Leadership – Themes from PSK Performance Fishbowl Discussion

On 31 August 2016 I had the good fortune of moderating a discussion on leadership.  The event was a Fishbowl discussion organised by Trent Rosen of PSK Performance, and was held in Sydney.  Trent had gathered an excellent set of panellists with relevant experience and expertise.

Nigel PaineNigel was the Head of Learning and Development with the BBC.  He now does a lot  of work with coaching consulting speaking.

Commodore Lee Goddard – Commodore Goddard (who asked to be called Lee during the discussion) commands Surface Force for the Royal Australian Navy.  Based in Sydney, he commands Sydney 18 warships and 3500 people.

Cameron Clyne – Cameron is the Chair of Australian Rugby Union and ex-CEO of the National Australia Bank.

I was a little disappointed that there were no female leaders on the panel.  However there was a really amazing diversity and depth of experience.  One of the things I was really impressed with was just how down to earth and all three panellists were.

You can view my reflection on the discussion in video format or read the (slightly polished up) transcript below.

fishbowl-formatThe format was called a Fishbowl.  I sat at the front with the three panellists and there was an empty ‘hot seat’ at the end of the panellists’ row.  The participants were in curved rows facing the panellists.  If a participant wanted to join the discussion they could come and sit in hot seat.  Although I did the introductions and had a set of questions, the success of this format is to get people into the hot seat to ask their own questions.

 

fishbowl-layoutWe had a good flow of conversation and range of questions asked. I’m going to share some of the key themes that came up.  Views expressed below are my understanding of those expressed by the panellists.

Resilience came up quickly.  A leader cannot have an off day, and behaviour under stress is the key to good leadership.  A key part of building leadership is self-awareness.  In order to build leadership you’ve got to know yourself.  In an organisational context, the organisation has to understand itself as well in order to build leadership.

Visibility came out as a theme, particularly from Cameron.  In his role as CEO at the National Australia Bank he said that information flow was critical.  He wanted people to be able to tell him what was going on.  To achieve this you need to strip away the hierarchy.

Fishbowl 1.jpg

Nigel raised accountability and support.  They are complementary – you have to support people and give them time to develop as leaders, and you also have to hold them accountable.

In regard to time, we talked a lot about behaviour change and forming habits.  Developing leadership takes time.  There’s no quick fix – you can’t just send people on a workshop for two days, a week or two weeks and expect that they come back its leaders.

As a leader its important to role model behaviours you expect of other leaders.  Also, be aware that you will get from others the standard of behaviour that ‘you walk by.’  This relates to setting standards and holding people accountable to them.  Related to role modelling is that people expect you to ‘act the part,’ to carry and conduct yourself as a leader.  The conversation again returned to not having an off day – which is mostly about being resilient and managing yourself, which requires self-awareness (a recurring theme in the discussion).

Not only do others need to see you as a leader, you need to see yourself as a leader.  Cameron told a story about something a coach said to him when he became CEO of NAB at the age of 40, at start of the Global Financial Crisis.  His coach told him that he needed to ‘promote’ himself, meaning he needed to see himself as a senior leader before others would.

Fishbowl 2.jpg

Nigel shared a lesson – he had to learn to coach others to solve their problems rather than solve the problems for them.

There was a question about developing trust in the online environment as a leader.  I thought that Lee’s answer was the best of the panellists.  He blew away some myths about the military, pointing out that the military is always at the forefront of technology, which includes and the online world is not different.  He made the point that the virtual world consists of people and that, in fact, virtual / online has made communication and leadership more personal.  I would have loved the opportunity to discuss this point for longer.

Some specific questions caught my attention.

First was the old chestnut about middle management being a blocking point for change.  Terms commonly used to refer to this ‘group’ include ‘the Iron Curtain’ and ‘Permafrost.’  The common view is the you can’t change to flow down beyond middle management.  Cameron made the point that this is not a homogeneous group and you need multiple approaches for different kinds of middle managers.  You also need to understand the m as individuals.  There was a great quote from Lee Goddard about co-creation – “Do leadership with people not to people.”

I asked whether Learning and Development (L&D) as a function is relevant to leadership development.  I asked this question because the discussion had focussed on how a leader can develop themselves and other people’s leadership, but L&D had not been mentioned.  It is a clear ‘yes’ for the military who invest a lot of time for each leader in leadership development every year.  However, there were some question marks from the other panellists.  Nigel’s point that it’s up to L&D to be relevant aligned with Cameron’s view that L&D should be integral to, and aligned with, the organisation.  Although it was a bit sad, Cameron got a laugh when he said that he’s been in organisations where he wondered whether L&D was actually part of the same organisation.

A question on how sport is relevant to business got three very different responses.  Nigel told a story to illustrate that lessons relevant to business could be derived from sports.  The example he gave was the British 2012 Olympics Cycling team who focussed on finding 1% improvements. Lee spoke about the importance of sport to well-being and participating in sport to get to know your people.  Cameron noted that in both sport and business, skill alone is not enough to success – there has to be a mindset for success.

Fishbowl 3.jpg

Thank you Trent Rosen from PSK Performance for trusting me to moderate the Fishbowl discussion.  It was a great experience both of the format and nature of the conversation that it generated, and in tapping into the experience of the three panellists.  The only regret I have is that it wasn’t a lot longer because there were so many more topics we could have covered, and we could have delved deeper into the questions and themes that were raised.

