Archive for category PLN

A Few of My Favourite Blogs

feedly logo

I subscribe to a range of blogs using Feedly as my RSS Reader.  This makes it easier to keep up to date with industry blogs and reduces email clutter.  I currently have 488 unread Google alerts and 211 unread blog posts in Feedly. I could do better with regularly checking and reading my subscribed feeds.  I tend to Feedly categoriesfocus on a small number of my favourite blogs.  Here I reflect on what I enjoy about three of these.

Harold Jarche

Over 10 years of blogging Harold Jarche has published 2,650 posts. Two themes I enjoy are Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and networked working and learning .  He continually evolves his thinking on topics, reusing, updating and refining content.  I like his approach of writing primarily for himself.  If others find value in his work then that’s a bonus.  I use this as a model for my own writing.  It reduces the pressure , and helps me to focus on learning and improving my practices.  While not quite stream of consciousness, I can see his thinking and work developing over time.   He has compiled his “best posts” into two e-books.  I’ve read the first, Seeking Perpetual Beta, which he Perpetual Betadescribes as “a cohesive narrative that covers learning, working, and managing in the emerging network era”.  While he writes clearly I sometimes feel too trapped by my paradigms to see how to apply his vision of the future of work in my world.  His thinking stretches me and motivates me to question the status quo.  His practical guidance on personal and organisational knowledge management is valuable.  I completed his PKM in 40 days program in 2014.  This gave me skills to filter relevant information and make sense of it.  His model of “How Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) add Value” is a useful framework.  It has helped me speak with people in my business about why and how we can better use our ESN.  I look to Harold as a pathfinder, helping me to find different ways of working and learning.

Helen Blunden

Helen and me working together - after I got to know her through her blog

Helen (on right) and me working together – after I got to know her through her blog

Helen Blunden writes on her business blog, Activate Learning Solutions.  While not as prolific as Harold she does write often – 13 posts in first 2 months of 2015.  Helen writes about modern learning approaches, her networking activities and working experiences.  I most enjoy the case studies where she describes programs she has developed and how she worked.  Her social on-boarding case study is a good example.  The open, detailed way she writes gave me a good sense of who she is and her professional approach.  Helen is inquisitive, interested in others, seeks to understand the business environment and people, designs practical solutions to improve performance and results, and has an eye for detail. After several months of reading Helen’s blog and connecting with her online I met her briefly at a conference in mid 2014.  Face-to-face she was consistent with her online persona.  I felt that I knew her well from our online interaction and portfolio on her blog.  I did not hesitate to engage her to help develop a Community of Practice.

Sacha Chua

Sacha chua

Finally, the blog I get the most pure pleasure in reading is Sacha Chua’s Living An Awesome Life.  Sacha is in the midst of a five year semi-retirement experiment that she started in her late 20s.  I admire her courage and resourcefulness in making this happen.  The way she thinks is fascinating.  She is an astute observer who asks interesting questions, breaks down a topic into smaller pieces to analyse and develop  insights, and provides helpful visual summaries (sketchnotes).  Her writing is simultaneously intensely personal and broadly relevant – as exemplified by her recent post on common goals.  Her blog is a place to think and learn.  She posts almost daily, and she has written over 7,000 posts in 14 years.  Her motivation, originality, openness and willingness to share are inspiring.  She makes me want to live a better quality self-directed life.

You can imagine my delight when I recently saw a video of Sacha and Harold discussing blogging and PKM on YouTube.  The two take very different approaches to developing their thinking and managing their blogs.

What are your favourite blogs and why? 

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My Professional Network Review

It’s been almost twelve months since I reviewed my professional network, so it was timely to look at it again. Once again I’ve used Mark McNeilly’s article Ask These Questions About Your Professional Network Before It’s Too Late to guide my review.  I also used Twitter Analytics and the free network visualisation tools TweepsMap to look at my Twitter network and socilab to look at my LinkedIn network.

