Monday, December 30, 2013

Instead of Sending an Email...I Blog It

Every day at work, I look at my email inbox less and less. Why? There are fewer emails in it. How? Because more communication is occurring in the context of our work rather than in this separate communication tool we call, “email.”

Let me give you just one brief example:

Last week, I finished up a major milestone for a client project. It took a lot of work from me, and from people throughout the company. To mark the milestone, I wanted to send an email to everyone who helped. I also wanted to include their managers, so managers would know how much I appreciated help from their teams.
Reminder: Blog, Don't Email!!

I started to write the email. Then I started thinking of everyone to send the email to? Bob? Janet? Wait, did I leave anyone out? Do I really need to include Terry?


So, I just wrote a blog post and published it on an internal system so everyone could see it.

Now that’s better. Anyone who wants to read it... can, the message is now searchable by anyone who cares to find it, and no one gets another email in their inbox.

Yes, that’s much better.

I blog more to tell people what is happening in my work than I send emails. I using internal blogging to thank people, update project statuses, and even to tell interesting stories about what is going on around the company. It is way more inclusive than email, and it is a great way to make people feel part of the overall company…especially in our global, distributed working environment.

Informal Learning Does Not Have to Be Formal

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

One of the biggest problems with social learning is that it is an informal type of learning and organizations can’t help but to try to formalize it in any way possible. It is understandable because a free-for-all in any function is hardly an effective way to run a business. While a free-for-all learning strategy might not be the most effective way to run a training department, Stephanie Ivec argues for keeping informal learning, informal, “Trying to turn informal learning into formal learning diminishes [its] unique benefits” writes Ivec.

If you are trying to get your head around how you can leverage informal learning in your organization, consider three ways in which Mindflash can help you do just that.....

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Must-Have Tool for the Modern Workplace: A Learning Plan

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

Generally speaking, I am against setting strict rules in the workplace. But when I was a young manager, I had one unequivocal rule for everyone on my team: You cannot earn the highest rating on your performance review unless you have done something significant to improve yourself, learn a new skill, or otherwise do something to grow professionally. I kept the professional development part vague on purpose. I did not want to constrain my employees; I wanted to leave the “what” and “how” up to them.

This is not to say that someone who learned a valuable skill, but was an average performer, would earn a top rating. Not at all. An employee had to perform great and develop herself. My belief is that someone who earns a top rating does more than her job. A top performer performs great at her current role, while also continuously developing herself for the next role. And that is what I tried to communicate with this rule.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

We Are Looking at Knowledge Management the Wrong Way

There is much in the industry press, scholarly literature, and books on about the perils of a retiring baby boomer generation taking their collective knowledge with them. For one thing, there are not enough of us Gen-X’ers or Millennials. And apparently younger generations cannot survive without this knowledge.

So professionals espouse the critical need to capture this departing knowledge before it vanishes forever.

I don’t think we are looking at this in the right way.

Why are we clamoring to capture yesterday’s knowledge. We should be steaming full-speed ahead with new ideas to compete in tomorrow’s world.

Ask yourself these questions. When was the last time you:
  • Wanted to know what a know-it-all knows?
  • Cared about how it “Used to be done”
  • Cared why it was "always done that way."
Didn’t Dee Hock say, “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out?”

I think this panicked approach to capturing knowledge just adds more friction to getting old ideas out.

Of course, there are things we need to learn from experienced people. A ton!! But can’t we learn what’s valuable through ongoing and meaningful conversations about important issues in our companies? Isn’t an initiative to Capture Knowledge just a lot of overhead and extra work to capture things that are not valuable anyway?

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Now Hiring: Director of Training Evaluation

I am in favor of measuring the success of training initiatives as much as the “next guy,” but this article, How to Set Up an Internal Training Evaluation Department, made me bang my head on the desk. The first thing I thought of was, “Beautiful! More overhead.”

Why are we creating more non-value added services? No wonder training is the first thing to go during a down turn.

If a company is big enough to create an Internal Training Evaluation Department, the company has a corporate finance group. Guess what corporate finance people do?

They value assets. All day long, they ask what is the ROI of this investment? What is the net present value of that investment? What the cost/benefit ratio of investing in that new thing? If learning has any credibility in your organization, it will be looked at as an asset just like any other. After all, an investment is made in training and people expect some return in the form of a result from higher performing people.

Why isn’t corporate finance doing the evaluation? They know a think or two about evaluating an investment. Isn’t training an investment?


Friday, December 13, 2013

How the ‘Internet of Customers’ Is Changing Employee Engagement

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

Marc Benioff, the CEO of, talked a lot about customer service during the company’s annual Dreamforce conference last month, and his insights got me into thinking: Could these same insights, applied to the workplace, solve the problem of employee engagement?

