Reflecting back: on work connections and the magic of memories

A couple of weeks ago I had my last day at Transport for NSW, a large State Government agency that I had been working within for over 9.5 years. This was a milestone for many reasons: not only was it the first government organisation I’d worked in, it was the first time I’d worked within an organisation’s in-house Learning & Development team (my previous L&D experience had been on the ‘supplier’ side); and it was the first time I’d stayed in an organisation for that length of time.

When making the decision to leave an organisation that you’ve had a long tenure in, you are thinking forwards for a long time in the lead-up to actually leaving: when, how, and why you will leave; whether you should actually stay; and what you will do afterwards. But then, when you actually do it, you do a great deal of looking back on the experience: reflecting on all that you learnt; the things you could or would have done better; the things that you will take with you, and the things you will leave behind.

One of the things that did surprise me about the ‘leaving’ experience though, were the people who responded to my LinkedIn post about the milestone: some of these were people I had worked with, (or had conversations about working with) up to 10, and even 15 years earlier; from a past life that I had rarely thought about consciously in recent years. But what was interesting, was that when I went to respond to their comment, the memory of that person, the work we’d done together; and in particular, the interactions and conversations we’d had (the circumstances, even where we’d had them; what it had felt like) – came flooding back, easily, and clearly. And, it was lovely to revisit, recapture, and hold the memories of those moments in my mind’s eye again for a little while. Moments that I thought had been and passed, never to return again.

What I realised from this, was that what you remember from work – the things that stay with you – the most salient memories, are not the quantifiable achievements (the things one might put on the resume, or talk about in a job interview); but the conversations; the interactions that sparked a lightbulb moment, or paradigm shift in your thinking, or that planted the seed that slow-burned into a life changing decision years later; the comradery formed from working together to solve difficult challenges; the giving up of personal time to stay back together to meet a crazy deadline; the acts of unexpected kindness form workmates or managers when fragments of your personal life come crashing unexpectedly into your work sphere and need to be dealt with – not after you finish this work thing, but Now; the tens of hundreds of compromises that you make with, and for, others in the pursuit of work goals, and that others make for you….the feelings that you felt in those moments, and the trust that you build in those relationships as a result; that enable these relationships to live on (even as loose ties) well beyond the time you work together.

These, the moments that you seemingly forget about or tuck away deep in your subconscious or unconscious mind after they happen, when you both move on to the next interaction, task, project, team, or job – these matter, because they form the building blocks of trust and respect, which are so critical to productive and constructive working relationships. What surprised me was that memories associated with those moments remained so salient (at least for me), after so many years, and in some cases, despite little to no contact with the person in those intervening years. And although I’m sure it’s not experienced in the same way, and/or to the same degrees; that this must also be felt in some way for the other person too. But perhaps best of all, this ephemeral ‘thing’, bond – whatever it is, whatever you might call it – can be reignited; re-experienced; re-imagined by some spark of memory of the connection. It reminded me of how some plant’s seeds lay dormant, and only germinate when exposed to fire. Seemingly magical (because our rational minds don’t fully understand it…), but undoubtedly life affirmingly, soul enrichingly, universally important, and just…good. Something to be appreciated, held onto, and wondered about, if even for a few moments.

Banksia cone
A Banksia marginata cone opens to release seed after the plant is burnt by wildfireTindo2 – Tim Rudman

Moments of need + employee journey mapping for learning technology evaluation

This is the third and final (and very belated) post in a series on how I used employee journey mapping to assess the current landscape of a learning & performance problem….

This post is inspired by Michelle Ocker’s work on using Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson’s ‘Five Moments of Need’ to map and evaluate a range of learning technologies.

The ‘Five Moments of Need’ are:

  1. New: Learning something for the first time
  2. More: Expanding knowledge of what has been learned.
  3. Apply: Acting upon what has been learned. This can include planning, remembering, or adapting.
  4. Solve: Using knowledge to solve a problem in a situation when something didn’t work out as expected.
  5. Change: Needing to learn a new way of doing something. This requires giving up practices that are comfortable for practices that are new and unknown.

Mosher and Gottfredson, via Michelle Ocker’s post.

I decided to experiment with this idea by overlaying the ‘moments of need’ on the employee experience map I had developed. I then mapped the current and potential learning & performance support technologies and resources available to bus drivers to each ‘moment of need’, within the first 12 months of the new employee journey.

This is the result:

Map of existing and potential learning technologies and resources to support new bus driver trainee performance across their employee journey based on ‘moment of need’ (New, More, Apply, Solve).

