Bringing the L&D Connect Unconference North is an experiment.
Last January, I went to an L&D Connect Event in London. It was organised by a group of Practitioners, Freelancers and Consultants who wanted to create somewhere for Learning and Development or Organisational Development Professionals to have the time and space to discuss the issues that matter most to them and their organisations. Sukh Pabial (@sukhpabial) describes the aims and intentions perfectly here.
I was invited by David Goddin (@ChangeContinuum) part of the organising team and whose judgement I trust wholeheartedly. So I was curious.
I was at a Napier University Event at the Scottish Parliament last night – I’m alumni of Napier and it holds a special place as one of the four Universities in Edinburgh – much of the emphasis is on knowledge & research into practice – linking students with commerce & work, but with an academic underpinning. It’s a model that worked well for me when they put me on placement in HR at Russell Athletic and I was shadowed by an excellent HR professional, who really helped me see how the theory needs to be adapted and used lightly to fit with the reality of the HR Practice ( a Twitter conversation I sort of had with @HR_Cass recently about using SWOT & PESTLE lightly… anyway)
Professor Helen Francis is passionate about dialogue. Through Napier University business School and the Edinburgh Institute, she is looking to set up a cadre of practitioners that can work with big business and SME’s in Scotland to improve the quality of conversation, raise the capacity for holding difference and debate in the workplace and get a better working life for the majority of people in organisations. This is music to my ears. I attended her Professorial debut a few weeks ago where she mapped her research and thinking for the future and I got really enthused about what could be on offer here in Scotland. Helen used to tutor me when I studied my CIPD at Napier, back in the day and I have the utmost respect for her, so I sought her out at the Scottish Parliament event we attended last night.
We started talking Dialogue – what fuchsiablue is up to, what Napier & the Edinburgh Institute are up to – and we reached a conversation about David Kantor’s 4 player model of conversation ( a foundation stone in some of the work we do – much like the GROW model in Coaching or SWOT in strategy). I’m fond of the Kantor model. I like it’s simplicity, it’s fluidity…. so I’m nodding as we talk about how this can be used….
and then we reach a point in the conversation where Helen is talking about a questionnaire and tool to help measure the extent to which folk move, follow, bystand….. and how we can use this tool to analyse conversation in organisations and offer gap analysis to Boards… and I made this noise: ” nooooooooooooooooooo” and then I blushed deeply…..
here was my response ( not all spoken out)
Please? Please not another tool to measure and analyse? Not another MBTI/ Here is your box solution? Please don’t let’s keep going to Boards and pointing out the gaps? Please let’s not do this with Dialogue? My Dialogue is lively and human and contextual. My Dialogue depends on who is in the room, who speaks, who shuts up. It is dynamic and unpredictable. It is emergent and creative and connected and argumentative and edgy. As a practitioner, I want to be able to stand in front of Boards and say quite simply and categorically that you cannot measure the dynamic of a team. You can watch it and nurture it and nudge it and challenge it but you cannot quantify it.
this is about joie de vivre, je ne sais quoi, magic, chemistry – the chemical reaction you have in your body when you are angry or lit up. The chemical reaction I had in my body when I said NO and blushed to the roots of my hair at the boundary I’d overstepped.
Please? Can we just trust ourselves as human beings that we “know” intuitively, intellectually, emotionally – what is going on around us and whether that is right or wrong, with out a measuring stick or a sodding tick box?
And trusting ourselves, can we then go back to leaders and Boards and shareholders and say “you know what? this just doesn’t feel right”
Oh Lord… I can Hear John Lennon again…..
There seemed to be lot of interest and comments on this week’s blog post, which is always satisfying.
And there were some great examples of how people are contributing – what they are bringing to organisations or organisational conversations…..
and yet I find I want to re-press the point, ask again to see what comes back from readers of the fuchsia blue blog:
What is your contribution to being agile or adaptable in your work? What do you bring to your work conversations that is different or useful or necessary?
Are you innovative? Do your bring order? A good grip on data & measurements? Are you provocative? Political? Can you raise a smile in the midst of heavy conversations? Do you handle conflict well? Can you sit with difference? Is it good public speaking? Or the ability to have small, trust-filled conversations? DO you have a fantastic eye for commercial potential? can you tap into the “feel” of a conversation well? Do you bring compassion? Practicality? A particular interest?
