Tag Archives: knowledge

Learning online…with others

One thing is for certain as we move our world of meetings, facilitation and engagement online. You are not alone!

you are not alone

Seriously, you are not alone up there!

In case you don’t have time to read the entire lengthy blog post, my best learning from this current deep dive is…. Learning online tools is easier (and more FUN) with others! I have a few more quick learning nuggets at the bottom as well.

 

Today I co-hosted a session with someone I met days ago online, tested out a crowdsourcing tool I began to play with literally a couple weeks ago and was joined by an almost complete group of strangers in zoom. How did that happen, how did it go and what did I learn?

 

How did it happen?

A series of random musings in an online network led me and a stranger named Bill (who I now consider a friend and future collaborator) to offer an online session to experiment with Thoughtexchange.  The tool enables groups to crowdsource ideas to questions posed and then prioritize based on people’s preferences. You can deliver data and generate reports in minutes or over longer stretches of time. Check out Thoughtexchange for the details.

 

As preparation for the session, I explored the tools and made great online friends in the process!

 

  1. To get a handle on what ThoughtExchange could offer:
    1. I attended one of their weekly online seminars and participated in a live exchange. I learned about presenter mode which offers a slick interface where people can join an exchange by scanning a QR code with their phone device. I tried this today in our session and it worked well! Someone shared that they experienced this with 700 people in a room and 200 people online participating. Making things easy is important for usage.
    2. I befriended a consultant I met through the TE seminar and we started some offline chats about how we were experimenting with the tool and what we were learning. Finding another person to learn with has added so much value to my own learning as well as inspiration to keep trying new things.
    3. I offered my services to a local group to help them understand issues impacting them related to COVID-19. It was very effective and I assume they found value as they have asked if we could do more. This is important to me as with any new tool we try, despite it looking slick, the key is that clients (users) see value!
    4. I checked-in with the support folks at ThoughtExchange to ask questions and learn more about features I hadn’t yet used. They were great and have a Help site with live chat.

 

  1. To advertise the event and get a handle on numbers participating:
    1. I used Eventbrite for the registration. This was useful as I was not sure how many people might come and thus I wasn’t sure how to structure the session for maximum interaction.
    2. After creating my free event, which included the zoom link, I shared it on a few platforms including facilitators for covid response on io, liberating structures slack channel #virtual, a QiqoChatcalendar, as well as my LinkedIn and Facebook sites. Once I noticed people were registering, I stopped sharing the invite as I started to get nervous!
    3. I learned its helpful to have an idea of numbers of people registering, where they are from and to get a sense if I know them or not. I also learned that 20% of the people registered likely won’t show up.

 

  1. To learn more about hosting online events I’ve been joining a few generous offerings as time permits. I have also saved many articles to go through still but here are some gems I feel lucky to have been exposed to:
    1. Strategic thinking / supporting other groups transitioning their online work (hosted by Nancy and written up here).
    2. Working with liberating structures online – S/Lowdown Series
    3. Following the enormous information shared through the facilitators 4 covid response list-serve.
    4. Experienced what it felt like to meet and discuss with a group of strangers online with National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
    5. I will dive in as a ‘tech host’ with another new group of friends next week talking about the technology behind the scenes in online events (It’s free and you can sign up April 21here or April 24th here).
    6. I’m a big fan of Gillian’s blog and she is writing up lots of her experiences and how-to switch to virtual. Aside from the many great tips she provides, I have learned it always comes back to purpose and designing for the purpose!

 

How did it go?

Overall, I think the session went well however this is likely better asked by the people that participated.

 

Still, in addition to understanding the technology and setting up the online environment, helpful points for the session included:

  • Doing a Thought Exchange in advance to prepare the agenda. 43 people participated and I was able to generate a quick report. I focused on the top 2 themes which were the desire to demo the tool live and to discuss when to use it.
  • I proposed an agenda online and adapted it heavily with my co-host. Getting together before the event and working through design and logistics was key.
  • We adapted the agenda to include a couple live demos, a couple break-outs and a final all group discussion.
  • As co-hosts we took on roles. Bill was the zoom tech host and I led the Thoughtexchange.
  • We used the polling feature of Zoom to quickly understand people’s knowledge of the tool at the outset of our session.
  • A highlight was bringing in David who recently used the tool and shared his insights and learning from real world situations. Thank you David!
  • The session was one and half hours. We started with 23 people, after an hour were were 15 and by the end we were 9.

 

What did I learn?

I got your back copy

I’ve got your back!

From today specifically I learned its very helpful to have a co-host(s) to watch your back and spot potential falls. Aside from that:

  • One hour is likely the right amount of time for an online training session such as this.
  • Co-host. Share the roles. It reduces the stress enormously.
  • Take a breath before inviting people into the room. It also helps calm the nerves.
  • Bring in people from the participant group to share, keeps things relevant and real.
  • Meeting on line is different than face to face for reading the room. Having people join with video is better than joining by phone.
  • Facilitating, i.e. supporting groups to get where they need to go, is essentially the same online as offline. We need to be adaptable and go where the group wants.
  • Loosening the agenda and remaining flexible is very nice to experience online as a facilitator (and I assume as a participant too).
  • Specific to the tool thoughtexchange, people want to come back together and keep learning after they have tried it out. People felt using the tool would be a great conversation starter and allow for more informed and richer conversations. We had some debate on the tool’s ability to be a decision-making tool. There was agreement that it would help identify places to start digging deeper.

If you are keen to play or join us please do. The company is offering it free right now for COVID-19 conversations. Send me a note and I’ll let you know when our next learning experiment takes place! I started an exchange to develop the agenda here.

