Monday, December 22, 2014

Interview on the Frontleaf Blog: Customer Success Requires Customer Training

It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Tom Krackeler, co-founder and CEO of Frontleaf. We discussed the importance of customer training in customer success and in helping customers learn software, achieve desired outcomes, and ultimately renew.

Here is a short excerpt from the interview and then I link to the full post. 

We all know intuitively that customers who are well trained perform better. The problem is that training is hard. It's time consuming to develop, and it seems like as soon as your awesome training program is complete, your product changes and it becomes obsolete. This is a big reason why so many enterprise software companies, especially Cloud/SaaS platforms, under-invest in training their customers.

There is another reason, too. The perception that the costs of providing a top-notch training program outweigh its benefits. Of course, this is just a perception, and not a data-driven conclusion, because companies are not very good at using data to measure the success of their training practices.

[Read the Full Post]

Monday, December 8, 2014

There is only one week until the gun goes off at the Woodside Ramble 50K. Five weeks ago, I set some goals to help me get ready for the race. I want to summarize my goals and provide an update on the status of each.

Goal #1: Lose 12 pounds (2 pounds per week)

Status: I started the period at 175.5 pounds. On Sunday, at the end of week 5, I weighed 166.9. My goal called for me to weight 165.5, so I am 1.4 pounds behind schedule. In order to get to 163.5 by race day, I will have to lose almost 3 1/2 pounds in a week. That might not be such a good idea the week before at 50K. I will just focus on eating good foods, and maybe I'll get to 175+.

Goal #2: Eat 1,400 calories for day + workout food

Status: I am not going to fire up an Apache Hadoop server to analyze this. Let's just say, I stuck to this goal about 85% of the time.

Goal #3: No eating after 6pm.

Status: I mostly stuck to this. There were times when I ran at night, so I ate. So, let's just say, I did ok at this.

Goal #4: Run one 21 miler.

Status: Nah. My longest was 18 miles. The day I went out for my 21 miler, I stopped at 10. It was just not going to happen. I was tired, and I decided to listen to my body and begin tapering a week early, rather than gut it out and risk injury. I do feel rested, but I also feel less confident in my endurance.

Goal #5: Five weekday trail runs of 10 miles.

Status: I did this on my normal trail at Rancho San Antonio Park

Goal #6: Complete Peak Week of 50+ miles.

Status: Nope. The Sunday i cut my 21 miler short was the week I did not meet this goal.

Overall, I did a decent job here. I did not achieve 100% of my goals, but I believe I am lot more prepared for this race because I set these goals and went after them.

Now, all I have to do in the final week of eat healthy, stay healthy, and rest well. And all I have to worry about is this major rain storm that threatens to turn the race into a slow, sloppy mess.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Major Role Customer Training Plays at Salesforce.com

At Dreamforce 2014, I was able to land a virtual interview with Wayne McCulloch, the Senior Vice President of Education at Salesforce.com. Here is the transcript to that interview.

Question 1: I saw a LinkedIn update that 10,000+ people were taking part in Salesforce training during Dreamforce. How many training sessions were offered at Dreamforce and how many people participated? All at the conference/any remote? What were the broad topics covered?
  • During the conference, we ran 100+ Hands-on-Training classes / workshops, attended by more than 11,500 people (several thousand were also on the waitlist for seats).
  • 27,000 hours of Hands-on-Training delivered (~13 people years of training in 1 week).
  • We administered Certification exams to over 1,000 people.
  • Topics covered a wide variety from developer and administration training (basic to expert level), Sales/Service/Marketing/Platform/Community cloud training, and business and technical enablement.
  • We also ran our annual Salesforce-on-Salesforce track, which had 43 separate sessions sharing our experiences, learning, and best practices around using our own technology to run our business. Close to 5,000 people attended this series and it is always the first sessions at Dreamforce to sell out.
Question 2: Obviously, with these kinds of numbers, Salesforce takes customer education seriously. How strategic is customer education to growth at Salesforce?
 
It is critical. Education has never played a more important part in customer success than in a cloud-based organization. Salesforce is known for innovation and the best way for a customer to have their employees take advantage of this continual innovation is through continual education. Customers that learn to connect with their customers in whole new way through the Salesforce Platform will see their companies succeed at a whole new level and thus Salesforce will succeed only through our customers success.

Question 3: As Salesforce moves from a sales company to a customer success company, what role will education play in customer success?