Twitter

In this time my Twitter network has grown substantially, with an increase in followers from 45 to 615, and I am now following 450 people.  I have been looking for a Twitter analytics tools that will help me to look at who I FOLLOW, rather than my followers.  I haven’t yet found a tool that does summary level data aggregation on this.  Knowing about who follows me and what people find valuable in what I share is useful. However, I also need to know about those I have selected to learn from and seek to create possibilities with – the people I follow.  So, by default I’ve looked at the analytics about my followers (approximately 2/3 of whom i follow) to consider this question, along with scrolling through my Following list.

My Twitter network has grown largely as a consequence of my Personal Knowledge Management and professional development activities, which use a number of online tools and communities plus face-to-face conferences and real-world work activities.  As such, there are a lot of people in this part of my network from the Learning & Development profession, plus others who have an interest in social learning and communities.  Geographically, my international network is predominantly in Australia, USA and UK as shown on the TweepsMap below. Given Australia’s business ties with Asia this is an area where I would like to grow my network.  In Australia my network is concentrated in Sydney; I would like to grow my network in other areas, especially Melbourne and Brisbane.

TweepsMap 2015Feb

LinkedIn

A year ago I said I would start sharing and learning through LinkedIn.  I haven’t done this often, nor purposefully.  I have found blogging, Twitter Chats, conference presenting, MeetUps, and using Feedly to aggregate blog posts and Google Alerts powerful ways to learn.  I’m unsure whether actively using LinkedIn would create adequate incremental learning value.  Having said that, I have recently noticed an increase in posts on topics relevant to me on LinkedIn so am not completely closed to the notion.

My number of LinkedIn connections has increased by approximately 25% to 630 in the past year.  Mostly others have invited me to connect.  I’ve accepted those connections where either I knew the person or felt based on their profile there was some common interest.  Socilab generated the visual image of my LinkedIn network shown below (I selected ‘hide names’ so I could share the map, but did look at names on the image to understand the clusters and identify ‘bridges’ and outliers).

Socilab LinkedIn Map 2015Feb

The map shows data for 499 of my 1st and 2nd degree connections.  It includes links between those who are connected to each other.  The clusters represent groups of people I know through roles in specific organisations (4 clusters), Learning & Development (L&D) professionals (1 cluster), and a non-work club (1 cluster).  With the exception of the L&D cluster and the club, the bulk of my LinkedIn connections are people I have worked with in the past.  As such they are concentrated in a small number of industries and professions, and mostly in Australia. My LinkedIn network is thus relatively ‘closed’ and lacking in diversity.  The outliers represent potential diversity opportunities and warrant exploration, as do the bridges between clusters who are people who are potentially good connectors.

“Real World” Network

My ‘real world’ network are those people I spend time with face to face or currently work with in my job.  Outside my organisational boundaries the people in my real world network tend to also be in my online network, but are located in, or have visited, Sydney or Melbourne.  Within my organisation my network within my business unit is strong, and includes most of the managers and Subject Matter Experts around Australia, who are key stakeholders.  It also includes a small group of people in our Indonesian operations, whom we supported to implement technical training in 2014.  With the exception of people in Human Resources and Information Systems whom I have worked with on specific initiatives, my network outside of my business unit is small and weak.

Depth and Quality of Relationships

My network is deepest with those who I have had to collaborate most closely to deliver specific outcomes, and with those who share common interests that are related to my goals.  This is a much smaller number than the total size of my network.  I am comfortable to have differing degrees of intimacy and connection with those in my network.  However, I have not been deliberate in identifying relationships with the most potential to create possibilities and opportunity for both myself and others.  I’ve recently been participating in a Working Out Loud Circle. In the Circle Kits and his soon to be published book, John Stepper suggests the use of a relationship list – a short list of people who could support you to achieve a goal and to whom you could contribute.  My experience using this approach is that it helps me to deepen key relationships within my network in a genuine and purposeful way.

