Do It Anyway

Unsure.

Bright eyes.

Look to hear more.

The micros.

The macros.

Seconds loom like minutes.

An empty stage.

An open mic.

A space.

To fill.

And you wait.

You wait.

You breath.

And you wait.

And your silence communicates everything we need to hear.

Unsure.

Bright eyes.

Short breath.

Delicious discomfort.

We do it anyway.

No pull.

No push.

A choice to follow.
#nationalpoetryday

Learn! Live! Baby!

[to be read, to the pace and tune of… Ice Ice Baby. If that means nothing, please complete this recommended pre-work by clicking here and watching for atleast 30 seconds]

Alright Stop! Collaborate, and Listen!

LPIs back with a another convention

Something, to make your mind shine brightly, Flow like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

Is it any good? You better go!

Interactive workshops, then you’ll know.

MC Don will rock the mic like a vandal. A personalised learning experience so you really get a handle.

Chance, rush to the speaker in that room, Sparking  your thinking with a knowledge boom. 

Ready, to soak up Masie and Wiseman, anything less than the best is not right man!

Live it and learn it, I bet you can’t wait, you better be ready for the second day. 

If there was a problem with OD you’d solve it.

Check out the website with this link that unfolds it.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop. It just felt like a perfectly apt tune that makes me think of Training Zone‘s Jon Kennard – not sure why!?

This September 7th and 8th will be my fourth Learning Live! The annual conference for L+Ders by the Learning and Performance institute, and I’m getting excited. This year I’ll be supporting the backchannel for those of you not able to attend, by brining the event to Twitter, blogs and probably a bit of Periscope.

The thing about putting on a learning event for people who work within learning and development, is that the expectations are high. Your audience are familiar with being the facilitators. Comfortable there infact. I’d make the assumption that they arrive eager to be engaged in learning. You might conclude that makes them the best and/or worst audience. I’d choose the former.

This year the LPI are offering ‘Personal Learning Experience’ with consultation and guidance to support you in embedding the learning in your organisation, and maximising your time at the event. For example if you’re looking at improving your digital offer to engage a national audience you might want to attend Jo Cook‘s session on virtual learning, or hear what VirtualSource Technologies have to offer. I’d like to know who is using an mobile app, how and what for!

The keynotes each year have been excellent, and I’m really looking forward to this years. Elliot Masie is an author, speaker, columnist with masses of L+D experience to share, known for developing learning models to accelerate the spread of knowledge, learning and collaboration throughout organisations. He also publishes a Learning Trends newsletter. I’ve been a Richard Wiseman fan for some time, Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology. He’s written several pop-Psychology books including Quirkology, and the Act As If Principle. He makes psychology accessible and de-mystifies misconceptions, and I’m all for that! I particularly enjoyed the guided happiness diary concept of his ’59 Seconds’ book. The idea being you only need to spend 59 Seconds attending to something each day to have a impact and shift a habit or thinking pattern. I’m looking forward to hearing what he’s working on now.

Hope to see you there! not too late to book tickets here.

If you can’t make it, we plan to bring the event to you, via the backchannel. Here are the dedicated SoMe team you might wish to follow: @Michael_LPI @kategraham23 @PhilWillocx @ilikelearning2 @Jo_coaches @Amy_Brann @WildfireSpark @s0ngb1rd  Also, the crew behind the LPI and making is happen: Don Taylor (Conference Chairman) – @DonaldHTaylor, Colin Steed (CEO of the LPI) – @ColinSteed, Ed Monk (MD of the LPI) – @EdmundMonk  and the main account @YourLPI

Open Space II

My favourite people are those with whom I feel an ease and mutuality. Even better when it’s from the off.

Early 2015 part way through my academy journey where lots of my free time was happily spent nose first in articles and books about leadership, and coaching, and emotional intelligence and the like…a valued friend nudged me towards a ‘Coaching and Mentoring Research Day’ at Sheffield Hallam Uni.

He described it: a full day of learning about coaching and mentoring at a different uni to my place of study, with different people, different academics, a different space. And the best bit, it’s fully and completely open-space learning. No lectures. No presentations. Just coaches and postgraduate students in the topic. I booked a place and got excited.

