Online collaboration, Introverts and Solitude

I’ve been reading with personal interest, ‘Quiet. The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’.  Based on research and stories, Susan Cain explores the differences between introverts and extroverts and how society misunderstands and undervalues the introvert.

She has found that “introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation”.

In a chapter called ‘When collaboration kills creativity’ she explores the rise of ‘groupthink’ where workplaces are organised in a way that elevates teamwork above all else. This is based on the concept of synergy and an assumption that innovation is fundamentally social.

She cites research and examples that illustrate that face to face brainstorming is less effective than working alone when seeking creativity and ideas. The exception to this however is online brainstorming where the larger the group, the better it performs. She believes that “participating in an online working group is a form of solitude all its own”.

She reports that between a third and a half of the population are introverts and suggests that in our culture, (US based) being quiet and introverted is not the way to be. This is despite the fact that many introverted leaders tend to get better results.

Her calls for action include:

“Stop the madness for constant group work”. Introverts need quiet, privacy, autonomy and freedom to work on their own too.

She urges introverts to look inside their own suitcases (see video clip) and open them up (occasionally) for others to see because the world needs introverts and the things that they carry.

Some thoughts and questions that are being processed in my suitcase:

  • How influenced are we in online communities by those who talk the most? Cain suggests that the best talkers don’t necessarily have the best ideas.
  • How many so called ‘lurkers’ in communities are introverts and are reflecting before contributing or just reflecting?
  • Participation in the online environment offers the opportunity for solitude too, which Cain says is a “crucial ingredient often to creativity”
  • What implications does this work have in relation to performance improvement, leadership, workplace collaboration and learning & development?

The book and video clip (thanks to Donald Clark for his tweet) are definitely worth looking at.

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Reflections Learning and skills group conference

I attended the learning technologies conference this week in London. Another great conference organised by Don Taylor. (with his tie off!)

Here are some reflections and key points that I have taken away from the session run by Charles Jennings.

When working is learning then learning is working

The seller sets the price but the buyer/stakeholder determines the value. People have different views of what value is.

For L&D, performance consulting yields the greatest value

If HR and L&D strategy are aligned to business objectives then there will be a 250% increase in business performance

When designing, analysis is key

It’s all about trust when working with managers

Understand business challenges and respond quickly. This reminds me of Mark Oelhert‘s quotes from the conference in January. “Think big, start small, move fast”

Workforce development is too important to be left to L&D alone. Engage managers in the journey. Build strong collaborative partnerships and influence strategies and direction

The most significant learning experiences happen outside of the formal environment

L&D professionals need to understand the balance sheet, understand business, understand the technology and use performance consulting skills

The Big Question: What will Workplace Learning Technology Look Like in 2015?

The May big question is; What will workplace learning technology look like in 2015?

As much as I’d like things to move faster, I’ve found that leading change in the real world takes lots of time, empathy  and patience.  The following list is a combination of pragmatic suggestions (perhaps some are wishes!) based on my reality of working in organisations over a number of years.

There is a mainstreaming of much of the under the wire activity that is happening at the moment

Mobile learning is becoming the norm in line with increasing flexible working

Performance and outcomes become even bigger drivers in L&D and OD

More L&D professionals and departments merge with OD and rebrand themselves as business partners, performance specialists and business consultants.

The LMS is dying (but not dead!)

There is more acceptance in organisations of the need to offer flexibility and choice to learners. The pressure of PULL is taking hold

More value is placed on user generated content and awarding bodies enable this to be included in qualification routes

Social media is embedded and widely used in many organisation

There is a rise in shared HR services and this helps to drive the wider use of technology to enhance learning and performance

Face to face workshops are still offered as part of a blended solution

Wider organisational talent is harnessed and there is more collaborative working between managers and L&D business partners to find innovative solutions to business challenges

The sunshine comes out from behind the clouds but data security is still a big issue

Online performance coaching is the norm

Coaches and coachees embrace the use of informal mentors (via social media) to enhance the coaching experience

Changing mental models from training to learning by Brigitte Jordan

Some food for thought from Brigitte Jordan

“Changing mental models and paradigms from a focus on training to a focus on learning involves a series of moves:

from individual learner to learners in social settings
from individual skills to the practices of a team or COP
from process orientation to practice orientation
from didactic teaching to activity-based learning
from linear thinking to systems thinking
from school-based learning to learning as a life activity
from one-shot learning to continuous adaptation
from curriculum to total learning environment
from top-down information dissemination to lateral networks + peer communication
from product focus to customer focus
from design from fantasy to design from work practice
from requirements analysis to work practice analysis
from implementation as delivery to implementation as growing the practice
from providing training to providing learning resources
from what employers want to what frontline practitioners need”