Striving for Greater Fitness At Work

A few weeks ago, I hiked the Milford Track in New Zealand over three days and reflected on the journey in this blog.  I observed that “less time at the computer, and more hours walking and building stronger muscles BEFORE my NZ trip” would have allowed me to enjoy the glorious surroundings more.

I also referred to Lisa’s assessment that “Research shows that those who move, do better, achieve more, and feel better and more satisfied.” In particular, one study cited by the Harvard School of Public Health blog where researchers surveyed the dietary and activity habits of  50,000 middle-aged women for six years concluded: Read more

Learning in new ways: this means me!

Doris and I have just begun taking an interactive, completely asynchronous online “workshop” with one of our main influencers, Jane Hart. The title of the “workshop” is Modernising Training Content (she is British, hence the spelling differences). Here is the description:

Much of today’s e-learning is unappealing, and differs greatly from the resources enjoyed daily on the Web. This workshop looks at how to modernise training content to bring it more in line with that found on the Web, as well as how to make it available in more flexible ways.

Jane will be our learning guide. She says this about the structure of the workshop:

Jane Hart, our Learning Guide

Please note this is not a traditional online course. As it is hosted on our social platform, think of it more as a place for socialising and learning from one another – rather than an online classroom! Each week a set of reading and practical activities will be released, and you are invited to work through them as best suits you and fits in with your working life, and then share your thinking and your work with the group. Although nothing is compulsory, you will find that the more you “learn out loud” with the other participants, the more you will get out of the workshop

Doris and I have written a lot about online learning, working and learning out loud, and creating learning networks and bubbles. Although we have participated in MOOCs and other online professional development opportunities, Jane is explicitly giving us permission to learn and work in the course as we can. She does emphasize, as you see in the quote above, that the more you invest in the workshop, the more you will get out of it. Read more

Leading to Learn from Diverse Perspectives and Conflict

Eighty-five percent.

The percentage stunned me. I could not believe it. Even if it is only half as much, say 43%, it is still a large number. Please let me explain.

In Lisa’s blog post of February 26, The new leader: an online convener of diverse perspectives for systems change, she cited the work of Margaret Heffernan, a recognized entrepreneur, CEO, author (Wilful Blindness and A Bigger Prize) and speaker in Great Britain and the USA.

Lisa summarized the message contained in Heffernan’s Ted Talk on Dare to Disagree this way: “system leaders must be comfortable with conflict, manage conflict so differing views lead to new learning, encourage all voices to be heard in constructive ways, and view conflict as a healthy part of any change process.” Her assessment intrigued me to watch Heffernan’s Ted Talk. It is a very good primer on using input from all sources, including rivals/opponents to strengthen organizational decision-making.

Heffernan said the 85% statistic which surprised me came from a survey of European and American executives. Read more

Powering Up Offline in New Zealand

Two seagulls seem to be scolding me . . . it sounds like they are saying “Where is my lunch?”  “Don’t you have food to give me NOW?”

I am sitting at a small table outside a studio unit on a Pacific beach in Hahei, New Zealand, an end of the road driving destination, yet ironically, far more connected than I have been for the last week to people and activities back home in the states. I am using the next few days to recover from my holiday of last week–a guided walk along the Milford Track–one of the 20 best walks in the world in the Fjordland of New Zealand.  The Track is officially 33.5 miles long, spread out over three days of walking through beech tree forests, up and over Mackinnon Pass, and undulating temperate rain forests.

Doris starting the Milford Track

Doris starting the Milford Track

For a novice walker like me, it offered adventure and challenge–narrow, slick zigzags up the mountain; rocky, steep declines & flooded rock beds to cross going down; cold temperatures (hey, I’m from FL–45 degrees is cold!) and 35 MPH wind gusts as I approached and crossed Mackinnon Pass.  Did I say that I carried a 15 pound backpack and liter of water/camera (3 lbs+) with me everywhere?  Although I walked mainly by myself (my husband did not go and I was on a different pace from the 23 hikers in our group), at critical times, suddenly, quietly, one of the three guides would appear–Logan, Fe, or Akiko.  They would raise my flagging spirit with frequent “Well done” encouragements, entertaining  conversation, offers of hot chocolate, hot tea and respite from the elements in “huts” along the route, and showed me how Read more

Are you and your organization ready to MOOC?

I remember my first MOOC (massive online open course) experience – it was one of total bewilderment and confusion. I didn’t know how to navigate the many activities, groups, and topics that the MOOC participants were generating. It was my first introduction to connectivism, working out loud, networked learning, and learning in an organic, unstructured online environment. I was lost but intrigued, and entered the same MOOC twice more before I got the hang of it and developed the skills I needed to participate in and understand the power of this type of learning. The prescribed activities were designed to generate more participant-driven ones, with groups and subgroups forming and working and learning together. A heady experience!

Fast forward five + years, and now MOOCs are being offered by conglomerates of very renowned universities (Coursera, EdX, Udacity are examples). There are now different types of MOOCs depending on the learning philosophy and design. What has not changed, however, are the skills needed to be a successful MOOCer.

I have taken more MOOCs since my original experience to fulfill my personal learning plan. Most are free, and even if I don’t follow all of the requirements or activities, I get a lot out of them. I can choose my learning agenda within the MOOC, and pursue that agenda without consequences. The statistics for those that complete a MOOC are not good, but I don’t need to complete them to achieve my learning objectives, expand my personal learning network, and form new learning alliances. This is the new D-I-Y learning model. Read more

International Women’s Day and Women’s Ways of Working

Monday was International Women’s Day, and it was inspiring and sobering at the same time to hear how, in some cases, far women have come but also how far women still have to go to achieve parity in the workplace, safety in their homes, economic security, and value in society. Many women live in poverty, are considered property, enslaved, or are still chattel.

