My first week in #CL2025

In the first week of the MOOC Corporate Learning 2025 #cl2025 I was able to gather quite a few experiences. I have also read what many people have posted in the blogs, especially about the Infrastructure of this MOOC (or the lack of it, or its complexity, lack of efficiency…)

https://colearn.de/infrastruktur-fuer-den-corporate-learning-2025-moocathon-cl2025/

I have a different opinion than most of what I have read so far. The sprawl, the confusion, the diversity and multiplication of the data, streams and information are exactly what our era is about. For this reason, information literacy, cognitive load management skills or computational thinking are so important to us and to the upcoming generations to be successful in the new order of things.

Until now, the job of the L & D function was to bundle, structure and even simplify the existing information streams, and then pass them on to the learner as a “training / module /  case”.

Today, information flows so quickly and from so many different corners that it makes no sense to manage and structure them. They are already “out-of-date” before we are done designing and delivering. In order to develop the above-mentioned competencies, we should help people learn: 1) how to tap these streams exactly at the moment they need the input (eg follow a hashtag in Twitter, peak into the relevant company internal Yammer group), 2) how to extract something useful and learnable from this huge quantity of information.

And I was able to practice  exactly these 2 skills this week, in an intense and steep learning curve. I have made 5 registrations on 5 different sites, have downloaded too many apps and deleted them again, posted wrongly and then correctly on colearn.de, published a couple of successful tweets … all this in 3 days, with zero risk. Sounds like a practice lab …

My conclusion: I am very grateful for the fact that I was able to practice these skills on my own, without manual or structure. I collected valuable insights that I won’t forget any time soon.

I am glad I invested this time upfront and am ready to accelerate and deepen my learning in week 2 with Merck.

Corporate Learning community on Youtube: https://youtu.be/uHzHVxBFpxM

 

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Overcoming learning challenges

This is a short essay I wrote as an assignment for the MOOC “Learning how to learn” on Coursera. (Edited for clarity outside of the course content).


I am in my early forties and have been learning my entire life. Typically I explore topics that interest me by googling them or reading big picture articles. Then I decide to dig in when the topic leaves me hungry for more. I have been fairly successful learning things I need and want for my job until now.

 
Having moved from the construction industry to the banking sector I want to gain a basic understanding of financial activities. I have been successful getting to grip with financing and credit so far. My next step is to focus on investment management.

 
I have tried three different ways of learning about investment management so far. Registering to a newsletter for people interested in managing their investment better: it is ok but doesn’t give the explanations I need. I have attended an internal investment class, it required some basic knowkedge I don’t have. I started a mooc on Coursera but dropped out in week two because I couldn’t follow anymore. 
All in all these 3 trials made me feel under pressure because I obviously miss some basics. I am frustrated because I don’t know where to start.

 
In the MOOC “Learning how to learn” I discovered methods that resonate with me. This in turn reminded me of other methods I have used successfully in the past. 

Diffuse mode: I can relate to this mode and could use it to sort out the big picture of what I want to learn. I think I imagined I could dig straight into focused mode not realising the topic of investment management was newer than it looked like.

Chunking: I haven’t quite understood how to apply it to my issue but I have this gut feeling that I should give it a try…

Grit, the power of passion and perseverance, A. Duckworth. This book is my inspiration to stick to it and give myself the time AND drive to learn anything I want.

Mindmaps: Reflecting on what works best for learning reminded me that I am very keen on visualising the connections between the chunks I am learning. So I will definitely have mindmaps in my learning mix. 
What’s next?

I have decided to use the diffuse mode while googling investment and related terms. I will visualise my big picture in a mind map and keep populating it until I find an area that triggers my curiosity more than the others. That sounds like a good strategy for my “investment management” learning challenge. 

How I will stick to it?

Well if learning and development (aka me) is going to sit at the business table, the last thing I want is not being able to distinguish important from bagatelle comments. So “serving my customers” by speaking their language is what motivates me and always will!

How do you tackle your learning challenges? Any tips you’d like to share with me?

A new chapter has begun


New phase, new life, new me. Transformation, maturation, coming of age. 

I can fly. As high as I want. No boundaries. I am my own master. 

I can fall. Hard. No safety net. No shoulder to cry on. No more unconditional love.

I am the elder now. Chapter closed. 

Wait! What is this? A back door? An illusion? The chapter is not closed, it is merely beginning to unfold.

So what is the big deal about being “parentless”, fatherless and motherless. Big blank. Scary for some, secret for others. Taboo for most.

