Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 8-14, 2015

Ten things that people who love their lives do differently. Higher Perspective.

Twenty beliefs happy people share. Lifehack. My favourite? #17: They comprehend that happiness isn’t everything.

How to live with mystery in a culture obsessed with certainty and definitive answers. Brainpickings.

RSA’s take on Susan Cain’s message on the power of introverts, plus a link to Susan’s TED Talk. Brainpickings.

The neuropsychiatric dimensions of movement disorders in sleep. Psychiatric Times.

The moon as you have never seen it before. NPR.

Veritasium interviews Commander Hadfield.

 

I love Vsauce rambles. It reminds me of being in university, when ideas ping-ponged off one another in my skull and inspired me:

 

What one artist is doing to educate us about everyday harassment (you know, cat-calls and wolf whistles?). UpWorthy.

Lauren Davis presents ten real-life female spies who deserve their own movies. Why not a novel? Giving you ideas with what Thoughty Thursday is all about! i09.

More training isn’t always the answer. Harold Jarche.

These kitsune (foxes) are so kawaii (cute) it’s kawai (scary). Foxes roam freely in the sanctuary of Zao Fox Village. My Modern Met.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe rocks Brainpickings 🙂

Sergei Polunen’s gorgeous interpretation of Hozier’s “Take me to church.” The Huffington Post.

See you again on the weekend!

Thoughty Thursday

Advertisements

Four learning-related resources that have come my way recently

After two weeks out of town, I have a couple days off.  So this week the learning mutt is sharing some of the interesting stuff she found on the interwebz 🙂

The first two come from my friend BrainySmurf courtesy of her blog Connecting the Dots.

Brainy’s a MOOCer, that is, she participates in massively open online courses.  Through her most recent set of them (I think 4 at last count), she’s come across Susan Cain and her site: The Power of Introverts.

Now I’m essentially an introvert, though I work in an industry that has me talking to people all the time, facilitating courses, and the like.  I dislike “putting myself out there” and “being on.”  Really, what I want to do is work independently with words (just let me design courses and give me the time to finish them properly!), and of course, write.  My true preference would be to write all the time, holed up in my wee garret, but I know that after the writing comes the promotion and I have to be super “on” for that.

Susan Cain - Quiet - The Power Of Introverts

Susan Cain – Quiet – The Power Of Introverts (Photo credit: k-ideas)

What this means is that I have to find my power as an introvert and learn how to use my innate and learned talents and skills to their best effect in an extroverted world.

Last week I mentioned Susan’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s definitely on my reading list.

Last year, Brainy also mentioned Gretchen Rubin and her book The Happiness Project.  This week, I saw Gretchen on Canada AM promoting her new book Happier at Home.  Gretchen also came up during the platform-building course I’m participating in with Dan Blank of We Grow Media.  She was cited as an excellent example of platform-building, self-promotion, and book marketing.

PBS @ SXSW 2010 / Gretchen Rubin

PBS @ SXSW 2010 / Gretchen Rubin (Photo credit: PBS PressRoom)

When I first saw Brainy’s post on Gretchen, I wasn’t caught.  I was happy and didn’t really need any advice in the area, or so I thought.  Now I’m reconsidering my position.

A recent crisis in self-confidence has forced me to face the fact that I’m not currently happy.  Stress, mostly self-imposed, has me out on a limb and trying to look at myself in a mirror at the same time.  Tricky business that.

I’m thinking that I have to take another look at The Happiness Project.

Clark Quinn (the Quinnovator) noted on his blog learnets this week that Learning Design isn’t for the Wimpy.

ID isn’t easy.  We’ve been given some content, and it’s not just about being good little IDs and taking what they give us and designing instruction from it.  We could do it, but it would be a disaster (in this case, that’s what we’re working from, a too-rote too-knowledge-dump course.  And it’s too often what I’ve seen done, and it’s wrong.

Instructional design, or ID is what I aspire to do.  I write courses now, but it’s not really ID in the sense that Clark’s talking about.  There’s no consultation, there’s no conversation, there’s no back-and forth.  So far, I’ve only been writing courses on topic in which I’m considered the expert.  I can only write what I think a learner would need to know.  Being self-taught in most of these topics means that I’m writing courses for learners like myself, but I know that not everyone has the predisposition to learning that I do.

I try to work in what I think other learners will like and relate to, but it’s all through my own filters, and ultimately, that’s not good design.

Harold Jarche

Harold Jarche (Photo credit: Harold Jarche)

Which brings me to my next find: Harold Jarche.  He’s the champion of personal knowledge management, or PKM, and his latest post on Life in Perpetual Beta talks about how PKM can work to foster innovation within an organization.

In an organization where everyone is practising PKM, the chances for more connections increases. Innovation is not so much about having ideas, as making more and better connections.

PKM is something else I aspire to (hence the learning mutt), but it’s really only possible in my workplace at the advisory level or higher, and not many of us have hopped on the bandwagon so the sharing community isn’t huge.

Right now, it’s a problem without a resolution.  I have the solution, but not the internal platform to promote it.  I don’t have a lot of authority and all I can really do at this point is lead by example and talk it up every chance I get.

I set up a SharePoint site for the training team last year focused on professional development, but I was the only one using it.  I eventually stopped updating and promoting the site.  A bit of a defeat that, but perhaps someday I’ll be able to get back to it.  Not being a part of the training team anymore kind of throws a monkey wrench into those gears.

That’s it for this week.  Feel free to follow Brainy, Clark, or Harold.  They really are excellent resources in the learning and development field.

Also feel free to share any learning resources that you’ve found recently in the comments below.

How does chaos become complexity?

Yesterday, I came across this wonderful post by Harold Jarche: Complex is the new normal.

