Nov 10 2015

Beginning my ISS Fellowship in Australia

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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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Sep 17 2015

Empherality, KM, Inner Reform and Social Impact

IMGP3464Blogs are ephemeral. Today someone referenced a broken link on my blog back from 2005. I cruised across the page and alas, found many dead links. There was one quote on knowledge management that is still resonant to me… and the blog is gone. (Some of the posts are still visible via the amazing Wayback machine. For example here and here.)

Olaf’s Notebook: What is the relation between KM and inner reform?This post from Olaf’s Notebook speaks for itself: What is the relation between KM and inner reform?Knowledge management as social system change requires an inner reform of people involved. Where KM projects are usually ‘sold’ on the basis of business cases, they should be sold on the basis of ‘humanity and consciousness cases’ to be effective drivers for social system change.What can we do if we cannot cope with some aspects of our lives, if we fail in our relationships with other people, if we destroy our opportunities for the future, if we become ill because of work stress? Good chance that we will be advised to start psychotherapy.What happens if our organizations destroy societal trust relationships, opportunities for future generations, if they make workers ill because of work stress, or exploit workers and children in low-wages countries? Good chance organizational leadership receives shareholders’ praise, bonuses, and fame as a captain of industry. No psychotherapy there, and one could only wonder about this double standard.Corporations and governments debate endlessly on corporate social responsibility, draw up sustainability reporting schemes, codes of conduct etc. I do not deny these agreements can represent steps forward toward sustainable corporate policies. However, what is right or wrong for companies and company leaders to do is not so hard to imagine”

Source: Full Circle Online Interaction Blog: 11/01/2005 – 12/01/2005

In a bit of kismet, the Straits Knowledge newsletter arrived today with a link to a paper from my friend Patrick Lambe on Knowledge Organization and Social Impact. There is resonance from Olaf’s writing in 2005.

KM as an inner practice. Knowledge (in all its forms and practices) as a core for social impact. Lots of good stuff. Only need time and presence to weave the ideas and make sense. Or to lose things and to find them anew with fresh eyes. To destroy to create.

Ah, I dream.

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Sep 16 2015

Sharing Practices from Project Community 15

flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I’m hip deep into this year’s Project Community course with the Hague University of Applied Sciences. Again, one of my fabulous partners is Alan Levine, aka Cogdog. I love working with Alan because we together we identify a need, throw ideas back and forth, then experiment and iterate. Alan is, among MANY things,  a tech steward, so not only can he experiment with present external tools, but he can tinker with our core technology, WordPress, and hack even more functionality out of it. (Want to learn more about Alan and his tech stewardship? Watch this.)

I’m a great resource finder/sharer. We have tried a variety of ways to share these resources with our students and to encourage their own resource sharing. We’ve tried curating a library of links in a Google doc, putting them on a WordPress page, dumping them in the program’s Facebook page, Tagboard (for resources shared via Twitter)  and Storify. But we have not been satisfied. So here is this year’s hack from Alan:

Nancy and I are exploring ways for the #ProjComm15 to generate a community built resource. There are many ways to group curate content yet most involve asking you to Sign Up For Another Tool And Go There All The Time. We want to try something easier that works into the flow we are already asking you to do– use your team blog.

When you find a resource really worth sharing, most typically people push it to a social media stream, our facebook group, maybe even twitter with our hashtag more or less saying “here is something neat”. That works if you happen to see it, but it just rushes on by.  We still encourage you to do this as a stream of raw information resource just include a #projcomm15 tag in it; it will flow into our tagboard.

But go one step farther. If the resource is really useful, write a short blog post on your blog. Make sure you add a tag (a box for tags is on the side of your composer and add the tag coolstuff (one word, no space), and any othe useful descriptor tags. When published, all of these post will show up on our site via . Automatically. Without using another new tool.

Posts on Projcomm Faculty blog  written by Nancy White

ProjComm always stimulates me to pay attention to the flow of ideas and resources that come across my screen, so I’m enjoying blogging them. Sometimes I tweet or Facebook the posts right after I put them up to do a little more amplification/cross pollination. If you have anything cool to share, let me know!

Source: coolstuff | From the Project Community Faculty

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Sep 09 2015

What art can teach us about knowledge work

painting4How Art Reveals the Limits of Neuroscience” by Alva Noë is a fascinating read that asks us to step beyond the idea that we are our brains. It is stimulating me to reflect on some things I’ve been trying to articulate about knowledge sharing and  the transformation knowledge into new ideas, application, etc. It relates to some conversations on how we share knowledge across research projects, between journalists who care about their communities, and people who are trying to improve the world.

In observing how our experience of art changes when someone else shares their experience of the work, Noë writes:

This shift — from not seeing to seeing, from seeing to seeing differently, from not getting it to getting it — is actually very common. We live and learn, look and ask, bring what’s around us into focus continuously. At least part of what makes art different, or special, is that it yields the opportunity not only to “get” something, perhaps something new, but also to catch ourselves in the very act. In this way, art illuminates us to ourselves.

Interestingly, when I started to read it, I was not actually looking at art itself. The experience Noë writes about resonated deeply to my experiences of seeing people take in an idea and transform it into something they can use, apply, and “own” in the very productive sense. Own it in terms of being able to to use it meaningfully. Imagine a way of reducing open defecation, or changing water use habits. Imagine being able to take the building blocks of an idea and transform it into a locally useful solution. She frames it as the “world as the playing field for our activity,” and thus the interplay with it.

“This is not to deny that the world acts on us, triggering events in the nervous system. Of course it does! But the thing is, we act right back. Every movement of the eye, head, and body changes the character of our sensory coupling to the world around us. Objects are not triggers for internal events in the nervous system; they are opportunities or affordances for our continuing transactions with them. The world shows up, in experience, not like a diagram in a brain chart but as the playing field for our activity. Not the brain’s activity. Our activity. Not activity inside our head. But activity in the world around us.”

Now that I’ve read it, I’m thinking about how art can help me address my challenges with knowledge work!! Take a few minutes to read the article.

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Aug 24 2015

Pete Kaminski: Tools as Substrates for Community

codrawing3A while ago, my friend Peter Kaminski wrote something that was so terrific, I said “May I blog that?” He said yes. So it is about time I share this (emphasis mine):

I just wrote elsewhere: “The trick with wikis is to think of them as a substrate for community, and to work on the community, not the wiki. A wiki is like a table in a meeting room. It doesn’t create the meeting, or the discussion, but does enable it and create a place to spread out, organize, and retrieve information.

The other thing is that most people aren’t good at using wikis; you need 5-10% of the participants to be “wiki gardeners,” specifically tasked (and constitutionally able) to keep the table somewhere in the middle between sterile and a terrible mess.”

And, “Remember not to fetishize the tools; rather, use them as part of enabling people to work better together.”

There is so much goodness packed into those words. I might add “remember, not to fetishize community!” :-) And a great reminder as we gear up the online part of the UDGAgora project and Project Community. (I’m going to share this post over at our Project Community faculty blog as well!)

Thanks, Pete!

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
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