Friday, 19 June 2020

Command and Control

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

I've just been to the pharmacy to collect my heart drugs. I wore a face mask in the shop for the first time since Covid19 struck. On my walk home, I was pondering why.

It's not to protect me, it's to protect others from me (in case I've got it and don't know it). 

Having exercised pretty strict social and physical distancing from everyone except Mandy, including our grown-up children, I'm fairly sure that I'm not infectious. But I felt the need to reassure the hard-working - and similarly masked - pharmacy staff, that I was being careful on their behalf; that it mattered to me.

Because it does. In the face of what I see as an unseemly and ill-judged race to lift restrictions, I am genuinely concerned that we will soon experience a second wave of the pandemic in the UK.

And I am fearful (that word again) that many others think that it's worth taking the risk of that possibility, to regain some semblance of 'normal' life and freedom of movement and association. To take back control. 

Sound familiar? I'm not judging (well, I'm trying not to).

In the early days of Lockdown, the Government instruction was unambiguous: Stay Home - Protect the NHS - Save Lives. Who wouldn't want to get behind that? It mattered to everyone. So the instruction was pretty universally followed. And the numbers started to go down.

Now it's all gone a bit wooly, a bit less directive, a bit more discretionary. It's introduced an optional element into how we can behave. And we're seeing people respond according to what matters more to them now than it did initially - social interaction, being physically closer, shopping. Their own needs have superseded their willingness to recognise the continuing greater risks of taking the brakes off.

So I'm sticking with it. I'm continuing to maintain 2 metres distancing, to cross the road when someone comes towards me, to use click and collect for the weekly shop rather than go into the store, to wear a facemask if and when I absolutely have to be in a 'confined' environment, to sanitise and/or wash my hands, to work from home.

In my small way, I'm trying to keep you safe from me, just in case.

Footnote: There's a training analogy that could be made here about one of the reasons why people do or don't buy into different kinds of learning - whether it matters to them, whether there's a benefit for them or for others. Compliance training springs to mind. But that feels a bit contrived, so I won't go there. You could probably write that bit yourself anyway.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Totes Emosh

Image by MasterTux from Pixabay 

I've been very much living in the moment for the last 10 weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Like most people, I've taken it on the chin that lockdown was for the best, for me, for my family, our friends and society, and that this was the best available way to do my bit for 'flattening the curve'.

In that respect, no different from millions of others in the UK and across the world.

To be able to manage that, I've tried to stay positive and count my blessings. I have work I can do from home, we live in a lovely part of the world, which is not too busy, we have a small garden, our grown-up children are living their own lives elsewhere, are safe and either have work or are furloughed. My wife and I have both been working from home for a few years now and both have the space to be able to do that and have established a way of living and working around and with each other lovingly and effectively.

Throughout all this, I have tried to be conscious of just how lucky I am/we are, and that millions of others are dealing with very different and incredibly difficult living and work situations.

I've put my emotions on the back-burner. I've tried not to get too wrapped up in the pain of physical separation from family, from our friends, from my professional colleagues and wider network.

But recently, I have found myself emotionally triggered, by events and by people. I have been surprised at the depth and passion of the emotions which have arisen in me - principally anger and fear.

I have been fearful of contact with other people since lockdown started. The experience of unavoidable supermarket shopping and failure of some people to maintain physical distancing; even walking at the local seafront, trying to second guess where others were going to walk, having to constantly zig-zag or step aside, even to have to be looking over one's shoulder constantly, was stressful. So we stopped doing those things. It was necessary to maintain distance from others, but I was - and remain - uncharacteristically fearful of the proximity of others now. This is not normal. And I resent it as much as I need to do it.

Those with whom I interact in social media may be aware of my anger and disgust, about which I posted loudly, with the revealed behaviour of a government advisor, close to our Prime Minister, who unrepentantly broke the lockdown rules, and the craven apoligistia of the rest of the Cabinet. We have never been so disregarded, so taken for fools, and I have never felt less respected, less seen, or my opinions less considered than now. I wrote to our MP, who replied in a thoughtful and carefully considered reply. But he wasn't for demanding sackings or resignations, or making any gestures himself in that direction. So far, so normal, eh? 

Up until a couple of weeks ago, the Government messaging was crystal clear. Since then, it's got progressively more muddled and confusing. It feels as though we are being rushed into an early and uninformed easing of restrictions (Why now, I wonder). If we're being led by the science, why are so many scientists warning that it's too soon? 

Supposedly, we can travel, visit, interact with more people. Some schooling will re-start. But look at the parks, beaches, car parks and motorways already this weekend. Social distancing has already ceased to be a thing we do. R will rise again.

I can't be too angry about people wanting social contact, wanting to be out and about, wanting to be visit lovely places. I'd like to do that myself.

I've spent my anger elsewhere (see above). But I'm still scared. 

And I know that sometimes, that makes Niall a very dull boy.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Gets My Vote

The opposition parties have been very smart to make Thursday's election about far more than just Brexit, but about things that matter to our whole lives and our concern for others.

