From workplace courses to global conversations

cc on flickr by Kris HoetA few months back, Josien Kapma and I were invited to write an article for the Dutch publication,
Leren in Organisaties. We had a good time co-writing using Google docs, a little skyping and slowly iterating back and forth. We had FAR more we wanted to write and had to edit out a lot, making us both appreciate how rich the topic is of moving beyond the formal workplace training model and blending it with the rich and ongoing learning we experience in our global communities and conversations.

The journal is not yet online, so we have permission to share it with you. You have two options:

Photo Credit:

view photostream Uploaded on August 28, 2007
by Kris Hoet

FAO/CGIAR KS Workshop II Agenda

Snippet of Flyer PDFI’m very happy to be involved in the second iteration of the Knowledge Sharing Workshop, this time with FAO joining forces with the CGIAR ICT-KM group to offer the workshop. We’ve learned from our first version and have just ginned up the agenda for the second offering. You can see it here –> FAO/CGIAR KS Workshop II Agenda – Google Docs. Take a peek and let me know what you think?

Right now the course is offered to members and partners of FAO and the CGIAR. If you work in development and are interested but are not a member or partner of FAO, leave me a note. If we have openings close to the start of the workshop (first week of September) I’ll let you know.

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Agile Retrospectives

Earlier today I blogged about learning from mistakes/failures, particularly with After Action Reviews. John Smith points out another method, Agile Retrospectives (although he is talking about this in the context of communities of pratice). Learning Alliances » Communities of practice by any other name.

Take a peek at the video… Agile Retrospectives

Learning from our mistakes

Flicr CC Image from David C FosterMichael Krigsman has a good story today on ZDNet about transparency and learning. He analyzes Amazon S3 team’s After Action Review (AAR) process following a disruption in their service. This reminds me of the importance of learning from failures and mistakes, rather than forgetting or covering them up. In fact there is a whole community dedicated to learning from mistakes, The Mistake Bank. Here is a quick recap of the useful practices Amazon deployed when they had a breakdown in their services. I’ve edited out some of the text so as not to cross ZDNet’s copyright, so click into the story for the full details.

Amazon’s S3 post-mortem demonstrates maturity | IT Project Failures |

In analyzing the failure, Amazon asked four questions:

What happened? The first step to a successful post-mortem is establishing a clear understanding of what went wrong. You can’t analyze what you don’t understand.

Why did it happen? After after determining the facts, the post-mortem team should assess why failure occurred….

How did we respond and recover? … A useful post-mortem depends on the analysis team gaining a reasonable level of honesty, insight, and cooperation from the organization.

How can we prevent similar unexpected issues from having system-wide impact? … Planning must also consider the business process and management responses the team initiates when a failure occurs. A complete post-mortem addresses both technical and management issues.

Amazon’s technical failure disrupted its customers’ business and hurt the company’s credibility. However, their open and transparent response to the failure and its aftermath demonstrates a level of organizational maturity rarely found among Enterprise 2.0 companies.

Pulling our mistakes out and looking with them, alone and with the aid of colleagues, is a simple and effective learning practice. But it takes both a personal commitment to productively looking at our warts (rather than simple self-flagellation or guilt) and an organizational culture that values learning along with success. And we all know it… we learn more from our failures than our successes. 😉

Here are a few resources for learning from mistakes and failures (some repeated from embedded links above, but I want to make it easy to scan for the resources!):

Have any to add? Knowledge sharing in action!

Photo Credit: Flickr/CC