Customer success is made up of a number of ways, and disciplines education is one of those key areas. If you think about the trend of services convergence, you see that education is being integrated into other aspects of our Success Services team here at Salesforce. For example, professional services value is enhanced when combined with education assets, or our Premier Support offering has education assets embedded in the value proposition. Education spans all components of customer success.

Question 4: Has Salesforce seen a link between education and customer success? In other words, is there some link between customers who engage in the training and their adoption of Salesforce or in achieving their own outcomes?

Here at Salesforce we have some of the smartest data scientists around. They have done numerous studies on this, and we have real concrete data on this topic. The data clearly shows that customers unlock much greater value out of their investment in Salesforce and adopt the platform more deeply when they engage with Salesforce University.

In the latest analysis of customers we can see that customers who send students to Salesforce University training see much higher adoption (across the board in terms of maturity and size segment), increased productivity, increased service levels and better ROI. Interestingly, some of the highest impact is on small companies – a small investment in training has a HUGE impact on their ROI and adoption.

Question 5: What does the education team look like at Salesforce? How large is the team? Into what function does education report? How does salesforce.com use training partners?

Salesforce Education is one of the fastest growing teams at Salesforce due to the increasing demand for learning skills and best practices in the ecosystem. If you want to increase your chances of gaining a great job today, Salesforce is a skill you have to have. From academic institutions, to customers and partners, to helping 10,000 returning veterans get trained and certified in Salesforce, Salesforce University has never been in more demand than today. Our team is made up of professionals across all education disciplines. Salesforce University is partner friendly and has nearly 100 training partners worldwide that can resell, deliver, or build content or a combination of these options. Salesforce University exists within the delivery organization of Salesforce – the organization that represents all customer facing employees.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Woodside Ramble 50K Training Goals: Final 6 Weeks

It has been a frustrating running year for me in 2014.
  • I have had a lengthly recover from a tight IT band that kept me from racing the Woodside Ramble 50K - Spring Edition in April. I volunteered to work the race instead.
  • My training has been inconsistent. 
  • I have gained 15 pounds.
  • I have had long hours and work
  • Responsibilities at home taking care of the little ones.
 You know, the usual things that tug at most of us.

At the end of October, with about six weeks to go before the Woodside Ramble 50K Winter Edition, I figure I should make a decision. A 50 kilometer running race in the mountains should not be taken lightly, and I was deciding whether to run or not. “Maybe I’ll just volunteer this year,” I thought.

Be then I decided, to go for it. I set a few goals for the final six weeks before the race. I decided to see if I could achieve those goals. If I could achieve the goals below, I would run the race.

So here they are:
  • Lose 12 pounds - drop 2 pounds per week through the six weeks
  • Eat 1,400 calories per day + workout food
  • No eating after 6pm, unless I do an evening run (still stick to daily calorie goals)
  • Record food every day
  • No booze before race day
  • Run one 21 miler
  • 5 weekday trail runs of 10 miles
  • Complete peak week of 50+
These are my training goals for the six weeks leading up to the race. Today, I have just over three weeks to go, and here is my progress:
  • At the end of week three I weigh 170.2 (I started at 175.5)
  • I have run 3 ten mile trail runs
  • I am on track this week do to 52 miles (we’ll see how Saturday and Sunday go)
  • Oops. I had one beer at an event in Palo Alto two weeks ago.
I am close to being on track.

I have made losing weight a priority, figuring if I am not quite as fit as I need to be, I can make some of that up by being light. I hope that pays off to a smooth race and a strong finish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Training Log: When You Just Want to Sleep In

This, of all mornings I just didn’t feel like going out on my run. The alarm went off, and I just wanted to sleep an extra hour, wake up, get ready for work, and leave the house at a normal time like every other normal person. Why do you think they call it rush hour?

But. And this is a big BUT.

I planned for this week to be my peak running week before the Woodside Ramble 50K on December 14. This week, I plan to run at least 50 miles, which is a lot for me. Since I usually run 5 days per week, getting in 50 miles is a challenge. It means doing at least one 10 miler mid-week and a 20 miler on Sunday.

Well, today is mid-week. And I planned to do a 10 mile trail run which takes me up a 1,600 foot climb over 5 miles. Runnable, even for me. The route takes me about an hour and forty five minutes…plus or minus.

Mostly plus.


The trick is to get the run in before work. So that means getting to the trail before sunrise, which in mid-November in Silicon Valley means arriving about 6am, so I can begin my run around 6:15. This way, I am done between 8 and 8:30 and get get to work by 9am.

