Trust the Process (aka Reflections from an Unconference)

 

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Thanks to Simon Heath . Loving your work as always. x

I’m an advocate of the Unconference format. This is my third go at instigating one within the @LnDConnect community and I reckon I’m just about understanding a little of the magic that happens now.

Events like this cannot happen successfully without people creating, thinking & participating… and if you want folk to create, to reflect, to participate it is important to actively seek and carve out space and time to enable this… then get out of the way and let it breathe.

Events like this don’t happen without a facilitation team who are in service to others and to each other; a team who push experiment; who are relentlessly and genuinely curious about what is happening in their chosen field; who seek to learn themselves. In this instance the Team were (in alphabetical order) Ady Howes, Fiona McBride, Kev Wyke, Martin Couzins, Mike Collins & Sarah Storm... and me.

Here are some of my reflections ( others’ are captured at the bottom of the blog)

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The Importance of Thinking Beyond Your Bubble

 

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A few days after Paris Terrorist attacks, I’m in the pub with some friends and colleagues and I’m in conversation with someone about the attacks. Her response was very much aligned to mine, a sense of: more love/ less aggression = good response to the situation. Control, vengeance, fear = long-term scary response to the situation. We were blown away by the bravery the courage and the solidarity we saw.

But it’s where the conversation went next that stuck with me and I’m still mulling on. It was when she said everyone on Facebook agreed. Her timeline on Facebook, her Twitter feed, her news alerts all pointed to the incredible, liberal, make-love-not-war sense that she already had. And I realised, mostly mine did too.

But of course that’s bollocks. Not everyone agreed. Not everyone responded as we would like. Other Facebook feeds were doubtless awash with a counter-narrative that would have made me terrified/ want to weep.

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Feedback as a Gift?

image This post is in response to the invitation from Helen Amery to take part in a “Carnival” where different bloggers and thinkers write and post their take on a topic – in this case, feedback. You can find more posts through the #feedbackCarnival hashtag. She posed the following for consideration: Feedback would happen all the time if…..

The first time I remember anyone telling me “feedback is a gift”, I was mercilessly cynical. A gift? Always? Are. You. Serious?

I still have moments when someone helpfully decides to gift me with their insight and it feels less like a gift, more like a raid on my person… but on the whole, I try to hold to the notion that all information is information and that, mostly, to be informed is better than ignorance….mostly….

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Leaders In Learning – My Take

I spoke at the inaugural CIPD Leaders in Learning Network event in Edinburgh on Thursday. 7 minutes on The Value of a Leaders in Learning Network.
Not sure I was entirely on-topic & certainly sure I didn’t hit all of the points below, but in essence, this is what was covered.
I’m increasingly interested in the social, emotional and connected/relational elements of how we work – and how little these elements show up in our organisational planning and actually how essential these elements are.

Face to Face Professional Networks can, I feel, be stuffy and formal… I wanted to lay down alternative ideas.

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My name is Julie Drybrough – I’m Director of a Organisational Learning & Change consultancy here in Edinburgh
In many ways I’m not here because of what I do – I coach, facilitate, consult, just like thousands of other people. I’m here partly because of How I work – through networks, through Social Media, Collaboration and Partnership. I particularly work in the “learning” field. I work with methodology which values and incorporates the Social, Emotional and Relational elements of working in human systems over Process elements…. basically I don’t do gangtt charts..

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CONTEXT
In some ways, there has never been a more interesting or potentially impactful time to be working in Organisational Learning – with rapidly changing markets and political landscapes; faster access to our organisations by customers or service users & the ever-presence of Social Media, folk internally have never needed the access to structured, guided learning more.

Information is everywhere.

It has never been more important to draw peoples’ attention to the good content that will help them learn and understand how to be the best manager, leader and person that they can be.

The good news is, as Leaders in Learning – this stuff is happening on our shift & the opportunities to offer good stuff well is immense.
The slightly more nerve-wracking news is – this stuff is happening on our shift and we have some responsibilities – mainly to keep up & to learn ourselves

I have a short amount of time, what I want to do is give two examples of where we, as leaders in learning and part of this network, might just be able to make a difference in this context.

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THE L WORD
130,000 books on Amazon last night with Leadership in the title.

Not sure how much your leadership/ management development budget is.. but we throw a vast amount of cash at getting our people developed.
And it’s questionable whether our current methods work….

