I shouted last week…this is what I’m going to do about it:

Okay, so I’ve actually shouted at people three times in three weeks.  The third time felt particularly bad, it wasn’t the five people I shouted at that were really to blame but instead a combination of factors – building up to a point of frustration.  This week I was struck down with norovirus for about 48 hours, this time spent feeling sorry for myself (interspersed with weird illness dreams) has given me some time to reflect on what was (by shouting), I would consider at least, uncharacteristic behaviour for me.

Thus, I’m going to (or already have):

  • Spending some time with friends and family to recharge.
  • Going to spend less time trying to analyse Brexit – oddly this has been inspired by watching the last series of Peaky Blinders.  The focus on Oswald Mosley really just reinforced, to me, the class war that Britain has faced and the failure of politics to balance the agenda (I’m not supporting Fascism here – rather that we haven’t come very far in the best part of a 100 years of Liberal/Tory/Labour governments).  Voter apathy is of course not a solution to this but when I see the horrendous part money plays in American politics (for example, with socialists in the Democrat party fighting between themselves for campaign funding) and the influence of shadowy figures in the UK the solution seems to be to ‘go back into my shell’.  Huge kudos to extinction rebellion (and others like them) for standing up for what they believe in.
  • I’ve printed a copy of my favourite piece of the Strengthscope models for my primary place of work – to try and make good choices daily.
  • Saying ‘thank you’ on Twitter.  I’ve been listening to the Trolled podcast and, now that we have extra characters, I’m keen to say thank you more often.  I’m also going to say thank you to useful people on LinkedIn more often.  Feel free to tell me to shut up if this sounds like noise on the platforms.
  • I’m engaging and liking more comedy/light-hearted stuff on Twitter.  I appreciate that some people will not follow me because of this but I’m trying to not be so focused on learning-related topics on there.
  • I’ve returned to playing my Nintendo Switch after about a year of it collecting dust as I opted for more PC gaming.  The Switch is a joy and if you haven’t got one you really should 🙂

Okay, personal post over – back to learning/education related malarkey soon!

Thank you if you’ve read this far 😉

MyAnalytics in Microsoft365: first impressions

Jumping on the data bandwagon (where ‘analytics’ seems to be the new ‘big’) Microsoft’s offering – MyAnalytics – was made available to me in my organisation this week (having previously been part of the ‘Delve’ branding).  Here’s Microsoft’s own introduction:

This data basically shows what you’ve been up to in Office365 – such as time spent in meetings, how much time you’ve spent in Outlook when you should be in “quiet” time (i.e. when you should be at home with your feet up), etc.

Aggregated, this data would be pretty powerful.  For the individual, at least for me, it seems to just reinforce what you probably already know – how quick you reply to emails, how much you work on those “quiet days” and who your “top collaborators” are.  At an aggregate level this covers some ground where research has been done in the past – for example the collaborators data is effectively network analysis and could well highlight other things that are happening in your organisation, for example the hidden influencers who are top collaborators but perhaps not in positions of traditional organisational power in the hierarchy/matrix.  Unfortunately this isn’t possible, albeit for understandable reasons:

Data privacy

None of a user’s personal information is shared with their co-workers or managers.

MyAnalytics adheres to compliance regulations, such as the GDPR.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/workplace-analytics/myanalytics/overview/mya-for-admins

I used something similar a while back at the desktop level that highlighted time spent in active applications – at the time it was nearly all Firefox and Outlook but also highlighted how much time I actually used Articulate Storyline and other things.  The Microsoft solution seems quite good in going beyond the desktop to the use of the services across devices.  However, for those with international roles the concept of working hours is, of course, very tricky.  Yes, you might ‘normally’ work 9-5 in Europe but those 7am calls with Australia would, from an Analytics perspective, count towards working outside your hours and cutting into “quiet times”.

For those really struggling with focus at work and allowing email to run their time, however, the data sets, suggestions and goal setting tools are likely to at least offer some help.  Nice list of what is included here.  Ultimately this can be useful for personal reflection, for example in agreeing outcomes as part of team behaviour change in improving work life balance.

National Retraining Scheme: The government calling out L&D departments as failures?

I think I’d somehow missed the news regarding the National Retraining Scheme (NRS) until today.

Some further info links and my own initial thoughts quickly thrown together below:

There’s a lot to like in this, not least that a Conservative government is working with Trade Unions on such a thing.  However, previous cuts to funding are obviously part of the issue but this scheme, as an investigation of alternative models, feels like it deserves to be given a chance.  Indeed Labour’s plans for a “National Education Service” would presumably supersede this if the government changes but shares some common ideology.

