Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weekend Percolations

This train of thought started earlier this past week when Jane Hart posted a link to an article about making time for learning (5 hours a week to be precise).

"Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule," (Michael Simmons with Ian Chew)

The article can be summarized as follows:  Eveyone should set aside an hour a day for deliberate learning.  

It only adds up to five hours a week if you don't learn on weekends.  I'm all for deliberate learning on a regular basis and reading the article triggered this comment on my part, posted in the MWL Association discussion area:
"I like to think of it [deliberate learning] as building a learning and thinking habit and embedding thinking and learning within daily routines. Perhaps to establish the habit you need a "rule" and some structure but once the habit is well-established, the number of hours is irrelevant. In fact, once the habit is established, the focus might be on ensuring the right balance of reading/absorbing, percolating/ruminating and taking action/experimenting as a result. I used to read a lot, percolate a little and do very little with it. Now I read less, percolate more and I do much more with what I learn."
I'm not following a 5-hour rule, I do a lot of deliberate learning on weekends, and this weekend, I was very deliberate about focusing on the percolating element of learning.  To do that I set myself up outdoors with white paper and pens.  This ensured that 1) I eliminated the potential distraction of an internet feed or two (to replace with slightly less distracting birds and rabbits in the backyard); and 2) I avoiding reading or listening to another book.

I ended up with two pages of scribbles about ideas related to going solo next year and setting my the consulting practice, including a half-dozen key insights and three specific action items.

One of those action items was to research readiness assessments for going solo as a consultant. While that brought me back to an internet search, I was satisfied that the deliberate percolating had achieved its purpose.  I should make it a habit to set aside time to percolate, not just read and surf.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Book Conversations for a KM Lead Job Transition

The first step my successor and I took was to agree on a weekly informal conversation and I knew that conversations would be THE MOST SIGNIFICANT component of this transition effort.

Keeping these conversations informal doesn't mean we can't inject some planning and structure into them.  Since I also wanted to have a background reading component to the transition, I was already thinking about a list of books I could recommend.  Obviously, book reading isn't an ideal way of transferring knowledge, so I thought about making at least part of our conversations related to specific KM books. We could talk about the key concepts and insights from the books, but most importantly connect them directly to the context within which my successor will be working.

I couldn't help myself, I created a map of books I could recommend for these conversations.  These are books I've read and books that have influenced my thinking.  Out of the more than 20 books on the map, perhaps a dozen can be selected for their more immediate applicability and fit with the context my successor will face.  At the pace of one book a month, we can cover 12 books during this coming year.

This sounds great in theory.  I don't know that it's going to work in practice.  We'll see.

Click on the map to open in a new tab.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Planning a Job Transition

Most job transitions result in a great deal of knowledge loss. Some of it may be inevitable. However, that knowledge loss can be mitigated by having the successor identified early and planning for some job overlap with the person leaving. This is often not possible because either the successor cannot be identified early and/or funding the overlap time is challenging. In most cases of job transition that I have recently witnessed, the person leaves and even when he/she is replaced swiftly, there is no handover.

One notable exception to mention: A colleague, knowing that she would not be able to meet her replacement, spent some time creating onboarding videos for her successor, using simple video tools resulting in instructions based on narrated screencaptures. This was invaluable to the successors who would otherwise have struggled for weeks to understand how things were done and where the relevant documents were to be found. This seemed to be more powerful than any written down instructions. My own instinct would have been to create written instructions with screen captures. A document can be scanned faster to get to what you need, but a collection of short videos can do the job as well.

What if you had 12 months to transfer what you know about your job to your successor? I know what you're thinking: No way. This doesn't happen. This scenario is highly unlikely. Obviously, this assumes that you would know a year before your departure exactly who is going to be your successor.. which by itself is an unlikely situation.. AND YET, that is exactly the situation I am facing today:

  • More than 12 months before my departure;
  • A known successor internal to the company;
  • An employer and a customer who both know about my departure and who support the transition.

It was up to me to set this up, and I'm glad I did in spite of some of the risks involved. It is now up to me to make it work. I have now two interesting challenges to address:
1. How to prepare for the next stage of my career (full time consulting on my own).
2. How to prepare my successor so that she can successfully take over my current job.

The initial analysis is very similar in both cases.

  • What are my current skills, experiences, expertise? How will they transfer to consulting?
  • What are some of the skills and knowledge gaps I can identify now and address in the coming year?
  •  What are my successor's current skills, experiences, expertise? How will they transfer over when she takes over my job? Obviously she has been selected as my possible replacement because she is perceived to be a good match for the position to begin with.
  • What are some of her skills and knowledge gaps and how can I help address these in the coming year?

We're not going to have a full year of overlap, but we're already set to have lunch conversations once a week.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Organization of 2030


Three takeaways for me:
1a. Independent workers (freelancers) are becoming more important and will continue to become more important as a % of the working population.  Managers within organizations will need to learn how to work with them.  Half of the work might be done by these independents.
1b.  Independent workers will continue to innovate with collaborative models, collaborative commons, collaborative platforms.

2. Information overload is only going to increase and it's going to get worse in terms of how we interface with technology at work and increasingly, within the home as well.  There will be a need for training on how to disconnect (comment se d├ębrancher).

3.  Embracing technology and all it can do to enhance and transform our work and life models also means we need to keep strengthening human connections, get people to really talk and listen to each other.  Technology can and should enhance collaborative models that are the future of work.

There is a lot more I want to pursue for more in-depth exploration.  Merci, Mr. de Rosnay.  I am now following you on Twitter, and following your advice to be fully bilingual, although in my case, I am trying to ensure that I strengthen my original mother tongue, French.  It truly awakens different neurons to listen to a sophisticated talk in a language other than English.