Curating and transferring knowledge & collaborative social learning #CIPDLDshow

A jam-packed session chaired by Julian Stodd (@julianstodd) focused on tacit knowledge in our organisations, how we share it and how we collaborate to create it and create change.  Both presentations were from the medical sector, one, Astra Zeneca operating in a highly regulated manufacturing environment and the second, the NHS IQ team (@NHSIQ)

First up was Roy Davis from Astra Zeneca. Roy described a complex transfer of the manufacturing process of an accentuated influenza vaccine from AZ offices in California to Liverpool. His case study illustrated at a really granular level the difficulties of transferring tacit knowledge, of making visible ‘hidden factories’ which our teams use day in day out to complete their work but may never have shared with anyone. Tacit knowledge and expertise is built over years of doing something, but if that person leaves or the job has to shift to another site/team the lack of explicit, shared knowledge becomes business critical.

Key challenges included the lack of tangible knowledge or training for the team from LiVerpool, the sensitivities of established scientists letting go of a process they had developed and owned for a long time and importantly making that process and knowledge visible. Roy showed lots of the research models and process analysis that was needed to make this knowledge visible but what struck me was how integral the emotional contract was to the success of this project. Getting buy in from the scientists with the knowledge and making sure all of the project team understood the emotional sensitivities of taking over that process was key. And it all had to be focused on the importance (that word purpose came up again 😉) of everyone understanding why doing the project well was critical to the ability of the organisation to achieve its goals of providing safe, live vaccines to  those in need of them. Lots of mind sets needed changing her alongside the careful and precise documentation and exposing if core processes. And I liked the stress on the fact that none of this was accidental and it all hinged on recognition and appreciation being paid to those who were undertaking the work and handing over the knowledge.

The next speakers were Carol Read (@CarolLRead) and Kate Pound (@KateSlater2) both Transformation Fellows of the NHS Horizons Group @NHSIQ. I agree with Julian that some of the most radical OD and change work is being done in the NHS at the moment, some of it by this team. It was a really good presentation.

They described their work creating the School for Health and Care Radicals MOOC, a five week programme, and their new open access The Edge (@theEdgeNHS) collaborative curation platform for encouraging connections, sharing of knowledge and most importantly, change.  I loved their description of their goals as a team including activating the radicals, giving staff permission to change and innovate, and to attempt to jump the gap by skipping five years forward, not going through each stage of innovation but jumping to where you want to be now. Central to the whole project was creating a bottom up drive for change & innovation, empowering staff across the NHS to make a difference and improve patient care. There were five key planks to their strategy (and you can read more about the wider strategy here in this White Paper http://media.nhsiq.nhs.uk/whitepaper/html5/index.html?page=1):

  • activate disrupters, heretics radicals and mavericks
  • lead transformation from the edge
  • change your story
  • curate rather than create  knowledge
  • build bridges to connect the disconnected.

Really passionate and great stuff being done using lots of new approaches, including encouraging people to tell their digital stories.

Attending the MOOC along side NHS staff at all levels and in different clinical and non clinical functions  has given people permission to make change and created a culture of permission for innovation. The #NHSChangeDay has been a great demonstration and beacon for this. Change becomes everyone’s job, not something done to you but something you shape. And what was completely critical to this was creating a community of participants, talking to each other, social and emotional ties and beliefs that unite teams however big in a common purpose. Yes please lots more of this. What a lovely way to end my time at this year’s show, inspired and full of ideas, just how it should be. Fabulous.

From lurker to learner – ignite your passions #CIPDldshow

Using social media for my own personal and professional development is almost second nature to me now but five years ago I didn’t know my hashtags from my hash browns!

This morning I’m giving an Ignite talk at the CIPD L&D show on how I journeyed from being a shy introverted lurker on social media to harnessing its value for my own development.  Let’s not dwell on the anxiety that the Ignite format induces (20 slides, 5 mins, 15 seconds per slide) or is that just me?! or the fact that I was at my own leaving do last night and many in the audience will have been at the Day 1 #tweet up till late the night before, let’s try to focus… with me yet?

