E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #3

Barcelona - View from Montjuic's Castle

Last week I didn’t have much of a chance to put together another blog post from the My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week series, as I was away on a short holiday break to Barcelona, Spain. This time around I decided to keep a low profile, on purpose, in the different media tools I use more or less on a regular basis and remain, for the vast majority of the time, disconnected from the online world. Phew! That surely was a liberating experience, I tell you. I very much enjoyed every single minute of it more than anything else because it was, most probably, the first time in a couple of years I went in the dark without saying anything. I can highly recommend it, for sure!, as the end-result can be quite intriguing and refreshing altogether. Now, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t using my iPhone, nor my iPad Pro, of course, I was still using them more often than not, as I still needed to go out and about, get round different places, get together with real life friends and what not. I suppose that for next time around I will do a bit of an experiment leaving them both behind and see how that would fair along. But that would be the subject for another blog post at some point in time…

Now that I am back home here I am, once more, sharing along the next round of Apps hoping you may find some of them useful as well. Oh, and watch out for a little gift I will be sharing along for one of them at the end of this post…

Thus, without much further ado, here are My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #3. Oh, and remember, unless I specify it accordingly, all of these apps are universal in iOS, whether for iPhone or iPad, so you can make your pick as you may see fit:

  • CityMaps2Go: Before I was going on holidays last week to Barcelona, I briefly mentioned on Twitter how I was very eager to give a try to a new app Google has put together called Google Trips that is supposedly going to fix all of the potential issues with traveling, wether for work or for pleasure. Well, errr, nope! It didn’t do it for me. I downloaded the details for the trip to Barcelona offline, even though I have got 4G on my iPhone / iPad, just to see what it would be like if I were going abroad, and overall I wasn’t convinced by the choices of places offered whether for sightseeing or eat & dine. Overall I thought it was just a bit too over-engineered with very little room for serendipity to kick in, to explore things and places further along, to let yourself get lost to then find yourself again, in short, to improvise. In a nutshell, far too organised for my tasting. Mind you, I may well give it a go though next time around I travel to another city that I may not know from before and see how it would go, but this time around it just didn’t cut it.So I went back to one of my all time favourite maps & traveling apps, CityMaps2Go. It allows me to combine perfectly, a well organised offline map to get around, but also the improvisation of discovering new places wherever I may well be, plus recommendations from real people on what to check out and what not. My favourite capability from the App though is the compass that comes with it that points me back in the right direction in case I get lost heh Oh, and one other activity I love doing with the app is to accumulate all of the various different offline city maps I have used during the course of the year with all the trips I may do and reflect where I have been that year, before I start the new year with a clean slate. Pretty neat, if you ask me.
  • Human: [iPhone Only] Over the course of the last few years I have made extensive use of a good number of different Exercise & Fitness Apps, such as RunKeeper Pro, Runtastic Pro, Strava, Nike+, RockMyRun, Zova, etc. etc. that I may include in this series in the long run, we shall see, but right now there is only one of them that’s still installed in my iPhone and that is Human. It’s my favourite exercise and fitness app by far, more than anything else, because its main premise is not to put too much strain in your body with the exercise you do, but to remind you, kindly, you need to remain active and a minimum of 30 minutes of activity may well do. I like that!I also like the fact you don’t have to compete with other people, or even with yourself, through the app, so the gamification component is just not there. Yes, I quite like that, indeed! Yes, I know, there is Clubs in the App, but I am not part of any at the moment and there is also Pulse which I never check anyway. And that’s what I really like about the app, because its focus is in the long term activity, not the short bursts of competing with others, till you are bored to death and you move somewhere else. Not my kind of game, I am afraid, which is why I heart Human so much. 30 minutes of daily activity for the rest of your lifetime. That simple. Yes, of course, you can do so much more than that, but, you see?, there is no real competition, just you and your daily healthy activity check. heh
  • Kindle: Yes, I know, I know, the Kindle App is an obvious one, everyone has it, but I just had to include it as this past holiday week in Barcelona was the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with plenty of reads I have meant to be done with by now, but that they have may dropped out for whatever the reason. I can’t remember the last time I had a paper book in my hands, or that I may have bought one. Ever since the Kindle app came out, I have defaulted to ebooks, in whatever the form or format, and I just love it. Why? Well, because everywhere I may well go, whether work related or not, and for those spare minutes where something needs to happen, but it doesn’t, I take out my iPhone and continue reading where I left it. Oh, yes, the screen of the iPhone 6S Plus does make a difference. A huge difference altogether! (So you can imagine how it would work on my iPad Pro, too!). ‘Oh, what kinds of books are you reading at the moment, by the way?’, you may be wondering, right? Hold on, I will talk about that soon enough when I share the App I’m currently using to store notes / reviews of the books I have read or I am reading at the moment… Yes, there is an app for that, and I would say it’d be totally unexpected for most of you when I share it along in this series at a later time 😀
  • WiFox: This is probably my favourite new app that I just installed last week and that I am surely looking forward to taking it for a spin on my next business trip I may well do and see how it would play along, but, I tell you, it could well be a game changer for all of the road / air warriors out there. Imagine this, an app that contains all of the WiFi hotspots at airports, and other public spaces, along with their passwords and all of that available for free! My goodness!, my dear WiFox, where have you been all of this time?!?!?! Which world have I have been living myself in for not having found you sooner?!?! Either way, if you are a frequent world traveler and are in clear need of remaining connected at whichever airport you may well be, this app might be the answer to all of our ever growing pains and headaches to continue working online while on the move! Yay!![Of course, I will report back in this post next time around I get a chance to use it to confirm how accurate and helpful it may well be, thus stay tuned!]
  • Elevate: And, finally, games! Of course! Why not, right? I don’t think I have mentioned it on previous blog entries from this series, but I’m hoping to be able to share as well some of my favourite games that I keep playing over the course of time. There used to be a time where, at one point, I had several dozens of games in my iOS devices, but right now there are only a couple of them that I keep playing  every so often and, perhaps, one of my all time favourite ones is Elevate.Despite the growing skepticism and research about the potential benefits of Brain Training apps, I keep enjoying Elevate quite a bit and mainly for three different reasons: a) I am not a native English speaker myself, so plenty of the different games inside the app help me improve my overall English skills around writing, listening, speaking and reading, which I very much appreciate to help me keep up, as I graduated as an English teacher a few years back; b) It also has got a Study section that allows me to improve my overall skills around public speaking, speed reading, math and vocabulary building, which is just perfect for when I have got that spare minute and I’d want to learn or improve on a specific area; c) And, finally, through Performance, it allows me to keep track of my own progress and identify those areas where I’m doing well, and those other areas where I may need to improve a bit, which is just perfect to help me define what my own learning needs may well be at that point in time and act upon them. Just brilliant!