I think so.

At Dreamforce, it became clear to me that companies need to develop deep personal relationships with their customers or risk failing. Benioff called this “The Internet of Customers,” which essentially refers to how Big Data is fundamentally reshaping the relationship that marketers have with their customers.

We’re already seeing it. A doctor can receive an X-ray image on a phone and add some analysis while shopping with the family on Saturday afternoon. An account executive can ........ 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Software Training Focused on the Work, Not the Tool

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

Much of my training career has been about designing and delivering training on new software implementations. These software implementations included financial software, CRMs, and many internally developed tools designed to help people do their jobs in organizations. Most of what I did was teach people how to use the tool. You know, click here, enter data there, save that before you move on to the next task. Particularly in new software implementations, I mostly taught the mechanics of using the tool and not so much about how to do the job.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

JIRA Fundamentals: JIRA Filters are the New To-Do Lists

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

One reason I love using Atlassian JIRA is that I can create my tasks as issues and work collaboratively with many others. The best part is that my tasks now rarely fall through the cracks. “How is this possible?” you ask?


Once I learned how to effectively set up and use Filters in JIRA, keeping track of my work has become so much easier. In fact, JIRA Filters is changing the way I work entirely. For example, when I get an idea or think of something I want to start working on, I enter it in JIRA. Even if I just think I want to do it, I put it in JIRA. OK, not always. But the point is, I have a long list of tasks in JIRA that never go away.

This is a good thing and a bad thing, of course.

The good thing is that I can create a complete collection of ideas and tasks that I can always find easily. The bad thing is that the list can grow fast and get so long that it can become overwhelming. You know the problem, your “To Do” list grows faster than your ability to check things off of the list.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Make Your Training More Entertaining

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

Over the past two weeks, I have been experimenting with ways to create more entertaining eLearning tutorials. The belief is that entertaining training will hold people’s attention better and people will learn more. In fact, research tells us that this is true.

So, when I saw this piece in Training Magazine by Jeff Havens about how to create truly entertaining training, it got me thinking about some of the tools out there that can help you execute on Haven’s advice. Certainly tools are not the full answer to theproblem of boring training, but tools can help. And since the tools below are easy to use and offer free trials, there is no excuse not to add them to your quiver of eLearning development tools.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Writing this way is good and severe discipline

"If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.... I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline." - E. Hemingway

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

LX Design Lesson from Dreamforce 2013 Keynote with Marissa Mayer

I was fortunate enough to attend the Dreamforce conference at the end of November 2013. I attended many sessions and will be writing more about what I learned from many of them. In the post, I share one lesson I learned from Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer about LX design. 


The one important lesson I learned from that keynote is a focus on simplicity. It is important to design by either removing all non-essential “stuff" or not adding extra “stuff" in the first place. In product design this “stuff” is features. In LX design, this “stuff” is learning modalities. Too many of them distracts learners and can even impair learning effectiveness. Don’t believe me? Look at the research in this area. Cognitive load matters.

An Important Reminder: Less is More

It is not that I (we) don’t know that less is more. It’s just that we forget. I do. When I write a training course or a blog post or a white paper, my first drafts usually have too much stuff in them. I write, and I write, and I write. My mindset is, “All this stuff has to be covered.” A product manager would be thinking, “Users need all these features, we gotta get ‘em into this release.”

Sometimes (not always, unfortunately) during the editing process, I remove as much of the extra stuff as I can. Ironic, isn’t it, that creating less takes more work than creating more. Mark Twain said it best (paraphrased):

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

Take this advice, as I try to do, and keep all non-essential learning modalities out of your work. Or better yet, try not to add it in the first place.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Learning Designers Can Learn from Marissa Mayer About Design

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

I attended the Dreamforce conference recently in San Francisco and was blown away by the size and scope of the conference. Over 135,000 people registered for the the conference, and sessions were held over four days at the massive Moscone Center and in several hotels throughout the area.

Although the conference topic was not directly related to eLearning or training, the Keynote interview with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff offer some important lessons about design that I think are relevant to what eLearning designers do every day. Specifically, there are three things learning designers can learn from the Mayer interview....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Best Practices are Overrated: Empower, Enable, Educate

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

Employees often go through a gauntlet of training on how to interact with customers, but once they’re put in the hot seat, these “best practices” usually fly out the window.

It is not that the employee has disregarded what has been learned, it is that there is a disconnect between the learning department and the customer interaction. Once the employee learns — they are on their own to assume the practices they’ve been taught. The larger learning departments get, the more centralized and further from the customer interaction it becomes. This centralized learning function begins to focus on its own mission, its own strategy, its own goals, and its own processes rather than on how the employee can best serve the customer.

In short: business goals and learning goals have become disjointed when the learning becomes overly centralized.

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