New Year’s Goals, Plans & Wishes

MP900309665Happy New Year!

Welcome back from the holiday craziness.  We hope you had wonderful holiday and new year celebrations and are all settling back into the groove of work.

Before you get too settled though, we’d like to stop and think about what we’d like to bring to & get out of 2013.

What are your goals for the year? What are your plans? Have you even thought about it, or are you just trying to catch up and taking it 1 day at a time?

Personally, I find it difficult to take the time out of the daily grind to think of the bigger picture and what I want to accomplish.  I do know that I need to carve out the time to get and keep myself organized.  When I get busy, I start letting that slip, and then I get more stressed because there’s so much to do AND I feel scattered due to the lack of organization – so that’s high on my list.  I’d also like to protect some time to reflect on things I’ve learned, and do some exploration and experimentation with those new ideas in my head.

Many of our colleagues have already thought of several things to think about, maybe they’ll be inspiring to you:

Let’s take some time together this Thursday to inspire each other!  Please join us Thursday, Jan 10th at 8am PST/11am EST/4pm GMT to share our goals, plans, and ideas about the fresh new year before us.  Hope to see you there!


Meg Bertapelle

Intra-transparency & Openness: Guest Post by Mark Britz

We are delighted to have Mark Britz as our guest blogger this week to prompt our discussion about Intra-transparency & openness.  Think about how transparency and openness, or the lack, might affect your organization, and bring your thinking caps to our chat this Thursday!

Welcome Mark!

Intra-Transparency and Openness

To begin let’s find common ground. Transparency and Openness are two quite popular terms today that often are used interchangeably and, although similar in relationship, are not identical. Here may be one way to think about it.

Transparency is not necessarily permeable. There is a membrane that separates the visible activities from those viewing them (ever see a mitochondria under a microscope?). Transparency should not be confused with invisibility either. With transparency, the membrane surrounding the activities is visible; a structure is clearly in place so the activities do not interact with those outside the membrane. Zoos then are transparent; Observers are free to observe but not to touch, or physically interfere. In organizations, similar membranes can exist, such as hierarchies.

Openness, however, allows a more free association between actions. A more permeable layer exists. With openness, interaction is not only welcome, it’s encouraged. Openness, to continue the zoo analogy, is more like a petting zoo; observers are free to observe but also to touch, stroke, feed and play. Through these interactions, the observers are co-creating the experience for all involved. Openness in organizations means that involvement between different groups takes place.

As noted, transparency and openness are typically discussed in terms of business, politics and government. But these two ideas are ultimately about people and their conscious decision to be transparent and open, as well as their actions and decisions within each action that encourages or defeats transparency and openness.

Most attention today is on transparency and openness at public, or “inter”, levels. And more and more are learning the importance of these ideas for themselves as they individually build Personal Learning Networks outside of the organization. It’s critical that the “intra” exists to invite innovation, flatten inhibiting hierarchies and create thinking, feeling organizations.

Can an organization be transparent and open externally, yet not so internally? Or is the lack of internal openness in the face of external openness unsustainable, as the hypocrisy will ultimately cause the organization to implode? And can the opposite ever be true? Can an organization with a transparent system maintain a closed public-facing persona, or is the membrane between intra in internets too thin?

It would seem, then, that there would need to be a mirroring of sorts as an organization is ultimately an organization of people, and people, being inherently social, are now endowed with tools to amplify, expand and connect their ideas and actions.

Clive Thompson, Wired Magazine stated:

“… The reputation economy creates an incentive to be more open, not less. Since Internet commentary is inescapable, the only way to influence it is to be part of it. Being transparent, opening up, posting interesting material frequently and often is the only way to amass positive links to yourself and thus to directly influence your Googleable reputation.”

-Thompson, Clive (March 2007). “The See-Through CEO”. Wired.

