Archive for the ‘Collaboration in the Workplace’ Category

Work is Changing – Youth Profit, a probe to explore new opportunities

September 6th, 2014

Silo BreakingI’m working with two colleagues on a new project dealing with youth unemployment. Our perspective is that work opportunities and the skills needed to fill jobs have radically changed.

In the new work landscape, traditional jobs that used to be lifelong and provide wages that could support home and families are no longer present.

Our project is called Youth Profit. In this early stage of development, I envision Youth Profit’s as a probe that will explore the new work landscape and stimulate dialogue about youth unemployment in the 21st Century workplace.

Rising youth unemployment is a complex and worldwide concern. There are successful models and projects that we can learn from. Youth Profit will encourage discussion, interview thought leaders from around the globe and stimulate new ideas for preparing youth for 21st Century workplace.

Youth Profit is creating and supporting an online space for stakeholders to connect, share design tools and exchange ideas for new youth employment training initiatives. To facilitate solutions to long term systemic barriers, Youth Profit’s advocates for closer collaboration between the education, government, non profit and the private sectors.

To give readers a background on why we are developing this project and how work is changing, I’ve included a post from the American Press Association and Harold Jarche website – shining a light on workplace transformation. Harold is a Canadian and is viewed internationally as a leading writer and “sense maker” on the changes happening to the workplace.

These two posts underscore the importance of developing solutions to complex social concerns through collaboration between the Education, Private, Non-Profit and Government sectors.

An article written by Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press, Jan. 23 2013 clearly describes the changes to the workplace brought about by technology and the 2009 recession.

NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.

And the situation is even worse than it appears.

Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.

They’re being obliterated by technology.

Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace , ,

Personal Knowledge Mastery – As an Innovative Knowledge Transfer (KT) Strategy

August 19th, 2014

I received the following question about my last post titled Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Project “what aspect of your innovative knowledge exchange (KT) are you proposing to speak to?”

I struggled with responding to this question as knowledge transfer is a concept that didn’t resonate with my approach or thinking as I formulated the project. (see end of this post for more on knowledge transfer)

I designed the project using the following frameworks and building blocks (drivers): Personal Knowledge Mastery PKM; Community Based Research CBR and Positive Psychology.

The Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping project is more about tapping into tacit knowledge that resides within communities and then  “sharing knowledge making experiences” with selected individuals and groups. I think I know what she was looking for so I’ve listed some of the key aspects that answer her question below.


Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Pilot Project

July 25th, 2014

This post is a summary of a pilot project that I’ve being working on for the past year. The project is designed to enable high school students to take a more active role as positive mental health change agents within their school.

I’m posting a description of the model so I can receive feedback and to possibly stir the interest of school boards or non-profit organizations.

In many respects, the project is a school to work initiative. Students working together on a difficult and complex problem learn from those affected by the problem and then share their learnings and recommendations with the larger school community. The skills learned and practiced in  the project are the same skills necessary for the workplace and 21st century jobs. (PDF)

As I created the model, I consulted with quite a few local Executive Directors and Managers of community based organizations that serve young people, in and out of school. Their comments were very encouraging and helpful. You can download this post by clicking here. Positive Mental Health – Research Mapping Project

Excerpts from the 2010 Annual Children’s Mental Health Ontario Conference – Leadership in Times of Challenge – Child and Youth Mental Health in Ontario

Mental health and substance abuse issues are critical for school systems. A paramount concern is that mental health disorders and difficulties are closely associated with declining academic performance and poor graduation rates.

“Are you waiting for things to return to normal in your organization? Sorry. Leadership will require new skills tailored to an environment of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty”


My Background:

For many years, I’ve been managing and designing youth and community development projects. Mental illness, has been a predominant factor affecting positive and healthy development of many of the individuals served by these projects. Also, I serve as a Director on two non-profit Boards that provide programming for youth with mental health concerns and I’m a founding member of the Talking About Addiction & Mental Illness Coalition, a Regional cross sector Coalition that addresses youth mental health and addictions issues with students in our local school system.