Then as the day got closer, I wondered why I was going and whether I’d have something valuable to contribute. I’m new. There would be people who’ve been doing this for years, and some who have been published.

I was early and first to arrive, so I signed in and met David Megginson. I wasn’t expecting him to be here. My initial thought… ‘you are legendary both on paper and in person, I am so in awe of you’. And yet, his presence and way of being didn’t allow for that traditional educational neck-aching hierarchy (a barrier which I’d been experience on my MA course). He only knew mutuality, and without being able to tell you exactly how, he only allowed me to be mutual too. I use the word allow meaning a mutual giving of permission with every part of your communication without explicit command. When someone looks at you and in to you, and uses your name, doesn’t forget it, and means it.

Open-Space – based on the principles of Owen

The 16 chairs were in a circle. On the wall was a sheet of flip-chart displaying a blank time-table. 3 open spaces, per hour, with lunch in the middle. A pile of post-its and markers lay on the floor in the middle.

Paul Stokes lead us though introductions, and then set the scene.

The time-table is decided by you, now. Take a post-it and pen, and write down a topic or a question that you want to learn about today. Then place it on the time-table wherever you like. As the topic setter you are the Convener. The only commitment being that you show up and start the conversation. You don’t facilitate it, or present it, you just commit to being there to start it.

5 time slots, over 3 rooms, throughout the day = 15 opportunities.

Then, we negotiated. Moving post-its around so we could plan our preferred time-table and not miss the learning sessions we wanted to be part of. Once it was final, we took a photo or jotted it down so we knew what rooms we wanted to go to when.

With open space, when it starts it starts, when it’s over it’s over. Whatever happens is the only thing that could happen, and (my favourite and the most important part) whoever comes are the right people.

The Rules: only one, the law of two feet. If you want to leave a session, you leave.

The Roles: you might chose to be a bumble-bee cross pollinating from group to group, or a butterfly floating around on the periphery… you choose. Tea and coffee are free flowing.

The richness followed. Meaty, thoughtful, considerate discussions with challenge and curiosity. No echo-chamber. No seeking approval. No stage. No sage. Self-leadership and direction for own learning. Everyone, listened to everyone. It was tangential, and emergent and organic. Thoughts followed paths and opened up ideas and new thinking I didn’t realise was there. It didn’t matter if people agreed, or disagreed. In fact the latter was better. For the first time I felt fully respected, fully valued and fully appreciated as an adult learner. This is what it should be like.

Everyone, listened to everyone.

A space and way of being that honours thinking and values diversity.

I’m still in awe of David Megginson… for all the right reasons: ease, mutuality and brilliance. These open space days have definitely changed my learning and practice and remain my favourite most impactful learning days!

 

On 22nd Sept 2016 multiple @LnDConnect Unconferences will be held across the UK and abroad. They will be open space. I hope you can join us!

Open Space I 

A blog inspired by the #LDInsight chat on Friday 12th August, hosted by the @LnDConnect Twitter account at 8am to 9am… which I’m still thinking about.

Every week there is a different question or statement intended to evoke exploration within Learning and Organisational Development. This week the question was ‘What is your experience of working with people with disabilities in relation to their learning?’

More often than not with the #LDInsight chat question, I have an initial response. Sometimes answering the question in one sentence, and feeling ‘I’m done’ … ‘Answered it’. Sometime I tweet the immediate response, and sometimes I pause and think about it some more. The former approach is my favourite, because it usually means I jump into an hour of open space learning with lots of fansinating people who challenge my thoughts and nudge me (just by there contributions and presence) to explore my intial response and many other seemingly tangential but surprisingly valuable conversations that stem from the main question, lending insight and knowledge, and fuelling curiosity for more! It’s filling and my thinking feels honoured – it has a space, no one is interrupting it.

I’m still thinking about learning disabilities. Understanding my ignorance. Accepting how I’ve experience unwanted emotions in different situations …that were hard to accept and not self-judge. The latter making the physiological reactions even harder to sooth.

