Archive for the 'events' Category

Nov 12 2015

Weaving Networks in Melbourne – ISS Fellowship Day 2

Published by under events,learning

This is the second in a series of post of my ISS Fellowship. For context check out part 1.

As I mentioned from part 1, Arthur Shelley and I found a zillion things to talk about, so much that when we got on the train to go into Melbourne Tuesday morning we forgot to validate our train fares and had to jump out at the first station, tap our passes and jump back on the train.

I was fascinated to learn about Arthur’s process of designing his classes and training offerings. He uses a lot of storytelling prompts and little vignettes to help us NOTICE our practices. This was put into action right on the train. We sat down in facing benches with one other person sitting next to me. We dove right back into our conversation about how we teach and a million other things.

Arthur started asking me a series of questions to demonstrate an activity he did. One of the questions was, “how many people are in this conversation.” Well, I said “it may be a bit improper to say this out loud, but really, there are three of us as I think the woman next to me has been interested and listening.” She immediately admitted she had picked up a thing or two and from that moment on, she was actively a part of our conversation. A musician, she teaches people how to sing and Arthur passed over his card and invited her to coffee to tell her about the Creativity Conference he is planning next year. Instant network augmentation on the train. Instead of staring at your phone, see what can happen?

NickHerftBetterEvaluationRMITOnce in town, and after an amazing slice of toasted and buttered fruit bread at Druid’s Cafe (I’ll be back), I headed off to another cafe to meet Nick Herft of the Better Evaluation team. We’ve talked on Skype, but never met. I was curious to learn about Nick’s key insights after his time working on the project. We met up at my second cafe of the day, Pearson and Murphy’s. Flat black coffee and a friand. mmmm….

Nick has seen the revision of parts of the site and tracked user behavior. I was interested in his observations about the challenges of a front page of a site that is SO rich in information and serves very diverse users. Most people arrive via a Google search for a particular topic, with fewer working their way methodically through the site. But without that “walk through” it is easy to miss all the goodies that Better Evaluation has to offer.  I asked Nick if I could do a quick video interview about some of his key learnings and he’s thinking about it – stay tuned!

IMG_20151110_135236528On to cafe #3, Mr. Tulk at the beautiful public library to meet up with old friend Joyce Seitzinger of Academic Tribe.  Hopefully you have picked up by now the threads of my first days on the fellowship – connecting and eating. :-) I particularly wanted to catch up with Joyce not only to just catch up, but to probe her deep knowledge about elearning to inform not only my week working here with educators, but also some work I’m doing on elearning in Africa and in the agricultural finance sector. You see, with a great network, you can improve your research right off the bat by eating and conversing together. In fact, as I look across the days here, conversation and dialog has been one of the centerpieces of everything I’ve done.

IMG_20151110_130141338_HDRAfter a bite to eat we wandered the streets and ended up in yet another cafe. This time I did not get the name, but it was a nice quiet place along the river. Those who know me well will be reassured that I had switched to herbal tea at this point, as we finished our conversations.

I circled back to Druid’s to meet up with Arthur and we took a quick visit into the Victorian Library with its fabulous dome. I was impressed with how full and busy the library was, with nary a spare seat to be found.

The second to last event of the day and the first formal “event” of my fellowship was to facilitate a session of the Melbourne Knowledge Management Leaders Forum, or the venerable, 16-year old KMLF as it is known. This is my third visit to the group and this time I wanted to share what I’ve been learning and practicing with Liberating Structures.

I love how the KMLF meetups start with two traditions: making a social network map of who is in the room, and a bit of wine, cheese and informal networking. I shared a few stories, and then we did a few of the structures, followed by a debrief with What, So What, What Next, one of my favorite quick debrief methods.  Slides are here and a photo collage at the bottom.

Stewart French volunteered to drive Arthur and I home, and again, the ride was a fast paced lively conversation, this time on the role of visuals and graphic facilitation, and creativity in general. After a shared bite, then my friend Brad Beach and my overall fellowship host picked me up for the hour ride to Korumburra in Gippsland. Long day, full of friends, colleagues and yes, CONVERSATION. We  learn, live and really enjoy ourselves through conversation!