Note that I only have the first four ‘moments of need’ in Mosher and Gottfredson’s model mapped against this employee journey map:

  1. New – learning for the first time. Here, resources like videos, simulations, talking or hearing from new and experienced drivers can help trainees prepare for the experience of driving, prior to getting into the cab.
  2. More – expanding knowledge of what has been learned – e.g. off-job support resources like driving VR / simulations, route-learning tools, reflective learning journals, combined with on-job coaching, plus actual on-road practical driving experience as they drive for the first time, both accompanied and on their own, helps support the consolidation of knowledge gained from initial practical driving experience; and helps to improve on-road confidence and driving performance.
  3. Apply – acting on what has been learned. This would be largely on-road, in-context, embedded performance supports and tools – e.g. GPS navigation tools, in-cabin displays, on-street route markers, as new drivers start creating mental models of their routes to memory, there will be decreasing need for off-job route learning resources and tools; in-context support tools which can serve as mnemonic triggers, reminders or flags during driving will likely be more valuable.
  4. Solve – using knowledge (or tools) to solve problems when things go wrong, or the unexpected occurs – this is a daily occurrence driving on Sydney’s busy city roads (e.g. due to roadwork, diversions, accidents, emergencies, traffic delays…); and the support to help drivers solve problems in these situations are primarily other people in the transport network who they can radio for help, advice, or direction.

The reason I didn’t map the 5th ‘moment of need’ – “Change” (needing to learn a new way of doing something, or adjusting existing practices), within the initial 12 months of the employee journey, is because I expect it will primarily come into play beyond the first 12 months of the new employee journey; as drivers transition from ‘new trainee’ and undertake increasing formal ongoing assessments of competency; get transferred to other depots (and thus need to learn new routes); and/or may need to adapt to new policy, procedural, or regulatory changes that impact operations.

What I found useful

There were many aspects this exercise I found useful, and would recommend it for the following reasons:

  • Using the ‘moments of need’ as a framework for identifying the types of tools, technology, and support resources most appropriate for supporting those needs forces you to consider how those tools would be used in context, by the employee. This gets you thinking about tools, technologies, and resources in a very human/people-centred way; rather than simply as a bright, shiny object that must and will be useful in its own right (simply because it IS a bright shiny new tool or technology – a trap that is easy to fall into; and that stakeholders or sponsors are often pushing you towards).
  • Overlaying these ‘moments of need’, and the associated tools / tech / resources against an employee or customer journey map provides a useful temporal association – not only can you see what the tools will support employees to do; but at what point in their journey different tools may play significant roles in easing pain points in the employee journey. This can then facilitate practical execution of the support strategy – e.g. staggering the creation of product roadmaps for the design & development of support tools, tech and resources.

References & additional resources

Five Moments of Need and Learning Technologies, Michelle Ockers

Are You Meeting All Five Moments of Learning Need?, Conrad Gottfredson, Bob Mosher

Conrad Gottfredson on Meeting Moments of Learning Need, Pamela Hogle (Learning Solutions Magazine)

Employee experience map - post image

Using employee experience journey mapping to identify and target learning and performance issues – part 2 (how)

This is the second part of a post on using customer journey mapping as an analysis and problem identification tool to help pinpoint the range of organisational factors that impact an employee experience – and by doing so, enable us to design more precisely targeted interventions to improve it. Part 1 provided an overview of customer journey mapping, and background and context to the problem I was trying to address with it.  Read Part 1.

This second post describes how I used the journey mapping technique to map the employee experience, how it enabled more effective framing and problem analysis, and the outcomes and learning from that.

The process: what I did and how

1: Journey mapping research

Although I had a pretty good idea of what a customer journey map was and what it was used for, I’d never done it before and needed to research (at speed) how to undertake the process. These were the starting resources I found really useful to easily and quickly get my head around ‘how’ to map experiences:

  1. Use Customer Journey Maps to Uncover Innovation Opportunities, IDEOU – great post that describes the purpose and process of creating a customer journey map in a really simple and accessible way.  Highly recommend reading this first.

  2. Employee Experience Journey Mapping workshop slides, Designing CX – really good slideshare that provides a much more detailed breakdown of (a more complex, layered) journey mapping process – with specific examples from the employee HR / L&D space. Really good to get your head around the possibilities and potential of journey mapping to improve employee experience and get a break down of the steps to undertake a more detailed holistic mapping process.

  3. Journey Mapping ToolkitHeart of the Customer – the toolkit I mentioned in Part 1 post. Well worth downloading (it’s only 9 pages) – Heart of the Customer are specialists in the CX (customer experience) mapping space, and explain succinctly and clearly the nuances and bigger picture strategy behind customer journey mapping: purpose, steps, and how journey maps can be used to help drive change. I also found this toolkit useful for providing visual layout possibilities (two really good examples shown). One valuable takeaway for me was that there is no ‘standard’ design for a customer journey map. Whilst there tend to be a few common features of journey maps – persona details, phases / touchpoints, emotional state – how you lay it out depends on your purpose —–> so, be clear on what you’re trying to achieve before you undertake the mapping process.
  4. Customer Journey Maps – the Top 10 Requirements (Revisited), Heart of the Customer – really valuable additional practical tips for creating a journey map (although I broke the ‘don’t use Powerpoint’ one…!). Also found this post useful for additional examples of map layouts.

2: Qualitative data gathering: “interviews” (or if pressed for time like I was – targeted, informal conversations)

A journey map is, in essence, a visual, narrative representation of a whole load of qualitative and quantitative data about a particular employee experience. I knew from initial conversations that trainee drivers were the primary audience experiencing the issue, so I delved deeper into this trainee experience by having conversations with Bus Operator Trainers (workplace trainers who undertake the formal training and assessment components of the driver training, have contact with trainees on the job, and still drive some shifts to maintain their own on-job competency).


