Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Why don't they listen?

Commonwealth Games velodrome - MelbourneImage by PDR via FlickrI had an experience at the weekend which was enjoyable and terrifying at the same time. I went with friends for a trial ride at the Manchester National Velodrome.

It's a fantastic facility, as befits one of the few sports at which the UK excel internationally. The banked track looks impossibly steep from below and the first couple of laps were terrifying. Then I relaxed my death grip on the bars and soon found myself accelerating into the corners and taking the banking higher and higher. Looking down onto riders 10ft (seemingly vertically) below was disconcerting. Being on a fixed track bike means there is no respite. I finished exhausted but buzzing!

Chatting to the coach afterwards, I mentioned that when I relaxed, I found it so much easier and that she should mention this in her pre-ride briefing for novices. She responded with "yes, that's why I always say in the pre-briefing that the most important thing is to relax, but they never listen". I can honestly say that with the anticipation and nerves, I have no recollection of this at all. It just reinforces the point that in knowledge transfer, you need to pick your moment, often need to repeat the message, and in the end sometimes people just need to experience stuff for themselves.

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Friday, 5 November 2010

Local Government online conference

A large crowd attending the final panel of ROF...Yesterday I participated in day 2 of the Local Government Improvement & Development's Local by Social online conference that started on 3rd November and wraps up on 9th.
I was privileged to be asked to facilitate one of the 30 conference themes on the subject 'Leaving but not Lost' - the impact of knowledge loss to the public sector as a result of the cuts.

I was bowled over by the event. This is, apparently, one of the biggest virtual events of its kind, ever. The stats alone after just 2 of the 6 days are impressive. Wembley Conference Centre would have been pleased with 955 people registered for the conference.

  • 455 visitors yesterday alone
  • 6140 page views yesterday
  • 189 individuals posted a contribution

That last figure is the most impressive. As Michael Norton, the driving force behind the conference, says "Most online discussions follow the 1% rule. This states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing. So 19% contributing is a huge amount".

The experience was excellent too. The was a real buzz as discussions were underway. At one point I couldn't keep up with all the postings and great ideas flying in. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but was struck by how much like a real conference it was, but better.
I loved the fact that that I could dip in and out of conference rooms without missing anything. At one point I think I was in three conference rooms simultaneously.

Of course there is also a valuable record of all every idea and contribution posted, for others to see and use at a future time. I'd love to know what the total travel, time and venue savings over a traditional conference were. I'd guess hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The best thing of all - I didn't have to small talk to over a luke-warm cup of urn stewed tea.

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