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Nov 10 2015

Beginning my ISS Fellowship in Australia

Published by under events,learning

Life is always full of surprises and just under two months ago my old pal and colleague, Brad Beach rang me up to wonder if I’d be game to come down under as part of an International Specialised Skills Institute Fellowship, and be hosted by his new working home, Chisholm Institute TAFE. You know, it is not only easy to say yes to Brad, but I always know it will be a fun adventure. So for the next few blog posts I’ll be documenting what I’m doing, where I’m going, who I’m hanging out with, and most importantly, what I’m eating. No, only kidding. What I’m LEARNING!

This first entry is mostly for context setting!IMG_20151109_074826975

After facilitating for the Language Learning Flagship in Honolulu last week I hopped on two planes and headed to Melbourne arriving Sunday night at 10:30 pm to be graciously picked up by Patricia Rogers, my evaluation guru, founder of BetterEvaluation and friend from RMIT. Patricia had just returned from one trip and was about to head out Monday morning, but we were able to have a conversation about our lives and Better Evaluation over a dram of whiskey in the late evening and over coffee in the morning before she was off to the AEA conference in Chicago. I neglected to get a shot of Patricia, but I was quite taken by her counter balancing cat. I think there was a metaphor to start off the trip – keep balancing! (And keep eating, it seems.)

You know, friendship networks are amazing. Patricia’s son kindly drove me into Melbourne center. I parked my bags with Arthur Shelley of Organizational Zoo fame. Arthur and his wife Joy was hosting me at their home and Arthur organized a chance for me to do a Liberating Structures session for theKMLF (knowledge Management Leadership Forum)  community on Tuesday. More on that in a separate post.

NancyWISSTeamMy first stop was lunch with Bella Irlicht, AM, of the ISS. I got to meet the dynamic staff trio of Bella, Ken Greenhill and Paul Sumner.  As we discussed what kind of report they wanted, I mentioned I was thinking about blogging the trip, including pictures and videos. So we took a selfie right on the spot.

I did not know a lot about the ISS prior to my arrival, and over a delicious lunch of a fig and ricotta salad (see, I am obsessed with food) we had a chance to get to know each other (both grandmothers) and Bella filled me in on the history and work of the Institute. Being half Italian, it was really interesting to learn that the start of the Institute (1990 by Sir James Gobbo, AC, CVO), which is hosted by the Italian Cultural Center, came from the wave of Italian craftspeople who came to Australia post World War 2 and how Australians could learn from these centuries deep communities overseas, fellowshipinfobuilding internal skills here in Australia.

I was brought in on the “reverse” program where fellows come in to share knowledge in Australia. My particular fellowship is the HESG Industry Leaders Fellowship Program sponsored by the Victoria Department of Educating and Training and hosted, as I noted, by Chisholm. The plan was for me to work with teachers across the various Chisholm campuses, along with folks from Community Learning and eWorks. Of course, I wove in a few more opportunities as you will see.

After lunch and a quick gelato, because Melbourne’s Italian section is superb, I headed back to the business school at RMIT to meet up with Arthur. We had met on my previous trips down under, but this was the first time we’d have time to really chat and learn from each other.

arthuratkmlfI was able to sit in and observe Arthur at work teaching at the Business school on organizational leadership to leaders from Vietnam. It was really useful to see the more subtle parts of his work with the Organizational Zoo cards, and how he negotiated meaning of the archetypes across cultures. I’ve been thinking a lot about how different methods work across diversity (particularly Liberating Structures) and this gave me a bit more insight about how to lightly raise the issues without letting the cultural lessons overshadow the intent of the exercise or process.  I also continue to be interested in the use of cards for learning and other processes. I like the kinesthetic and visual aspects.

In the evening Arthur and I chatted nonstop. Like, as they say here down under, a house on fire. I have arrived at the conclusion that we are very kindred spirits. One thought I had right off is to introduce Arthur to some of the Chisholm folks as there is a strong element of leadership in teaching and learning.