Did you watch the video?  If so, you may have noticed that the body of it was in portrait orientation rather than landscape.  This is because I shot it in SnapChat to do a quick reflection shortly after the event and decided that I would use this footage rather than shoot it again.  Many of you may not have seen SnapChat video before – let me know what you think of this style of video.

Please leave a comment or questions on the content of this post below.  If you were at the event I’m curious if you got something different from the discussion – let’s continue the conversation.

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How we Modernised our Learning and Development Model, Mindset and Capabilities

Modernising our approach to learning in Coca-Cola Amatil’s Supply Chain over the past two years has been a gradual process. This shift has come about through parallel changes in our operating model alongside the mindset, practices and capabilities of our Learning and Development (L&D) function. (Note – We use the term ‘Capability’ to refer to the L&D function. The two terms are used interchangeably in this post.) Our Supply Chain Capability Community consists of:

  1. Technical Academy team – myself, four Capability Consultants, and a Coordinator; and
  2. State Capability Managers – seven people who plan, coordinate and support Capability development at operational sites around Australia.

In March 2014 members of our Capability Community attended an event where Charles Jennings spoke about practical approaches to workplace learning.  We also had a private discussion with Charles about the application of these approaches in our context. Our discussion continued back in the office. Performance support was a sticking point – in particular job aids that people can access as they work.   Most of the group felt that  Operations was solely responsible for developing and publishing job aids.

Fast forward to late 2015. In several States the Capability Managers were helping to implement a system to host Standard Operating Procedures – job aids that form part of our Quality Management System. Their contribution included helping to define information architecture so that content is easy for people to access as they work. In mid 2016 our Capability team helped to develop job aids alongside Operations for a new Quality Control system. The Capability Community now sees performance support as a shared responsibility with Operations.

This story illustrates how our Capability mindset, practices and capabilities have shifted. The most significant shifts are outlined below, followed by a list of key resources, people and development programs that have helped us to modernise.

Evolution of Our Capability Strategy

702010 framework

Courtesy 70:20:10forum.com

CCA Supply Chain joined the 70:20:10 Forum in late 2013. Within a few months of joining the Forum I realised that while CCA had adopted the 70:20:10 framework a number of years previously, the organisation had narrowly interpreted it.  We had developed blended learning programs that included theory (10), learning from experience (70) and others (20).  An example of this is ‘CCA’s 70:20:10 Learning Solution for Equipment Operation.’

However, we were not purposefully enabling people to learn as they worked, or building social learning capability.  As discussed in my post 70:20:10 Forum Value Creation Story, after attending a 70:20:10 Forum webinar on the changing role of the learning function I saw that the skills of our capability team needed to be updated. I also identified an opportunity to speak with key stakeholders about improving organisational performance more effectively if we adjusted our Capability strategy, mindset and practices.  I built awareness of the broader scope of 70:20:10 using resources from the 70:20:10 Forum and attendance at the Charles Jennings event described earlier in this post. By late March we had updated out strategy.

The key change to our strategy was the inclusion of ‘Continuous Workplace Learning’ as an element, as per the diagram below. Our operating model now includes a range of new approaches to enable continuous workplace learning including Communities of Practice, user generated content, guided social learning and learning transfer support.

Capability Strategy elements

Our Capability Strategy Elements

Performance Mindset

The mindset shift from ‘training’ to ‘performance’ is reflected in the change in Academy tagline from ‘Creating Technical Excellence’ to ‘Improving Supply Chain Performance.’

In early 2014 performance consulting was not seen as a practice required by L&D. By mid 2015 performance consulting was a standard element of our L&D toolkit. This shift was assisted by the dual role that many of the State Capability Managers have as they are also part of the Operational Excellence (OE) team who work on continuous improvement initiatives. Some of the OE tools can be readily used for performance consulting, and this is now seen as a natural precursor to development of a performance solution that may, or may not, include training.

Similarly the Capability Community now see development of performance support mechanisms and content as a joint responsibility with Operations, rather than something that is outside of their scope.

Social Learning

We have put substantial effort into enabling social learning in order to spread knowledge and better utilise expertise across Supply Chain. In order to support social learning our Capability Community had to experience it ourselves first. We have done this through participation in external communities, including the 70:20:10 Forum and Modern Workplace Learning community (via participation in a range of guided social learning programs and the associated ongoing community). Although participation was optional, enough people have joined in to shift mindset and practices. All Capability Community members also participated in the first rollout of our internal Work Connect and Learn program which builds digital, networking and self-directed learning skills.

online social learning.jpg

Our internal Capability Community has gradually matured, shifting our interactions from fortnightly teleconference catch-ups focussed on project status updates to a combination of:

  1. fortnightly catch-ups focussed on knowledge sharing  (run using Skype for Business);
  2. narrating our work and learning via a log maintained in OneNote; and
  3. use of online discussion forums in SharePoint for collaborative work and sharing of resources for professional development and improvement of our  practices. (Refer to  how I use social tools with my team for more on this.)

In mid 2014 the Academy voluntarily took responsibility for SharePoint governance in Supply Chain. This has allowed us to shape the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) infrastructure to support connection and discovery, enabling knowledge sharing, collaboration, and hosting of user generated content. We have built several online hubs on the ESN to support the growth of Communities of Practice. In May 2016 a Supply Chain restructure was announced, including the expansion of Communities of Practice. This decision was influenced by the work our Capability Community has done to establish, build and advocate for communities.

Our progress in social learning was recognised in November 2015 by the Australian Institute of Training and Development who awarded our Systems Certification program ‘highly commended’ in the Best Use of Social / Collaborative Learning category.

