Working Out Loud Week 6

This week is a real milestone, it marks the half way point in my working out loud circle experience. The weeks have flown by and it is amazing how many moments of synchronicity have happened during the last few weeks.

 

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Here are my reflections:

It is amazing how quickly you can build deep relationships with your fellow circle

We only have 1hrs of face to face virtual contact a week but the commitment from the group to support and help each other is enough to leave me feeling incredibly supported. This is particularly important when you’re taking risks, or moving out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals. Thank you Circle A for being so awesome.

I’ve found some of the tasks harder than I would have thought

It is no secret that I’m an over sharer, I’m quite comfortable living my life out through social media and sharing a lot of myself. However I found the week 5 exercise ’50 facts about you’ quite difficult. There are lots of things I could share about myself but how much do I share? how deep I delve into myself to let others know and understand me? Within my circle I’ve shared my 50 facts about me, I’m not sure it is content for the big wide world. And that is OK, I don’t have to share everything publicly but it has surprised me how the exercise has played out.

How much of your WOL journey should be public and private?

I’ve wresteled with this a lot over the last couple of weeks. By definition working out loud means you are sharing, you’re being open. But how much of your experience is helpful within the privacy of the circle and how much do I share on my blog and through social media. My solution is a hybrid. I’m sharing reflections (here on this blog) I’m sharing breakthroughs as they happen on twitter, in my WOL community on Workplace by Facbook and in the WOL facebook community. So far it seems to be working.

Everyone is reading Design Your Life

It is funny how a book seems to be on everyone’s reading list. My circle introduced me to the book, I ordered it and read a few pages. I can see how it might help with my goal so I am working through it slowly. Kathryn Everest is on my list and when I caught up with her I mentioned the book, she is also reading it, as is another friend of ours. We’ve now formed a book club. I’ve since told some colleagues about the book and they are also planning on reading it. The jury is out on whether it will help me but I’ve found the Workview and Lifeview reflections very helpful.

I’m very excited about introducing WOL Circles into my workplace

I knew I needed to experience a WOL circle before I could even consider introducing the concept to Pearson. But I’m already seeing how WOL would work and provide us with a huge opportunity. I met with John Stepper (swoon) this week and we discussed how he’s been working with other organisations. I think the most exciting thing about this is that John’s approach allows practioners or advocates for WOL to experiment, there is no pressure, the resources are freely available so you can proof test and gather evidence of the impact it can have before engaging more deeply. Over the coming weeks I plan to seek out folks who’ve introduced WOL in their workplace and think about how I will run a pilot and with who.

My WOL journey continues, here is to the next 6 weeks…

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Getting started with Working Out Loud

This week I joined my first working out loud circle. It was great. I’ve told lots of people about my experience, so naturally people have asked me “What is it?” “What is a circle?”

working out loud, john stepper, WOL, Jive World
John signed my hard copy at Jive World in 2016. Now i’m finally experiencing my first circle.

What is Working Out Loud?

Here’s how John Stepper describes working out loud taken from his website:

Working Out Loud is a way to build relationships that can help you in some way, like achieving a goal or exploring a new topic or skill. Instead of networking to get something, you invest in relationships by making contributions over time, including your work and experiences that you make visible. Your contributions over time are what build trust and deepen a sense of relatedness, and that’s what increases the chances for cooperation and collaboration.

To me the concept of working out loud comes quite naturally. I’m an over sharer, I tell everyone what i’m up to all the time. I manage an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) i’m constantly contributing to relationships across Pearson to support our business goals.

But what has spiked my interest in learning more, was the promise of deepening relationships. Sometimes I feel like I have a vast network, it stretches to every corner of the globe across diverse companies and cultures. But how deep are those relationships, what do I offer the people who follow me on Twitter, what am I giving back to the connections i’ve made on LinkedIn and am I bringing my whole self to work?
If you are new to Working Out Loud John shares a simple way of approaching it:

The practice starts with three simple questions:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Who’s related to my goal?
  • How can I contribute to people to deepen our relationship?

Picking a simple goal makes it purposeful, and orients who you choose to build relationships with and what kinds of contributions you might make. Instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity, investing in relationships that give you access to other people, knowledge, and possibilities. Your contributions can range from recognition & appreciation to sharing learning, resources, and original work that might be helpful to others.