I ‘storyboarded’ the initial experience map in Word based on initial conversations, then filled in gaps, & added details from subsequent follow-up conversations.

Normally, you would gather as much of this qualitative data  as possible – mostly from interviews with the actual target audience group – to create the experience map. Interviewing employees from the target group enables you to:

  • gain insight and empathy into their experience (which is the focal point of the map), and
  • identify particular ‘personas’ (i.e. subsets of employees with similar goals, skills, behaviour patterns, attitudes or experiences). You would then map a journey for each key persona identified. Interviewing other stakeholders and people involved throughout the employee experience is also important for building an accurate and holistic picture of the experience.

I only had about a day to gather and collate data. I didn’t have the time to speak directly with extensive groups of trainee drivers so created an initial view of the employee experience based on the conversations I’d already had with trainers, a bus operator, former operators, managers and other stakeholders.

After ‘storyboarding’ the content from these conversations (i.e. transcribing / summarising / theming / extracting key quotes) , and looking at some customer journey map examples, I had a clear idea what I wanted to my map to show:

  1. the employee’s emotional experience (highs and lows) throughout their first 12 months, then 12-24 months, mapped against the key milestones in the traineeship program (a.k.a ‘touchpoints’ in journey mapping lingo)
  2. the organisational issues contributing to these experiences, the people involved,  and subsequent business impacts (primarily emerging from the low points of the employee experience)
  3. potential opportunities for improving the experience and business outcomes – identifying where each of the current initiatives, proposed and potential/possible solutions might fit within the employee journey to resolve a current pain point in their experience.

3. Quantitative data gathering: HR and business data

As I didn’t have enough qualitative data to identify discrete personas, I used generic HR demographic data of trainees (average age, gender, ethnicity etc) to create a kind of generic, ‘everyman’ persona*. I also noted and gathered any HR data that would be useful as business impact indicators relevant to the driver training experience (e.g. exit rates, absenteesim, sick leave rates over the time period covered), and collated any quantitative data from reports, previous audits, focus groups and surveys that was relevant for building a more complete picture of the employee experience.

* This is a bit of a ‘hack’ of a standard customer experience mapping process, but it enabled me to at least produce an initial  ‘MVP’ (Minimum Viable Product) view of the problem in the limited time I had. This was sufficient for my immediate needs and could also be used as a starting point for further validation and persona creation.

4. Designing the experience map

4a: Sketching a layout

Once I had a clear idea of what I wanted to show, I sketched a basic layout.


I sketched a basic layout which combined features from two journey map samples from the Journey Mapping Toolkit

4b: Deciding what tool to use

I used PowerPoint. Although there are journey mapping tools available (including free ones), which I did briefly review and consider, I didn’t have the time to learn a new tool (less than 1 day to produce the map). I also wanted to be able to easily share / email / print the output, and for others to be able to edit in future if needed. I already knew PowerPoint could do all of these things. So I started by looking for an existing PPT template. I found these links:

  • How to make your first customer journey map (Quick Guide), EnvatoTuts+ – useful overview on customer journey mapping, plus links to some templates (most of which didn’t suit my purposes)
  • Customer journey map template, Clarabridge – This was a print based PDF (not digital) which I only realised after downloading – might be useful if mapping in a group, during the data collection phase, or as a tool to help you to think through what data you might need.
  • Journey Mapping Template, KB & Co – the closest to what I had in mind…but I ended up not using this specific template as I wanted to include more than just simple emoticons to represent the emotional state, and additional info on issues and business impacts which this template didn’t have.

Given that none of these were exactly what I needed I decided it would be quicker and easier to create my own from scratch rather than attempting to adapt one of these templates.

The annotated employee experience map below describes and explains each part of the map I developed, the data it shows and its purpose.


Annotated employee experience map

Outcomes & learning

My original intent was to use this technique as an analysis and problem identification tool – to better see and understand the complexities of the problem we were dealing with, identify the impacts (on employee engagement and business), and map out the current state (what do we already have? what are the issues with the current solutions? where are the gaps and opportunities?).

I was in a situation where I already knew some of these details, but needed to get a range of stakeholders (including internal executives and an external vendor) across it accurately, succinctly and very quickly in order to appropriately position a new project.

I also took it as an opportunity to personally learn, apply and experiment with a technique commonly used in the consumer (marketing, product and UX design) space to the internal corporate HR/OD/L&D space.