Thanks to everyone who came out today. I know we are all overloaded with meetings and online events. I learned so much and I hope you did too 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Exploration of an Online Crowdsourcing Tool

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 10.56.27 PM

Recently I’ve been playing with an online crowdsourcing tool called ThoughtExchange. The software allows you to crowdsource answers to questions in real time. You can do an exchange in a matter of minutes or over a period of weeks. For people looking to harness the wisdom of crowds – this tool has incredible potential. Furthermore, in the age of physical distancing, facilitators are looking for ways to expand our tools for gathering and sensemaking information.

 

On this note, I agreed to host a practice session for a group of strangers I have been meeting online via various digital facilitator networks. To understand what we might focus the meeting on, I hosted a thought exchange asking people what needs to happen at the meeting to make it a good use of their time.

The answers landed in three categories (you can read the full report here):

  • Those who want to test and try the tool live.
  • Those who want to understand when to use the tool.
  • Those who want to dig deeper into the tool (for example questions that work best, costs).

Based on this, I’m considering what the agenda could look like. Here is my first draft!

Purpose: To learn with others about the TE platform as a tool for virtual meetings and collaboration.

When: Friday, April 17th, 8-9:30am Pacific Time.

Platform: Zoom (loving it).

Side note: After several playful experiments with using Liberating Structures online, I definitely want to include some of those in our session. The two practices mesh well as both aim to include the ideas and input of as many people as possible.

Draft Agenda:

8:00-8:15        Your experience with the tool and hope for the session (Impromptu Networking)

8:15-8:30        A look at the original TE question and the online report (share screen).

8:30-8:45        Feedback, comments (1-2-all)

8:45-9:00        What are good scenarios to use the tool? (Live Exchange)

9:00 – 9:15      So what do you think? Next steps? (Small groups)

9:15-9:30        Sharing, Digging deeper, Questions to look into further.

I still have 2 days to plan so your feedback is very welcome! What do you think? Do you have suggestions to offer? Will this online meeting deliver the hopes of those that signed up?  Leave me a comment!

And if you want to join Friday’s online meeting – you are welcome, sign up here (it’s free!).

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Improving your tweets

My Uncle is a pediatrician in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  He took forty plus years of knowledge and wrote a book on health issues for babies (0-5 yrs).  This encyclopedia of information is a fantastic resource for any new parent!  Lately he starting tweeting tidbits of advice on Twitter and I had a look to see how I might help improve the tweets and get more followers.  Below are some of my ideas for improvement.

old: ANY REGRESSION IN #DEVELOPMENTALMILESTONES RAISES A RED FLAG.

revised: Any regression in #developmentalmilestones raises a red flag.  #toddlers #babies

old: DO NOT FORCE YOUR CHILD TO EAT. IT WILL BE A BATTLE THAT YOU SELDOM WILL WIN.

revised: Do not force your #child to eat.  It will be a battle that you seldom will win.  #toddler #eatinghabits #parenting

old: LIMIT MILK INTAKE TO 500-600 ML (18-20 OUNCES) DAILY.MEALTIME SHOULD BE PLEASURE TIME.

revised: Limit milk intake to 500-600ml (18-20 oz) daily.  Meal time should be pleasure time.  #toddler #eatinghabits #parenting

old: TO PREVENT YOUR TODDLER FROM BECOMING A#PICKYEATER DO NOT FILL HIS/HER TUMMY WITH FLUIDS.

 revised: To prevent #toddler from becoming a #pickyeater do not fill his/her tummy with fluids #eatinghabits

In summary,  I added several #tags to key words that people might search for on twitter.  You can tag as many words as you want in the sentence itself or as additions at the end.  I also suggested he might gain followers if he provides real time advice.  For example, he could send a tweet like:
Have questions on the #health of your #baby #infant #toddler?  Tweet your Q’s for expert #medicaladvice  

If you have further tips for improving tweets, please share so we can help Old Doc Lester share his knowledge (and learn for ourselves too!).  You can follow him on twitter @DrMickeyLester.

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Aha moments…thanks to the metaphor!

In the field of knowledge management, complexity and changing organizations, it’s easy to have conversations where one person is talking past another.  Have you ever stood there wondering what a colleague is trying to explain while they seem really sure of what they are saying?

One way to help clarify concepts is to use metaphors.  Yesterday on Twitter (via @NancyWhite) I saw this example that visually illustrates the difference between data, information, presentation and knowledge.  A picture is worth a thousand words in this case, particularly for people working with knowledge!

Another great metaphor for understanding tacit knowledge is the iceberg metaphor from Anecdote.com (blogged in 2007, fantastic description).  They visualize knowledge as above and below the waterline.  Most of the mass of an iceberg lies below.

Lastly, a simple way to explain complexity is provided on page 9 of the highly recommended book Getting to Maybe.  They use metaphors such as baking cakes, launching rockets and raising children.  Thanks to Gary Ockenden for sharing that one with me a few years ago.

Do you have metaphors you use to explain concepts related to knowledge or complexity?  Please share!

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Guidelines for Knowledge Partnerships

The Asian Development Bank has recently released “Guidelines for Knowledge Partnerships”, a report prepared by Heather Creech of IISD and myself.  This is a major step forward in our thinking on how to set up and manage partnerships that are primarily for the purposes of the generation and exchange of knowledge.   We built the guidelines around the OECD DAC criteria for evaluation (Relevance, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact and Sustainability), together with identifying building blocks and success factors.

We hope those of you currently working with partners, or building more formal networks and consortia of organizations will find these guidelines helpful.

You can download the guidelines on IISD’s website http://www.iisd.org/networks/manage/default.asp or from ADB: http://adb.org/documents/guidelines/knowledge-partnerships/default.asp

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