Archive for the ‘Collaborative Model’ Category

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MEETING DESIGN: The What, Why and How

August 15, 2013

Yesterday, I received the advance copy of the MPI launch of their new initiative – a focus on Meeting Design.  It, along with a supporting case study based on our own collaborative efforts in conjunction with Boston Scientific and the CRV All-employee meetings of 2010-2011, will be introduced to 71 chapters of MPI around the world over the next several months. 

On one hand, I feel like the proud mom, to be even a small part of the movement that grew out of the mid-2000s, that I was experimenting with here in Minneapolis in 2007-2008 with some good successes surrounding the Republican National Convention.  As I was reading and researching and re-thinking the world of “meetings”, Maarten Vanneste was doing the same thing – “popularizing it in his book,  Meeting Architecture, a manifesto (2008)”.

Slowly, the interest and understanding of a new approach to our business grew; the successes happened and were acknowledged in trade press; fortunately for me, a colleague in the industry here in the Twin Cities was also following the transformation and change in thinking and opened the doors to us at Boston Scientific so that we could become the case study that is included in the MPI international launch.

Although I am tempted to use the cliché, “The Rest Is History” – it really is not.  It is only the beginning.

I have associations with several professional organizations – two of which seem to be launching the new approach Big Time this year…and that is a good thing.  Nevertheless, it will not be an easy transition.

I myself am currently working with a client that daily reminds me of the great task ahead as we move forth to try to modernize our own industry.  I have been working with this “Event Team” for 6 weeks now; and long ago lost count of the number of times I have been challenged by two members of this mini-steering committee (who in their professional lives handle meeting logistics for their own organizations).  I have no doubt they are passionate people; that they are passionate about logistics; and they are passionate about being right and doing it their way.  They are not so passionate about collaborative thinking, however – which is, indeed, the very key to the successful transition into the new world before us.

That first step –the Principle of Collaboration is an elusive one for many people. MPI describes it and its importance well:

Tap into the collective intelligence of the group to better understand its needs, generate new ideas, determine best solutions and put plans into action….the wisdom of the crowd is an invaluable resource.  Inherent in every meeting, is the opportunity for change, progress and innovation.”

And so, as I proudly read the final version of the MPI Meeting Design initiative, and the final version of the accompanying case study, and forwarded it to the rest of the team, I was quickly brought back to reality.  

Yesterday was a baby-step forward.  The rollout in MPI Chapters internationally will be baby-steps; the fight for successes in this new world will be baby step after baby step.  The work is not done in modernizing our industry and pulling it – screaming in protest- into the 21st century.

 PCMA is doing a great job in moving forward leading the industry as they have done with forward thinking since their first publication of the book “Professional Meeting Management” in the 1980s that led to the CMP certification process. (And yes, I am as proud to say that I was one of first five CMPs in Minnesota, as I am to say, I am proud to be one of the 5 founders of  the ISES chapter in Minnesota, and proud to be working with MPI to launch the Meeting Design approach all these many years later).

 MPI has now made the initial move; I think ISES is trying to do the same with their new educational approach.  But none of us have learned to walk yet, let alone RUN with these new ideas.  With time, we will get better – just as over time, we got better with the logistical end of our business.

In the meantime, I am comforted to read in the new initiative:

Meeting design challenges the status quo.  It represents a paradigm shift-a profound change in the fundamental meeting model that sees every meeting as a nail for the proverbial hammer of logistics. Logistics is building a house; meeting design is making that house a home….meeting participants needs are evolving beyond satisfying their basic needs for food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and  exposure to others.”

Basic needs:  food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and exposure to others.  Taken out of context, that conjures up man’s move out of the cave and exploration of the world around him, doesn’t it?  Those that were afraid to leave the cave and explore for new opportunities died.  And that’s what makes this exciting! 

“Attendees want innovative, unique experiences that challenge their senses, their expectations, their knowledge and their ideas.  Fulfilling on that is the ultimate value of meeting design.”

