Thursday, 26 April 2012

Shwopping Learning

Walking to the L&D Connect Unconference at @LBiLondon this week I passed the above installation being erected against the walls of the Truman Brewery. The walls of the building are being covered in used clothing to mark the start of Oxfam's Shwopping Campaign in partnership with M&S.

The brisk wind was lifting the garments, giving a sense of natural order and belonging to the chaos of clothes. Beyond the message of recycling & valuing old clothes the experience of walking under the clothes was quite beautiful.

The concrete building behind the clothes probably once looked "new and shiny" but this didn't last. Now it is full of life, colour & texture. The 90 degree corner of the building, absent in our natural landscape, is now only hinted at. The natural elements and our ignored resources only now bringing the building to life.

It's funny how often joy & learning is to be found when we journey past our common expectations of order, uniformity and the immovable and experience the unexpected.

L&D Connect Unconference
As is often the way, the experience of the Shwopping Campaign installation was a foretelling of what was to come at the L&D Connect Unconference (#ldcu).

We are diverse. Largely through social media, an amazing & diverse group of professionals from across the UK to connect and discuss aspects of Learning & Development. The discussion was rich and great connections were made.

We don't need to follow convention. The Unconference format broke from the traditions of the corporate world and allowed the community to form and direct itself. The simplicity of the format allowed participants to look at things differently but collectively.

We are resourcefulWe didn't need "new & shiny" additional resources - just our energy & willingness to share & create. It allowed us to look at things differently whilst still valuing much of the order and structure that already exists.

With a little imagination, effort & the right stimulus, communities can lead change and have a great impact.  When it happens it's quite beautiful!

Blog Links
You might also like to explore these links relating to the L&D Connect Unconference :

Sukh Pabial, aka @naturalgrump, wrote this about the First LnDConnect Unconference.

@MartinCouzins also captured on video delegates reactions and takeaways and and has previously written about the Conference vs Unconference format.

Ian Pettigrew, @KingfisherCoach, provided us with this great Storify of the day.

@StellaCollins shared this from Jeff Hurt on Old Conference Education Memes

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Did you know that ...
  1. Fifteen is the smallest natural number with seven letters in its name.
  2. 15 is the atomic number of phosphorus.
  3. In Judaism various celebrations start on the 15th day of the month.
  4. There are 15 players in a team in Rugby Union & major Gaelic games.
  5. There are 15 days in each of the 24 cycles of the Chinese calendar.
  6. Interstate 15 is the freeway that runs from California to Montana.
  7. In backgammon, each player has 15 checkers at the start.
  8. Jamie Oliver established the restaurant "Fifteen" to give unemployed young people a chance to have a better future.
  9. The rock band Wire had a song called "The 15th".
  10. American singer Taylor Swift had a song called "Fifteen"
  11. 15 is the number of minutes in a quarter of an hour.
  12. 15 is the number corresponding to The Devil in tarot cards.
  13. The words "uncopyrightable", "dermatoglyphics", "misconjugatedly", and "hydropneumatics", all have 15 letters and are the longest words in the English language that do not repeat a letter.
  14. In 1968 Andy Warhol said that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes".
  15. My wife and were married 15 years ago today.

Happy Anniversary darling!  I love you.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Bigger, Better, Faster, More?

Here I am just before my son's swimming lesson and we're talking about what he wants to concentrate on today. He wants Bigger, Better, Faster, More!

I'm not a swimming teacher but I can see that all his enthusiasm and love of the water is actually having a negative impact on his swimming ability. What he wants is to swim as fast as he can and race his friend up and down the pool. Yet, the more he tries to swim quickly the less likely it is that he will actually swim fast. It's frustrating him.

We talk about what's getting in the way and how he could achieve his goal of swimming faster. Trying to go quicker ironically isn't the solution and he knows it. He's got an idea...

He gets in the pool and swims his first length slowly. I mean real slow. The kind of slow that feels agonising to watch.

Here's the thing though. Having swum a length, he sees that he's not really much slower than when he goes helter skelter. His swimming though is effortless and something clicks.

During the lesson he tries a little experiment - all his own invention. He tries swimming fast and swimming slow and he notices the feedback from his teacher. Sure enough, slow works pretty well and praise is forthcoming. Fast is when the teacher critiques.

In the car he's tells me about his little experiment. His conclusion is easily made - "I need to stop trying to go so quickly and slow down. When I slow down, I can concentrate on my technique and that's how I'll build my speed."

I could see it. His teacher could see it. Sheesh most of the pool could probably see it!

However, he needed to see it. He needed to find a different way of behaving to reach his goal. He needed to make the change himself.

What made it happen?

There was a caring conversation. There was a safe environment. There was an expert on hand to give feedback and even critique. He'd had a good day. He was enjoying learning. He was willing to experiment. The sun was shining. All these things surely helped.

Each and every one of is capable of doing similar.

Perhaps sometimes we all need to behave a little differently. Perhaps sometimes we all need to seize the moment and experiment. Perhaps sometimes we all need to let go of the Bigger, Better, Faster, More?  

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Pseudo-Intellectual Blog-Bomb of Ignorance

Do you know what really bugs me?  Bloggers who don't participate in the debate or discussion they started. 

It's like they've lobbed a pseudo-intellectual blog-bomb into the ether then scurry away to hide in their blog-bunker.  Jumping onto the zeitgeist bandwagon the sycophantic plebeians of social media swarm around their blog like it was the greatest thing since god knows what.  Unwittingly feeding the behaviour and encouraging more blog-bombing.  WTF?

Perhaps it's ignorance... Perhaps if we don't tell them engagement is an interesting dance between people they won't ever know?  That their beautifully crafted bouquet of a blog is in fact a Pseudo-Intellectual Blog-Bomb of Ignorance.

Perhaps standing up and defending what you have to say is hard work...  Perhaps being brave enough to listen and change your views doesn't come easy...

Guess what?  IT'S NOT MEANT TO BE EASY.  It's called authenticity.  It's called integrity.  It's where you'll find respect.

Perhaps the audience get something from this reverse monologue...  I don't.  Would you write a message or talk to a book?  No!  Then why would you engage in a monologue with a blog post?  I'd much rather have a meaningful conversation or debate with people who can do more than just vomit into a blog and suck up the adoration of the star-struck.

It's my personal opinion of course but I'm happy to look at it through your eyes and learn something new.

Oh and if you're reading this thinking it's just David having a bit of a rant, I'm not.  I'm initiating a dialogue with you and I'd love to hear what you have to say.  You know where to find me!