10L: A few simple questions about how leading professionals see their work.
I focus on helping people work together better by increasing engagement and accelerating knowledge sharing. I began my career in education and moved deep into the digital learning space over the past 20 years. I regularly blog and speak on the topics of continuous learning, collaboration and organizational social design. New book coming out soon, Social By Design: How to create and scale a collaborative company, with friend and co-author, James Tyer.
So, what do you do dear? Describe your work to an elderly relative.
Most elderly folks I know are pretty wise. So, I’d share that I, like many, engage in diverse work from crafting modern learning solutions to strengthening organizational collaboration. All-in-all I would say I help reduce the friction in people’s work.
What was your favourite learning experience (Could be work, personal, school…anything is valid)? What were you trying to do? Why did it work so well for you?
Personally and professionally I am motivated by fixing things, making the broken better or stronger so most of my favorite learning experiences came through “doing the work”. Just a few years ago, using only the tools I had an YouTube, I was able to replace my 16 year old car’s water pump and the friction plate on a 1980’s model snowblower. It was challenging, engaging, experimental, and satisfying!
Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)
Assuming that the solution is to do something for people when we should start with doing something with people! Learning, as Charles Jennings once said, is about experience, practice, conversation and reflection. Organizational learning does really well about creating content and even experiences but really bad at creating the space for conversation and reflection. Often that’s what is all that is really needed, the opportunity to talk, think and work through a solution which is best for them. We need to create more channels, not more content.
Same again please…What has changed for the better in your professional world as a result of COVID working practices? Should it be retained for the future (whenever that might be and whatever it might look like)?
COVID was an amplifier and accelerator. It, as has been said, the pandemic was the real agent for digital transformation. Prior to COVID, organizations were still working on social tech adoption (really?). COVID took care of that as companies had to lean heavily on remote work and communication. We now can stop convincing people why to use these technologies as we shift from adoption to adaptation – adapting our work to happen more openly and transparently, changing behaviors, expectations and hopeful organizational design itself.
From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return?
Travel. Being on site with clients and co-workers. Yes, we are proving daily we can get work done and collaborate digitally but evolution made face-to-face the best form of communication. Physically being with others is important for relationship building and really getting to know someone. The best work is done when people generally like each other and to do that, we really need to know each other by being with each other.
Theft is the sincerest form of flattery…Which part of which other industry or profession do you think we should learn from and adopt (or just steal)?
I’m fascinated by Marketing. It’s so much just psychology and sociology in action. When you see how good, sincere marketing reveals who we are as humans. It can makes us move and converse, act and react. We can learn a ton about human motivations through how Marketers use video, writing, imagery, etc. It’s not surprising that some of the most successful learning solutions are keen to tap marketing practices.
You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?
That’s a really, really tough question. I could go in so many directions here but as I began thinking about it, I glanced at my bookshelf and immediately zero’d in on the book Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do by Euan Semple. And given you said “team”, I thought how awesome it would be to have Euan with his diverse experiences, lived life, optimism, realism and all with a sprinkle of philosophy on a work team. No doubt any approach or solution with him involved would be a remarkable and meaningful success.
If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?
If I only had… Slowed down. Most of my errors are made when I see everything as urgent. In doing so I can come at my approach a bit short. I’m learning that after I have a full understanding of the problem or challenge, I really need to just get up and take a walk. Think through it in a space I cannot instantly respond and allow new, different ideas to swirl around a bit.
There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?
My mobile device gives me the ability to connect with my network in just about any situation, context or time. It’s invaluable as my network is scattered across time and space… So, mobile device and apps that reduce the friction of connection.
The picture of success…Which image or picture is a good representation of how you would like to develop your practice over the next five years?
(A bit obscure. It’s a scene from my favorite book – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It speaks to wisdom, community, courage and doing the challenging work of creating your own place).
Where can we find you?