Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why CEOs Should Miss the MOOC Train at Their Peril

Coursera just raised another $20 million in funding as the MOOC market continues to gain traction in the marketplace. The money that has been raised by Coursera, EdX, Udacity, and Udemy is at least an indicator that more and more people are seeking this channel for learning new things.

This trend has powerful implications, going far beyond higher education. Corporations are beginning to leverage the power of massive open online courses. I have written about this trend several times over the past year taking a very specific perspective…that corporations can use MOOCs to train employees. I also have written how companies can design MOOCs to that they are effective as possible.

Below is a brief summary of these posts. I think you will find them valuable. At the very least, you will find them thought provoking.

MOOCs as High Potential Breeding Ground
Leadership development is a perfect topic that can be facilitated using the structure of a MOOCs. After all, many organizations have leadership in multiple offices and scheduling live sessions is a logistical challenge. It is also very expensive. But using a MOOC structure, companies can develop current leaders and potential leaders at scale and on an on-going basis. I describe how in this post.

Why You Might Consider MOOCs to Teach Company Values
Company values is another topic perfect for MOOCs. Many companies claim that their culture and company values are unique and a competitive advantage. A MOOC structure is a great tool for executive teams (especially founders) to get their message across in a learning environment so employees can learn directly from the founder, CEO, and/or Executive team.

CEOs Can (Should) Use MOOCs to Align and Engage
In this piece, I argue that every CEO should run six week MOOCs in on-going cycles, open to all employees on the subjects of company strategy, customer-focus, goals, and any other top priority of the business. There is no excuse for executive teams of companies of any size to not have a directly communication and learning channel to all employees. Not with the power of the MOOC so easily accessible.

How to Design a MOOC in Your Company
In this post, I lay out specific ways to design MOOCs in a company so they can be run effectively. It is not nearly as difficult as you think.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Three Things You Can Do to Increase Social Learning Participation

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

The problem with anything social (social media, enterprise social, social learning) is the 90-9-1 rule which states that 90% of people will not participate. These “lurkers” are content to read what the other 10% are producing and/or commenting on. This might not be a problem in social media as a whole, but it is a problem in corporate learning when we want 100% participation.

The good news is that you can increase participation on social learning, and there is evidence in the science that says so.

A recent research study demonstrated a positive relationship between social presence and online instruction. In short, when there was a high level of social presence, people learned better in an online environment. So that’s good, right?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ask Not How to Get Rid of Email...

...ask how to communicate better in the context of your projects.

There is some good advice in this Forbes piece on how to get rid of email in your company. I am all for reducing my time using email, but perhaps we should ask a different question. I think the question should be: 
How can we get more/better work done through better communication?
A tool is just a tool. Certainly we can all agree that there is a need to communicate with people in our companies to get work done. We don’t need email for that. There were plenty of billion dollar companies before email. Sure, email made communicating easier, faster, and better. And perhaps enterprise social networks will take it to another level. I certainly think so. But if we just change the question from how to get rid of email to how to work better, it opens up an entirely new set of possibilities. 

Think about all of the work tasks we perform every day that require communication. From kicking off a project to working on a proposal to getting people to review training course content, we have a continuous need to work with others to get our jobs done.

The point is that communication should be done in the context of the work, not outside of the work. With email we remove a work product from where it lives (Share drive, local hard drive, thumb drive, etc) and place it in an email and send it all around. With enterprise collaboration technologies, the document stays where it is (Box, Confluence, etc) and people are pulled into the document to work on it.

So, the next time you want to send an email asking someone to contribute to a task, stop and ask yourself, "How can I pull them into the task rather than sending the task to them."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Don’t Be a Hammer: How to Integrate Human Performance Technology into an Organization

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

As a business learning professional, I often hear this cry for help from managers: “These people need training. Their performance is not where it needs to be.” Very often, the managers’ presupposed solution is rarely the answer to the performance problem. Out of expediency, we create the training, deliver it, and later wonder why performance has not improved.

Training can sometimes be the right solution to a performance problem — but not always. The true enemy of high performance is a presupposed solution to an assumed problem.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Continuos Learning: The Best Way to Adapt to Change

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
- Herbert Spencer
One of my favorite sayings (and I apologize, but I forget the reference. Please comment below if you know it) is “Change is great, you go first.” Change is hard and few are willing to embrace it. There are many reasons that have been addressed in research and in popular business books. But my favorite tactic for helping people be better at adapting to change is from the book, Developing Employees Who Love to Learn: Tools, Strategies, and Programs for Promoting Learning at Work by Linda Honold.  

This is one of my favorite books on the learning topic. It offers many great ideas for developing people who love to learn. One of the main points made in the book is the idea that the people who adapt to change best are those to are continuously learning.

This is an important point.

Think about it. The more you learn, the more interesting you find new things and the more willing you are to try new things. Trying new things is, by definition, changing.

From my own experience, when I was reading a lot, I was most open to and adaptable to change. When I was not reading a lot, I dismissed new things as crazy or stupid, things I wish I had not dismissed. This is a big lesson for me.

So, if you want to be more adaptable to change, start learning new things now and continuously.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Social Learning: How to Build Conversations into Your eLearning Courses

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

One of the major problems with eLearning is that people cannot interact with each other. No matter how interactive you make an eLearning course, it is still a matter of a screen delivering content and a person consuming (reading, watching, listening, clicking, etc) that content. In general, eLearning does not afford the benefit of the follow-up question or leaning over to the person next to you and asking, “What did the instructor mean when she said….?” That is the bad news about most eLearning. 