So – how effective was employee experience mapping in helping me to achieve these goals? And would I use it again? Very, and absolutely. Some of the things that surprised me were:

  • just how effective it was in communicating – instantly – a range of complexities and nuances in the problem state, and the impacts on both employees and the business. The visual narrative was a far more effective and powerful overview – particularly for executive stakeholders – than even a highly summarised and succinct text-based analysis report (which, incidentally, I also did).  I find increasingly, that leaders – especially exec – simply don’t have the time to read, digest, or interpret information. This format provides a visual, one-pager enabling an ‘at-a-glance’ holistic understanding of the problem.
  • how powerful adding ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ elements, written up as first person quotes, can be for communicating pain points and employee engagement impacts in a relatable and authentic way – especially when combined with a persona (even if it is an aggregated one).
  • how much data you can pack into a single (A3) page – without it seeming overwhelming. Experience maps are commonly dense with data from a range of sources but don’t ever really feel difficult to digest or understand. Again – I think format of making the emotional experience the primary vehicle for telling the narrative makes an enormous impact (without really taking up that much space). Using simple visual information design techniques like colour and icons can also help communicate this emotional experience more succinctly. The time based (temporal) aspect of the layout also contributes a lot – it enables you to easily pinpoint exactly where and when the biggest issues and opportunities are – so everyone can see much more precisely what we should be targeting or prioritising, at what point of the program or experience. And by lining up business impact data with the peaks and troughs of the employee experience – you can clearly and visually show the relationship between people engagement and bottom line stats.

I also saw and learnt the value and importance of close collaboration with HR when looking holistically at the employee experience – not only because recruitment and pre-employment phases transition directly into onboarding and induction and can have a big impact on employee attitude and experience, but also for the insight HR data and analytics provides on the employees we’re supporting and designing for, and in quantifying the business impacts associated with the high and low points of the employee experience. I was fortunate at the time to be working as an OD Business Partner in a team of HR Business Partners embedded within the business – and can certainly see the positive impact that an integrated, holistic HR/OD/L&D approach could have on employee experience, particularly for recruitment, onboarding and retention.

Employee experience maps as enablers for empathy, action, influence and stakeholder engagement

Ultimately – I think the power of experience maps lies in their ability to show relationships between disparate sources of data in a compact and visual way, and enables a way to humanise data by transforming it into an empathetic and relatable story. It is this human aspect of data – the meaning behind the numbers, rather than the numbers themselves – that can be a much more effective trigger for action. Employee experience maps therefore – can also act as an effective tool for influencing up and stakeholder engagement, in addition to better problem analysis and identification.

…and more…

Yes – there’s more to this story, but as this post is now getting into too long territory I’m going to save that for a third installment – which will cover how the employee experience map can be used as a foundation for solution evaluation – to more effectively evaluate and identify which solutions best meet employee needs at the various touchpoints or phases of their journey.

This third part was inspired by Michelle Ocker’s post on using Bob Mosher and Contrad Gottfredson’s ‘five moments of need’ to evaluate learning technologies – which I happened to read around the same time as I engaged in this employee mapping exercise. I thought it was absolutely genius, and could instantly see the value and application of that approach to what I was undertaking in this project. So… the next post I’ll describe how I integrated the ‘five moments of need’ into the employee experience map in order to evaluate which solutions best meet employee needs at various phases of the experience.





Using employee experience journey mapping to identify and target learning and performance issues – part 1 (what & why)

This is the first in a couple of posts that charts my experience using the concept of customer journey maps to map an employee experience….in order to identify all of the organisational factors impacting that experience, and more effectively identify and target learning and performance issues that have the biggest impact on improving it.

This post provides some context on what experience or journey maps are, why you would use them, and some background on the problem I was trying to address with my employee experience map.

What are customer journey maps?

Customer journey maps are essentially a visual narrative of a customer’s (or employee’s) experience, as they move through the various phases or touchpoints of that experience – not just what they’re doing, but also who or what they’re interacting with, how they’re interacting, what they’re thinking and feeling during each interaction.

It is a ‘design thinking’ tool that enables you to more deeply understand and empathise with the customer or employee. They look something like this:

Sample customer journey map from Heart of the Customer - example2

customer journey map from

Sample customer journey map from Heart of the Customer - example 1

customer journey map from

sample journey map from DesigningCX

example journey map from

Why use customer journey mapping in organisational learning and development?

I think Designing CX expressed it well in their awesome slideshare on employee experience mapping:

Attitudes drive Behaviours deliver Results - experiences influence Attitudes

In short: because we’re in the business of behaviour change. We know there is a relationship between attitudes and behaviour (the exact direction of which is contestable..but that’s a conversation for another day). Behaviours shape experiences which in turn impact attitudes ….which impact behaviours. It’s a feedback loop. And all of this impacts results (i.e. through individual performance -> which leads to business outcomes).

What can an employee experience map tell us that a training needs analysis can’t?

By looking holistically at the experience, you are able to identify all of the organisational factors (process, environment, people, timing, organisational design…in addition to any training need or issue with learning resources) that impact the employee experience. This enables you and the organisation to focus on fixing the things that truly have the biggest impact on improving the experience – rather than assuming that it’s the training that needs attention. Or, if there are aspects of training or learning resources that are impacting the experience – to identify specifically what these problems are – in order to find the most appropriate solution.

Here are some insights on what can be uncovered from Trish Uhl , who created similar employee intimacy maps to chart the new employee experience when overhauling an onboarding program:

@trishuhl twitter thread employee maps

Snippets of a twitter conversation with @trishuhl on employee experience mapping

My journey with employee experience mapping

I first heard about the idea of using customer journey mapping to design better employee experiences about a year ago via LinkedIn, through this HBR article and, around the same time, this customer journey mapping toolkit – shared in the LinkedIn Design Thinking Group. I filed it away as something interesting to explore…and recently had a good opportunity to experiment and apply the mapping concept in the Analysis / Discovery phase of a project to better support our bus drivers in learning new bus routes.