For me it means feeling empty and exhilarated at the same time. I feel small and big. I feel lost and in charge. 

The strength comes from within, like a fire, strong hot coals glimmering deep inside, fueling a fierce drive to keep moving, growing, leading. 

Has anyone felt this before? How did you deal with it?

Coach and Mentor

I have known the difference between coaching and mentoring for a while now. Or so I thought. To coach you ask questions, to mentor you give answers. Simple, isnt’t it? Well rather simplistic and quite mechanical. Completely off the point, actually. 

It is what your counterpart needs in that very moment, that makes them a coachee or mentee.
Now if you’ve had such conversations in the past you’ll rightly say “it’s all nice in theory but you can’t switch every 5 minutes between coaching and mentoring, you shouldn’t even switch in the first place. It is just nonsense!”. True to a certain extent, a conversation or relationship starts primarily in one or the other dimension. Still I am not a fan of shoulds and shouldn’ts. My take is rather: Be ready to switch if you feel this would be beneficial for your coachee/mentee. 

So what if your counterpart explicitely says they want mentoring: do you give it without questioning whether it is what they need? Or do you build in coaching pit-stop moments to verify who is actually in the lead? I often find that in primary mentoring relationships, coaching comes in handy when my counterpart is stuck in an unproductive behavioral pattern (e.g. Missing key messages, interpreting comments in a negative way) that prevents them from making progress on their business objectives. In these cases I don’t use coaching for the sake of it but rather for unlocking the situation. After a while we move back to mentoring and business talk.

Now I have also noticed that primary coaching relationships also need a bit of mentoring in the shape of open discussion or sparring on tangible factual business topics. Why is that? Coaching behaviors is quite a strenuous undertaking both for the coach and the coachee, it is serious business requiring a lot of self-awareness, open-mindedness, listening, accepting fall-backs and getting back on track. I view the open non-coaching discussions as breaks, where coach and coachee can connect on a different level. It is hardly mentoring either, yet it often starts with the coachee saying “since we’ve known each other for a while, I was wondering if I could pass by you a business issue I have right now, … , what would you do?”. As a coach it allows you to show a bit more of who you are as a human being (coaches, in the eyes of many people, seem to come from a different planet!). You can show that when you are non-judgemental as a coach, it doesn’t mean you are not able to have an opinion, it means that your coaching skills allow you to remain distanced enough to create space for the coachee to grow on their own. It increases the trust on both sides and allows coach and coachee to resume the coaching relationship with renewed energy.

How do you experience navigating coaching and mentoring? Do you mix and match or are you rather sticking to a primary type of conversation?

I’d love to hear what experiences you have made in this field…

Like a boat in the storm


I find myself in an emotionally challenging situation these days. Something tells me I am not the only one.
In an attempt to make sense of the many contradictory emotions passing through me recently I have written a short metaphoric text. It helped me. I hope it helps you too. In any situation.

*Original version in French below

“Everyone reacts to the current situation in their own way and with their own filters. We are all on a boat, in a storm. On the same boat. In the same storm. Yet at the same time each of us is all alone on their boat, alone with their fears, their anger, their pain, each of us in their own way.  

Everyone is trying to protect themselves, and by doing so is hurting the people around them. Without wanting it, without seeing it. 

I am afraid we are going to hurt each other a lot, without wanting or seeing it, in the next days and weeks. Nerves are raw and tolerance is low. What can I do?”

After writing this, I came upon a post about how kindness can help unlock disagreements or simply make someone’s day better. It reminded me that being kind makes my day better too. It reminded me that I need to look outside of my stormy boat and check on other little boats. See how they’re doing, give them kind words or a kind smile. It doesn’t solve my problems or reduce my pain.

But it feels good, every time. Again and again.



Original version:

Chacun réagit à la situation actuelle à sa façon et avec ses filtres. 

Nous sommes tous sur un bateau dans la tempête. Dans le même bateau. La même tempête. Mais en même temps chacun d’entre nous est tout seul sur son bateau, tout seul avec sa peur, sa colère et sa douleur, chacun à sa façon. 

Chacun cherche à se protéger et au passage fait du mal aux autres. Sans le vouloir, sans le voir. 

J’ai bien peur que l’on se fasse tous du mal sans le vouloir sans le voir dans les prochains jours, les prochaines semaines. Les nerfs sont à fleur de peau et la tolérance au minimum.

Que faire?

To be average or not to be…the end of an era?

The end of average. Todd Rose. A book review. 