Two major things were tempting me to skip my run. OK. Three.
  1. I was tired. I didn’t sleep until 10:30 the night before.
  2. The weather forecast was for rain to start at 8am.
  3. I had a busy day at including hosting 2 webinars, the first one starting at 10am.
I had plenty of reasons not to run. We all do. I sometimes I give in to those reasons. Some times for good reasons. Sometimes not.

This morning, still lying in my warm bed, and after the second snooze, I said to myself, “When I least want to go, that’s when I need to go.” For some reason that worked, and I flew out of bed, put on my running clothes, and left the house at 5:35am.

I did the run, and managed to have a fairly productive day at work. Mostly, I felt like I accomplished something and happy that I stayed with my plan to get to 50 miles this week. If I had skipped my run today, I would not have been able to get to 50 miles this week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My New Website

Thank you for visiting TheLXDesigner.blogspot.com. I have spent several years writing here on the topic of learning and development and occasionally veered off topic. But I want to write about more than just learning and development, so I have decided to move to a new site. I will call it billcushard.com and the topics about which I write will broader. 

I will still discuss topic related to training, but it will broader to enterprise software learning and adoption. I will also write more about running and mountain ultra trail running (MUT), which has over taken my rare moments of free time. 

If you want to follow me on that journey, please visit my new website. I look forward to chatting.

Monday, June 16, 2014

8 Capabilities of Great Customer Education Teams

Great customer education functions have direct and meaningful impact on organizations, which is not easy to build unless you know the eight essential process capabilities of great training organizations. In the book, What Make a Great Training Organization? A Handbook of Best Practices, Doug Harward and Ken Talyor outline a list of eight things training leaders must do to build a great customer education organization. 

Below I describe each of these eight capabilities at a very high level. If you want more detail, I suggest you buy the book. If you are trying to build a great training organization, you need it.

Strategic alignment

Here you need to make sure that the training you are developing and delivering directly supports the most important goals of the organization. Anything else should be eliminated. You should rarely be in a room, with just your training team, discussing only what learning needs to be developed. 

The goal of a high-performing training team is to help grow the business through training.

Content development

Once you have aligned the training strategy with business needs, it is time to develop the content. The content could be for live training, eLearning, or even learning labs. Developing content might be the most difficult task because of how much time it takes to create content, not to mention the effort necessary to maintain current content, especially if you are dealing with training on software systems of any kind.

Delivery

Do you have competent and engaging trainers for live training? Do you have a learning management system (LMS) that is easy for people to use and find the learning they need? Delivery comes in many forms, but whatever form it is, delivery of training must be a great experience for trainees or training satisfaction will suffer.

Diagnostics

Diagnostics is about determining needs, a process that must occur between the strategic alignment and content development exercises. Once you know the overall business priorities and customer needs, you can use a diagnostic process to figure out what content must be developed.

Reporting and analysis 

During the strategic alignment phase, you worked with business leadership to define priorities. Are you prepared to report on progress towards those priorities? To do this effectively, find a way to report out of your LMS and not in a spreadsheet. And when you do report data to leadership, analyze the data and provide insight in your report. You are not helping business leadership by providing only numbers. You must provide insight.

Technology integration 

This is important, especially in a cloud, SaaS world. You must figure out a way to integrate your learning platform with other systems in your company. These could include CRMs, ERPS, payment gateway, and data analytics platforms, as a start. You cannot run a great training organization on an island.

Administrative services 

There is the inevitable and critical administrative work that comes with running a great training organization. And if you think about it, what makes for a better impression on your customers than outstanding, responsive, and proactive administrative services? Think about it.

Portfolio management 

The portfolio management competency addresses the question of how you will allocate resources and assemble learning in a complete package. What content will be created versus purchased? When will you use internal trainers versus outside consultants? What proportion of your budget will be spent on live, classroom training versus self-paced eLearning? You must be able to effectively manage the portfolio of learning opportunities that the business needs.


Of the eight key process capabilities of a great training organization, which ones do you do well? Which of the eight could you improve the most? What capabilities are missing? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ServiceRocket Blog: Enterprise Software Training is a Must - Part 4

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

Just when we think we have run out of reasons for how to know whether customers need enterprise software training, more pop-up in conversations around the office and during meetings with customers. Recently, we had a conversation with a potential customer who realized how much effort it took to train new hire employees on their products and started thinking their customers might need at least that much help. It seems obvious now, but when you are heads down shipping product updates to customers, these observations are easy to miss.