Context & background

The organisation knew route familiarisation was an existing problem, and an increasing one with ongoing network changes and introduction of new routes. Lots of ideas had previously been discussed, there were already a number of business initiatives in play to address it, as well as a proposal to explore the use of 360 video (via VR, web, and/or mobile). I’d had some initial conversations with people from various areas of the business to understand the current state.

Why I decided to map the employee experience

It felt like everyone agreed there was a problem, there were a lot of ideas and solutions proposed, but not a great deal of clarity what each solution was really trying to fix.

Objectives I wanted to achieve by mapping the current employee experience were:

  • to better understand what the challenges and pain points for employees were, and when and where the biggest issues were occurring -> this would enable us to more precisely define the problem we were dealing with, and pinpoint where we could make the biggest impact with learning, performance or organisational support
  • to start to identify what types of solutions or support might be most appropriate at various points of the employee journey -> to enable us to utilise the right resource at the right time. We already have a number of existing resources, initiatives in development, and  a bunch of other proposed ideas to explore as ‘solutions’ to the problem. Rather than take a scatter gun approach of offering a whole load of support resources and hoping for the best, I wanted to encourage a more considered and intentional approach. Through my initial conversations, I knew that each resource had different benefits and constraints for drivers, and rather than being a problem that would be solvable through a single solution, a mix of new and existing resources would still be needed – as the problem to be addressed was both in initial learning / training and easy access to accurate ongoing  (and ideally on-job) performance support.
  • as a way of visually summarising what we currently know to provide more clarity about the problem (from the employees’ view), and to enable all stakeholders to develop a shared understanding and a common view of the issue/s as we move forward with a number of concurrent initiatives to try to resolve it. Incidentally, the motivation for creating the employee map was to provide context to an external supplier we’re working with to explore 360 video / VR possibilities. It is the type of user research they normally would undertake but that was out of scope for the engagement they quoted on.
  • support and extend my own development by experimenting with design thinking techniques in a real world work situation – I’d been exploring design thinking concepts for a while, and have for several years taken a user approach to prototyping and testing but wanted to extend this to the analysis / discovery phase.

In the next post I’ll describe the process I took, including the research, useful resources, how I approached it, and outcomes. Read Part 2.


Organisational knowledge: lessons on retaining knowledge before people leave the team


Knowledge is intangible and fragile.  You are at risk of losing knowledge as people move on.

Michelle Ockers – notes from Jeff Stemke presentation on organisational knowledge

Organisational knowledge, and how to best retain it, has been one of the main work-related things on my mind lately. As I transition out of a specialist (eLearning /digital learning) role into a more generalist one (OD Business Partner),  I’m asking myself daily (multiple times a day):

What’s the best way for me to share and distribute this knowledge and experience to equip others to answer the questions and solve these problems ?

It’s not so much the projects but the ‘BAU’ that is the challenge: the daily questions and problem solving, knowledge, advice and support – which is the way most experienced people add value to the business and other teams. This is the work that experts in the team internalise and don’t often even realise they’re doing, but which often holds the fabric of a team or function together, makes things work more smoothly for those around them and enables them to achieve outcomes efficiently and effectively. It’s the work that relies on tacit knowledge, and historical data to get done – things that people know simply from having been in the environment for a long time, that’s either not or can’t easily be documented. And, that, even if you did take the time to document it, you wonder would people even look at it? For me, it might be the story behind existing or legacy online content, or software licences we might need to maintain, why, and the impact of not doing so, who to contact for getting stuff done (and how to engage them to do it),  workarounds for getting stuff to work, how to maintain things so stuff doesn’t break (an issue particularly when you work with tech): the know who and the know how. This is knowledge (and relationships that carry it) built up over years of experience, that I’m only realising others don’t have, when I stop doing the work, and the questions I’m asked reveals the gap.

Nicely summed up by Jeff Stemke here:

jeff stemke - expert knowledge

Jeff Stemke – what experts know that novices don’t

How I’m solving the knowledge problem

I’m documenting the important stuff (guidelines, tools, templates, legacy project info) and saving it in locations  that make the most sense for the workflow of each task. And inspired by a Jane Bozarth ‘show your work’ webinar I have also been more openly and regularly sharing with the team the problems I’m encountering, and solutions I’m working on, and encouraging them to ask questions in the context of the projects they’re doing.

But: I’m also coming to a realisation that some things simply need to be experienced to be learnt – documentation will only ever go so far – there is no substitute for experience.  So I am also increasingly focusing on handing over, delegating,  guiding, coaching and mentoring others in the team to undertake the work whilst I am still around to answer questions. Sometimes (often?) the best way to pass on knowledge is by helping others to gain the experience.

