Friday, August 30, 2013

The Case for Investing More In Training, Not More Trainers

This post was originally published on the HumanCapitalist blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

When companies are forced to slash costs, budgets allocated for employee training tend to be among the first on the chopping block. For many managers and executives, making training cuts seems like a relatively pain-free way to reduce expenses in the short term. Long-term, however, cutting back on training programs can hurt a company’s recruiting practices and send the wrong message to existing employees.

It seems that companies are catching on. According to the research firm Bersin by Deloitte, organizations spent 12 percent more on corporate learning and development in 2012, despite the still-sluggish economy.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Simple Ways to Improve Action from eLearning

This post was originally published on the Daily Mindflash blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

Too many eLearning courses are lectures in the form of slides with content that learners must either read or listen to. The content usually contains abstract topics, such as processes, that learners are then expected to apply in real life. The problem is that there is a gap between a concept in a course and applying it in action.

If this gap is too large, what is learned may not transfer to new behaviors, actions, and job performance.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Close the eLearning Completion Gap

This post was originally published on the Daily Mindflash blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

One problem that faces learning and development professionals is that people do not necessarily flock to your course catalog to complete the eLearning you worked so hard to develop. Sure they may complete the required courses after receiving a third and final message with the word MANDATORY in the subject line, but they do not seem to be taking the other valuable courses in your catalog.

This problem is not unique to eLearning.

What’s so special about eLearning? Nothing, and Everything

This post was originally published on the ServiceRocket blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

What is so special about eLearning? Well, if you look at the evidence, nothing. Here’s what I mean. Numerous studies that show no significant difference in the effectiveness of learning between live, classroom training and online training.

This is what I mean when I say there is nothing special about eLearning. It is no more or less effective than live, classroom training. On the other hand, when you consider that many people *believe* eLearning is not as effective as classroom training, then the fact that evidence shows eLearning is every bit as effective as classroom training is remarkable.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

‘Culture Decks’ vs. MOOCs: What’s Better for Teaching Company Values?

This post was originally published on the HumanCapitalist blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

Company “culture decks” are big these days: Netflix got huge raves for its own slide show (“Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility”) – applauded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.” Then Hubspot made a similar splash with its “Culture Code“ deck earlier this year. Zappos, too, is another darling of this new model for sharing a company’s vision and values.
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Three Simple Ways to Improve Your eLearning Courses

This post was originally published on the Daily Mindflash blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

No matter how good we get at something, there will always be times when we either get lazy or stuck in a rut. This is certainly true with talented eLearning designers who can fall into a pattern of using the same old techniques in their courses. It is a good idea, from time-to-time, to stop and ask yourself whether you are falling into this trap. This simple act, can help you continuously make improvements to your eLearning courses.

Improvements do not have to be difficult or time consuming to implement. In many cases, small, simple changes can make a big difference. For example, there are three simple things you can do to improve your eLearning courses.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Running an Ultramarathon and the Importance of Goals Despite the Unknown

On Sunday, August 2013, I will run my first ultra-marathon...the Skyline 50K. It is a 50 kilometer trail running race in the San Francisco east bay mountains stretching from Castro Valley to Moraga. Though I have trained fairly well for the race, running 40-50 mile weeks through most of 2013, there is a big, fat, whopping unknown beyond the 40 kilometer (24-25 miles or so) mark.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun

I just don't know how I will handle the last 10K.

Even though I don't have any idea how I will do, I want to set some goals. So the question is, "How does one set goals when they have no idea what an outcome will be?"

It is not like I can set a big, hairy audacious goal like, "Finish in sub-4 hours." That is un-attainable and un-realistic. That kind of a goal would be the biggest violation of SMART goal setting in the history of, the history if I don't know what.

So how do I set goals for this race. I need to base the goals on something I know. So here is what I know.

I know that:
  1. I can run 21 miles on a flat route, on tired legs in about 9 minutes and 45 seconds per mile pace.
  2. I can run 20 miles on a mountain course with 3,000 feet of cumulative ascent and descent at a roughly 10 minutes and 50 second per mile pace on extremely tired legs.
  3. The race tomorrow is 10 miles longer than the above references.
  4. The race tomorrow has about 4,000 of cumulative ascent and descent.
  5. I rested all week, so I would have fresh legs.
Based on this here are my goals for tomorrow:
  1. Just finish. Even if I have to walk, who cares what my time is. If I can make it to the finish, on my own two legs, under my own power after 50 kilometers, I will have accomplished something which is a decent-sized whoop.
  2. Finish between 6 and 7 hours. 
  3. Stretch Goal: Finish sub-6 hours.
So there you have it. I have three goals for Skyline 50K. 

Now all I have to do is go out and do it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Announcement and Four Reasons I Joined ServiceRocket

Many of my friends have been asking what I have been up to lately, as it appears I have experienced a lot of changes over the past few years. So, I just want to clear things up and make an announcement about a new job I have taken. 

