Categories
Learning and Development

A Book for a Business Card? Working Out Loud

Within moments of my arrival, at the Edutech Sydney – What’s In it for Training and Learning Meetup, I had received a free book (Working Out Loud).

The deal was that I had to give up my business card. The benefit was I didn’t have to as I knew the giver (Michelle Ockers) who had finished presenting to the conference.

Which was lucky for me. For,  after reading this book, I don’t have enough business cards to make the exchange worthwhile!

I began as writers do. I turned the book over and read the summary. The following phrases leapt out at me : “Investing in deeper relationships“,  “Lead with generosity…You make your work visible and then frame it as a contribution.” That was enough for me. John Stepper had described the ideal workplace!

But how does Working Out Loud achieve even progress to that ideal? What is it all about?

Working Out Loud as defined by John Stepper is “an approach to work and life. It helps you achieve your goals and feel better about work while you discover more possibilities.”

I read that and my curiousity was quickened. Then he continues….”Think of Dale Carnegie’s (How to Win Friends and Influence People) meeting the internet.  I’m laughing out loud (on the train). I have a clue what this is all about. For John Stepper has mentioned one of my favourite all time non-fiction books. Although How to Win Friends and Influence People deals specifically with getting along with people. Working Out Loud takes that further…

Stepper mentions the following steps…

  1. Purposeful Discovery.
  2. Building Relationships
  3. Leading With Generosity
  4. Making Your Work Visible
  5. A Growth Mindset.

And I want to know more.

I’m interested that Purposeful Discovery evokes adult education, specifically being a self-directed learner, and using critical reflection to discover and apply knowledge.  So far so good.

And that Building Relationships evokes Dale Carnegie. Another tick.

And that Leading With Generosity mentions Give and Take by Adam Grant. This was the book that diagnosed and helped resolve one of my major work and personal issues. I’m too generous and I burn out. But from that book I learnt how to manage  my workplace giving. But not to give up on serving others which is the best form of leadership (see Robert Greenleaf and his work on Servant Leadership). Excellent!

Working Out Loud !

And then Making Your Work Visible.  Here is the real reason that I’m holding this book. For this is the challenge for me. Up until now I thought Working Out Loud was blogging about your day. It’s not. Yet I want to share but not overbear when I do. And that’s the challenge. But there’s yet hope…

 

 

 

 

 

A Growth Mindset. Stepper talks about learning by effort. And me being me, I think of cricket. Especially how the determined players improved themselves and often bettered the more talented ones.

Better get started. It will be an interesting journey.

 

Categories
Learning and Development Problem Solving

Ongoing Learning for Professionals: The Reflective Partitioner

One would expect that the professional you deal with is always learning. Right?

Doctors, nurses and medical specialists are learning about new drugs and their effects, disease treatment, surgical techniques and treatments, etc…

Stethoscope
Stethoscope

And lawyers too, are learning. They learn about new legislation, litigation and precedents, etc.

But what happens when things go badly? When a critical incident occurs? How do they learn from that? Do they reflect upon what they learnt? Or not?

Firstly, what is reflective learning anyway?

Defined succinctly, it is analysing one’s learning rather than merely absorbing it!  It usually happens when learning does not work as well as one would expect.  See Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning by Jack Mezirow for the full academic treatment.

And why is it useful?

Often it results from a critical incident where the normal learning failed to work or new learning occurred. The participant is encouraged to reflect upon what they learnt and use it in the future. Often this is seen in sport, for example, a batsman in cricket has a certain weakness which is then exploited. Once the batsman realises the weakness, changes in technique can be applied.

But professionally?

The subject arose during aTwitter discussion on reflective learning for lawyers.  The discussion centered around the necessity of reflective learning. That discussion led to the following article which talked about reflective learning in the context of legal studies.

Upon reading the article, it proved to be a brilliant example of the power of reflective learning. It showed how students can extend their knowledge by expanding the scope of their learning. Truly Transformational adult education.

But it sounded like a new-fangled idea!  Professionals applying reflective learning? Who would have thought?

Donald Schon did!

I can remember trawling through the library researching an assignment on adult learning. On one of the shelves was a leather bound book. I took it down and blew the dust of its pages.

It was Donald Schon’s The Reflective Practitioner. Underneath the dust was a treasure of wisdom.

Schon takes the view that professionals need to be less reliant upon theory but be continuously learning through improvisation and reflection to remain professional.

While he explicitly mentions architects, engineers, town planners, management and psychotherapists  his advice is easily expanded to accountants, medical staff, information technology specialists, consultants and lawyers. Perhaps even adult educators.

It’s still relevant today, perhaps more so, in our short attention span world.

Categories
Facilitation

The Instant Facilitator

Apart from school debating and one lecture presentation, nothing prepared me for my debut as an instant facilitator.

I was an attendee for a computer user conference at the World Congress Centre Melbourne at Crowne Plaza. As part of the Queensland branch of the group, I had been asked to introduce each speaker and then ask for questions once they had finished. This was easy. Usually there were no questions and I wrapped it up quickly. Or with too many questions, I left everyone to continue the conversation out the door after the presentation finished.

Which meant I was completely unprepared for the last session of the conference.

Participants in plenary sessionFifteen minutes beforehand, I was taken aside and asked to lead. I almost went into apocalyptic shock. This was a plenary session. Me in the middle, five geek gurus on my left and several hundred system managers, developers, engineers and sales people in front of me. I was outgunned and more than a little overwhelmed.

And my preparation didn’t help either. I quickly scanned the names of the experts. I saw that one of them had worked on an previous incarnation of the currently popular operating system. That old clunker had a command called show stardate. I thought I could use that as my icebreaker.

I turned around and the fifteen minutes have disappeared in seconds. I walked to the podium. I waited for the geek gurus to sit. Then I wait for the audience to file in.  I made sure to keep my hands behind the podium. If exposed they would be glistening from sweat.

I introduced myself. Then the experts. I make my joke about the show star date command. And I die. I received a dirty look for my failed joke.

I had no choice. I had to go on. Then it didn’t matter. I opened up the session for questions. And then I stepped into a different space and time. I’m suddenly aware of who was asking questions and what they really meant. Every so often, I would take a question and then ask for more information. Or paraphrase the question back to them for clarity. Both I found helped the experts with their answers.  I’m not sure but I may have asked questions of them myself : I now know I tend to do that if no one else is asking.Andrew Whalan Facilitating

It worked brilliantly. I was relaxed. I even apologised to the man at the back dressed in black sitting in front of a dark wall who I couldn’t see too well.

It went so easily. Except I’d never facilitated before and had only spoken in public on one other occasion. So what happened?