    Now, at the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned how I had a little gift for you folks out there who may be interested, in this case, to check out Elevate itself, and more specifically, the Pro version, because I have got the lovely opportunity to share across some promo codes with you all to give the pro version a try for a full week. So if you haven’t tried Elevate just yet, or if you are using the free version and would want to check the full one, leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@elsua) and I will go ahead and share that promo code across. Happy gaming, happy learning!

And that’s it for today! Hope you folks enjoy this week’s suggestions and favourite iOS Apps from yours truly and if you want to enjoy that little gift to try out Elevate Pro for a full week, reach out to me and I will share it right away!

Enjoy them! 😀👍🏻

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Resisting Change – Luddites Unite!

The London Eye, Palace of Westminster and the Thames

Who would have thought that, after 20 years in the IT industry, I am, essentially, a Luddite. No, not necessarily a technophobe, nor someone who is opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or technology in general. No, not like that! Just what the original Luddites were all about. People who were not opposed to technology itself, but to the particular way it was being applied. Or as Eliane Glaser brilliantly wrote just recently people whose ‘protest was specifically aimed at a new class of manufacturers who were aggressively undermining wages, dismantling workers’ rights and imposing a corrosive early form of free trade. To prove it, they selectively destroyed the machines owned by factory managers who were undercutting prices, leaving the other machines intact’. 

Whoahhh! No wonder I keep musing about another rather thought-provoking sentence she put together as well in that superb article: ‘Technological change does not automatically equate with progress’. And that would probably explain why, nearly at the end of 2016, we are still so averse to any kind of (technological) change, specially, inside organisations. And for a good reason…

We all know change is hard, very hard, yet, we all acknowledge that, if anything, change is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time for us to decide how long we may be able to delay it, while we decide how we may, or may not, need to adapt to the new conditions, and if technology kicks in, all the better. However, when thinking deeper about change, and how we face it, specially, inside organisations with all of these different change initiatives around Social Business and / or Digital Transformation, there are different ways of how we can make it happen a lot more effectively than what we may have been doing in the last decade or so. And it all has to do with a simple shift of focus areas: from technology and business processes to people (i.e. culture), from document centric to people centric computing, and, finally, from replacing knowledge (Web) workers (i.e. humans) with machines (i.e. algorithms) to augmenting, not replacing, the human potential.