 

 

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COLLABORATIVE PRINCIPLES

April 15, 2013

I often refer to the world of the 21st century as the world of collaboration-rather than the world of hierarchies we knew and understood in the 20th century.  Within my own world of events, we have been experimenting with the collaborative process for almost a decade now, and many of us are convinced that although it is “messy”, it yields better results for our clients because we pool all perspectives to come up with a single vision and action plan to move forward to accomplish the client’s defined goals.  Working together, listening, challenging, and gaining consensus on an action plan has served us well-whether we are addressing desired outcomes, design, production, communication, learning applications or a social media plan within each event.

Meanwhile, slowly but surely, “collaboration” is being kidnapped by the technology world, as its definition has been applied to the emerging world of technology and social media.  When one sees “collaboration”, one can expect to hear/read about how best to integrate social media into an organization.  So I often find myself scanning an article quickly, but a recent article in Tech Republic entitled “The 12 Habits of Highly Collaborate Organizations” caught my eye.

The author, Jacob Morgan of Chess Media Group and author of The Collaborative Organization outlined several principles that I think are applicable in any situation-not just when building a social media platform to facilitate better communication and collaboration within a specific group.  I offer them here as food for thought.  Note that I have used the term “employee” as Morgan did, but I think this is applicable for customers, vendors and partners as well.

  • ·         Individual benefit is just as important as the overall corporate benefit (if not more important):  Don’t focus on why this is important to your organization; focus on what the employee is looking for-how will this make their jobs and lives easier.
  • ·         Strategy before Technology:  Although this is self-explanatory I think, I also know how often we jump from a problem to a popular solution-technology or other-without taking the time to clearly think it through, develop a strategy, and THEN select a best solution that can be monitored and refined through-out the process.
  • ·         Listen to the voice of the employee:  Make employees a part of the decision making process from the beginning.  Listen to their ideas, their needs, and their suggestions and integrate their feedback into your strategy.
  • ·         Learn to get out of the way:  Learn to empower and support your employees and then get of of their way.  “Managers need to follow from the front.”
  • ·         Lead by example:  Leaders can facilitate change and encourage desired results if they are visibly part of the process.
  • ·         Integrate into the flow of work:  Collaboration becomes the process; not an additional step to accomplish work.
  • ·         Create a supportive environment:  Recognize and reward collaboration, not just individual efforts.
  • ·         Measure what matters:  Try to measure engagement-how connected and passionate an employee feels about the company and the work they do.
  • ·         Persistence:  Making collaboration work isn’t AN option, it is THE option.
  • ·         Adapt and evolve:  Collaboration is a perpetual process, not a one-time exercise.  We need to adapt and evolve as things change; keep a pulse on the industry; and innovate and anticipate.
  • ·         Employee collaboration also benefits the customer:  Employees are able to provide a better experience and superior support by being able to tap into internal experts, information, and resources which can be used to help customers.
  • ·         Collaboration can make the world a better place:  Yes, it provides better solutions for our clients, but it also allows those who collaborate to feel more connected, reduces stress at the workplace, makes the job easier, allows for more work freedom, and in general makes us happier people.

This all makes good sense no matter where you are collaborating or with whom.  I’ve condensed and paraphrased the twelve habits, but if you wish to read the full article and check out a great and simple graphic illustration, see http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-manager/the-12-habits-of-highly-collaborative-organizations.

 

 

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MORE BUSINESS, LESS TROUBLE

September 10, 2012

Most of my friends and family have converted.  They no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper,  but rely on news input totally from TV and digital sources.  I understand that; it is just one more thing to pay for and fit into a daily busy schedule.  I too, rely heavily on the digital feed – particularly of MNPOST – which I cannot praise enough – for its quickness in letting me know what is going on; for its candor; for its format that allows immediate comment and feedback – as oppose to the STRIB that only allows x number of access per month to their on-line version.

Nevertheless, I love the paper;   it is a resource I count on, as well as a lifelong habit that I cannot imagine living without.  I joke that I HAVE to read the paper before I leave my house in the morning…after all, the world may have ended and I would not know it if I did not read the paper.

