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?