I’m looking for the marvellousness and the minutiae. What do you bring?
I’m asking because I’m genuinely interested . I suspect your stories will be lifting. I suspect there are wonderful positive stories from people about what differences and contributions people are bringing to their work space.
I’m particularly mindful there were no comments from women, this week, other than via DM or conversation and I REALLY want to bring those voices forward, because I don’t feel I have and have a suspicion there is a rich narrative there.
and in case anyone is feeling self-conscious about stating their contribution, I offer Come To The Edge as an enticement
Come to the edge.
We can’t. We’re afraid.
Come to the edge.
We can’t. We will fall!
Come to the edge.
And they came.
And he pushed them. And they flew.
So. Friday/ Weekend invitation to bring your contribution stories here. I would, simply, love to hear from you.
Sometimes things just show up in the room, unplanned, unexpected and deeply powerful.
Running a team development day yesterday near Muir of Ord, north of Inverness with Michele Armstrong from Acorn Principle plus www.theacornprinciple.com, we had the team working on storyboards, describing what they had noticed since we last saw them six months ago.
Two groups worked with gusto using a series of images, pom poms, buttons, pipecleaners, string, stickers, coloured pens and glitter glue (my kind of exercise) to describe personal perspectives and outside perspectives. They worked on 6ft long wall lining paper taped onto huge trestle tables to ensure plenty of space for chat and movement.
We hung the two marvellous creations on the walls and stood back to have a conversation about what was there and why. After roughly a 15 minute discussion on the first storyboard, we turned to the second. There was a pause in the room for a second as we saw this:
Thanks to wet glitter glue, a much deeper conversation opened up in the team.
What a gift.
So it looks like I’m going to start Blogging. Interesting turn of events.
Late last year I was in conversation with an experienced blogger explaining plainly how this on-line virtual world malarkey wasn’t for the likes of me. “I can’t think of a single thing to say that people would actually want to take the time to read. What on earth do you SAY that is clever and engaging and… well, worthwhile?”
Cautioned by the over-sharing nature of some of what I’d seen on Facebook; baffled by Twitter (but WHO READS IT??? What is the POINT?) I was, frankly, disheartened.
Sam was, as ever, encouraging and practical. Look at Blogging as the start of a conversation – a means to discuss or share information. It’s not about being clever. Though engaging is a good idea…..
On 16th December 2011 on a slate grey, freezing Edinburgh afternoon, I walked through St Andrews Square. In the midst of the Christmas chaos and bitter winds, I saw this hand painted banner in the Occupy Edinburgh camp. I was so struck by the words – they resonated with me so strongly – that I pulled off my gloves & took a snap with my iphone:
Change Starts In The Heart.
And I’m thinking “Yes. It just might. I think that to really shift or change anything – your hearts needs to be in it. I feel that and I think that. “
I sent the photo to a friend and the response came back almost instantly: There’s a blogger in you somewhere.
And that stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly felt the very opposite of disheartened – I felt engaged and enlivened…..Because I found I really wanted to say more about the image – about what it said to me. I wanted to share my views… so maybe there was a Blogger in me somewhere.?
It’s taken me months to build up the courage to Blog. To be bold and share my thoughts, experiences and words out into the virtual world. I’ve played about on Twitter (@fuchsia_blue) and I’ve started a new Facebook page where I try to post stuff which has genuinely moved me, or made me laugh, or given me pause. I’m trying to find my virtual voice – one which is authentically mine and reflects me. Through finding my virtual voice, I find I strengthen my actual voice…. I find finally I have something to say and, even if it isn’t clever, that the words are mine and I can share them gladly and openly – as the start of a discussion.
And people have responded back – comments and re-tweets and coffee & a Facebook chat about physical memories and journaling with all 5 senses.
And I find I only really want to post things that have touched my heart – that mean enough to me to show my passions and my concerns; or the things that lift my heart and make me smile ( or fall about laughing, of course)
So… it looks like I’m going to start blogging.
Change Starts In The Heart indeed.