Keeping it Conversational

Having just blogged again about how email is a poor substitute for conversation, I thought I should check myself and see how I’m measuring up.

Last week started with a shot of extra Joe Gerstandt via Skype quickly followed by an interview with Jo Dodds for Engage for Success radio. Tuesday was spent talking with clients about culture, effective communication and collaboration. On Wednesday I got to spend time talking with Meg Peppin and the author Jamie Notter on humanising work, before flying towards the weekend in conversation with Kev Wyke about business development, and more client stuff about making work better and communities. I also squeezed in phone conversations with Julia Briggs and Dorothy Matthew too, and a few very helpful mini chats with folk on Twitter. The week closed on a high after Susan Avello offered to have a Google Hangout with me as a sneak peek on my contribution to the upcoming Illinois SHRM conference in August.

My session in Illinois on connected leadership will be a series of building blocks. I’m pulling together a series of stories, approaches, ideas and exercises and I’m going to lay them out and encourage people to choose the direction of the talk on the fly. A lot of my work is about how good conversations sit at the heart of good work, and by way of example I want the nature of the session to be more conversational and participative.

Having checked my email sent folder I’ve not done as well as I would have liked, and a few people have had emails from me where I think a phone call would have been better. Sorry if you’ve been on the less conversational end of things this last week, I make mistakes and I learn from them too – I will do better next time.

And I guess another thing I need to check is – was all this conversation needed? Would our week have been more collaborative, more productive had we not picked up the phone as often as we did? I guess I should have closed each of the conversations I’ve been involved in with those questions, so I can’t speak for everyone but for me, those conversations weren’t just enjoyable – they were absolutely necessary. Thank you to everyone I spoke with for helping make a good week, great.

Social HR Leadership and Cultural Clues

When I was in Louisiana recently I was fortunate to meet up with Nisha Raghavan, aka Your HR Buddy. Nisha kindly asked if I would be interviewed for her blog and I happily agreed. Her post, including the interview was published this week.

Despite the fact I look a lot like a convict who has just got out of bed (note to self, buy a hairbrush) – I wanted to share the video interview here, which Nisha describes as follows:

Doug talks about using social tools to create opportunities to collaborate and co-create things more innovatively at your workplace. He urges us to share our passion which is really an interesting way to connect with each other and inspire one another. He says ‘With the growing use of social tools we have a chance to re-humanize work and put people back at the heart of work, not the other way around. We can use transparency, systems thinking and even our vulnerability to create powerful places to work’.

In addition if you choose to listen, you’ll hear about my growing interest in art meets work, and my long held belief that we’re all of us capable of much more than we first believe. Experimentation is a vital ingredient in life. There’s also a reference to my New Year’s Evolution and a couple of other things too. The interview lasts sixteen minutes and fifty seven seconds so why not grab a coffee first, and I hope you will find something useful in here. Thanks again Nisha for the opportunity.

I Have A Dream

Towards the end of last year my Dad asked me what he thought I might try and do with the business in 2012. I told him ‘I want to work in America’. ‘How you gonna make that happen son?’ he asked. ‘I dunno yet’ I replied, ‘I just will’.

I turned on my radar and courtesy of Mike VanderVort I spotted an opportunity to submit a pitch to speak at the Florida State HR Conference. I also recalled a brief Facebook exchange with William Tincup about guitars and America, and I had a quick exchange with Steve Browne about maybe doing something down Ohio way. Then Dad died and things went a bit off track for a while. In due course I made my pitch to Florida, thought a little more about what William had said and kept in touch with Steve.

Florida didn’t happen this time. I’ve no idea why – I asked for feedback and got a rather bland ‘Dear John’ type reply. I’ll maybe have another try next year. Ohio is gonna happen and as you all know I’m really excited about that. And other US plans are forming as I write (watch this space).

So what?

Well I could have burned a pile of money and time coming up with a strategic plan on how to do cool stuff in America, and I’m glad I didn’t. I can’t predict the future so at the time of planning I couldn’t have known Dad was going to die, I couldn’t have known that a timely exchange between Steve and I would have developed further. I couldn’t have known a whole bunch of stuff. But if I had invested in a plan, I’d have felt the need to stick with it and justify the time and money invested. Strategic planning drives convergent, fixed thinking. Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant write beautifully about this in their book Humanize which I recommend if you want to go deeper into the pointlessness of strategic planning (and many other interesting things too).

Me? I just had a goal, an ambition. My response to Dad was honest, I had no idea how I would achieve the goal, I just knew it was achievable and if I wanted it bad enough it would happen.

Set Goals. Have Ambitions. Do Stuff. Be Agile.

Follow your dreams. Life is too short for strategic planning.

With thanks to Sukh Pabial, David Goddin and Jonathan Wilson for a provocative conversation on Twitter that got me to writing this.