I read The end of average by Todd Rose back at the end of December. And then I had to read it again. Because it is good and because it is not trivial. So I thought it makes this book worth writing a review about it. 

Why?

First I like its level of language, its style. It is accessible to a non-native like me and at the same time precise enough to engage in real thinking. The author strikes the right balance between explanation and simplification.

Second I appreciated the thorough description and historical account of how we got where we are today in Chapter 1, including the people who influenced early 20th century thinking and the logic and assumptions behind their ideas. In 1835 Adolphe Quetelet decided to apply the method of average initiated in astronomy to social science, implying the average is perfection and any deviation from it is an error. Francis Galton following in his footsteps repositioned the average as “mediocre”, above average as “eminent” and below average as “imbecile”; Galton also assumed that if you are below average in one dimension then you are overall below average, and applied the same to above average. This led to labelling groups of people as eminent, mediocre or imbecile, on all dimensions of capability and character.

Along came standardization. Edward Thorndike with school standardization and  Taylor with work standardization. I won’t go into too much detail here, a lot is known already, and if standardization and how it came to be triggers your curiosity, I recommend you focus on Chapter 2. Scary and highly interesting at the same time.

Third I learned that the key assumption when studying individuals, that “a group’s distribution could safely be substituted for an individual’s distribution of measurements” is actually wrong (according to a number of scientists and the author) and leads to false results. In simple terms the paradox could be summarized as: how can you understand individuals and ignore their individuality at the same time? Based on the acknowledgment of this mathematical mistake and the paradoxe coming with it the author Todd Rose introduces his key message “individuality matters”, his call to action “first analyse then aggregate”and the 3 highly interesting principles that support it:

– Jaggedness: you can reasonably only aggregate data on traits that are focused enough to be non-multidimensional and not correlated. 

– Context: take the traits and put them in situation. Observe the outcome. Repeat at will. You get the whole spectrum and complexity of personality. Taken independently neither trait nor situation are enough to reliably forecast a typical reaction by a given indivdidual.

– Pathways: Todd Rose writes: “first in all aspects of our lives and for any given goal, there are many, equally valid ways to reach the same outcome; and second, the particular pathway that is optimal for you depends on your own individuality”. Pretty straightforward isn’t it? To understand, yes…to live by…well…

This theory is obviously still in its infancy. I find it far from easy to grasp its implications for society, education and work at once. It already exists here and there, and I want to be able recognize this approach when I see it.

I am also not fully clear on how to implement this thinking in everyday life and everyday work. If the advantages are clear for me, what kind of risks come along with it? No theory or approach is perfect, so what am I getting myself into if I want to embrace the principles of jaggedness, context and pathways? And of course analysing great amount of data before aggregating is a computing challenge, how can we solve it at all levels?

My take-away? I will definitely dig deeper, check into the works of Peter Molenaar who inspired the author, maybe read Karen Adolph about infant development. And of course I will be especially aware of the tyranny of average and play my part in caring, designing for individuals rather than averages.

My last words, quoting the author: individuality matters.

My new year statement


Instead of shouting out my resolutions I have decided to make a new year statement about where I am today and where I’d like to get to this year and beyond.

I am a passionate learner and an enthusiastic teacher, facilitator, coach or mentor depending on the situation. 

My work is a way to live my passion and get paid for it. I believe my mission is first to make people realize how easy it is to start a culture of continuous learning for oneself and for an organisation. The tough part is to make it into a routine, a habit, to embed it in one’s lifestyle.

That is where the second part of my mission kicks in: perseverance, sticking to it and at the same time creatively exploring new ways or variations of existing ones; all of this while staying focused on the goal. 

I am at a crossroad in my worklife. A year ago I have decided to leave my long-term employer to pursue my career in the L&D field. At the same time I have decided to move to a much smaller company because one of my key motivational drivers is to see the impact I have on the organisation and on the people. 

The change became tangible 4 months ago and while the “employed” part of my work is slowly settling down (or rather accelerating actually!), I am now crafting and shaping the extra-curricular part of my passion. 

I am still exploring what is out there, what topics I want to invest in, what I want to contribute to and with whom I want to exchange ideas and experiences. 

My goal is to gain clarity on the questions above, try out a few involvement ideas and kick-start one to two long-term activities in these fields. 

It is an exciting and fulfilling journey and I am curious to see where it will take me. 

I know my view will change throughout the year and I am looking forward to looking back on the roads and ways I will have travelled until then. 

How did you start your year? What are you up to in 2017?