Happy 2013 and farewell 12! I had a year filled with learning, filled with change, and have entered 2013 with a deeper understanding of what matters most (well, to me!) in the world we live in. As I look forward to this new year I want to share the five key lessons that are defining and framing my efforts.
I have seen, and brought into my practice, the power of authentic leadership. Not the top down, need to tell you your job type leader but the one who engages, encourages, and trusts. Peter Evens-Greenwood stated that “Leadership is a role to be adopted when needed, and then passed on when the need has gone. It’s a dynamic thing, moving around the organisation, reshaping the organisation as it passes from individual to individual, team to team.” Harold Jarche refined that with his reminder of the Cluetrain Manifesto (#7) that Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy while outlining the leadership that will grow and succeed going forward. I have seen the powerful impact various types of leaders can have and I know I want to be the one that shares the vision of where we can be, how we can impact the organization, and make a difference in people’s lives by engaging, communicating, collaborating, and trusting each member of the community you interact with.
I discovered that success is created when we define the outcome first, when we start with the end in sight. success may be a positive ROI, creating positive change into the business and/or the consumer experience. Success may be identifying what Julian Stodd describes as a quantifiable difference in skills, knowledge or attitudes that can be attributed directly to our efforts. Measure what matters is an old phrase however if you don’t know what matters to the organization and the end-user (employee or consumer) then you are wasting time and money. Success is making a difference and sharing that impact with all those involved.
I know that analytics can measure topics, concerns, and issues long before they become a “problem” that will divert us from work that matters only if we put them in place early and listen to them often. As we bring our devices to work we are progressively more networked using more social (learning) systems to seek out answers to our questions. We, as T&D and PSS professionals, must find ways to measure the impact, the ROI, these interventions have on the business. We must maximize these communication channels to enhance and improve the overall learning experience and take every chance to engage and interact with our learning community so we can improve our systems and form smarter, more effective communities of practice and collaboration. Analytics can help us impact the business by reducing waste early, we can increase productivity, and streamline process/workflow efficiencies. The bottom line is impacted by selling more widgets but we need to highlight that not wasting time, not making a large volume of errors, and retaining our talented workforce also impacts the bottom line – and for much longer.
When I wrote that I am a content strategist my intent was to help organize T&D and highlight our future role as an organization’s info-hub, the first place to go to when their need is now. As Bob Mosher wrote “business will only be as successful as its learners’ ability to sustain, innovate and continuously improve their performance.” I am more convinced that “we” learning professionals need to become community managers leading the discussions when appropriate, participating and/or connecting with the experts when timely, and supporting the conversation at all times. Content curation can help critical thinking allowing those that need to make decisions to make them fast while being more informed about the specific topic. My mission is help people succeed and “we” can place information into context and help our community make sense of it all. Robin Good said that “curation is about making sense of a topic/issue/event /person/product etc. for a specific audience” and here is where our instructional and design skills can be maximized. I will be looking for new ways to identify and work with content generators to create ways for our learning community to “see” different ways to solve the problem.
Finally I learned that engagement is more than simply having a best friend at work – although that helps. As a follower, and as a leader, I am convinced that honest engagement is the merging of leadership (no matter the “level”) and a committment to excellence. In an earlier post I wrote that an engaged leader, using Harold Jarche’s model as seen to the left, can “see how you can change your culture, how you can transform each person to move from their potential to where their performance will shine and where they will lead”. So I am taking Robert Warwick’s recent research to heart moving forward in 2013. He identified “seven essential criteria that are important to consider in an increasingly complex world, these were:
- 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 behaviors as into delivering tasks.”
These are my commitments guiding me forward and I am focused on living, learning, and succeeding in our mobile world along with the community I support. I am practicing these ideas with my publication of the Performance Learning Daily and using social media tools to enable conversations between people separated by distance and/or time. And it is the conversations that I prize as they push our expectations, enable new ways to provide solutions, and expand our chances to learn, or as Peter Evens-Greenwood stated, “it’s not learning that is the challenge, it’s our ability to unlearn that’s holding many of us back.” Collectively, with your input, guidance, insights, and discussion we can all learn, or unlearn, together and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee along the way! I hope your 2013 is awesome!