So I was intrigued when Michelle shared her notes on Jeff Stemke presentation on measuring value and retaining organisational knowledge:

I found it fascinating. And moreover useful: especially the key steps and methods of Jeff’s ‘Knowledge Transfer game plan’ to mitigate the risk of this knowledge loss as a framework I can employ:

Jeff Stemke ‘Knowledge Transfer Game Plan’

…and actively practice knowledge sharing behaviours in my daily workflow. Often this means consciously making a decision NOT to do a task myself, and instead, finding someone else I can teach it to, making introductions to help build relationships (as work only gets done effectively and efficiently through ‘who you know’, especially in large complex organisations).

jeff@stemke knowledge sharing behaviours


The  challenge can also be not having someone to ‘handover’ to: in that interim period between when one person leaves and their replacement arrives, and the rest of the team is already over-capacity, finding opportunities for knowledge sharing can be difficult (as yes – it does take longer to brief and coach someone through a task rather than doing it yourself).

and ways to overcome them

But as the deadline for moving out completely looms, you’ve got to just focus on the critical things – what they need to know so they don’t break stuff inadvertently, and creating performance support tools (guides, tools, checklists) that will provide people with at minimum, a starting point. The rest then, is up to direct experience – the learning by doing that only they can do for themselves.

What you come to accept and realise as well is that organisations are organisms, they’ll keep moving and morphing and adapt to the change. Things may not work quite as smoothly at first…but eventually this will be just a temporary blip on the radar.

Images of Jeff Stemke’s presentation from Michelle Ocker’s (awesome) notes which you can read here.


#oneword 2017

Since seeing the #oneword hastag in my twitter feed on new years day, I’ve been subconsciously wondering what mine might be for 2017. A lot of others I saw resonated in some way with me: #present; #resilient; #balance, #discipline, #focus…these are all directly relevant to me as things I aspire to practice this year…but each on their own didn’t quite fully encapsulated all that I want or need for the year.

But when I was out for a walk last night purposeful came into my head. And this, finally felt right for me.

Why purposeful? 2016 was for me hugely chaotic in almost all aspects of life, for many and varied reasons. Whilst the challenges left me exhausted and burnt out, I also learnt a huge amount – about the importance of asking for and accepting help, and the generosity and care of others, about the type of person I am and how this can lead me to take on too much for too many people, about letting go and just being present. That you can only look after someone else if you take good care of your own health and wellbeing first, and that building resilience is about carving out time to do this very thing. The importance of applying balanced focus to your family, work, self and social, and the benefit of talking (to the right people), questioning, reframing and reflecting on situations to see potential solutions, the helpfulness of adopting a mindset of experimenting – a cycle of ‘trying things out’>reflecting on how well it worked>and adjusting or trying something different if it doesn’t (repeat), and the effectiveness of building behaviour change through small, doable, sustainably repeatable actions (habits). Of having clarity on what needs to change to make things better, and clearly articulating what you need from other people to make this happen. About people leadership – how incredibly challenging it is to do and do well, that it’s something which needs to be worked at consciously and honed constantly, what ‘good’ people leadership might look and feel like, and how important dedicated support and a good mentor is for developing good leadership skills….And how a schedule of constant back to back meetings is the single most unproductive and unsustainable way to work (yet lots of leaders still seem to do it – sometimes because it’s the cultural norm of the work environment…but that’s a whole other conversation).

For me, 2017 is about purposefully keeping these lessons front of mind and applying them, purposefully setting a clear big picture long term goal (“the dream”), purposefully making the short and mid term goals and plans needed to get there, and purposefully using the discipline of daily habits to make it easier for me to get there: to build resilience against challenges, and the focus to stick with it.

I hope 2017 isn’t as chaotic as 2016 was – but merely hoping won’t make it so. However, being Purposeful about it just might.

Digiwrimo storyjumpers 6: What does it mean?

This is part 6 of a story jumping activity for Digital Writing MonthBruno started it, followed by Kevin, Maha, Sarah and Ron Sign up in the Google Doc if you’d like to join in.


Kevin plopped onto his bed, exhausted. What a night. What the hell had happened? How did things get so out of hand? He never knew Sandy had one machine gun, let alone two. And, to take them to the pub with her? And fire them? What was she thinking?! The whole incident really got him wondering whether he knew her at all, and whether they had a future together. And how Sarah got involved in that fight, he wasn’t sure.  At least he’d managed to fix her uke – that was about the only thing that had gone right that night. Meanwhile, that odd woman across the road was watching his house again. It no longer freaked him out, but he did often wonder why she was so interested in the house. Maybe she wanted to buy it.

Kevin took the Bruno note out of his pocket and turned it over in his hands. He hadn’t been able to get it out of his mind since finding it in that old laptop case. He peered at the map again and tried to make out the words…

After a while, things started to get blurry, and all of a sudden the words seemed to dissolve into a garden and he found himself face to face with a spider.

spider door

He looked around, confused. Where was he? And was that a door? What happened to his bed? He had no idea where he was, but he decided to investigate what was behind his door…it occurred to him that perhaps this was all just a strange dream and he would wake up and find himself back home, in his room if he walked through that door.

Instead, he found himself in a whole other world. There was a sign in front of him:


No swimming? Where was the water? Curious, he walked past the sign, towards the large trees, looking for the body of water the sign was  referring to.

But instead of water, there was a clearing. And to his surprise there was a giant chessboard, with a mysterious, small hooded boy considering his next move.


He tried to get the small boy’s attention to ask where the water way, but the boy only seemed to speak French. Kevin  kept walking.