My Network Development Goals

I shall PURPOSEFULLY and CONSCIOUSLY develop my network.  My goal is to build a network which accelerates my learning, helps me achieve my goals, and creates opportunities in areas that I am most interested in for myself and those with whom I am connected.  I intend to act with a spirit of contribution within my network.

In the coming year I will:

– Connect with more people in Asia, Melbourne & Brisbane

– Increase connections and sharing with those with an interest in Community building, especially Communities of Practice (COP), and those in industries where COPs are most commonly used (am thinking Professional Services and Consulting)

– Expand and deepen connections with people in Supply Chain roles and FMCG

– Prune some of my online connections to help me focus on those which create higher mutual value

– Maintain relationship lists to help me achieve goals by deepening relationships with relevant people

– Rebalance my Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and networking activities in my routine so that networking is purposeful and not just a consequence of my learning activities

– Broaden my organisational network (e.g. through cross-functional projects and voluntary activities such as the ’employee engagement’ committee)

– Do a review at least once a fortnight of my networking and PKM activities and conduct network maintenance activities.  I shall find useful tools for this purpose – will try MentionMapp, socilab and Commun.it initially

Blog post coming soon on my PKM, Networking and maintenance routine.

Please reply to this post below to share any tips you have for people seeking to improve their professional network.

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2015 Blogging Goals

Goals

My Goals for this blog in 2015 are:

  1. Complete the Social Learning Practitioner Program – write at least one blog post for each activity (by March 2015)
  2. Support completion of 702010 Practitioner Certification through the 702010 Forum
  3. Reflect on what I am doing in work and professional development, the results I am getting, and develop action plans for improvement; hold myself accountable by reviewing progress against these plans
  4. Deepen learning from other activities (especially conferences, webinars, Twitter chats and reading)
  5. Build and contribute to my Personal Learning Network
  6. Build a long-term archive that I can use to remember what I’m learning and see differences over time (my thanks to Sacha Chua for this goal – it’s from “A No-Excuses Guide to Blogging” which I am using as a resource to improve my blogging).

Key Topics I will focus on this year (yes, I do intend to be focussed this year…):

  • social learning
  • showing your work / working out loud
  • Communities of Practice
  • Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)

Specific Improvements I will make to my blogging:

  • shorter posts
  • more frequent posts – minimum two per month
  • visual representation of content, especially Sketchnotes and mind maps (I am a novice so expect big learning curve)
  • create and maintain outlines to sustain pipeline of blog posts

What about my SharePoint blog on the internal ESN?

To minimise duplication of effort I shall write as much as possible on my public blog and link from SharePoint where the subject matter supports organisational goals (which should be the majority of posts).

Additionally I will use Sharepoint blog to:

  • communicate internally about Supply Chain Technical Academy activities and programs (Monday Weekly Wrap / Featured Program)
  • encourage others within my organisation to show their work / work out loud ( post daily tips as a micro-learning flow)
  • acknowledge and thank others (especially, but not exclusively, through Thank You Thursday campaign)
  • share links to relevant external resources (similar to Harold Jarche’s “Friday’s Finds“)

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PLN Review and Action Plan

This week I’ve reviewed my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and created a quarterly action plan to continue PLN development.  My PLN is simply the group of people that I am connected to for the purpose of learning.

PLN Composition Review

I commenced this process by plotting my “professional” network using an activity from the Social Learning Practitioner Program, and answering the seven great questions in Mark McNeilly’s article Ask These Questions About Your Professional Network Before It’s Too Late.

My key insight from this activity is that my PLN different to my ‘professional’ network – while there is overlap, there are people who belong to only one of these groups.   I interact with the people in my PLN with the specific goal of learning through sharing resources and having discussions.

With this realisation, I asked the seven questions posed by McNeilly  again, this time just in the context of my PLN.  I concluded that while my PLN has been growing recently as I have become active on Twitter (see the graph below showing follower growth), it could be larger and more diverse.

