Today I attended the GovCamp Dialogue as part of the Public Service Innovation Month (#psinnovate15).
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) July 23, 2015
The last time I was employed by a public service organisation was over 24 years ago but I have many friends and ex-colleagues who work for various public service organisations: Commonwealth, State and Local.
Given that the public service is one of the major employers in Australia, I was alerted to this event by Shai Desai @TwiceShai on Twitter (Thanks Shai!) so I decided to go along to get an idea about how other industries are facing disruptive changes in their organisations.
My main reason for attending was that I was:
(a) Curious about how public service organisations worked (what made them ‘tick’)
(b) Looking out for building new networks in that industry
(c) Eager to learn of some new and innovative projects that people were working on that had some community involvement
(d) Sneakily checking out the idea of GovCamp Australia and how they use social tools to help their clients collaborate (I like how they use social and collaboration tools like HackPad to capture notes – it gives me ideas for new tools that can be used in workshops)
I find going to conferences and events OUTSIDE of your own industry a breath of fresh air actually. Truth be told that sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our own industry and field and forget that there’s a whole world out there of people who have completely different ideas, insights and experiences that may help us with our problem, quest or journey.
As an introvert, I have to push myself to go to these things but in the end, I’m always glad that I ended up going. Networking outside of corporate Learning and Development and trying to understand alternative perspectives and challenges industries face gives me the opportunity to question my own beliefs, the way I do things and also rethink new possibilities and ways of doing things. Besides, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and insights. Truth be told, I want to see what other organisations are blazing trails so that I can “have a little bit of what they’re having”. I always think that somehow, somewhere, there’ll always be a nugget of information, a spark of an idea, an ‘a ha’ moment that will help me solve a problem for myself or my client.
I guess I’m actively looking for ways to connect the dots as what goes on in my head most of the time goes something like this….
….My client Person X in this industry needs to speak to Person Y from this conference because they know Person Z who has a connection to this international firm who has done ABC work that can help Person X’s problem….
I’m actually beginning to think like a network.
So what did I learn today?
Well it was lovely to run into a few people I had been talking with this week from an entirely different industry (not-for-profit). We were talking about how to help organisations deliver compliance learning through social learning. These serendipitous occasions now happen too often for me that I don’t question it anymore. It was lovely to spend the day with them at this conference and see the challenges from their perspective.
I think the biggest ‘wow’ for me was one of the activities. We were asked to answer the question, “what triggers innovation in the public service?” and as I’m not of the industry, I stood back and watched. The overwhelming response ‘efficiency and productivity’ demands. In fact, these two words were often quoted during the day. If this was a private corporate sector conference, the words may have been ‘customer service’ and ‘business results’. Regardless, their focus was completely different and yet they were talking about the end customer (industry, government, business, the public). Personally, it made me aware of the drivers in this industry so I can use their language and be mindful of what is important to them when I’m presenting any social learning strategies and solutions.
Someone also showed me how he has used Office Exchange to create different rules to manage his crazy email inbox, subscriptions, notifications and the like. He used Evernote to create different weekday folders and streamed all his activities and tasks for the day automatically into Evernote. A nifty productivity hack if I ever saw one and he did joke that he was asked to ‘create a YouTube video to show others what he did so that they too could save time!’ (I exclaimed, ‘You should!! – work out loud in action!)
Overall a good day and an educational one for me.
One my walk back home from the train station, a middle aged Muslim man was shuffling along ahead of me so I started a conversation with him and enjoyed a leisurely walk. He shared how proud he was of his family and in particular, his two year old grand daughter and chuckled as he recounted stories of how she uses the iPad. It was a lovely grounded experience and nice end to the day to share this moment with a stranger.