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Friday, May 30, 2014

Working out loud

Our new found ability to share thinking and insights so readily using our online tools is key to solving some of our biggest challenges. Our problems are too big for single individuals or isolated organisations to deal with. As I wrote in a previous post we have to get better at working things out together. The hard bit is that this involves working out loud which can feel scary and challenging.

I am currently reading Jane Bozarth's excellent book on the subject, Show Your Work in which she touches on the individual and organisational challenges of sharing your work as you do it. Sharing while it is still rough, while you are making mistakes, when it never gets finished or never quite achieves success. Doing this is raw and challenging but it is is how real learning happens. It is a million miles from the sanitised case studies that I occasionally rant about or the pernicious idea of "best practice".

In his wonderful commencement address for Simmons University David Weinberger writes of the importance of not knowing all the answers. Of being vulnerable and brave enough to feel out of our depth. Working out loud involves doing this in public, exposing our thoughts before they are fully formed, opening ourselves to dissent and difference while we are still feeling raw and unsure.

All of this feels scary, I feel it when I write these posts, but it feels real and so much more powerful than the controlled and measured means of learning that we are more comfortable with.

from The Obvious? -


What's stopping you?

Last week I did three workshops for CIOs and CTOs on how using social tools could help them get back some of the influence they have lost in their organisations. Rather than banning the tools they should be using them to keep their own teams better informed and to reconnect with their organisations.

As with HR Directors many of them aspire to be listened to at the highest levels but as I said, "How can you be a thought leader if no one knows what you think?".

My last four slides had the words Vulnerability, Courage and Trust followed by the question "What's stopping you?". It was fascinating to hear senior people express concern about saying what they think in public. Feeling exposed, issues of accountability, and even the old chestnut "I have nothing to say that people would be interested in".

Really? Is that really true? Is it true for you? What's stopping YOU?

from The Obvious? -


Scratch: The enormous value of children’s programming languages

I have been aware for some years of the various programming languages available for children. This evening I decided to have a go with Scratch with my daughters, as Leda is now almost eight, the bottom of the suggested age range for the language. I was blown away. Scratch has an extremely wide range of

Continue reading Scratch: The enormous value of children’s programming languages

The post Scratch: The enormous value of children’s programming languages appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks


Monday, May 19, 2014

5 reasons why streams of knowledge run dry and methods have to change

5 reasons why streams of knowledge run dry and methods have to change Why do […]

from The K3-Cubed Blog


Friday, May 16, 2014

Best of Multimedia: A Glimpse into the Workplace of the Future

Traditional offices are evolving in ways that affect where, when, and how we get our best ideas.

from strategy+business - All Updates


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Reflecting on Work Improves Job Performance

Many of us are familiar with the gentle punishment known as "time-out," in which misbehaving children must sit quietly for a few minutes, calm down, and reflect on their actions.

New research suggests that grown-ups ought to take routine time-outs of their own, not as a punishment, but in order to improve their job performance.

In the working paper Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance, the authors show how reflecting on what we've done teaches us to do it more effectively the next time around.

"Now more than ever we seem to be living lives where we're busy and overworked, and our research shows that if we'd take some time out for reflection, we might be better off," says Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino , who cowrote the paper with Gary Pisano, the Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration at HBS; Giada Di Stefano, an assistant professor at HEC Paris; and Bradley Staats, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

<divstyle="width:177px;"> Pausing to reflect on our work improves job performance.

Photo: iStockPhoto

The research team conducted a series of three studies based on the dual-process theory of thought, which maintains that people think and learn using two distinct types of processes. Type 1 processes are heuristic—automatically learning by doing, such that the more people do something, the better they know how to do it. Type 2 processes, on the other hand, are consciously reflective, and are often associated with decision making.

Essentially, the researchers hypothesized that learning by doing would be more effective if deliberately coupled with learning by thinking. They also hypothesized that sharing information with others would improve the learning process.


For the first study, the team recruited 202 adults for an online experiment in which they completed a series of brain teasers based on a "sum to ten" game. A round of problem solving included five puzzles, and participants earned a dollar for each puzzle they solved in 20 seconds or less.

After recording the results of the first problem-solving round, the researchers divided participants randomly into one of three conditions: control, reflection, and sharing.

In the control condition, participants simply completed another round of brain teasers.

In the reflection condition, participants took a few minutes to reflect on their first round of brain teasers, writing detailed notes about particular strategies they employed. Then they, too, completed a second round of puzzles.

In the sharing condition, participants received the same instructions as those in the reflection group, but with an additional message informing them that their notes would be shared with future participants.

Results showed that the reflection and sharing group performed an average of 18 percent better on the second round of brain teasers than the control group. However, there was no significant performance difference between the reflection and the sharing group. "In this case sharing on top of reflection doesn't seem to have a beneficial effect," Gino says. "But my sense was that if the sharing involved participants actually talking to each other, an effect might exist."

Next, the researchers recruited 178 university students to participate in the same experiment as the first study, but with two key differences: One, they were not paid based on their performance; rather, they all received a flat fee. Two, before starting the second round of brain teasers, they were asked to indicate the extent to which they felt "capable, competent, able to make good judgments, and able to solve difficult problems if they tried hard enough."

As in the first study, those in the sharing and reflection conditions performed better than those in the control group. Those who had reflected on their problem solving reportedly felt more competent and effective than those in the control group.

"When we stop, reflect, and think about learning, we feel a greater sense of self-efficacy," Gino says. "We're more motivated and we perform better afterward."


The final study tested the hypotheses in the real-world setting of Wipro, a business-process outsourcing company based in Bangalore, India. The experiment was conducted at a tech support call center.

The researchers studied several groups of employees in their initial weeks of training for a particular customer account. As with the previous experiments, each group was assigned to one of three conditions: control, reflection, and sharing. Each group went through the same technical training, with a couple of key differences.

In the reflection group, on the sixth through the 16th days of training, workers spent the last 15 minutes of each day writing and reflecting on the lessons they had learned that day. Participants in the sharing group did the same, but spent an additional five minutes explaining their notes to a fellow trainee. Those in the control condition just kept working at the end of the day, but did not receive additional training.

Over the course of one month, workers in both the reflection and sharing condition performed significantly better than those in the control group. On average, the reflection group increased its performance on the final training test by 22.8 percent than did the control group. The sharing group performed 25 percent better on the test than the control group, about the same increase as the reflection group.

This was in spite of the fact that the control group had been working 15 minutes longer per day than the other groups, who had spent that time reflecting and sharing instead.

Gino hopes that the research will provide food for thought to overworked managers and employees alike.

"I don't see a lot of organizations that actually encourage employees to reflect—or give them time to do it," Gino says. "When we fall behind even though we're working hard, our response is often just to work harder. But in terms of working smarter, our research suggests that we should take time for reflection."

About the author

Carmen Nobel is senior editor of HBS Working Knowledge.

from HBS Working Knowledge