So we continue this journey to discover all the reasons your customers need training with four more. You know your customers need enterprise software training if…

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HumanCapitalist Blog: Instructional Design Teams Should Run Scrum to Be Agile

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

Agile development is a popular topic — so popular that even learning and development teams are talking about it. Robert Winter of CA Technologies raises this question in his upcoming talk, “Is Agile Compatible with Human Performance Technology (HPT)?” And since I’m an HPT’er at heart, I believe the answer is, “Yes!”

The topic begs the question, “How can I implement agile development methodologies in my learning design team?” This is not an easy question to answer since there are so many ways to implement agile. Scrum is one way. And when you start to learn about Scrum, you realize how applicable it is to developing learning content. Once you learn about Scrum, you will go back to your team and say, “Hey, we gotta do this!”

Monday, April 7, 2014

How Much Should You Be Investing in Employee Development?

According to Bersin by Deloitte, High-Impact Learning Organizations spend about $1,000 per employee on employee development and deliver approximately 20 hours per employee per year on employee development programs.

Do you know how much your company invests in employee learning? I have managed several learning organizations and have had budget responsibility numerous times. In one case, I had a budget that was just a bit higher that the $1,000 and in another case, I had a budget that was close to $400. 

In the case of the $1,000, I led a high-performing learning organization. We had a great team. We made a direct impact on business results. And we were sought out by other in the company. It was great. In the case of the $400 budget, we under-performed, were constantly questioned about why we could not do more (or better) training. And this was in an organization that talked highly about how much it invested in training for its people. It was not a good time.

So I suggest to you this…..if you are in a situation where you are interviewing for a training leadership position, ask this question, “How much do you expect to invest in developing employees?” The hiring manager will likely not have any idea and frankly, if he/she is smart, she will say, “I don’t know, that is why I am hiring this position….so someone can tell us that.”

If you advise them (and do this during the interview process) that they should be investing close to the $1,000 per employee per year figure, and you get anything but a position reaction, consider not taking that job. It might not seem like it at the time, because…hey, you want a job…but in the long run, you know that you cannot be successful if your company is only willing to invest $400 - $600 per employee per year.

If the company has 3,000 employees, they should be investing about $3 million in employee development. Know this number.

Does anyone have any other opinions? What do your experience tell you? Where have I done wrong?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Monktoberfest: Telecommuting and the Importance of Face-to-Face Time

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

One of the beautiful things about the Internet and collaborative technologies is the ease with which it empowers people to work from anywhere in the world. It is stress-reducing to think about working from home to avoid a brutal urban commute. It is glamorous to think about working from a distant, beach-side bungalow and changing our lifestyle completely. Dare to dream. But working remotely is not without perils. The phrase, “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” comes to mind.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mindflash Blog: Do You Create eLearning Prototypes? You Should

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

In any business that creates physical products, prototypes are used to show an early example of a product so people can visualize it. Inventors live by the prototype, producing early examples of inventions to test and to gather feedback. In product development, prototypes are critical so people can see what is being created. Why should eLearning be any different?

[Read Full Post]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ServiceRocket Blog: Enterprise Software Training is a Must – Part 2

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

In my last post, I kicked off this blog series by posing a question, “How do you know if you need to build a training function in your enterprise software business?” The question begs so many others, particularly since every company is at a different level of maturity when it comes to training (more about the levels of training maturity in a future post). Some companies have no enterprise software training at all. Others have no training, but think they do. While others are humming along offering training that customers say helps greatly with adoption.

[Read Full Post]

Mindflash Blog: You Gotta Read These 6 eLearning Books

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

For anyone who wants to be as great as they can be in a chosen field, reading books on the subject is critical to one’s development. Whenever I see a blog or article listing important books, I read the article. And more often than not, I read one or more of the books from the list. It is a key part of how I stay current in my field.

Below is a short list of books I think every eLearning designer should read. Each brings a slightly different angle to the subject, and each book can be used differently to build your eLearning and online training skills.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Confluence Questions: Writing Certification Exam by Delegating, Outsourcing, or Collaboration

I recently finished a client project writing a certification examination for an open source software development platform. It was an exciting project with an exciting and emerging start up in the San Francisco bay area. The problem was that I did not know the programming language, and I had to write test questions on it.