(And yes, that reveals another habit.  “Peace and Quiet” in the morning.  No TV, No radio, No phone visiting.  My TV is on only in the evenings – and often only from 5:30 to 6:30 when I get the local and national UPDATE of the news. I need the quiet time to THINK and form my own opinions on issues-not parrot thoses of some news commentator.)

Often  I hear complaints – about the Wall Street Journal insert  or the lack of “breaking news” on Monday.  To me, that is logical.  Most of our business are open Monday-Friday….so Saturday and Sunday, they are not making a big splash to give reporters fodder to feed on – so add the little extra “The Wall Street Journal” – if nothing else, it humors those anxious to be identified as “in the know” as they can walk around bragging that they “read it in the Wall Street Journal”.  As for Monday, yup – there is not much breaking news in the “business insider”, but it has become one of my most valuable resources for new companies, new services and potential vendors that I or my client may need – I like the emphasis on small business and success stories.

Take this morning, for instance. 

I learned that, two war-weary Israelis, both political independents and moderates seeking better relations through cultural, educational and commercial initiatives turned their attention to peaceful initiatives to transcend the political and religious hostilities in the Middle East through a fellowship program at Hamline University called the Middle East Fellowship Exchange.

Each year about 20 Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese-Jews, Christians, Muslims, liberal and conservative-  recruited by the  Zmoras- now both Israeli and US citizens- come to study Minnesota business and non-profits for five weeks.   Many have never fraternized with people from neighboring countries or other faiths, but with program focus on business, it enables the participants to be “Just people-not representatives of their respective communities.”

And as a result, they become friends; they share a respect and love for one another that inspires them to find ways to remain friends and resources for one another when they return home.  They have a better perspective on what the United States is- imperfect, but using commercial and cultural ties to bridge differences.  They do not fear each other, but become multipliers with new and valuable ideas for their community.  The Strib reports these like-minded moderates and entrepreneurs believe they can collaboratively build a stronger economy in the Jordan-Israel-West Bank-Lebanon neighborhood.

I concur, “Without efforts such as theirs, the Middle East will remain hobbled by the religious and political walls that bar a more prosperous future.

That’s the hope I experienced myself and among the people I grew to know in my travels in/out of Israel in the 1980s; it is so encouraging to hear that it still is there and being fed by a program right here in Minnesota.

“I am a big believer in collaboration with our neighboring countries, “ said Nir Hindi, a Hamline Fellow and marketing executive with NegevCo…an incubator for Israel’s alternative-energy and low-water agricultureal industries.  “We can contribute to each other knowledge and experience.  We start with small steps.”

What an encouraging perspective…..perhaps the STRIB should share it with Mr. Romney.

 

 

 

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TEDDY ROSSEVELT’S GOLDEN POND

June 12, 2012

Is there a way to find a win-win in this very complex scenario? 

As I read the STRIB article Sunday, my immediate reaction was YES! Make it a national monument to Teddy Roosevelt to commemorate his role in establishing our National Park system….and get it moving so it can become a part of the NPS 100th Anniversary in 2016.

But as I read on, it became an increasingly complex situation…with oil wells pumping crude there for decades; the government purchase that did not include the rights to oil and minerals below the surface ; a second government turndown to purchase at a later date; the plan for gravel pit to supply needed  gravel for new roads to support the oil boom (and employment); and an in-process evaluation of that permit request to determine project effect on air quality, water quality, and wildlife-not to speak of noise and dust.  And then an additional wrinkle of its impact on a proposed $15 million bridge over the Little Missouri to connect two highways and cut off 100 miles of travel off some commutes – also in the midst of a developing environmental impact statement regarding various crossing locations near the ranch.

 All this, but there is no mention of impact/ thoughts from the residents – indigenous people,  the whites and other immigrants that settled, and call the area their home.

By the end of the article, it seemed pretty obvious, there was no RIGHT answer.  There are issues/advantages and rights on all sides of the dilemma…and most likely, a lot of emotion on all points. 

A lesson, I guess, for those like me that have strong opinions on many topics…this situation is a great illustration that there often is no single RIGHT solution for issues we face in our complex world….and yet,  it is  one  more example that arguing right vs wrong will not work and why we as a people need to hone our collaboration skills to learn from each other and craft new ways going forward.

