Reflections on: Work out Loud Week

Last week I made some efforts to participate in Work out Loud Week, which I think is a really great initiative. I think the thing I learned the most is that I need to get better at articulating what I’m doing and why.  Focusing on how to share what I’m working on is a great way to do that!

I’m also in the initial stages of a project, during which so much of the work doesn’t always have a clear output- there’s a lot of learning and strategic thinking that happens at that point that I found hard to capture.

I did do a bit of prototyping for some potential simulations based on a project team request. After noodling around with a few different tools but not quite getting at all the things I wanted, I wound up using Captivate, which was a great experience. I haven’t used Captivate much in a while, the last time would have been Captivate 8 or 9 for a small project, but not for anything bigger than a couple little tutorial videos since Captivate 5. It was way easier and smoother than I remember, and I found it really pleasant to use.  The output didn’t rely on flash, overall, I was pretty impressed with it for that application.

I think working out loud is a great way to both capture some of the tacit knowledge that people carry around in their heads, and demonstrate the value in the day-to-day things people do.  Especially in HR and L&D, this is something that’s so sorely needed.  Overall, the experience was good, and I’m hoping to do a lot more working out loud in general.  I recommend you try it out as well! Here are some additional resources to get you started:

Monday Motivation: Appreciative Inquiry

pablo

When I first read about appreciative inquiry, I remember being completely captivated- nerdy, I know, but I loved the idea of such a positive approach to change and transformation.

Appreciative inquiry is an approach that focuses on the positive and successful- essentially focusing on questions that target successes and what is going well instead of focusing on problems and failures.

It’s actually really challenging to take this approach, however- so much of our lives is focused on solving problems and identifying root causes and mitigating risk. Focusing on what keeps us most engaged and most benefits us, instead- it can feel like sugarcoating.

Instead, it can be a powerful tool to find the opportunity in every problem.  Take these examples:

Problem Opportunity
Employees are not engaged. How can we provide opportunities for employees to do the work that best engages them?
We’re not meeting our profit goals. How can we manage projects to ensure profitable delivery of products and services?
Overhead tasks are consuming too much time. What is the ideal amount of administration to keep us connected on track without overwhelming employees?

These are just a couple of examples where a problem-based approach is transformed into more of an appreciative inquiry approach. Beyond that, appreciative inquiry can be used to focus on the unique strengths of an individual or organization.

What do you do particularly well? What is special that you bring to your work and relationships?

2016: Lots of goals!

Darts- Let's hit the target!The first of the year has brought with it a lot of excitement for me. My mind is swirling with possibilities, and I have a ton of goals I want to achieve.  These can be summed up pretty well with a couple of themes:

Give Back:

I want to give back, and I want to keep track of where my giving is happening so that I can better target my efforts to the things that mean the most to me.  I’ve done a lot of volunteering with arts and education organizations, but I want to start doing more monetary contributions as well, and more personal contributions in the way of acts of kindness. I’m planning to do an act of kindness each day in 2016.  To start off, I’ve donated to an organization local to me that does great work: oneROOF.

Get Better:

As someone who is constantly striving to improve, this is a theme that applies to me across the board. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to develop. I also want to improve my health and strength.  I’m planning to get 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day, I’m planning to engage in a regular regimen of self-care and I’m planning to learn, advance and achieve in my professional life as well.

Go the Distance:

As an “ideas person” I have a million things I want to do and a ton of projects in my head or on the go at any given time.  This can get overwhelming, and I can get  to the point where I start a lot more things than I finish in the course of a year.  I love action! But I think I can focus better.  So this year, I’m looking to finish more (and reflect more on those things I have finished)!  I’ve set some reading goals for the year so that I can work on finishing all the books I’ve started (I have a long queue and lots of half-done books).

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?

Institute for Performance and Learning Conference: Days 1 and 2

IPL BadgeWell!  What an amazing two days I’ve had at the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference in Toronto!  This is my first time attending this conference, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed!

I want to highlight some of the big key takeaways that I’ve had so far!

Instructional Design is a lot like Marketing

So much of what I’m seeing lately is leading me back to drawing on marketing expertise. How do you engage customers (learners)?  How do you help them solve problems?  How do you demonstrate the benefits of what they’re doing?  What pulls them in?  What builds habits?  There’s a ton of parallels.

Senior Leadership

The importance of senior leadership buy-in came up again and again.  In building a learning culture, it’s important that leaders jump in and walk the talk. In adopting new technologies, new ways of interacting, of capturing knowledge- when the leaders participate, others are so much more likely to follow and plans become so much more successful.  Getting the buy in and making that business case may be more important than ever in an age when over 70% of changes fail.