Good test questions.

Writing Certification Exam with Confluence Questions from Atlassian
Photo Source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/kakaopor

Not all of the test questions were conceptual. In fact, most of the test questions, tested on the proper use of code. There was no way I could learn fast enough to write all of the test questions. So I asked for help.

At ServiceRocket, we use Confluence Questions from Atlassian. So, I posted a question (several questions) and asked our development team if they knew this technology and if they could help me write some of the questions. They did. They were happy to. It was incredible.

In no time, I had an entire exam written and the result of the project was that the client was very happy. In a leadership meeting, our CEO shared with the team how happy he was with the project adding, "...and Bill basically outsourced his work using Confluence Questions."

I didn't know whether to be proud of this praise or worried that the CEO thought I just hang around the office all day, drinking Code 33s from Philz Coffee, while other people did my work. Either way, the work got done, and the customer was happy. This was all done because of the collaborative working environment we have....and because of the tool we used; Confluence Questions.

Side Note: I may not have known that programming language, but I do not how to write exam questions. I had a process that was guided by Bloom's Taxonomy. If you'd like to learn how I did it, comment below and we can connect in real life.


HumanCapitalist Blog: What Happened When I Started Working Out Loud

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

Recently, I wrote about how the future of enterprise learning should include internal blogging. The idea is that by openly sharing one’s work, much can be learned from the sharing itself and from others who see the blogs and contribute to them. In other words, people can learn through internal blogging because it is about communicating and collaborating with people anywhere in an organization.

Because I’ve derived direct benefits from internal blogging, I have continued the practice and have begun to take it one step further. That one step further is working out loud.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ServiceRocket Blog: Enterprise Software Training is a Must – Part 3

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

In my work, I run across this question all the time. Early to mid-stage enterprise software companies start to believe they need training, but they are not sure how to know for sure or what it looks like to get started building a software training department. In fact, I just had this conversation with a potential customer discussing how to know when to get started and whether they need a learning management system (LMS). Of course, I directed them to this series.

Although each enterprise software company is in a different stage of training maturity with unique customer needs, there will be different reasons for developing enterprise software training. This series is designed to address all of those reasons and to answer the following, you know you need to build an enterprise software training function if:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mindflash Blog: Trends You May Be Overlooking in Online Training

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

The online training industry is flooded with articles and blog posts about future trends that focus on far fetched fantasies attainable only to those with discretionary budgets and/or niche needs. These trends generally include topics like gamification, the xAPI, and wearables to name a few. But for most of us, these are not practical trends we will implement any time soon.

These trends may one day be as ubiquitous as claimed, but if you are a one or a two-person training department creating and delivering training for an audience of 2,000 employees, you unlikely have the time or budget to implement a gamification strategy or figure out how Google Glass will help your field operations team.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monktoberfest: 5 Factors That Limit Start-up Growth

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

Most startups fail. In fact, 90% of new businesses fail. In his Monktoberfest 2013 talk, Zack Urlocker cites research that shows 74% of the startups that fail, fail because they attempt to scale too soon. In other words, these startups believed they were gaining traction and began to invest heavily to capitalize on that traction.

The problem is that the startups that fail are either too soon or were wrong about the traction. Either way, the result is that these startups spent more money than they had, did not earn the revenues necessary to support the spending, and they failed. It turns out, the process of scaling a business takes longer than most people think.

Friday, March 7, 2014

HumanCapitalist Blog: I Hate Social Media Policies -- How About Social Media Training Instead

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

When it comes to discussing the role of social media in large enterprises, many HR managers today remain oddly fixated on creating and enforcing social media policies and determining the right sorts of internal penal codes for violations. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of punitive policies that seem to be designed specifically to catch people doing something that people who created the policy do not approve of. The irony, of course, is that the vast majority of people who work in these organizations will never do anything on social media that will reflect poorly on the company.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monktoberfest: Reconsidering Startups – Letter to a Young Programmer Considering a Startup

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

Since he wrote his popular blog post, Letter to a Young Programmer Considering a Startup, Alex Payne responded to numerous questions from readers who were deciding whether to join startups, take jobs with larger more established companies, or stay in school. Alex responds to these questions by asking why the person wants to join a startup or start their own company. More often, the responses frequently come back with phrases like, “entrepreneurship is in my blood.”

In other words, more and more, people are choosing to start companies or join startups seemingly just for the sake of it or because it is a sexy career move. Payne is uneasy about these reasons for joining startups. “People are fulfilled by their work when they operate with a sense of purpose,” says Payne in his blog post.

