Marcia Conner advises executives in some of the world’s largest companies to unite technologies, analytics, and human power into the energy that drives best-around-the-globe performance. Often brought in as a “fixer,” she quickly aligns collaborative strategies with organization culture and amends skill shortages to radically change the speed of innovation. The tools Marcia uses surface people’s extraordinary capabilities and spark discovery in quick bursts. She has been quoted on the BBC and World News This Morning, and in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Forbes. Former Vice President and Information Futurist at PeopleSoft and Worldwide Manager at Microsoft, she is a fellow of the Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business, a member of Telefónica’s Disruptive Council, and has contributed to Fast Company since 2005. Marcia has published three books, the most recent being The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media. She is currently working on a new book about human ingenuity.
The Rest of the Story
Leola Chidester wrote on my Kindergarten report card, “Although Marcia wants to be President, she’d make a terrific teacher.” She went on to explain that my constant curiosity, endless energy, and incurable ingenuity could be used to help people see new points of view. Years later, after rethinking my political aspirations on a train across Northern Africa, I recalled Mrs. Chidester’s words. There was no escaping my passion for ensuring people can work better together at work.
Much of my life has been spent in corporations, often unraveling overly cumbersome departments, moving functions into the business line or redesigning software programs so they don’t require endless training. This has required work in areas as diverse as business strategy, product development, marketing, management, human resources, OD, interface design, usability, learnability, publishing, and online community.
I’ve served as senior counsel to corporations, governments, non-governmental organizations, and schools. Over the last 25 years I have studied, lived and worked on three continents. I also authored Learn More Now (John Wiley & Sons, 2004), co-created Creating a Learning Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2004), wrote the forward to Engaging Learning by Clark N. Quinn (Jossey-Bass, 2005), and contribute to dozens of other magazines and books. I’ve also appeared on ABC’s World News This Morning and the BBC, as well as being quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
Ultimately, I’m interested in ensuring organizational cultures don’t suck, where people can work together and tap into how they learn so they can attain personal and professional success. I refer this as “being human at work.” I’m happy to report, I’m not alone in this quest.
On the personal front, I’m married to a brilliant and handsome tennis coach, Karl Conner. We have a young son who keeps us humble and animals that keep us grounded. We live and work on a 50-acre homestead in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. I whitewater canoe and volunteer my time to talk with parents and teachers about creative solutions for children who have learning disabilities.
In addition to my work with clients across the globe, I head a team that quietly solves urgent business problems, facilitate workshops on new forms of organization design, social media and complexity, and serve as advisor to terrific executives transforming the world. I’m the sort of person who people call when they’re unsure who to call. I have made a career of fixing problems and creating opportunities.
At work or at play, I hate to see people miss out on what’s interesting around them because they haven’t figured out how to master new information quicker. Sometimes this knowledge-transfer happens in a classroom; most of the time it happens through serendipity, when we least expect it. I also love to share what I’ve discovered so if you’re interested in these same sorts of things, let me know what resources you’ve found particularly useful.
[photo credit: Charlottesville wedding and portrait photographer April Bennett]