They’ve thereby exposed the single-minded myopia of the entitled comfortably-off for the emotional & intellectual vacuum it really is, underpinned and supported by an unsavoury, blatant, arrogant and unapologetic Trump-lite social media back office.

All the more important then, that with less than one day to go, you don't get disheartened and think that your vote won't make a difference. It really, really will. If everyone who is entitled to vote voted, we will have more confidence in the validity of the result, whatever it might be.

Part of the reason we're in this mess is because so many who were entitled to vote in the Brexit Referendum, didn't. 

But we are where we are, and tomorrow, we all have the chance to deliver an incontestable result that might, just might, start some healing.

The important thing is to get in there and make your mark on Thursday. As a minimum, you will be able to hold your head up and say with pride that you spoke up.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

On Message

Today, I'm following the tweets from the eLearning Network's annual conference, eLNConnect (here). I'm a member but, for various reasons, wasn't able to attend. So, as usual in these circumstances, I turn to and rely on good old Twitter and my personal learning network (PLN) to keep me informed as I get on with 'other stuff'.

I use TweetDeck to follow and contribute to Twitter conversations. I find its structure of using multiple columns to separate out different conversational streams to be invaluable, particularly when engaging in tweetchats such as the weekly #LDinsight chat, or to follow events like conferences. 

So today, I searched for the eLNConnect hashtag, and the first few hits came up with #eLNConnect19, which I duly separated into its own column and started following the discussion, as tweeted out by some of the PLN attending.

But then, in my 'Home' feed column, I started seeing some other people tweeting from the conference and using the hashtag #eLNConnect2019. Now I had a dilemma - was it #eLNConnect19 or #eLNConnect2019? Which was the 'official' conference hashtag? What was I going to miss if I focused on the 'wrong' tag? Did I need to create a second Tweetdeck column for the other tag?

So I tweeted out, using both hashtags, asking which hashtag to follow. 

And I got a bit cross.

And felt myself disengaging.

After about 20 minutes or so, the official eLNConnect account confirmed that the hashtag was, in fact, #eLNConnect2019, with an apology for the confusion. Situation saved, my TweetDeck column hashtag adjusted and my attention re-engaged. Happy days.

So, here's a suggestion to all and every event organisers everywhere - before your event, publicise your 'official' hashtag; ensure that it's in all your pre-event marketing materials and critically, announce it loud and clear in the room and across your social media channels at the start of and frequently throughout your event. Avoid hashtag ambiguity.

People like me, who have a genuine interest in your event and the speakers' stories, keen to learn, who want to engage, share and contribute, want to feel part of things but cannot be there, will thank you for it and will willingly amplify the discussions and the learning.

So as #eLNConnect2019 takes a coffee break, my thanks to @elearningnetwk and all the contributors, tweeters and sharers for what has been a fascinating morning already. I'm looking forward to more as the day goes on.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 
Ever been in a rush and skipped washing your hands after using a public toilet? 

If you ever did, I bet you don't do it any more, now that modern hot air hand dryers make so much more noise that they can be heard from well outside the room before, and sometimes during, your exit from the room.

Behaviour Change or Reputation Management? 


Monday, 21 October 2019

Taking a Leaf

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
I've just read Andrew Jacobs' (@AndrewJacobsLnD) latest blog A Week of Posts wherein he shares where and how he gets his inspiration for his daily blog posts.

He's a man of curiosity and enquiry, and he's capable of extrapolating ideas from different sources, conversations, podcasts, blog posts, work products, etc that resonate for him and that he can translate into short, impactive, professionally-related daily posts.

It's a skill I envy and am learning a lot from in terms of my own blog posting track record and forward planning.

So here's what I loved about his post today.

  • The content: Andrew's sources are many and varied. His skills lie in seeing something in them that he can use and relate to a professional audience. He doesn't over-think them. And it helps that he's also very articulate.

    My takeaway: KISS - Keep it simple, stupid!

  • That photograph! His title was "A Week of Posts". His illustration: A lovely photograph in Autumnal tones of a rural pathway meandering into the distance, and marked out by two rows of wooden posts. It was both visually arresting (it drew my attention to the his blog immediately) and it was a gently understated witty play on the word 'posts'. Genius!

    My takeaway: Visuals attract people to your content. Great visuals enhance it.

So, taking a leaf out of Andrew's book, this post is my own quick and dirty reflection on what I think good blog posting should look like, while I try to walk that talk better myself.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Completion is Mandatory

Photo by Hammer & Tusk on Unsplash

I've just completed a short e-learning course, about which I was informed by email on Monday of this week.

"Completion is mandatory for all... and needs to be completed by Friday 18th October."

Classic e-learning: a short video of someone holding a document and talking about it as they turn the pages; links to some graphic files and policies; several statements confirming I get it, and a 'Declaration' that I know how to follow the process and apply it.

I've gone through it twice. I'm not sure I really understand where to find the links in the real systems, nor how to follow the process when required to so do.

But it's Friday. So, I've clicked the Declaration button anyway. 

I've complied.

No-one will check.

And if and when I need to do it for real, I'll ask someone.

Just like everyone else who has ever had to complete an e-learning compliance course.