Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thoughts from a Leaders Conference

I've just spent a couple of days in the company of a great bunch of people.

Some background

When I started my career as a Workplace Learning practitioner, I realized fairly quickly that I loved this field. It gives me the opportunity to help others develop new skills. I still get a kick out of the "Aha" moments I get to witness when I'm doing any form of live training. Pretty quickly I also realized that being able to share that feeling and discuss it with others was also very fulfilling so I joined my local learning group. Back then and there it was an organization called SEAL. The Society for Effective Affective Learning. When I moved to the US I joined the International Alliance for Learning and was active there for a while. Those two groups were focused on Accelerated Learning which I still see a set of fundamentally good learner focused principles.

Since 2008 however my energy has been more aligned with ASTD. I see that ASTD is the professional body of my chosen profession. Back in Chicago I really enjoyed spending my time with people who shared some of my passions for learning and started to get more and more involved with my local Chapter. I even ended up on the board where the like-mindedness took another step forward because then I started spending time with others who not only shared my passion for learning but choose to give back to the furtherance of our profession by volunteering their time and energy to their local chapter.

Being on a Chapter board is a lot of work but its very rewarding work. I get to help other learn about helping others learn. How cool is that?

If you are thinking that this sounds pretty cool then I suspect that you might also want to be a part of your local chapter board, giving back to your profession, and spending time with others who do the same. Imagine spending your time with 6-12 others who share that.

Now imagine spending your time with 350 people like that.

That's what the ASTD Chapter Leaders Conference is like. We get together with a single aim. How do we make our chapters better at serving the needs of Learning Professionals in our areas. We share great ideas and learn from each other. We return to our chapters energized and ready to push ahead with new initiatives and new ideas. I'm bringing two specific things back to Golden Gate Chapter with me.

Firstly from the folks up at Sacramento Chapter I'm bringing back "The Programs Machine"  A planning tool that will hopefully allow us to better plan the programs that the chapter hosts, not only the central chapter meetings but also the Geographical and Special Interest groups we have.

Secondly from Houston Chapter the idea of a Leaders Advisory Board. How we can get local learning leaders to guide and advise the board on the work that the chapter needs to do to meet their needs as leaders of large teams of Learning Professionals.

I'm excited about all of these things.

Naturally I was busy tweeting. I've collected my tweets and retweets here.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy Learning


Friday, October 4, 2013

Learning about Leading and Tango.

Day two of the conference in Berlin and this morning I had a number of workshops to choose from and none of them jumped of the page at me to tell me I must attend.

So I chose to allow myself a small amount of spontaneity and went along to the workshop that I would have least expected to find myself in.

So headed upstairs to a session called.

Leadership goes Tango: Impro(ve) your leadership-skills with Tango Argentino

Read the session description here

I found my dance ability at an improv class many years ago when Matt Elwell taught me to 'Get All Up In It' or what we call the GAUII approach.

However I have found that dance where I'm expected to remember steps or even a pattern is not for me.

So attending a session on Tango was a stretch.

It was a well put together 75 minutes and I'm offering to share with you dear reader my lessons from it.

It can be just as hard following a leader as it can be leading a follower.

It's easier to follow blindly (literally). But you must trust your leader to do this.

There are many ways that a leader can work with a follower who resists being led. Sometimes it's best to stop and restart. Sometimes it's best to use the Aikido approach and let the resistance lead fr a moment then overtake that to take leadership again. And sometimes there will be something else to try.

The final exercise we did had a leader, with a blindfolded follower by their side and a resisting (sometimes) follower in front of them.
What I learned from that was how hard it is to lead a blind follower when you change the way you have done it before AND have something else to concentrate on as well.

I'll muse on the lessons from that and how they apply to learning and get back to you all.

In the mean time I feel like a steak!.

Happy Learning

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Learning and Playing. AIN Conference Day 1

Today was the first full day of the Applied Improvisation Network conference in Berlin.

Some great conversations and some great learning.

I was tweeting my notes and thoughts and so were loads of others.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Learning by Engaging Meaningful Change

Regular (ha!) readers will know that I'm a part of the Applied Improvisation Network.

This week I'm in Berlin joining over 225 of my fellow applied  improvisers for our Annual Conference.

The conference starts in about an hour with some Learning Journeys.I'm discovering a 'playful city'. I'll let you know how that goes.

For the last two days I've been with other leaders of the network at a summit where we tried to move forward on some of the things for the network. One of these was about how we define ourselves and our field.

One of the decisions we made was to use three words next too our logo to help with that definition. The words are a base and each of us gets to tweak it to make it relevant to us and our work.

The term is Engaging Meaningful Change. I'm supposed to add an adverb at the front but as I've never been much for grammar rules I cheated.

I believe that not only does learning essentially change people but also that for learning to really happen it has to be engaging, and meaningful.

So my version of the tag line is.

Learning, by Engaging Meaningful Change.

Happy Learning