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For the term "Systems Thinking".

The Power of Systems Thinking

System dynamics, a modeling technique developed at MIT, is well-suited for diagnosing problems at the project level, helping project leaders pinpoint internal feedback loops and understand how time delays in various activities can impact the overall behavior of a working system. Here are four common organizational pathologies that consistently derail projects.

Systems Thinking for Social Change

A review of Systems Thinking for Social Change by David Peter Stroh. The book serves as an actionable guide on how to incorporate systems thinking in problem solving, decision making, and strategic planning.

Systems Thinking In Public Health | Coursera

Systems Thinking In Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. This course provides an introduction to systems thinking and systems models in public health. Problems in public health and health policy tend to be complex with many actors, …

Sustainability through Soccer: Systems-Thinking in Action | Coursera

Sustainability through Soccer: Systems-Thinking in Action from University of Virginia. This course takes learners on a journey through a progression of systems-thinking and sustainability concepts. Using the beautiful game of soccer (also known …

Productivity: A Misguided Measurement in Software Systems?

Standards change often, paving the way for new thinking in developing software systems. It’s also largely driven by constantly changing customer tastes and expectations, industry trends and consumer behavior. Let’s look at some of the key aspects of measuring productivity in the new age of knowledge work projects…

One Version of the Future

Per Mindy B’s request, here’s my version of our future. I can elaborate a little now. As to a longer focus on workflow learning, we have several members of the LCB Blog Squad who are very involved in such efforts. I’ll encourage them to post some of their thoughts. Jay Cross and Tony O’Driscoll laid out a more detailed vision of workflow learning in the February Training. From a very high overview, I think we’ll see changes in what learning interventions are and changes in what the Learning and Development function does. Supervisors at all levels will be held responsible for the development of their employees. My growth strategy (versus developmental plan) will be focused on building my strengths and will be a matter of public knowledge so my colleagues will be able to help me meet my personal goals while we work together. Employees will be given opportunities to learn whenever, however they need. Let’s say I’m a marketing director with budget responsibility for my department. A week from today there’s a meeting to launch the budgeting process for next year’s budget. When I logged onto my work portal this morning my tablet PC reminded me of the meeting with to do’s from my supervisor’s memo. It also has organized last year’s budget, my budgeting notes, a guide from finance on corporate budget strategy for this year – with my bosses reactions and directions included. My system also gives a list of requested initiatives from my notes for meetings with my business partners, industry benchmarking numbers for similar initiatives and a reminder that I never took the training for the forecasting component of our new financial software – with a link to the online training. Outlook has even identified that my staff can meet with me at 3PM on Monday and is holding the time on everyone’s calendars waiting for my approval. Finally, I have my comments regarding budget processes for each of my direct reports culled from our reviews over the past year, L&D’s suggestions for materials to share with each, and coaching tips for me. To guide the development of interventions that anticipate employee needs, we learning professionals will have to become proficient in systems thinking, business processes, change management and strategic planning. We’ll get so close to our business partner that we’ll become one of them. Needs analysis will truly be about what is needed and what the best solution(s) is – not the best training solution. Assessment will become focused on helping employees develop self-awareness of what they need to know to execute on their business objectives and pave the way for where they want their careers headed. You asked who the vendors will be. Some will be the vendors you know today – SumTotal, GeoLearning, SAS, Oracle, etc. But don’t be surprised if you’re learning business process tools from Hyperion or Verity, synchronous meeting tools from Interwise or Skype, team/community enablement tools from UberGroups or Google and data mining and content management tools from Documentum or Fatwire. So what do you think Mindy? Are you prepared for the change?

Linking Training To Performance Goals

Todays global economy forces every successful organization to focus on high performanceincluding the training function. Are you ready for this challenge? This issue will show you new ways to approach training with an emphasis on performance. It explains how to help your organization make the transition from a training mindset to one of performance, and contrasts the roles of the traditional trainer with that of a performance consultant. In addition, you will learn the four key principles that will allow you to link training to performancegoal linkage, business and customer focus, systems thinking, and process measurement. Author: Stephen J. Gill
Product SKU: 259606 ISBN: 978-1-56286-203-9
Pages: 16 pages Publisher: ASTD Press
Format: Booklet

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Designs on Transformation

Organizations that seek transformation and innovation go beyond top-down, analytical methods and incorporate the lessons of design thinking, humanistic management and systems theory. Here are seven principles that can dramatically improve how your organization develops products, services and processes.