If you look into one of the main reasons as to why vast majority of Social Business and Digital Transformation programmes have failed over the course of the last 10 years, there is a great chance that it’s mostly due to our very own reluctance to accept that we might be replaced, over time, either by business processes or by technology via automation, or the well known algorithm. Eventually, either by business processes and / or by machines. No-one wants to see that happening, of course. No-one wants to see how Artificial Intelligence, in whatever the form or shape, kicks in eventually taking over. Never mind how we are already seeing plenty of instances, specially, in the so-called Social Web out there, about that taking place and with very little left that we can do. The thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be. We can do much much better than that. And it only starts with thinking that change doesn’t necessarily imply something negative, but something (very) positive, as long as we keep thinking that such change, or change initiatives, need to have the main focus on and for the people. The knowledge (Web) workers themselves, not just the business. Remember how we need to dramatically improve the overall employee experience, before we can influence the customers’? That’s where we need to start!

Professor Calestous Juma already points out the potential main reason as to why we keep failing to adapt to change fast enough in a wonderfully inspiring write-up under the rather suggestive heading ‘Why do people resist new technologies? History might provide the answer’:

Society tends to reject new technologies when they substitute for, rather than augment, our humanity’

Assisted Intelligence anyone? Well, hold on for a moment. It gets better, way better. If you keep on reading throughout the article, there is this golden gem that will pretty much help you conclude, right as we speak, whether your change programme, either if you are starting now or if you have been working on it for a good while already, will eventually succeed (by whatever the criteria you may have put in place already) or fail along the process. To quote him:

‘We eagerly embrace them when they support our desire for inclusion, purpose, challenge, meaning and alignment with nature. We do so even when they are unwieldy, expensive, time-consuming to use, and constantly break down.’

Calestous continues brilliantly reflecting further along with ‘We live in exciting times where technological diversity and creativity offer limitless opportunities to expand the human potential for all, not just for certain exclusive sections of society’  to then finish off, towards the end of the article, with this incredibly inspiring reflection:

‘Resistance to new technologies is heightened when the public perceives that the benefits of new technologies will only accrue to a small section of society, while the risks are likely to be widespread.’

Is it ok now then for us all to become Luddites? And I mean, the original Luddites described in the article I already mentioned above by Elaine Glaser? Hummm … before you answer that question for yourself, take a look into this stunning article published by the one and only Howard Rheingold back in 1998 (Yes, you are reading it right … 1998!!!) under the title ‘Technology 101: What Do We Need To Know About The Future We’re Creating?‘ Go ahead and read it. It’s very much worth while the time. Don’t worry, I will be here waiting … 


Yes, I know, we are now all Luddites! We need to be. Either within our very own organisations or out there on the Social Web. We don’t have much of a choice for that matter anymore, if we would want to effectively embrace change and adapt to technology by augmenting the human capability versus either being replaced by it (i.e. automation) or subjected by it (i.e. the algorithm). We need to exercise our rights to question everything, to reclaim our long gone and lost critical thinking skills about what we know is just not right. We need to, eventually, at long last, wake up to the reality that ’technology is a tool we can deploy to achieve democratically agreed ideals’ and that, after all, it’s about defining, collectively, what our human choices and priorities may well be like and what progress really means. That’s when our change and transformation journeys will begin…

For everyone. That’s where inclusion, purpose, challenge, meaning and alignment with nature will kick in and, if I may add further along, that’s when we will start caring.

What do you care about?

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Never Underestimate Your Innate Ability to Network Through Conversation

 Barcelona - View from Montjuic's Castle

Summer is over. ‘Back to work. Back to blogging!’ Those were the first few words that came to my mind earlier on today, after having returned, over the weekend, from a short holiday break in Barcelona, Spain. It is still one of my all time favourite cities in the world and for a good number of reasons that I may be able to explain over the course of time, but this time around it taught me something that I guess I have been taking it for granted for the last two decades and that’s to never underestimate our innate ability to network through conversation, whether at work or in our personal lives. At all times. After all, we are social, human beings, and, whether we like it or not, we are destined to become the masters of networking through conversation.

I knew I wanted to take a good holiday break away from what seems to have been one of the weirdest years I can remember in terms of work streams, so over the course of last few weeks I have been secretly planning to spend a few days completely disconnected from the world, pick up a favourite city of mine (Barcelona, in this case), turn it into a culinary trip of some sort and enjoy the ride as much as I possibly could being completely disconnected from everything and everyone. I decided, on purpose, to keep a low profile about it all and don’t mention a single thing on the various media tools where I usually hang out. I just went quiet for a while without sharing anything out there, not even here in this blog. I suppose I just wanted to be away from it all for a short while to remind me what it felt like. And, of course, I failed. 

I failed because serendipity kept insisting on doing its own wonderful magic day in day out. I pretty much failed not necessarily from having shared different tidbits online in some of those media tools, which I haven’t, but because I just couldn’t be away from what still remains one of my favourite activities, whether work related or not, which is networking. Even if for the sake of just doing it: that is, learning from other people through conversations while networking away. It was just fantastic! Literally. 