Integrating Learning with Work

Several Capability Community members have undertaken certification through the 70:20:10 Forum. We have modelled some aspects of our internal Systems Certification program on their Certification program, emphasising participants learning as they work. In addition to completing a range of competency-based assessments, evidence requirements for Systems Certification allow participants to choose their own workplace projects and activities. Evidence is heavily focussed on recognition of learning on the job via activities such as process improvements, solving your own or others’ problems, and demonstrating system use to others.

As part of the Systems Certification program the State Capability Managers took on the role of ‘Learning Coach.’ The purpose of a learning coach is to support self-directed learning by providing assistance to identify learning goals, advice on suitable learning activities and accountability via regular catch-ups with individual program participants.

Development Resources and Activities

Here is a list of some of the resources, organisations, practitioners and programs that we have used to modernise our L&D capability. The list is in no particular order. In all instances participation was encouraged, but not mandatory. New ideas and information only translate to learning through experience. The most important part of modernising L&D in our organisation was to try out new approaches, reflect individually and as a group on what happened, then adjust and repeat.

70:20:10 Forum – This forum offers 70:20:10-related resources, tools, an online community, and a 70:20:10 Practitioner Certification program.

Modern Workplace Learning (MWL), led by Jane Hart. MWL offers a range of short programs delivered via guided social learning. You get the benefit of great content, peer discussion, and the experience of being a participant in a program that uses a range of modern approaches.

Charles Jennings – Charles defines his focus as “all things related to learning, performance and organisational productivity, and to the 70:20:10 model.”   Charles has more recently founded the 70:20:10 Institute.

Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions – We engaged Helen to help us establish our first Community of Practice. She helped us to analyse current state of connection, sharing, and peer-supported performance improvement in the target group; develop a Community strategy; and create the Work, Connect and Learn program. We’ve used this program in a range of formats to build networking, digital and self-directed learning skills in our organisation.

Learning Performance Institute – We used the LPI Capability Map to assess our modern learning capabilities and identify high priority development areas.

Towards Maturity – The Towards Maturity Benchmark is a useful way to gain insight on your current learning strategy compared to both other organisations and your own progress over time if you re-do the benchmark annually. Laura Overton and the Towards Maturity team publish a range of resources that provide research and evidence-based insight to help you identify how to improve your learning strategy and performance.

Working Out Loud Circles – We’ve recently run our first Working Out Loud Circles. They offer potential to build networking skills across our organisation, enabling self-directed and social learning.

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) – Everyone in our Capability Community has been encouraged to build their PLN. Having a PLN accelerates your professional development, and introduces you to new ideas and people who can support you as you learn and try new things. It also positions you to help others in your organisation to develop their PLN as a critical self-directed learning capability. Here’s one resource from Jane Bozarth on building your PLN – do an internet search to find more resources on this topic.

Conferences – I look for a mix of case studies presented by organisational practitioners and updates on industry trends and direction from thought leaders. The opportunity to network with other practitioners is also important. Some that we have attended are:

This list is not comprehensive, and there are new resources, organisations and programs becoming available on an ongoing basis that could be added.

It Won’t Happen Overnight….

Shifting your L&D mindset, practices and capabilities takes time. The L&D team needs to first become aware of the possibility of operating differently, then experience new approaches themselves in order to figure out how to adapt them in their organisation, and how best to support them. Our story provides an example of how this change can evolve over time.

What’s Worked For You (or not)?

To all the other workplace learning practitioners reading this post – what have your tried for your personal or team development? How are you going with modernising L&D practices and capability in your organisation? What has worked for you? What challenges do you have?  Let’s have a discussion and see what we can learn from each other.

Note: This post has been adapted from a post made on the 70:20:10 Forum as part of my Practitioner Certification

 

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Trying out Snapchat for professional development

It’s Day 13 of the Learning Rebels 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge.  The Challenge is about looking for inspiration and ideas every day and sharing it with others in any way you choose.  My Challenge post today is about my early experiences trying out Snapchat, a photo and video messaging app, as a professional development tool.

Sources of inspiration

snapchat tutorI started using Snapchat this week.  I was inspired to do this by Helen Blunden who has been exploring it in her usual curious and enthusiastic manner.  I’d seen Helen tweeting about how she was using it to Work Out Loud and connect with others.  My second source of inspiration was my 11 year old daughter, who I turned to for help.  (She has since been a source of both ongoing assistance, encouragement and ridicule as I grapple with this app.)

Snapchat profiles

After downloading the app to my iPhone I set up my account and created my profile.  Profiles are very basic as shown below.  The dots are a Snapchat branded QR code (aka ‘Snapcode‘) which other users of Snapchat can scan to automatically follow a person (called ‘adding a friend’ on Snapchat).  Every account also has a url that others can use to follow e.g. https://www.snapchat.com/add/michelleockers6.  The number ’74’ after my Snapchat user name is the number of points I have earned, although I remain fairly clueless as to how this works even after reading an explanation of how points are calculated.  (I don’t think it’s important to me anyway.)

Snapchat profile.jpg

Functionality – getting my head around the basics

Reader beware – I’m about to tell you what I have been doing on Snapchat.  I am at the ‘consciously incompetent’ stage in this learning curve so I apologise in advance if any of what I post here is misleading.  I’ll update this post if I discover any errors at a later date.  

This post from Pocket-Lint introduces Snapchat functionality and endeavours to answer the question ‘what’s the point of Snapchat?’

