Thursday, March 28, 2013

One on One

This is an excuse for a Hall and Oates moment.
I've been having a number of conversations about communities of practice and the like.

I realized that the power of my personal network and community is really in the strength of my one-on-one relationships.

Invitations to join a community tend to come from a relationship established elsewhere.

If I join a community with no invitation - I find that I am more likely to stick around if I find one person that takes me under-wing.

The likelihood of me staying with a community tends to be dependent upon the strength of the one-on-one relationships I am able to establish within that community.

So how does this translate to organizations and the discussions around communities of practice?

I'm not entirely sure. 

Strikes me we might be approaching "building communities" in organizations the wrong way.

Instead - maybe we should be asking how we can encourage individuals to build relationships with other individuals.

Provide collaborative tools to make relationship-building easier.

Support the process of making friends and introducing people to other potential friends (and not always in group settings).

Create opportunities for individuals to build relationships with other, like-minded individuals.

Encourage conversation - not meetings.

Maybe talk around "so what do we want the community to DO" might miss the point.

We have projects for that.  A project is it's own little community.  Relationships can be built within them.

But the big stuff I somehow manage to accomplish, the communities I've been involved with, and any productivity (and enjoyment) I get out of my work are the result of individual relationships in my own little universe.  Not from big group gatherings, team-building activities and forced participation in "communities of practice."

Maybe it's just my anti-social, crowd-phobia shining through :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One Tool to Rule Them All

From fanpop
After investigating the current state of the LMS space over the past 3 months I have learned the following:
  • Adding content that is trackable is still awkward in the majority of LMSs
  • The type of reporting I want to be able to do -Is the training stuff I am developing actually helping the business?- has no BUSINESS being in the LMS.  It should be in the organization's business intelligence systems.  If you don't know or haven't made friends with your organization's resident Data Whisperer - it's time to go out and socialize.  Bring cookies.
  • The space really hasn't changed very much.
    • "Collaboration tools" is the new chat room / message board
    • The types of reports you can get are the same (butts in seats, completion and scores)
    • The assumption is still that the learning objects are "courses"
If I replace the LMS we have with another LMS - we still have the same problems.

Oh yeah - and the content library in the current LMS is too valuable to fully replace the LMS, so we would wind up with TWO LMSs.

Erm...yeah.  Sounds like a great use of our time.

I have a feeling I am not alone here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Center of My Universe

This is a picture of the boundaries of the solar system.
How changes in the Sun define and impact everything around it.
The reach of its influence.
I thought this was a good analogy.

Yes I AM the center of my universe :)

Courtesy of

Over the past couple of years, I have learned that there are 4 levels to change.

- Internal change - Feeling that change needs to happen. Defining the change for myself on not only the intellectual level, but also on the EMOTIONAL level.

It's the integrated buy-in from both the head and the heart that motivates me to move on to the next level.

If the change is just in my head - it winds up becoming a list of "shoulds" and a weapon to beat myself up with. I don't need any more self-flagellation tools.

- Individual action - Acting on the internal change.
Do my actions move me closer to or further from my goals?

- Finding the tribe - Who shares my goals?
Who can serve as a support system?
How do my goals mesh with theirs?
How can I help them as they help me?

These folks don't have to be in physical proximity - though it helps to have a few nearby.
The small day-to-day decisions and actions are easier when support is close-at-hand.

- Critical mass - How many of us feel that the same change needs to be made?
At a certain point, with enough people marching in the same direction, culture change occurs.
Whether the leadership likes it or not :)

At the core of this is Internal Change.

I have to believe that this change is necessary and right.
Everything else seems to follow organically from that.
I find myself performing the next right thing.  Or making the next right decision.
I find myself surrounded by people with similar aspirations.  I find my tribe.
Ultimately - I observe a groundswell of change.

I'm seeing this dynamic at work right now.

Internal change - I sensed that I needed to look at a much broader picture than just an LMS replacement.

Individual action - I started evaluating what I had, what I needed, what trends I was seeing, and what obstacles needed to be considered as I looked at our Learning Ecosystem.

Finding the Tribe - I started reaching out to people who could help.  More importantly, I have also been trying to figure out how I can help them too.  Relationships are better when there is both give and take. I find the giving more satisfying.