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THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

May 24, 2012

 Every day, our politicians and press fill our newspapers, radios and TVs with short silly sound bites about the Economy and Job Creation….All we hear is the way to lowering unemployment is through creating more manufacturing jobs and putting people back to work in factories….and the sad story of those long-unemployed that have given up looking.  Sometimes those stories focus on the over 50; sometimes they focus on the 20-30 year olds that can’t find that first job.

And certainly, these are issues, and certainly business and government ALIKE, need to work together to improve the situation.  Repairing our crumbling infrastructure (yes, that means spend money to FUND these projects) make the most sense to me – it helps provide jobs and income for both ends of spectrum  of the unemployed.

But the argument never seems to focus on real questions.  Of those recent graduates, what have they been trained to do?  Can they not get jobs in their field, or at their salary expectations?  Have they been willing to look at other fields and lower their salary expectations? Are those that cannot get jobs holding degrees based on 20th century skills?  Are there options available in other areas? Are they being enabled by parents who in trying to help,  allow them to move home, and not contribute in some way?   Or, how many of those unemployed that have quit looking for work have quit because they have become entrepreneurs and are now self-employed?  Have we honestly looked at education and how our next generations are still being taught by a method developed to prepare them for the manufacturing world of the early 20th century?    I am not questioning the problems, nor the numbers, I am just questioning where we are putting the emphasis when we report it.

And I do so because as you have all heard me say over and over – the world has changed.  The paradigms of the 20th century have shifted.  I hear little discussion on this, nor what we as a people are trying to do about it…other than grieve for the “good old days” , blame the “other side” and promise to bring them back.

So  I was pleasantly surprised a while ago to see the STRIB report on the “Third Industrial Revolution”.  Yes, this is reality!

The STRIB briefly traced manufacturing history from the first “revolution” in late 18th century  in Britain and the mechanization of the textile industry; weavers cottages disappeared and the factory was born with the cotton mill.  The second phase is one we are most familiar with, when early in 20th century, Ford created the moving assembly line and mass production was born.

And now, what I have been referring to as the impact of technology and digital-everything, combined with customization has created a new environment, that we as a people all live in, use, and push for more of the same…and yet, cannot make the connection with what that means for jobs and education!

The article calls this the “Third Industrial Revolution”.  Technologies have emerged with new software, new materials, better robots, new processes and have created a changing definition of Web-based services.    We all know this; we see the impact in each of our lives…and we think it’s a better world for it…we talk about great strides made in our understanding of our environment, our universe and our minds , but no one stops and reflects on what changes occur in the transition – never to be resurrected again. 

 Although this is my passion and my frustration with our transitional world today, I was surprised by one item in the article…”Some carmakers already produce twice as many vehicles per employee as they didonly a decade or so ago”.  Think of that impact without the emotion.  Are we each buying twice as many cars as we did a decade ago?  How does that all reconcile with the expectation that when production goes up/costs go down…and how in the world do we expect that manufacturers will employ the same amount of workers they did even at the beginning of the 21st century-when it takes half as many to do the same job?!! 

 We are balancing on the precipice between two worlds – pushing for the changes and progress of the future, but seeing no connection to what that means in terms of changing needs that made up our 20th century world.    We want the new and we want it cheaper and faster but we still train our kids for a life in the old world; we pick our leaders on who can best argue how they will BRING BACK the old and none of its fits together for a promising future. 

We cling to old educational theories; when we need to think about what we know today regarding how people learn and what the world needs as expertise; then craft a new educational system that works for the challenges that lay before us.

We judge the existing President on what Truman and Eisenhower, Kennedy , Reagan would have done – all of whom lived, learned, and governed in a world very foreign to the one in which we live today; we consider an alternative to run our country whose business experience all dates back to a time when laptops, and notebooks, I-pods and I-pads were not even words in our vocabulary – let alone what they mean and the changes that they have brought to the very “business world” he boasts about.   The list goes on and on.

