Archive for category SLPP
Two skills covered in both the Modern Workplace Learning’s Social Learning Practitioner Program and Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Management in 40 Days are advanced online search techniques and validation of online content. One quick peek at the internet in real time to watch the mind-boggling rate at which content on the internet is growing confirms the value of these skills.
The Purpose of my Search
At one level the purpose of my search was to try out new search skills. However, I needed to look for something specific so decided to search for resources that would help middle managers to identify what actions they could take to effectively develop their team members. Given that my organisation uses the 702010 framework for learning I started by searching for resources about how they could use 702010 approaches.
Searching Using Google
I used Google as my search engine and started with a broad term which I gradually refined to see how it would impact the number of results. As shown in the table below, simply adding one word at a time to the search string reduced the number of results to 1% of the starting point within 3 search iterations. However, over 3,000 search results was still a large number.
I realised that the search term “702010 for middle managers” would include resources about how middle management skills could be developed, which didn’t fit the purpose of my search. I wanted to shift the emphasis to the role of middle managers in using or implementing 702010, so searched the term: middle manager role in 702010 implementation. While this may have shifted the emphasis, it didn’t reduce the search results.
In Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014 Guidebook I read that Google ignores common words like ‘the’ ‘an’ ‘in’, but will include them in a search if you add a ‘+’ before each one. My next search was on the term: middle manager role +in 702010 implementation. This significantly reduced the search results to just 6. Oddly, none were relevant. They were mostly about strategy implementation.
Jane’s next tip was to use quotation marks to use a phrase string to search for an exact phrase rather than just the occurrence of the words entered. I searched on “middle manager role” +in “702010 implementation” and received just 3 results. While one of these was relevant and included a list of ideas for activities that could be used to develop people through experience and exposure, it was not written for my target audience. Perhaps I had been too specific in my search. I changed tack again and searched on “702010 outline” +for “middle managers”. Interestingly, while Google found no search results for this term it automatically searched without the quotation marks and brought back 9 results.
The second item, 50 suggestions for implementing 702010 (5), was a blog post by Jay Cross, an authoritative source on this topic. The post referred to quantitative research by the Corporate Leadership Council that identified three management practices that significantly improved performance. I had seen this research quoted in more detail previously and recalled it contained useful information.
Google Advanced Search
Before I move on to validating content, it is worth noting that the Google Advanced Search page could have been a quicker alternative to constructing powerful searches. However, it was valuable to learn the mechanics of refining searches by going through the manual exercise described above.
Validating Online Content
While Jay Cross is a credible source on informal learning and 702010 I wanted more detail so followed a hyperlink from his post that I thought would take me to the original research. While it was a document from the research organisation, it did not contain the referenced research. At this point it became more important to me to validate the content, ensuring that it was accurate, authoritative and current.
Searching on the report title led me to three further secondary sources quoting the research including Charles Jennings and the 702010 Forum. I now had three sources I knew to be authoritative discussing the research conclusions consistently, and two sources providing the same detailed findings. Even so, I wanted to increase my confidence that the content had been interpreted / reported accurately so added the name of the research organisation to the report title in the search. While unable to access the full report I did find a presentation by the Corporate Leadership Council with enough information to cross-check the secondary sources.
So, although I couldn’t access the ‘members only’ original report from the Corporate Leadership Council, I was satisfied with the validity of the data available from other sources and had enough detail to effectively communicate with middle managers about what they could do to effectively improve performance of their team members.
Last November I set up some Google alerts in order to receive automated updates on the latest internet search results on topics that I’m interested in. It distills the results from the first 20 or so pages of its search engine results and sends you an alert. Rather than receive results by email, I set my alerts up as an RSS Feed into Feedly by following the instructions at How to Curate Content With Feedly and Google Alerts . (For those unfamiliar with RSS Feeds, refer to this article for a straightforward explanation.)
A scan of the alerts that I set up shows that I’ve used alternative terms with minor variations to increase the range of search results. You’ll also notice the use of quotation marks around phrases to ensure that results only include items that use the full term,not the indivudal words spread out throughout an article. (Here’s more tips on setting up Google alerts.)
Automating searching allows me to be fed new articles and information on topics I’m interested in. So long as I am reading on Feedly a couple of times a week it is a reliable way to be pushed new content without having to make the effort to do manual searches.
Reading Alert results helps me to stay abreast of industry trends and developments. It supplements the content that the “human filters” in my online Personal Learning Network feed me through Twitter, LinkedIn and the blogs that I follow. It also allows me to increase my value and contribution to my networks by sharing content that may not already be in circulaton in those networks.
Google Alerts have been a valuable addition to my Personal Knowledge Mangement toolkit.
In January I participated in a #PKMChat Twitter chat on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) Routines. After the chat I considered my mixed progress against the goals I had set 9 months previously, and observed that I didn’t have a routine. This prompted me to document me a weekly routine incorporating some of the tips from the chat. I tracked my habits using the Way Of Life app to gather data so I could refine my routine.
After two weeks of data gathering I also reviewed my professional network and set goals for the coming year which will help me to purposefully and consciously develop my network. I realised that in the past year most of my network development had occurred as a result of my online PKM activities. However, there are other activities required to achieve my networking goals.
I updated my weekly routine to incorporate both PKM and focussed Networking activities. You can review the complete routine at this link. While it looks like a heavy investment of time every week 5 hours is time I am sitting on public transport and many of my daytime activities are integrated with my work. This reduces the ‘extra’ time that I am investing in sense-making, content development and network maintenance – activities which I find require longer, quiet periods of concentration.
Key activities I’ve incorporated on a weekly basis (and updated in Way of Life) include:
– Twitter – favouriting, replying, posting, sharing links and resources
– Twitter Chats – attend 1-2 per week; review others – specific chats included in routine (here is link to a Twitter Chat directory)
– Reading & bookmarking (using diigo)- blogs & google alerts (via Feedly), Twitter favourites
– Enterprise Social Network (ESN) – liking, replying, posting, sharing links and resources, blogging
– LinkedIn – reading posts, contacting/contributing to others, finding new connections
– Sense-making & sharing – reflecting, writing, visual content & developing presentations (key tools – Evernote, WordPress blog, Storify, mind maps, Sketchnotes (maybe – will start learning this in April), Powerpoint, Slideshare)
– Completing courses – mostly online
– Face to face networking – both inside & outside my own organisation
– Relationship list upkeep – this is a list of people I am interacting with to support achievement of an important goal and the contributions I am making to them (it’s an approach I’ve picked up from John Stepper’s Working Out Loud book)
– Network maintenance & development – review some of my connections and their networks, update connections, interact with new connections, analyse engagement with content I’ve shared
Each quarter I shall review progress against my PKM & Networking goals, and analyse my network. This will be an iterative activity which shall build upon my weekly networking maintenance and allow me to fine tune my routines and specific focus areas.
Your Activities & Routines?
Are there other PKM or networking activities that you perform regularly? Please share by replying to this post.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
– 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.