April 18, 2010

[ #ashcloud ]"Keep moving in the right direction and talk to people"

David Randall's epic journey from Italy back home to England worked where thousands have failed because he believed in doing two things:

There is no moral to this story other than this: keep moving in the right direction and talk to people.

In the last three days of traveling the country the slow way, in 19th Century transport where my 20th Century wings have been forced to nest-down at sea level, I've found that the transport is not the only thing that has changed. People have talked more to each other than they ever do, stone-faced in airport departure lounges, sharpening their elbows to get to the boarding gate before anyone else, claiming under-threes as their own so that they can jump the queue and get a precious aisle-window seat.

When people travel by train when they didn't expect to, en masse, something happens to their relationship with each other.

When we travel slow, we have the opportunity to take it in, talk about the journey, for sure, but also discover that the woman next to you is part of a group of 30 over-70s taking the train from Aberdeen to London to perform their keep-fit dance routine at the Royal Albert Hall, something they do every five years, that the man in the aisle, who's been standing for three hours already and will be standing for three hours more, is trying to get home from the north of Scotland to his home in Brittany, because he's got a flight out of Nantes Sunday morning to head on his Easter vacation (and how little the oil industry actually looks after its employees when they're stuck at the end of their shift).

All this has got me thinking that I might start adopting (and encouraging others to adopt) a more 19th Century approach to collaborative working and communication. I already hold most business meetings in cafés, so I'm part way there. But they key is talking to random strangers sharing a similar experience in order that new connections can be made, stories shared.

But imagine if learning could learn to slow down a little. Fewer (or no) tests we have to meet (like unpredictable timetables and trains to new, uncharted destinations), and more talking to strangers who might be interesting, useful (or might not, and necessitate some diplomatic manoeuvrings onto the next conversation).

The last time this volcano erupted it kept going for two years. I'd have to change my business plan if it did, but I'd probably embrace the ash as a means to talk to more folk and learn something new. Would learning change its business plan, too?


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good blog and interesting posts will come back, I have your RSS

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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