Process Improvement in a Vacuum

Running a process improvement project with little or no knowledge of the legacy systems gives a whole new meaning to “creative thinking.” Here’s how one team got over this hurdle to achieve breakthrough results

Data Warehouse Delivery: Paying the Price

Sad but true: Many teams building BI solutions are still operating on some variation of the “build it and they will come” methodology. Only by thinking about what you are going to do with the numbers before you pay for them–and executing on those implications–can you bring forth solid systems.

Top 25 personal productivity books

  The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss The New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Body shows readers how to live more and work less, now with more than 100 pages of new, cutting-edge content. Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint. Getting Things Done by David Allen “A completely...

Growth by Shedding

As reptiles grow by shedding their skin, leaders and organizations also grow by shedding their old ways of thinking, dated management practices, and irrelevant operational systems and processes.

Workflow learning vs. the “me-focus” culture

The idea of workflow learning is surprisingly controversial. I attended the “Innovations in E-learning” symposium last week, put together by George Mason University, the US Naval Education and Training Command, and the Defence Acquisition University. I was interested in hearing what Jay Cross, Clark Aldrich, Harvey Singh and Ben Watson had to say about workflow learning, collaboration, and simulations, since these are things I have always been passionate about. Jay’s presentation, as usual, was delightfully challenging, non-linear, evocative, and provocative. But the presentation on “embedded learning” by Michael Littlejohn of IBM astonished me. He provided a well-structured overview of the practical deployment issues of embedded learning. My surprise was not so much at what he said, but that it was being said by IBM. If Big Blue is advocating it, then workflow learning has come a long way, baby. I did a piece on this on my own blog, and have already had a lot of back-channel skeptical feedback. In all that I have read about workflow learning, I have yet to hear anyone argue that it is not a great idea conceptually, but there are a whole lot of people who can’t believe workflow learning will ever work in practice. They are blinded by their culture. It reminds me of the mid-to-late 1990s when I was promoting online learning to a resistant training community, who could not believe that anyone would prefer a computer to a classroom, or that any online learning could be as effective as that delivered by a trainer. Many were also desperately afraid of having to re-invent themselves. At the time, my mantra was “it’s warmer on the web,” because I was trying to get through to trainers that online learning was all about connecting people, building communities, mutual mentoring, and sharing experience. To a largely techno-skeptical audience numbed by the self-indulgent atrocities of CD-ROM courses, online learning was never going to fly. The key that unlocked the e-learning Pandora’s box, unleashing a few gems within a cloud of pestilence, was a culture shift. Corporations started taking for granted ubiquitous desktop computing and internet connections, and started looking to leverage them to improve business processes and cut costs. Trainers started to get as myopically starry-eyed about e-learning as they had about PowerPoint. Workers started to appreciate the need to keep themselves current, valuable, and marketable because it became clear that companies were not going to provide more than the basic essentials. Training vendors saw a need to defend against more tech-savvy competitors, as well as an opportunity to broaden markets and raise margins. Quite a lot of learners had a few good e-learning experiences, mind-sets started shifting from resistance to acceptance, if not enthusiasm, and e-learning was airborne. Workflow learning requires similar, though probably more dramatic, organizational and personal culture changes. A major prerequisite for workflow learning is a culture that fosters collaboration and sharing, that rewards (rather than punishes) individual support initiatives, that builds a fundamental responsibility for informal coaching and mentoring into every employee’s job description, and that places as much value on time spent helping others perform as it does on time spent performing. Another prerequisite is a widespread personal attitude toward supporting others that values highly the giving of both time and knowledge – two things most workers jealously protect. It’s not about the technology or the processes (though of course they are important), because without the individual will and the corporate mandate, the technology will gather dust. To change corporate culture, you need to demonstrate to senior decision-makers how much money can be made or saved (preferably this quarter) as a result of the proposed change. If they buy into the financial reward, corporations can move mountains. But how do you formalize, in a way that bean-counters will accept, the ROI from something as apparently fuzzy and informal as workflow learning? IBM advocates thinking small and running a pilot. That may be a starting point, but it’s not a strategy. Do you need to get conceptual buy-in at CEO level and have a bold shake-up, top-down, in order to achieve any sustainable culture shift? Or do you abdicate and wait for a bottom-up worker-driven evolution that effectively bypasses formal learning systems? However you do it, without a culture shift away from the “me-focus” that most organizational review/reward systems instill, and toward a “we-focus,” workflow learning just ain’t going to fly! Godfrey Parkin

What would I see if I rode on a beam of light?