Here’s a few of my thoughts on using social media for your development:

  • Not enough people in L&D yet use social media to its fullest potential for their own and others learning.
  • It’s invaluable for providing peer insight and challenge, especially if you’re the sole L&D professional in your organisation.
  • The learning you can gain from being active on social media is immense, and it can be as purposeful and boundaried as you want it to be, you don’t need to spend every waking second tweeting to get value from your engagements.
  • It helps you gain fresh perspectives – building a personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter or Google +, Facebook provides a springboard into new relationships, collaborations and conversations.
  • Conversations are at the heart of a healthy PLN – just as in your relationships offline, conversations on social media need to be two-way, you give, you receive – reciprocity is key.

melville quote

  • Each little gesture, comment on other people’s tweets or posts, likes or favourites will give you courage and encourage others to connect with you.
  • You’ll need to experiment a little to find the platform that suits you, some people like the fast paced brevity of Twitter, others prefer more visual formats like Pinterest or Tumblr, try them, settle in, get comfortable and watch what’s going on.
  • Lurking is fine as you find your feet, getting social for the first time can be scary so there’s nothing wrong with watching, listening in and learning. But if that’s all you do you are missing out on serendipitous connections, new ideas and a stream of resources and horizon widening perspectives.
  • It’s not hard to get started – find people you’ve heard of, respect or who talk about things you’re interested in and follow them, then follow people they follow – as a famous Meerkat would say ‘simples’.
  • Try not fear the stream, the sheer volume of posts on any social media network can be overwhelming but think of it like a passign river not a deluge. You can dip your toe in and out – you can’t and won’t experience everything or engage with everyone & that’s OK – and don’t worry too much about how you’ll come across, every time you dip your toe in you’ll make a tiny ripple, it’s not a wave, it won’t overcome you.
  • Try Twitterchats to get you into the flow of conversations and meeting new folk – they usually last no longer than an hour and are focused on a series of linked questions/issues or a single topic. There are a host of brilliant L&D chats you can join like #ldinsight (Friday mornings 8-9am GMT) or #chat2lrn (First Thursday of the month 4-5pm GMT) to name but two, #pkmchat is a US based chat on personal knowledge management which is also great and highlights the way social media can internationalise your learning network. Read more here about how to participate in a Twitter chat, they really got me started and gave me confidence to start having my own voice and find my place on social media. Here’s some more advice on Tweetchatting: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/how-to-join-the-conversation/

I’m recognising that this may not fit into the 5 minutes I have for my Ignite talk – AAGH!!

Anyway… my final thought is that your PLN needs to grow with you, it will change shape over time, if you want your network to keep nourishing your curiosity you’ll need to tend to it, if you don’t do this then your network will stagnate and you’ll stop hearing new and interesting thing. Be careful you don’t end up in echo chamber of people saying like-minded things. It’s human nature to seek the familiar and agreeable but we all need a bit of challenge in our lives, seek out people with different or alternative perspectives, look for people who are outside of your sector or profession, see what you can share with each other.

There’s a whole heap of excellent advice on building PLNs & getting social online, here are a few:

http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/creating-a-pln/

https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/how-to-create-a-robust-and-meaningful-personal-learning-network-pln/

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And above all appreciation is important, your network is not an impersonal ‘thing’ it’s a diverse group of human beings, each with their own challenges, anxieties and insights, remember to thank them for sharing – for helping you to grow. So my PLN – I salute you, you share your insights, time and resources with me and challenge me to do better, think wider, and keep learning on a daily basis.

thank you for helping me grow

The power of purpose – building resilience #cipldshow

Olympia looked majestic in the brilliant sunshine this morning and there was a definite buzz around the place and not just from the coffee. This year’s CIPD L&D show is offering a range of different sessions from free tasters in the main exhibition, short Ignite talks to full workshops. Only able to stay for half a day I picked two sessions on leadership, a topic close to my heart. image The importance of being full of purpose and, for leadership teams importantly, that being a shared, collective purpose  was a unifying theme at both sessions. A key message I took away from the opening session from Tim Munden & Nick Pope was the importance of leadership teams learning together, building collective capacity, this really struck a chord with me.

The sum has be more than the total of its parts and that takes work and persistence, dialogue and sometimes dissonance. You have to learn how to work together around the table and out in your organisation. Why then are so many leadership development programmes focused on the individual? Good question.

The second session from Alan Nobbs of the NHS Leadership Academy and Peter Morgan from Caffe Nero demonstrated this again, in both settings the leadership development includes a hefty dose of new, existing or potential leaders learning together, sharing experiences and building insights.

