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Think Write Converse
The week that was 22 - 28 June 2020

I think quite a bit about all sorts of stuff, I also share those thoughts often. I read a bit, I write a bit (mainly on social media!) and I also converse a bit (mainly on social media too!). So I thought I'd capture some of this each week, and share it with you. Always feel free to hit Reply.

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Plenty of thinking done this week, so I'll start with some thinking about word associations and then move on to the thinking prompted by writing, reading and conversing.

Telework. What does that word suggest to you?

If you use the Spanish "teletrabajo", and you consider that "tele" means TV, you have a kind of remote work that implies you're spending your day at home watching television.

Spain is currently looking at how to legislate "teletrabajo" and so it seems like that word is here to stay. But now is the time when we need to change the vocabulary we're using for "working through technology in a location-independent manner" - but, good luck with that! (I'm trying to convince a potential client who wants to initiate the discussion in his organisation about whether they should continue working away from each other to stop talking about "teletrabajo". I think it's working...)

In English we've had "virtual" (when, actually, connections are pretty real), "remote" (which makes us feel even further apart) and the more popular one: "distributed". However, now that I get to talk to a broader range of people about remote work, I've realised that "distributed companies" are being interpreted as those with a structure of distributed leadership, which is a completely different thing. So there we go.

WRITING and reading

I had the privilege of reading two pieces of work in progress: one a piece of creative non-fiction (memoirs, travel books) and one a business book.

I love reading work in progress pieces - not sure why. Maybe because it engages the editing side of my brain, and it's a lot more fun to edit others' work than your own. Everything looks so clear! Doing that is giving me the tools to approach my own work with more distance and energy.

I haven't done much writing this week though. Did some editing on "the book", and created an "if this then that" sort of table to guide people on which elements of visible teamwork to adopt, depending on their workflow. A new one for me, I'm more of a "here's the information, you sort it out" kind of girl. But that's not the kind of book I'm writing at the moment...

Books I'm Reading

Meanwhile, I stopped reading How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran, even at 70%. It wasn't going anywhere although the characters were very rounded and it was fun to be with them. I picked up JD Kirk's Blood and Treachery instead, book four of his detective Logan series. Much better and impossible to put down.

I admire the author, who's real name is Barry Hutchinson, very much. He started off writing space opera (not sure what the genre entails, but I think it's comedy set in space. Apparently, his books were doing ok, but the genre was not one through which you could make a living. So he looked at the most popular genres, and picked Crime and Mystery. Well, he's done extremely well, I'm in awe of him.

On the non-fiction side, I'm still reading Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed, which as well as giving me some little nuggets to think about, is full of interesting stories. It's made me think about the tension of making sure I'm exposed to ideas and ways of thinking I'm not used to versus feeling comfortable with those around me.


I think it's ok to comment in this section on podcasts I'm listening to - it's a kind of conversing, I suppose...

I listened to an episode of The Creative Shift, where guest Michael La Ronn mentioned that everyone regularly enjoys watching television, and reading books. But say that you want to become an actor or a writer, and people tell you you're crazy (or later on in your career, when are you going to get a proper job). Interesting to see that some of the more visible careers are those less well understood and in a way, less respected.

By the way, I listened to this episode, really liked the guest, and went to look for his own podcast. I was surprised to find that he was black. The surprise is what mattered to me. I hadn't heard anything in his voice that made me think about the colour of his skin, and there was no mention of his race in the whole hour conversation. The fact that it surprised me did matter to me.

In an audio-first-environment, like podcasting, does the colour of our skin matter at all? And does a different race always equal cognitive diversity?

A guest that did make me think differently and be curious about those different to myself was the last episode of The Creative Penn, with guest JD Barker, a successful author who also has asperges syndrome, a form of autism. His speech rhythm and pace were indeed different to what I'm used to hearing, and that caught my attention.

More Conversing

My most interesting conversations this week were with the potential client mentioned earlier, and a current client with whom I'm about to start a piece of work.

Conversation #1 is helping me design a path towards building a community of practice, and how to incorporate facilitation along the way. In an organisation where "learning" means turning up and listening to an expert, this is a fun challenge to embark on.

Conversation #1 took place when we presented a learning programme to a board, who after seeing that we wanted to ask for four hours from people over the next three weeks, said, "Too much, no way, they're already burnt out". That's the state of most knowledge workers these days...


I really enjoy those conversations about how remote work can instigate social change. Kudos to those making it happen. Check out episode 240 of 21st Century Work Life or read  about how rural communities can benefit from remote work here.


Hey, no coda today! I've said everything I wanted to say...

Thanks for reading, and have a good start to the week!

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Pilar Orti

at Virtual not Distant
The Workary
1 Dukes Avenue
London W4 2AB

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