Critical mass - Over the past few months, I've been seeing a greater emphasis on enterprise and collaboration vs. the silos and games of telephone.  This may just be one isolated corner of the world (mine), but I am not getting the resistance I have in the past.  The communications trail seems....flatter.

I'm observing this in other areas of the organization as well.  Not just by design (see the SWAT team), but also by general activity.
- Traditionally closed and isolated departments starting to tout their collaborative efforts with others.
- Cross-divisional teams creating operational programs with minimal headaches.
- Greater access to expertise.
- Groups moving from small, artisan shops to scalable enterprise programs.
- More people looking at the bigger picture vs. just at their own individual interests.

What's great about this is that it seems to be happening organically.

All I need to do is continue my individual internal and external activities.
Continue evaluating whether my thoughts and individual actions match what I want to see in my world.
And have faith that all will work as it should.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Confession

From Secret of Flight

One of the themes I've been hearing is frustration / ennui around the eLearning space.

I guess this is the natural evolution of things.
Kinda like when a small indie band gets popular - then we claim they've sold out once other people discover them.

I did this to myself with my rapid development tools and teaching subject matter experts to fish.
I am guilty of propagating this.
I did it out of necessity.
Too much demand (finally!), too many projects, too little time, too little me.

I did this to myself by falling back to old design practices and habits - despite the power of a number of these tools to facilitate real learning beyond our familiar generations-old model.

Instructional televison?  Classroom over the air.
Synchronous online training? Classroom on the computer.
Asynchronous online training? Classroom (time-independent) on the computer.
Mobile learning? Classroom on the go.

We know this model. Our subject-matter experts know this model. Our audience expects this model.
It's easy.
Same way teaching the same course over an entire career, like many research professors do, is easy.
There is less resistance.
Less discomfort.
Less having to "explain ourselves"
Less having to sell an idea that no one can "see" yet.
Again - I am guilty.

The ennui and frustration I feel is my own fault.

And I get the feeling it is the result of thinking too small.
Focusing too closely on "getting it done". On the immediate crisis at hand.

But what if I expand my perspective a bit?
Look more at the entire forest - flora, fauna, trees, undergrowth?
Even just a BIT of the forest?
I wonder how that might change my approach?

Worth finding out.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#LSCON Subscription Learning pt 2

There is a wave effect that increases the time over the retrieval threshold.

Spacing may slow learning but improves remembering.

But you still need the repetition.
Got to come back to the original topic for this to work
(Think our telecommuter training. The tech training is used as a base for repetition for the next topic which is used as a base for the next topic.)

Think key concepts.
Reintroduce those concepts occasionally.
Opportunity to repeat things over time.

Delivery methods
Scheduled email (figure out how to do this in gmail)
Email marketing platform (figure out what is lying around that we can leverage)
Subscription learning platform (generic)
Subscription learning platform dedicated (to particular subject)
ELearning authoring tool.
 (I also investigated Google Sites RSS feed subscription )

Prompt an answer
- make less likely they will peek ahead.
Delay an answer
Summarize headers list

Can do test after they've done stuff
Authoring tools can keep track already
Some subscriptions, will do for you (cameo)

Do it
Try different approaches

#LSCON subscription learning

Will Thalheimer

Spacing effect. Spacing learning over time.

Subscription- feeling ownership. Opting in when benefit. Opt out when no benefit. Want "latest" information.

Scheduling of learning events
- one time event - single class or event
- multi events - stretch out over weeks or year. Multiple events
- subscription -fairly regular stream

Learners subscribe
Many learning events
Short nuggets
Tech enabled
Push technology
spacing events
Engagement optional

People tend to have good attention span on short time frames.
Can you get them into it.
Easy to update
More prescriptive.
More likely to remember.

If people learn but don't remember, can't apply.
Spacing effect can support remembering.
What happens depends on design of learning and after learning follow up
Subscription learning about design (but also speaks to post learning.

Repetition works in the real world (see surgery death rates)
Verbatim, paraphras, retest, different media
Paraphrase more powerful than straight repetition
People get different things each time.

Spacing effect is one of the oldest and best documented phenomena.
Repeat over longer period of time, remembered over longer period of time.

