February 2011


Not, on the face of things, a book about organisational change, HR or learning, I hear you murmur. True, I’d murmur back, but a book you might gain a lot from reading nonetheless. While Morozov’s primary focus in The Net Delusion may be on the socio-political impact of the Internet, and on repeatedly, provocatively and effectively countering the prevailing view of it as a force for democratisation, openness, dissemination (and quite possibly a cure for a real gallimaufry of our ills), in the context of this blog and the professional focus of its audience the book has a useful role to play as both eye-opener and reality check. Webs may not be inherently wicked, but they’re not simple either: the clue, as they say, is in the name.

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You will already have the teams in place. Some of you may have been transferred between a number of them already – although possibly without the lavish signing-on fee. There will be official colours and the ‘club’ magazine: the more cutting edge may already have the supporters’ pages on Facebook and the VIP appearances for gala dinners. Many will pursue more traditional pursuits: smiling ‘players’ photographed in the local paper doing good works in the community. The sport/business analogy is a potent one, and very popular. Just remember that you aren’t actually Man Utd. There are some fine lessons to transfer – and some coarse differences to keep in mind too.

There’s many a sporting personality who has made the transition from an eye-catching performance on track, field or (especially) TV. (Go on, name five stellar lacrosse players: there’ll be as much awesome skill and competitive intensity on display as in any other sport, but rather fewer cameras or column inches. England, Scotland and Wales all compete in the World Lacrosse Championships, and England have finished in the top 6 at the last four events. But fame? Glory? …).

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There are probably a few of them in your organisation, probably even in your immediate team. People who will always go the extra mile, help wherever they can, pick up your pieces when you’ve dropped them (and not mention that self-discipline problem you have that means you do this more often than you should). Most of the people I’ve ever met who’ve fitted this description had a similar signature phrase too: something like “Anytime – no problem” or “Hey, it’s ok: it’s what I’m here for.” But has it ever dawned on you that these charming beings could turn out to be a real problem. And that you might be the catalyst?

There’s a great post about this at Dan Rockwell’s “The Leadership Freak” site, called An Accidental User. Here’s Dan talking about when, for the first time, he called just such a person simply to ask how they were doing: (more…)

There are times when the trade press – and its new, shiny digital equivalent – feels a little like the bad side of local newspapers. Just as your local newspaper will dazzle you with headlines like “TV Star visits City” – and follow them with articles about a supporting part player in a soap driving down the bypass on the way to the chippie – so any annual or topical event will trigger an article somewhere that somehow finds relevance to the Exciting World of Widgets!!! (You can blame Google, by the way: sprinkling your output with a dusting of passingly popular terms is a technique for boosting website visits. Just not necessarily return visits. If you’re competing in the economy of attention, please acquaint yourself with the ground rules.)

So, just as we saw with Christmas, so it is with the most personal, intimate and passionate celebration of the year. No, not the X-Factor final: Valentine’s Day. OK, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea: singletons, the newly separated, those who resent being over-charged for chocolate or a fluffy pink puppy/bunny/traffic warden costume – and especially those freshly dumped – get a little resentful about the whole shebang. Having our emotions manipulated for the commercial gain of others who think we’re not showing enough commitment goes against the grain of some people – despite which the Valentine’s Card is a ubiquitous part of the annual calendar. (And – please note – despite which there are some equally ham-fisted attempts at employee engagement going on in the world: if you want to influence our emotions for fiscal gain, some of us expect more than a tacky card and a sprinkle of gold heart confetti (although that’s not the worst idea out there …)

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After the Learning Technologies 2011 and Learning and Skills 2011 Conference/Exhibition (click here to read our thoughts on it, and the further thoughts that it triggered), we figured a Crackers posting about some of the implications of the rise – and the currently fashionability – of technology-based and mediated learning was overdue. (We also noticed that good articles on the theme aren’t always easy to find: the techno-utopians have always had a strong web presence, but the Luddites are increasingly vocal online too!). So we were pleased to find the following two articles, both of which are well worthy of reaching a wider audience , and remind us that the focus needs to be on the ‘learning’ not the ‘e’.

(For more of our Crackers link to blog posts we’ve particularly admired around the web, just click here.)

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Pictures from an Exhibition - 1In November last year, I wrote about my contrasting reactions to the CIPD Annual Conference in Manchester and the HR Unconference in London. One conclusion that it was hard not to draw was to question quite what the CIPD Annual Conference was attempting to achieve, and whose benefit it was attempting to achieve it for. As I remarked at the time, footfall and attendance both seemed to the reasonably eagle-eyed attendee to be surprisingly low: it was difficult to avoid the suspicion that those paying handsomely for exhibition space might be questioning the wisdom of their investment.

While it was evident even before I arrived that the Learning Technologies 2011 & Learning and Skills 2011 event, held at London’s Olympia on 26-7 January 2011, was not going to be a small, informal, grassroots/bottom up even in the style of the Unconference, I’ll admit that I was interested to see just how busy the event would be. As it turned out, and as some of the photos illustrating this post demonstrate, it turned out to be very busy indeed.

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Steve Knight is a journalist, editor and consultant who has been at the forefront of the internal communication sector for more than 20 years. He has edited the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) magazine for the last decade and trained hundreds of IC professionals. He is also one of the people responsible for creating and launching the IoIC Foundation and Advanced Level accreditation programmes, both of which are administered by his company, Knight Train & Consult Ltd. We interviewed Steve after an evening of lively, informed and often humorous and provocative conversations at the recent Workworld Media Awards, taking the occasion to explore a range of internal communications issue with an experienced and dedicated professional – you’ll find his responses to our questions below.

Read Steve’s full biography and his Personal Learning Profile.

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