The basic idea is you create stories using a mix of photos and short (maximum 10 second) videos which you shoot in the Snapchat app – these are called ‘snaps’.  You can overlay a small amount of text, emojis and graphics from a library, draw or add Snapchat filters.   You can broadcast your content either to ‘the world’ (i.e. everyone on Snapchat) or just Snapchatters who follow you.  It’s visible to you and others for 24 hours then ‘poof’ no-one can see it anymore.  You can also send ‘snaps’ directly to friends who will see them for just 10 seconds after opening.

People can comment on an image or video but their comments are just sent to you as a direct ‘chat’, not visible to others.  There is no like or favourite functionality.  You can see who has viewed your snaps.  You can’t add hyperlinks (you can type in a url, but it will be text, not a hyperlink).  There’s no ‘feed’ where you can scroll through all of the ‘posts’ of everyone you follow.  It doesn’t support multiple people having a collective conversation about your content.

It’s deliberately intended to be ephemeral, to be about ‘now’, to share stores from your life with people who are interested.  It demands more constant attention than other social media platforms if you want to stay abreast of what people in your network are doing and sharing.

You have a single story, which will continuously update as you add snaps.  You cannot have multiple stories running at one time unless you have multiple accounts – in which case I think you would need to sign out and in of accounts to switch between them.  You can delete individual images or videos from your story.  You can see who has viewed or taken a screen shot of every snap in your story.

From your own content you can download either an individual image or video to your camera roll, or your whole story (i.e. all content from last 24 hours).  Downloads save as  video on your camera roll.  Although I haven’t tried this yet I expect that I could import this to iMovie to edit.  Display is portrait only.

You can also save your own individual images, videos or a story on Snapchat using the ‘Memories’ functionality.  I haven’t played around with this yet, but it sounds promising.  The in-app help says that you can reuse the content saved in Memories – including adding content to your current story or sending directly to friends, editing stories, and creating new stories. It also allows you to upload images and screenshots from your camera roll and use them in your stories.  Again, display is portrait only so anything shot in landscape will appear on it’s side.

Uncomfortable and Strange

Snapchat what to doI’m used to a lot of open interaction on social media and blogs as I work out loud and learn from people in my network.  I’m used to being able to view content long after it was originally published, to bookmark content for re-use.  This Snapchat space feels a bit strange.  It’s deliberately designed to be impermanent – that’s the element which feels the most unusual to me.   Yet that appears to be the key to it’s popularity. Further, as an aid to working out loud, the impermanence could reduce the inhibition to share.

Even once I master the functionality of the app (which is fairly simple but takes a little to get used to navigation – something my daughter is finding particularly hilarious) I think it will continue to feel a bit uncomfortable for a while as I figure out what I could use it for.  That’s okay – this feeling is part of the process of trying something new.

What I’ve tried & what I’m learning

Below are a couple of examples using Snapchat stories that I uploaded from my camera roll to YouTube.

A daily journal – keeping a record of what I do in a day:

Working out loud about a project (before I knew I could edit out individual images – so there is some irrelevant content in this one):

I’ve tried mixing content from my work and personal life into my stories.  I’m being quite selective with what I share from my personal life.  There is a lot that I cannot share in images and videos from my working life because it contains organisation specific content that it may not be appropriate to share publicly.  There have also been some important things that happened this week that I could not include in the journal style video (first example above) due to individual confidentiality.  So, using Snapchat as a daily journal would result in an incomplete record due to the constraint of all content is public.  This is an issue common to many other social media tools.

The short duration of the videos is forcing me to be succinct.  I have 10 seconds to get a point or key message across Given I am experimenting with vlogging as part of the 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge this is helping me to become more concise in my vlogs.

I have only viewed stories of three other people.  From my daughter I am learning about making things look a bit funkier and modern.  She is not very upbeat about my potential, telling me my stories are ‘boring’.  Helen Blunden and DrCameronJones both work out loud on Snapchat and tell their stories in an interesting way.  I am using them as role models e.g. stringing together a series of short videos to explain an idea more fully, and drawing or jotting thoughts on paper and using them as an aid to explain key posts in a video.

Given how quick it is to capture my working process in Snapchat (as per the second example above) I found it an easy way to work out loud as I worked.  Being able to download content for re-use in new stories and inclusion in more permanent working out loud video posts is an essential feature for me.  It means that I can separate out content about different projects or activities after downloading and remix in more coherent ways.  The short video format feels very fresh to me.

I have not yet tried to use Snapchat as a networking tool – to find new people and connect with them.  Helen has told me she is finding it very useful for connecting with others, particularly those outside of her own field.  I’m curious about this.

Part of my challenge may be that I’m trying to use Snapchat for things I already do using other platforms, that I’m treating it like other platforms.  The impermanence is the distinguishing characteristic of this platform – I feel like I can be more casual here, and share without too much effort or polishing.

What I’ll do next

I’m going to:

  1. Keep narrating my Community of Practice toolkit development on Snapchat with the intent of remixing and reusing the content.  It will be an experiment in Working Out Loud using Snapchat.
  2. Figure out how to use the ‘Memories’ functionality to reuse and edit content.
  3. Follow more people and watch how they use Snapchat.  Observe closely and learn (i.e. I’ll be ‘lurking).  Look for the use cases.
  4. Try using it to connect with people – to leave comments on their content and chat with them (one on one of course).

To help with 3 and 4 on this list I’ve followed everyone that Helen has identified as people who show their work on Snapchat.

It still feels strange, and remain willing to walk away from Snapchat – but I’m not done exploring yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#ATD2016 My Post-Conference Insights

I attended the Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition (ATDICE) in Denver 23– 25 May 2016.  On the day after the conference I made a short video to share key insights I gained from some of the sessions I attended. Video is below, followed by (slightly polished-up) transcript.