Other info on subscription learning.

#LSCON Thurs AM Keynote Part 2

Speaker: Daniel Coyle
What is happening to folks undergoing massive performance improvement?

Myolin - brain insulation. Insulates our wires. It grows in response to practice. Adds layers.
Signal - layer.
As insulation gets thicker, signal speed increases.
Practice earns speed, accuracy.
Once myosin in place, doesn't disappear.
To make a new habit - need to build. Can't destroy the old habit.

Growth proportional to hours of practice.

We are what we repeatedly do.

(He talks about physical practice, but it has much greater application. Emotional habits? Mental habits?)

Habit 1: maximize reach fullness. Find, fail, fix
- ruthlessly eliminate passive learning.
- aim for the 60-80% sweet spot. On edge. Not where can't succeed.
- REPS gauge. Reaching and repeating? Emotional engagement? Purposeful action (building what you want to build)? Is there Swift feedback?

How do you motivate people to into that uncomfortable space?
When we stare a a person we want to become- unleashes energy. (Who is your model)
One person succeeds. There is your model.
Who is the person you want to be?

Habit 2: do what you can to fill the windshield (who do you want to become?)
- promote staring. Let people spend time observing
- encourage stealing. All constantly stealing from each other.
- create a mistake club. Detoxify mistakes. Share greatest mistakes as well as triumphs.

What makes an effective coach?
Coaches know a lot and talk a lot. This is our story. But is this true?

Best coaches tended to be older, not give speeches, connect to individuals.
Through the individual relationship - can give feedback, motivate.
Short pieces of vivid information. Immediate feedback.

Habit 3: communicate like a coach
- connect (esp. Emotional connection)
- vivid concise information. No long speeches. Vivid images.
- praise for effort and not for ability

We live in a world of signals.
We are status driven creatures.
If send a signal about effort - more willing to take risk.
If talk about you are awesome at something - less willing to take risk,


Talent is really emotion driven. Effort driven.
Not about naked magical babies.

We build talent together.

#LSCON Thurs AM Keynote

Hotbed: The Blueprint of High Performance
Daniel Coyle

"You should get good at something."
Tiger woods playing with golf pall. Encapsulate skill
Skill=exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

3 levels of being bad at something
Bad and sad
So bad it's funny
So bad that your kids make a movie around how bad you are

One day - something illogical happens.... (Dan Coyle golf)

What just happened?
What is this space between bad and good?

The story about this space:
Babies are born with gifts. Over time and hard work and passion, these talents bloom.
Is it true?
Talent seems like a lottery here. And very vague.

These places succeed because they are good at growing fast, accurate brains.
The brain drives the muscle.
They are like ecosystems. Everything aligned towards how the brain works.

World of business is a learning contest.

1st habit - all spent 10000 hours intensively learning their craft.
- we think of practice is necessary. Don't think of it as being transformative.

There are certain moments where things happen in our brain to make us learn.
- people learn more when they have to fill in the gaps.

You made a reach.
A moment where you had to struggle. Got it wrong.
The mistake is information to give you a solution.
When we operate on the edge of your ability - we get smarter.

Fail, find, fix.

This is not small.

Deep practice has a specific feel. Struggle. Not a nice place to be emotionally.
These people put in places where they can struggle.
The feeling of that mistake is visceral.
You learn more in that intensive 5 minutes.
Want to spend time in that uncomfortable, visceral space.
The practice is about finding and fixing the mistake.

If you play a song fast enough so it can be recognized, playing it too fast.
Slowness - allows you to find the mistakes.

Push the brain to the edge of its ability for those 10000 hours.

Design a space where people can fail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#LSCON Afternoon Conversations

Ran into Kevin Thorn at the Articulate booth with Tom Kuhlmann. Really good to talk to both of them again. Tom was telling me about this great design he made for a compliance training that had the policy in a frame for reference and the eLearning content in a window. I am hoping he writes about it in a future blog post. I point anyone who will even remote listen to me regarding instructional design to his Rapid eLearning blog.  Really cool to catch up. I haven't had a chance to catch up with Tom in a few years.
Had a big a-ha moment from watching Kris Rockwell set up for his sensor presentation and seeing Stephen Anderson's synthesis of the intersection between the new tactile technology experiments and learning. user motion interfaces. The ability to track data using mechanical sensors / physical activity. This could be huge!  Not just in terms of switches (like airplane cockpits), but also in terms of things like surgical simulators and performance support of telemedicine. Further tracking of physical performance like golf swings, VOMax test etc for athletes, maybe even using those sensors and that info for PT recovery. More organized tracking of keystrokes and mouse movement or touch screen activity (since this is where our apps are going).