I have recently joined the training team at ServiceRocket. The move brings me (and my family) back to California, which is great for all sorts of reasons both personal and professional.

My role at ServiceRocket is to help build the training line of business, which targets fast growing software companies who are looking to build skills among their customers. These are software companies that want to build a training function, but also realize their core competence is developing their product not building training programs. That's where ServiceRocket comes in.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be a apart of the team at ServiceRocket.

Here's why I joined:
  1. The people are great (Cliche, I know. True nonetheless).
  2. Help grow a business: I have been an internal training leader for many years, and this opportunity is a chance to go back to my roots and build a business.
  3. Help companies build their training function: I have always thrived in build-mode, and it is hard to see how this role can get stale, if we are constantly helping clients build their training functions.
  4. On the cutting edge: Whether it is learning about open source web server technology, OpenStack, BigData, mobile app development, or Git, this role is a chance to help companies help their customers build skills in emerging technologies. I find that very rewarding. Software runs just about everything and knowing how to use software is a vital skill for future growth and opportunity. 
Helping people build skills, knowledge, and know-how in "new things" has always excited me. I simply could not pass up the opportunity to do that at ServiceRocket.

I have never made an announcement like this, and I do not mean it as a self-promoting post. I simply want to update friends an colleagues about my new role.

And be honest, do you really need another email?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Turn Your Social Enterprise Into a Learning Enterprise

This post was originally published on the HumanCapitalist blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

For years, the concept of the traditional learning organization has been based on the top-down assumption that in order for people to learn, there must be a formal structure of learning events designed and delivered by learning and development professionals who have analyzed the environment, determined a set of relevant learning needs, and delivered solutions that align to those needs.......

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Let's Review: Five Most Popular Posts in July 2013

Here is a collection of the five most popular posts on the blog in July. Some pretty interesting stuff.

A Better (Scalable) Way to Provide Employee Development
I suggest you look at employee development in a different way. Enable people to create their own development plan. You just give people a development budget at work and let them spend it anyway they like. And just get out of their way. Give people $2000 per year to spend on school, books, classes, seminars, conferences, or anything else related to some growth opportunity. Your high performers will eat it up. Your low performers will not likely even know this opportunity exists. Tell your managers to pay attention to those who put these expenses through for approval. I bet they are the ones who will shine.

Stanford Study Suggests Exercises First, Lecture Second
I found this study fascinating. It shows what "real" flipped classrooms could look like. The study found that when learners were given a chance to engage in a hands-on project before reading, watching a video, or attending a lecture, "student performance improved substantially."

Frozen Gatorade, Numb Fingers, and a Chemist in Disbelief
I find it fascinating that this blog post continues to be mildly popular. It is on a topic not related to my blog, and people continue to click on it. I suspect there is a weird interest in reading about how (and why) someone would go for a 2 hour run in December in Colorado when it is below zero outside. Brrrrrrrrrrrr only begins to describe my experience.

If nothing else, you can find out at what temperature sloshing gatorade freezes inside a water bottle.

Why Sustaining Discipline Is Key to Manager Development
This post was originally published on the Human Capitalist blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

I guess what I do in this post is confront the issue of action. I makes no difference and adds no value if an organization spends thousands and thousands of dollars on manager development programs and managers don't put anything into action. The best training is worthless if someone doesn't put it into action. The worst training, put into action is better than the best training "un-acted-upon" (is that a word?).

CEOs Can Use MOOCs to Align and Engage
This is a thought provoking video interview (and headline) with Udemy's Dennis Yang about how chief learning officers can implement massive open online courses (MOOCs) into enterprise learning programs. My point of view on this is that MOOCs are an excellent (and doable) way for CEOs to increase engagement with employees at all levels of the organization, while teaching and communicating what he/she is finding important about the business.

Friday, August 2, 2013

New Research: How Reversing Course Structure Improves Learning

This post was originally published on the ServiceRocket blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

As most of us have experienced, traditional learning begins with attending a class and watching a lecture, followed by an assignment of some kind related to the topic covered. With modern learning technologies, the lecture could be a webinar, a pre-recorded video, or even an eLearning course. But the principle and order remain: 1) learn concept; 2) apply concept. Even in a flipped classroom model, the process is lecture first, activity second.

The assumption of a traditional learning model is that people need to learn the material from an expert before they can apply. “Practice what you’ve learned.” Understandable. But if it is true that we learn from experience, why don’t we start with the activity?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Overcoming Three Roadblocks to High Performance with Enterprise Social Networks

This post was originally published on the Zyncro blog. Included here is the lead and a link to full post.

My research is leading me to some interesting perspectives on how enterprise social networks (ESN) can improve performance in organizations. Etienne Wenger’s work on Communities of Practice suggest several business problems that can be overcome through the effective use of ESNs. These problems are roadblocks to high performance, and developing communities of practice on ESNs can remove some of these roadblocks.