#WorkingOutLoud on the Social Leadership Illustrations

I’m really trying to focus to get to the illustrations completed for the book on ‘Social Leadership: my 1st 100 days‘. Today, i completed a further ten, mainly around Social Authority, and sharing a couple here, the first of which shows how ‘authenticity‘ is the foundation of storytelling.

Social Leadership 100 - Social Authority

And another here, which accompanies a section talking about ‘when Social Authority fails’.

Social Leadership 100 - Social Authority

If all goes to plan, the book will be out in April.

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International Women’s Day

I’m fully aware that, if we want a better world, we will have to build it ourselves. Waiting for someone else to do the job will be a thankless task. But i’m equally aware that, if someone else did do it, the chances are that it would be a women who was paid less than me. The fact we need a day to remind us of inequality, or to prompt us to celebrate inspirational women, is, in itself, telling.

International Women's Day

I could share stories of the women in my life who inspire me: Lucy, and Charlotte, police officers, making their community safer, Sally, working with autistic children, giving them the gift of learning, Liz, working as a nurse in remote communities decimated by alcohol and drugs. I could do that, but i won’t.

I could share stories of the women who step up, who face the inequality directly: Laurie Penny, one of the most important writers of her generation, Cherie Blair, fighting for human rights and mentoring opportunities for women, but i won’t.

Instead i spend today thinking of my niece who, aged thirteen, is wondering whether to be an engineer, or a nurse, or a hairdresser, or a dancer. Or whoever knows she wants to be this week. I won’t share her story, because it isn’t written yet: instead, i will try to take up the challenge. I cannot change the whole world, but i can change my part within it. I cannot make the whole world fairer, but i can strive to be fairer within it. I cannot help the world we have inherited, but i can use my actions not worlds to change it so that, in time, we hand it on, better than we found it. And so that one day she can ask me why we needed a day for women, to remind us.

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Traditional Strengths

I’ve shared a couple of reflective posts over the last week about to change, and the need for organisations to adapt. The nature of the disruption that we face is broad, and a simple belief that we are immune is not enough. Disruption will not come simply in those areas we plan for and expect, it may come from the very traditional strengths but we hold to be deeply true. Things that made us great in the old world, features of scale, infrastructure, and momentum, may make us weak in the Social Age.

Traditional Strengths

We must look upon our organisations, upon the organising principles, the structures of learning, influence, and control, and ask ourselves if they still suffice: ask ourselves if we are relying an old power, or exploring the new. We are fortunate to be surrounded by communities of explorers who can both challenge and support us on this journey.

I think I’ve been writing widely about this because I am feeling unsettled: over the last month or so I’ve been taking time to share this work in new communities and can sense the un-ease that many organisations and individuals feel. I have no words of comfort beyond provocation: be prepared to change before change is imposed upon you.

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Those Things We Think Are Cast in Stone

It’s a mistake to believe that those things we view as permanent are inherently so: just because something is familiar does not mean that it is permanent. This was on my mind today talking about cars: against a background of travel, I drove my car 580 miles last year, not a high tally by any standard. The rest of the time it sat in the driveway, purposeless, and slowly rusting. We have seen the rise of shared car services, and now, in America at any rate, the building of new condominiums that have no parking spaces and no public transport infrastructure, but instead that come with Uber vouchers. The thinking is that it is cheaper to subsidise shared rides then it is to build infrastructure. So the model of car ownership that I grew up with is rapidly eroded both by my own reality and the social planning that takes place around it. This is true of many things.

Those things we think are cast in stone

Those things we think are cast in stone will be blown like leaves in the wind as the true disruption of the Social Age bites. There are very few areas likely to be resilient to this: two weeks ago I was talking about the future of democracy itself in Canada against the backdrop of increased social connectivity and engagement. We are seeing the widespread disruption of financial services and healthcare. We are seeing the disruption of education and manufacturing through MOOCs and 3d Printing and Maker Spaces.

Take healthcare: historically healthcare was something we did as an exceptional activity. We were ill: we sought help. With the widespread integration of wearable technology and monitoring devices, we will see a slow shift towards healthcare being part of our everyday, proactive, not reactive, supporting our enhanced performance, not simply to react to crisis.

Change is not only in the air: it’s embedded deep in our environment. Our challenge: to create organisations that are able to adapt, that are able to thrive in this new space. Nobody will give us this capability: we will have to earn it.

The belief that things are permanent will do nothing but delude us whilst the leaves blow around us and ultimately sweep us away.

