Open Thinkering


Weeknote 40/2023


Time horizons are funny things. Although we can zoom out and see the bigger picture to do long-term planning, in my experience, most of our lives are spent with time horizons of just a few weeks. Mine is currently the end of this month.

By ‘time horizon’, I mean the span of time beyond which it’s difficult to focus on with a level of clarity or granularity that can spur immediate action. This time next month we will have moved out of our house and living in rented accommodation. It’s temporary, and will put us in a better position in the current housing market, but it’s still a bit of a leap into the unknown.

Some people are better at dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity than others. I’d put myself in that category, as I expect the world to be somewhat random, disordered, and chaotic. Which is why I’m not a Tory: the world is not as depicted in a Richard Scarry picturebook.

This week, I succumbed to the cold that the rest of my immediate family have had. It’s annoying, because I think I could have avoided it had I not gone for a run on Tuesday when I felt on the verge of being ill, and should have known better. Tuesday, in fact, ended up being a bit of a self-induced day of failure in which I managed to drive around in a futile manner looking EV charging points and plan a running route that crossed the A1 during rush hour.

So I haven’t felt physically on top form this week, which has a knock-on effect on my work and outlook on the world. What has cheered me up is having a virtual coffee with a few people after I shared my calendar for them to book a slot. If you’re reading this and would like to do likewise (my Weds/Fri afternoons) please do so. I’m a good listener.

A ‘good listener’, as I point out in this post on mapping Open Recognition against skills taxonomies can be conceptualised as ‘active listening’. This is something I’ve really enjoyed working on recently, as it seems to be getting back to the original revolutionary vision for Open Badges. I’m working on a second part to that post, and you can preview the workflow I’m suggesting in this discussion thread.

Talking of blog posts, I also published one wrapping up Season 7 of The Tao of WAO podcast which I co-host with Laura. She’s got one more week of holiday left, sailing around Greek islands with her husband and sharing photos of beautiful secluded beaches. I’m definitely not jealous or counting down the days until she’s back.

I’m back in my routine of posting daily to Thought Shrapnel, and have moved the weekly newsletter to Substack. It’s amazing the difference a platform can make: new people are actually subscribing rather than existing people unsubscribing!

I got confirmation earlier this week from The Open University that my registration is complete for my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. My first module is TB872: Managing change with systems thinking in practice:

This module is about effecting systemic and systematic change in uncertain and complex situations, change that can transform situations for the better. It views change as inescapable in managing everyday situations ranging from personal to workplace to society in general. Rather than passively accepting change, this module will equip you with skills to shape the nature and direction of change. It will develop your abilities to manage change with others to avoid systemic failures and improve joined-up actions amongst stakeholders along supply chains, in projects, or even in social activism. It’s about learning to use systems thinking in practice to help you engage with and make change, and act accordingly in recognising the interconnected nature of organisations and environments.

Although this will be my fourth postgraduate qualification (I’ve already got an MA in Modern History, PGCE, and Ed.D.) I don’t take anything for granted. It’s been 12 years since I completed my doctoral thesis, and the world has moved on.

So, although I don’t start until November, I wanted to get myself sorted. This included getting my university email sorted out (ugh, Microsoft 365) and getting a grip on document and reference management. Although I didn’t do a bad job of this with my other courses, I always felt like I could do better.

After some research and feedback, I wrote this post outlining why I’ve chosen to go with one platform/app. (Spoiler: it’s mainly so I can use my awesome e-ink tablet.)

I’m up early today (Saturday) so just getting this weeknote out of the way. The rest of the weekend is the usual kids sporting activities. Hannah’s aunt and her husband are visiting the region so we’ll be going out for Sunday lunch with them.

Next week, Hannah is in London and then Leeds for work, and then it’s her birthday. I’m a little concerned about her travel, as we don’t get our Covid vaccinations until the week after, and I’ve heard of plenty of people getting sick after going to gatherings recently. Being ‘feak and weeble’ (as someone I knew used to say) while we move house would be… sub-optimal.

Also, Long Covid would destroy what little semblance of ‘career’ I have left 😅

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