The bits and pieces are there.

Again, Wendy sees something and has no idea what to do with the information.....
I keep finding and missing Mike Hruska.

That dude is fast.
Time to recharge electronics and grab chow.

A really productive day.

#LSCON sensors and xAPI continued

 (Overnight project - figure out a better blogging system)

XAPI - you really need to define what you need to capture before you capture it.

We are doubling the amount of information every day.
Does not mean we are doubling the knowledge.

We need to have an idea of what we are looking for.
XAPI and other technologies mean huge amounts of data.

In his model - RFID, validates person. Then toggle switch = action.

Eg Kris interacted with toggle switch.

It's about context.
What if I  have many boxes with many switches?
( like an airplane cockpit)
It gives us a really interesting picture of how our learner are performing.

Flight simulators record everything they do. But on paper or (if really ahead) web page.
This gives great metrics on performance. Plus rewarded by less frequent decertification.

Apply this to other fields (ambulance, boat captain...)

By reporting directly through the mechanical interaction - more direct data. Maybe even more accurate? Definitely more efficient.

This is also not next button learning.
(Adding the kinethetic element Stephen Anderson talked about)

#LSCON Sensors and APIs

Kris Rockwell and his explosive device sensor. With Megan Bowe.

The popularity of sensors not to be underestimated.
How can we use sensors to capture user interaction data?

We use sensors every day (see smartphone)
We can use this as a way to collect data!

Experience API gives us new way to collect data beyond courseware completion etc.
Older APIs constrained to desktops. Now need to accommodate different hardware.

With the xAPI - we have a great tool and no idea what to do with it.
Still focused on the old courseware. "How do we convert it?"
(Of course)

#LSCON Experience API and LRSs

Some really nice conversation with Glenn Bull from Skilitix before Aaron's session.

Seems like there are a lot of us grappling with learning analytics and its place in the enterprise.
Not just us end-user folks.
Experience API more like an open standards project.
Define and make instruction set available.

Baseline info on Experience API (Tin Can)

Creating structured record jSon object
Actor- verb -object -result -context

Learning record store - place where activity statement goes.
Records any valid statements
It is a capability - not a product. Make across systems.
Try to use same command across all systems that can read common API.
Want to be able to leverage LRS idea across varying types of systems. Project management, linked in, enterprise systems

Verification done through signed statements

LRS addresses only 1 capability that LMS deals with. The learning records.
LRS = antenna
LMS = fortress

LRS collects. Reporting system makes sense of the data.
The collected data can go across to other systems - Hris systems, LMS reporting, even a personal data locker (maybe through LinkedIn?)

LRS = storage not processing.
Very little validation done at runtime.
Other services make meaning of the data.

Identify person talking about through authentication means.
Can use embox (?) email address. O auth - token that tracks back. Like Facebook or twitter signin from another app.

Can do both group and team (will need to figure out how to architect . This is still early days.)

There is a spec for activity streams.
Google etc care who you are.
Learning folk care what you are actually doing.
Verb list describes what you are actually doing. (Fire a kiln vs. fire a gun)
URI -creating a unique identifier for that verb.
Objects described in lots of ways. LRMI - trying to describe learning resources in common ways.

Result - did you get a result back?
This done separately. (Also traditional thing we measure)
All activity time steamed.
Working on geo-location.

What are people actually using (can we leverage this with existing web analytics?)
How can we build in feedback loops - how is what you are doing (training) translating to the job?

(Good stuff Aaron!)

#LSCON Developing Mobile LMS

The session I am doing that may be more immediately applicable to my organization.