The good news is that your eLearning courses do not have to be one-way....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fix Your Own Skills Gap Problem

Of course employers are not fixing the skills gap problem. It is expensive and trends show that people leave jobs more often, so they are unlikely to stay long enough for the employer to receive a major payoff from the investment in training people in skills they need. 

If that is your belief then you have no right to complain about the so-called skills gap. 

Look, if you have a skills gap, you have a choice. Fix it yourself or live with it. Rackspace is investing heavily in solving it's skills gap, and they are thriving.
It can be done.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Data is Everything, Except Useless Without Insights

In my learning plan, I set a goal to learn more about big data. It's not likely I'll go so far as to learn Hadoop; however, I do want to learn more about what big data really is and how I can use data to make better decisions in my work. 
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
Data is useless without insights,
but you gotta have the data.

I have just started reading Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. And so far so good. 

We learning and development pros too often make recommendations based on what we think is best, based on our experience and personal observations. Not to discount our experience, but if we don't start making recommendations based on evidence from data, we will be toast. 

This is not to say that our experience and interpretations of the data not not useful. They are. In fact, data is useless without insights, and insights come from people.

But you gotta have both. 

When I wrote my book two years ago about the five critical skills learning professionals need now, I did not included a chapter in big data. I should have. It should have been the first skill. Learning pros...seriously....get more analytical. Ask, "Where is the data on that?" Say, "Here is what I recommend and here is the data behind it." 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fix the System, Not the People (Most of the Time)

If you put a good person against a bad system, the systems wins every time.                                                                                  - Geary Rummler
There is certainly nothing wrong with customer service training, and I have no beef with any industry using customer service training as a means for improving

The problem I have with this prescription is that it pre-supposes that the problem with customer service in the airline industry is that the employees are delivering bad customer service.

We have all experienced bad service with an airline. But ask yourself this. Was the bad service a result of the person or the policy/system the person was supporting?

Think about it.

Do you consider it bad customer service when the agent at the airport says, “I’m sorry, but it is our policy that we now charge a $75 to fly standby, even though the earlier flight is empty and on-time, and the flight you are booked on in 2 hours is full and delayed by 2 hours.”

You might be upset with the agent, but strictly speaking, the airline policy has set that agent up to fail with you. What else can this person say?

OK, fine, we can train that agent not to say “it’s our policy, “ but the root cause of your dissatisfaction is the system. The policy itself. Not the agent.

If you really want to improve customer service in the airline industry, get them to operate like Costco or Nordstrom and make it very easy to do business with them.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is your eLearning On-the-Job Training Friendly?

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

Whether or not we can prove it, most of us “know” that we learn most of what we need to know about our jobs through some form of informal learning. Most of us will cite experience or on-the-job (OJT) training as the most popular form of learning we use to learn our jobs. However we define it, OJT plays a major role for how people learn their jobs. Elliott Masie raises this issue in a Chief Learning Officer Magazine post, discussing the vital importance of OJT training, how learning professionals under report its importance, and what the future of OJT might look like.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Let's Review: Most Popular Posts in October 2013

Lot's of great posts on the October Most Popular list. From implementing social learning with Atlassian's new product, Confluence Questions to designing eLearning with no lecture section at all. This list of popular posts from the LXDesigner blog is sure to provoke thought...and perhaps even action. Enjoy.

Social Learning Requires Work Context
This was by far the most views post on The LXDesigner blog in October. In fact, it was four times more popular than the second most popular post. I suspect there is great interest in this topi because too little practical advice is out there about how to actually implement social learning. I simply suggest in this post how a product like Confluence Questions from Atlassian can be a simple, and practical means for fueling social learning in organizations.

L&D Pros: Not Mathematical? Well, Get Mathematical
Inspired by A VC post about getting technical and a CLO Breakfast Club event on Big Data, I writing about the gaping hole in our willingness to admit that our inability to embrace mathematics and analytical thinking is the reason no one understands what the heck big data actually is. We need to stop making the excuse that “numbers can’t tell the whole story.”

How Linking Social Learning to Performance Advances Scientific Knowledge
Although this post was published in March 2013, I think its popularity grew off the back of the most popular most of the month (listed above). There is very little evidence that social learning relates to job performance. My dissertation is designed to seek that evidence.

You’re Either Growing Or Your Dying, There Ain't No Third Direction
I enjoyed writing this post, so I am glad it made the popular list. If career development is one of the most important criteria for employees, why don’t employers pay more attention to it. People are leaving jobs over it, and companies complain about the talent shortage? Think about it.

Consequences of Making a Mistake and the Motivation to Learn
I learned an important lesson about eLearning design in this ASTD Golden Gate South Bay Interest Group meeting. You really can create learning that skips the lecture and goes right into practice, allowing people to learn from practice and from their mistakes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beyond the Tool: How to Achieve Outcomes for Stakeholders

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

Let’s face it, once a new technology system is handed over to employees, it’s expected to be used. This hand-off, though, breeds a not-my-problem attitude from vendors and HR managers alike, leaving the tools misused or not used at all. Instead, HR managers and technology companies need to track progress and help employees integrate these tools into the company culture. But how?

During the week of October 21, I attended the Technology Services World conference put on by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). TSIA launched a new book at the conference called B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship. The book is aimed at disrupting the way technology services are sold.

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