Being truly transparent and open as individuals in an organization is much more than simply posting “interesting material”, a link, or narrating our work using social media tools. Although these tools do make it easier to communicate, that communication is hollow if it is devoid of opinions, challenge and even dissent. Transparency is a good and noble goal, but membranes that only reveal the interworking, allowing flaws to be seen but not corrected, fall short.

Openness is a major progression and, on an individual level, is scary, especially in uncertain economic times. But without openness, trust cannot exist (look at any good marriage). Openness must be welcomed within and across levels. It should not only be encouraged, but modeled and acknowledged. Workers locked in industrial era ideas about work, hierarchies and jobs need to know that it’s safe to reveal their own strengths, weaknesses and opinions to truly move the organization.

Former CEO Margaret Heffernan in a recent TED Talk titled Dare to Disagree stated:

“Most of the biggest catastrophes that we’ve witnessed rarely come from info that is secret or hidden. It comes from info that is freely available – we can’t, don’t want to handle the conflict it provokes. When we create conflict we enable the people around us to do their very best thinking.”

On April 14th, 1912 The SS Titanic, led by Captain E.J. Smith, moving at a reported 22 knots, raced to New York City. Ignoring warnings, foregoing lifeboat drills and maintaining a dangerous (record breaking) pace, she struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic. Hours later, she lay at the bottom of the ocean with over 1,500 tragically lost lives. In hindsight, the information was widely available, yet no one, it seems, challenged the decisions that had been made.

What prevented the crew from influencing decisions? What if transparency, and especially openness, had existed amongst the White Star Line’s layers of leadership?

Today the economy is strained; workers and organizations have an equal stake in the survival game. Never has the ability to connect been easier. Never before has the ability to have conversations become more available; to extend and expand ideas over time and space. Sharing information is not enough, processing ideas is not enough, filtering out the noise is not enough. Transparency and openness are needed, yet can they truly rise above and avoid the fate of becoming nebulous buzz words like engagement or synergy?

“Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential – but the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills, the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.”
“Openness is not the end, it’s the beginning.”

– Margaret Heffernan

Please join us on Thursday 16 August at 16.00 BST/11.00EDT/08.00PDT to discuss intra-transparency & openness in our organizations.  Share your thoughts about how much you agree with Mark, the implications for your organization, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Mark Britz

Mark Britz

Mark describes himself as Manager of Learning Solutions, Social & Informal learning aficionado, eLearning Designer, ISD, Intapreneur, CNY ASTD President and #lrnchat -er. You can find Mark on Twitter at and read his blog at

“Flipped” Leadership

There has been a lot written in the press and on blog posts recently about the ‘flipped classroom’.  For the most part, what has been written refers to the world of education, however, the concept is equally applicable to the workplace as more organisations realise the importance of informal learning and adopt the 70:20:10 model as a means to achieving effective performance support.

The purpose of this week’s chat is NOT to discuss the benefits or otherwise of ‘flipped learning’ although that would be a really interesting topic for future discussion.  So if any of you would like to share your views and write a guest blog, we would love to hear from you!

“Flipped” Leadership – another buzzword or a catalyst for innovation and change?

This week’s chat is about “Flipped” Leadership.  What exemplifies it? How will traditional concepts of leadership need to change and adapt so that organisations can reap the benefits and rewards of ‘flipped learning’? As learning and development and education professionals, how do we need to change our approach so that Leaders have the skills to allow organisations to grow and flourish in a world where sharing knowledge is rapidly becoming more powerful than being the owner of knowledge?

Let’s talk the same language

Before we start, let’s get a common understand what ‘flipped’ means.  In the UK, if someone says you have ‘flipped’ it’s generally not particularly complimentary.  In this context, sombody has become angry or cross about a topic, has made that frustration  known to everybody around them and it sometimes results in blind rage.   More recently, ‘flipping’ has been very negatively associated with politics.  There has been much talk in the press of MPs ‘flipping’ their homes in order to be able to claim additional expenses.  This is not the kind of ‘flipping’ we are talking about – we are talking about turning leadership upside down.