There’s a storify but I wanted to share some key insights that I’m still pondering:

  • It occurs to me that Twitter can make me feel disabled
  • Above all be respectful. There’s plenty of information on the internet but that’s no substitute for asking
  • Seek to understand, research, accommodate, don’t underestimate the emotional aspects, don’t ever discount
  • There’s more to hear than just sound

And then this about the Twitter chat:

  • If this isn’t a safe enough space then find or ask (or ask) for a space that is safe enough for you. Discussion is important.

The chat was particularly quiet, and I wonder if that’s because of summer hols, or the topic.
With credit owed to @DavidMcAra @BrunhamLandD @niallgavinuk @ChangeContinumm @ProjectLibero

Toast Can Never Be Bread Again 

Toast can never be bread again.

I learnt loads this time last year. I didn’t choose to, I didn’t intend to. It’s almost as if learning happens all the time anyway (fancy that). Especially when we reflect on an experience (age old Kolb).

This summer I learnt that lakes can be as still as glass. Memorisingly reflecting the world back to you, surrounding you in an optical illusion. They can also have tides, waves and eddies. I learnt that when you’re crewing a boat, any boat, and you experience the waves, you should always cut them at 45 degrees. To face them head on would lift the front and then the back of the boat significantly. Tipping you out of balance with the person behind you. To face them bow side would increase the chances of capsize. You would both roll into the water. When the waves are 2ft high and your boat is less that 1ft deep… you would both roll into the water.

But when you cut the waves, you rise and fall together. You flow with the pace and force of the wave and let it take you the direction the wind chooses. You don’t get to have control. Even if your final destination isn’t always in your sight line and the stern faces a different way. The wrong way. Even when you know it’s going to get tougher before it gets easier. You ride the wave and keep paddling and master the boat. It’s your boat.

I paused and thought about giving up. My arm was tired. Arms. Were. I never ordered a side of adrenaline (Americans always go large on sides).

There was no ‘give up’ option.

Stack the toast together. Relax, yes. Conserve your energy there is more to come.

Spotlight

Have you seen the film Spotlight?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we spend most of our time stumbling around the dark. Suddenly, a light gets turned on and there’s a fair share of blame to go around. I can’t speak to what happened before I arrived, but all of you have done some very good reporting here. Reporting that I believe is going to have an immediate and considerable impact on our readers. For me, this kind of story is why we do this“. (Spotlight, 2015)

It’s one of those films that everyone should see.

It’s powerful, and poignant, and reminds us all that we are only human. And with that we are fallible. And with that we have a responsibility to other people who we live beside. Even if we are in a different layer/corner of society your paths do cross if you choose to notice – Siobhan Sheridan illustrates this here.

A year ago this week a 13 year old girl was found hanging in some bushes a few streets away from her family home. Close to houses on an estate. 10 miles away from where I live. I’m not one to get upset about the tragedy of other people in the news. I’m not fazed when we lose a celebrity and I can easily detach myself from a reality that isn’t mine. This time though, I sobbed. I knew we had let her down.

The media story told us she had been missing for 3 days after running away from home, following an argument with her parents (Mum and Step-Dad). For those 3 days they were in the news daily – pleading and begging for her safe return. He was particularly moved and emotional on camera, and the community they’d recently moved to live within came out in force to search the streets (just not thoroughly enough).

As soon as her face appeared in the local news as ‘missing school girl’ her last name caught my attention. For me, immediately there was more to this story than suicide. I felt nauseous. This wasn’t flippant arm-chair-psych accusation. Her step-dad is my step-cousin.

My childhood was wonderful, and I used to love spending time my 3 step-cousins. We always had adventures. That makes it sound like Enid Blyton. It wasn’t. We lived in a village, they lived in a town – it was much more fun! By adventures read: played out all day and returned later than we should.

I had always known something wasn’t quite as right or as good for them. Either my Mum shared concerns with us and gave us warnings about keeping safe, or I overheard too much adult conversation.

We’re the same age, and we ended up in the same secondary school. We became close, although he was someone it was increasingly hard to be close to. He had a troubled time at school and I was often called out of my lesson to help calm him. He was ‘popular’ but maybe for the wrong reasons, he was often fighting. He trusted me.