Read more…

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

Professional Network Mapping

August 16th, 2013

I participated in professional network mapping session hosted by Harold Jarche. These sessions are part of a series of web meetings on the Connected Knowledge Lab organized by Jane Hart and Harold. While there were a few in attendance at this session, the conversation was stimulating.

After the web meeting, I reflected on how I might create my own maps to organize, build and maintain my professional online network.  The following two diagrams and the dynamic online map will illustrate my approach for filtering and nurturing my online network.

The first diagram is background material used to ground our discussion in the web meeting. The core concepts (mind set) to start creating your professional network map can be further examined in these posts from Harold’s blog. Personal Knowledge Management ,  Network Learning:Working Smarter and As the World Keeps Churning, Work Today is All About Learning.

The Task/Questions section of the map identify the purpose of creating your personal networking map.

In the diagram below, I’ve created domain areas that were useful ways for me to envision my network map.  The little squares in the yellow boxes (visible on the last map in this post) are notes that further suggest how you can interpret those domain areas.

The first three personality types described in the blue boxes (Mavens equating to Geniuses; Connectors to Thought Leaders; and Integrators to Salespeople) are drawn from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. The Doer personality type is added because without someone that can take great ideas and actually do something with those ideas, your good ideas will never get off the ground.

The purpose of posing the questions (blue boxes) is that the questions will help me review my current and future network contacts so I can make sense of my network. I’ll be able to make better decisions about adding and deleting contacts in my map. I think that old saw about seeing the forest for the trees applies here.

As I worked on the map, I was constantly reminded that the map is not the territory. For me, this meant that the richest discoveries where to be found in my examination of the map and seeing connections, possibilities, gaps, overlaps etc.  

Harold’s blog provides background resources that I used to develop my personal network map.  Those posts are called “Building Your Talent Triangle” and The Work of Many.

This is the dynamic online map I made with Mindmeister. It’s an online mind mapping and collaboration mapping tool that is easy to use. You can also invite teammates or others to add to your map. I like the online map because you can easily add contacts to your network, enter website URL’s, notes etc. For example in the Brand You Networks I added this note to explain what Brand You meant to me. “Contacts that inform and strengthen your PKM practices, in particular your ability to communicate with clarity your added value that you bring to your services”.

Click on the Maximize Map to work see how it works and also see the notes and web addresses.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Now I have a template (structure) to filter, refine, discern, imagine and nurture my personal network map. I’ll use my map to filter my contacts and place them in appropriate domains. Most importantly I’ll ponder my map and see if I can discover new ways to grow and guide my professional development and learning.

Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

Connected Knowledge Lab – improving my practice

June 16th, 2013

A New Direction:

For the past few years I’ve being working with organizations and individuals who seek assistance integrating social technologies into their work. As I do, so I learn and as a lifelong learner, I’ve being soaking up the insights of many people who share my interest in the changing landscape of work and learning.

Lately, I’ve being feeling a strong urge to focus my learning and practice in an area that I believe is crucial to succeed in the 21st Century landscape. My favourite thought leaders on the workplace change spectrum are Harold Jarche and Jane Hart (colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance). There are many others people who I’m learning from however Harold and Jane are two people I particularly resonate with as online mentors.

A framework I find most useful in my learning is called personal knowledge management (PKM) developed by Harold Jarche . Harold and Jane Hart have created the Connected Worker – New Skills for the Connected Workplace web platform where they offer a range of services.  I’ve joined a new platform they recently developed called the Connected Knowledge Lab .

I believe that the PKM and framework and the Connected Knowledge Lab will be a foundation that will help me broaden my connections, improve my network learning practices and enable me to deliver better results in my work with practitioners and organizations. My goal in joining the Connected Knowledge Lab is to sharpen and expand my own connected worker skills. I’ll also apply my PKM and Connected Worker skills (with full attribution to those who are publishing so well in this area) in my workshops, coaching and consulting services.

I see little evidence of organizations in the non profit sector adopting the skill sets that Jane and Harold are so aptly promoting. Needless to say, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in this area. I’m very glad that the Connected Knowledge Lab has organized these learning opportunities for the public.


Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning , , ,

Workplace Transformation

June 14th, 2013
Harold Jarche

Harold Jarche - Perpetual Beta

My Snapshot of the Changing Workplace:

The workplace is changing as consumers increasingly use social tech tools to learn, choose, create, decide and search for solutions or answers. I think it fair to say that social tech communication tools are empowering people more than any other period in history. An empowered consumer or service recipient in a non-profit organization expects and often times demand more from service providers. Responding to a more liberated and informed consumer, organizations are catching up to this permanent change in the marketplace. Part of this digital evolution involves the adoption of a new mindset and aligning the corporate values and operating principles with their new mindset.

Organizations are re-framing their strategic vision and putting supportive policies and guidelines in place that empowers staff to connect, share and innovate inside and outside the organization. These proactive organizations recognize that sustaining trust relationships in and outside the organizations plus a commitment to continuous learning and sharing is their greatest asset.

7 Examples of Workplace Transformation:

  • The typical hierarchical work structure is looking more and more de-centralized. It looks more like a flattened pattern or network rather than a pyramid.  The wirearchy model developed by John Husband best describes the changes occurring in business structures;
  • Knowledge workers, empowered by a management structure that supports network learning, sharing and innovating in the workplace are getting things done more effectively by working smarter and more collaboratively with social tech tools. Knowledge workers are using social tech tools to “power” their communications but their skills are not dependent on those social tech tools;
  • Knowledge workers are increasing their participation in communities of practice and learning new skills from these informal conversations. These new skills (also methods, innovations, products etc.) are in turn bringing added value and improved results for the company they work for while making themselves more sought after employees;
  • Social tech tools are now being integrated more logically into the fabric of the organization. Furthermore, social tech tools are integrated to meet specific business goals and long term strategy rather than just to keep up with the competition by creating a Facebook page etc.
  • Social tech tools are enabling sharing, learning and innovating in the workplace while strengthening relationships in and outside the organization;
  • Organizations are becoming more exposed – for better or worse as a side affect of these social tech communication tools. Knowing this, many organizations, realizing that Internet technologies are a permanent part of their business, are loosening their attachment to a control mindset.
  • As the organization learns to listen and hear their constituents via online social technologies, authentic and trusting relationships are formed increasing the organizations value as new practices and products are developed as a result of that dialogue.

If you are interested in contacting me to talk about your changing workplace and possibly implementing changes in how staff or the organization shares, collaborates and learns together, please give me a call.

Image – Harold Jarche PKM


Collaboration in the Workplace, PKM, social learning

Working & Learning With My Nexus 10 Tablet

April 3rd, 2013

My new Nexus 10 Google tablet is a blast. I’m learning how to use the apps from the Google Play Store and of course getting to use the touch screen keyboard. What I like most about my tablet is the lightness of it. My laptop is so heavy and lugging it around to business meetings was getting tiring. The Nexus 10 gives me just what I want, a more pleasant alternative to my smartphone for emailing, browsing the Internet and of course searching for information. I’m not giving up my laptop but I can envision a time when I’ll need it less and less.

Since I felt that I’d be using my tablet for mostly business I bought a Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech built to complement the Nexus 10. What I pleasantly discovered is that my new tablet is giving me a more fun and enjoyable experience online than I expected. I figured my tablet would just add to my options as I work on projects but with all the apps at my finger tips I’m having fun learning and connecting with others in ways that I never expected.

The Nexus 10 tablet has put the IPad on notice that it intends to be a significant player in the tablet market. The Nexus is priced $100 lower than the 16 GB IPad and claims a higher screen resolution. I am super impressed with the crisp, rich and detailed images and how HD videos look on screen.

You can find plenty of sites that go into the specs of the Nexus 10 and comparisons with the IPad. I like this one from techcrunch which focuses on a feature that allows multiple accounts to be set up, so mom, gramma or kid sister can use your tablet – NOT :-)


Collaboration in the Workplace

Making Your Learning Public

June 6th, 2012

I’m inspired by a David Weinberg video where he speaks about the importance of narrating your work and sharing what you are learning. David is participating in the Adidas blog carnival on a new way of working and learning.