Last year I made a commitment to Work Out Loud. I did work out loud, I shared a lot more of my experiences, interesting content on social media that I thought others would enjoy. I started a blog about my travel experiences with my family The Godbers Travel.

But I missed the point. I didn’t ask myself those three simple questions.
Towards the end of last year I started to revisit the book and was asking myself how can I get involved? If I was to ask myself the three questions, what would my answers be? And then Simon Fogg contacted me. I’m a firm believer in fate it felt like it was meant to be and January is a good time to start new things.

What’s a working out loud circle?

One of the best ways to start is to form a Working Out Loud Circle. That’s a peer support group of 4-5 people who meet for an hour a week for 12 weeks. You can meet in person or via video. Both work well.
In your Circle, you each pick an individual goal you care about, and short, simple guides help you find people related to your goal and develop relationships with them. By the end, you’ll have developed a larger, more diverse network and a set of habits you can apply toward any goal.
The guides are free, and are available in English and German. You can connect with WOL practitioners around the world – and even find Circle members – in the private WOL Community on Facebook.

You can generate a circle on your own, you can reach out in the WOL community on Facebook to start one. You can do it with acquaintances, colleagues or complete strangers.

My WOL Circle is part of a wider group. My circle is made up of 7 of us. We meet weekly via Zoom and share between sessions using Workplace by Facebook.

I’m largely caught up on what I missed in the first week. I have a goal, i’m now working on my relationship list.

It is quite normal to adapt, refine or change your goal. It is your goal after all and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of circle. This week i’ve changed my goal. My goal felt too big and when I gave it some serious thought, 12 weeks didn’t feel like a very long time to make significant progress.

My goal is…

To define my career achievements to date: this will mean updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect my skills, capabilities and who I am. I will also update my CV, to reflect the same.

Phew that felt quite momentous, it is out there i’ve said it out loud beyond my circle.

I’ve also ordered the book Designing Your Life – Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Check out the video on YouTube. I will let you know how I get on.

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This was one of the first recommendations i’ve had during my Working Out Loud circle. Looking forward to reading it.

Over the next 10 weeks I will keep you updated on my progress and welcome any feedback.

2018 I’m Ready For You

It is amazing how time flies…well actually it really is.

The last time I posted a blog on here was a little over 6 months ago. Since then i’ve been to Barcelona, Camping with the family, numerous theme parks, days out, festivals and theatre shows, we’ve been to Ibiza, I’ve had my sons first and 4th birthday. We’ve celebrated milestones, birthdays, Halloween and bonfire night. I’ve attended progress evenings, Christmas performances and nursed poorly boys. I’ve packed, unpacked and packed again. I’ve planned holidays for 2018, Christmas came and went, we traveled to Thailand and we traveled back again.

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Looking out at this view gave me a lot of time to think, reflection is good when your life runs away with you.

 

When we pack a lot into life it isn’t really a surprise when time flies.

And this year I celebrate 10 years at Pearson. It is quite the milestone. It is a whole decade. I’ve spent more time working at Pearson than anywhere else. I’ve been in a relationship with Pearson longer than my husband. And whilst at Pearson i’ve seen no end of change. I’ve seen two CEOs, i’ve seen two office locations, three legal entities and three different pay dates. I’ve lost count of the amount of desk moves i’ve had, i’ve seen systems come and go. I’ve written, created, shared and recycled content. I’ve made friends, met new people and said goodbye to many. I’ve had two maternity leaves, more managers than I have fingers, i’ve worked in HR, Comms, HR and then Comms again. Change is a constant and 2018 will be no exception i’m sure of that.

It seems fitting that 2018 is the year I finally take time to reflect to ponder and to wonder. And i’ve decided to do that through the process of Working Out Loud. I’ve written about it before and i’ve never quite made the leap of faith and joined a circle.

At the end of last year Simon Fogg approached me and asked if i’d like to join a WOL circle and I jumped at the chance.

I’m excited and nervous about where the next 12 weeks will take me. We are already on week 2 so I have a little catching up to do. I have a good excuse I was returning from holiday with the family. But I am here putting it out there into the universe that i’m Working Out Loud, i’m excited to get to know my circle and see what comes out of the experience.

