Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Practicing Subversion

Much of what the free rangers espouse will require deep-seated culture change within the organizations many of us work within.

I hinted in a recent post that one possible technique for overcoming the obstacles a lot of us face when applying informal / free range learning strategies may be quiet subversion.

OK – maybe not so quiet since I’m writing about it...but I’m betting that my co-workers don’t read this blog.

If you are a co-worker of mine reading this blog...please don’t share our secret...

Here are some of my current subversive tactics:

1) Secretly building new skills. My co-workers think I’m just a trainer, but I’ve been secretly learning HTML/CSS, Flash, php, Captivate and other skills to take over the world create more effective educational experiences.

2) Blogging: Through writing blogs, I process the madness around me. If you didn’t guess, my opinions and perspectives are mine and mine alone (unless I’ve cited someone – in which case, it’s their opinion and perspective). My blogging is not sanctioned by my organization or sponsored by foundations, corporations, or individuals. As an unanticipated side benefit of this blog, I have gained access to an A-list brain trust. These people inspire, cajole, commiserate and mentor as I try to undermine the status quo.

3) Finding tools to build toys: There are lots of neat tools and widgets being created out there. Some of them are for obvious educational purposes. Many aren’t. I rely on my network of spys fellow bloggers to help me find these widgets and think of ways of applying them to teach people stuff. This way, if someone goes…”Hey do we have a wiki?” (of course, not fully understanding what one is – it just SOUNDS cool), I can say “Yup – here’s what it can do...”

4) Planting toys in strategic locations: I like creating toys. Once I finish building a toy, I try to place it where it can be “stumbled” upon by my end-users. If someone “accidentally” finds one of these cool toys, I can gently encourage them to play with the toy. They may not play with the toy initially, but they know the toy is there and they are confident that they can always play with it when they want.

It’s the same strategy I use when I have to take the cats to the vet. I put the carriers out with either a familiar smelling pillow (for Chainsaw, my big kitty) or lots of catnip (for Spike, the feisty kitty). The carrier goes out the morning I have to take them for their appointment. They go in and out of the carrier – investigating. Eventually, they wind up in the carrier and the door magically shuts. BWAHAHAHAHA

If we are to free ourselves and our fellow chickens, we really need to treat it as a change management project.

Besides - we have many many years of habit to undo.....


Downes said...

Smart. Very smart.

Karyn Romeis said...

I wish all chickens wanted to be free. Some of them prefer the security of the chicken coop. Then it's time to adopt some of your subversive tactics. Even then, though, they might be coaxed into that travelling basket, and they will refuse to come out.

Here is a tale of my own subversion: When I worked as the in-house IT trainer at my last company, my boss was dead set against elearning. He refused to buy me even a reasonably priced authoring tool. So I went subversive. I colluded with the help desk. I used to keep track of the most frequent software-related questions and then create learning nuggets around those, putting my (not inconsiderable) PowerPoint knowledge to good use. These I posted in the public folders. I asked the helpdesk to stop telling the callers what to do, but to direct them to the learning nuggets. When these turned out to be a hit, he crowed delightedly that he had been right that we didn't need elearning - what we needed was more of this kind of thing! I wasn't about to blow my cover and explain... :-)

I have to say, though, that while many of the chickens went happily free-range and discovered all sorts of gems in there that they hadn't known about, others clucked miserably and said (often verbatim) "Just tell me what to do-oo-oooo"

Harold Jarche said...

Reminds me of what those Cluetrain guys said in 1999, "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy".