Tag: work (page 1 of 13)

Weeknote 38/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be in Newcastle on Monday, working from home Tuesday/Wednesday, speaking at the launch of Badgemaker in Glasgow on Thursday, and then heading up a mountain to get in two Quality Mountain Days on Friday/Saturday.

Weeknote 37/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be working from Campus North on Monday, in meetings on Tuesday, flying to Jersey on Wednesday (afternoon) and then working with Victoria College on Thursday and Friday. Due to flights, I’ll not be back home until Saturday afternoon.

Work with me: Dynamic Skillset / We Are Open Co-op

How to be an effective knowledge worker and ‘manage yourself’

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, at the moment I’m reading eight books on repeat every morning. One of these is Peter Drucker’s magnificent Managing Oneself. I’ve actually gifted it to a couple of Critical Friend clients as it’s so good.

There’s some great insights in there, and some sections in particular I’d like to share here. First off, it’s worth defining terms. Thomas Davenport, in his book Thinking for a Living defines knowledge workers in the following way:

Knowledge workers have high degrees of expertise, education, or experience, and the primary purpose of their jobs involves the creation, distribution or application of knowledge.

So I’m guessing that almost everyone reading this fits into the category ‘knowledge worker’. I certainly identify as one, as my hands are much better suited touch-typing the thoughts that come out of my head, sparked by the things that I’m reading, than building walls and moving things around!

Drucker says that we knowledge workers are in a unique position in history:

Knowledge workers in particular have to learn to ask a question that has not been asked before: What should my contribution be? To answer it, they must address three distinct elements: What does the situation require? Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done? And finally, What results have to be achieved to make a difference?

This is a difficult thing to do and, to my mind, one that hierarchies are not great at solving. Every time I’m re-immersed in an organisation with a strict hierarchy, I’m always struck by how much time is wasted by the friction and griping that they cause. You have to be much more of a ‘grown-up’ to flourish in a non-paternalistic culture.

Drucker explains that knowledge workers who much ‘manage themselves’ need to take control of their relationships. This has two elements:

The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. They perversely insist on behaving like human beings. This means that they too have their strengths; they too have their ways of getting things done; they too have their values. To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your coworkers.
[…]
The second part of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication. Whenever I, or any other consultant, start to work with an organization, the first thing I hear about are all the personality conflicts. Most of these arise from the fact that people do not know what other people are doing and how they do their work, or what contribution the other people are concentrating on and what results they expect. And the reason they do not know is that they have not asked and therefore have not been told.

The answer, of course, is to become a much more transparent organisation. Although The Open Organization is a book I’d happily recommend to everyone, I do feel that it conflates the notion of ‘transparency’ (which I’d define as something internal to the organisation) and ‘openness’ (which I see as the approach it takes externally).  For me, every organisation can and should become more transparent — and most will find that openness lends significant business advantages.

Transparency means that you can see the ‘audit trail’ for decisions, that there’s a way of plugging your ideas into others, that there’s a place where you can, as an individual ‘pull’ information down (rather than have it ‘pushed’ upon you). In short, transparency means nowhere to hide, and a ruthless, determined focus on the core mission of the organisation.

Hierarchies are the default way in which we organise people, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the best way of doing so. Part of the reason I’m so excited to be part of a co-operative is that, for the first time in history, I can work as effectively with colleagues  I consider my equals, without a defined hierarchy, and across continents and timezones. It’s incredible.

What this does mean, of course, is that you have to know what it is that you do, where your strengths lie, and how you best interact with others. Just as not everyone is a ‘morning person’, so some people prefer talking on the phone to a video conference, or via instant message than by email.

Drucker again:

Even people who understand the importance of taking responsibility for relationships often do not communicate sufficiently with their associates. They are afraid of being thought presumptuous or inquisitive or stupid. They are wrong. Whenever someone goes to his or her associates and says, “This is what I am good at. This is how I work. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver,” the response is always, “This is most helpful. But why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

[…]

Organizations are no longer built on force but on trust. The existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean that they like one another. It means that they understand one another. Taking responsibility for relationships is therefore an absolute necessity. It is a duty. Whether one is a member of the organization, a consultant to it, a supplier, or a distributor, one owes that responsibility to all one’s coworkers: those whose work one depends on as well as those who depend on one’s own work.

Reflecting on the way you work best means that you can deal confidently with others who may have a different style to you. It means it won’t take them weeks, months, or even years to figure out that you really aren’t  going to read an email longer than a couple of paragraphs.

[This] enables a person to say to an opportunity, an offer, or an assignment, “Yes, I will do that. But this is the way I should be doing it. This is the way it should be structured. This is the way the relationships should be. These are the kind of results you should expect from me, and in this time frame, because this is who I am.”

It’s a great book and, reading it at the same time as The Concise Mastery by Robert Greene is, I have to say, a revelation.

Image CC BY-NC gaftels

Weeknote 36/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be in Newcastle and then Gateshead on Monday, working from home on Tuesday, in Sunderland on Wednesday, working from home on Thursday, and then pottering about during my Friday ‘Doug Day’. I’d still really like to get down to London for Futurefest next weekend as it was excellent last year…

Image CC BY-NC-SA Jonathon Hurley

Weeknote 35/2016

This week I’ve been:

  • Returning home after almost a month away. You can read my write-up of that here.
  • Re-connecting with people on Twitter, via email, and on our We Are Open Slack channel.
  • Spending time with my children, taking them to watch jesters at Alnwick Castle, helping our youngest learn how to ride a bike and tie  her shoelaces, and finding the best walking route to school for our eldest (who’s beginning Middle School next week!)
  • Agreeing a three-month sponsorship of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter from Makers Academy. I’m delighted to have them as a return sponsor!
  • Meeting with my fellow We Are Open members John Bevan and Bryan Mathers to discuss our upcoming thinkathon for Creative Commons around their burgeoning CC Certification program. Our other co-operator, Laura Hilliger, is on a road trip at the moment…
  • Discussing ways forward with CoderDojo’s use of Open Badges.
  • Losing half a stone in weight due to some serious remedial action in terms of nutrition and exercise. I wrote about what I’m putting into my body, and which books I found helpful here. I’ve also been beasting myself up and down sand dunes at Druridge Bay and have started running again (despite the increased migraine risk).
  • Setting up meetings for next week and the week after with people and organisations I think can benefit from what I can offer through Dynamic Skillset, and what we can offer through We Are Open.
  • Getting back in the swing of using an RSS reader in the guise of Feedly. Since I last used it, they’ve added a great new feature called ‘knowledge boards’ which I’ll be using along with my wiki for curatorial purposes.
  • Informing existing email subscribers to this blog that they’re now subscribed to my Thought Shrapnel newsletter instead. I include a roundup of posts I write both here and on other blogs in each issue of my newsletter. If anyone wants to subscribe by email to individual posts from this blog, they can plug the RSS feed into a service like IFTTT or Zapier.
  • Writing:

Next week I’ve got my calendar full of meetings. I also need to do lots of writing to get down all of the things I thought about while I was away! Bryan and I are doing some work with London CLC, and I’ve got a critical friend meeting with a client.

I’ll be taking Fridays off, as usual, as my ‘Doug day’. I noticed that Amazon are experimenting with 30-hour weeks for new teams (although at 70% pay) but there’s plenty of research that shows that people who work fewer hours are happier and more productive! As this article suggests, a four-day workweek is likely to be a recruitment incentive in 2017 and beyond…

Weeknote 30/2016

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #225 of Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely focused on education, technology, and productivity. This one featured what learning looks like, augmenting humans, and the psychological benefits of writing.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 59 (‘LA Love’) of Today In Digital Education, my weekly podcast with co-host Dai Barnes. We discussed alcohol, web ethics, encrypted chat apps, what learning looks like, typing, privacy, the dark web, team formation, and doing small things with great love. This is the last episode until after the summer break, but you can always discuss TIDE in our Slack channel!
  • Spending the first half of the week in Los Angeles. I keynoted and participated in the Corona-Norco Unified School District’s Summer Institute on Digital Badging. My slides can be found here and I used Periscope to livestream/record my presentation (skip to around 03:45).
  • Taking Audrey Watters and Kin Lane out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant near their home in Hermosa Beach. It was so good to catch up with them, and we ate all the things while putting the world to rights…
  • Driving around LA in a Dodge Charger. Its 3.6 litre V8 engine is a bit more powerful than our Toyota hybrid back home, let’s put it that way!
  • Meeting Steve Ruger and others from Educators Co-op. Not only were they great people, but it’s so encouraging to see another education-related co-operative flourishing.
  • Working on case studies (to be used externally) and short videos (to be used internally across the City & Guilds Group) for Digitalme.
  • Submitting one of three proposals We Are Open Co-op have planned for the Mozilla Festival (closing date: Monday 1st August)
  • Booking the Eurotunnel and our first campsite in France for Team Belshaw’s month-long adventure in Europe!
  • Meeting Tony Venus from The Tech Partnership about overlapping areas of interest (digital skills, badges)

Next week I’ll be on holiday. And the week after that. And the week after that. And, er, the week after that…