Here are some heroic leaders – A Super Man. A Wonder Woman and a Slightly Dark Knight

We train leadership as though it is a theory to be learned – as though it is something that happens “out there”, abstract and distant. You can be Situational Leader, an Adaptive Leader, Action-centred…..

In these models, the leader is always active – always responding & nearly always alone – no option to do nothing, observe and gather information, no option to go find out from other people what they do. This is Leadership with your Pants on the outside – no fear, no doubt, no emotion – and these are models we push in to our organisational thinking.

But for me, leadership doesn’t happen in theory – it is a practice – something we need to do everyday. It’s about being aware of yourself, your impact, your flaws and your perfections. It doesn’t happen “out there” someplace, it happens “in here, starting with us – our budding leaders need confidence, understanding of themselves – how do they cope with ambiguity, with structure, with conflict? With praise?
How do we talk to our people about the emotional, social and relational part of being in an organisation with a bunch of other people?

Networks like this one have the opportunity to let us, as the Learning function in the organisations or client systems we work in, talk about this stuff – how do we make Leadership Development real? What do we need to do to think a little differently? Who’s doing stuff that is interesting? Different?
How can we spend our budgets really wisely?

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The More Useful L Word?
It could be Love… but I’m talking about Learning
In 2014, I brought 2 Unconferences to Scotland through an online Network of Practitioners, L&D Connect.

Unconferences are premised that the people who show up have as much knowledge, experience, expertise, opinions as the normal Conference “sage on a Stage” types.

We may not have written books – but we damn sure understand what it is to successfully upskill and transfer knowledge to our people – and we can learn as much from each other as from El Guru on the podium – maybe more, because we’ve sat with each other, talked together and thought together, rather than being talked at.

This is learning in an informal space – it’s allowing conversation, connection, shared ideas, existing ideas to flow between interested and invested people. It’s not bound, but it has structure. This is the power of social, connected learning.

People left with profound insights – some left reassured, some left with wee experiments.. the point was, our thinking was shifted – challenged.. supported – and new possibilities happened – we want change in organisations – this is one way to make it happen…. Imagine if this network could do something similar?

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Networks and Connections = New Ideas
In the past 3 years, much of my thinking, my work, my contacts have developed and been challenged through a Community of Practioners I have found through Social Media – Including Andy here. This is a photo taken at Happy Start-up Camp in September year. My dear colleague Sarah Boyd and her business partner, Oli Pointer are both here –I met them through Social Media.

If I have seen further it has been by standing on the shoulders of giants… or more prosaically reading blogs or articles or going to events that challenge me to be bigger, better, faster more….

We have an opportunity, in this Network, to do some amazing work. The Scottish Leaders in Learning Network could become a hub for experiments, for new practice, for challenging discussion – the Go-To place to keep our professional learning edge sharp.

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Open/ Network/ Learn/ Share
So here’s the thing.
From one relentlessly curious learner to you all.
We are all in the same room, in the same profession, with vastly different experiences and expertise – what can we do if we are open with each other, if we share and learn form each other?
What richness could we create?
What inspiration and innovation could we take back to our organisations?

What’s the Value of Leaders in Learning?
Let’s see what we can do…

Notes from Learning Technologies ’15

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I was part of the Social Media Team for Learning Technologies in London a couple of weeks ago – many thanks to Kate Graham & the Team for the invitation.

In the spirit of Social & sharing, please pursue the links below as they take your interest.

The Speaking events

Stop in on Twitter & have a look at the #LT15UK hashtag ( not the #LTUK15 one that I was using incorrectly at times… sorry). There is a rich vein of photos, articles, blogs and information there.

First stop: Transforming learning” where Andrew Jacob & Garry Hearn gave complementary, but different stories of how they tackled the Learning Offer in their organisations.

I grappled with Tony Buzan’s Creativity on Demand session. Finding myself torn between wanting to Be Creative without boundaries and the invitation to stick to a carefully thought through process.
It led to some interesting chats on twitter, not least with the inimitable Simon Heath:
”  Creativity would have been giving all in the room a water pistol filled with paint & leaving them to get on with it”
followed by:

” Normal conference = a room full of bollocks Creative conference = a room full of Pollocks”

The session on Learning Evaluation,  where Phillip Price’s tales of setting up a brand new, fully functional Virtual Learning Academy in 4 months to address the attendance & “reach” issue he faced within the Car Franchise business he operates in, were complemented by Rafe Ball’s experiences of ROI” was interesting.