Speaker with Sungard Public Sector (Government arm)
Hooks into their regular LMS
Mobile LMS also self developed

Business needs /user needs / capabilities

Used stepwise progression.
What do we NEED to have happen.
Quick and early betas with each step.

How do you get them to want to do it vs. forced to do it?

Need a way to measure success.
(First, define what success is)

Need to find ways to make it easier to find data for people in the field.
Issue with resync capability. Folks not necessarily coming back to office pc to sync.
Also looking at way to leverage info from conference apps (his org does conferences)

Build or buy?
If we have a successful project - what does it look like?
Everything must feed back to LMS. Can you display results from LMS to mobile site?
Can we feed? Putting stuff INTO LMS hard.

Mobile app vs mobile web. (Standard arguments)

Tech notes
Php for back end
Database using odbc
JQuery mobile for front end
Initially could not register for classes. Needed to hack LMS db tables.
Did web based. Only lost push notification.

What do your users really need /use.
- too much in desktop LMS. Don't need everything.
What classes / courses do you want to focus on to start?

Step wise process
What one person can do in a year
1) create mobile interface for first event (beta)
2) create for second event (pilot process)
3) create full mobile interface. write to database.(does the dev process work larger scale?)

Lock down the phases. Only changes and new features for each phase if something absolutely does not work.

(Essentially he is talking about a conference app development system)
Had some issues with jQuery mobile. Too slow. Right now just hand holding it.

Leaving the aicc / scorm pieces out. Not worried about courses on demand.

Keep your date picker simple (now, this week, this month....)
Big ui thing to consider for mobile - keep it real simple. Easy to touch. Easy to see.

#LSCON Ideas YouCan Play With

I had a chance to meet Stephen Anderson at UpToAllOfUs a couple of weeks ago. Just some awesome ideas. He deserved to be featured.

Basic questions for selecting "technology"
Is it manipulative?
Support self-directed learning?
Immediate feedback?
Ideas You Can Play With
Stephen P. Anderson

As a designer - we work with humans. Good to know how they work.

Mental Notes card deck (this is really cool btw)

Seductive Interaction Design.
How do we get users to fall in love with our stuff?

Laugh-o-gram films.
Also worked to bring live action into cartoons (again - where are the gaps? What tools do you have?)
Theme of his life - investing in the next big thing.
Silly symphonies a platform for new technologies.
Color, sound synch, multi-plane camera...
Always playing with new technologies.
How can I advance what I am doing?

Disney company - plants as multi-touch control!
Just uses software and electrodes.
Also experimenting with grip, gestures, etc
Experiment with feeling on device (which would be awesome on this touch screen!)

Where do people get ideas?
The intersection between disciplines, fields, culture

- self-directed learning. Give them an interesting learning challenge and environment to explore...powerful.
   Minecraft - no leader boards, missions, etc. curiosity, self expression, autonomy...

How do you leverage internal drivers?

- sense of vision picks up subtle things and patterns before it becomes conscious . Subtle differences are significant.Powerful visual imagery allows you to not put stuff in memory
- conceptual metaphors aid in understanding. (bad analogy theatre is a very useful game)
- playful interactions.  Serendipity through play.
- immediate feedback loops.
- embodied cognition. Thinking and thoughts tied to body.
   Thinking then doing doesn't hold up entirely. Really thinking THROUGH doing.
    Can rearrange to facilitate (scrabble)
    (Manipulatives allow you to learn in a different way. Process differently. Have we made our workspaces too sedentary?)

3rd phase of computing. Ubiquitous.
- seeing devices communicate with each other. Scrabble.
- appcessories. Combine tangible vs. screen. Shine activity app.
- changes in how we interact
- sensors that connect to you
(So the next trick is leveraging this stuff - wonder if Steven and Kris have talked to each other today)


#LSCON Cruising the Vendor Hall

Took a quick lap around the vendor hall and found the usual suspects.

Did have a productive conversation with Andy Whittaker at Rustici software.
Those folks are really thinking through the new API and exploring the possibilities of it beyond the LMS / LRS model.

An idea that came to me in Texas (and might make my IT colleagues heads explode) is the thought that there might be a way to automatically generate reportable information from wherever content is housed.

Wendy - think about a small scale prototype for proof of concept.