That’s why, while catching up with my digital feeds, I was a bit surprised about bumping into this article by Joe Myers under the rather thought provoking title ‘How to overcome your aversion to networking’. My goodness! Where did we go wrong? What happened? Have we forgotten how we are wired to learn through conversation(s)? Or how the future operating system for humanity is conversation? When did we decide to have meetings vs. conversations? Ouch! 

Joe’s article is a pretty good read, indeed, with tons of savvy advice and great pointers to other interesting articles around the whole notion of exploring the many benefits of networking through conversation, but I suspect we may need to go way deeper on this one. We may eventually need to remind ourselves what makes us unique in this world, whether at work or in our personal lives, and it’s not necessarily the unprecedented opportunity to use technology to connect with other people, a la world of zero distance, but more to remind us all we ought to remain human through the conversations we facilitate, as our main opportunity to thrive on in that everlasting journey of lifelong learning.

Leandro Herrero calls it ‘Reclaiming Conversations in an Alone Together world’, but I think my favourite quote on the topic of conversation(s) and being human would still be the one from David Weinberger from the Cluetrain Manifesto (again!): 

To have a conversation, you have to be comfortable being human – acknowledging you don’t have all the answers, being eager to learn from someone else and to build new ideas together.

You can only have a conversation if you’re not afraid of being wrong. Otherwise, you’re not conversing, you’re just declaiming, speechifying, or reading what’s on the PowerPoints. To converse, you have to be willing to be wrong in front of another person.

Conversations occur between equals. The time your boss’s boss asked you at a meeting about your project’s deadline was not a conversation. The time you sat with your boss for an hour in the Polynesian-themed bar while on a business trip and you really talked, got past the corporate bullshit, told each other the truth about the dangers ahead, and ended up talking about your kids – that maybe was a conversation’.

There is a lot we can all, collectively, do to design for effective conversations, but then again we can just let serendipity do its magic, open up, be prepared, expose our very own different vulnerabilities, acknowledge we don’t know it all, become comfortable with the uncomfortable (i.e. not knowing where to next) and let the conversations shine through that honesty and authenticity we seem to have left behind somehow pretending we are all just perfect and know-it-alls as we transitioned from all of these social tools into just media tools. We aren’t. The conversations themselves are the ones that help us bridge through our very own imperfections to become better at what we do. After all, as the unmatched and thoroughly missed Jay Cross once wrote:

Conversation is the most powerful learning technology ever invented

Indeed! We just need to, once and for all, come to terms with the fact that, most of the times, we don’t need any other technology tool(s) to replace what we have been really good at for thousands of years already: Learning is (still) conversation and I am really glad Barcelona has taught me that over the course of last few days by providing me with plenty of unique opportunities to network, connect with and learn from other people. And best part of it all? It’s that for the first time in a long while I managed to enjoy all of that without using my mobile phone a single time!

Just talk to people. Whenever and wherever! And enjoy the almost lost art of a really good conversation … No interruptions, no distractions, no multitasking, just network, connect and learn. 

Feeding thy soul.

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #2

Gran Canaria - La Culata's surroundings

I never thought I would be enjoying this much putting together this series of blog entries around my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week as I am currently doing at the moment. More than anything else, because of the trip down the memory lane from over 8 years ago till today to see whether my own work habits and productivity hacks, while on the move, have evolved a fair bit, or perhaps not so much. Or whether, maybe, I have completely changed my own user behaviours so drastically that it has morphed into something completely different altogether. Quite an interesting and intriguing journey, if you ask me. As I get to write down today’s post, it makes me think that, perhaps, for the core group of tasks I do on a regular basis I haven’t really changed much my own habits, which seems to confirm, pretty much, how hard it is to just change for the sake of it, but somehow it’s the good fun around the edges that I’m enjoying the most so far, as I get to explore new apps and new ways of getting work done. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not necessarily harder, even in a mobile world, right?