I think I got most from the end questions in the session. These led to lot of information about the Learning Academy – and the trials & advantages of introducing digital learning content through film, apps and skilled trainers (as you might expect with in a Peugeot/ Citroen sales environment, they leased the equipment over a three year period to reduce asset risk. It’s a fascinating case study – I’m not sure my Tweets fully captured it)

Perhaps one of my favourite sessions was Euan Semple’s wonderfully conversational Power of Joined up Communication session – where he covered how we can use social media, our own connections and building relationships to get to the heart of improving learning and organisational life.

If nothing else, it’s worth looking at for some of the quotes on slides & the answer to some of the questions the audience had:

How do you find the time to be on Social Media? being one of them

Beyond the Speaking Events

I’m one wee person at a big Conference – and much as I would have loved to split myself into pieces, there was lots going on that is worthwhile digging further for… especially if you are in L&D
Useful places to begin ( after checking out the hashtag)  are Kate Graham’s reflections on the Conference

https://kategraham23.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/another-year-over-at-learning-technologies-lt15uk/

and take a look at David D’Souza’s  #LTUK15 and SuperQuick Thoughts http://t.co/VZQVfwl7cT

Learning Tech has its own YouTube Channel – the volume of content on there could keep your brain busy for days… so browse and enjoy.

Giveback UK

Last, but by no means  least, it is worth every second to pay some attention to GivebackUK  a non profit organisation whose aim is to support learning in the third sector– by creating ‘Clear Lessons’, an inspirational, free video learning library, for anyone within the UK third sector.
@RosieHaighton1‘ Storify of the Launch session is here:  “GivebackUK Launch”
Go see them. If you can offer your time, your expertise or help them get funding, do so.

I’m proud to be supporting them & the launch was goosebumpingly inspiring.

Conclusions and Mullings:
I never lose a sense of privilege at being asked to attend & tweet/ blog at events. It is not a core part of fuchsiablue as a business, rather it is a joyful add-on which allows a gathering of ideas and connections – with an eye always to think about “How is this useful to my clients?” “What can be done with this thinking? How can it be shared or debated to really shift ideas and put them into action?”

Part of the joy is sharing the content and learning more widely – how far can this go? Who might read it/ see it/ think about it – beyond the event? This is why I’m such an advocate of social and digital sharing – the reach has such potential.

There is a lot in this post – which I recon is a good thing, because it shows how alive and lively all things Learning are, especially in the UK.
I believe we can make the most of that, if we are wise.

Social Media Stories

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I’m talking to the good people at East Ayrshire Council this week about the power of Social Media & how it can be used, organisationally, for good things.

I’m already talking to them about our local Planning Team who used Twitter and Facebook to generate a much much bigger attendance at public planning meetings. They ask folk to follow a hashtag on the evening of the meeting, encourage live tweeting and live-stream videos of the discussion, in the hope that they capture, understand and maybe even deal with objections to plans before things move too far along the line.

I’m talking about Sainsbury’s re-naming Tiger Bread as Giraffe Bread in 2012, based on feedback from 3 1/2 year old Lily

I’m talking about HR Em’s use of “Kitchen Facebook” & the now slightly infamous #CatFriday to encourage people over the social media wall.

I’m talking about David D’Souza’ s curation of  HR thinkers and contributors through the  Book of Blogs. ( Second Edition available here ) Continue reading

The 1,000 Day Manifesto

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Dorothy Sanders, Dean Fischer and Jonny Millar co-founded Maptia. As backpackers, they were seeking beautiful, simple ways to share and find memorable experiences of places.

In a three-handed presentation, taking us through 1,000 day of their start up, they took us on their remarkable journey from idea to launch, which took them from Durham to Chile to Seattle to Morocco; from Morocco to Switzerland to launch. They spoke of what they learned, the risks they took, the cost, at times, to their emotional well being…..

And at the core of it all was a dedication – will and a belief that sharing stories about the remarkable and beautiful planet we occupy is important.

At the end of the session , they set us a task – come up with our 1,000 day manifesto – what will we do and bring to being in the next 1,000 days.

It’s a thought provoking challenge and one I’m only just beginning to be able to articulate well, 8 days on…. I feel time may be ticking, people… but I want to give it proper consideration.

It’s a cool exercise – what would your 1,000 day manifesto be?

 

This is part of a four- blog series:

Intro: Happy Start Up Camp – Reflections

Reflection one: DreamBalls & Being Rich in Other Ways

Reflection two: The Need to Break Bread – Marketing by relationships