Weeknote 29/2016

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #224 of Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely focused on education, technology, and productivity. This one featured childhood memories, tethered beings, and the myth of productivity.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 58 (‘Tethered Cretins’) ofToday In Digital Education, my weekly podcast with co-host Dai Barnes. We discussed barefoot adventures, squabbles about education, Pokémon Go, childhood memories, big data for porn, tethered communism, open organisations, culturally contrived ignorance, and more! You can discuss TIDE in our Slack channel.
  • Working one day with City & Guilds Group in London. This was my last day working Group-wide as I’ve switched to working directly with Digitalme (a recent acquisition they’ve made). I updated the Open Badges 101 course that Bryan Mathers and I created and recorded some short video clips to be used internally.
  • Attending the Web Science Institute’s Ethics Symposium in London. It was an excellent event with some top-notch speakers. I was delighted to get the chance to speak in depth with leaders in the field and look forward to following that up. Many thanks to Anni Rowland-Campbell for the invitation!
  • Starting work on some case studies around Open Badges for Digitalme while working from home. I spent some time digging into Sussex Downs College‘s Ufi-funded project, and created a graphic of their employability skills-related badge system.
  • Feeling old as I watched my son’s achievements be recognised in his first school leavers’ assembly. We have a three-tier system in Northumberland, so he’ll be moving up to middle school in September.
  • Helping Sarah Horrocks, Director of London CLC, through our ongoing critical friend sessions. I’m genuinely excited for the work we’ll be doing together (potentially through We Are Open Co-op) next academic year.
  • Drafting a few session proposals for the Mozilla Festival which is at the end of October 2016. The closing date is the end of July, so get yours in!
  • Creating some thinkathon proposals for potential We Are Open clients.
  • Putting up our tent and new awning to get ready for our epic month-long camping trip in August.
  • Packing and getting ready for my brief trip to Los Angeles to speak at the Corona-Norco Summer Institute on Digital Badging.

Next week I’m in California until Wednesday night, then working from home with Digitalme on Thursday and Friday. After that, it’s packing time! As I’ve already said, I’ll be under canvas and away from everything apart from occasionally glancing at work emails during August.

Weeknote 28/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m in London from Monday to Wednesday, doing some critical friend work on Thursday and Friday, and then flying to California on Saturday for some work the week after.

Weeknote 27/2016

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #222 of Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely focused on education, technology, and productivity.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 56 (‘Brave Metaphors’) of Today In Digital Education, my weekly podcast with co-host Dai Barnes. We discussed positive news, metaphors, badges, exercise, credentialing, Evernote, Douglas Rushkoff, Brave, Ecosia, Codemoji, Obama, cognitive potential, and more! You can discuss TIDE in our Slack channel.
  • Suffering from delayed jet lag. I was fine last week, and then ended up going back to bed on Monday morning after getting breakfast for the kids. Funny how these things work…
  • Chilling out on Tuesday and spending time with the family. I read things I’d been queuing up to read, and did some admin I’d been putting off for a while.
  • Buying a roof box for our upcoming family camping trip around Europe. I’ve planned out a rough route that takes us down past Lyon, into Italy and Lake Como, down past Nice and into Spain, visiting Barcelona and San Sebastián, and then back home via the west coast of France. Fortunately, we’ve got the whole of August to do that…
  • Working with City & Guilds from their London office on Wednesday. I also got to have a pleasant drink and a chat in the sunshine outside the British Library with John Potter from UCL.
  • Getting the DNS sorted out so that the We Are Open Co-op site could go live. Many thanks to Laura Hilliger for doing the majority of work on that!
  • Speaking at the Festival of Skills event on Thursday and Friday. I think it’s fair to say that there were less people there than expected. Still, I got a bit of a tan, got to hang out with the Digitalme guys, and got to talk about both Open Badges and the work Bryan Mathers and I have done with London CLC!
  • Honoured to be mentioned in the same bracket as Audrey Watters in this glowing post from Ben Wilkoff. I was particularly enamoured with this paragraph:
    • “They are philosophers in the best sense of the word: they offer a distinct viewpoint on learning that sets them apart from many of those around them. Although they are part of a broader blogging and academic community, they are not of it. They are both reaching further and creating more. And it is in this act of creation that I am most inspired.”
  • Writing:

Next week I’m working from home on Monday, down in London on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then back home on Thursday and Friday. The latter are the only days I’ve got any capacity until September, really — unless I re-jig things around my trip to California in a couple of weeks’ time.

Weeknote 26/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week: I’m taking a long weekend, then working from home on Tuesday, in London with City & Guilds on Wednesday, then at the Festival of Skills on Thursday/Friday.

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