To help us understand this, we have a guest post from Bob Harrison. Bob has a wealth of experience in learning both in the corporate and education sectors.   He established Support for Education and Training (SET) in 1996, a former College Vice-Principal and a Governor of an FE College, Bob is the inaugural Chair of the recently established Teaching Schools New Technology Advisory Board. So what does Bob have to say about ‘flipping’?

We have the “flipped” classroom but what can it teach us about “flipped” leadership?

In recent times it has been popular in education circles to speak of an approach to learning commonly known as the “flipped” classroom. 

This pedagogical approach is predicated on a fundamental re-appraisal of the role of the teacher. There is no doubt that the Industrial age shaped the classroom, the teaching style, assessment practice and the place of the teacher at the front of the class as the “source of all knowledge”.

How times have changed!

Now pupils and students have the world of knowledge at their fingertips in the browser in their pockets and the recent open source developments like Udacity, Coursera and the Khan Academy suggest that the industrial model of pedagogy is no longer (if it ever was?) appropriate.

This challenge to schools and colleges is illustrated by the following:

CBS Video on Khan Academy –

Sugata Mitra TED SOLE –

Paolo Blikstein –

So what, if anything, can the flipped classroom teach us about leadership…can it too be “flipped”?  Can we distil some of the key principles of this approach to learning and transfer them to the principles of leadership?  Are there tensions between this approach and accountability or is the “flipped” approach just another form of “distributed” leadership?

Contact details: Email: Twitter: @bobharrisonset

So where does that take us?

Bob has pointed us to some interesting resources and those of us who work in Learning and Development are seeing similar changes and challenges as colleagues who work in education.

Employees who want to learn have access to an almost infinite amount of resources…all they have to do is ‘Google’ it and they are presented with lots of links that provide endless amounts of information and learning opportunities.  If employees use social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn they have personal learning networks and can ask those they trust for advice on the subjects they are interested in.

So in this world of connected learning, how does the leadership team direct effort so that it improves both individual and operational performance?  In the industrial age that Bob initially described, whether that be in the world of education or in the workplace, leaders in the organisation were the ‘font of knowledge’ and having that knowledge gave them positions of power. Some things haven’t changed, leaders are still tasked with improving performance to deliver business benefits, however if employees have got access to lots of information and learning, the industrial hierarchical model of leadership will struggle to survive.

Flipping Marvellous!

‘Flipped’ leadership implemented effectively with vision and support has the potential to empower staff and literally turn the situation on its head.  What better example to illustrate this than Erik Wahl’s presentation at the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida this week?  Towards the end of his keynote, Erik turned his back to the audience and started to paint.  He continued to talk to the audience about what he was doing while he was working, however,  the image he was creating in front of everybody didn’t seem to make much sense…even when he stood back and let everybody see the finished piece, it still made little sense….until he flipped it!

Erik had painted an image of Steve Jobs…except he had painted it upside down and it only made sense to the audience when it was flipped!  His message to us all is that sometimes it’s only when you literally ‘flip’ the way you work you are able to see the bigger picture and are able to open your eyes to innovation and creativity.

Some additional thoughts on ‘Flipping’

EmergingEdTech – K Walsh, with guest blog by Louis Malenica – Enabling the Flipped Classroom with Evolving Software Solutions

Six Sigma, Ken Leeson – Lean Taking Root: It Depends on Culture and Leadership

Chief Learning Officer – Getting Executives on Social Media Boosts Leadership Development


Q1) What does ‘flipped’ leadership mean to you? Is it more than ‘distributed leadership’?

Q2) What lessons can leaders learn from the ‘flipped’ classroom?

Q3) What benefits would implementing ‘flipped’ leadership bring to learning and performance support?

Q4) What are the specific organisational challenges to flipping leadership?

Q5) As learning professionals, what positive steps can we take to ‘flip’ leadership in our own organisations?