Before Einstein, scientists would observe and record something, and then find the right mathematics to explain the results. Einstein comes along and reverses the process by finding a beautiful piece of mathematics based on some very deep insights into the way the universe works and then makes predictions about what ought to happen in the world. Behold the power of human creativity. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote that the creative process normally takes five steps ( Creativity, 1996, p. 79): The physicist Freeman Dyson wrote two papers that were published in Physical Review that brought together Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger’s theories of quantum mechanics. After Dyson’s papers, Feynman and Schwinger’s ideas became understandable and thus led to the two being awarded the Noble prize in physics. There is no doubt in most minds that the two would never have been awarded the prize if it was not for Dyson being able to explain and connect their ideas. Dyson’s story is interesting as it fits the five steps of creativity: Fred Stratton (CEO of Briggs & Stratton) once said that genius lay in the ability to see how two things that nobody else sees as related are indeed related. This ability to recognize distant analogies unlocks a world of potential — Edison recognized that space and time are not absolute; while Dyson recognized a connection between Feynman and Schwinger’s two theories when no one else could.Skills needed in this so called “knowledge economy” go beyond rote memory to the next level — the ability to think both critically and creatively. Yet traditional learning systems have typically been centralized and operate on the principle that learners are unable to decide what they need to learn, thus the system does it for them, which in turn creates a vicious cycle — put the learners in a system that does very little to encourage critical thinking, formal reasoning, or meta-learning; then tell them they are unable to decide what they need to learn, thus others will have do it for them. And this carries on from schools to the business world. This central control is stifling…it is closed to the possibility that people need to have a say in what they learn. It is closed to the next step in the learning process — building a variety of experiences in order to build a strong knowledge base; which then creates the possibility for building a context or connection that no one else has created before. This is how problems are solved and novel ideas are created. Learning needs to follow a similar process as Csikszentmihalyi’s Five Steps of Creativity: Our learning systems have performed a good job with the first step of “Preparation”, yet it seems quite hesitate to go beyond this by riding the beam of light rather than just observing it. This Tuesday (October 11, 2005) on PBS — Einstein’s big idea: The Legacy of E = mc2

The “can you learn from computer games” gotcha!

David’s comments got me thinking. There is an emerging argument with which I disagree that goes something like: “Some of you are saying that computer games teach. If you say computer games teach, aren’t computer games teaching violence?” My argument back is saying: We all must increasingly look at content through the lenses of linear, systems, and interface/cyclical. The reason is not just that we should think of teaching that type of content, but that we are teaching that type of content. This gets to the whole school issue as well. Consider: Every day, in every class, students learn interface/cyclical skills. Again, these are the highly precise skills they learn through constant repetition. Here are some examples of the types of cyclical content that our K-12 experiences have taught, and we refine in corporate classes: Classes also inadvertently teach students a tremendous amount about the system in which they are. This is where I would like to also quote John Taylor Gatto:Until we get a handle on these different content types, we will teach mostly the wrong stuff, even/especially if people test well.

