Home > Uncategorized > Life in a new role

Life in a new role

I’m a learning designer. Most days I’m creating a design doc, writing a storyboard, researching new learning approaches, reviewing developed courses, facilitating client meetings.

The projects are always different, but the work is fairly similar.

Until about six weeks ago.

I started on a new project as a project lead for the content management portion of a portal implementation/migration.

It’s not a huge stretch. As a learning designer I often have to manage content: sorting, reducing, generating, categorizing. Even the project management component wasn’t a big leap from my production management responsibilities on a project.

I was excited and nervous.. ok petrified.

The thing that was enormously different was the team I was on. Even working with clients the IBM team I work with (project manager, client execs, developers, editors, etc.) know me. They know what I can do and what I can’t do. Just like I know them. And we supplement each other in terms of skill. It’s a wonderfully symbiotic relationship and truly benefits the client. They get all the strengths and few of the weaknesses.

However, it makes it more challenging to grow. One has to be very agressive in one’s career development to push past the expectations.

This project was going to be different – I hadn’t worked with anyone in this division of IBM before. So, I’d have to rely on my own skills, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses to get me through.

I’m only 1/2 way through the project. There have been ups and downs. Mistakes and successes. Questions, research, answers, and exploration. And along the way I noticed that I’ve been able to pick out what MY strenghts are and what MY weaknesses are. With no team (that knows me) to compensate for the areas of project management that I struggle with, I’ve noticed where I need to build my skills are lacking and where I excel.

Experiential learning is always promoted as an excellent way to learn. We enable students to learn by making mistakes, trial and error, basically by experiencing the new skill or knowledge.

I’ve designed it, but I’ve never fully experienced this concept. Working through an experiential learning opportunity feels a little bit like working one of thos American Gladiator sets – I keep get whacked upside the head my a large foam bat. I keep going because I know that eventually I make it to the end of the gauntlet.

This experience has shed some light on a few things for me:

1. It’s hard and humbling to take advantage of the support systems in place. I think we need to make it easier and friendly for learners to take advantage of support. I have three mentors and I still feel like I have to apologize for taking their time, that is, when i actually take advantage of the relationship (I am getting better at this part).

2. Without reflection, it’s almost impossible to find the growth areas, although it’s very easy to see your strenghts.

3. It’s not enough to engineer obstables to promote learning by mistake. The learner has to be willing to accept the failure as a learning opportunity.

I’m struggling to finish this post – I think because I’m not finished the journey of this new role. I’ll be posting more on experiencing experiential learning first hand. Hopefully that will help to clarify my thoughts.

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  1. November 9, 2009 at 09:59

    Kerry,

    Most of the times, Project Managers struggle to impose their authority (for lack of better words) when assigned to a team they’ve never worked with before.

    I have published this excellent 4 article series on grabbing pm authority, I hope it helps!

    • Kerry McGuire
      November 9, 2009 at 18:17

      I appreciate the link! It definitely is a challenge – new project, new org to work with, new team of client and IBM people. It’s a challenge, but one I’m enjoying for sure!

      — Kerry

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