In all arenas, we continue to give credence to a hierarchical approach that served tribes and families and even businesses well in the old days, but has been replaced.  To quote the title of a book resting on the corner of my desk, “Collaborate or Perish”.  Big Blue had to face that reality and the strides they have made in RE THINKING their world in a collaborative environment put most other major corporations to shame.

And although I know thought-leaders through-out the centuries have all experienced similar struggles as they toiled to bring about change, the difference is that the WORLD is changing at an exponential pace around us.  We do not have time to let the influencers in my generation die off; we need to get with the program.   While we doddle along patting ourselves on the back for what we accomplished in World War II, the rest of the world is moving forward – and soon will be moving ahead without us.  Let’s stop re-fighting old battles of the 1950s and 1960s and focus on how we as the US can contribute and influence the world of the future!

Let’s embrace the Third Industrial Revolution and contribute to it, not try to deny and destroy it!

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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR…

February 14, 2012

And the CRV Event team is once again nominated not only for two ISES Star Awards, but individual team members are also finalists in several additional categories.  What a wonderfully talented group of professionals I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from over the past two years!

In a recent blog, Jeff Hurt did a great job of outlining 21st Century skills needed by planners in our industry as we confront major cultural and societal transformational shifts in the world around us.

THE RISK TAKER views each event as an opportunity to experiment and take risks; learning from failures.

THE VISIONARY always looks for ways to enhance the face-to-face experience; and is always on alert to changes in our clients’ worlds.

THE LEADER striving to help clients stay in sync with that rapidly moving world, remains on alert for impactful topics and trends.

THE ADAPTOR-recognizing a changing environment, new technology tools, and the presence of four generations of attendees at any given event –demands we cast aside the routine and do not depend on past processes.

THE COMMUNICATOR knows how to articulate event format changes and upgrades.  On site, they facilitate, entice and moderate 21st Century tools like texting, Skype and social networks.

THE LEARNER expands the focus from basic logistics, understands learning is a lifelong process and makes a commitment to seeking new knowledge and its application.

THE COLLABORATOR understands collaboration with coworkers and colleagues is imperative to success.

As I read Jeff’s blog, I thought of this team-every skill mentioned above is well-represented.  While we individually may not be experts in each of these seven areas, together, we’ve got it covered!

It is not the recognition of the Star Award, nor even the opportunity to do good work that motivates me.  I am proud to be a part of this team because we learn from each other, improving our skills each time we work together, and most importantly, we offer more value to the client for whom we are working, as we help them confront and conquer those seismic shifts that surround us.

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I THINK IT’S CATCHING ON…

January 18, 2012

Slowly but surely, our collaborative platform for creating interactive experiences that tell client stories is bubbling to the surface in our industry, finally following trends long seen emerging in Europe since the mid-2000s.

Progressive, high-end magazines such as EVENT DESIGN and EVENT MARKETER sponsor industry shows that focus on that transition – and of course, EXHIBITOR’S Gravity Free Design Show remains for me, the Piece de Resistance – although every year I dream of attending and have not made it yet!

And what about PCMA- long the innovative leader on the meeting planning side?  Back in the 80s, the original CLC’s CMP certification program was based on the PCMA “Professional Meetings Management”; that 1985 First Edition was my own study guide when I became one of the first five CMPs in Minnesota. Today, they’ve made the leap, taking risks, experimenting with integrating digital tools, learning lounges, and changing up that old general session in their last couple national conferences.   Industry trades are a-buzz with the result of their efforts and I sense a critical mass is gathering.

The glimmer of hope came last year when our first CRV Experience garnered not only local, national and international press as well as five ISES Star Awards, but in the background, I have continued to worry and fret about the 20th century thinking that permeates our industry and keeps it mired down in ineffective general sessions and theme parties.

So I was uplifted yesterday when I attended the roll-out of the new sales and marketing efforts of Meet Minneapolis.  They have capitalized on the wave of the future; their market research and marketing plan was impressive-geared to opportunities to move forward.  Their redesign of the website clearly reflects a welcome change.  I’m looking forward to their Annual Meeting in March and to the Meeting Planner’s Seminar in April where the focus seems to be grounded in Creating the Experience.  I left that meeting charged up – committed to being a more active partner supporting their efforts.

