This blog written by: George R. Collins, USDLA, Chair of the Board
Many of us grew up with the idea that reading biographies was somehow inherently good. Read of Lincoln and learn how early-on he was undeterred by repeated defeats at the ballot box. Climb in the cockpit with Lindbergh to glean something about a willingness to bet your survival on what feels like a bunch of abstract equations. Consider how a French engineer, L’Enfant, could view a wooded hummock called Jenkins Hill and envision it as Capitol Hill, now our majestic seat of government. Often, we can learn from and model ourselves after greatness that has preceded us.
Something similar is true of organizations. Sometimes there are parallels between organizations that, on the surface, operate in altogether different universes. We’ve seen that, for instance, in the Quality Movement where an American accounting firm takes lessons from a Japanese car manufacturer. Sometimes, though, the distance between the two is even greater. What might people learn from a building? Learn, not in a building, mind you, but from a building?
Probably all of us know Pixar – Toy Story, Cars, Ratatouille, Nemo – you get it. Do you know that Pixar attributes much of its success to the design of its headquarters building. Steve Jobs explained it this way, “If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”
The director of Ratatouille, Brad Bird, also speaking of the Pixar building elaborates. “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space …. But Steve realized that when people run into each other, they make eye contact, things happen.”
Cool, but what does Ratatouille and a colony of Parisian rats have to do with distance learning? Well, the rats, not so much … but the creative process behind the feature film has a lot to do with DL. Start with our slogan Learn from a community that is broader than your own. Think of Pixar’s atrium “people run into each other … make eye contact … things happen.” That is the essence of USDLA’s magic. Bring a group of professionals together. Make contact. Things happen.
This Pixar Principle is designed into and boldly showcased at USDLA’s National Conference. Learn from a community that is broader than your own. It is seen at chapter meetings. It is found in webinars during National Distance Learning Week. Learn from a community that is broader than your own. In a very real sense, it is even found right here on usdla.org and in our Distance Learning Journal.
Things happen. We’d love for you to be a part of that!
And now … the 2018 USDLA Awards are right around the corner! Soon we will be posting information concerning the competition – and due dates! The award categories from 2017 will pretty well hold for next year’s competition. So be thinking about some person or some aspect of your work that merits international acclaim. We’d love to see you walk across the stage to receive your award at our National Conference!
As evidenced above, our new blog theme is on the topic of “Learn from a community that is broader than your own.” If you have a personal story that illustrates this principle, by all means let us hear from you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Learn more about the USDLA and how you too can be a member. The association supports all core markets including Enterprise, Government, Telemedicine, Education and others.
One USDLA program that really puts legs on the concept of learning from a broad community is our annual USDLA International Awards Program. We have pretty well wrapped up a series of blogs in this space that feature many of our 2017 award winners. We hope you’ve found those posts to be both interesting and informative.