10 resources I enjoyed in February 2013

Flying birdsAlthough I tweet links to interesting resources as I find them, and collate them in my 2013 Reading List, the important thing for me about curation is also taking some time to analyse what I’ve found to try and make sense of it all, and consider how it adds to my own thinking and practice.

So that’s why at the end of each month I take a look at all the resources I have collected during the month, and pick out the ones that I found particularly useful, valuable or impactful. So here is my selection from February 2013.

Working from home

One of the hot topics on the Web over the last week or so has been Marissa Meyer’s decision to terminate working at  home for Yahoo employees.  I was first alerted to this by Dan Pontefract’s post:  Going Forward to the Past: Management Yahooliganism & No Longer Working From Home, where he wrote:

“My jaw dropped when I read it. Thanks to an internal memo leaked to Kara Swisher by a Yahoo employee, we have insight into a recent decision by their C-Suite. Taking a page from “we liked it better when we physically saw you hammering keystrokes on your laptop” the struggling company (bada Bing?) has mandated any Yahoo employee currently working from home (full-time or on occasion) must relocate their fingers and keystrokes back to the office by June. That’s right … if a Yahoo employee was able to work from home, it’s no longer in the employee contract. I call it ‘management yahooliganism‘.”

Since that time there have been many blog posts about this topic. Here are a couple of snippets from two others I found useful reading:

“Edicts like the one from the Head of Yahoo! HR encourage presenteeism. There in body, absent in mind. Human beings are complex and if a simple trick like bring everyone into the same building was a guarantee of success, guess what? Noone would be allowed to work anywhere else. Flexibility was introduced to solve problems and leverage communications technologies; it did not happen for the sake of it.”

“The conclusion for Yahoo!: unless you’re doing very simplistic projects, i.e. routine processing chores, stocking shelves, and the like, you’re staffing your teams incorrectly. If you’re looking for innovation, you need diversity, the subject of many studies before and after ours.There is no way that you have that diversity in toto within driving distance of your Silicon Valley. It’s 2013, not 1950, the year the number of manufacturing workers reached its peak in the US.”

Self-organized learning

Sugata Mitra,  famous for the “hole-in-the-wall” computers he put in to the slums of India and for showing how children can teach themselves, won the $1 million dollar TED prize a few days, and promised to use the money to “build a school in the cloud”. This post at the TED site talks about his SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environment) Challenge, (27 February 2013)

“Sugata is inviting parents and teachers everywhere to set-up a Self-Organized Learning Environment by downloading the SOLE toolkit and creating their own SOLE environments.”

Take a look at the SOLE Toolkit, which offers a framework and suggestions for supporting self-organised learning in school-age children. This is an approach that I actually believe needs to be supported more widely.

More about supporting learning

I read a number of other posts about how people are supporting learning more widely in their organisations this month. Here are a couple:

Helen Blunden’s post and presentation showed How to promote Twitter for professional development to your colleagues (27 February 2013)

“I reflected on how I used Twitter and created a presentation that was a mix of activities, theory, tweeting and personal stories … 

“Are you sure you want to do this? Your colleagues will know your every move!” some people outside the organisation questioned me.

Although this may be considered a downside to some, I’m not one for keeping information to myself (I’d make a hopeless spy) and actively share what I know and what I learn to anyone who cares to listen. Besides, I’m in Learning and Development – I’m meant to coach, teach, support and guide others.  Why would I want to do otherwise?

John Stepper wrote about another type of support initiative in his organisation, A genius bar in every building  (9 February 2013)

“A Genius Bar in every building” started as a blog post on our social collaboration platform. It described how local volunteers could staff pop-up Genius Bars and help people set up their iPhones and iPads. Over the next few days, others contributed ideas and offered to volunteer. Soon, we had organized our first 2 events.

Connected learning

Sharing and learning with and from one other, is nothing new; and doesn’t require an instructor, teacher or trainer to be involved. In fact, in an organisational content the key thing to realise is that it’s not just about “adding social” into instructional forms of learning, but about supporting learning as it happens naturally in the flow of daily work, as Charles Jennings makes clear in Re-thinking workplace learning: extracting rather than adding (14 February 2013)

“Extracting learning from work employs very different approaches to the additive form of workplace learning. Firstly the focus is not on learning but on performance improvement from the outset. It’s also not about requiring workers to adjust their working time and flow to include specific activities that have the explicit purpose of assisting learning. It’s simply about developing approaches that help workers to learn more from their day-to-day work.”

Supporting this type of social or “connected” learning is going to be key aspect of organisational learning in the future (as I’ve written about in previous blog posts myself here). Harold Jarche points out the importance of this approach in his blog posts too. Here are snippets from two of them.

“As more organizations engage with connected workers who have seen the new workplace structures, they will need to change some habits, like letting workers choose their own tools. Knowledge artisans are often more contractual, more independent and shorter-term than previous information age employees. Because of their more nomadic nature, artisanal workers will bring their own learning networks. Companies will need to accept this in order to get work done. Also, training departments must be ready to adapt to knowledge artisans by allowing them to  collaborate and connect with their external online networks. When the future of learning is the future of work, then learning support has to adapt to the new reality of an artisanal workforce. But it’s also worth noting that to be a successful knowledge artisan will take a lot more than just being a good employee.

“Why is self-directed learning and professional development so important today? Rawn Shah, commenting on one of my presentations, said that knowledge is evolving faster than can be codified in formal systems and is depreciating in value over time. This pretty well sums up the situation.”

Knowledgeable, connected workers are clearly opening up a new era of work, as John Kotter explains in It’s the end of an era – enter the knowledgeable networker (13 February 2013)

“So, we now have a new era emerging: The era of the knowledgeable networker. Knowledgeable networkers are very good at what they do, and at the same time, do not pretend to know it all. They consider the entire puzzle, not just their own area of expertise. They’re integrative thinkers with broad interests and connections. They see how puzzle pieces fit together without needing to know everything about each piece – instead, they KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE and HAVE A LOT OF INFORMATION SOURCES. They have instant access to multiple knowledge workers via a phone call, email, Twitter post, or LinkedIn InMail. They can bring experts and expertise into a team, a department, or organization to fulfill a specific need or help seize an opportunity.”

So, are you helping to encourage as well as build the new Connected Worker skills in your organisation?