A worry would be that government agendas risk further muddying the waters by making personal improvement akin to getting your bins emptied and other services, i.e. “the government should do it” rather than encouraging people to consider this themselves.  Of course, this has always been a problem and the decline of traditional manufacturing left many areas of the country with skilled labour that needed to move, re-skill or face unemployment.  Similarly this article in the FE press states an issue that has effectively existed ever since schools were created, my view here would be to advocate for apprenticeships and on-the-job learning (ironically apprentice adoption currently being damaged by the 20% off-the-job rules):

what really is a first world problem is the number of people who have been completely put off any type of learning by the time they leave school.

However, the whole scheme also poses more ‘noise’ along with T-levels, apprenticeships and the rest.  Therefore, careers and personal development advice becomes increasingly important, and messy, in this environment – the simplification of polytechnics in 1992 being rolled back somewhat into more complex ‘streams’ of people.

Considering the domination of the universities, especially since ’92, it is nice to see something being done specifically for those without a degree.  However, this counters the logic in the apprenticeship reforms, namely that those with a degree can now reskill via apprenticeships but not via the NRS.

The TES article points out “that [perceptions the] learning isn’t relevant” will be a barrier.  As most L&D departments will attest learning will only stick if the learner has opportunity to put the material into practice – therefore there is a real risk of NRS supporting people for roles that should be available but are quite possibly not.  As the article says, “employer engagement is key” – or, in other words, the employers really ought to be on top of this but the government are aware of potential rising unemployment, decreasing disposable incomes and a general failure of organisations to train and retain.

‘Learning Reducer’ style concepts in the news

A couple of L&D pros have recently touched on some of the concepts I’ve tried to articulate in my ‘Reducer’ mindset. Links and recommendations for listening/reading below:

  • Krystyna Gadd on How Not to Waste Your Money on Training (Training Journal Podcast)
    • http://podplayer.net/?id=69264956
    • An interview on the TJ Podcast talking about Krystyna’s new book (which sounds like a more articulate version of some of my blog posts and ideas!)
  • BRUTALLY EFFICIENT: EXPLORING THE LEARNER SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH LORI NILES-HOFMANN (Totara Learning)
    • Full disclosure, I used to work with Lori so I’m always keen to read her latest thinking and the brutal efficiency focus does not disappoint. The piece is a really strong argument with parallels to the ‘reducer’ concept and some of the ideas in the podcast above.
    • I’d strongly recommend anyone who can go to the event to hear more from Lori does so.

Where I’d disagree a little with how Totara (on the second link) have analysed the issues would be that they continue to use ‘learner’ and consider things through an employer/employee contract position. I think we must try and shift this more to a realistic position where learning is owned by everyone, just facilitated by L&D teams – with organisations recognising learning needs as human (not learner/employee) needs. Yes, L&D teams should be upskilling their people, as in the Totara article. However, I would say L&D teams should be making opportunities available to all their audience(s) and then those individuals have a responsibility themselves to take those opportunities. We need to end the ‘arm twist to get you to do this’ culture of mandatory training whilst also encouraging people to contribute via social learning, coaching or other initiatives – even if they have no interest in career progression.

Do we just have to accept there is no going back ‘to the good old days’?

On many metrics the UK has flat-lined since the 2008 financial crisis, with arguably worse to come.

This week London and other cities have seen major protests from environmentalists.  So, do we have to accept that with climate change and other socio-economic crisis there is simply no return to the optimism of the millennium?

As an 80s child I perhaps feel this stronger than other age groups – having grown up in the mostly optimistic 90s with Cool Britannia, the end of the cold war, “things can only get better” and general optimism (even encyclopedia’s were optimistic bits of fun).  Yes, we had Captain Planet, Ferngully and other media warning us of the dangers of the future but overall I suspect there was far more cultural positivity than for those growing up now.  Current school kids have been globally connected from birth yet are seeing trade wars, cold (and hot) wars, migration crises and other threats to subdue their futures.

The Iraq War increasingly feels like the political turning point that was reinforced by the ‘credit crunch’.

If the future is indeed going to be bleaker then I suspect we need to relearn to ‘make do and mend’ – in this context I’ve recently been reading a lot about Jughad design.  I’m pretty sure this concept was new to me – although it has been used in the west for at least 20 years and there are a variety of books and articles on its application away from the Indian subcontinent.

At the same time we have to remember we have come along way and their are reasons for optimism – for that I would recommend the book Abundance that I have recently finished reading.