Sunday, October 11, 2009

You Have No Idea How Good You Are!

Tori Holmes, rowing the Atlantic Ocean

Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for creativity in the school. Watch the video to see what he thinks creativity looks like.

The simple reality is that youth and young adults are no
t challenged to find their real skills (usually not academic). Nor are they encouraged by parents, teachers and mentors to discover how good they really are.

Case in point: The young lady at the oars was 21, fresh from the Canadian prairies when she became the youngest woman ever to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 2006.

Tori Holmes is from Devon, Alberta, in the flat, dry Canadian prairies. She was keen about athletics but not an athlete. She was k
een about studies and art but not an academic. In many ways, she was an ordinary student in high school.

What made Tori exceptional was her sense of adventure. When Tori finished high school, we knew Tori was not going to follow the typical path to university or college and studies. She headed out for adventure. In her travels through Australia, she met a kindred spirit, Paul Gleeson from Limerick, Ireland.

The two happenstanced onto the Atlantic Rowing Race, "the ultimate test of the human spirit". Tori was hooked and the two non-rowers learned to row a one ton rowboat. Tori is 110 pounds soaking wet.

The 2005-06 Atlantic Rowing Race
from the Canary Islands to Antigua was beyond human limits. The tail end of a hurricane, two tropical storms and 3 low pressure systems created 40 foot swells. Six boats out of the original 26 had to be rescued. Tori and Paul, in a field of Olympic trained rowers, finished 13th in the race . To finish was an overwhelming achievement of perseverance and courage.

Tori and Paul's book, Crossing the Swell, launched on Oct. 4. Part inspirational adventure story, part travelogue and part romance, Crossing the Swell is an honest and intimate portrayal of what perseverance and commitment is made of. It is a terrific read and a bargain at $20 from Rocky Mountain Books (RMB) and Chapters/Indigo.

Tori and Paul invested in what they were good at, their sense of adventure, their commitment, their persistence. If we figured out what we truly were good at, invested $120,000 in a goal to leverage what we good at, would we have an amazing story?

Tori and Paul have an amazing story.

Now do the same from the organizational perspective. What is your organization, company, department really good at. Ask your clients and customers and partners. What they tell you may surprise you. And then take a look at Appreciative Inquiry to discover and build on how good your organization really is.

Jim Taylor, Roylat Corp Inc., has some practical guides and worksheets in Appreciative Inquiry to lead organizations through discovering how good they are. Jim Taylor's workshops are excellent introductions to build on the positive for change.

The Future of Knowledge Workers, a Survey

Termite Fishing: Collaborative Learning?

KM World magazine has a two-part report on a survey about the future of knowledge workers. Done by George Washington University and the Institute of Knowledge and Innovation it surveyed 125 professionals and executives. Executives and senior managers constituted nearly half of the respondents.

As you might expect, the top type of work in the future will be collaborative work (global consultancy, project design team, etc.).

The top rated skills for a young knowledge worker were team/collaborative skills followed specialized technical skills. The skills for future leadership were project management as the highest skill and expertise, followed by strategy and strategic thinking, and specialized expertise.

The top priority for new technology to support knowledge workers was collaboration tools. The range of tools described is daunting for an IT shop to integrate and support (from enhanced e-mail, search and portals infrastructure, virtual workspace tools and information processing tools for visualization, expertise location and business intelligence). Find that package in one integrated reliable software package!

For the future manager, enabling better decision-making and leadership support through content analysis and sense-making tools and business intelligence capabilities was identified. Those experienced in sense-making and business intelligence would likely argue that while software can help in illustrating trends and issues, the real work of sense-making and business intelligence is one of appropriately facilitated and focused conversations.

No one seemed to identify the challenge of on-going learning and tools that support learning, especially for new knowledge workers. While e-learning software may have reached the "trough of disillusionment", the challenge will be more acute in the future.