If you’re not familiar with WOL check out John Stepper’s work on his website Working Out Loud. I’ve borrowed this image from there to give you a very quick visual of what it is all about.

WOL
I’ve borrowed this image from workingoutloud.com credit to Tammay Vora.

Facebook’s Wake-Up Call for Jive and Enterprise Social Networks

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Last week Patrick O’Keefe invited me to be on his latest podcast for Community Signal. We’d been back and forth over twitter about my views on Facebook breaking into the enterprise social network (ESN) space and what this might mean for the other ESN players.

As you can expect I had a view, you can listen to the full interview on the community signal episode. I had said Facebook’s move into the ESN space “should act as a wake-up call to Jive that they need to put collaboration back at the heart of their product” I stand by my comments and my team and I are spending a lot of time talking about how we can work around the technology limitations to bring this energy back to our community.

But on the topic of Workplace by Facebook there is a lot of chat happening among those of us who’ve been in this space for a while. Sharon O’Dea shared this great article from Talk Social to Me, Making the Switch from Jive to Workplace by Facebook And she also wrote this article Facebook’s freebie suggests they don’t understand the enterprise. I can’t do their articles justice by trying to summarise them, so I highly recommend having a read.

I can clearly see the appeal. If I was starting over, would Workplace by Facebook be a serious contender? Maybe – but knowing what I know now about managing an ESN over a sustained period of time, in the same organisation I see their proposition through a different lens. I share Sharon’s view ‘selling enterprise social in is hard, because you need to get approval from any business unit that might be affected by its use – i.e. all of them. And that takes ages’. ESN vendors have anticipated and continually try to diversify their product to respond to all those decision makers needs. I think this is a MASSIVE fail. Working this way responds to the traditional organisational design, what I believe made ESN’s great is that they broke down those silos, they destroyed the layers of the organisation and drove collaboration like a steam roller through an organisation – WE NEED MORE OF THIS!!

To me it feels like the current big players aren’t listening to their customers and the new players are after a slice of the pie but don’t fully understand what that means. What is clear is the prize is big, according to the latest market report published by Persistence Market Research titled ‘Enterprise Social Networks and Online Communities Market: Global Industry Analysis and Forecast 2016-2026’ they predict ESNs and online communities will procure US$12.189mn by 2026. We are talking about some big numbers.

Jive were acquired in May for $462m they will sit under the Aurea portfolio, we await news on what this will mean for their customers and the product.

And last week there were multiple reports that Amazon and others are sniffing around Slack, Business Insider UK said ‘Amazon is one of several tech companies interested in acquiring the Slack chat platform’

Dion Hinchcliffe was not wrong when he wrote Why enterprise collaboration is exciting again the burst of innovation is interesting and the shifts in the big players is what gets me really excited. I’m looking forward to watching this space.

 

Running out of time…

5k gazelles

In my last blog post which was…31st March I said that working out loud doesn’t come naturally to me and it was something I was going to have to work very hard at. I wasn’t kidding. When I returned from maternity leave I eased myself into working life gently. I had a lot more time for thinking and but very quickly a few curve balls brought me back to reality with a bump. I am committed and that is why i’m here writing an update from the passenger seat of the car, kids asleep in the back whilst we drive up North to see family.

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Sometimes you have to work where you can
I have beaten myself up a bit about not keeping the blog up to date but actually I am going to give myself a break because I also made a commitment to my personal health and fitness this year and on that front i’m kicking ass.
And then I realised as I sat here writing this blog I have actually been working out loud just not quite how I envisioned it at the start of the year.
In March I signed up to join 10 of my neighbours on a couch to 5k programme run by another neighbour Phil. i’m including a link to his facebook site Gazelle Running MK. He offered the 10 week course for free. I jumped at the chance and over 10 weeks I made some new friends and got fitter.
I had to be accountable to myself and others, we shared our progress and achievements with each other through Whatsapp. We encouraged each other when we were having bad runs or we were not feeling it and we met every week to improve our speed and distance. Our hard work paid off and we ran our first Park Run together and loved every second. Spurred on by my new love of running I signed up to a 10km in September and so to support my training i’ve also signed up for the Phil’s 10km programme we start next week. We basically created our own WOL circle.
5k gazelles
We made it 27th May Couch to 5K graduation day
And as my running has improved i’ve been spurred on to try and beat my personal best times and to do this I need to also work on strength as well as diet. I started to talk to the various communities I belong to and decided to commit to The Body Coach. I’ve signed up for a 90 day plan and have now been doing his HIIT workouts every other day for 3 weeks. I can already feel the benefits and i’ve roped my husband and mum into joining me.
HIIT_workout
No excuses even when we travel.
Between work, two kids, running a home and the fitness sessions i’m committing to there isn’t a lot of free time but right now the balance feels right and i’m happy.