Strategic Sales Training

It’s time for some new thinking in sales training. Clearly, there is a need for more comprehensive approaches to increasing individual competency and building sales capacity. The current approach just isn’t working. Let’s look at some of the newest trends in sales and sales management, and how they can help: Talent management. Studies have shown that a deliberate approach to talent management, including the recruitment, selection, orientation, engagement, and retention of top sales performers, results in annual sales force turnover of less than 10 percent (BPT Partners). Top sales organizations focus keenly on the proper identification and selection of new sales team members who have the best fit for building the sales team. That means they fit withing the sales culture, selling system, and types of products being sold. S kills development. Training is conducted with the purpose of helping salespeople increase their knowledge of the business and developing higher level skills, not just focusing on one element of the sales training mix such as product knowledge. Sales leaders coach and develop their team members. Sales process execution. Once equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills, salespeople must be free to use them. They must be permitted – and expected – to take initiative, use good judgment, and make ethical decisions. Yet, 81 percent of sales organizations say that they don’t have a consultative sales process or are not following the one they have. Foundational selling skills. Skills such as presentation skills, speaking, closing, and follow-up – seem to be less important in today’s selling climate. Don’t get me wrong, salespeople do believe that addressing tough customer requirements, leveraging industry knowledge, and troubleshooting complex business problems provide the right customized experience for the buyer. Salespeople can provide value to buyers through a collaborative approach that co-creates a solution through a complex sales cycle. These approaches require salespeople to develop a wide variety of skills to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of the market and of their offerings. A competency model can help to define and guide that development. A competency model. A sales competency model can serve as an objective foundational starting point that can help to forecast and address knowledge and skills issues that arise due to the changes in markets and demographics. Consider the impact of a younger workforce: Will the only gap be one of turning knowledge into skill? How will companies turn the raw, undeveloped abilities of these younger players into consistently applied talent? What resources do we have for the bright, knowledgeable sales-team member who lacks the interpersonal skills to form lasting relationships with customers? And how will we address the loss of accumulated knowledge and years of experience when our most senior salespeople retire – many of them within the next five to ten years? If the experience of maturing workers is important to a company’s success, how can that experience and expertise be captured and transferred to younger, less experienced workers? Sales trainers, sales managers, and company executives must be more concerned with providing a holistic learning and development progression rather than relying on ad-hoc sales training activities. Furthermore, management must take a more proactive role in promoting the importance of this development and supplying adequate resources. Right now, many companies’ leaders are getting in the way of their sales teams’ success: In response to the ASTD survey, 44 percent said that there was a lack of management buy-in to sales training in their organizations, and 42 percent said that management’s short-sighted focus on results was an obstacle to successful sales training. To engineer world-class sales performance, sales team development must be holistic, all-encompassing, and proactive. There must be a paradigm shift in thinking, from “sales training” to “sales development and performance.” Sales training must quickly and deliberately evolve from a sometime activity by sales managers to an intentional, qualified effort that is directly tied to business strategy and measured according to business outcomes. Its practitioners must be knowledgeable, dedicated, and guided by a competency-based approach. A quantum shift to sales development and performance will bring sales team members together with professional sales trainers to create positive, progressive change by balancing human, ethical, technological, and operational considerations. A competency-based approach can help organizations attain business outcomes and results by focusing on sales-team member knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and actions in relation to the workplace environment. For example, a competency-based approach allows sales development and performance professionals to work with a hiring manager to select new employees who demonstrate the agreed-upon competencies and expertise required to be successful in the position. These competencies then become part of the performance management system to monitor and evaluate the individual’s performance on the job. Finally, these competencies serve as the basis for guiding future development. A competency-based approach applied to the sales organization can provide a firm foundation by which sales team members can develop. With this approach, development efforts aimed at helping sales team members gain basic skills, technology skills, or even management skills are designed to be immediately applicable. Salespeople must continually develop new skills in order to contribute to the growth of their companies. The only way for companies to grow and compete in a rapidly changing global business environment is to have a skilled sales team that is innovative, understands the economic environment and marketplace, and is driven to excel within their industry. This requires the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. The tools and systems created by a competency-based approach to sales-team development can help organizations overcome many of the barriers cited here and maximize the potential of their sales force.

Software as Service: What are the Four Pillars for Elearning?

