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2013 was a busy year with plenty of changes at work and home and much learnt. Some of the things I realised were:

  • most of the time I talk sense and make informed decisions;
  • the rest of the time I need to listen to others as we’re never too old to learn new skills or to try and see things differently;
  • 0thers rely on me more than I thought;
  • I therefore need to keep myself fit in body and mind to be effective;
  • if we think we have been through a lot of recent changes in how we live and work then it is nothing to what is yet to come.

Crucially, I’ve realised all the above rely on success of the second and fourth points. If we are over committed, stressed, aren’t fit or able to continue to learn we will be less effective. Listening, learning, contributing to, sharing and developing what others are doing can be creative ways of problem solving. It’s basic stuff but sometimes overlooked as we go about the daily grind.

So some things I’ve recently read that I want to share and highlight as I think they will become mainstream for me and hopefully others too in 2014. I hope you find them useful.

Firstly, a piece from someone I admire in public sector comms, Amanda Coleman. Amanda suggested communications professionals need to be at the centre of organisational change and be prepared to take up the challenge of adjusted roles if they are to remain relevant. I’d also add that all professions should engage with organisational changes. Heads in the sand doesn’t cut it anymore.

My profession in communications needs to adapt to survive; be better social connectors, meaning makers, translators even, within and outside our organisations so people understand why change needs to happen, how it will happen and what it means to them.

A team I work with will be moving office in May. Our new building will have five desks for nine people. It will involve hot desking, clear desk policies and more home working. There will be quiet areas, discussion areas and greater use of messaging and availability statuses. There will be a need to develop networking skills and be increasingly adaptable, after all work is what you do not where you go. This will bring communication and other challenges and will no doubt mean leaving some previous ways of working behind, and adapting to new environments and processes. It will also bring opportunities to be creative.

This leads nicely into the second thing I recently read. It was by Steph Gray about following up on development opportunities and being more effective. It suggested you need the right attitude to put digital skills into operation and encouragement and an opportunity or purpose to develop the learning. Mere ‘interest’ won’t do. He suggests not everyone will JFDI off their own bat. He also suggests cultivating the spirit of persistence, experimentation, thick-skinned self-awareness and assertiveness, that you need to engage online with digital tools, takes time and patience. 2013 took me there and 2014 will no doubt do the same. I hope it will take others there too, and more people claim their digital space.

Thirdly, Euan Semple pretty much nailed it in one sentence for me in why blogging can be useful in our development.

Euan suggests writing allows us to ‘learn to notice more and value our insights’. Developing this, I suppose this might not always mean hitting the publish button. Writing sometimes allows me to see things more clearly without the need to share my thinking. I’ve certainly learnt a lot about myself by blogging and from others who blog. I will be encouraging more folk to write and tell their stories in 2014.

Combining the three pieces brings me back to where I started; we need to make time to listen to others as we’re never too old to learn new skills or see things differently. The day we are is the day we need to move on.

Other than the ‘office move’ (and it’s so much more than those two words) 2014 brings bigger challenges for me, but ones that really excite me. I will continue to develop the #trulysocial and #betterlivesleeds projects and will also be working with councillors at how social networking might make a difference for them and the people they serve. We’ll then work with all councillors to increase awareness of the potential that social networking can bring. We will be sharing this work on The Sociable Organisation blog.

So my aims for 2014 are to focus on the second and fourth bullet points above.

It will be about creating time to be more effective and develop learning into more than an interest. There’s no time or resource for anything else.

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