And this morning’s Strib added icing to the cake with two feature stories.  Although the first was a report on the comeback of boating in Minnesota, its sub-theme caught my eye.  The show touts a new attraction – an indoor marina, complete with 20 boats “moored” at docks and a waterfront patio with food and live music.  The show producers certainly understand – they have created an experience that puts their Minnesota audience in the midst of a familiar dream – if only they owned a boat!  And they’ve added to that experience an opportunity to get wet with a Flow Rider ride that allows low body surfing, board surfing and wakeboarding in pseudo-waves.  Finally, amidst the lake/river illusion and the Parade of Boats, they have recreated a marine service center right on the floor.  “Fred’s Shed”, an interactive learning center offers tips on installing boat electronics, engine maintenance, upholstery repair with local marine service mechanics on hand to conduct the seminars. This is good stuff!  Although today I am not a boater, I may just have to attend that show – to learn from what they did and witness the energized crowd they will capture.

Finally, there was the “Tres geek” success story of Ralph Lauren as they embrace tech-driven digital marketing strategies- from 24-hour touch-manipulated storefront windows to iPhone apps to 4D events to a strong presence on the internet.  They too, understand.  To be relevant to shoppers, they need to be able to talk to their customers in channels where those customers spend their time.   As Ralph Lauren embraced high-tech interactive experiences, they joined Nordstrom and Tiffany’s and reaped strong sales in an industry that generally did not do so well.  A 14% plus increase in sales and 18% increase in profits is cause for celebration.

Yes, I think the world is catching on!

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That SLOW 1st QTR, 2011

January 30, 2011

One of the benefits of the Minnesota events world has traditionally been a slow down mid December after holiday events, that extends into January and often bleeds into early February.  For me, it has been a time to recharge, reorganize, and regroup and thus a time I look forward to.  I clean out my office and prepare for the coming season; I curl up in front of the fireplace in my “library” and read – attacking the ever-growing stacks of trade publications and books that deliver not only inspiration and “what’s new” but food for thought as they challenge me to examine my own “best practices “ and incorporate new thinking. 

But here I am on January 30, surrounded by chaos.  An almost stripped Christmas tree stands abandoned in the living room; the dining room filled with crates and containers waiting for all that decor still strewn across the table and floor; stacks of books and magazines remain in my office and covering the fireplace hearth; papers and files are everywhere, and my last THURSDAY’s unfinished to-do list sits before me – where it has kept me occupied three days and promises to hold me captive all day today as well.  WHAT HAPPENED?!!!

Coming off my best year ever for Creative Events, I don’t have the excuse that the down-turned economy allowed me to get into bad habits and work less efficiently over the last couple years, and now I am out of practice…so as I headed towards that awful place of mental whining and complaining, I have had to stop and take stock.

Oh yes, we kicked off a new season for the riverfront Visitor Experience this month, and I’ve been spending some time absorbing the results of the design competition for short and long term plans for the river “above the falls” that were unveiled this week…

Oh yes, we celebrated my brother and sister-in-law’s sixtieth wedding anniversary, as well as their birthdays…acknowledging I now have siblings in their 80s…really?  I still vividly remember them both before they were married!   It’s comforting to see that my pledge to remain an active player in my own industry “until I am 80” has some credence, as they both are active in maintaining their antique store!…

Oh yes, I have devoted some fun time traveling memory lane as I have reconnected with college friends, and some BI friends, and several CMG friends via Linked In, Facebook, and several meet ups for coffee, drinks or lunch, and along the way, I’ve squeezed in some time to keep connected with new faces I met over the summer…

Oh yes, we are in the final countdown now for the Catersource/Event Solutions Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas, and I am absorbed in overcoming a bad design problem in the construction of this hotel  as I struggle, along with the Dock scheduler to figure out how we can get a load in for both conferences attended by several thousand persons, all accomplished in ONE DAY with one or two docks available only from 10Am to 4AM…

Oh yes, I am still spending time telling our success story of CRV 2010, with two new articles due out in March, as well as preparing for a live telling to influential corporate executives -TED-style -at RETHINK which launches simultaneously February 14 in Minneapolis, New York City, Paris and Copenhagen …