As I get ready for the new year and a new job, I find myself with more time for deep thinking. I’ve stumbled on to a really interesting framework for thinking about enterprise elearning. Phil Wainewright of ZDnet wrote about a recent presentation by JP Rangaswami, CIO at top global investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW). Rangaswami is recognized as a leader, early adopter and advance thinker in enterprise information technology. In his presentation, Rangswami calls out the four pillars of “enterprise 3.0”: This could be a very interesting framework for thinking about learning and training applications. Here are some of my comments interspersed with italicized quotes from Wainewrights original post on The four pillars of enterprise 3.0. Publishing- Any application that generates data will act as though it’s a content publisher… Hmm, this sounds a lot like authoring tools and LCMS/LMS products. The significance of this is that it reduces all of these applications to the level of raw feed generators: “You can’t differentiate, it’s just content.” OK, here is where I see elearning being different; the interaction, the instructional design and the context seem more crucial than for your average IT application. Then again, maybe elearning is more like Conversation (see below). Discovery- This is the application that gives everyone a “Google experience” — a single, homogenous database where everything is stored and where everything is discoverable. Though the LMS was intended to be this, it clearly isn’t. There is too much critical learning/knowledge tucked away in help systems, informal learning, etc.To me, Rangaswami’s observation on security applies to the LMS in general because it isn’t a “daily portal” for most people and isn’t always on and easy to access; it has become a walled garden. Fulfilment- This is the application that makes things happen, most notably for customers. The training professional’s customer is a learner. Here, as in other businesses, the capability to provide identity management, roles, personalization, and contextual choices is critical. Conversation- All the channels of collaboration between people, either inside the organization or beyond its walls. This is really interesting. It hits on collaborative learning and reaching the extended organization (channel partners, suppliers, distributors, and customers). Very interesting to think about how web conferencing and VoIP will emerge in the learning & training “Conversation”. Right now, I’m not sure how authoring tools and LMS offering will handle these sorts of conversations. Historically they have been broadcast, not dialog. Though some may say threaded discussions and virtual classrooms are dialog, I see them as heavily moderated dialogs at best. All-in-all, this an interesting framework for analyzing and architecting elearning solutions, that I will make use of regardless of the technical uses of SOA and web services for elearning.

Nested Feedback: Designing Learning Experiences for Generations for Gamers

One of the interesting parts of creating educational simulations is the role of nested feedback. At any given point, a learner should be getting feedback on short, medium, and long-term actions, all simultaneously. This thinking is very foreign to traditional instructional designers, but very familiar to anyone who builds or uses computer games. I like to think of feedback at intervals of Turn 1, Turn 3, and Turn 9. Turn 1 feedback happens after every turn. Turn 3 feedback reflects on the execution of simple strategies and ability to build capacity; we see the results of multiple tactics. Turn 9 gets to the biggest ideas of success or failure. Here is a breakdown, focusing on specifics. Turn 1 Feedback is around: *Do I understand my options at any given moment? *Can I map an action that I want to do/ would do in real life to the screen/ virtual world? *Do I know if I did something really wrong (not always possible)? *Do I know if I did something really right (not always possible)? Turn 1 Feedback meets these learning objectives: +Use of simple process +Understanding options/tactics Turn 1 Feedback Uses: – Voices – Graphics Turn 3 Feedback is around (depending on the learning objectives/content/genre): *Can I influence/ optimize one (primary systems) variable? *Do I know if I am on the right track? *Do I know if I have blown any chance of success? *Do I know where I am losing ground/ need to triage? *Do I know if I am doing something rather wrong? *Do I know if I am doing something rather right? *Do I know what my long-term goal is? *How does what I do maximize some part of the system? *How do I traverse some part of the map? *How do I build some part? *How do I get some critical competency/ tool? *How do I control some territory,? *How do I build some important personal relationships *Given my strategy, am I executing against it? Turn 3 Feedback meets these learning objectives: +How actions impact a System +Executing complicated process Turn 3 Feedback Uses: – Triggers at milestones reached – Onscreen graphs and maps Turn 9 Feedback is around (depending on the learning objectives/content/genre): *Did I win? *Can I optimize/ influence many (primary systems) variables *Did I build what I wanted to build? *Did I get to where I wanted to go? *What does victory actually look like? *Do I understand the trade-offs in my victory? Turn 9 Feedback meets these learning objectives: +Understanding Systems +Use of Time +Execution of Complex Strategy Turn 9 Feedback uses: – After action reviews – Complex charts and graphs – Multiple analyses of plays – Advice for future plays – Scores – Consequences of actions taken When learners first engage the sim, they are focused on Turn 1 Feedback. But after a few iterations, either replaying or continuing on to advanced levels, the learners increasingly focus on Turn 9 Feedback. One necessity of building these nested feedback cycles is that we have to spend a lot more time thinking about failure than thinking about success. Our increasing challenge is how to help learners recognize, and then avoid, failure. This also gets to a concept of level design, again familiar to gamers and foreign to traditional instructional designers. The bad news is that this is obviously a lot of work. The good news is that it produces formal learning experiences that teach much more, in much less time, in a format that meets the needs of the next generation of learners.