Working Out Loud

I’ve been following John Stepper’s journey for many years, we met in person at a Melcrum conference where we both had to do a terrifying quick fire presentation. He’s as amazing in person as he is virtually. And you can find out more about his work here Working Out Loud

On my return from maternity one of my colleagues shared that she’s starting to work out loud through the Community Roundtable and on a weekly basis she is sending me her list and in our one to ones we have started to discuss the book a few chapters at a time.

I am a big fan – in fact one of the areas we’ve been looking at within our Jive community is how can we encourage working out loud amongst colleagues. Over the years iterations of the Jive platform and changes to UI has pushed the ability to work out loud deeper into the weeds. At Pearson we used to ask the question “what are you working on?” front and centre of our homepage.

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One of our first homepages in 2011

Alas we no longer have this capability and I think our community is suffering because of it. I no longer hear the anecdotal stories describing the serendipity moment that we had in the early days. I miss it.

What is the answer? Do we bring the status update back to our homepage? I’m not convinced this is the right way to go…our community is more mature some of our users are now more sophisticated than that. Which brings me back to Working Out Loud. John recommends creating WOL circles and we’ve talked about creating a dedicated space in our community for working out loud.

The challenge is bringing 36,000 people with you. It is a change in behaviour and change in the way people work and we all know change, engagement and communication can be really really hard.

Never one to step away because something is hard, we’re going to start small we’re going to model the behaviour ourselves and we’ll bring people along with us.

Of course this also means a massive shift for me because I’ve discovered working out loud isn’t coming naturally to me. But I am committed and I want to change my behaviour because I am a massive believer in setting out your intentions.

So here I am committing to working out loud and sharing my experience with you.

Doris Day

On the day parts of the country ground to a halt courtesy of Storm Doris, I took a risk and commuted down to the big smoke. The journey took a little longer than usual but afforded me some delightful conversation with my fellow commuters.

A little wind swept, I joined Wedge and Brian at their Digital Transformation crowd sourcing day. The high level topics were as follows:

  • Levels of digital maturity
  • Engaging your allies
  • Workflow Process Design

There was some great discussions captured throughout the day and i’m looking forward to collaborating with the group on the output.

I then spent the evening with my colleague Dina Vekaria attending our first Culturevist event. Led by Matthew Partovi we discussed the topic “Shifting our team from HR/People/Comms Operations to Employee Experience”. It was clear that almost every conversation i’ve had internally and externally has centered around the employee experience this week. And I seem to be attracting people who are working on the same things as me, which is great because I love sharing ideas and experience.

On reflection this week i’ve made some pretty awesome contacts, caught up with some old connections and immersed myself in some thought provoking articles.

I highly recommend both these articles:

From disrupted to disruptor: Reinventing your business by transforming the core  By Peter Dahlström, Liz Ericson, Somesh Khanna, and Jürgen Meffert

De-mystifying Digital Transformation By Christine Overby

And if like me culture and brand get you out of bed in the morning and you’re interested in spending time with like minded people, who are “turning our brands into movements, by developing our company cultures and energising our customer communities” consider checking out Culturevist’s website and sign yourself up.

 

 

Customer Journey Mapping

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of joining Brilliant Noise  at their customer journey mapping event a full summary can be found here. The event was billed to explore how effective customer journey mapping will:

  • Improve customer experience by identifying creative ideas and improvements to systems or processes.
  • Deliver against your business objectives through targeted, measurable change projects.
  • Constantly improve customers’ journeys with a sustainable improvement programme.
  • Identify the KPIs to evaluate improvements, quality and business outcomes.