What if I tried to attach some mechanism for generating Tin Can Experience API statements from our  FTP server? We dump non-tracked stuff in there anyway. We have control (mostly) of that corner of our web space.

You might then be able to dump it and the other stuff into a Learning Record Store, then maybe into your Big Data Warehouse for business analytics.


That goes with the Business Intelligence strategy from my understanding of where that is headed...

Definitely a conversation that needs to be continued.

#LSCON Wed AM keynote

Lots of new people this year (no surprise ). If my organization is any indicator - we have hit tipping point. Elearning is now sexy(ish)

My iPad decided it didn't want to scroll down anymore. Apologies for incomplete words at the end. And the disorganized notes.

(End at the beginning....due to my technology. Blah.)
His big thing - using telepresence to explore vs submarines. The cameras can just stay down.

Tends to work in parallel . Looking at convergence points.
Looking for gaps.
Where can I explore?
What tools do I have to explore it with?
Exploring the Role of Technology in Peak Performance
Robert Ballard

Wanted to be Capt. Nemo when growing up (cool).
Parents encouraged him
- became submariner
- parents sent him to visit Scripps nearby

When in a bad sea - put your nose into the swells.
If you turn - you tip over (decent analogy).

Occasionally you get a rogue wave that is huge and eats you.
(I try to go where there aren't rogue waves)

The mountain range under the sea covers almost a quarter of the earth.
We went to the moon before exploring this feature.
This plays a huge role in the creation of the earths outer skin.
Earth is a living creature and works in a systematic way.

Earth creates skin similar to humans.
Creating new "tissue" and killing old.

(He is telling stories. My Dad is a marine biologist , so I found this section interesting. I see why he chafed at spending the rest of his career as a Budget Analyst).

(Typing this on an iPad. Not bad. Having issues with links. Internet generally good.)

Most of the planet is in eternal darkness . No photosynthesis.
In one dive - changed chemistry, biology, geology.
(Was one of those Scientific Revolution moments that was occurring around him at the time 60s-70s)

Was looking at the volcanoes - but learned about the process of discovery.

Got what was looking for - but in a very different form.
The underground chimneys - vast mineral deposits.

Discovered that sea is salty because the river minerals going into cracks and being processed within those deep cracks.

They found a world that was "not supposed to be there."
At time - assumed that no or limited life with no biosynthesis.
More robust ecosystem than tropical rainforest.

Found a creature that uses poison to replicate photosynthesis.
This may be where life was created on the planet.
May have come on meteorite . 23% this bacterium that uses poison for photosynthesis.

Was in Silicon Valley during 80s.
Dreaming - gotta be a better way to " go to work" than 6 hours there and back.
Absorbed stff

Monday, March 11, 2013

Prepping for Yet Another Conference

Completely unrelated...

Why is it that technology companies are out to make us look like Star Trek characters?

I'm just sayin.....

Another week, another conference.
I haven't traveled this much for work in over 10 years.
Maybe I should think about joining one of those frequent flyer programs.....

This week's adventure is Learning Solutions in Orlando.

One of the more "comfortable" conferences in my calendar.
Not presenting (thank goodness).
Just hiding in my corner near the power outlets and blogging. 
You know, where you will usually find me at these things.

As with most conferences - I go in with a "plan" that I reserve the right to change at any moment.

This week's plan:
- Touch base with the folks I bonded with at Up to All of Us.  And a few folks from that weekend that I didn't get a chance to spend time as much time with as I wanted.

- Find Chad Udell.  We found each other, then missed each other at TechKnowledge.  May turn this into a game :)

- Really explore APIs.  Those sessions will get a lot of play.  Plus, it will give me an opportunity to see Kris Rockwell and Aaron Silvers speak again.

One of the takeaways from my weekend in Texas is the thought that there might be a way to create a system that allows us to track learning automatically no matter where it is housed in our environment. 

The technology isn't quite there yet, but I have a couple of people with much better technical chops than I do willing to play with me.  I hope to touch base with them at Learning Solutions.  Definitely following up in April.

There will be web meetings....

Friday, March 08, 2013


This spring's seedlings under the grow lamp.
- Upper left - Cardoons
- Lower left - Kale
- Upper right - Bete Noire cabbage
- Lower right - Brunswick cabbage

The Bete Noire cabbage looks a bit unhappy in this picture. Those particular seeds sprout later - so I'm not worried.

