The following is a transcript our our special edition podcast you can listen here. Learning Is The New Working
I wanted to say a few words. Arguably, all I’m doing is acknowledging the obvious. That our world has been turned upside down and inside out and completely disrupted. To say the least!
That, like all of you, I am still processing the speed with which things have gone from an incredibly furious pace of travel, work and activities in the first 66 days of 2020 to an abrupt, dystopian, sobering, and, at times, terrifying halt.
That we are all finding the situation changing by the hour.
That any frame of reference or template that we think we have to process what’s going on quickly becomes inadequate in the face of the latest news, and the new reality.
That the last 10 days has seen a torrent of cancelations, disappointments, business closings, and increasingly draconian social and physical constraints, as we as a species confront an ancient enemy in a new form.
But also, that we are clear what needs to be done to protect our civilisation while our amazing friends and protectors in the scientific and medical community establish the front lines in the fight and race to develop treatments and cures.
And that in order to address the existential threat of the Virus and the CV-19 outbreak, we have to bring the global economy to a near halt… an experiment that we have not run before, and that has no precedent, certainly not in recent history.
All these threats have propelled many of us with renewed force into a new world of work, with a speed and force we could never imagine. Just over a year ago, I started the Learning Futures podcast with an investigation and discussion with major Learning influencer Lisa Kay Solomon of the term VUCA – Volatility Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity. But I certainly did not imagine the force and rapidity with which the forces of change would assail us, nor how it would be at this rapid, global scale.
The topics that have emerged through all the podcast conversations I’ve had on ‘Learning Is The New Working’ seem very relevant today, actually:
· The need to be agile
· The need to question established routines
· The importance of sponsoring curiosity and a learning culture
· Using what we have, in terms of technology
· Taking fact and science-based approaches
· Running radical experiments
· Focusing on our collective humanity.
It also now seems inevitable that the practice of working from home, distance learning, digitally mediated collaboration and even socializing will have profound and long lasting on the world of work, leadership, learning and school. Here, life and work are fusing very closely to reinforce that conclusion:
· My wife is a school administrator for K-8 Language emersion school. 400 children and their teachers and parents have pivoted to an online model in just one week, so far with great results, and a lot of learning!
· Many of my industry colleagues have moved onboarding, training and events online at Redfin a local RealEstate Tech Company here in Seattle the team skilled up their faculty and moved onboarding and critical training 100% online[GF1] – that was not their culture two weeks ago.
· There’s a tsunami of work from home, lead from home, and online meeting etiquette tips on LinkedIn as people instinctively share best practices. ‘My home workspace’ under the stairs or on the roof even, is a new Instagram staple!
· In Seattle we are holding a community town hall for Learning Professionals that we moved to online and went from our room sized capped 50 participants to over 120 Learning professionals anxious to connect and share best practice and learnings.
· The great young innovators at www.Arist.co paired with the lovely people of Pyramid consulting to produce a text-based micro learning course on CV-19. As we speak, volunteers are translating it so that it can be a critical resource for low-bandwidth areas of the world that you just know are next in line.
I love these stories; the willingness to collaborate and innovate is extraordinary and the best of humanity. Which is good, because the current signs are that things will get worse before they improve:
· Training providers who have only experimented with online delivery now find themselves almost a 100% in the online business. Alas, many will likely fail to generate the cashflow they need to survive and keep staff employed
· Many people in our profession will likely get laid off or furloughed, just as hospitality and airline workers already have. How can we help reskill, or maintain skills sets
· Tech vendors really need to get their acts together NOW to help home schooled children, teachers, and the unemployed/temporarily income-less.
As things got serious these past few days, I asked myself does my work on this Podcast still make sense. Is it contributing or not? These are the facts: the podcast is a year old, just crossed 10,000 listens, and we have 500 or so people subscribing and listening every week.
That number has grown steadily (not exponentially). I also reflected that the project is in part my personal/professional ‘atonement’ as a Learning leader and former CLO for the lack of rigor and innovation I applied to my prior work… and how it’s a genuine attempt to learn from the approaches and experience of others and to share those learnings as broadly as I could.
And how it’s at least in part a call to action to join a conversation about how we help adults in the workplace thrive. But in the light of the crisis, does anyone really care? Is it worth our effort, and most importantly of all, is it worth your time?
I’ve given this some thought, amongst many other thoughts in the last 10 days and I still don’t have the answer.
But I do have a plan.
We were advocating for change. We were asking leaders to disrupt themselves, to innovate, to become more scientific, to build new cultures of learning to leverage technology, and to love the robots, but at the same time to celebrate humanity and focus on the human and to work for social good, and we are building and supporting community. Those seem like pretty relevant topics to me.
In the short term, I have about 10 or so episodes that I have recorded but not published as yet, including some amazing thinkers and practitioners. I will continue to publish those on a bi-weekly basis to honor their time, input and contributions to our ongoing conversation.
BUT I am also very actively looking for the most helpful stories and practices of how we as a community are responding, and perhaps we’ll thread in a new series on continuity efforts and the impact of all this disruption as we find people who have the time and the stories to share. I’m very, very open to ideas suggestions and from you.
As always thanks to our listeners, our guests, and our sponsors and our hearts goes out to the current and future victims (our friends in China and Italy for example) and the most vulnerable in our shared, common, human community.
Please promote legitimate sources of information; be well; observe the precautions the authorities are suggesting; and take care of each other.
That way, we’ll get through this in one piece, and get back to great, a much cooler future, fulfilling work, and perhaps, just perhaps dare I hope, a more united planet very soon.
The Learning Futures Group, Seattle, WA