Open Future NZ "If you know how to change your future is open"
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John Stephen Veitch

Describing yourself is a basic literacy skill, we all need to learn.  Now you'll be able to judge how much my committment to continuous learning has achieved.

I wasn't a rebellious teenager.  I tended to trust my parents and my teachers, and I believed what that told me.  I wasn't a brilliant student, but did get a solid indoctrination into the importance of education, devotion to God, and the value of marriage and family life.  I was also told to work hard, and to strive for success, and I have no trouble doing that.

I was also held back by family pressure.  Nobody in my family had ever been to university. There was no expectation that I should go.  I didn't go.  That was a mistake too many people make.

There was a strong serious side to my nature, and socially I was probably a bit dull. Later, I trained as a teacher, despite my committment, I always found the teaching profession difficult.

I started a small business.  This was socially successful, but it was never a financial success. During this time in a process of self evaluation and future planning I began to keep a journal of interest.  That journal now runs to 49 volumes, each of about 200 pages.  Many professions have discovered the value of journal writing in the last 10 years, it's part of many university courses, usually disguised as "Reflective Professional Practice".

The opportunity came in mid-life to get a university degree by correspondence at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.  Starting in my early 30's I was 40 when I completed my Bachelor of Business Studies degree.  But nobody would employ me.  People with new degrees are 22, not 40.  I was offered one start at 25% of my teaching salary at the time.

Innovation

I began as a business consultant, believing that innovation was critical to success and the techniques of managerial economics could help to make innovators more likely to succeed.  The next 5 years were to teach me a lot about the limitations of my training, and the wrongness of most of my ideas.  I learnt that it's vital to understand who you are, and what the environment you work in is like.  Most of us assume we "know" but few of us do.

My interest in innovation led to the development of the Veech Innovation Model, and to some writing on the subject.  I opened the Innovation Network on Ryze (now closed), and as someone remarked, "It was the only active Innovation Network on the Internet in English."  There is also an Innovation Wiki, mostly my work, uncompleted, but there are only 20 or so members of that group.

Action Learning

These years introduced me to Professor Reginald Revans of the UK, and his little book on Action Learning.  He offered me the secret of how to help people who run their own businesses.  You get them to talk to each other on a regular basis, and you offer them some basic training on problem analysis and gathering data from the field where they are working.  People can find ways to solve their own problems if they engage in a process of continuous learning.

Later I was introduced to the work of W Edwards Deming and Joseph M Juran, both of whom stressed the value of collecting good data and the use of statistical methods.  We all need to engage in continuous learning, to gather the experience of a daily life and the best ideas and wisdom available together, and to build it into our lives.  I've created a learning process for me. For you, that choice is yours to make or reject.

Management Circles

In Christchurch in the early 1990's I experimented with the Revan's idea of getting managers to talk to each other.  About a dozen groups were started, but group maintenance was hard work. I seemed to be the glue that held groups together.  As I moved on to establish new groups, the groups I no longer attended quietly began to fall over.  Meetings are valuable. Building and sustaining small private groups of business managers and owners who meet regularly is a goal I still aspire to achieve.  Maybe in the future, using the Internet it's possible?

Web Site Development - Practical Networking

The internet opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me.  I blooded myself by building a huge web site devoted to dancing, which was very popular.  The site attracted contributions from over 700 people from around the world.  I was heavily networked into the online dance world.  People would help me in lots of ways, always free of charge.  In turn I helped them.  Over a hundred of us, before the days of good search engines, built sites that linked to each other.  We made it possible to find dance resources everywhere by "surfing" from site to site.  That proved for me the value of networking.

In 2003 I did some basic research interviewing 15 people who used the Internet.  Only ONE of those was on the road to Internet literacy (He was 12).  I reported my dismal findings but nobody seemed bothered about it.

I've always had high hopes that people might use the Internet to achieve useful things in their lives.  Mostly that's failed to happen.  The Internet exists, but the superhighway to knowledge and the future lies largely unused.  I personally interviewed 60 people in Christchurch selected at random in 2007.  NONE of them use the Internet in any way that's making a substantial difference in their lives.

I put a lot of effort into making my knowledge of this dismal failure available to the NZ Digital Strategy, "creating a digital future for all New Zealanders".  People listened, but nobody wanted to act on my findings. The NZ Digital strategy is a failure.  We're focusing on the wrong things, like building local web sites, broadband access and teaching people how to use Microsoft Office Products.

Social Networks - The New Opportunity

In recent years with the introduction of social networking opportunities I've seen that most people fail to understand how online social networks work.  The success rate on Ryze was somewhere between 8% and 2% depending on your viewpoint.  On LinkedIn the success rate is even lower.  None of the many social network sites available are any different.  There are millions of registered people, a few spectacular stars, a tiny cohort of regular users and many uncommitted users, creating a massive long tail of people who don't get it.

I've spent a lot of time helping people with very basic Internet Knowledge.  I make myself less available to do that now, but I always help when I can.

How to learn almost ANYTHING

Rule One: join groups of like minded people.  Social networks are a great way to start.
Rule Two: Be proactive, talk to people.  Allow other people to find and talk to you.

Opportunity knocks only for those who are already ready.  I repeat: "already ready"; you need to prepare before the event.  Let me show you how to do that, follow one of the links below.

Your comment on this essay is welcomed. Comments (0)

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