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Bear-Spotting in BC

I leave for Whistler, British Columbia first thing tomorrow morning for Actionable’s annual Consulting Partner Summit, and while I generally pride myself on packing light, I had to level up this time since I’m bringing a bunch of print materials for the event, as well as planning for both warm days and cold nights.

I’m really looking forward to spending the week with many of the experienced consultants in our community, hearing about their recent triumphs and challenges, and generally just soaking up the discussion and debate. It truly is a privilege to work with the array of passionate and brilliant people we do (and since, even after 6 rewrites, it seems impossible to convey that without it sounding trite, you’ll just have to trust that it is indeed very sincere).

I don’t write about Actionable a lot on this blog, and I’ve been thinking about that recently. I’ve been blogging since 2012, and earlier in my career I went to great lengths to never write anything that might seem connected to the organizations I was employed by at the time (which was sometimes a challenge). I never wanted the employees and managers I supported to read my posts and wonder “Was that about me?” (it probably wasn’t), or to interpret my writing as some kind of passive aggressive criticism of whatever company I was working for. In retrospect, I don’t think that strategy really worked. While I may have felt like I was flying under the radar, I had lots of colleagues who revealed themselves as ‘secret readers’ once I’d left an organization (thanks for playing along formerly secret readers, I appreciate you).

Now that I work at Actionable, I don’t really have these concerns. The team’s cool with me blogging, I believe strongly in what we do, and we work in the learning and development space (and are “HR tech adjacent”), so it’s not a stretch for me to write about our work. But for some reason, a year and half in, I still feel weird about it. Maybe I worry about sounding like a corporate shill, in a world that has too many of those already. Or maybe I’m over-thinking it. I’m probably over-thinking it.

If you read my weekly posts and don’t really know what Actionable does, then let me take a moment to explain: we believe that a lot of workplace learning is wasted, because organizations tend to overlook the behavior changes needed to translate learning content into the desired skill and business outcomes. We’re learning and habit science nerds who think that technology can help address this gap, in combination with face-to-face learning and team conversations.

Our goal as a company is to amplify our consultant partners’ impact in organizations by leveraging technology to cultivate the behavior change that is a necessary part of effective learning and change initiatives. That means that our consultant community’s knowledge, experience, and hard-won wisdom working with leaders, teams, and individuals is an essential element of our partnership. Basically, we’re a tech company that knows that when it comes to learning, tech is only part of the equation (and not even the most complicated part!).

Because of this, our Summit next week isn’t your average tech conference. It’s actually not really about us at all. It’s about our consulting partners, who are a varied bunch. Among them are executive coaches, master facilitators, authors and keynote speakers, expert leadership and change strategists, and learning and development consultants. Their clients and challenges differ, but they’re all interested in cultivating sustainable, measurable change in the organizations they work with.

Hopefully they’re all reasonably fast runners too, since I’m leading a bear-spotting walk on Thursday morning…

There you have it. No corporate shilling intended. But when I sat down to write this week all I could think about was the Summit I’ve helped plan, and how excited I am to see it unfold next week. Thanks for reading (secretly or not).

Recommended Reading

Here’s What Sexual Harassment Costs Its Victims – Susannah Snider, US News

The conversation about #MeToo seems to be drifting from its original focus, and that’s troubling. Tarana Burke, who founded the movement, remains focused on supporting the targets of sexual harassment and assault to heal. Elsewhere, a female Canadian CEO writes a lazy op-ed decrying MeToo as divisive, and claiming that it denies men their “due process”, and leading men to avoid meetings and mentorship of women in the workplace. Unfortunately, arguments like this ignore that most sexual harassment goes unreported, and that it’s particularly pervasive in low-wage or service positions, which are often filled by women and minorities. Suggesting that we need less discussion about sexual harassment means that we’re mostly telling low-wage women and minority workers to be quiet, for the benefit of more privileged women who are in positions to benefit from the support of powerful male colleagues and bosses in the first place.  Not cool.

This US News article should be recommended reading for Ms Kimmel, as should this article which reports on survey results from Canadian Executives, who appear to underestimate the likelihood of sexual harassment in their own organizations. This is a complex issue that impacts women across industries and levels.

Hourly workers who report sexual misconduct may have their hours cut by punitive managers while others may simply be fired, says Sharyn Tejani, director of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which seeks to connect those who’ve experienced sexual misconduct with legal and public relations assistance and defray the costs.

Domestic workers, for example, who experience reprisals for reporting sexual harassment don’t just lose their paycheck. “They stand to lose the place they’re living,” Tejani says.”

Are you inadvertently encouraging your colleagues to bullshit you? – Lila McLellan, Quartz

Is bullshit an occupational hazard in your workplace? Read this great article to find out the risk factors for an excess of bullshit at work, and the cure: apparently it’s an evidence-based approach to communication.

“…a little irrationality is necessary to make decisions in the real world, many great thinkers have argued.

But bumbling along with too little sustenance and facts can also cost a firm time and money, which at some point might even mean the difference between layoffs and new hires.

The solution is to nudge people toward adopting an evidence-based approach as part of an organization’s communication culture, says Petrocelli. Make requests for demonstrable truths the norm, rather than indulging in the habit of looking the other way, or perhaps snickering, when the bullshit flies.”

Photo by Matthias Goetzke on Unsplash

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