Posts Tagged Professional Development

Why I Left a Job I Really Enjoyed to Work Independently

I recently finished working at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). Those of you who have follow me on social media or read my blog know that I really enjoyed my job. So you may be wondering why I have decided to return to working independently.

The Job I Enjoyed

In November 2011 I started a 6-week contract with CCA to design a national approach to capability development in Supply Chain.  One thing led to another and I joined CCA in early 2012 as an employee to lead the Supply Chain Technical Academy.  At the time a completely decentralised model was in place for technical capability development with an independent, inconsistent approach in different locations. CCA had invested heavily in a range of equipment and platforms, and wanted to ensure that their capability to use these was sustained and improved. The introduced a robust national approach to developing core technical capabilities via blended learning utilising the 70:20:10 framework.

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Australian Institute of Training and Development Awards to CCA Supply Chain

In early 2014 the Supply Chain business strategy changed. We updated our capability strategy to maintain alignment and strengthen governance. We also explicitly added continuous workplace learning to our strategy, which we defined as ongoing learning outside of structured programs. To execute this strategy we set about modernising our Learning & Development approach and capabilities.

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Finalist – 2015 AITD L&D Professional of the Year

My time at CCA was a period of significant professional growth – due both to my work experience and self-directed learning. In 2014 I transformed my professional development, as described in, and symbolised by, this blog. I have developed a strong global Personal Learning Network (PLN), adopted Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) and Working Out Loud (WOL) practices. This enabled me to step-up my strategic leadership and implement modern approaches to workplace learning. One business challenge I became particularly interested in is improving the use of knowledge and expertise to improve business performance.

At CCA I had the opportunity to be innovate. I felt I could make a positive difference to the daily work experience of people across the organisation. My role was a vehicle to impact individual, team and organisational performance. I worked with people I liked who were professional, reliable, and cared about what they did. For the most part I did work I enjoyed that gave me a sense of meaning and contribution. However, over time my strengths and interests shifted – and I wasn’t able to find a way to focus on those within CCA.

Why I am now Working Independently

Having realised that it was time to move on, I could have looked for another corporate role. Instead I have chosen to return to working independently. Here are the reasons for this choice.

1)  To focus on work that plays to my strengths and interests – I want to pursue projects that focus on the things I am really good at and that bring me the most satisfaction. In a corporate job I would be in a weaker position to say ‘no’ to elements of the role that don’t meet this criteria. Working for myself increases my position to choose what I work on.

2)  To have greater impact. Working independently extends my reach. My personal vision statement includes the aspiration: “I make a positive difference and leave people, places and organisations in a better state than I found them.” Working with more people and organisations increases my opportunity to make an impact.

3)  To learn even more. When I last worked independently I found that working with a range of organisations accelerated my learning. I get to see what is working well and what could be improved in every project or task I work on. My capacity to create value constantly increases through exposure to a variety of organisations.

4)  To be valued more – As my external profile increased through networking, writing, and speaking, people from other organisations sought me out. They wanted to know more about what I did and how I did it, or to use me as a sounding board for their work challenges and opportunities. This tells me that I have knowledge and experience that I can contribute to others in a range of organisations. As an employee people inside your organisation often value your contributions less because you are one of them and not an external expert.

As an aside, why do people leave it until someone’s farewell to say ‘thank you’ for your contribution and tell you what they appreciated about your work?   Tell a colleague today what you value about their work and thank them.

5)  To improve my productivity – I don’t need to spell this one out in detail – less corporate administration, less organisational politics, fewer distractions and interruptions, less commuting. I’m very good at organising myself and find it easy to focus when working independently.

6) To improve my lifestyle – I want greater flexibility to work when I want in the way I want. Working independently increases my capacity to create balance across the many roles in my life. Another consideration is that while I am still energetic and passionate about my work, I am closer to semi-retirement than high school graduation. I am in a better position to create ongoing income sources working for myself than for an organisation.

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What I Will Miss Most

The thing I will miss most is the daily camaraderie and energy of my Academy colleagues. They are professional, reliable, willing to take a risk and try new things, and have a growth mindset. They supported, encouraged, challenged, guided, inspired and motivated me.

What About You?

What is your current work situation? Do you work for yourself, or are you considering this option? Why? Leave a comment to share your experience and thoughts on working independently versus being an employee.

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AITD Excellence Awards 2015 – Thank You to my Scenius

On Friday 27 November 2015 I attended the annual Australian Institute of Training and Development Excellence Awards. These awards recognise achievement in training, learning and organisational development.

My team in Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Amatil was a finalist in the new award category of ‘Best Use of Social/Collaborative Learning. I was also a finalist in the ‘Dr Alastair Rylatt Award for Learning and Development Professional of the Year.’ I had prepared acceptance speeches as I wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of the people and organisations who had contributed to both of these achievements. I also wanted to share an idea about professional development for Learning and Development (L&D) practitioners. Unfortunately I did not get to use either of these speeches. So I’ve decided to use my blog to express my appreciation and share this idea.

