each of them.)  Chapter 3 of Austin’s book is titled ‘Share Something Small Every Day.’  He advocates the practice of sending out a ‘daily dispatch.’  He describes this as finding one little part of your work process that you can share at the end of every day:

If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you.  If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress.  If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned.  If you have lots of projects out into the world, you can report on how they’re doing – you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.”

 

I’m going to try an experiment for the next 5 weeks (to the end of Ausut 2017) to do a daily dispatch on the ‘Working Out Loud’ page on my website, and to share a link to this via Twitter.  Wish me luck!

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Personal Kanban Boards

I started using personal kanban boards about 10 days ago.  They are visible on the wall behind me when I videoconference with people, and many people have asked me about them during our calls.  So, here is a post about why and how I’m using kanban boards, and the value I’m getting from them.

Who isn’t busy, right?  I find it hard to resist a good opportunity or idea, so sometimes end up with a lot of projects on the go.  I’ve tried a range of ways to prioritise and manage my time across projects, business development, recurring tasks, administration and other activities.  I like the portability of electronic tools that synchronise across multiple devices, and have been using the 2Do app for a couple of years.  However, it can be time-consuming to enter and maintain all tasks in an electronic tool.  When I get really busy I revert to sticky notes and scraps of paper.  It’s quick to hand-write a new task on a paper note and easy to sort and shuffle them as priorities change – definitely quicker for me than with online tools.  It gets tasks out of my head, so helps me to concentrate on whatever I was working on when the thought of the task popped into my head.

However, there are still a lot of things on the list, which is now less portable.  The long electronic list has been replaced by a growing stack of notes.  Either way, they require regular review to figure out what I should do on any given day. I’m concerned to ensure that at any given time I’m working on my most important activities (I use the Eisenhower matrix to help identify what these are – but that’s not the focus of my post today).

In my search to efficiently managing tasks and be confident that I am focussed on the things that matter most I’m often drawn to online content about productivity.  A couple of weeks ago a post on Snapchat by Helen Blunden about personal kanban caught my attention.  What appealed to me about using personal kanban boards was:

  • the visual nature of it
  • high visibility of a physical board (as opposed to using an online variant)
  • ease of adding and updating tasks, and moving them from one status to another
  • satisfaction of seeing what I’ve done
  • ‘rule’ of not having more than 3 tasks in progress at any one time, to combat the downsides of multitasking

I decided to create a board for each of my top 3 projects (rather than one board with all projects mixed in together).  The 1-minute Snapchat video below outlines how I set the boards up.  I have since added a fourth board for a client project.

I’ve been using the boards for a week.  Every morning before I set down at my desk I check the boards and decide/confirm what I need to work on that day to progress my most important projects.  I add new tasks on a sticky note (1 task per note), and sometimes replace a high-level task with multiple more granular tasks.  I update the boards as I work too.  I’m finding the process very fluid and the boards are definitely assisting me to prioritise and progress my most important projects.  Importantly, using them also decreases my mental chatter about what I should be working on.

A downside of how I’ve set these boards up is that they are not portable.  I get around this in part by writing the 5 things I ‘must’ get done each day in a small notebook that I carry around.  (Actually, I write down up to 5 x Quadrant 1 tasks (Important and Urgent) and 5 x Quadrant 2 tasks (Important and Non-Urgent).  The quadrants are based on the Eisenhower matrix mentioned earlier in the post.)

Another disadvantage is that they cannot be shared with other people so don’t help with collaboration.  Some people in my network use Trello, which uses a board structure for task management.  I downloaded Trello several months ago, looked at it briefly, and deferred figuring out how to use it.  I suspect that the practices I’m using with physical kanban boards would transfer readily to Trello.  This tool is obviously portable and could be used with others.  I think I would miss the immediacy and visibility of the boards on my office wall were I to move from using them to Trello.  Of course, practices evolve so I may well be posting about my use of Trello (or something similar) in the future.

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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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Join me in Sydney for a Social Learning Workshop 13 March 2017

Are you interested in using social / collaborative learning strategies to create impactful, engaging, high-quality learning experiences?  Join me in Sydney on 13 March 2017 to hone your skills designing and implementing social learning solutions.

Outcomes

In March I’m facilitating a program that is focussed on using social / collaborative approaches as part of a learning solution to meet a business need.  As a result of participating in this program you’ll be able to do the following:

  1. Determine how social learning can help address your specific business problem / opportunity
  2. Design or redesign a learning solution to effectively incorporate social learning
  3. Select social learning activities and enabling tools to use in your solution
  4. Develop a strategy to implement your social learning solution

How This Program Works

learning-playThis is a program about social / collaborative learning.  As such it is a social learning experience.  There are three elements to this program:

Pre-workshop – You can familiarise yourself with the program by viewing a small set of online resources.   It is essential to select an appropriate workplace project to work on during the workshop – guidance is provided in a pre-workshop introduction to assist with this selection.  Participants are also invited to join a private online discussion forum in LinkedIn.

Workshop – This is a highly participative and collaborative event, focused around a number of individual and group activities.  Participants will be able to work on the design of a social learning solution for your workplace project.  You should bring your smartphone, tablet or laptop as we will be making good use of them to access web resources and use online tools.  We will use a shared Google document for collaborative note-taking, and you are invited to use the LinkedIn group as a backchannel.

Post-workshop – The LinkedIn group will remain active for at least four weeks after the workshop.  You are encouraged to continue to work on your social learning solution, and you may seek feedback on your solution via the  group.  You also have the opportunity to participate in the collaborative development of a social learning resource.  Additional resources will be posted and you can continue the conversation with the group online.

How to Enrol

The workshop is being run as a pre-conference event at the 9th Annual Blended Learning Conference.  For more information on the workshop, about me as your facilitator, and how to register download the brochure.

Follow on Twitter

Use the hashtag #blc to follow the Blended Learning Conference backchannel.

Add the hashtag #soclrn to follow the public backchannel for the workshop.

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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.

7-days-ofworking-out-loud

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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