Personal Leadership

My first insights I relate to aspects of personal leadership. I attended a session called Leading with Impact and Influence by Amy Franko from Impact Instruction. Amy spoke about leading from the inside out, and not being knocked about by external circumstances, or letting them dictate how you show up.  She spoke about creating your own leadership path to create a ripple effect on others in order to have impact, influence, and provide inspiration. She shared research from the Centre for Creative Leadership that identified key future leadership skills:

  1. Communicator
  2. Collaborator
  3. Agile learner
  4. Multi-Cultural Awareness
  5. Strategic Thinker
  6. Self-motivated
  7. Adaptable
  8. Social

I really liked the tips for building resilience. These include:

  • having a sense of purpose,
  • developing a strong network
  • self-care,
  • asking ‘What can I do right now?’
  • reframing
  • having a gratitude practice.

View my notes on Amy’s session.

Thought Leadership

Another session I’ve got a lot out of for myself was on Stepping Into Thought leadership. The session was presented by two very dynamic people – Alexia Vernon and Halelly Azulay. Before they went into different thought leadership they talked about what thought leadership is. They suggested that you don’t need to carve out a completely original area of thinking or an original idea; rather it’s about bringing your original voice and perspective to the topic to articulate what you want to say about it. They provided questions to help you uncover your focus area of thought leadership.  They also stressed the role of building strong networks to help build thought leadership.

Thought Leadership Secret Sauce

Then they went through a stack of different though leadership activities in the areas of:

  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Service
  • Media
  • Hosting
  • Online Training

Their presentation was well laid out and I’ve captured key points in these notes.

Brave Leadership

Sticking with the theme of leadership, there is no way I couldn’t mention the amazing keynote by Brene Brown. Many people will have seen her TEDTalk on vulnerability. She was a fabulous speaker, very authentic, and spoke to her topic really well. It’s a topic that can be quite raw and I had a feeling she was reaching out directly to my heart and talking about topics relevant to my personal life around thing such as vulnerability and trust, and also that she was speaking to my head in organisational context around bringing trust into the workplace. She suggested that leaders have to make a choice as between comfort and courage. It takes courage to do the essential work of being a leader – which is to go to places that others may not want to go to, places around emotion and behaviour. She spoke about the four pillars of courage:

  • Vulnerability
  • clarity of values
  • trust
  • rising skills, which is about how to get back up after a fall.

She really made me want to embrace life, to live a bigger life and to be the very best leader that I possibly can.  I’m definitely a Brene Brown fan girl now.

View my notes about this session.

Science of Learning

I went to the ATD Science of Learning Community of Practice panel.  Four speakers each spoke about a different aspect science of learning.

Paul Zak , Chief Research Officer at Olfactor, talked about trust as the basis for effective culture.  He shared interesting research which uses oxytocin as a signalling mechanism for trust.

Sebastian Bailey is a psychologist with a PhD in learning transfer. He’s used his research to develop a model for supporting learning with bite-size methodology. He has founded Mind Gym.

Patti Shank PhD and is president of Learning Peak challenged the use of the term ‘neuro-‘ anything. When someone claims that a product or approach is backed by neuroscience she suggested that you need to be wary as we haven’t learnt much about learning from neuroscience. However we have learned a lot from cognitive science and we should be paying bit more attention to that and applying it.

Will Thalheimer is a PhD, consultant and research translator. He spoke about ways of improving smile sheets, which I’m sure anyone working in an organisational training context could benefit from looking at.

View my notes on this session.

Benchmarking

TM BenchmarkThe next area I was really interested in here was benchmarking and Data. I had a great conversation with Laura Overton of Towards Maturity who specialise in benchmarking and research on organisational learning. We discussed their benchmarking tool which is open at the moment. I strongly encourage workplace learning practitioners to complete the benchmark. I’ve recently done that and it’s giving me some good data to look at where my organisation sits compared to the benchmark in a range of elements of learning strategy and practices, and helped me to start identifying areas for improvement. Here’s a link to the benchmark .

Laura also presented with Peter Casebow from Good Practice about improving how managers learn using an evidence-based approach. The Towards Maturity data shows that only 30% of learning professionals understand how their people learn. Good Practice has done research with 500 managers on how they deal with unfamiliar challenges. It turns out that access trumps the perceived effectiveness of method for finding answers and solutions. People will use the easiest way to access information, even if they know they may not be using the best quality information. Lack of access and lack of relevance of content were highlighted as barriers to people using their intranet to help solve problems.

Practical Uses of Social Media for Formal Learning

The final session I wanted to mention here is from the super-energetic Dan Steer who had us cheering along at the right times. It was on practical uses of social media in formal training. His objective was to ensure that everybody left with something practical that they could put into action immediately to improve the formal training – and he delivered. He provided some basic principles around only doing in the room what need to do, and thinking about using social media tools to do other things that don’t need to be done in the room. He also suggested you need to think about the type of activity you are doing, the objectives of the activity and identify the best motivating and most useful tool.

One tool I learned about that session which I will definitely be looking to use is Ginkgo, which is a collaborative note-taking tool. What is awesome is that you can download the collaborative notes into a MS Word format and make that available as a readily accessible recap afterwards.

View my session notes – or go straight to the source and view Dan’s materials and additional resources.

