Posts Tagged ‘wordpress.com’
This presentation delivered on April 19 for the Irish Centre for Business Excellence Network tries to address why things are not changing fast enough in the (corporate) learning world by pointing out that we often fail to look to the outside. We rely on benchmarking without realising that this will never get us ahead of the game. We try to implement best practices rather than focus on emergent practice. Changing this requires finding our edge and trying to see what you can learn from there. For corporations and organisations the edge can be found in things like the consumerisation of IT, open source, experimental academia and the startup world.
You can download the presentation as a PDF or watch in on SlideShare:
I’ve used many sources to create the presentation. Here are all the relevant links in context.
In the past I have thought a bit about seredendipity and have written a few blogposts about the topic.
Bert De Coutere describes how Learning and Development is stuck in his blog post Learning got stuck in itself…. Steve Wheeler writes about the differences between upstairs (where the Learning Technologies conference was held) and downstairs (where the learning vendors could tout their wares) in his post titled Upstairs downstairs.
If you are interested to learn more about Omphaloskepsis, check out this Wikipedia article.
Youngme Moon has written a book titled Different in which she explains why products in a category all become alike. Harold Jarche reviews the book in a blog post titled Different – Review. In that review he refers to Tim Kastelle who lifts stwo diagrams out of Moon’s book in Be Great at One Thing. I remade the diagrams using the excellent Inkscape.
The Wikipedia page about the Cynefin Framework isn’t bad. Dave Snowden’s Harvard Business Review article about his framework and how it can help with leadership is titled Leader’s Framework for Decision Making (and maybe I should credit Mary E. Boone for once).
Automattic is an amazing company. They create and host the wordpress.com platform (more information). The Automattic creed is available on Matt Mullenweg’s website. Matt gets interviewed here. This map shows where all the “Automatticians” are located. Check out this page if you want to know more about Automattic or are interested in working for them.
If you want to know more about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) you should start here and then quickly move on to what Stephen Downes writes in his piece What a MOOC Does. The MOOC example I decided to reference in the presentation is Digital Storytelling also known as DS106.
The term Edupunk was coined in Jim Groom’s post The Glass Bees and quickly got its own Wikipedia article. Stephen Downes tied together a few good posts about the topic here and this article on BlogHer could also be a good start.
If you want to be kept up to date about learning technology “on the edge” then your best bet is likely to pay close attention to Audrey Watters’ blog Hack Education (not mentioned in my presentation).
Mozilla‘s mission page is here and it is worthwile reading their whole manifesto. Their Open Badges program is getting a lot of deserved attention and could always use more participants. You can read about all their learning plans on their Learning Wiki, this is also the place to go to if you want to get involved.
If you are interested in becoming more entrepreneurial and innovative, regardless of whether you have your own business or are working in a company/organisation, you can’t do better than read The Lean Startup.
I am a heavy WordPress.com user (this blog, learningscenarios.org, Gamechanger 3.0 and have been impressed with way that Automattic has organized itself. Two of their staff talked about how they can hire the most talented people and let them work from where they are already located.
Lori McLeese is the HR lead of Automattic (she is the only HR person at the company of about hundred people now). Nikolay Bachiyski is a developer. The company is 100% distributed and has been like that from day one. They are located in 24 countries and 79 cities. In only 7 cities do they have more than one “Automatician” living and working. They do not have offices and no set working time. Most people work on a single big project: wordpress.com
One thing that they’ve found is that it is hard to build personal relationships. They test new staff in a trial project to see if they are a fit for the culture of the company. The trial can last for a few weeks or even a few months. Once you finish it successfully you are “welcomed to the chaos” and will have to do your first three weeks working in “happiness” which is their customer support team. This helps you learn in a safe environment and teaches you to respect the happiness engineers. You are also learning that it is always ok to ask questions, to bug people and to over-communicate.
Not a lot of technical people are used to this type of communication, so they give new people a mentor (or a buddy). This can sometimes lead to some negative feedback. They have done three things to manage this well:
- Hire the nicest people.
- Just communicate more.
- Face-to-face time is still important, so they have a grand meetup once a year where they all get together for a week and mostly work in temporary teams. Each individual has to prepare a 5-min flashtalk about themselves or about something they are interested (they really can be about anything). They also use this time to get to know eachother. They are now with 100 people so they can’t really have quality time together anymore. So each team comes together 1-4 times a year and do mini-projects and brainstorming (which is hard online).
P2 [pi tu:] is their main form of communicating with each other. It is just a WordPress theme geared for collaboration. It helps make things transparent: all P2s are public inside the company and many decisions have started in some form at a P2. Another advantage is that they are permanent and searchable. There is a culture of oversharing in which P2s very often get personal (there are a lot of “water cooler” P2s). This has led to a lot of company memes. The official company meme is “blank in a blank” in which people photograph themselves inside something small. More examples: an AFK P2 on which you can find out if somebody is away from their keyboard for a while and why. Next to P2s they also use a lot of voice and video chats and hangouts.
They also encourage Automaticians to attend their local WordCamp so that they can really get involved with their open source community. They also often meet at conferences were all staff is encouraged to speak. People are also encouraged to visit each other.
In Automattic’s company creed it says: “I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company.”.
They would say that their productivity as a company is dependent on how well they communicate. There is also the aspect of personal productivity: there are many examples of how liberating it can be to be able to really make your own schedule and be flexible. It can also be challenging to get to focus sometimes. In their employee-edited employee fieldbook they have collated a set of advice on how find focus for your work. The best way to help people focus is to have them work on something that is challenging and meaningful.
If you like how all this sounds, then maybe you will want to apply for a job with Automattic.