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Reflections On The Learning Architecture

Following on from my last post, just sketching up the eight aspects of Learning Architecture: the aim of this is to create a ‘basket’ of elements, any of which can be bought in by a particular organisation, to give an underlying rigour and effectiveness to the learning. The premise is really one of flavour: an organisation may wish to develop a palette that suits it’s footprint and circumstance. Note this is absolutely in no way about templates, the last gasp of the desperate: this is about empowering instructional designers, within a scaffolding of guiding principles, that they can innovate within.

The Learning Architecture

I think, in my mind, it’s a workshop manual, covering the neurology of learning, the art of learning, and the everyday reality of the learner. So, in that sense, this sits as quite practical and pragmatic material, but so vital: as we adapt our organisations, to be fit for the Social Age, it’s easy to focus on the hard structural elements, but the foundations, adapting our mindset and approach to learning, are key too.

Note that i see this work as very evolutionary: my own understanding of how we design effective learning, in a rapidly evolving ecosystem of knowledge, automation, application and creation, continues to change.

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Developing a Learning Architecture. A #WorkingOutLoud Post

I’m working on a holistic view of learning, a framework for any organisation to employ, to bring together various aspects of learning: methodology, design, modality, and support. I’m calling this a Learning Architecture, as it’s a scaffolding for learning design that can be adapted for any organisation. My previous books have dealt with Learning Methodology, Social Learning, and Mobile Learning, as separate topics, whilst this work is designed more around a holistic design approach. Today, i’m #WorkingOutLoud and sharing the introduction. I’m unsure as yet if i will just publish this work on the blog, or bring it out as a published ‘workshop manual‘ for learning teams.

Learning Architecture

The learning architecture provides a blueprint for learning design and delivery: it addresses the core features which make learning effective no matter what the subject or mode of delivery. Within the learning architecture we consider eight aspects which, together, cover the way that we design the learning, the environment within which it is delivered, the ways that learners are supported, and the way that success is measured.

The eight pillars of the learning architecture are:

1. A learning methodology, which is a set of guiding principles for the design of learning programs addressing the delivery of, and engagement with, the programme.

2. A set of co-creative behaviours for the design of social learning, which gives us a set of behaviours we can utilise as we build upon the learning methodology, specifically focused on how individuals operate within the community to make sense of the learning and share their understanding.

3. An approach to building learning communities, which considers how they are formed, what makes them cohesive and effective, the importance of environment, the role of technology, and how we choose which technologies to use, and the ways we support and safeguard these communities.

4. An understanding of stories and storytelling, the ways they are used in learning, and to support ongoing performance.

5. An approach to the choreography of learning, which addresses the quality of the experience and the cadence of learning.

6. Spaces and permission, which is about the rules and consequences of engagement and what we can do to create a true learning culture.

7. Agility, which is about the ways we ensure that learning supports performance and is not simply an abstract exercise.

8. Games in learning, we consider the role of game mechanics and game dynamics, with a focus on utilising the underlying behaviours of collaboration, competition, and cooperation in learning design.

The learning architecture builds out a foundation of shared language and understanding within a learning team, and their partner organisations. It leaves open wide space for creativity and innovation in learning design, whilst providing a scaffolding of principles, technologies, and behaviours, that will ensure the effectiveness of the learning that we produce. A scaffolding should not constrain the learning design, but rather support it and enhance it, and like any scaffolding, it can be built upon over time

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Projects: The Enemy of Change?

To adapt our organisations to thrive in the Social Age will require a holistic pattern of adaptation: you cannot fix an ecosystem challenge with a single touch point. Reflecting on this got me thinking about projects, and more specifically whether projects are the enemy of change. Many aspects of organisational life are geared up around the definition of, procurement of, delivery of, and endpoint, of projects. And yet the real world, and the social systems that exist within it, have no start and end point. It’s possible that the unit of organisation we use most widely, the project, is itself both part of the resistance to change and part of the system we are trying to change.

Project. - the enemy of change?

I don’t wish to over dramatise, but there’s certainly something about the way that projects are delivered in isolation, whilst change requires an alignment of energy and holistic pattern of adaptation, or at least it does if you want it to bite.

I’ve been sharing the change work widely this week, really stressing that it is not about a new change process: building a Socially Dynamic organisation is a new model of business design, it’s a new type of entity in a new type of world, agile not through great effort, not through system or process, but rather through its deep social connection, fairness, and ability to act at speed without becoming breathless.

The Socially Dynamic Organisation is able to change because it is itself adapted to change: instead of creating a new process, we have created a new space. If we get it right, we create the fertile ground. But as we do so, it’s right to consider some of the unifying principles that have gone before. Do we still need teams that work like this? Projects that work like this? Even budgets that work like this? Do we still need old models of power and control? Old models of learning? Sometimes change is less about what you do that’s new, so much as what you stop doing that is old and redundant.

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