Sunday, 31 July 2016

Living in the Grey

Life isn't binary. It isn't black and white. It's fractal. It's grey. It's ambiguous. It's messy. 
Yet we seem to be living in an age where everything is polarised, where choice is limited to extremes and where navigation through, amongst and between those opposites feels confusing and overwhelming.
But that's where most of us live, doing the best we can with the information and the resources that we have available to us, while being harangued, cajoled, bullied or, at best, encouraged to conform to one way of being or another.
Sometimes those imperatives are external, imposed on us, and sometimes they are internal, self-imposed. Much of the time, they seem to be at war with each other. And therein lies the cost we pay.
It may not be obvious or apparent at the time.  If you try to live by a set of values and beliefs, try to do the right things by and for everyone and everything for and to whom you feel a responsibility, when you 'push through', those costs get stored up and come home to roost later - in our physical and/or mental health, in our spiritual wellbeing and/or in our relationships.
Perhaps that's where the concept of a work/life balance originated. The idea that we could reconcile those conflicting demands for a fulfilling and meaningful means of earning enough to balance our own physical, spiritual and emotional needs against, and meet, the same needs of our dependent or obligated others. The hope that we can find equilibrium in the ambiguity between.
But it's something to which we tend only to pay lip service. The reality is that few of us think we have the choice to behave differently, to decline the divided path, but to travel lightly and bridge them, until it's too late, the damage is done.  And for some, there is no way back.
I have learned much in the last 14 months. I am not playing binary any more. Look for me in the  messy, grey spaces instead.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Why Tweetchat?

Friday's @LndConnect-hosted #LDInsight Tweetchat on Twitter was framed around the question "What’s the toughest thing about being in L&D?"

Does that first sentence mean anything to you? Or am I talking goobledygook?

Do you use Twitter? Do you know what a Tweetchat is? Do you know what I'm talking about when I refer to @LnDconnect or what these funny @ and # symbols actually mean?

For some people it will indeed be gobbledygook; they are not interested in, and do not use, Twitter, and they will move on without concern. Others may well be aware of Twitter, but may use it in it's more 'social media' sense, connecting informally around people and topics of general interest. Others may use Twitter in a professional capacity, to listen to and learn from other people in their field. And others will use Twitter as an extended Personal Learning Network, with whom they actively engage, discuss, share and learn from.

In each of the above cases, the numbers involved get correspondingly smaller with each group, until finally, we arrive at the participants in the regular (every Friday morning) @LndConnect-hosted #LDInsight Tweetchat. It's a loosely moderated conversation on Learning and Organisational Development topics, which is grouped by the use of the #LDinsight hashtag into a stream which keeps the interactions, comments, questions etc nicely gathered together for ease of discursive flow. 

But there aren't that many people who regularly join in. A recurring theme recently has been about bringing more views and opinions into these conversations, both from within the L&D/OD community itself and from outside - the 'customer voice', if you will. Two conversational streams emerged today - one challenging why non-L&D/OD people would be interested in the first place, and the other about why more L&D/OD people don't show up in this chat, never mind why 'outsiders' don't.

In my experience, some L&Drs find the very idea of a Tweetchat intimidating and/or they lacked confidence of 'public speaking' in an internet-wide forum, whilst others feel that they have nothing to say or contribute to the discussion. We did a quick self-examination of the timeline to check for jargon, of which, reassuringly, there was little (although some later tweets today have cautioned that one profession's jargon may mean something completely different in someone else's!).

But if the future of learning is digital, collective and social, as we are so often told, and are trying to move ourselves towards, why are so many in the profession so reluctant to show up in such an informal and rewarding space? Is it down to timing of the chat? (clashes with the commute); is it fear of saying the 'wrong' thing? (what exactly is the 'right' thing anyway?); is it unfamiliarity with the medium/channel (bet they use facebook in their private life); is it corporate policy? (thou shalt not use social media); is it concern about being seen and engaged with by peers and customers? (can't afford to be seen not to have all the answers, gotta preserve the mystique); is it reluctance to change thinking and practice? Or are Tweetchats just seen as self-congratulatory/self-sympathising chatter for the self-elected 'elite' in the profession?

Those same questions could be asked about why non-L&D/OD people don't join in L&D Tweetchats. And, as importantly, why we don't involve ourselves in other discipline/professions' tweetchats; questions about perceived relevance, value and availability perhaps? What do you think?

I'd suggest that the very fact we felt able to think about how we could engage a wider church, in the chat itself, speaks volumes.  I'd encourage everyone to dip their toes in the water. If you're in L&D/OD, try out #DLinsight ( every Friday morning between 08:00-09:00UK, #Chat2Lrn ( or #lrnchat (, or search the Internet for other unrelated, but relevant to you, topics of interest Tweetchats. There's rich learning to be had in all these spaces, folks.

And if I can help you find your way through the social media clutter, don't hesitate to get in touch.