In it, he posits that complexity is the new “normal” state of business and that those who exist in chaotic, or disordered business environments need to shift into complexity to be truly innovative.

For definitions of complex, complicated, and chaotic systems, please refer to another of his posts: It’s not complicated, you see?

The bottom line is that we function in a constant state of change these days, and depending on the specific pattern your business adopts, or falls into, you may have to take a different approach to personal and professional development.

Change and change management

My employer has just hit its stride in the business transformation game and right now, it’s utter chaos.  Add to that budget cuts that are resulting in further staff reductions.  Still business has to be done, training has to be delivered and we all have to find some way to deal.  The environment is hostile, reactionary, protectionist, and uncommunicative.

It’s difficult to remain positive in such an environment.  I must admit, I’m not doing well in this department.

We’re facing one of the biggest and most prolonged processing backlogs ever and employees are getting letters.  No one is safe, I’ve learned.  Even those who were assured that their jobs were not in jeopardy are learning otherwise.

What concerns me is that once the main thrust of the transformation process is completed, and the dust begins to settle, the chain reaction continues.  Several positions are staffed at a ratio of processing staff, including mine.  If insufficient numbers have been culled by attrition (those in a position to are seriously considering retirement) or promotion, further reorganization will be necessary.

Fortunately, I’ll have some time to wait for that nether shoe to fall.

My boss and team are a clever bunch, and they’ve decided to wade into the fray by offering Change Management training to affected staff.  Because I think it’s an important and valuable service offering, I’ve thrown my hat into that ring and will be part of the implementation team.  In other words, I’ll be training again 🙂  My wee trainer’s heart rejoices.

But change management is only part of the puzzle.  In order to pull out of this chaotic nose-dive we’re in, we have to strive for a more ordered, but still deadly flat spin, a more complex state from which we might have a chance of recovering.  If we’re clever.

Failing that, we could always eject.

But how do we achieve a complex state?

In an associated post, In an increasingly complex world, Harold Jarche shares Robert Warwicks’s seven essential criteria to consider in an increasingly complex world:

  • Go out of your way to make new connections.
  • Adopt an open, enquiring mind-set, refusing to be constrained by current horizons.
  • Embrace uncertainty and be positive about change – adopt an entrepreneurial attitude.
  • Draw on as many different perspectives as possible; diversity is non-optional.
  • Ensure leadership and decision-making are distributed throughout all levels and functions.
  • Establish a compelling vision which is shared by all partners in the whole system.
  • Promote the importance of values – invest as much energy into relationships and behaviours as into delivering tasks.

Jarche states that these criteria are a good place to start when trying to align one’s business environment to high-functioning complex from less efficient chaos, something he says he doesn’t see in most businesses these days.

I’m trying.  Sweet googly-moogly, I’m trying.  No “but” face here.  I’m seriously givin’ ‘er.

Will let you know how this all pans out.

Is your workplace in a state of flux?  Is there any strategy in place to help staff adapt and grow?  How are you dealing with change personally?  Let me know.  Seriously … commiserate!

Participant Centered Training and Personal Knowledge Management

Bob Pike is responsible for introducing the concept of participant centered training (PCT).  He’s been in the training industry since 1969 (the year I was born, incidentally), but focused on PCT since 1979.  Needless to say, PCT is not a new idea.

Traditionally, corporate training has been conducted by a “talking head,” a subject matter expert, who imparts her or his wisdom to waiting students.  The assumption of this kind of training is that the students are sponge-like, highly motivated, and that they will somehow find a way to absorb what the trainer is saying, or to mimic the trainer’s behaviours, and be able to magically transform that information into the performance their employer desires.  But how does the average learner, who may or may not be sponge-like, accomplish this feat?  That’s the problem.

PCT turns that paradigm on its head.  The trainer is merely present to elicit the desired knowledge from the learners, to encourage the appropriate behaviours, and to facilitate the process of discovery that will lead the learners to exhibit the desired performance in the workplace.  It’s no longer about having all the answers, but about being able to help the learners, now active participants in their own learning, find the answers for themselves.

Not the “sage on the stage.” Instead, be the “guide on the side.”

Primarily, PCT is a classroom methodology, and that is how it’s often taught, but once learned, the principles can be applied to any kind of training.  If you can design the right kinds of activities and ask the right kinds of questions, it’s still possible to implement PCT online in synchronous courses, or even online, asynchronously.

It’s the facilitation (or the framework) that’s the key.

I took an introductory course to PCT delivery in 2009 and in September of 2011, took the next course on my way to training certification within my organization.  There’s a lot more to PCT than what I’ve mentioned here, but that’s the key learning behind PCT.  How the trainer, or designer, accomplishes it has been the subject of books, academic papers, and the foundation of many a training business.

It could also be the innovative trainer’s ticket …

So check it out.

Some resources for you:

I’m a novice at this whole training gig and I know I have much farther to go.

Case in point: Harold Jarche.  The man has seriously been blowing my mind in the last weeks with his posts on his blog: Life in perpetual beta.  I cannot articulate the awesome right now.

Just go read his blog.  Follow it.  Become a PKM disciple 🙂  What’s PKM, you ask?  That would be personal knowledge management.

PKM takes PCT and turns that paradigm on its head 🙂  The learner is ultimately and intimately in control of their own learning and in many ways takes facilitation out of the equation altogether.  As a newbie trainer it freaks me out a bit, but PKM is the way I prefer to learn, through networks and connections, and as an addicted learner, I’m a fan.

Acronyms abound!  So what do you think?  PCT or PKM?  A liitle from column A and a little from column B?  Does it depend on the learning situation?  Can PCT be a stepping stone on the way to PKM?  Tell me what you think.