Friday, February 21, 2014

HumanCapitalist Blog: The Internal Blog is 'Where It's At' In Enterprise Learning

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

At my company we have an internal tool that enables all employees to write blog posts and share them with anyone in the company. Our CEO blogs regularly and actively encourages others to blog regularly. He tells us it’s a means for building bridges between our five global locations and for finding expertise. I have come to share this belief, and now I cannot imagine working any other way.

In fact, I believe that internal blogging is such a powerful force in employee development that it must be part of any truly successful corporate learning program.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ServiceRocket Blog: Enterprise Software Training is a Must – Part 1

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

Every enterprise software company gets to the point at which it begins to talk about the need to provide training to its customers. During the pre-internet and cloud software era, training was awful, consisting of voluminous manuals that nobody read, multi-day training sessions that no manager wanted to let his/her people attend, and computers that had never-ending compatibility problems that led to hours and hours of wasted time in these expensive and time consuming training courses. Thankfully, this straining experience could not and did not last.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Monktoberfest: Marketing Your Tech Talent (your own or … )

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

According to Deirdré Straughan, when you have a technologist who blogs, or otherwise communicates well, it is gold for your company, and yet there are still companies out there who forbid their engineers to blog. Forbid. Can you believe that? It is remarkable that in an age of tight talent markets, content marketing, and a culture of openness and collaboration that made Silicon Valley so successful, that technology companies treat technologists this way. The very people who make these technology company so great, are forbidden to communicate with the outside world.

Mindflash Blog: eLearning is Not So Hard, Is It?

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

You are a one-person training department mostly running live, classroom training sessions. You have even started conducting live training using a virtual classroom technology, which made things a lot easier for you. But scheduling and rescheduling and rescheulding and rescheduling is a drag. The way your company is structured, you need a solution that allows people to take training on their own time. However, getting started in self-paced eLearning seems so daunting, with graphic design, animation, and even custom interactions using javascript.

[Read Full Post]

Friday, February 7, 2014

HumanCapitalist Blog: Forget Tuition Reimbursement: Give Employees Access to a MOOC

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

Although the history of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is rooted in correspondence study courses and higher education (Open University started in the United Kingdom in 1969), modern MOOCs are evolving as a place for workers to learn new and valuable skills — skills that today’s workforce desperately needs.

MOOCs have quickly become more relevant not as a way to earn a degree, but as a tool for addressing the skills gap that many organizations face.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Research Shows 7 Ways to Make eLearning More Engaging

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

It is the nerd in me, but I like it when I can base decisions on evidence from research. So when I found this study, “What drives a successful eLearning? An Empirical investigation of the critical factors influencing learning satisfaction,” I thought it would be worth reading. Although this study was conducted in an academic environment, there are important lessons for any eLearning designer about what makes eLearning effective.

[Read Full Post]

Monday, February 3, 2014

ServiceRocket Blog: How Learning a New Technology Wins New Clients

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

In December, we started work with a new customer helping them write a certification exam for an emerging technology. It is a new technology that is being used mainly by innovators, committers, and early adopters. The test is aimed at later adopters learning a new technology, and of course to help the company cross the chasm by extending adoption to a larger audience of technology professionals.

The technology is so new that the few books and websites that exist have wrong or irrelevant information about it. Even the official documentation has outdated sections. The technology is just moving so fast.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monktoberfest 2013: What You Know About Talent is All Wrong

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

When Paul Ford stepped to the podium at Redmonk’s Monktoberfest 2013 to give his talk, The Web and the Quest for the Perfect Document, he had a change of heart. He did not want to give his standard, canned talk. Considering the audience, he didn’t think that would be the best way to go.

Instead, he decided to take a note from comedians, who work out new material in clubs all over the country, and read excerpts from a new book he is writing. At first, I thought, “Really? He’s gonna read his book? Aren’t I supposed to hate it when people read their slides? Shouldn’t I hate it even more if someone reads a book as his presentation? Especially an unfinished book? I should. I should hate that.”

Let's Review: Most Popular Blog Posts in January 2014

January brought a lot of interesting content to the LX Designer blog. The topics where all over the map, ranging from a gmail outage to an accusation. Here are the five most popular blog posts on the LX Designer in January 2014

We Are Looking at Knowledge Management All Wrong
In this post, I suggest we not worry so much about capturing knowledge of the departing. I post the question, “How do we want to capture the old way of doing things?”

