Wednesday, 15 May 2019

#SeaTurtlePirates Recruitment - @TolleyA and Serious Fun

This post is about my dear friend Andrea Tolley and the awesome and extremely important role she plays in any group conversations.

In June 2017 when planning a #FlipgridFever pre-ISTE celebration (Which, as a direct result of group dynamics, didn't happen), I met a truly remarkable lady for the first time but who, today, I am fortunate enough to call a very dear friend.

You won't see a great deal of engagement on social media between us... But privately on Skype and in private group text  and 1:1 conversations, you should see the fun we have while getting stuff done!

On #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek it's perhaps worth highlighting how tough 

EdTech is (Check out how the first cohort of Imagine K12 companies have faired)
Startups are (The psychological price of  entrepreneurship), and 
Life in Scotland can be at times (Some areas, including Nicola Sturgeon's own constituency, have big child poverty issues) 

Add them all together and it can be a pretty lonely days and can tend to go through some rather miserable experiences too.

If you'd like an example of how confusing and contradictory this all can be... The Scottish Government's Education Secretary is praising the London EdTech scene in a document that praises the use of Skype. 

The 'Scotland's Voice Will Not Be Ignored' party has been studiously ignoring projects that would address issues like 'Empowering Educators' and plans for a Skype Edcamp and Connected Educator Appreciation Day for well over a year now.

Some of the informal, loose collaboration groups that I've been involved with have been great fun... others less so, all have managed to 'Get Stuff Done!'

Some of the people in these groups say publicly and privately that #YouMatter or that 'We are life long family friends' only for you to find out they are no where to be seen when you need a friend.

One of the things that make these groups especially fun while getting stuff done, is when my dear friend @TolleyA has been active in these group conversations.

She has always been there when I've needed a friend to speak to. Anyone who is organising an Edcamp or Teach Meet, needs a @TolleyA on their team, and I now have the article to prove why this is key.

I was never able to articulate why this was until I read this article on a recent visit to Levendale Hospital... Miss out having a @TolleyA in your team at your peril.
Adolf Lindstrøm, the cook; he was a key figure. If you read Amundsen’s diary, he writes that Lindstrøm was basically the most important person on the expedition.

Why Was That?
Lindstrøm was the comedian. He didn’t actually go to the South Pole, but you’ve got to remember that the walking expedition was a small component of the overall time that they were on the ice. They were there for well over a year, waiting to walk to the Pole. They had to wait during the winter and it’s a very tense time when people are idle, without a lot to do. Lindstrøm played an essential role in keeping the peace in the group when there were tense moments.

What makes people like Lindstrøm different from the rest of us?
People like Lindstrøm have a high social intelligence. It’s hard to know exactly what went on – diaries are not necessarily a good indication because people may want to portray a different version of events – but I do know that during tense moments, Lindstrøm would do something funny to get everybody to laugh, which would break the tension.

If we’re trying to select this type of person for a mission to Mars, what sort of qualities would we be looking for?
There are individuals who have these certain innate abilities that you want to be able to recognise and include when you’re putting together groups that are going to be isolated, such as those going into space. There’s a number of different roles that we’ve discovered are important, but one of them is somebody who has humour. That’s clearly important.

So, you’d want to have somebody like Lindstrøm, somebody who is not only good at what they have to do (he was a very good cook) but who also has another skillset over and above what’s in the job description. You would want the same thing to be true for any kind of expedition to space. It could be comedians, it could be story-tellers, it could be peace-makers… It has to do with the emergent properties of groups.

We can put people together thinking that they’re going to work together in a certain way, but over the course of time we get these emergent properties, particularly with these informal roles, that are difficult to predict, particularly when there’s a crisis. I think we can do a better job of putting people together that will do better over the long run.

Some of these things are latent in the sense that they don’t come out and surface until they’re needed. That’s what happened in my research with the fishermen when the strike happened. The comedian role emerged and it went away when the strike was over. These are the kinds of things that make groups more adaptable and help them function better, and I don’t think enough attention has been paid to them.

You can think about it in terms of atoms: when you put different elements together, they produce different kinds of things. It’s the same with people. They may have their own characteristics, but when you put them together, they’re going to create a different kind of situation and we want to have a better idea of what that might be.

@TolleyA will you join the #SeaTurtlePirates on an adventure?
The King of the Sea Turtle Pirates recently got 2 people to join his crew... Not to be out done I added another two people and one more so our friendly recruitment competition is at 3-2 to me.

We'll be racing to Skype with you to see who can reach you first to see if Agent Hamburger will help this crew to have some serious fun.

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