One of the several things that I have found rather enlightening, and eye-opening at the same time, is how, instead of having a single app to perform a specific action, or complete a particular task, I almost always have a handful of apps to handle such kinds of interactions without really having a single favourite one, since I enjoy all of them for what they do and the overall user experience they provide me with. It’s happening to me, for instance, with apps around photography, RSS news feed readers, blogging, podcasting, note taking, drawing / sketching, mindmapping, web browsing, maps / traveling, etc. etc. So I am hoping that, over time, I get a chance to share them all over here as well with an opportunity to indicate what makes me want to keep using multiple of them based on their different nuances, because somehow I feel they all contribute into a richness of productivity hacks I suspect some of you may find useful as well. So, we shall see how that goes as we move further along …

For this week, though, it’s now a good time to share my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week, indicating whether they are available for iPhone, iPad, or both and explain with a single one-liner or two the main reason as to why I use each of those iOS Apps. Thus without much further ado, here we go:

  • Blogo: On my MacBook Air, I don’t have a single doubt in terms of my favourite offline blogging app and for a good few years already. It’s MarsEdit. On iOS things change substantially, because I don’t have a single favourite one, but multiple of them, so I suppose, over time, I may have a chance to include them all in this series of blog entries and explain why for each of them. For now, I will start with the one I like quite a bit lately and that I have been using extensively to draft my blog posts while on the iPad Pro. It’s Blogo.There is also a desktop app, but again MarsEdit does it for me, so for those folks who may be looking for alternatives or new options, Blogo may well be worth a try. What I like the most about the iOS app is that’s incredibly focused on the act of writing blog posts, no interruptions, no distractions, no fuss, just cut to the chase on ideas you may want to jot down and develop further and keep on writing those drafts further along. The set-up process of WordPress blogs is a gem, too! So easy and user friendly to do that anyone can start their own blog right away! Oh, and the use of images in your blog posts is rather cool as well with tons of options you can toy and play with, if that’s what you are into heh.
  • Feedly: Yes, 2016 and I still read RSS news feeds. Every single day, actually. I spend a significant amount of time just browsing through my RSS feeds while I continue to prune and re-build my own blogroll, which I am hoping to share it along in the next few weeks… And in terms of iOS RSS news feed readers, and like I said already, I have got multiple apps I use on a regular basis and for different purposes, mostly whether it’s an app I can use offline or not, for instance. Right now, one of my favourites is Feedly, more than anything else, because it’s one of the most popular and extended ones and because it allows me to syndicate online as well as offline resources given me something I quite enjoy: choices!One of the little things I appreciate the most from Feedly at the moment as well, ever since I got it working again on my iPad Pro, is how much it feels like just reading a news paper, an online one, to the point where there is only one other app that makes it a superiour user experience than what Feedly provides, but that I’ll talk about that app in an upcoming post. Still, at the moment, for online RSS news feed reading, Feedly does it for me.
  • Pocket: You could say that Pocket is also a fancy RSS news feed reader and I would probably have to agree with you on that one. Not like Feedly or other traditional RSS news feed readers, but it certainly does the job of helping you curate content you bump into that you find relevant and equally interesting but that perhaps you may want to read at a later time, specially, when offline and disconnected from the Internet. This is where Pocket excels in terms of providing one of the most enlightening user experiences for browsing the Web while offline, if I can say that. But there are a couple of other things I enjoy a fair bit from Pocket that have made it an indispensable productivity and learning tool for yours truly.As a starting point, it allows people to share across their recommended reads, so, in a way, you can connect with other people who may share similar interests to yours and read each other’s recommendations. Pretty nifty if you would want to nurture your networks based on content you all may be mutually interested in. And the other rather nifty feature is how pervasive it is. I use it on my Web browsers on my Mac or the desktop app to save items to read later. I use it on my iOS devices, but what I like the most about it is that it’s fully integrated with other apps, like Tweetbot, allowing me to go through my Twitter feeds and save for later links shared by my networks that I may find of interest. Then at the end of the day, usually, I will go through them, read along, save, recommend, share across, etc. etc. The combination of Tweetbot and Pocket to curate interesting links is a killer. Loving it.
  • Haiku Deck: On my MacBook Air, Keynote is the main productivity tool I use to put together presentations I then use for public speaking events or for client work. I often use Keynote for complex presentations where I need to follow certain flows, do hands-on demos (with screen shots) or more complex visuals, etc. but when it’s a presentation that needs to become very visually appealing to go further along with a powerful story then I resort to one of my favourite iOS Apps out there: Haiku Deck.You put together the words, the story, and Haiku Deck gathers and presents you with plenty of absolutely stunning visuals you can then toy with to make it one of those presentations to remember. What I like the most about the app? Well, it allows you to craft beautiful presentations without too much wording or far too complex visuals / graphics in them, so death by PowerPoint can be happily avoided and save you tons of unwanted headaches. It just works: a powerful story + a handful of powerful images and off you go to rock the main stage! Perhaps the way presentations should have been framed all along…
  • Telegram: Yes, there are tons of Messaging & Chatting apps out there. Probably, far too many to count them all with both hands and still fall short! Yes, we all know that WhatsApp perhaps dominates that market at the moment. Yes, we know that plenty of the big players (Google, Facebook itself, Microsoft, etc. etc.) keep trying to debunk it and, eventually, they keep failing. Well, there is one Messaging App out there that has certainly done the magic for me, helping me move away from WhatsApp itself and still use, rather heavily, messaging for both work and personal use. It is Telegram.To me, it’s one of the most powerful chatting and messaging apps out there at the moment, allowing me to be on top of the conversations I have in it without getting too overwhelmed by the different notifications from each of the group / individual chats, but if there would be a feature that I’d enjoy the most it would be how pervasive it is. There is a Mac desktop app, so you can continue with your messaging along while at your desk; there is an app for iPhone and for iPad, fully in sync with each other, so depending on what you may be doing you can pick and choose whatever may suit you best, something that, for instance, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to handle too well, never mind the fact there isn’t one for iPad. Oh, and Telegram handles with grace the ability of mixing work and personal use, so you get to experience a bit more of a biz app than, say, WhatsApp. I tell you, if you are looking for a pretty decent messaging app that does a beautiful job at it, Telegram it is!