Instead of Sending an Email…I Blog It
This is one of my favorite posts, as well. I am getting comfortable using internal blogs to communication with people at ServiceRocket. To broadcast progress on a progress. To announce milestones. To ask for help. To ask questions. To brainstorm. It is amazing how much participation and collaboration comes from an internal blog post. If you are not doing this, start doing this.

Gmail Was Down? Huh?
Evidently, the gmail outage on January 24 caused angst and frustration. Aaron Levie even posed a challenge tweet that someone has 7 minutes to disrupt email. I used Gmail for both work and personal. And I hardly noticed. Here’s why.

Poll Results: How Long does it Take to Learn a New Job
Let’s put it this way…it takes much longer that you are will to admit.

The Art of Writing Audio Scripts for eLearning
You want to write for how people speak, which is much different that writing for how people read.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Increase eLearning Retention with Storytelling

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

One technique that helps to make our eLearning content digestible is to break it up into bullet point lists of talking points. A bullet point list is easy to scan, and the content is easier to remember. No one wants to read large paragraphs of text during an eLearning course, right? Of course not. In fact, I have used bullet points in my eLearning courses for years because it works.

Or does it?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

HumanCapitalist Blog: The No. 1 Mistake Employers Make When Training New Hires

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

I just finished reading a book called “Predictable Revenue,” which is about setting up an effective sales process in a 2.0 world. In the book, the authors devote a lot of discussion to the importance of training new sales reps, which is refreshing. Here’s the staggering part: it takes a really long time for sales people to learn a new job.

How long? One to three months for inside sales reps and six to 18 months for field or enterprise-account executives. Assuming these estimates are close, why do we work so hard to design on-boarding programs to be a short as possible, especially when employee turnover is on the rise. Shouldn’t new employee on-boarding — for sales reps or anyone else — be more aligned with how long it actually takes people to get up to speed? Shouldn’t we put new people through a 12-month on-boarding program instead of a two-week training class?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

7 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making with eLearning

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

We have all made mistakes in our lives, and eLearning is no different. I have certainly made mistakes in my eLearning designs. Sometimes because I didn’t know any better, and sometimes I knew better but did it anyway out of expediency. Sometimes I had a deadline. What can I say? It had to be done. Remember, the point of our eLearning designs is not to create something perfect, but to create content and experiences that help people learn something new.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gmail Was Down? Huh?

Today’s gmail outage reminded me that I don’t need email as much as I think I do.

At ServiceRocket, we use Google Enterprise (Who doesn't?), so we didn’t not have email for a bit. But that ended up being fine. 

Here s why:
  • When I needed to send someone a document to review, I sent that person a message in Hipchat with a link to the file in Box. 
  • To send a message to my team, I wrote a blog post on our Confluence Space 
  • If I needed a status on a task, I checked the issue in JIRA 
Sure, there was the email I really wanted to send a customer…in that moment. And it was frustrating not to be able to send it precisely when I said I would, but I did get the message out…albeit later than I wanted. 


At first what seemed like a catastrophic first world problem to be without email for 42 minutes, ended up being a delightful reminder that there are other ways to communicate with people. 

Did I mention, I also had 2 “in-person” conversations on the office during the outage? Crazy, I know.

Free Resource for eLearning Designers

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

Over the last few years, we have seen software companies successfully adopt a freemium model that allows people to try software for free before they buy. Sometimes the free portion is in the form of a 30-day trial. In another form, you can use a limited version of a software service for free, indefinitely. This has changed the way people purchase software, and it has changed the way people get things done by allowing people to use software for free that they otherwise would not use at all.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monktoberfest 2013: Open Source Foundations in an Era of Kingmakers

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

When a conference speaker shows a quote at the beginning of a talk, says the quote “really pissed him off,” and then said that is what his talk is going to be about, I sit-up and listen. The problem is that I did not attend Monktoberfest 2013 live, so I had to sit-up straight at my desk in the office while watching the video.

With the heart of an optimist and the head of a bitter cynic, Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, gave an irreverent talk at Monktoberfest 2013 on the topic of Open Source Foundations in the Age of Kingmakers. Though I must admit his irreverence was aimed mostly at the “coffee-swilling, San Francisco hipsters” jumping in on the $14 trillion internet of things bandwagon boondoggle, but that is perhaps a topic for another blog post.