Twitter follower growth Apr14

 

My active PLN consists largely of Learning and Development (L&D) professionals across a small number of industries.  On LinkedIn I am connected to almost 500 people, many former colleagues with a broader range of professional backgrounds and industry experience.  There are a lot of people with Supply Chain experience, which is relevant to my current role as a capability manager in a Supply Chain business unit.  However, I have not actively used LinkedIn to learn with, from and through this group of people (or any other group for that matter!).  On the plus side, my PLN includes a number of global thought leaders in my field, giving me visibility of important trends and developments.

Twitter follower profile apr14
I used Twitter Analytics for the first time to review what is currently the most active part of my PLN – my Twitter network.  The image below is an extract of some data about my 89 followers as at 11 April.  There is some diversity in location and gender.  The interests statistics confirm a bias towards L&D professionals, many of whom are in the financial services sector

I could not find similar analytics tools for an individual LinkedIn page, but a quick perusal of my connections list confirms the greater diversity in professional background and industry in this group.

Of course, there is also that part of my PLN that I am connected to in the ‘real’ world rather than the online world.  In the process of working with colleagues in my organisation there is opportunity for continuous learning.  Those that I most often interact with for the specific purpose of learning are in similar job roles to myself.  The people outside of my organisation that I make the effort to connect with in person are, again, predominantly in the L&D community.

PLN Activity Review

The things I have most commonly been doing in my PLN this year are represented in the image below.

PLN Activity Evidence

Undertaking the Social Learning Practitioner Program (SLPP) has been a big driver of my recent PLN activity.  The SLPP tasks (5 completed, 6 underway, 14 to start) have gotten me ‘kick started’ to develop, contribute and utilise my PLN actively and purposefully.

I monitor my social media feeds daily using Hootsuite, comment on posts and resources I find interesting, and occasionally have a short discussion with someone in my network.  This and participating in live tweet chats (#lrnchat, #ozlearn) has generated new connections and started building relationships. Depending on the topic, I have found these chats promote reflection and different perspectives on my professional activities and interests.  I have found them worthwhile.

I started this blog on March 8, and have posted around once per week.  I share each post on Twitter and, sometimes, on LinkedIn.  Outside of tweet chats, the activity which has generated the most engagement in my Twitter network is my post on design of a social media lesson.   I’m not sure whether this was due interest in the topic, the fact that an influencer with a large network retweeted it, or that I had shared an original resource that others may find useful – or some other reason.

This week I’ve struck a challenge on a work project, and I need to find some information to help me address it.  I’ve been able to turn to my PLN on Twitter and quickly source information and arrange discussions with people who can help me to solve this problem.

In the ‘real world’ I have attended two events this year – the Learning Cafe Unconference and a breakfast seminar on workplace learning with Charles Jennings from the 702010 Forum.  Discussions at the Unconference prompted me (finally) to get serious about developing my PLN.  By the time I attended the 702010 Forum event I was participating in the backchannel on Twitter during the event (sounds sophisticated! It feels like getting away with ‘talking in class’).  The online discussion continued after both of these events, and enabled further sharing of resources from the events and discussion of ideas and issues raised at the events.

The following digram shows how I am currently using online tools in my PLN.

PLN Tools

PLN Action Plan

Having reviewed by PLN composition and activities I then prepared a quarterly action plan.  In addition to my review I considered the following factors when preparing my plan:

PLN Considerations

My goals for this quarter are to:

  • Complete Social Learning Practitioner Program
  • Deepen relationships in existing PLN
  • Start sharing and learning through LinkedIn rather than just connecting
  • Expand network though live Twitter chats and AITD Conference
  • Utilise my PLN and PKM to support community building in my organisation

Key actions are shown in the table below, with the highest priority items in red (because I always put too many things into my plans…….).  Wish me luck! 🙂

Quarterly PLN Plan

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