Elearning is old, and new

There are a lot of industries and organizations who are still coming around to the idea of delivering more learning through online avenues.  And there’s also a lot of ancient elearning out there giving good elearning a bad name.  Many in the industry are still struggling to successfully incorporate blended learning techniques.  Because so many people have had bad experiences with elearning as well, the bar has been raised- it’s tough to really surprise and wow a learner when they expect yet another “click next” with tiny text and no interaction required.

People are hungry for stories of overcoming challenges

I’ve heard so much good feedback about a few sessions that particularly highlighted challenges that learning and development teams overcame.  I think this is one of the biggest ways that people can connect and truly learn from each other- Learn from my mistakes, and maybe you won’t have to learn things the hard way!

Get at the knowledge in the room!

Capturing expertise and knowledge is so important yet so many of us struggle to do that.  I learned some great new techniques for capturing best practices, for engaging every single participant to add to the discussion, and for helping others to share.  So much awesome skill and knowledge, we can’t keep it all locked up in people’s heads!

Business Relevancy- More important than ever

Many are struggling with budget cuts, unsupportive leadership, and more obstacles- but it seems that staying relevant and demonstrating that will become more and more important. Businesses need to stay on top of trends, meet objectives, and overall- make money. Demonstrating how we can positively influence those things will keep L&D at the top of the list of critical roles in tomorrow’s businesses.

Change

There’s so much change in just about every industry, which means that learning and development is broadly affected.  There’s major shifts in organizations, in the overall jobs culture, speed of change (hint: it’s getting faster). Add a thick layer of new technology on top, and there are many employees and learners out there who are frozen and not sure how to move forward.  I think my big takeaway is that knowing that change isn’t going away, and that nothing is slowing down- I want our industry to get ahead of it and LEAD the change, not just help everyone else cope.

Change

Trying new tech

Yesterday, I got a chance to try out a cool new platform called Blab. It’s kind of modeled on a late-night talk show- there’s 4 open seats, and you can have a discussion, people can join in and ask questions, and so on. It was super fun! I also got the chance to e-meet someone that I’ve been following for some time now, Jane Bozarth.  We held the chat under the Institute of Performance and Learning umbrella (formerly CSTD, now with new branding!). We had a discussion on a topic that she wrote a book on- showing your work. Basically, the idea is that there’s all this tacit knowledge, and we’re not great at capturing it- but that with some different approaches, we can better share what we know and how we do what we do. I got some cool new ideas for showing my own work!

Anyway, if you want to check it out, you can review the recording!

Reading List

While I love reading fiction, I often get into stages where I read mostly non-fiction- lots of career focused and professional things. I wanted to take quick stock of my reading list to get an idea of what kinds of things I’ll be learning over the next little while (on bus commutes, etc).

Recently Finished:
Do Over: John Acuff
Team Building: William Wyatt
Never Eat Alone: Ferrazzi

In progress:
Show Your Work: Jane Bozarth
Yes, And: Kelly Leonard
Lean Enterprise: Humble, Moelsky, O’Reilly
Continuous Learning: Tussing

In the list for sometime soon:
The Confidence Code: Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Emotional Intelligence 2.0: Bradberry, Graves
Thanks for the Feedback: Stone, Heen
The Big Book of Team Motivating Games: Scannel, Scannel

Lots of interesting things on the go!  Aside from that, it has been a really busy summer, and I’m learning a ton as it is just in my day-to-day work and volunteer activities.  I’ve been back at work for 3 months, and have done a crazy amount of stuff since then- worked on a project that delivered 4 large online courses, designed and delivered 3 different day-long training workshops on various topics, done consulting,  instructional design, development, worked on planning events for the local CSTD chapter, I’m taking on some new responsibilities as well, and it’s fast-paced and a little stressful at times, but overall kind of exhilarating.

I’ve also been working with a designer on a project to redesign this site, so hopefully there’ll be some major design changes here soon as well.  I’m excited, I feel like I’m really kicking off a new chapter in a lot of ways.

Book Review: Do Over by Jon Acuff

So it all started with some tweets:

And the Twitter #bookclub was born. A group of us are reading Do Over, by Jon Acuff. I’m now a few chapters in and wanted to check in and share my thoughts so far!

When I first picked up Do Over I thought it might be related to iterative work- perhaps some kind of application of Agile, wherein you “do over” your work based on feedback.

