A strategy to reach Strategic


Following more and more calls to provide them to the wider workforce, my employer asked me to attend training on three separate Psychometric tools, the last of which I finished a couple of weeks ago. Due to scheduling and the academic financial year-end, I had to complete all three courses in the space of one month. Apart from my dreams now being dominated by distribution curves and large segmented circles this condensed timeframe also provided me with a unique opportunity (for me anyway) to seek targeted 360 feedback from a much wider source group than I would usually attempt – manager, strategic officers, colleagues, indirect-reports, clients, family, friends, coachees.

At the moment I seem to have at least one conversation per week about the benefits of individuals seeking 360 feedback on their performance and development needs, but often fail to abide by my own advice. This glut of tools afforded me the opportunity to think about the future and how my current collection of skills/knowledge/strengths will be able to contribute to that easily or require further development, also which others i need to seek out and add.

Previously I have found the hardest part of any 360 feedback to be the comments that highlight areas I should be looking to develop because, like many others, my initial reaction was to see them as a personal attack. As I have matured emotionally my view has changed and i try (some words still sting) to take the view others have provided me as a map for my development plan and, if not anonymous, thanking them individually for the feedback asking for clarification of what they think I could do to improve.

Whilst most of my strengths were no great surprise to anyone that knows me, there were a couple that seemed to have deepened over the last twelve months bringing home to me how my focus in the workplace has moved towards a much more strategic place. However, my main strengths have always been more people focussed, with me getting the most enthused by that feeling of enabling someone to achieve or develop, which in the Learning and Development field is an obvious bonus and what also helps me to be a good Coach.

The feedback from those closest to me has highlighted that my desire to always be supportive of others can result in a bit of overstretching which if not checked could lead to the danger area of ‘letting others down’ – an event which would have not only negative impact on others opinion of me but also my own opinion of me (always my own harshest critic).

So here’s the crunch, to realise my development desires there is an expectation that I should reduce the amount of direct support I provide and focus more on the organisational (strategic) view, whilst maintaining the drive that I get from providing that direct support. Not always an easy balancing act.

Next steps: After much reflection and discussion I realise that one of the best ways for me to address this is to seek guidance from someone who has already been there. Therefore, as a starting point my next step is to seek out an appropriate mentor and this is where my Personal Learning Network comes into its own, a community full of experienced professionals much further down this road than myself who are hopefully willing and able to offer their mentorship.

Once again I ask you to wish me luck and would welcome any insights you may have to help me in my development journey.


SoMe 2: the returning

I have been away from the wider social media environment for quite a while. Oh, I may have sent the occaisional random tweet, liked a few things and responded when needed but mainly staying connected with my family/close friends via the book of many faces has been the limit of my digital engagement (and not a great deal of that).

Back in April I realised how much of an impact this absence was having. Yes I was still reading some blogs, tweets and watching the odd vlog but that was all. Following a bout of illness I ended up being home during one of the many power cuts we seemed to suffer in the old house, with no TV/WiFi to distract me and no desire to start a new book. Eventually growing bored of counting wood chips in the very old wallpaper I turned to my phone which thankfully was able to achieve a fairly steady 4G and delved into the twitterverse looking for political satire and “10 things you didn’t know…” lists.

Ten minutes into my browsing I saw a conversation on Change Managment and in a fit of enthusiasim made a comment, resulting in several hours of direct messaging and e-mail sharing, creating a whole new focus for a session I was due to facilitate on my return to work.

This brought home to me the benefits of engaging as opposed to merely lurking and a clear view of how far I had pulled back from my personal learning network. Therefore, since then I have slowly started to return to ‘the conversation’; liking, sharing and commenting at any opportunity, making better use of the other social media tools and increasing not only my pressence but also my enthusiasim. Hence this post and those that follow…..hopefully!

N.B. It is a sign of the awesomeness (yes I did just use that word) of my Personal Learning Network, that they instantly started interacting with me and it was as if I hadn’t been gone.

Wondering whether others have found themselves slipping away from ‘the conversation’ and what it was that brought you back?

Cold Turkey

I’m now coming to the end of a 4 month stretch of Twitter absence. The period was intended to be 2 months, but pressure to re-enter the local world of Facebook became too much and my tweets dried up (hope there’s a cream for that).