Thank You ATD

ATD Michelle

The other thing I wanted to do is to thank ATD. 10,000 people, huge conference venue, amazing organisation. ATD did a great job at every single aspect of the organisation, and as a speaker I really appreciated the opportunity to be here and share a case study. I don’t know that I’ll be back every year it is a long trip from Australia but I’m certainly planning on being back in two years . I will be blogging and sharing more of my notes from sessions over the next couple of weeks so lookout on my blog for more insights

 

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Lists that will help you make the most from a Conference

My practices for getting the most out of attending a conference include making the lists outlined below.  As you read this post think about your tips for generating these lists.  What other lists do you find helpful?  Please share your replies in comments below this post.

In summary the lists are:

Make or start before the Conference:

  • Goals
  • People
  • Sessions
  • Exhibitors

Make during or shortly after the conference:

  • Key Takeaways / Insights
  • Actions
  • Relationship Follow Ups
  • Resources

Lists to make or start before the Conference

Goals

Complete this list before the conference begins.  Ask yourself: “Why am I going to this conference?  What do I want to get out of this conference?”

This list could include a general theme you will use to orient your activities at the conference, e.g. Collaboration, Strategy, Leadership, Science of Learning, Technology, Thought Leadership.  For theme ideas consider your professional development plan / direction, work projects, topics you’ve been reading about recently, a recent or upcoming challenge / opportunity.

Include more specific outcomes, for example:

  • To get ideas for enabling informal learning in my organisation
  • To improve learning evaluation in my organisation
  • To use learning science to improve learning strategy in my organisation
  • To identify next steps in building my thought leadership
  • To meet people with experience in XYZ

List a maximum of three specific outcomes to help you to focus.

People

Ask yourself:   “Why do I want to interact with people at this conference?  Who do do I want to meet or interact with?”

Start this list before the conference.  Think about your WHY first – consider the following:

  • Your conference goals – who or what type of people are relevant to these goals?
  • Your professional network – are there gaps you’d like to fill or people you’d like to renew or strengthen your relationship with?
  • Is there something you are involved with that you’d like to promote or advocate?
  • If you Work Out Loud, look at your relationship list .
  • What contribution(s) would you like to make to others at the conference?

Enjoying yourself and having a little fun is a good reason to interact too!

Be selective when making your list as you are unlikely to be able to interact meaningfully with everyone who is there.  Use your WHY to develop and then prioritise your list if it is long.

Look at the conference website and program to view speakers / facilitators, organisers, advisory committee members, sponsors and exhibitors.  Find out who is coming to the conference.  Contact people in your network and ask if they are attending or know anyone who is.  Do a Twitter search on the conference hashtag to see who is using it.  Check the Twitter account of the conference hosts / organisers and subscribe to their Twitter list for the conference, or start your own event Twitter list.

What other ideas do you have for finding out who is going to the conference?

In addition to listing specific individuals, think about what ‘type’ of people you would like to meet.  For example, people who:

  • Have a specific skill or type of experience
  • work in a certain type of role, industry or organisation
  • come from a specific country, region or city
  • Have similar conference goals to you
  • are in a certain age bracket
  • are in a different profession to you
  • are different to you in some way
  • write blogs or articles

Update your list during the conference as you discover new people, get insights from sessions and discussions, and referrals from other attendees.

Sessions

Look at the conference program and pick what sessions you want to attend. Often exhibitors present informal sessions about their area of expertise or products and services, so look at these too.  Assess relevance of sessions to your goals and whether they sound appealing to you.  Read session descriptions and speaker biographies in the program or conference website.  Search online for content that the speaker has created (e.g. articles, videos), interviews with them or information about their work.

Identify sessions relevant to your goals, or being presented by people that you’d like to interact with or learn from.  If there are a lot of concurrent breakout sessions that you are interested in find out if any of them are being recorded so that you can view them after the conference.  If you are attending the conference with colleagues or people in your network you could go to different breakout sessions and discuss sessions / share notes with them afterwards.

Consider attending at least one session that is on a topic outside of your normal field of interest – to be open to serendipity and the opportunity to learn something new.

Be flexible during the conference.  You may get new information or an insight which changes your session choices.  If you are in a session and not getting what you need from it then it’s okay to leave.  Use the time to try another session, speak to exhibitors or meet with people.

Exhibitors

Exhibitors help cover conference costs, so it’s good form to spend some time in the exhibition area.  There may be some overlap with your People list, and the factors impacting which exhibitors you visit are similar to the People list.  Think about what types of services or products you’d like to learn about to figure out which exhibitors to visit and what you’d like to achieve.  This could range from simply thanking sponsors to a brief conversation and collecting literature or a product demonstration.

You could make an initial Exhibitors list before or at the start of the conference – whenever you have access to information on Exhibitors.  At a large conference, walk right around the exhibition area and identify which booths you’d like to return to.  You may need to prioritise this list.

Lists to make during or shortly after the Conference

Key Takeaways / Insights

Look through your session notes and identify a short list of key takeaways or insights from each session.  See my post from Enterprise Collaboration TechFest for an example of what this might look like.  You can do the same for your interactions with people and visits to exhibitors, as well as personal reflections on specific or overall experiences at the conference.

Putting these all into a single location helps you to synthesise what you heard and discussed in order to identify key themes or recurring ideas you picked up at the conference.  It also makes it easy to review what you learned at a conference at a later point.

Actions

Definitely start this list at the conference while things are fresh in your mind.  Make a list of all actions you are considering taking as a result of your conference experiences.  Get it all down.  Think of it as a someday/maybe list.  Use whatever tool or system works for you – paper or electronic.  After the conference read through your list and highlight anything you are committing to do.  Look at your goals list before you do this to provide context.  Move highlighted items to your regular action / to do list – then get on with it.