And oh yes, the Creative Events opportunities!  We submitted our CRV entries for the MN-STAR Awards  and now await the announcement of finalists.  We have already begun preliminary planning for CRV 2011, space is secured and we’ve begun initial discussions on design as the I AM CRV communications campaign came to a close at the end of 2010 and has been replaced by BE CRV.  This will lead us through to the second all-employee meeting in which we will reflect on how well we did and what’s still to be done to keep this new division of Boston Scientific moving forward; we’ve concentrated on looking for new opportunities and are excited about our positioning for a couple.  We have started the movement to increase our collaborative team of independents to include a few key support vendors and are polishing our collaborative skills together as we tackle some significant RFPs that have come our way.

And oh yes, the personal growth!  FINALLY, I have made the jump from talk of leaving the 20th century behind and personally started the immersion into the 21st century.  The purchase of the MINI began the process; the acquisition of not one but TWO flat screens and DVDs came soon after and this month I have now acquired a smart phone…with conversion to a new computer and probably an I-pad in the plans before the quarter ends.  I am determined to prove that even I can adapt without too much angst – a couple years late, but better than never! (Although I admit, I made the conversion only so I could personally experience the impact of its use within the meeting and event environment; as I was perfectly content with my old flip phone that allowed me to call people and people to call me  with no other complications or distractions!)

So as I review this list, I understand why my life is in chaos and realize it is all due to very good things.  I will try not to complain going forward, as I think about another Award entry due shortly;  meeting with my tax accountant on Feb 10; presenting at RETHINK; a possible trip to Boca for the NSM for CRV; and the approaching departure for Vegas on Feb 25 for Catersource/Event Solutions.  Maybe in March, I will get that Christmas evidence put away and be able to bring out the tulips and irises of Spring…and crack open some of the books still waiting.

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SOCIAL LEARNING

December 14, 2010

A new term in my vocabulary, and perhaps in yours…and if so, make note of it; remember it; seek out more information because I am convinced, we will all hear much more about this as we move forward into the second decade of this century…some of us still dragging our feet and holding on desperately to the familiarity of what we know and excel at in our past.

Thanks to the big winter storm here in MN, I was given a precious gift-two “found” days this weekend to lose myself in “The New Social Learning”  -with a short break once in a while for a peak outside or a quick escape into the world of Tom Clancy, to allow my mind time to process what I was discovering.

When I read the forward by Dan Pink, I knew I had found a gem…”Twitter, Facebook, and their social media kin are not all about marketing.  They’re equally if not more so, about learning….”  YES, finally a resource that positions social media not as a personal or corporate marketing tool but as a collaborative aid to facilitate learning! 

With that to peak my interest, I delved right in and before I finished the introduction, I was impressed with the authors’ realistic and thoughtful approach to this topic.  After an opening chapter on trends reshaping the workplace, the challenges and opportunities of these shifts and how social learning fits in this environment, the authors address, chapter by chapter, a specific social media category, its application, how these practices overcome business challenges, and how to address the critics of each.

Criticism.  Now that is a phenomenon I have encountered most of my life, and certainly recently as I have used this blog to contemplate ideas gleaned from industry thought-leaders  re adult learning, alternatives to consider when structuring conferences going forward, and possible options to minimize ineffective general session costs.  I recognize that criticism is a normal reaction to defend the familiar status quo, and generally, after the first sting, adds value to the innovation process, as it points out weaknesses to be overcome, or sometimes simply prepares one for that natural phenomenon of naysayers that are lurking in the wings.  But Bingham and Conner reassure the reader that the criticism generally falls into 3-4 predictable categories; then they build the case of how to dismiss its negative impact, and offer up success stories of those national and international organizations that have already forged ahead to embrace the change.  They even include top-notch examples of Governance of social learning use within some impressive corporations.

And best of all, they did not write this book frozen in time, but as two of the most respected names in training and development, they recognize that the tools discussed in the book may have dramatically changed by the time the book is read, so they created a complimentary website to keep the conversation current; provide more about applications of interest to each of us, and even “getting started guides”.