Best Use of Social/Collaborative Learning

Coca-Cola Amatil in partnership with Activate Learning Solutions were Highly Commended in the inaugural award in this category for our work on the Supply Chain Systems Certificaton Program. (I shall blog soon about this program.)

AITD Award

I lead the Supply Chain Technical Academy at Coca-Cola Amatil.  The Academy has had the privilege of working with others across Supply Chain to develop and implement a more open, collaborative approach to learning which seeks to integrate learning with work.

Thank you to the Supply Chain leaders who have been willing to adopt a modern approach to learning in our business, especially to Jeff Maguire, Head of People & Productivity, and David Grant, the Supply Chain Director.  Thank you for supporting innovation in learning.

Thank you also to the AITD for introducing this award category.  It symbolises the progressive work you’ve undertaken in the past 12-18 months to remain relevant as a professional association and reflect the changing nature of L&D.  I appreciate the validation that CCA Supply Chain is on the right track with our social and collaborative learning initiatives.

It takes a lot of collaboration to create and sustain such initiatives.  Thank you to Justine Jardine and Karlo Briski from our Technical Academy team – both have been creative, bold and resilient in developing and facilitating the program.   Thank you also to the Community of Practice members, who were represented at the awards by Matt Hay, David Barker and Sreeni Barmalli. They have been active program participants and, as part of their daily operational roles, have taken a lead in Communities of Practice and supporting others to engage in the certification program.

I’d also like to acknowledge the fabulous support of Helen Blunden from Activate Learning Solutions.  Her guidance was critical in launching our communities of practice, and developing the networking and social learning skills of participants with the Work, Connect and Learn program.  She is a worthy co-recipient of this award.

The Dr Alastair Rylatt Award for Learning and Development Professional of the Year

This award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to learning and development in the past 18 months. Congratulations to Dr Denise Meyerson, Director of Management Consultancy International, for being the 2015 award recipient.

Austin Kleon has written a wonderful little book called ‘Show Your Work.’  The first chapter is titled ‘You Don’t Have To Be Genius’ and it opens with the words ‘Find A Scenius.’  It’s a term that Kleon has picked up from Brian Eno who defines it as follows: “Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.”

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Image from Austin Kleon

My selection as a finalist is largely due to my use of working out loud to find a Scenius, which is a funkier term for what is commonly called a Personal Learning Network.  If you are not familiar with the term ‘Personal Learning Network’ I suggest you Google it, consider the state of your own network, and how you can build it.  Being part of a network or scenius is a key factor in accelerating your professional development and making a contribution.

To quote from Austin Kleon:

“Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but what you have to contribute – the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start.”

Thank you to the people around the world who are part of my scenius.  It is all of you who have made it possible for me to transform my professional development, to learn from and alongside you, to make a contribution and as a result to create new possibilities.  The specific people I am about to mention are representative of those in my scenius who collectively enable me to develop and contribute, but ths is well short of an exhaustive list.  They include thought leaders from across the world such as Jane Hart in the UK, Charles Jennings and Jane Bozarth in the US, Harold Jarche in Canada and Simon Terry in Melbourne.  There are also other L&D practitioners who work out loud, generously talking about their work practices, challenges and ideas about where L&D is headed – people such as Ryan Tracey in Sydney, Sunder Ramachandran in India, and Shannon Tipton in the US.

Thank you to the people and organisations who are connectors, creating opportunity for L&D professionals to engage in conversation, and share experience and practices – such as Third Place founded by Helen Blunden, the Ozlearn community facilitated by Con Sotidis and, of course, the AITD.

Closer to my day-to-day work are my colleagues at Coca-Cola Amatil, represented at the awards night by Justine Jardine and Karlo Briski. It’s a joy to learn and figure out what works alongside you. I extend this sentiment to my ex-colleague and peer-mentor, Lynette Curtis who travelled from Melbourne to join the celebrations.

Finally, to my manager of the past four years, Jeff Maguire, thank you for your unwavering trust and support, and the autonomy and flexibility you have granted me to create and embed the Academy and Capability Community in Supply Chain. Thank you also to seeing the value in sharing stories of how we work outside of our organisational boundaries and granting me the freedom to work out loud.

If you take away one thing from my selection as a finalist for this award, it’s to build your network – create your Scenius in order to unlock your Genius.

Afternote – additional posts on AITD Awards:

Helen Blunden’s Reflections of the 2015 AITD National Excellence Awards

AITD’s Storify collection of tweets from the 2015 Awards Night

 

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How to create (at least) an extra week per month for Professional Development

Yesterday I tweeted photos of my ‘September 2015 Professional Development Outcomes’ and ‘October 2015 Professional Development Goals’.

PD Goals Oct2015My 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.

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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.
PD September 20155) 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.

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