And that is it! That’s this week’s Top 5 iOS Apps for me that you can take for a spin yourself either on your iPhone or iPad and let me know what you think about them in the comments section below. Oh, and if you’d have some additional suggestions or recommendations of apps I should give a try and share my twopence on them, please do let me know as well. I’m always open to try new apps and see how they would fair further along with my day to day work routines.

Hope you folks enjoyed this week’s selection as next week there will be some more!

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How Social Networking Tools Enable Heutagogy in Learning Organisations

Gran Canaria - Cruz Grande's surroundings


Imagine one day you read this quote: ‘The way we teach in our schools isn’t the way I think you create successful (and happy) adults, it’s the way you create the society we’ve had until now.’ Now imagine you swap the wordings ’teaching’ for ‘learning’ and ‘our schools’ for ‘our workplaces’. Read it out loud again, please. Slowly. Imagine if you then read this other quote at some point in time later on: ‘I don’t want to grow up and 30 years later find out that I’m an office worker unhappy in life and that hasn’t done anything to improve this world. Because that’s my main goal now: leave a positive mark here’ and ask yourself how many of your work colleagues you could name up out loud that would fit that description. Yes, I know!, I had the exact same problem. Not many! That’s why Workplace Learning is broken and why heutagogy may need to come to the rescue to save us all…

Heuta… what?, you say’ …Hang on for a minute, before I go into that topic a bit deeper, allow me to give you all some context as to why I have started this blog entry with those two quotes. Those absolutely mind-blowing and rather provocative sentences, as depressing and as exciting as they may sound, don’t come from a knowledge worker working in a particular corporation protesting about the poor state of workplace learning or learning in general. They, actually, come from a letter written to Roger Schank by a 15 year old girl in Central America protesting herself about the poor state of the education system in her own country and the very few choices she has got to change the situation herself on her own. Roger himself recently published it in his own blog for all of us to be wowed, and not in a positive sense, by the way, more than anything else, because, upon reading through it, one has got to shamefully admit that current state of education / learning is incredibly pervasive and available in most countries throughout the world, and, of course, in vast majority of organisations. Ouch! 

After publishing the letter in his own blog, which I strongly recommend you go ahead and read through it in its entirety, Roger comes forward to share a couple of uncomfortable reflections that, upon reading through them, reminded me as to why I heart, so much!, heutagogy, not only within the overall education system, but also with workplace learning inside organisations, in general. To quote: ‘We just let kids be miserable, or, we use school for its true intention: indoctrination’. Again, replace ‘kids’ for ‘knowledge workers’ and ‘school’ for ‘workplace’ and, once again, we would have the reaffirmation as to why workplace learning is currently broken within the business world.

But perhaps the most mind-boggling, and rather troubling!, quote from the entire post he shared is this other one: 

Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilisation, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.

That quote, you may be wondering, is from Edward Cubberly, Dean of the Stanford University School of Education, from around 1900. Yes, you are reading it right, it’s not a typo, 1900!! 116 years ago!! Whoahhh! 

My goodness! No wonder the current education system is totally broken. It’s been broken from well over a century, already! Yikes! And I’d dare extend that sentiment as well towards Workplace Learning, despite notable efforts of wanting to wake up into a new reality and see if we can still save it all. Even Roger himself already hints in that blog entry part of what the potential solution(s) may well be. To quote him: ‘Let kids learn what they want to learn in curricula design by professionals’.

