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The week that was - 18 May 2020

This is what I've been thinking about lately.
Always feel free to hit Reply.

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THINKing - about the future

If you ever decide to write a business book, read The Business Book
Bible by Derek Lewis. As well as deconstructing what makes a good
business book, and role-modelling all the way through, it's full of
great quotes. This has to be my favourite one, part of the wisdom shared
by his father:

"Any time you solve one problem, you create another. The question is, is it worth it?"

Helping the world adopt remote work always seemed like a good idea to combat some kind of inequality. Helping those people not living in urban centres access jobs, giving the choice to put work before "life", enabling people with mobility impairments to do their jobs from their homes, etc.

But now, as we've assumed that all knowledge workers can work from home, we're in danger of creating a different kind of inequality. On a personal level, the focus I'm giving on asynchronous (non real-time) communication as THE way for sustainable remote teamwork, can create another kind of inequality.

I wince every time I hear a remote advocate say that in order to be a remote worker you have to know how to write. Well, yes, we should all know how to write - but the levels of comfort and skill in sharing our thoughts, our progress, even our feelings using this medium, are very diverse.
Technology will have to help us solve that one, and next week I'm talking to someone who's created an app for asynchronous audio. (Answering machines, WhatsApp voice messages, anyone?)

THINKing - about my practice

Those of you who follow my writings and thinking around teamwork, will have seen me quote Self-Determination Theory, which has at its core the belief that we all want to be the best people (and professionals) we can be, but our context gets in the way. I use that motivation theory to encourage readers/participants to check that when they introduce new ways of working, the don't inadvertently decrease intrinsic motivation.

Now I have a story to go with that statement.
In episode 60 of The Story Studio podcast, Sean Platt, author and entrepreneur, talks about a recent visit to prison. He was part of a group of entrepreneurs taking part in an education programme for inmates.
Most of those inmates were on death row, with very little chance of parole.
And yet they were there to better themselves. To become better people.
If that doesn't illustrate the theory that people want to be the best they can be, but context and circumstances get in the way, I don't know what does.

WRITING and reading
  • Two years ago, I bought a "reMarkable" epaper tablet. It's pretty much like a paper notebook, but lighter. Actually, it's like ALL your notebooks put together, but lighter. 

    It changed my life. I started drawing cartoon-like illustrations (if we're connected online, you will have noticed my "art") and went back to writing a lot more by hand.

    The only problem: I write, and then I never revisit.
    But the other day, I did. I looked through my past writings and I found a "manifesto" for my own life, something I wrote some time ago, following the book Design the Life You Love: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Meaningful Future by Ayse Birsel.

    Given one of the values is "share your beliefs, your interests, your fears and your questions", here are the rest:

    Seek people who bring out the best in you,
    Take time to read, every day,
    Deconstruct your learning experiences
    Seek help when you need it
    Know your worth,
    Use your talents, know what you do best,
    Let down time-wasters gently,
    Have fun.
  • I keep dreaming of writing a novel. I've been working on one for some years, and laid down the foundations for another one last year, but it's just not happening. However, the next best thing after writing a novel, is reading about writing one. So I do a lot of that.

    This week, when reading How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein, I reflected on something he said: at school, we are taught to communicate, not to evoke.

    Hence why it's so difficult to write a good story.
    I'll stick to non-fiction for now.
  • Thursday was  particularly fun day. I spent the day talking behind a microphone to other people. 

    My co-host in Facilitation Stories interviewed me about my journey as facilitator. It all started when I used to facilitate team-away sessions through the use of theatre exercises. Looking back now, I can see that those exercises were the tools I used to enable open team discussions, and used my own informality and vulnerability to create a safe space. That's what I still seek in the online space - and I know that I'm yet to find the perfect type of tools for that.

  • After two other recordings, I ended the day moderating a roundtable discussion on sustainable energies for a corporation in Spain. While I managed to keep the conversation fluid, I noticed that, because I had no expertise in the topic, I wasn't able to help a conversation develop, rather than just different bits of opinions stitched together. Plus, the language got in the way. My formal/business Spanish, doesn't flow as well as its English counterpart.

    On Monday I will be doing the same gig again, but in English. Which has led me to think, is there a viable business in being a "bilingual podcast host"?
  • By the way, have you noticed that often in interviews, or formal discussions, when someone is asked, "Have you got anything to add?" they often reply with "Not really", but then go on to add quite a bit more stuff?

Thank you for reading.
I could think of many other things to do today instead of writing this newsletter. But knowing that you were subscribed, helped me get down my thoughts. So thank you for being part of my reflection practice.

And I've finished it just in time to make the meeting with The Workary, my coworking space, to find out when we can return to the space, and how.

Feel free to ask about my writing process, or my love for podcasting. And ok, you can ask me about leading remote teams too. Just hit Reply.

(And if you're reading this on the web and want to subscribe, click here.)

Feel free to share with your network
Pilar Orti

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

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