And now whilst writing I’m searching my memory for anything he disclosed that I could have told someone else. I wonder if I would have done anyway, and if he’d have wanted me to. Maybe this is my adult, safeguarding-trained, experienced YP practitioner mind at work. (I’ve deleted the red flags that my fingers were itching to record next to each of the paragraphs above like a risk assessment check-list). When do we stop asking questions that can’t be answered? We let him down.

Later on after various incidents, the kind where you tire of your friend taking advantage of your kindness or generosity for example, time and life meant we drifted apart. Only to be reunited if we were out in town at the same time and literally bumped into each other.

Later on I read that he was in court, for enduring cruelty to animals. Later on still I read that he was in prison for fraud. And then out. We were friends on Facebook. Last year I read his Step-Daughter had suicided after going missing for 3 days.

It went quiet. Then this week I read that the ‘Serious Case Review’ is almost ready to be published. A Serious Case Review “takes place after a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is thought to be involved” (NSPCC)

It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one” (Spotlight, 2015)

G1 Using New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities

Professor Cliff Oswick is from Cass Business School, City University London and delivering a masterclass for us today on New Forms of Change to Create Meaningful L+D Opportunities.

Cliff wants to talk about whats been happening in the field of change. We don’t spend enough time looking at how learning and development is a vehicle for change – that’s our focus today.

First, what has influenced change…


The mechanical and the biological sciences are more diagnostic L+D, whereas interpretive and complexity sciences are more about dialogical approaches, e.g. world cafe,

Old Diagnostic OD
scientific, problem-centred, reactive linear, punctuated and descrete, concrete and tangible, top-down
‘lets get together and decide what went wrong’

New Dialogic OD
generative, solution-driven, proactive and rhizomatic (see below), abstract and tangible, multi-directional
‘lets get to gather and co-create a future state’
Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads – www. davecormier.com

Examples of dialogical OD…


Cliff predicts an organisational equivalent of flash-mobs – social connectedness is important!

“Whats the difference between a social activities and a business consultant? A: the special activist care more and don’t get paid to.


So what can we do…


The blue things… are hierarchically planned. These events are still mostly top-down decisions and occur in a bound way on a given time on a given day.

The green things… are emergency and rhizomatic.


Hotspot Engagement – the network, people who are energised, highly effective, highly respected. If you don’t seek to involve these people positive within the org, they can damage the org because they care and wont to be involved

Betterworks = an organisational equivalent of Facebook. You can post challenges and receive support and feedback from people…develop your personal learning network.

Valve Employee Handbook = a game developer, with a system where all the desks are on wheels. They can work wherever they want, and work on whatever they want, no managers, no IPDPs – ultimate freedom at work. The handbook describes your responsibility for your own responsibilities. The collective make decisions about pay, performance, and other HR functions.

Agora = all decisions usually made by a board are outsourced. You can registered and be part of the cohort of people who vote on these decisions. e.g. the soft drink flavours?, and what supply chains should we use?, what shall we do with the profits?

Cass = internal crowd-sourcing and getting anyone internally involved in decisions making who wants to be…some people don’t “horse to water…”

Cliff promotes intergenerational mentoring and encourages the reciprocity of learning that a “baby-boomer” and a “millennial” collaborating can enable.

What Are The Implications for L+D?


And a real-life example…Cliff says have a look here at Do OD Organisational Development within the NHS.


If you create the conditions for emergent change, you find people will get involved in both the positive and the negative decision making, and take this collective responsibility.

Question from the floor called this out as a paradox. Answer from Cliff, leadership but not control. Get top-level commitment to it..then let it happen. You cannot make someone autonomous and self-directed in change but you can facilitate it. Caution: Cliff isn’t promoting commune organisations. These approaches are about releasing some of the grip – a blended for of organising.

Another question about getting buy in from the board and Cliff encourages us to read more – there’s lot of research out there to support your argument.

As Cliff continues to chat with Julie Drybrough next to me they conclude that it’s better to demonstrate and promote non traditional change initiative via non traditional methods eg seek the qualitative evidence.
[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2016, Olympia, London on Thursday 12th May. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]