Intelligent Design….of Learning

Learning 2.0 || Web 2.0 Maybe this is a thought crime, but the meme that’s propagating in my head this morning is that instructional design will once again mimic software design. (Where do you think those human performance flowcharts came from anyway?) Read this article about lightweight software development and the surge toward Web 2.0. Now, let me indulge in some cut-and-paste thinking. Modify the article by substituting instructional or instruction for software, and Cross for Fried. Here’s what you get.The more I dig into how people learn, the more convinced I become that we’ve been trying to do things the hard way. We used to think our job was designing instructional systems. I’m beginning to think we’re nurturing the evolution of learning experiences. Instructional design tries to fix things that are broken. It begins with assessing what’s wrong, “gaps,” and leads to developing grandiose, cure-all solutions. Learning evolution begins with what you’ve got and nurtures incremental improvement. We see the same sort of issue on the front page of our newspapers. One the one hand, some people believe a master designer released Earth 1.0 about six thousand years ago. Others folks believe Earth beta has been evolving for billions of years; it’s a web without a weaver. Do you believe in the intelligent design of instruction or the evolution of species of learning? Next up: Instead of “the network is the computer,” think “the network is the brain.”

Good CEOs Will Be the Death of Any Economic Stimulus Plans

NY Metro ( PRWEB) March 11, 2009 — CEOs will be the single most important people in saving the economy, but not if they are “doing what they best.” President Obama and the Congress did not cause the current economic crisis and their bailouts will not be able to fix it. It was created within the business world and that is where it will be solved. This makes CEOs the vanguard of any recovery. “Right now CEOs are trying to be ‘good CEOs,’ and that’s the worst thing they can do,” says Erik Luhrs of CEO ROI Systems, Inc., the author of a new white paper on CEOs and the economic recovery. “By ‘good’ I mean that they are doing what they were trained to do. But as Einstein said: ‘You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.'” Drawing parallels with 9/11, Luhrs states that the our recent economic troubles were not caused by the subprime mortgage debacle, NAFTA, the rise of China and India or any other “cause” seen in the news. Instead he says the cause is the rapid transition from the Industrial Age to the Information-Technology Age. He claims that CEOs who were trained in Industrial Age thinking aren’t ready for this new Age and they don’t have the ability to fix the troubles they’ve gotten into. ( Read the entire release on BusinessWire.)

Do You Brag About Your Personal Learning Network?

One of the best things about being an instructional designer right now is that now more than ever we feel that our field is in the zeitgeist of what’s happening in the media and technology worlds. What we do (rather, how we do it) is influenced greatly by technologies that support more flexible means of communication and collaboration. Social media and mobile technologies have turned the spotlight on social learning concepts, which in turn have made more of us think about the large, ill-charted dark matter of culture: informal learning. Of course, our response to this turn of events should be elation – finally, Charles Jennings can stop talking about 70-20-10! We can explain communities of practice without once using the phrase “well, no, that’s not really an example of what i’m talking about…”! (bonus: we can avoid awkward tittering by wholly avoiding the name ‘Wenger’ in a classroom setting). Everyone in the Internet Time Alliance can retire to tropical islands. Their work here is done, because everyone in your care now understands the value of social and informal learning. Except maybe they don’t. Maybe you’re having trouble convincing your boss that her task force is not a community of practice. Maybe your top-down Yammer implementation has yielded more tumbleweeds than users. Perhaps it’s because, in fact, no one is making the connection between the breakthroughs in networking that they can plainly see and whatever it is that you do. Maybe you should brag about your personal learning network. In this new world, those in our care probably find it harder – not easier – to square the existence of this wikiHow entry and your job as conductor of whatever they’ve been led to think formalized training is. Do you exemplify the benefits of social and informal learning in your own work life? Do you document successes of social learning? Are you watching and listening to the concerns of your co-workers, providing the right nudge when needed, and openly sourcing your information? Are you connecting your peers with relatable thought leadership or community resources that you’ve found valuable? How about using technology to make spaces for serendipitous learning – loosely organized, de-escalated learning, free from expectations but endowed with purpose? As I’ve said before, I love our kind of people, and not just for their unfailingly sparkling personalities. Every day, they are useful to me in my work, and every day I make it known that I am bringing fire to those in my care because of my associations. In design meetings, I nip errant learning styles talk in the bud. I stay up-to-date on the development of Project Tin Can and use what I know to rethink learning management systems. I experiment with Google Hangouts. I make it easy for myself to be a node in the network and I make sure that people know that part of my value is being as connected as I am. While I probably spend more time talking about #lrnchat than I do participating in it these days, I’ve been known by more than one boss as ‘the Twitter guy.’ I’m proud that I eventually stopped being ‘the Twitter guy’ – that is, I stopped being just a tolerated, quirky evangelist for the platform when I stopped telling people how valuable Twitter is and started using it very publicly to inform my discourse in the workplace. (As Jane Bozarth says, “Google gets you links. Twitter gets you answers.) As a result, the questions that I get around social media are less of the “what good is Twitter?” variety and more about how to use social learning tools to their best effect. As I rely on a large, diverse learning network to help me be competent and prescient, I hope to show (not tell) that I am here to solve problems, not simply build courses or teach classes. I can suggest and employ social and informal learning strategies in part because they’re already working: social media tools, content curation, collaboration, and networked learning are making me better at what I do. Craig Wiggins has been helping people create and manage learning experiences for the last 10 years. He is the eLearning Instructional Design Strategist for the Corporate Executive Board’s Corporate Leadership Council, where he manages the creation of meaningful distance learning and performance solutions. Craig holds a B.A. in anthropology and an M.Ed. in curriculum development, and spends a lot of time thinking about how to sneak usability, accessibility, and proper task analysis into the mix. In his natural habitat, he is usually storyboarding on wall-sized whiteboards or pontificating on Google+.

