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Inspiration April – Installment #1: F5 Expo

I’ve coined the fourth month of 2010 “Inspiration April” as I’ll be attending a pile of events from which I plan to glean gems and insights. It’s my cross-pollination in action.


Today was the first installment – I attended the F5 Expo. Here’s a quick summary of my experience and insights:

Experience first…

1. Wearing jeans was the best decision ever. Spent a good chunk of the day on the floor because of lack of seating.
2. I mind mapped on my laptop instead of on paper. I was able to keep up to the speakers and love that my notes are ready to be shared with my colleagues. I added light bulb icons to my key insights which helps me quickly filter when I’m looking over them (e.g. for this blog post).
3. I kept trying to connect to the wifi that didn’t exist (really? at a conference about social media etc?) and ended up draining my battery. Next time I’ll kill the wireless or use it more sparingly so I don’t end up forlornly plugged in along a random hallway.
4. Loved the suggested questions for when we’re meeting people during the day (ask what social media sites they’re on, share your Twitter handle). Very useful tip for other events to break people from the same-old “what do you do” intro.

On to the insights…

1. Tod Maffin was incredible. This is the second time I’ve seen him speak and he outdid himself with a very raw and thought-provoking keynote. My biggest take-away was when Tod asked the question how we, as managers, can reverse the damage our multi-tasking demanding world is inflicting on employees. He meant it literally, pointing to brain damage caused by multitasking, which I must investigate further. One solution was to create a culture where it is okay to ask for help. It’s not something typically encouraged at work and it was sobering to think of the unintended negative consequence on culture when managers don’t. Another great solution is to be crazy. He showed this Apple commercial as inspiration.
2. At the Social Media and Metrics panel, I liked the POST acronym used in approaching social strategy (reminds me of learning-related projects). Here’s more info on POST from Forrester.
3. I session-hopped over to Cloud Computing where I heard about something called the Patriot Act and how it affects what we can legally do ‘in the cloud’ here in BC. There is much talk in the learning world about cloud-based LMS‘ but this was the first time I had heard about any kind of legislation that might restrict options. More research necessary here.
4. One neat idea from the Video Marketing panel was a choose-your-own-adventure style video. We do this with e-learning already, but typically with graphics/text scenarios. I think this would translate really well to engaging employees in the customer experience. The other tidbit here was that we’re moving away from the lone viewer at their computer to more of a ‘living room’ experience. I think we need to be mindful of that dynamic inside organizations with future media productions.
5. The final keynote of the day was Malcolm Gladwell, who talked about how the internet beautifully takes advantage of the strength of weak ties, but how it lacks the necessary ingredients for true revolutions: strong ties and trust. It reminded me of what many folks, such as Chris Brogran, have been talking about. How we can start the connection online, but to really make it matter we have to connect in person. Then there was the recent video from Craig Newmark who is pondering the online trust problem. I also loved how Malcolm said that we can’t have both anonymity and trust, as while anonymity allows freedom of expression, it doesn’t facilitate freedom of action. I think that carries over into organizations. It’s hard to take action from anonymous information, but when you can get the right people face to face you have the opportunity to start working towards a new direction. Like this example from the brilliant folks at Anecdote.

This wraps my first installment of Inspiration April. Thank you to the people I met at #f5expo who added to my experience!