As an extension activity set up a learning transfer buddy agreement with someone at the conference.  This is a great idea I picked up from Emma Weber of Lever – Transfer of Learning.  I’ll update this post with a link to details of how to set up your agreement so you make maximum progress.

Relationship Follow Ups

Developing your network is a key benefit of attending a conference.  Relationship follow ups are a special set of actions which warrant a separate list.  You can include both specific actions you are committed to doing as well as possible future connections and contributions you could make to a person.

Again, start this list at the conference, especially if you make specific promises to anyone.  Write down the name of the person, follow up action and target date. Ensure you have their contact details or know where to find them online.  Add them to your online network as you go by sending them a LinkedIn invitation or following them on Twitter – or do this shortly after the conference if you prefer.

Make brief notes about who you meet and interact with, including valuable informal discussions.  You could write key points on business cards.  Look through your notes after the conference and add to your follow up list.

Resources

Make a list of resources that speakers mention which sound interesting and potentially useful.  This will include books, articles, other publications, videos, podcasts, websites, organisations or associations, and tools.  Add suggestions from exhibitors and other attendees.

Speakers sometimes provide access to additional resources via a hyperlink or email address. Even if you access these resources on the spot it can be helpful to add these to your consolidated resources list for future reference.

Where to make your lists

In a nutshell, wherever and however it suits you.  You may have existing systems you use rather than making standalone lists.  For example:

  • Write goals in your electronic journal – I keep mine on Evernote.
  • Create a Twitter list for people and exhibitors.
  • Tweet key insights then use Storify to collate them.
  • Add actions straight into your ‘to do’ software/app with a category or tag for the conference so you can sort and review them later.
  • Curate resources straight to a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo or Pearltrees

There’s always an old-fashioned notebook or index cards.  Whatever approach you use, make it convenient and efficient for you to use.

Over to you

What are your tips for these lists?  Are there other lists you like to make before, during or after a conference?

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Promoting Twitter for Professional Development – approaches and resources

Jane Hart runs an annual online survey of learning professionals to identify the Top 100 Tools for Learning.  Twitter has been voted as the No. 1 tool in this survey for the past seven years.  In the past two years it has transformed my professional development, and I take every opportunity to encourage others in my organisation and profession to use Twitter.

Twitter Top 100.jpg

In this post I share some approaches and resources that I have used to help others to get started with Twitter.  I have run informal group sessions inside my organisation, and a pre-Conference ‘learning lounge’ at the 2016 Australian Institute of Training and Development Conference.   Recently I’ve included resources on why and how to use Twitter in a self-directed micro-learning program created to build digital and network skills and habits in my organisation.  Additionally, on-the-spot opportunities frequently arise to discuss Twitter and show people how to get started.

Explain the Why

To the uninitiated, Twitter, along with other social media platforms, can appear to be a place where people go for gossip, celebrities and cat videos – in short, a waste of time.  This is why it’s important to focus on the WHY and bust some myths before moving to the HOW to use Twitter. This is as true for group presentations as it is for spontaneous discussions.  Helen Blunden of Activate Learning Solutions discusses this more fully in her blog post How Do You Start Out in Twitter? Find the Why First.

One Hour Customised Workshop

I ran my first one hour Twitter workshop as part of a ‘lunch and learn’ professional development series in early 2015.  I searched for existing resources and found Helen Blunden’s post on How to Promote Twitter for Professional Development to Your Colleagues.  I downloaded her slide pack, updated it to reflect changes to the Twitter interface since her post, and customised it.  Customisation included stories of my own experience and the opportunities that had  been created actively engaging with others on Twitter and building my network.  I included Twitter profile pictures of the people involved in my stories, explaining how I had built my relationship with them and the way we had collaborated.  This was the most powerful part of my presentation as it illustrated the spirit of generosity and reciprocity that can be generated in online networks over time.  I could see the light bulbs going on for people.  I also identified Twitter accounts relevant to my audience so I could suggest useful people and organisations for them to follow.

See Helen’s post for tips on how to promote and attract people to your event.

During the session I moved between the PowerPoint material, demonstrating things on my laptop, and supporting people to try things out on their laptop or devices. I had another experienced Twitter user present to help support people – it’s important to have enough support to get people hands-on during the session.

You can view my presentation below and download it to update and customise it if you would like to use it.  If you compare it to Helen’s presentation you’ll see where I have re-used versus customised content.

Half Hour Pre-Event Demonstration

The AITD invited me to run an informal 30 minute ‘learning lounge’ on the morning of Day One of their 2016 conference.  The intent was to encourage and equip attendees to join in the conversation on the backchannel.  What a great initiative!  Instead of just telling conference-goers that they should use Twitter, it equips them to get started and gives them an active conversation to join in so they can see benefits immediately.

I was unsure how many people would attend a session at 8.30am prior to Conference kick off.  The session had been included on the conference agenda, and one of the AITD team told me that whenever they responded to a query about the conference they had encouraged people to come along.  They must have done a good job at this – there was around 80-100 people at the session!  I checked existing Twitter experience with the group and what they hoped to get from the session.  It was great to see some active users who had come to support those new to Twitter.  Others had signed up several years prior, but not known how to use the platform effectively.  Several people did not yet have accounts.  So, a mixed group.