Iain Nokes Chief Customer Journey Officer at The Economist led that charge, he’s been working with Brilliant Noise to map The Economist’s customer journey with some great success.

customer_touchpoint

Above is a segment of that map showing just a snippet of the touch points and how they are interconnected. What Ian was sharing made perfect sense but as an internal communicator I couldn’t help wondering if I was in the wrong room and whilst an interesting learning opportunity, was it the best use of my time. Then we got into the weeds and Ian shared his key learnings and my brain kicked into overdrive.

key_learnings

The word hypothesis was mentioned multiple times and it seems to be a word of choice when i’ve been talking to my team this week about where we are going to focus our attention over the coming year. This is important when we look at where we might start, where can we have the biggest impact and what will support our overall strategy and business goals. We need to be able to measure our impact and sometimes starting small has more chance of being a success. Or even just identify activity we can stop doing to create space to do more of the things that do get the cut through we’re hoping for.

Visualisation is critical it makes your strategy come to life, Ian mentioned their map is up on the wall in their office and visual content helps drive the message home. We are currently looking at the channels we use and how we can create great content to share on these channels. But as I listened to his journey I was starting to formulate a version of our employee experience in map form in my own head.

For the second part of the afternoon we broke out into 3 groups and naturally I gravitated to the topic around How the customer journey mapping can support collaboration and culture change. The topic quickly picked up pace and we started to talk about the pain points, in particular when our employees don’t experience the customer journey this can leave them with little empathy for how the customer experiences the brand. And even more challenging is when our employees know and agree that the customer experience needs to change but “the fear” kicks in. Does this mean I will need to do my job differently? will I even have a job? We all shared experiences of back end and front end tensions regarding systems and processes.

So what? My conclusion is that we actually have to look at our own employee journey. Our challenges are very similar and we can take a similar approach to address them. The topic was about the customer experience but if you can’t communicate what that is effectively internally to your employees you have no chance of being able to deliver. Do you make customer experience part of all employees goals for example? However you approach it like all employee communications you need great content delivered through relevant channels.

My takeaways:

  • A new contact who has way more expertise than me on creating great content that I hope to do some knowledge swapping with she’s in the market to learn more about communities.
  • I’m going to map out some of the activity we are reviewing to see what the employee experience looks like with the hope that we can identify quick wins to improve and be more effective in communicating internally.

Definitely a worthwhile afternoon and I’m looking forward to putting some of the ideas into action over the coming weeks.

 

 

 

I’m back…

It has been a while, there was the small matter of growing a baby and then keeping said baby happy for the last 7 months. But yesterday I found myself back in the comfortable saddle of work and it was like i’d never been away. Except I have, and instead of being responsible for one little human I am now responsible for two…

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Whilst on maternity I have had some time to reflect and think. And there has been a lot to think about in 7 short months the UK voted out of Europe, Trump voted in and our news is dominated with the horrors that are still taking place in Syria, Yeomen to name but a few. Some days the world feels like a very scary place, unsafer, more worrying. And I probably do worry a lot more now because I have these two small people to consider.

Communities and social media has played a massive part in the outcomes of some big events and over the course of 2017 we will see and hear more through our mediums of choice. At times i’ve felt incredibly overwhelmed and frustrated and as someone with a huge social  media footprint i’ve found my timelines bombarded with desperation, negativity and anger from all sides of the political spectrum. I’ve seen friends, families and work colleagues fall out as individuals wear their heart on their sleeve when it comes to their political persuasion.

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution of sorts and that was to be more thankful. I wanted to try and cancel out some of the negativity with positivity. I wanted to put it out there to the universe that I am thankful for the big things, the little things and everything in between.

So i’d like to put it out there that I am thankful for meeting some wonderful new people in 2016. One in particular inspired me to explore my creativity and turn on my sewing machine. So when the world outside is feeling all too much I explore a new community i’ve immersed myself in, as I start to get to grips with the basics of sewing and take on some new personal projects.

I am also thankful to be able to get back to a job I enjoy very much and I hope I am able to continue sharing my community experiences with you through 2017.