It was an opportunity to celebrate the many gifts, talents, and skills women have to offer the world. Begun in America in 1909 as America’s National Women’s Day to highlight the poor working conditions women were subjected to, it became an international holiday observed by Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911. In 1975 the United Nations declared it an official international holiday. On Monday the official international holiday turned 40 years old. Read more

Internet, Digital Technology, and Aging Well

From the time we are born, everyone is aging. I just have more experience at it. We should all be so lucky.

So said a speaker at the first listening session at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) held in Tampa on February 19. The WHCOA listening series started in Tampa and will continue in Phoenix, Seattle, Cleveland, and Boston before the Conference convenes late in 2015. The listening sessions are an opportunity for those interested in public policy to help all Americans age with dignity and health in the most independent living environment that we can manage. Ideally a majority of us wish to stay in our own homes, but if that isn’t possible, then in supportive settings that allow us to experience life as fully as possible for as long as possible.

History of Aging Programs in America

2015 is the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act, our country’s first and most comprehensive effort to date to help people survive losing their income due to disability or advanced age. President and Mrs. Roosevelt in the White House spearheaded the passage of the Act to keep sick and old people out of the proverbial poor house. However, it took the federal policy recommendations of the 1961 White House Conference on Aging and the leadership of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to convince Congress to implement Medicare and Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act in 1965, 50 years ago. More recently, WHCOAs have led to Congress-legislated protections for older workers from job discrimination (for those over age 40 because many employers wished to avoid paying into retirement plans or higher health care costs for their workers), annual cost of living adjustments in Social Security benefits, and Long Term Care ombudsmen to help residents of long-term care facilities. Other programs preventing elder abuse, assisting elders with legal issues and adult protective services have been added in the last decade. Millions of Americans—as well as their families—depend on these public pillars to live with less vulnerability and more security. Read more

The new leader: an online convener of diverse perspectives for systems change

We write frequently about online leadership in this blog because Doris and I are continuing to formulate an online leadership model. We have already noted that online leaders build networks, encourage diverse perspectives within and outside an organization, and create an environment of openness, working out loud, and work as a learning experience (see our previous blogs Sighting Leadership in Action, Women Network to Lead, and Take the Lead in Learn, Lead, Connect Online).

This week I came across two resources about the new leadership paradigm in the online, in-person, and blended (combining online and in-person) environments. Both of these resources (and they are bookmarked in our open-to-you Diigo account) are by people I follow and admire: Beth Kanter and Peter Senge. I trust their expertise and know they are very substantial sources.

What interested me was even though they wrote about different approaches to this new leadership, there was a congruence of thought. Leaders for this new age are systems leaders – able to not only see the connecting pieces of an intractable issue or problem, but able to convene a very diverse group of stakeholders, including competitive businesses and organizations, at the table to work through how to tackle it. The convening is not just inviting people to a meeting, but creating an atmosphere and providing the structure to really examine each stakeholder’s perspective on the problem and each other to break stereotypes and move beyond turf and proprietary interests.

Read more

Organizational Silos: The Enemy of Collaborating and Learning Online

I like to read the Corner Office interviews that Adam Bryant does in the New York Times each Sunday with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of big companies.

Bryant’s questions invite guests to talk about the influences that shaped them and their leadership practices. Sometimes I identify with what they say and wonder how I would respond if asked. Other times, they provoke me to want to know more and I meander online to satisfy my curiosity.

Lois Braverman, CEO of the Ackerman Institute for the Family

Lois Braverman, CEO of the Ackerman Institute for the Family

When Bryant interviewed Lois Braverman, CEO of the New York-based Ackerman Institute for the Family, on February 8, 2015, Braverman promoted the value of honoring various perspectives. Braverman talked about the need to “make room for the legitimacy” of each viewpoint and “not let my righteousness make me think my perception is more meaningful than yours.” On a daily basis, she said

…there may be differences in terms of how we define the problem, because it can be different depending on where you sit in an organization. There’s an administrative reality and there’s a front-line worker reality, and those realities are very rarely the same. Read more

My 5 Tech Trends for 2015: How will they impact you and your organization?

Time is flying by – January, a long month, is gone, and here we are in February, a short month, which will probably seem even shorter! Although the new year is over 40 days old, I am still sifting through and pondering the prognostications that were made about 2015.

I was very intrigued by the predictions for technology trends in nonprofit organizations and how new ways of working within the organization and externally connecting with the community are taking hold. Technology is impacting decision making to fundraising, service delivery to community outreach.

From looking across multiple resources on technology and nonprofits, I gleaned the overarching trends to be:

image from:

image from:

  • Everything is going mobile and mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster, and more relevant and prevalent to and in our lives.
  • Crowdsourcing is becoming mainstream and is usurping hierarchical decision making (from Wikipedia: the broadcasting of problems to the public, and an open call for contributions to solving the problem. Members of the public submit solutions which are then owned by the entity which broadcast the problem….) impacting how organizations achieve their priorities and goals.
  • Social media, in its present and future forms, are a must to engage customers, clients, and patients in feeling connected to the organization and each other. Engagement and connections are the new business model for both for profit and nonprofit organizations.
  • Crowdsourcing, engagement and connections are leading to new types of service delivery, fundraising, and ways of working.
  • Data analysis is key to reaching, engaging, and connecting to a target audience and determining which outreach strategies work, which don’t. The design, algorithms, and analysis of  data determine the reliability of results. Cloud technology will make data collection easier and more accessible to everyone.

Read more