Instead of using a slide pack I demonstrated directly from my iPad which I projected using a lightning to VGA adapter (a little pricey at AUD$75, but a useful tool).  I chose to project from a mobile device rather than a laptop as attendees would be using mobile devices during the Conference.  My goal was to quickly get people comfortable enough with ways of engaging with others on Twitter (e.g posting, replying, retweeting, quoting tweets, using hashtags) that they would follow and start participating in the #AITD2016 backchannel.

You can download the session run script.  I followed it fairly closely and found that it flowed well.  I had been concerned that there wouldn’t be enough content in the backchannel before the conference had started to demonstrate some of the functionality so had asked some of my Twitter buddies to post.  It turned out there was plenty of content to use, so it was easy to demonstrate everything in the script.  I only just got through everything on the script in 30 minutes, and didn’t have time to check that novices were hands-on trying things as I demonstrated.  I did offer to provide individual help to anyone who needed it after the session, and provided a job aid for iOS mobile devices.  Note that the Twitter interface does change over time, so suggest you check this job aid (created May 2015) before reusing it.

Although not in the script some people were interested in how to use Twitter lists, so I demonstrated this in an extra five minutes at the end of the session.  Lists are a very useful filtering mechanism, although a little advanced for an introductory demonstration.

Self-Directed Learning

In my organisation we have been developing a self-directed micro-learning version of our Work Connect and Learn program.  This program aims to build digital, networking and knowledge management skills and habits.  Program ‘modules’ are shown below.

WCL Topics

Twitter is included as a topic under ‘Online Networking Tools’ in the Connect and Network module.  Justine Jardine has done a great job curating and presenting content in the program.  We’ve applied a ‘less is more’ philosophy, providing just enough commentary to introduce a topic and links to resources for people to explore independently, plus suggested activities.  (As an aside, a discussion forum is provided for people to respond to some activities and interact as they wish as they complete the program and try out new approaches and tools.)

The list of topics and links to curated resources is below, followed by the suggested activity.

WCL Twitter Activity

How About You?

Have you used any of these approaches to encourage and support people to get started using Twitter for professional development?  Perhaps you’ve used other approaches?  What are your observations and tips?  Please leave a comment in reply.

 

 

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Hosting a Post-Conference Blab – What I Learned

blab logoBlab is a live video streaming tool with chat box / Instant Messaging.  I hosted my first blab on 15 March 2016 – here’s link to the recording.  I was inspired to do this by an article in February’s ‘Training and Development,’ magazine, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD).  I read the article en-route to Enterprise Collaboration TechFest in Melbourne (29 Feb – 1 Mar).  The author, Helen Blunden, provided suggestions for How to Work Out Loud at a Conference.  Although hosting a blab wasn’t one of her suggestions I’d been looking for a good reason to do this, and could see that it would provide an opportunity to continue the conversation started at TechFest.  I scheduled the blab almost on a whim when I arrived at the conference, and then had to figure out how to make it work.

I hosted a 30 minute to get confident with the tool.  A few friends who had hosted blabs before joined this session.  This was a good move. The tool is easy to use and an Internet search will yield plenty of ‘how-to’ advice.  The hands-on practice allowed me to focus on content rather than mechanics at the real event.

What I learned and some tips

Using the Blab tool

Blab is an easy tool to use.  Search for ‘how-to‘ guides online and run a practice session before your first real event.

I am a Mac user.  I wasn’t able to run blab in my Safari browser (perhaps it can be done, but I couldn’t figure it out).  I used Chrome instead and it worked well.

You can add a custom image to your scheduled blab to help promote it.  I didn’t know this at first and hated seeing my profile photo every time I Tweeted about the blab.  Once I added a custom image I was more confident to promote the blab.  I also felt that the image reflected the topic and could attract people to the blab.

Remember to record your blab.  One of the attendees reminded me 20 minutes after the start of the session.  The next morning I went to a breakfast event where someone told me they had been listening to the recording that morning.  (That blew me away!)  I have since reviewed the recording both to recap content and to reflect on what I would do differently next time.

blab1

 

Hosting a Blab as a post-conference activity

Before you schedule your blab ask the Conference organisers if they would be willing to promote it, and check conference hashtag.

Schedule your blab before the Conference starts so that you can promote it during the Conference.

Include the conference hashtag in the blab title.

Consider multiple time zones when you schedule your blab.

Allow 3-7 days between the conference and your blab so conference attendees can travel home and word of your blab has time to spread .

Promote the blab via social media and word of mouth during and after the conference.  Use the conference hashtag and hashtags relevant to themes and topics discussed at the conference.

Use a mix of general social media posts to promote your blab and targeted posts where you @mention people to invite them.  Target conference speakers and organisers, people active in the conference backchannel, and thought leaders in relevant fields.  Even if they don’t attend they may promote the blab.

Invite speakers to join the blab.  Sharon O’Dea joined mine and it made a lot of difference to have her take part in the conversation.

Within a couple of days on the Conference publish a blog post summarising Conference themes and your takeaways.  Curate links to content published by others about the Conference.  Promote the blab on your post.

Write generic reusable questions to use in your post-conference blab. (Tip – you could answer these in your post-conference blog) Examples of questions:

  • ‘What do you think the key themes of the conference were?’
  • ‘What is the most valuable idea or tip you picked up at the conference?’
  • ‘What’s one thing you will do (or do differently) as a result of attending this conference?’

Write conference-specific questions to generate discussion in your blab.  Refer to your notes about panels, questions from the audience, or questions you had written during the conference for ideas.

blab2

 

Your Ideas?

What other tips or ideas do you have for hosting a post-conference blog?  Please post your thoughts in the comments box.

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