ASTD 2011 Interview With The Change Book Authors

We spoke at the International Conference & Expo with Change Book authors Mary Stewart and Tricia Emerson. The two talked about culture, getting executives aligned with change initiatives, and why it’s all about the research. Q: Let’s first scratch the surface: Visually, The Change Book is a very unique business book. How do you feel this look and feel help to drive home your ideas and strategies? Mary: One of the big principles that we explore in the book is taking the learner’s point of view. One way to think about that is that we’re talking to people like ourselves, but we are also talking to people with a variety of learning styles. And we asked ourselves, what would we want to read if we were reading a business book about change. There are different kinds of people with different perspectives, different cultures and styles of learning. How do we incorporate both of those things: What do we want from a reader’s perspective? So we thought about that and we came up with a couple of different things: First of all, we are busy. So we don’t have a lot of time. If I start to read a book that’s very linear in fashion and it’s 300 pages long, I might not feel as though I’ve gotten what I should get until I’ve read the 300th page. So that might be an investment of time for me. So we wanted a book that delivered content in small packages – each chapter is something you can literally open up, read (each chapter is probably 3 pages long), and then you can close the book, and you’ve gotten something from it. Another thing is, we know a lot about some things and not others. What we thought about with our book is that maybe we want people to go directly to the topic they want to learn about. We want people to go directly to the table of contents and say, ‘For the questions I have, I want to look at this chapter or that chapter, and maybe that’s all I need for now.’ And they can skip the ones that they feel they have a handle on already. Tricia and I are both visual learners and so we didn’t want to rely too heavily on words. We wanted to layer the content. All people learn on different levels. Maybe some people are persuaded more by stories and metaphors. Some people (like us) are persuaded by visuals—if I can imagine the four quadrants of a model in my head, then I can remember it, and I can teach it. But if I have to read everything in a narrative form, sometimes it doesn’t stick as well. So we tried to layer these things: words plus visuals, plus stories, plus metaphors, plus tools you can use. So maybe one of those ways appeals to you, and that’s what resonates with you. We also need the ability to transfer knowledge to others so that we have something we can take away, and a lot of words on a page doesn’t really facilitate that. And finally, the last thing that we need at the end of a long day is something that’s grim and dry. So we try to make it kind of fun. If I’m reading a book about work, after work, I don’t want to feel like it’s more work! I want to feel engaged and have something that cheers me up. We wrote a book that we liked! Tricia: I think that if something is fun, the ideas will resonate. We wanted to be not only playful, but deep, and based in research. The challenge was that people already know a lot about this topic, so we said, let’s challenge them by capturing those ideas in a way that is playful and fun, but meaty. It would be easy to dismiss the book as a ‘puff’ piece because it is so visually pleasing. But because it is grounded in evidence, that was the fun part: Making the hard work seem fun. That’s what expertise is: Doing something really complicated and making it look easy. Q: You insert a bit of Jungian theory in the book in terms of “archetypes.” What inspired you to connect these ideas in writing about culture change? Tricia: As world-class ‘nerds,’ we’re always looking for research and seeing what comes out of the universities. There was work being done by a woman named Carol Pearson out of the University of Maryland. She latched onto her ideas as she was doing work with CAPT (formed by Isabel Myers who was administering her surveys from there). What I thought was compelling was that she was working with PR firms taking the research around stories and around Jungian archetypes and associating it with brand. The reason why archetypes are so important for change is that stories define who we are as people. I can define myself as a caregiver, or jester, or a hero, and you’re going to know exactly what I mean. So it goes primarily to who I am as a person. Carol was saying that organizations have similar story lines. If I tell you that I work for Google, you’re going to make some assumptions about me. If I say that I work at Apple, you’ll say I’m a creative anarchist, and wear black t-shirts to work [laughs]. There are assumptions based on that brand. That’s compelling because it attracts people whose personal stories resonate with the brand story. That’s how culture comes about. So whenever you start to implement a new change, you have to be aware of the aggregate of all those individual stories and how that plays out from an organizational standpoint. People often come to me and say ‘I want to change our culture.’ And I’ll say first of all, ‘Why?’ And secondly, I get them to understand that they are changing the course of a river. So there has been ‘water hitting those rocks’ for many years, and the truth is that that organization was created by a lot of people gravitating toward the story that it projects. So If I am going to go there and change the culture, I’d better know what that story is, and if I’m going to work within that culture, I need to understand the overriding culture and the substories. And if I want to implement change, I’d better bring some dynamite, and I’d better build some dams. It’s better to work with the course of the river than to try to reroute it! So I think it was a perfectly logical extension on the Jungiuan work into the culture arena. I think we in the profession need to be thinking very hard about that. Q: Harnessing the right kind of people power is a huge part of change undertakings, so how can change leaders combat the dreaded competing silos in shaping their initiatives? Mary: There’s a finding in sociology that people can be motivated by a superordinate goal. That means a goal that affects everyone, that is compelling and that is more important than the goal of one’s own group. One thing we talk about is not shying away from the pain of the current state of an organization. In thinking about moving from state A to state B, organizations don’t like to use negative messages that say, ‘things are going to be bad if we don’t change,’ and they say instead, ‘things will be a little better if we do change.’ We recommend that they do say those difficult things because that creates the difference between that terrible future we don’t want and the great future that we’re all moving toward. So that can create a really compelling sense of urgency in their organization so that they stop competing with each other and instead compete with ‘the world’ as a group. Tricia: It’s base-level. You see what people call “the common enemy” that’s an expression of the superordinate goal. Essentially, what we’re talking about is executive sponsorship. Leaders have to be aligned. Often, the first thing we do in embarking on a large change is to put the executives in the same room together and have them come up with the four words that define what this change is about. This is basd in political science and political commnication. We get them on message. Because if they are not in agreement, it’s not going to happen. It has to happen at the very beginning; at the very top. Often, what companies do in a change initiative is create communications (slides or memos) for their executives. But when you meet that executive in the hallway, they’re not on message. And it doesn’t come from the heart. People look to the senior executives during changes, and if they’re not talking about it, people are going to assume this is a flavor of the month, and they’re not going to pay attention. So the upfront conversation has to be about why the status quo is no longer acceptable. Systems theory tells us that we don’t change until the current system no longer works for us. We have to be clear that the current system is broken. People don’t want to say that, but we’ve got to get executives on point with that. Second, we need to say ‘this is what the vision looks like’—the ‘shining city on the hill.’ It has to be graphic. Then we show them the first steps. This is why we equip them with those four words. Also, groups self-correct. There are unspoken rules that are created when people come together. This is the concept of emergent norms. This is also true of cultures—unspoken rules. People eventually come to understand what’s correct and what’s not. And they behave accordingly. When you pull the executives together and have them come up with these messages, the norms come out. This is all grounded in research. It’s time for us to start employing these principles in trying to have an impact on our organizations. We tend to start with the learning solution, which is great because that’s how you sustain change. But it’s really about behavioral change first, and how you get the system to work to your benefit. Q: In a sentence, what is one pearl of wisdom you’d like your readers to go forth with after reading The Change Book? Tricia: HPI and change management is a field of discipline that requires study. People need to read more research! Mary: Change is hard, but don’t be afraid of the negatve stuff because you can make it work to your advantage.

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