Friday, 11 February 2011


(With acknowledgement to Charles Jennings of the Internet Time Alliance for helping me recall this superb example……)

Once upon a time (all good stories start like this!) there was a really brilliant team who succeeded beyond their wildest imaginations.  They did so because they simply set out “to be the best they could be” and believed that they could get there.

They were a group of people who believed in their own skills as individuals and who trusted one another to achieve their goals and to provide support when needed.

Their leader, a tough minded man with huge ambition and high standards, but who was in the end compassionate, supportive and passionate about improving performance through personal learning, believed in challenging people to achieve beyond where they believed possible. 

Daunting tasks were set, with seemingly impossible outputs required and against impossible deadlines.  Time and again the team and the individuals achieved – so much so that they won global awards.  The leader rewarded them richly.  He said he would go to war with them if necessary.  They achieved even more.  Rare failure was regrettable, rigorously analysed to find the learning, but only seen to be culpable if it had happened without assistance being sought.

The leader moved one.  With his successor the team continues to succeed.  Some things have changed, much stays the same.  The pride in achievement is embedded.  Being the best they can be continues to take on new meaning.  Awards continue to be won.

Sounds like a fairy story?

It isn’t!  It’s true! 

My journey into new learning this year has led me to seek examples of success with social learning in the networked society in which we all now live. It was only when I suddenly realised what social learning is actually all about that I saw that it is nothing new – the current welter of activity to accommodate to technology enabled learning is simply an invitation to put some established ideas into a new and wonderfully enhanced environment. What a prospect for learning in 2011 and beyond!

So what were the ingredients?

·         A leader who lives helping people learn
·         An environment which enables initiative, and exploration
·         Superbly mapped processes with all the supporting tools
·         A learning emphasis built in to the process improvement cycle
·         A clear Community of Practice with well identified Subject Matter Experts
·         An effective communications network
·         Culture of mutual support and individual accountability
·         Continuous striving for something more – pride in achievement
·         Recognition and reward for success

And when did it happen?  Over the 10 years spanning the millennium!

There is nothing revolutionary.  The story shows social learning in action with some simple principles that transcend technology.

The trick now for those of us concerned with Working Smarter is to harness the tools we now have to reach for new horizons – places we have not yet dreamed about.

In striving we will have fun, discover ourselves and find fulfillment