This is where heutagogy kicks in beautifully, because that’s exactly what it is all about: 

Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning … It is also an attempt to challenge some ideas about teaching and learning that still prevail in teacher centred learning and the need for, as Bill Ford (1997) eloquently puts it ‘knowledge sharing’ rather than ‘knowledge hoarding’. In this respect heutagogy looks to the future in which knowing how to learn will be a fundamental skill given the pace of innovation and the changing structure of communities and workplaces.’ [Emphasis mine]

First time I ever got exposed to Heutagogy, as a concept, was back in March 2013, when I was invited to speak at the Welcome Heutagogy conference event in Prague, where Dr. Stewart Hase (Founder of Heutagogy himself), along with the delightful Lisa Marie Blaschke, were the keynote speakers (Links to the presentations AND recordings can be found here and here, respectively). Little did I know, back then, I have been practising it actively myself for 13 years already, and still going strong today, more than anything else because, if anything, heutagogy is all about making learning a change experience, indeed. But it’s also about placing ‘the learner at the centre of the learning process not at the end of a linear process starting with the curriculum, through the teacher, to the resources and finally ending with the learner’, as Stewart himself wrote about in this wonderfully inspiring blog post a little while ago.  

Fast forward to 2016 and this specific tweet may be particularly helpful in describing some more in depth what it is: 

That is, certainly, one of the many reasons why I heart social networks and social networking tools from all along, because thanks to them, we have been given the incredible and unique opportunity of being in charge of our very own learning, a la self-determined learning, whether at work, or elsewhere, based on a specific set of needs and wants, to the point where it’s always each and everyone of us, and not the system, deciding upon what we would want to learn more about, how we would want to learn and with whom (i.e. our networks) we would want to learn with / from. In other words, thanks to all of these social networking tools, specially, in a work context, and thanks as well to applying those heutagogy principles referenced above, we may be, at long last, working really hard towards making that successful transition from being a knowledge (Web) worker into a learning (Web) worker: 

So you can imagine how happy I was when earlier on this year, while serendipity was doing its magic and I was searching for something else, I bumped into the recording of the presentation I did back in 2013 about how I was applying heutagogy myself into my day to day work routines using social networking tools (IBM Connections back then and nowadays it would have morphed a fair bit into a combination of IBM Connections, Twitter and Slack) in the context of #NoeMail to get work done more effectively WHILE I was learning away.

The mind-blowing thing is, upon watching myself deliver that very interactive presentation, I realised that pretty much what I said back then it still applies to how I learn AND work nowadays, even though I’m no longer a salaried employee and don’t work in major corporation, confirming, therefore, if anything, that a combination of both heutagogy and social networking tools have managed to convert me into a lifelong learner with a completely different mindset of work, one where you realise your knowledge, and what you learn further along with it, is no longer just yours, but from the communities and networks you spend the vast majority of your time with, which is just too funny and perhaps a tad ironic because that’s, essentially, the main reason why, even today, I am still even so keen on sharing openly my own knowledge. Indeed, to learn even more! 

PS. By the way, in case you folks may be interested in going through the recording of the presentation I did back at the Welcome Heutagogy event in Prague, I have taken the liberty of embedding the video clip over here in this blog entry, so you can watch it right away, as you may see fit. It’s about 35 minutes long, plus Q&A, and in it I describe, through my first hand user experience, what A Day in the Life of Luis Suarez using IBM Connections was like to learn AND get work done more effectively through my own social networks and online communities, still today two of the most powerful enablers for the adaptation of emerging social technologies in the workplace without having to rely too much on email per se, which, if you ask me, it’s a good thing altogether, don’t you think?

Welcome Heutagogy – Luis Suarez from HR Kavárna by LMC on Vimeo.

Hope you enjoy the presentation, just as much as I did back then, and I still do today, as a self-empowered lifelong learner through applying heutagogy’s principles and making extensive use of social networking tools 😀👍🏻

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Loyalty in Social Networks

Gran Canaria - Meloneras Beach

One of the best decisions I ever made upon becoming a freelancer, nearly three years ago, was to consciously spend plenty more time doing tons of additional reading (Whereas in the past I just couldn’t, for whatever the reason), whether it was books, white papers, reports, studies, research, articles, long-form blog posts, etc. etc. more than anything else to help me switch away from that constant flair of snacking around content on media tools and, instead, slow down a fair bit enjoying the many healthy benefits of reading (who knew?!?) or, perhaps, help augment my overall human experience, which is not such a bad thing, I suppose, if you look into it closely, don’t you think?

It’s also one other reason as to why I’m not online, on those media tools, as often I used to, but little did I know, back then, one of the additional perks of reading more was also being capable of instigating and actively participating in plenty more conversations, whether offline or online, specially, thanks to updating and revamping my own blogroll, which, in a way, is what triggered everything else. I suspect that, somehow, the Social Web slows down a fair bit when blogging kicks in and that may well be the reason why I am having plenty more conversations over here in this blog, since I resumed my blogging mojo just recently, than in the last few months on media tools. My goodness! Did we manage to kill already the conversation in the so-called traditional social media tools landscape? Please tell me that’s not the case, for our own sanity.