As he walked through a small forest, and past a strange cluster of large rocks, he finally saw a lake.


He could see an amazing glowing island full of flowers in the middle. He somehow knew he had to get there. But the water was murky and he remembered the sign warning of no swimming. He looked around – and saw there was a rowboat behind some bushes. He grabbed it and jumped in, rowing quickly toward the island. He didn’t know why but he had a gut feeling it was important he get there. As he approached, the words Blossom Island kept playing over and over in his head. He knew this was the name of the island. On the island were hundreds of beautiful red and white rose bushes.


After walking through blossom island for a few minutes he came across an arch with beautiful flowers all around it.  Walking through it,, enchanted, he notices in amongst the flowers, lots of yummy looking cookies. Kevin suddenly realises how hungry he is – he’d done so much walking and couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He grabbed a cookie greedily. But just as he was about to bite into it, he paused. Sudden flashbacks of childhood fairy tales played in his mind: Hansel and Gretel, and the candy covered cottage; Alice in Wonderland and the ‘Eat Me’ cake. The flashbacks were surely a warning. Who put these cookies here? What was in them? Why were they here? And…where WAS HE? The sound of his rumbling stomach interrupted his thoughts. In that instant, he threw caution to the wind, and took a huge bite.


To be continued….by Kay….

[Footnote: this story contains images and ideas from my day out today with my 5 year old]

New writing adventure: #digiwrimo

Yes, I’ve written Nothing for a Long Time. Indeed, I haven’t really been online all that much. It’s easy to get out of the habit of engaging and being online – especially when embroiled with other (real life) distractions. But, what better way to get re-motivated to write than with a new collaborative writing adventure: digital writing month #digiwrimo.

Digiwrimo is a month-long adventure and exploration of digital narrative and art. It aims to inspire participants to take risks and play and explore creative forms of digital expression, through digital makes: small, low-risk exercises within the context of a supportive community.

Although it doesn’t officially start until November, I’ve been involved in the lead-up since my  online friend, EdContext collaborator, networker extraordinaire Maha Bali (@Bali_Maha) invited me to participate. Maha is facilitating digiwrimo this year with Sarah Honeychurch (@NomadWarMachine) and Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax), both of whom I know from other online adventures (mainly #rhizo14). Just knowing that these guys are involved is enough motivation to get engaged with the project, as they are some of the most open, curious, creative & inspiring people I know. But they’ve also invited me to contribute as a “guest creator”, which will involve at some point coming up with a post or activity to inspire, provoke and challenge participants to experiment with some form of creative expression.

Additionally exciting, is that two weeks before the official start, it’s already begun to take on a life of it’s own. Starting with Bruno Winck’s (@brunowwinck) awesome first post for #digiwrimo:

A couple of twitter exchanges later, and an off-the-cuff spontaneous collaborative writing adventure sprouted:

There is a lot that excites me about this: that a day ago, Bruno wasn’t even sure about whether he should participate in digiwrimo; a day later not only has he written the first digiwrimo post, but inspired a new collaborative writing activity. This doesn’t surprise me. As the one-man founder-moderator-organiser of the lively weekly #pkmchat, I’m often in awe of Bruno’s seemingly tireless energy and enthusiasm for self improvement and connecting with others.  It’s the same energy and enthusiasm that I see in everyone I know who is great at network and community building . It is this infectious enthusiasm that draws people into communities and networks (like #digiwrimo). It’s certainly what’s inspired me to write my first post in quite a while.

You can join digiwrimo at any time – subscribe here for updates:

Join in the spontaneous collaborative ‘story jumping’ experiment here:


Connected Learning hangout – educators across contexts

Really excited about participating in this Connected Learning Google Hangout…in a couple of hours: educators across contexts. Mostly because it’s a chance to have a live conversation with some amazing educators: Maha Bali, Shyam Sharma, Lenandlar Singh (fellow conspirators / contributors in, Tania Sheko, Asao B. Inoue …and possibly even the one and only Simon Ensor  (which will no doubt add an interesting and exciting twist to the conversation).

But also because anything edcontexts-related makes me think really deeply and in interesting ways about education, learning, teaching – and how this relates to what I do in a work context – and perhaps importantly – as a human being.  To be honest, I’ve always felt a LITTLE out of place in the edcontexts group – everyone else is an educator in a higher ed, teaching, or academic context…and here I am, working in a corporate / organisational context doing eLearning stuff. But what I’ve realised, after being involved in it for a year, is that – this is the point: that we ARE from different contexts, bringing different perspectives of teaching, learning and education into the mix.

What I’ve realised is that we ALL learn and teach, every day, in informal contexts – in our everyday interactions with others, as parents, friends, family members, employees, employers – living with other people necessarily involves teaching and learning. And this is the beauty of the ‘edcontexts’ concept: it’s really just about telling a personal story, sharing a perspective about teaching and/or learning in any context – and it’s the nuance of the context that matters and makes it interesting. We all have a voice, we all have a story (many stories) about this – edcontexts is about sharing those stories so that others can relate and learn – and as with any ‘re-telling’ of a narrative, YOU learn a lot from the process of telling/retelling the story. And one of the things I love about being involved in the project is reviewing posts – the range and variety of articles we get is amazing, and the differences in expression – hearing the different voices through the writing – is fascinating (yes, this is a blog post in itself…which I have been meaning to write for ages…).