The absence was initially intended as an intervention due to what I saw as a growing addiction to the Twitterverse; spending more time reading tweets than speaking to others. I’m a child of the 70s and as such can do that old man thing of remembering “when I were a lad….” and can remember when tweeting was done on walls and kerbs, using chalk (to be honest most of them tended to be letting people know what date you’d been there – why?).

I initially joined twitter to learn (actually that’s a lie; I originally joined to follow Stephen Fry, but I’ll never admit to that) but found that I was reading the ‘tweets of randomness’ rather than the important learning-centric ones (I even found that I was reading those of one person, purely because I found them attractive when I met them in real life). “Enough” I cried to the world; the world just rolled over and mumbled something about “not tonight, headache”, and decided to take a break and come back with a more focused need.

So here we are, 4 months have passed and it’s time to re-enter the 140, with my new purpose and more focused attitude……..one problem, I find that I can’t leap back in. Where once I found it but a moments work to distill my thoughts into 140 characters, now I find myself going blank at the space. Have I been gone too long and now need to Tumble in order to meet my rambling prose need? Maybe I’m doomed to press my words on this grand scale and use my phones battery up every time I want to reveal my thoughts. Who knows, and let’s be honest I don’t imagine anyone else really cares.

“Wait” I hear you cry, “you don’t need to tweet, you can just lurk and learn”; true, but part of the original joy of using the Twitter medium, was getting the chance to share what you had just learnt with others. I will keep trying to re-enter the world of tweets and hopefully will rediscover my muse, until then I suppose I will have to remain in the micro-verse of The Book of Faces talking about the local bar and ignoring people.

#LP2011 – The Learning Experience

As with most ‘conferences’ there is always a mild expectation of being spoken at for several hours, by someone with the personality and emotional range of a Dalek.

One of the things Learning Pool have always seemed to be able to do is inject a bit of life into their events, and #LP2011 was no exception.

A networking goldmine

Taking the concept that these events are more important for their delegate interaction aspect (networking goldmines), #LP2011 was billed as a ‘Community Day’ and organised to reflect this.

Apart from two initial presentations (Dr Andrew Larner talking on Sector Self Help and Kim Brown discussing the Role of HR and Training in Smart Councils), the event was workshop based.

Delegates could choose their ‘favourite’ topics and take part in that session (with enough flexibility, to allow delegates to change the session they attended).

Sessions on the day included subjects such as:

  • Rollout and Delivery
  • Engaging your Learners
  • Proving E-learning Payback
  • Training 3rd Sector Partners
  • E-learning for Councillors and Governors

Hero story happiness

The joy of these sessions was that several of them were billed as Hero Stories and delivered by community members who have negotiated many of the challenges faced by other members.

For example, the session on Engaging your Learners was co-presented by Sue Wright, from Wolverhampton City Council, who was able to give her experiences of engaging the Council’s employees to access their e-Learning provision.

These insights, from those in other public sector organisations, helped the delegates to see how they can achieve the same results (or even better).

An insightful lunchtime

To ensure the learning and networking continued throughout the day, hosted lunch tables were available, at lunchtime (strangely enough) covering topics such as:

  • Rollout and Delivery
  • Big Society Learning
  • Make Your DLE Friendly
  • E-learning for Leader

These lunchtime sessions, though short (10mins each) were extremely useful and encouraged many a long discussion afterwards.

The sessions on Make you DLE Friendly and E-learning for Leaders (presented by Ben Jones and Wendy Kay, respectively) were very useful; Ben’s session made delegates re-evaluate the style of their DLE, whilst Wendy provided food-for-thought on how you can use E-learning to influence the development of your senior officers/leaders.

Free one-to-one sessions

Delegates were also afforded the opportunity to have one-to-one sessions with Learning Pool’s experts, providing support clinics for any issues they may have with using the Authoring Tool and DLE, or with Learner Engagement.

I was lucky enough to work with Wendy Kay from Learning Pool on my particular concerns around Learner Engagement; the session left me with ideas tumbling over each other, begging to be used.

Prestigious awards bestowed

For the last few years Learning Pool have presented Customer of the Year Awards and this year was no exception.

Wrexham CBC was fortunate enough to be nominated in one of the categories this year (Best Community Contributor 2011) and although we weren’t successful this year, the whole presentation process gave community members the drive to want to be on the stage next year.

Connected and enthused

In all, the event was one of the most useful ‘conferences’ I have ever attended; I made more connections from this one day than the last six official events I have attended and I have never come away from an event with as much enthusiasm as I did from this.

Roll-on #LP2012