As I dove into the first chapter, I saw that I wasn’t in the right area at all- “Do Over” seems to refer to the ability some have to “Do Over” things in their lives or careers. The first chapter focuses on the concept of a “Career Savings Account”- basically an idea where you build up a rainy-day fund for your career through investment of time in some key areas. These areas include:

  • Skills
  • Character
  • Relationships
  • Hustle

Nothing crazy and groundbreaking so far, but the tone is conversational and fun, and I’m sucked in. There’s a chart that illustrates how each of these areas can help with various career changes and issues- things that might cause you to call a career “Do Over”.

In the chapters following, there’s some exercises that help you work on the Relationships area. I’ve filled a few pages already with great people I know- I’m continually surprised by all the knowledge and skills and general awesomeness in my network. You guys are awesome. Pause for virtual hugs.

Anyway. we move into different types of people, friends, and foes, and advocates. There’s a big focus on the value of casual relationships, and the best things to do about foes. I got some great tips here- I don’t think I have much in the way of real foes, but what I might have probably falls more under “clueless” than “calculated”. Awesome. There’s a lot of focus on choosing a good approach and attitude- one line that stuck with me was:

“Misery loves company and also recruits it.”

Ouch. I can’t think of many people who would want to knowingly perpetuate misery! But it happens- and books like this help break the cycle.

Advocates are one place I think I’d really like to do some more work. I want to more intentionally shape my career, and an advocate is a good way to do that!

I’m about a third into the book now, and enjoying it. What do you think so far, bookclub?

10 years

This is a special year for me, because it marks 10 years of my being in Canada. I moved here from the US at the very end of 2004. In honor of that I wanted to take stock of how my life has changed over the past 10 years.

When I moved to Canada, I was a student finishing my degree, and living in apartment with my boyfriend. Now, we’re married, we have two sons, two careers, two cats, and I have two citizenships. The past 10 years have encompassed so much positive growth and change for us.

I’m so thankful for everything that has helped me get to this place in my life. I originally thought about detailing some of the big changes over each year, but insetad, I think I’ll just leave it there- with gratitude.

Holiday break

It has been a really nice holiday so far, and I’ve enjoyed the family time! We didn’t go to the US this year, instead spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day with my husband’s family. Other than that we’ve been spending time at home, working on a few little projects here and there and enjoying the break.

I received my CPLP certificate and pin, so it feels official now!

I’ve got a lot of great ideas for 2015, and I’m really excited to start the new year. I’ve got some good personal goals and career goals forming, and I’m looking forward to seeing what my team at work will be working on when I return!

I’ll keep you posted on some of those things here- there’ll be some changes to my site over the next few months, so stay tuned!

September – Glorious Autumn After a Lovely Summer!

I have been quiet writing-wise for a bit, but mostly because I was greatly enjoying my summer! We spent lots of time at the park and taking walks, spent time in the backyard and on the deck, hung out with friends, and it was pretty wonderful.

deck

motorcycle

Park

We got a natural gas line installed for our barbecue grill this summer, which meant lots of grilling, but had the side effect of one of our cats going missing (the contractors left a window open, which we didn’t realize until later). Amazingly, after over two months, he was returned to us via the Humane Society thanks to his microchip. If you ever needed convincing on microchipping your pets, that is it right there. He’s an indoor cat, but it still made the difference between him coming home and not!

Fuzzy

We also visited the Toronto Zoo in August, which has become a yearly trip for us. Wesley had a lot of fun this time and really enjoyed seeing the animals!

Wesley

It wasn’t all rest and relaxation though! In August, I and 14 others were part of a GISHWHES team. It’s this huge worldwide scavenger hunt that went on for a week, with nearly 200 crazy items that had to be completed via images or videos. We did a bunch of different ones, but my favourite was probably the business suit waterballoon fight- basically we had to get 10 people in business suits to have a waterballoon fight, and then take a video and set it to opera music. This is what came out of that-

That was just one of the 100 items that my awesome team completed. It was great. We get to find out soon who won the contest part of it!

In addition to all that, I also completed the work product portion of my CPLP certification this summer as well. It was difficult to do with a newborn at home, for sure, but overall I was proud of all the work I put into that project. I should find out in a few weeks whether I passed or not. Terrifying!

We also got some more family portraits done, which turned out pretty well. Wesley wasn’t 100% cooperative, but the pictures that came from that are so funny that I don’t even mind.

family

W

My birthday has also come and gone. Lots of lovely birthday wishes, and Trevor got me a gift card for an overnight stay at Langdon Hall! I am SO EXCITED about that!

Capping off the summer, some friends of ours got married in Iceland, and then had a really lovely reception back in Canada! It was our first dress-up outing since Everett was born, so we took the opportunity to go all out. It was a lovely evening.

Trevor and I

And now, it’s definitely autumn, though the weather this weekend is still amazing and sunny and warm. But the trees tell the real story.

tree