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Jul 27 2015

Confusiasm/Confusiasmo at the UdGAgora

Many years ago at a KM4Dev community meeting, Carl Jackson coined the word “confusiasm,” a combination of confusion and enthusiasm. This has become a way of being for me. It represents, quite simply, learning in action.

We used this concept at the University of Guadalajara Diplomate program on mobile tech for engagement the last two weeks in Guadalajara with the Agora project. There is much more I want to write, but at the minimum, I want to start curating and sharing the artifacts. Here is the first one, a Storify of the Confusiasm Twitter thread.

Many years ago at a #KM4Dev community meeting, Carl Jackson coined the word “confusiasm,” a combination of confusion and enthusiasm. This has become a way of being for me. We used this concept at the University of Guadalajara Diplomate program on mobile tech for engagement.

Many years ago at a #KM4Dev community meeting, Carl Jackson coined the word “confusiasm,” a combination of confusion and enthusiasm. This has become a way of being for me. We used this concept at the University of Guadalajara Diplomate program on mobile tech for engagement.

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Mar 18 2015

A Webinar on Facilitating with Technology With 36 Co-Presenters

NancyAtWorkOver the past few years I have enjoyed being part of the MAFN Webinars. MAFN is the Mid Atlantic Facilitator’s Network. They offer both online and offline professional development gatherings. Last Friday, Amy Lenzo, Nancy Settle-Murphy and I were ostensibly the “presenters.” I think I want to shed that title. May I be done with presenting, please? And by the end, I realized it was a conversation with 36… so they are all presenters too!

We designed the 90 minutes to minimize the presentation and maximize the engagement. I appreciated both Amy, Nancy and the great MAFN team of Michael, Dan, Fran and Meaghan — all ready to try new things and stretch ourselves.

We each had 5 minutes, then we were, as they say, off to the races. (You can see the five questions here in the PDF –> The Edge o fOnline Facilitation MAFN March2015 4 Blog.) In this case, it was a chat race. (At least it felt that way to some folks. I love it. Maybe I was a chat racehorse in my past life?) We then finished this first section with the following question:


There were 36 participants (maybe a few less with a couple of duplicate log ins, etc.) and there was this amazing chat stream of ideas. So fertile and interesting. I wanted to share the key points.

  • How can we network our intelligence to solve the huge problems facing the world/us?
  • For on-line engagement to be as powerful and impacting as any face-to-face activity.
  • Better connect with people all over the world.
  • . . that it might be superior in some respects to face-to-face engagement
  • People feel like they are in the same room even though they are notaspirations
  • Making deeper (non-trivial) connections with people at a distance
  • For participants to feel energized and that they have had an experience
  • To “level-set” the stakeholders’ understanding of the problem or challenge that all are facing.
  • When the offline culture is not very participatory – using online/virtual to create exchange and relationships and change the culture a little bit.
  • I think work has to meet human social needs.  Online engagement is quite powerful because it can bring  people together socially around quite microspecific topics and concerns
  • People feel a sense of community, leave with  decisions and catalyze action
  • To introduce & discuss the change process in a positive energising atmosphere when some people are resistant to change
  • Participants learn, understand, and feel connected to one another
  • Superior to face-to-face in some ways because many people can “talk at once”.  Appeals to some participants who might be hesitant to speak in a standard classroom
  • Downplay power distances
  • People actually “hearing” the words others were saying; a participant once exclaimed: We were using the same words but we did NOT mean the same thing
  • People who are not technically minded can participate easily and are engaged
  • Human connection across geography with powerful problem-solving
  • Doing strategic planning for a global association on-line (different time zones, cultures, etc., in addition to all the normal human differences)
  • Online engagement feels like in-person engagement
  • Environments that are truly connected – where each of us feel deeply connected to ourselves – our own thoughts and bodies and full selves; to each other; to the natural environment and to the larger world we’re part of. Intimacy and Scale.
  • That it truly engage and lead to the desired outcomes
  • The technology is secondary – the community and results are foremost
  • Create a level playing field so all can contribute to the best of their ability
  • Speed and access to expertise
  • Every voice contributes
  • Making on-line meeting not just a one-off  — so make it a practice that folks will get comfortable with over time (it won’t happen the first time, magically)
  • The fact that the presenters can’t “keep u” means this is more participation than would be possible in person
  • The challenge with online is that the human connection is mediated and distorted by technology. My aspiration is that the technology would feel invisible, or better yet, would be a catalyst for connection.
  • Highest aspiration:  hold onto the social aspect of learning
  • My highest aspiration is connection. Task completion is secondary.
  • Shared meaning … Having folks all proclaim: “I see, hear, & feel and understand.”