He says that by narrating your work you solidify or make sense out of what you are doing and when you share what you are learning with others, you add to the strength of the environment. Harold Jarche writes extensively about the importance of network learning. You can read many articles on this subject at Harold’s website.

As a consultant working primarily in the non profit and public sectors, I am interested in helping individuals and organizations be better at what they do through web based collaboration and networking tools. I’m also focused on deepening my understanding of our changing workscape and continuously improving my skills and abilities.

Writing on my blog is a way for me to make real and solidify what I’m learning. I also feel a sense of accomplishment after sharing my viewpoint or perspective. It’s more a case of making tangible what I’m thinking about than seeking to win readers approval or followers. Harold Jarche call his blog writing his “outboard brain”. I think I’m in that camp as well.

In the spirit of narrating what you are learning, here are a few snapshots of what I’m learning in my work with Boards, coalitions, committees etc. and non profit organizations.

Work with Boards of Directors, Coalitions and Committees:

In general, I find introducing and using social media tools to improve sharing, innovation and collaboration on projects a slow and difficult process. For these  groups I am finding that there is more openness to use social media as their work revolves so much around collaboration on projects. The fact that members of these groups only meet occasionally makes it more appealing to adapt collaboration and networking tools as a practical way to achieve outcomes.

Working with non profit organizations, business & public sector institutions:

There are so many challenges to integrating social media thinking and practices within non profit groups and businesses. The larger public sector institutions seem more open to adopting and integrating social tools to reach their audience. Perhaps using social media is just understood (and proven) to be a more cost efficient way to connect with their user groups and provide services. No doubt, user groups are increasingly expecting online services from their public sector institutions.

Non profit organizations (like the small business sector) have constant money challenges and are usually overwhelmed by service demands. I find that non profits have difficulty understanding that using collaboration and network learning tools improves individual and workplace performance.

The usual culprits that add to the slow adoption rate for non profits and businesses are: perceived loss of control by senior staff & Boards of Directors, resistance to co-learning, sharing and risk taking in the workplace and refusing to recognize that there is no normal anymore (thanks to Harold Jarche for that line which now is firmly planted in his blog header).

I added a slideshare created by Harold Jarche that does a nice job of describing what he calls work and learning in the network era. These visual calling cards bring together so many aspects of our 21st century work and learning environment.

Collaboration in the Workplace

How Blogging and the Internet Has Given me Freedom

May 2nd, 2012

Hugh MacLeod from his Gapingvoid blog asked his readers to tell their story about how blogging or the Internet has given them freedom. His request is tied into the launch of his new book “Freedom Is Blogging in Your Underwear“.

As a huge fan of Hugh’s gapingvoid cartoons or social objects as he calls them, I’m pleased to respond with my story.

First off, a bit of context. I’m a life time community/youth worker who four years ago, switched to a career as a free lance social media consultant.

I’ve worked with many organizations over my 25 plus years and looking back I see that I was always attracted to developing and working on projects that were experimental and dare I say cutting edge. Along came the Internet and deep in my gut I knew these new forms of communications were as cutting edge as I’d ever experience.

In the late 1990’s, hardly knowing how to use a keyboard, I took the plunge into the computer driven world. I soon experienced my first inkling of autonomy and an appreciation for a new found ability to design programs and control my own professional/personal learning needs via the Internet.

Fast forward a few years and I’m increasingly using the latest social media tools such as blogging, video and podcasting as a strategy to empower youth by giving them a sense of pride and accomplishment as they created and published their stories. I was also blogging regularly on matters related to community/youth work and on breaking news in the world of social media.

My last JOB was with Street Kids International and again I was using blogging, video and social media tools to support the outcomes of my capacity building program. Specifically, I was disseminating the learning from a community of practice initiative that had practitioners from many sectors innovating around new skills and networks that can better address youth poverty.