My seedlings are a little spindly, though.

Time to adjust the growing environment :)
I've started the annual gardening cycle again.  This is my 2nd full season growing stuff in my yard.

Right now - I'm starting seeds for the spring garden.
This spring - broccoli, cauliflower, kale and a couple types of cabbage.

Amazing how quickly those seeds sprout with a little light, a little heat and a little water.

I don't have to fuss over them.  Just keep an eye on them, thin them as they get healthier - picking only the strongest.  The weaker seedlings get composted (or eaten - nom!).

In a couple of weeks - the seedlings should be ready for the great outdoors.

And, if all goes well, I should have green and purple cabbage for coleslaw, kale for kale chips, broccoli to roast (the only way I will eat it) and purple cauliflower to look at (or figure out some way to consume that doesn't require a blender, 2 sticks of butter and a pint of heavy cream to eat).
This 6 month cycle has been about starting seedlings.

- Collecting requirements / challenges from my co-workers (seeds)
- Collecting ideas from my tribe (seeds)
- Creating a fertile environment for these things to grow (light, heat, water, soil)
- Adjusting that environment as needed to support those seedlings (nutrients)
- Weeding out to give the best seedlings a chance to grow strong (care)

As I collect seeds and begin sprouting them, I am continuing to make decisions around what I want in this garden of mine.

What will I use (eat) most.
When is the best time to grow that particular seed.
When is the seedling ready.
Where should I plant it.
Who do I share the harvest with.
What changes need to be made if the process "fails".

In the actual practice of training and development - we tend to focus on the "event".
The Assessment of what needs to be in the event.
Best practices for Design.
The final product for Delivery
The timeline for Implementation.

But in our march to the next project, Evaluation gets neglected.
The step back to see whether we have selected the right seeds.
Created a fertile environment.
Grew what we expected to grow.

This is above and beyond metrics and Kilpatrick levels and smile sheets.
It is in that Evaluation process that we have the opportunity to tend the garden.
All of it.  Not just one plant (the course). Or just one container (the curriculum).

How fertile and varied is your garden?

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Finding the Tribe

During one of the introductory exercises at Up to All of Us last weekend, Marty Rosenheck asked:
Wendy - what three wishes do you have for your professional life.

A little pressure when you have 40+ people staring at you.

My three wishes are:
- A job I love
- People I love to work with
- A field that allows me to explore anything I want.

I spent a long time looking for a professional situation that fulfills these three wishes.
And I am finally there.

I give thanks every day for that.
One of the themes of my weekend in Texas was "finding my tribe."

The folks at Up to All of Us are part of my tribe.

A group of people where I found radical acceptance.


A mirror into parts of my self that I don't necessarily see.

People who I can bounce my craziest and most radical ideas off of and have them treated not only seriously, but added and improved upon.

Intellectual stimulation at leisure.

Seems like a rare and wondrous thing.
As I thought about my answer to Marty's question, I remembered that I have found members of my tribe at work too.

Probably the only thing missing in that situation is the leisure.
I get glimpses, but then one or the other of us have to go to a meeting.
Or we have to "get stuff done." "Stay focused." "Meet deadlines."

There is a level of pressure in the work situation that seems to stunt the important, rambling conversations that lead to connection - both emotional and intellectual.

This makes me wonder - how do we create those spaces in the workplace?

It doesn't have to be physical spaces (because I have found that attempts at "collaborative workspaces" tend to result in workspaces where one can't work at all.  Please see cubicle farms.).

I'm not entirely convinced the scheduled meeting works either.  Seems to take away the serendipity aspect.

I wonder if maybe we should allow the line staff to have the same "offsite retreat" opportunities that executives have? 

I wonder if there is a way that we can "encourage" our colleagues to find THEIR tribe?
Figure out the types of people they want to surround themselves with?
Provide opportunities to spend more time with them?
Create tools and resources to play together - whether they are in the same physical space or not?

From my own experience, finding my tribe has meant that I've gotten a LOT more accomplished - personally and professionally.

And I am much, much happier.