Nick Pope’s comment that you’ll know you’ve achieved collective capacity  when you see your Director of HR talking about business performance or the Director of Operations discussing people strategy at staff meetings really rang through, we have to lead out from our functions, that’s what convinces people we are a team and what shapes a common purpose.

I can’t sign off without giving a shout out for the way resilience is a core feature of the strategy at Unilever, they described an impressive range of activities which they implement to support and strengthen individual, team and organisational wellbeing  (emotional, physical and mental) and it was having an impact, we can all get behind that.

I’ll nuance this a bit if time permits but hopefully it gives a flavour of some of the themes from my Day 1.

Blogging for golden nuggets of wisdom

I’m so delighted to be part of the team asked to cover the CIPD L&D show this year, delighted and a bit daunted. I’ve been tweeting and blogging for a while but never in an ‘official’ capacity, I think I get a press pass which is very exciting! As I type this I’m charging up devices and batteries and pondering what else will help me make a good job of this… 

Having an open mind and a ready ear will go a long way I think as will just trying to soak up and reflect the atmosphere. I’m going to try to curate some of the many and varied golden nuggets of wisdom about L&D that I know from looking at the programme will emerge and ground that in my own experiences of L&D.

Social media has made events like this so much more than they used to be, tweeting, conference back channels and live blogging help to open the doors of Olympia (or wherever) to everyone who can’t attend and invite a wider dialogue about the issues being discussed in the seminar rooms, lecture theatres and coffee queues. So join me, and my fellow bloggers by following the hashtag #cipdldshow and we’ll do our best to bring your voices in, ask your questions and share what we’re hearing. It’s going to be fun.

The future of learning: Are we equipped for it?

imageI attended a round table discussion co-hosted by the CIPD and Towards Maturity today.

This is one of a series of recent activities which indicate a fresh commitment & willingness on the part of the institute to reach out to its L&D members and, more importantly, to become part of wider discussions about shaping L&D practice for the future.

I really welcome this. L&D felt like the Cinderella of the CIPD when I first joined four years ago and I often found more progressive and challenging mind sets outside rather than within CIPD. I can see this changing, that CIPD is working alongside the LPI, and other formal and informal groupings of folks who have a connection to and interest in developing L&D, is a really great step forward. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like what your professional body is doing you should get involved to shake things up so I was very happy to give up my holiday deckchair for a morning and come along and contribute to what was a lively and inspiring discussion.

Our themes for the day were:

  • What do today’s leaders expect from L&D and what should they expect?
  • How can we improve L&D alignment to strategic organisational goals?
  • Are we equipped in L&D to respond to changes in the future of work?

There are various outputs which will come from the session as a whole but suffice to say each session was ably kicked off by two speakers drawing on their own experiences to provoke debate. I was asked to tackle the final question and I got to speak after Don Taylor of the LPI which is always a pleasure, I knew we’d be talking the same language. Don’s challenge to business leaders was “If you think learning belongs in the classroom, enjoy the view as your competitors overtake you.” I couldn’t agree more.

In the spirit of working out loud these are my background notes for my part of the session, my main theme was that learning and learners will not wait for L&D to catch up, apply a model, or craft  a theory around their new ways of working and learning. We need to accelerate and expand our capacity quickly before we get bypassed.  Our workforce has changed, we have more part-time workers, more diverse, more transient workers, we work at different times of the day and week and from different places. We use a range of devices and routes to find out about things we need to know for our jobs, we go to the source, we talk to people outside of the business. It isn’t a question of when technology changes the workplace; that’s already happened and will continue to happen. Now it’s a question of how we respond to these changes.

We’ve always been quick to adopt new shiny buzzwords – e and m-learning, MOOCs spring to mind… but less quick to recognise that all the shiny tools will make not one iota of a difference if we don’t understand that how people work and learn has changed, and then we change how we work as professionals accordingly.

The findings from this years CIPD L&D survey and the Towards Maturity Benchmark show a greater desire from our profession to be business aligned and focused on outcomes and impact. But look again at the surveys, especially the LPI capability map and the TM Learner’s Voice, and you’ll also see that L&D in our workplaces remains strongly classroom based, a lot of e-learning is still ‘click next’ and blended learning is not as much of a reality as we’d like to think. This despite the fact that learners are telling us they have changed how they like to learn. In my own organisation we’ve been on a real journey over the last three years and it’s not over yet. Just changing what we offer (from predominantly classroom based L&D to something more fluid and responsive) has been challenging for us and for our colleagues but immensely rewarding. When a community of practice takes hold it it becomes an agent for change, vastly strengthened by the multiple voices within it drawing on their own experience of the work, the practice, the business.

People now have access to a vast range of knowledge, information and learning at their fingertips, at the touch of a keyboard or a screen we can find huge swathes of information, how to videos, toolkits etc. We can personalise our learning and draw it down when we need it. That learning comes in many shapes and sizes from professional qualifications through to amateur You Tube videos, L&D can’t control that flow any more, if we ever could. But we can help business make the most of that flow, find what they need easily and be equipped to critically appraise it. That’s what I want my team to be doing.

Much of how people learn now is informal, social and collaborative. It’s not that expertise is dead, it’s simply that people have ways to access expertise which no longer needs to be mediated and funnelled through formal learning events. In an environment where people can access expertise from across the globe directly with a tweet or a post, why would they wait for the next scheduled course from their L&D team?

I am painting a deliberately bleak picture but our profession needs to change and change rapidly before it gets passed over.

I really believe we have an important role going forward as curators and facilitators of  learning, helping others to share their knowledge, skills and experience. We can be  agents of change but not if we continue to see ourselves as the sole custodians of that knowledge armed to the teeth holding out against attempts to wrest control from us. I wrote in my blog recently that:

I don’t want to be doling out pearls of wisdom from my carefully guarded stash, I want to see people talking to each other about new tools, ideas and ways of working in their teams, at staff meetings, during project work and over lunch. That’s a learning culture, one where a good idea spreads contagiously, where fresh takes on persistent problems are grabbed by the people affected and worked through collaboratively. But it’s challenging in workplaces where training is the norm, where time is pressured and resources are scarce.

We are uniquely placed, with our cross-organisational remit to act as agents for change and to help people to develop curious and enquiring mindsets and skills which enable them to adapt and respond to changes in the workplace and wider society. I want learning in our organisation to be personally owned but organisationally supported (thanks to @andrewljacobs for that phrase if not the acronym it produces!)

We need to ask what we need to do (as individuals and as a professional body)? What do we need to change? What are the sacred cows that we need to let go of? And we need to keep asking these questions. Here are my starters for ten, more great ideas came out in the discussion and will be collated in a white paper:

  • We need to be alert, observe what is happening (or not happening) in our workplaces and outside our workplaces and able to think strategically about what that means for our practice and activities
  • We need to walk the talk, if we think social, informal and collaborative learning is the way of the future we need to be seen to do it ourselves and be able to influence leaders in our businesses to embrace it too.
  • We have to get better at consulting and diagnosis, and where it isn’t appropriate we need to be prepared to challenge requests for ‘training’. We can have an important voice in shaping how work is done at our organisations and influencing change. Providing ‘solutions’ we are comfortable and confident with might be comforting but probably won’t be helping as much as we could.
  • On that note we need to learn to innovate, try new things, be prepared to fail small but think big. And we need to be thinking carefully about how we work alongside senior leadership, managers and staff to ensure that learning and development are woven into everyday work rather than something which is bolted on, has to have time made for it. Curiosity is a mindset and trying new things is a way of demonstrating that curiosity, we have to persuade and influence our colleagues that new approaches are valid.
  • Let’s not adopt technology mindlessly simply because it’s a new and shiny thing that everyone is talking about, but not be afraid to adopt new tools that will support changing cultures of work and learning.
  • And I’d really like it if we stopped guarding everything so zealously between organisations and within organisations. We really need to learn to collaborate and help our colleagues to collaborate to hear different voices, expertise and perspectives.
  • I think we have to get used to the permeability of disciplines and embrace it. Where does OD start and L&D stop? Does it matter? Let’s learn from marketing about how to sell L&D and talk to our comms colleagues about engaging an audience. Let’s get less hung up on whether we’ve got a seat at the table, or what our job titles are, or which department we sit in and concentrate more on what impact we can have.

And if that all seems a bit overwhelming then bite off a little bit of it and get started. You have insights which are valuable to your organisation, demonstrate that.  Be confident but reflective, if you don’t know something learn it, if you’re not sure where to start ask for advice. After all a little role modelling never goes amiss!

Oops I almost forgot, what’s the answer to the question? We agreed it was a work in progress, the report card says we can do better. Here’s just some of the future capability we thought we need to build up as a profession:

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