Tag Archive for: learning

If Something is Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Wrong

What? WaLet's do something wrong handwritten designit a minute! Is that a typo? Am I encouraging you to do good things badly?

No, it’s not a typo. And I am definitely not calling for making mistakes on purpose.

Let me explain. I’ve just returned from the annual Winter Conference of the National Speakers Association, of which I am a proud member.

I spent the last three days with about 300 other professional speakers in Austin, Texas. The entire conference was devoted to learning, growth, innovation, reinvention, and change (and we managed to Keep Austin Weird – that wasn’t hard for us to accomplish). Special kudos to conference c0-chairs Gary Rifkin, CSP, Cavett Award, and Christie Ward, CSP. It was an incredible program. Read more

What Makes a Conversation Memorable and Meaningful?

Cafe Conversation 23178999SmallI recently put that basic question to several friends and professional colleagues: What in their experience characterizes a good conversation (that simple question generated some incredibly meaningful conversations all by itself).

Chris Hood, a senior director with CBRE, thought a moment and described it this way:

When you have a good conversation you know it. There is something almost magical about one idea building on another, or one link following another. The succession of ideas just flows.

I attended a workshop several years ago that was focused on improving conversations between managers and employees. The primary emphasis was on authenticity – where both parties were saying what they really mean, as opposed to just saying what they were supposed to say.

There are all sorts of personal skills involved too – empathy, interest in the other person, nonverbal behaviors, being engaged, being clear.

And then there is nature of the conversation itself. What is its purpose? What do you want to happen afterwards?”

A well-developed conversation is something that actually has to be thought about, and structured. It’s not just something that happens. It needs to be thought about in advance.

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Mindsets are More Important than Skillsets

Report Card ClipartStanford Professor Carol Dweck tells a marvelous story about a Chicago high school I wish I’d attended. When a student receives a report card on a course he or she has not successfully completed, the grade shows as “Not Yet.”

It doesn’t say “Failed,” but rather “Not Yet.”

Think about that for a moment. For me, and clearly for Professor Dweck, that choice of wording is incredibly powerful.

What does “Not Yet” say to that student? It does not say, “You are stupid, you are a loser, you can’t do it.” Instead it says “You didn’t pass this time.” It presumes there will be another time, and it also tells the student “You might pass the course the next time you try.”

Professor Dweck has been studying achievement, learning, and happiness for a long time. She’s written a book called Mindset (Ballantine Books, 2007) in which she identifies two very different ways of experiencing life. And while most of her research has focused on young children and adolescents, her insights are equally important for adults in the workplace.

She describes two distinctively different attitudes, or mindsets, about success and failure (or rather, success and “Not Yet”) Read more

To Live is to Learn

Experience is inevitable. Learning is not.

(Nancy Dixon, Conversations Matter blog)

John Dewey would have loved Thomas Watson.

Thomas J. Watson Sr.There is an old story (I really don’t remember where I first heard it) that in IBM’s very early days a young project manager had the unpleasant task of informing IBM’s founder and CEO Thomas Watson Sr. that a major design initiative had gotten off track and had to be shut down after costing the company about $6 million.

When he finished explaining what had happened, the project manager said to Watson, “I’m know I screwed up. I suppose you’ll be wanting my resignation.” Read more

Telling isn’t Teaching

A lecture is a process in which the notes of the professor become the notes of the student – without passing through the minds of either one.

– Immanuel Kant

ceo speaker

The most energizing experience I ever had as a teacher was many years ago at an IBM customer executive seminar, held at IBM’s development center in the bucolic hills near the Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York City. It was part of a five-day program called “The President’s Class.”

The course was designed to expose senior IT executives to the kinds of issues their presidents faced. IBM brought in a different Harvard professor each day to cover a single topic – marketing, finance, operations, HR, government relations, and so on. Each time we taught the course there were about 40 IBM customer executives and an equal number of IBM sales personnel in attendance.

My topic that day was leading large-scale organizational change. I taught two 90-minute classes in the morning, using Harvard Business School case studies. The well-known HBS “method” was to engage the class participants in an open, wide-ranging conversation about the decisions facing the protagonists in the case story.

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Converting Conferences into Conversations

How often do you come home from a professional conference and say something like: “The best part of the event was the coffee breaks and the cocktail parties.”? I sometimes say that even when the keynote presentations were world-class.

In this age of social media, free long-distance phone calls, and webinars, why do we spend so much time and money to attend conferences?

Well, for most of us there is still plenty of power in face-to-face communication. Good keynote speakers can have an incredible impact even in a big, crowded ballroom – an impact that is substantially different from reading their books and blogs or listening to them during an online webinar.

But I know as well as you do that the real value of going to most conferences is the opportunity to meet and have personal conversations with colleagues and professional friends, both old and new.

So why do so many conference organizers still fill up their agendas with pontificating platform speakers and with endless breakout sessions that always seem to be “I will talk and you will listen” experiences?

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What Makes a Learning Experience Unforgettable?

Last month I highlighted Alvin Toffler’s observation that 21st-century literacy meant the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn – being agile enough to acquire new knowledge and skills almost daily, in tune with the very dynamic and uncertain global economy we have created (“A New Look at Adult Learning”).

Now I want to reflect on several of my own experiences that have convinced me of the importance of Toffler’s observation.

Shortly after I graduated from college (a very long time ago!) I came across a book that has had a profound impact on my career and on my interest in adult learning, even though the book was primarily about reforming elementary and secondary public school education.

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A New Look at Adult Learning

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler

Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic aren’t enough anymore. It’s certainly important to be able to read and write – that’s long been a foundation requirement for participation in society. However, the basic ability to read and write isn’t even table stakes for  success in our economy and society any more.

As Alvin Toffler has made clear, what really matters today for anyone who wants to succeed is agility – the ability to change, adapt, learn, unlearn, and relearn.

We talk all the time about how dynamic the world is in the 21st century, and almost every day we come across new technologies, new products, and new “rules” for getting ahead. But I have not seen or heard any serious discussion at all about what we as adults have to do to take full advantage of all those new technologies and new concepts for succeeding (not to ignore the need to completely rethink how we prepare our children for the same thing; that equally important issue will have to wait for another time).

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The Future of . . . (April 2012)

This is a monthly newsletter feature:  a  collection of recent stories and news articles that have appeared elsewhere; this is our way of helping you stay on top of developments in the worlds of technology, workplace and facilities design, the workforce, and work design – any and all of which will likely affect the future of work, often in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

How Leaders Kill Meaning at Work

This article, from McKinsey Quarterly, describes how many organizational leaders engage in four specific destructive behaviors that kill their subordinates’ creativity, productivity, and commitment to helping their employers succeed.

Authors Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer are convinced that the single most important thing that leaders and managers can do to foster employee engagement is to create opportunities for meaningful work—to help employees understand how their personal activities can make a difference for customers, for the company, and for society at large.

It’s an important concept, and the article is a good summary of the authors’ research.

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Use Online Courses and Tutorials to Succeed

Online courses and tutorials can be integral to an online business or website’s success. Most offer information keyed to doing business online and some are available for free. However those that cost can often be written-off on your tax return.

Tutorials offer general tips, tricks, and hints at how to do something or succeed at doing it well. Formal courses offer grades, credit, and even degrees in commercial fields. Sometimes a course also includes licenses and permits, but not always.

There are plenty of online tutorials and blog posts on how to manage your online work, but if you are serious about turning a profit, you should definitely look into taking an online course in subjects like marketing, business management, and accounting. This kind of knowledge will come in handy when it comes to making your business profitable and not just sustainable.

Online courses can be great for those turning a hobby into a job.

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