As my role with Street Kids ended, I connected with Jason Mogus from the Communicopia and Web of Change organization that sponsored the first Social Tech Training Conference in Toronto (SST 2008).

It was at this conference that I decided on a new career path as a free lance social media consultant, helping groups in the burgeoning field of social tech integration or development of web 2.0 strategies to better serve their constituents.

Since that major turning point, I’ve never regretted my choice to work free lancer in the social media sector. It’s not being easy by any means as I discovered that paying work was at times, hard to find.

I also realized how difficult it is for leaders to adopt new strategies that open up their organizations and empower staff to share, connect and learn together.

Despite those challenges, I am continually learning, developing new skills and discovering new qualities of my personality. I deeply and intuitively know that I am on  the right journey.

We truly live in exciting times. I’m feeling very fortunate to be an active participant online, sharing my work via my blog and connecting with so many fellow travelers who are expanding their learning through the Internet.

Freedom is as freedom does – thanks for the challenge Hugh.



Collaboration in the Workplace

Collaboration & Social Media Services in the Workplace – My 30 Second Elevator Pitch

April 19th, 2012

I’m a great believer in the axiom that says “if your Grammy doesn’t understand your explanation of what you do for a living, go back to the drawing board”. To that end, I’ve being working on simplifying how I communicate my business purpose.

I began by reflecting on the services I’ve being offering since starting my business about four years ago. The services I provide  to organizations are fairly diverse but two broad categories took shape. They are services that promote collaboration using social media tools in the workplace and using multimedia (mostly video) for communicating to stakeholders.

To get at typical challenges faced by organizations that I work with, I created a list of three “pain points”. These pain points are what keep senior managers worried about the success of their business.

To help my in my task, I went to Jane Hart, Jay Cross and Harold Jarche from the Internet Time Alliance. These folks are key people in my learning network and I follow their writings daily. Harold writes a lot about Personal Knowledge Networks and Jay Cross writes extensively on “working smarter” (see Working Smarter Fieldbook).

Recently, Jane Hart wrote a post titled “A New Framework for Supporting Learning and Performance in the Workplace“. It was this post that started me thinking differently about how I was communicating my work to colleagues and clients (& Grammy).

I encourage you to visit Jane’s Social Learning Centre site for an indepth read of what she calls her Workplace Development Services Framework.

After delving into Jane’s posts and others from the Internet Time Alliance, I started writing my new 30 second elevator pitch. This is a concise speech you can give anyone that succinctly expresses what you do and invites further discussion about your work.

This image by Oscar Berg in a post he called the Collaboration Pyramid (via Harold Jarche – You Simply Can’t Train People to be Social) helped me recognize the role of collaboration supported by social media tools as the core message in my 30 second elevator pitch.

30 Second Elevator Pitch

My name is Brent MacKinnon, owner of Social Media Tools for Work & Learning.

Organizations hire me to help them strengthen their services by improving how staff connect, share, learn and collaborate using social media tools in the workplace.

Typically, I help businesses & organizations, face new challenges such as:

  • Keeping pace with emerging social media tools that extends the organizations ability to communicate with consumers and build trust with stakeholders.
  • Developing and implementing new strategies and procedures that improve performance outcomes through collaboration and innovation in the workplace;
  • Attracting and retaining competent and self-motivated staff who depend on a supportive learning workplace that fosters innovative practices for business and professional success.

I’ve served as Executive Director for many varied non-profit organizations for many years and continue to provide leadership on local Boards of Directors.

For complex projects, I draw upon a pool of specialists from diverse sectors.

Organizations choose me because I have both the hands on management and social media skills for developing collaborative practices within teams, projects and across departments.

To learn more about what I can offer your business or non-profit organization, give me a call and I’ll be happy to chat with you further.

I owe a big thank you to Tim Rooney from Rooney, Earl and Partners who taught me all I know about pain points and 30 second elevator pitches.  Any business or non profit organization looking to increase their sales and communication skills of their staff will do well to connect with Tim.

If you have suggestions on my elevator pitch, I’d love to hear from you.

Collaboration in the Workplace , ,