All that and I had not even started the book yet!   Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, the book was filled with margin notations and my ideas journal reflects a long list of action items; including some quality time devoted to that website! Today, let me end with some memorable thoughts put forth in the Afterward of this new treasure chest of ideas:

Once you move away from the push of information to the pull of learning, you liberate creative powers  in your people to succeed in this rapidly changing environment…once you make it easy for people…and you create an environment where people are not afraid to fail, you allow them to ask the really hard questions. …It’s about making learning a priority and using the tools of social media to facilitate a culture where we get better at getting better. It’s no longer about just being a better competitor.  It’s now about being a stronger contributor and a savvier learner. 

AMEN to that.

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FIGHT VS NURTURE

December 11, 2010

As many know, as election time arrived, I had not been able to resolve my personal concerns I had about Mark Dayton; hence after much angst, I cast my vote for Tom Horner who represented to me, the pragmatist in the middle.  No, I had not converted to a Horner disciple, I merely thought his stand on issues gave us the best chance to move forward in consensus-building to save our state and get us back on track.  I expected Dayton to win, but voted my beliefs and hoped Dayton would then find a place for Horner in his organization.

Through the recount, both Emmer and Dayton behaved as adults – despite Republican Tony Sutton’s diatribes and finally, reprehensible behavior in leading his party to vote several great Minnesota statesmen and former Republican leaders “off his island”.  Ugh to that brand of any political stance! On one hand, it most likely makes Tom Horner ineffective as he is now deemed the spoiler by the Republicans, but at same time, it opens up to Dayton  a wealth of knowledge and advice of those that have been marooned!  The time to fight is over; the time to nurture is upon us.

So now it is official; Dayton is Governor-elect and so far, so good.  Dayton pragmatically reappointed Pawlenty’s Transportation head so that Minnesota did not lose his knowledge, insight and plans to fix our badly eroding infrastructure (and hopefully his influence on federal transportation dollars despite the Oberstar loss?)

And then today, his appointments made me smile, as led by Tina Smith, his key top aids are all women! YES!

No, I am not a feminist.  But early on in my corporate career, I learned that a man’s reliance on caveman “fight or flee” mentality generally resulted in more power struggles than positive results- as so much time gets lost in pontificating and lining up allies and too little time is spent in strategy.  Somehow, as a young green spout, I sensed that I needed to recognize, understand, and learn how to quietly circumvent that men’s club-not take it on head to head. And so my own competitive spirit, stubbornness and tenacity led me in another direction.  During the 20+ years I played in the corporate arena, I tried hard and generally succeeded, to depend on strategy and consensus–building (despite never being able to conquer that female “emotional” trait).  And surprise, despite not having the “power”, I got things done-and spent very little time assessing whether I had “won”. I tried to live by a mantra of “I have not failed; I just have not yet achieved success”; and slowly, slowly, I moved forward.  When I left that world, I left behind me, a whole new generation armed with the knowledge and tools to push forward in the continuing evolution of change that should occur in any organization. And I have watched with pride as they did just that and trumped my successes over and over again.

And so, as I have watched Mark Dayton in the last six weeks, I’ve been encouraged that we just may have a chance to recover…and show the country that purple states- when they put aside their childish antics- not only excel but can become role models for others.  It’s time now to put the fight behind us and after these long dark years of Republican/Democratic impasse, refocus to nurture and help our state grow.  Minnesota has done it before in many arenas; and I am looking forward to working together to do it again!

 POSTSCRIPT:  I realized this morning I did not get this posted yesterday, and reading it over in a different frame of mind, I was struck by how applicable these thoughts are in other avenues of my life as well.  As men ,and women both, experiment, learn and meld together those old cavemen instincts of fight or flee vs. nurture and grow, we cannot help it…our instincts oft-times won’t let us “let go”.  We all need a reminder – what we have fought to build needs the same chance we had – to experiment , change and grow – generally not in our likeness, but in an innovative and improved direction…and if we cannot do that, we become the poison that kills the growth.  A lesson I’ve needed to learn over and over again- in business, in organizations to which I belong, and in my volunteer work – how about you?