We’ll be talking more about what ‘edcontexts’ means in the hangout. Look forward to seeing how the conversation pans out.


Forward Government Learning 2015 – “Future of the LMS in the Public Sector”

On Friday I presented this session at the Forward Government Learning conference, on the topic “The Future of the LMS in the Public Sector”.

It can be difficult to make meaning from slides alone, so here is some of the thinking and context behind these ideas.

Ideas & inspiration

It wasn’t a topic I chose directly (I don’t find LMSs in and of themselves particularly inspiring…and “LMS” and “Public Sector” together in one sentence even less so). However, as I started thinking about what I could possibly say that wouldn’t put people to sleep (especially on a Friday afternoon…), I started seeing some potentially interesting angles.

I wasn’t interested in looking at the capabilities of the LMS as a system from a technical perspective, so much as the drivers for change in how LMSs are viewed and used – and what this means for people. My initial thoughts were influenced by my own observations and experiences in the organisation I work for (Transport for NSW, a large state government agency responsible for the operation of public transport services – rail, buses, roads & maritime). During my (relatively short) time in the public sector, I’ve seen reforms like consolidation of agencies, moves toward shared services, and the increasing prevalence of holistic workplace learning models like 70:20:10 – all of which has an impact what we do in Organisational Development (OD), and the systems that we use (in OD/L&D, primarily the LMS).

Interested in other people’s views, I also put out a call on twitter to (ex)-Government peeps in my PLN (which I’ve Storified here), and collected ideas and examples from others in Transport OD. I am grateful to Con Sotidis and Vanessa North from my PLN who provided their thoughts; and Martin Caldwell and Helen Fullarton at Transport OD who gave me information and examples of portfolios of evidence and competency assessment initiatives they are involved in implementing.

4 key areas

I ended up structuring these ideas into 4 key areas:

  1. Shared services > shared systems – this is essentially a comment on the public sector trend towards consolidation of agencies and centralisation of services (L&D/OD/HR/Payroll/Procurement), and how this is driving the consolidation of systems (like LMSs). I’m interested in how this subsequently impacts people-process-workflow-behaviour…and potentially values – particularly when applied to the L&D/OD space. And additionally, what this might mean if / when this sharing & collaboration happens across different government agencies.
  2. Integrated systems > seamless employee experiences – within organisations (certainly mine) there seems to be a move towards integration of people systems (LMS/HR/Payroll/Performance Management/Devt). (A few government delegates at the conference mentioned the same was happening in their organisations). I’m interested in how this changes (improves) the employee experience – especially experiences like recruitment and induction. Ultimately (once the implementation issues are ironed out…) it should lead to much more seamless employee experiences than is currently the case.
  3. Holistic models and practices for workplace learning > moving beyond the LMS as sole delivery platform – I’m seeing an increasing maturation in thinking and practice in the use of the LMS as a delivery platform – driven  by workplace learning models like 70:20:10 becoming more mainstream. There will always be a place for LMSs in highly regulated industries (like transport, health, finance etc). But most of the interesting stuff – the stuff that actually gets close to supporting people for better on-the-job performance – is happening outside of the LMS (at least perhaps until LMSs catch up and become more flexible and adaptable):
    • There’s a much greater recognition of the limitations of the LMS for supporting the 70 and 20 components (e.g. performance support, coaching, mentoring), and appreciation that often, there is little or no value in tracking these activities in an LMS (particularly if ‘completion’ and ‘score’ is the only data that can be reported on). Subsequently there is increasing use of more dynamic, accessible and flexible platforms like the intranet, sharepoint, portals and mobile apps to support on-the-job, just-in-time workplace learning.
    • Use of portfolios of evidence to collect a broad range of authentic and meaningful artifacts to demonstrate competency in actual task / job performance (vs ‘content completion’ or ‘score’), and also to promote more reflective practice.
    • Greater blending of comms and learning – especially to support broad based organisational change initiatives. In Transport, our internal comms team is actually part of OD. This is leading to a more integrated and aligned messaging, and enabling more ‘campaign’-based approaches to supporting organisational change.
  4. Beyond SCORM and completion tracking > xAPI for more meaningful and integrated data – although xAPI (“tin can”) is still very much in an experimental phase, I don’t think any conversation about the “future of” LMSs can exclude mention of it. Here, I was interested in exploring conceptually how it could be used to ultimately help people to work better and improve performance  – by gathering and using more meaningful data about how people work and learn – and developing tighter feedback loops between the two to inform training interventions (as one potential use for xAPI in the L&D/OD context). *NOTE: a comment from a delegate at the conference mentioned LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) as an alternative to xAPI for achieving similar outcomes. Sounds like something worth looking into.

Whilst there wasn’t quite as much discussion as I’d hoped from the session (last up on a Friday afternoon is not exactly the time to get a conversation going…), keen to hear any thoughts and perhaps start (or continue) a conversation here or elsewhere. Get in touch.