These 30+ people aren’t thinking small and I was encouraged and delighted. And from there, the conversation proceeded, mostly in chat and the rest of us with mic access sprinting to keep up became a cauldron of ideas and insights. The group segued from aspirations to questions and how to’s. Within the ideas there were also the meta comments about being challenged being in a text only environment, the pace, the sense of both richness and chaos. It is interesting to read back through the chat and try and pick out some key threads, and to discern where people are “coming” from with their insights. Some are clearly self-defined as trainers, others as facilitators. Some carry the context of the type of organization they work for, and others as consultants range across contexts.

Here are a few examples:

  • What we notice and aspire too is obviously informed by WHAT we do. There were trainers in the group. People embedded in and in the context of organizations and their constraints. Consultants who ranged across contexts. This informs the type of “how-to” people sought or suggested.
  • Everyone is interested in technology, but often in very different ways. Some want to know about the latest technologies. Others are interested in the impact of technology on our interactions. This quote really drew me in after someone talked about the way technology can distort our experiences: ” The presence of technology DOES change and effect the HUMAN experience and connection.” This segued into a conversation about how technology can/might not level the playing field. We are just beginning to really dig into these issues, and move beyond thinking of technology as a tool. I confess I’m getting tired of “what is the best tool for X” conversations and am ready for deeper explorations into the impacts of our technological environments, regardless of what tool is/isn’t available/acceptable/affordable! (Not to diminish those issues.) This is a great topper to this idea that one of my 36 co-presenters shared: “The way the hammer shapes the hand” — Jackson Browne, Casino Nation.
  • We all struggle. Priceless: “My 20th century mind has been struggling to make meaning and order from the chaos of this group chat.” My observation? It is not related so much to age, but I don’t have data to support my hypothesis (says this 56 year old.) The issue for me from the stress of volume is what is lost, as one person wrote, without reflection. (Slow down, Nancy, slow down!) Clearly I’m not the only one with this issue: “I have not been building in enough reflection time in my webinars.  I think it’s because I can’t tell when people have lost interest or when they are thinking.  Could be an insecurity issue for me.  Need to work on that!”

There was a lot more and I’m attaching a file with my semi-Sorted Chat Notes.

But here is the capper:


I love my 36 co-presenters! Co-creators! Co-labborators! Thank you, one and all. You help me…


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Feb 01 2015

Alternatives to Presentations and (boring) Panels

conversationI can’t quite recall who started pointing towards the “What If...” format, but when it showed up three times last week, I knew I should pay attention. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my clients working on meetings talking about alternatives to presentations and panel discussions (which are rarely discussions.) I’ve been using “Celebrity Interviews” (aka “Chat Shows“) and “Fishbowls” (or variants such as the “Samoan Circle“).

According to co-founder Matt Murrie, What If lends itself to a learning frame, versus information delivery, with the onus for stimulating the learning on the questions the Questioneers (as alternative to presenters) ask. Then it flows to a conversation cafe-like or World Cafe format of small group discussions.

In live and virtual events, Questioneers (the question askers) ask thought-provoking questions in eight minute talks, followed by lengthy breaks for interaction among the off-stage presenters (the audience).

via About | What if…? 360.

So as usual, it all comes down to the power of a) questions and b) conversation. I hope you are not surprised!

I’m looking forward to trying this out. If you have used this approach, I’d love to hear your stories.

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