A few days ago, a dear friend of mine who is a #5rhythms teacher reminded me how Flow is my “home rhythm”. In this moving meditation practice – as it says on the tin – we dance through five rhythms : flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness.
Although dance is not the purpose here, it has become such a great teacher for me over the last 5 years that it cannot not come up as a perpetual reference along my learning path in – private and even professional – life. As a way to anchor my thoughts and ideas in the physical reality, if any.
“Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
The main topic I would like to discuss here is my first experience of a c-MOOC on “Exploring Personal Learning Networks : Practical Issues for Organisations” that took place during 5 weeks from October 7th 2013.
Flow is the perfect rhythm for exploration. Getting your feet in motion. Seeking, breathing in and feeling. During our first 2 weeks of exploration in this on-line seminar, we tried to define what PLN is, or should I already say what PLN’s are? Under the inspiring guidance of Jeff Merrell (@JeffMerrell) and Kimberly Scott (@KGS_Scott), our freshly created #xplrpln network became a place to share and discuss thoughts and insights on how to define PLN, in case we would have to explain it to our Mum or – bit more challenging – to our CEO…
My main influences so far had come from passive (but massive) readings about Social Learning by experts like Jane Hart (@C4LPT) and Harold Jarche (@hjarche). I was particularly interested in Jane’s “scaffolding vs. packaging” idea and Harold’s vision of the future of work in a wirearchy model. Then suddenly, after a few miscellaneous clicks on Twitter and Google+, I became part of a global community of passionate people showing similar interests in new ways of learning and collaborating in the digital age ! All coming from very different professional, geographical and personal backgrounds; the ideal context to give it a go and have play in the “ambiguity sandbox”. And so we did… using our G+ community, blogs and weekly (and hectic) Twitter chats to exchange our views on which definitions should be given to PLN in the organisational context. And if PLN should actually be pitched in organisations or not…
In my final artifact – a sort of fictitious conversation about PLN with “a” CEO, I inserted an introductory document which mainly aims at defining the scope of PLN in a large organisation and demystifying the term PLN as such. I still think today “personal”, “learning”, “networks” would remain rather less popular in some large corporate organisations than terms like “individual”, “productivity” and “hierarchy”.
This also brought me to the idea of using the terms Collaborative Leadership, which sound to me a bit more “corporate” and maybe easier to introduce in a business context. The final goal of my fictitious discussion with the CEO is to convince him/her to take part in a ½ day Immersion Workshop with his/her direct reports and PA’s. On this occasion the objective is to create appetite and identify particular interests among C-suite participants to become “sponsors”, and to open the debate on the cultural changes needed to shift to a more collaborative culture in the organisation (easier said than done…). The workshop is structured like a coaching session based on questions related to some work situations / issues, whilst participants can experiment some 2.0 and collaborative tools in « real time ».
At this stage I want to specially thank Helen (@ActivateLearn) for initiating our “Corporate” sub-group in G+ community and @JenniferRainey7, @tanyalau and @shalineemattoo for this amazing and inspiring thread of conversations.
The way I see my “artifact” is definitely not like something written in stone but rather in sand (in the same colour palette as the above mentioned sandbox…). Actually this continual flow through all the on-line discussions, readings and personal reflections has raised more questions than it has brought me answers so far.
The only few fragile conclusions I am able to pull out from this whole exercise at the moment are :
1) PLN is only the tip of the iceberg, covering an unprecedented need for CULTURAL change in “the way we work”
2) INTENTION is one of the keywords for successful PLN – and Social Learning in general.
3) PLN has its own shadows and the question of OWNERSHIP needs to be clarified.
So there I am… still in the deep uncomfortable zone of not knowing. An exciting place though where I feel the urge to continue exploring, flowing and seeking. And also breathing in the “why” I feel so passionate about this topic ?
As a final thought for today I am tempted to say that trying to define PLN is probably mission impossible. It’s just something you have to experience and practice, with high level of intentions and low level of expectations. Likewise we cannot really define what dance is or not, when a movement stops being robotic and conditioned and become fully human and expressive. Or when using social media and new technologies stop being fashionable and enslaving, and become empowering and a way to create more sense.
My intention is to write a bit about this in a next post ! So expect more,,,
Sand painting I made after a “Dreaming Body” dance workshop