Sharing my learning

I’m planning to start sharing my learning in this site – so that over time it builds into a record of learning that I can refer back to. I’ll also try to tag and label it so that it can potentially be useful to other people!

I’ve been capturing my learning for a while, and have found it useful to use the following simple format:

* What it was (description of the learning)
* What I learned (the key point I took away)
* What I will aim to do differently as a result (if possible)

There’s quite a backlog of stuff to publish so it will take me time to get through it.

Some things worth noting:
* I appreciate that some courses (etc) can contain copyright information (and it isn’t always obvious what is / is not protected at the time) so if you think I’ve inadvertently reproduced something without sufficient permission or attribution, please contact me and I’ll happily take it down.
* The lessons I capture from talks (etc.) are absolutely not intended to be direct quotes from the individuals giving the talks – instead they are a summary of what I learned.
* The publication date of an entry won’t necessarily match to the date that the learning occurred.

Defence digital masterclass @ Barclays Rise

What it was:

The first Defence digital masterclass, with various speakers on digital themes, hosted at Barclays Rise, Shoreditch, on 4 May 2018

What I learned:

Artificial Intelligence:

  • The AlphaZero AI algorithm learns from blank slate, does not just replay earlier human learning
  • Human beings already have symbiotic relationships with dogs, possibly we can see future relationship with AI?
  • Key valuable skill at the moment is being able to analyse convolutional networks
  • Future AI will not be evil but may do terrible things purely in trying to help
  • The UK 4G network is expanding to 99% coverage
  • AI is difficult to define… Douglas Hofstadter ” AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet”
  • Loose definition of AI: systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence
  • General adversarial networks, train the forger and the tester at the same time. Can be used to optimise at scale and pace.
  • Neuromorphic computing: chips that mimic brain function by only firing the ” neurons” when relevant, enabling high computational power with low electrical power
  • The lower power consumption may be a clue, from a macro (physics) perspective, that the chip is using more brain-like processes. Current traditional AI architectures tend to use many orders of magnitude more power than a human brain.
  • ‘Centaur chess’ where humans are supported by machines. Have beaten the best humans and best machines. Implies that human-machine partnership and process may be key to military success?

Different scales / types of digital transformation in businesses:

  • Business model transformation,
  • Customer experience innovation
  • Operating model transformation

Thirty five percent of P&G products come from outside the company via its innovation approach
Many innovative large companies are sustained or accelerated through government contracts and investment; it’s not the case that innovation only comes from private investment
Military rituals are similar to agile rituals?  Could be a useful alignment.
DEFRA are using machine learning to read incoming documents, identify the name and address etc, and direct the document within department

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Develop our model for digital transformation in defence, and to think about the technologies that underpin it
  • Think about business and process transformation as part of the model
  • Think about the working environment.
  • Make better connections outside MOD… we need to move to an ‘outside in’ approach

SLS/FLS MOD engagement event

What it was:

Talks and conversations with senior leaders and alumni of development schemes, mainly from within defence, at the Ministry of Defence on 5 March 2018

What I learned:

  • Action Inquiry: Every moment is an opportunity for development, experiment, reflection
  • Exploit your competitive advantage
  • Seek out role models
  • Who you work with is more important than what you work on
  • Need to be sharp and concise on commissioning the right work from the right person
  • You can’t afford to have an off moment, especially when in large groups
  • Have respect for the people in your team; that means preparing properly when speaking to groups
  • As an introvert you need to be an actor, and build in recovery time on your own
  • “Positive deviance” – the ability to challenge and do things in New ways. Leaders need to be able to observe and enable this behaviour
  • In the second year of the schemes there is more onus on self organising networks. There is not an anchor – it becomes a fight to stay in contact with people.
  • Need to challenge the other people in your cohort, if they don’t contribute they are taking a place away from others who wanted to be on the scheme
  • FLS makes you better able to succeed at SCS interviews as it helps you frame your style, think about the emotional impact, talk about your corporate contribution
  • End of scheme reviews are in December January

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Try to pursue partnerships with specific individuals who are likely on a similar development journey as me
  • Look up the “two pies” approach (?) that was mentioned
  • Make a concerted exploration on doing a secondment to industry
  • Practice being more precise in commissioning work from others
  • Take more time to prepare for speaking to the team
  • Gather contact details for others on development schemes and try to maintain the network

CIPR case study – Best Use of Social Media

What it was:

Review of a case study from the CIPR Awards for social media campaigns – MSL Group’s campaign -“Always #LIKEAGIRL”

Source: http://bit.ly/1GxUMn2

What I learned:

Key points from the campaign:

  • Activity was based on solid research insight (confidence plummeting at puberty).
  • Activity was very much in line with the grain of the brand’s previous activity i.e. supporting women and aspiration
  • Turned a well-worn pejorative on its head.
  • Global message was managed seamlessly across continents.
  • Campaign created an empowering call to action which has potential to become a movement.
  • Campaign harnessed celebrities and social media influencers.
  • Content yielded a very large number of earned media placements (approx 1900)

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Use insight and research to understand pain-points and concerns for the target audience.

Make sure activity is in keeping with and strengthens any existing brand values or history.

As a potential creative avenue, explore common uses of language around the audience or topic and see if these can be subverted or challenged.

Think about whether a campaign can generate a movement which has life beyond the campaign.

Business Ethics across Generations

What it was:

A report on trends in attitudes to ethics in business, reviewed as part of my PR CPD.
Source: http://bit.ly/1RJl74H

What I learned:

Ageing  populations  and the new generation entering  the workplace are creating opportunities and challenges for employers in embedding ethics.

Understanding different characteristics of these generations is fundamental to building a culture founded on ethical values.

Four generations can be (loosely) identified:

  • Traditionalists (born between 1922 and 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1982)
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1983 and 2004).

Millennials account for 25% of the workforce in the US and it is predicted that by 2020, they will form 50% of the global workforce

Boomers and Traditionalists seem to be less prepared than other age groups, as they developed professionally before such a function became commonplace. However, the underlying attitudes of these two generations seem to be less accepting of unethical behaviour.

Millennials want worthwhile work – a majority want to work for a company that makes a positive impact, half prefer purposeful work to a high salary, and 53% would work harder if they felt they were making a difference to others

Organisations should seek to leverage the different generations’ strengths, to create a working environment that values differences and bridges potential generational gaps

A strong ethics culture can motivate employees to do the right thing and increase employee engagement

Use of ethics ambassadors across the divide: Potentially,  Millennials can be effective ethics ambassadors as they are natural networkers and familiar with new technologies, but at the same time older employees may have a more established reputation for integrity.

Use of metrics and bench-marking to segment the workforce can be useful to understand the employee’s expectations from their job at different stages of their career.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Try to reflect likely communication styles of different generations in internal communications activities.

Remember different motivations of staff of different generations.

Consider use of “generational ambassadors” in internal campaigns.

Try to ensure that senior staff are aware of these differences when they communicate (junior staff likely to be a different generation from them!)

Be careful about following this analysis too slavishly – cannot discriminate against any one generation (Equalities Act) e.g. by assuming one generation is susceptible to acting unethically. 

Also a good idea to take such inter-generational analyses with a pinch of salt!