Ok, ok, I know, here I am, once again, excoriating the very same social tools that once gave me birth and that, 16 years later, have made me what I am today. Goodness! What’s wrong with me?!?! Yikes! Maybe. But then again, in my defence, I am only now just realising that was the main reason why I quit Facebook over 5 years ago, why I deleted my LinkedIn account over two years ago and why I started this experiment in Twitter that I blogged about over here under the thought provoking title ‘Is Twitter Where Conversations Go to Die? – The Unfollowing Experiment’. I was just simply missing the great conversations we once used to have all over the place, while everyone else was just (and still is!) busying themselves broadcasting out loud their own (somewhat expected) marketing messages and whatever their services.

Don’t take me wrong. I know that’s very much needed, specially, if you would want to change the game of how we have managed to build, nurture and cultivate personal business relationships online over the course of time, but I think we are just falling too short in terms of conversing with one another about the topics we are truly passionate about. And that’s a pity, because that still is *the* huge potential all of these (social) media tools have permeating all around through them.

Here is an example of what I mean, and let’s see how much it relates to your own user experience. Take one of the major media tools out there, I will go ahead and pick up Twitter, since that’s the one I still use the heaviest, and now, very carefully, ask yourself when was it the last time you had a conversation, longer than 5 posts / comments / tweets, etc. (that’s important!) that was not triggered by you but by someone else in your social networks. When was the last time that happened? I don’t know about you, but unless I am the one triggering the conversations, because I have the intent to provoke some additional dialogue or interaction around a particular topic that I know is of mutual interest for both of us, it just won’t happen anymore, at all. Is it just me? Am I the only weird, freakish, strange knowledge (Web) worker out there going through that experience at the moment? Please tell me if I am, because, if I am, I may well be doing something wrong and I would love you all to tell me what it is in the comments below, so I can fix it.

Somehow I suspect I may not be the only one out there currently going through this, am I? You tell me, please.

Ok, back to the topic of reading and getting inspired by the reads in the long form that I mentioned in the original paragraph shared above. Here’s an example of what I mean, so you can see it why I heart it quite a bit at the moment. Take a look into the recent blog article put together by my good friend, and KM mentor, Dave Snowden under the suggestive heading ‘back to the salt mines’ where he shares one of my favourite descriptions of what blogging is all about and that I can totally relate to. To quote him:

As is often the case with a blog post, the subject and picture come before content; one of the reasons I like the medium so much. Starting with a title, finding a picture and then starting writing without a clear goal I find curiously liberating. I suppose it harks back to the impromptu speaking and debating tradition which was so much a part of my education up to leaving university.

Oh, boy, if that paragraph, on its own, doesn’t instigate you to blog, I suppose nothing will, I tell you! It’s wonderfully weird as well that Dave pretty much described my blogging process without a single flaw, that is, pick up a recent photograph from my archives, upload it into my Flickr account I still use quite actively, and then start writing about a particular topic and see where it would take me, regardless of its length, with the title being the last thing I will write down about it. But Dave’s article gets much better, as you read along, because he gets to reflect on loving what you do, and being passionate about the stuff you love, is all about. Here’s one of my favourite quotes, which happens to be a rather lovely piece of advice that may well confirm why I’m not so keen on using some media tools anymore. To quote him (again):

Enjoyment is about anticipation and expectation and if those are two high at the start you are on a downwards slope thereafter.

Ouch! No further comment needed, I guess, right?

Well, there is more in that golden post Dave put together that really resonated with my own user experience, even more so nowadays as a freelancer. This particular quote pretty much hits the nail on the head, as far as I am concerned, and requires also very little commentary, if at all:

Seize the day: as opportunities present themselves experiment

Oh, gosh, but there is one more! Perhaps the one single sentence that pretty much describes the raison d’être as to why I got involved with Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Learning, Online Communities and Social Networking for Business over 16 years ago in the first place as an opportunity to learn and grow as a knowledge (Web) worker:

Survival (and with that enjoyment) is finding work arounds and for that you have to ….
cultivate and build informal trusted networks.
” [Emphasis mine]

Indeed, I couldn’t have said it better myself and I can certainly relate to it big time, but, at the same time, earlier on in that article he wrote the following, rather thought provoking sentence that is currently haunting my mind (in the right way!) and for which I haven’t got a proper answer just yet: ’I also realised early on that loyalty within a network is key to survival, something I still hold as a principle.

Have I lost, along the way, my own loyalty to the social networking tools that once gave me birth?

And that, my dear friends, is the main reason why I am currently having a blast diving into #longform reading. It makes you think really hard and seek out the uncomfortable answers…

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