[Read the Full Post]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Three Reasons eLearning Platform is Best Choice

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

If you are reading this, you are likely considering how to create a deliver training and/or eLearning to a growing audience. You have either decided that classroom training will only take you so far or that you are going to start with eLearning as a means of training people in your organization. You are also likely discovering that there are many things to consider and many ways to create and delivery eLearning.

During your research, you inevitably ask yourself why not use your exiting webinar platform to deliver eLearning. After all, you have already used it for conference calls, company presentations, and maybe even some formal training programs. “We already pay for this webinar platform, so why don’t we just record the training programs we already conduct?”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Humancapitalist Blog: Build a Culture of Continuous Learning with Storytelling

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

If you find yourself at a cocktail party with Sarah Novotny ask her what she does for a living. Her answer will surprise you. She won’t answer with the name of the company where she works (NGINX), nor with her vocation (community leader). Not at first. Those are roles, they are not what she does.

When you ask Novotny, “So, what do you do?” She will respond, “I learn.”

I recently watched a recording of Novotny’s talk at the Stretch Conference and, when I heard this, I took notice. After all, my “vocation” is learning and development, so her talk about building a culture of continuous learning was right up my alley. According to Novotny, a culture of continuous learning requires collaboration and curiosity. If you have people on your team who are collaborative and curious, continuous learning comes naturally and performance will be high — the best way to select people who are collaborative and curious is through storytelling.

[Read Full Post]



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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Monktoberfest 2013: Little Tech, Big Impact: Putting Tech to Work for Your Community

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

When it comes to getting involved in one’s community, there are many choices. In fact, there are so many choices that it can cause some people to ask, “Where would I even start?” Of course, one can start by following a passion. On the other hand, some people stumble into community involvement by accident or with the help of an involved spouse, as was the case for Michael Ducy.

His wife asked him to get involved in a school board boundary realignment project and use some of that technology stuff that he does every day. A tMonktoberfest 2013, Ducy tells the story of how he used a little technology to make a big impact in his community.

[Read the Full Post]

The Art of Writing Audio Scripts for eLearning

This is a very practical piece about script writing for eLearning…especially the part about writing for how people speak. I can’t tell you how many times, I have written audio scripts (even for myself) that were not written for how I speak.

I take my script into a room to start recording, and I start bumbling around phrases and spend a lot more time re-writing phrases to sound more conversational or to simply avoid tongue-tying phrases. It is surprising how difficult it is to write for how people speak. Sometimes you don’t know a phrase is bad until you say it out loud.


A poorly written script slows down the person doing the recording. They are forced to edit on the fly, and they do not always know what you want to say. Especially if you are working with an outside voice-over professional…they will stop, ask you, and wait for your response, slowing down the project.

If you write scripts for other people to read and record, the best way to avoid this is to read your scripts out loud, as if you are recording it. Do that and you will find yourself catching all sorts of mistakes.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Design Employee On-boarding More Naturally for How Long it Takes People to Learn

One of the most popular posts on my blog in December was a summary of results of a poll I conducted in April 2013 in which I asked people how long it takes to learn a new job. 

67% of respondents said it takes between 3 and 12 months to learn a new job. 34% (the most in the poll) said it takes 6 to 12 months. In other words, it takes a while.




This has become more interesting to me lately because I am in month 7 of my new job….and I admit, I have begun to feel competent and confident on my new role over the past month or two. When I say competent and confident, what I really mean is that the mental distraction of learning my new job is less of a cognitive drag on my work. I now spend far less time consciously thinking about all the things I need to learn. I am spending more mental energy doing the job than I am learning it. 

Certainly, the learning will never end, but it has become much less of a distraction. 

Employee On-boarding should be much more about this longer period of time than it is about an arbitrary, fixed two (four, six, whatever) week period at the beginning of a job. 

What if employee on-boarding were designed on a timeline more aligned with how long it naturally takes to learn a new job? Would that be more effective?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Let's Review: Most Popular Blog Posts in December 2013

All but one of the most popular LX Designer Blog posts in December was a current post. The one from the past that gained interest was about poll results on how long it takes to learn a new job. Hint: It takes a bit longer than most people would plan for.

Well, here are the most popular LX Designer Blog posts in December...in order of popularity.

Seriously. This post is as practical a how-to guide to writing a blog post as you are every going to find. There is nothing vague here. I give you a step-by-step process that is repeatable and takes the mystery out of writing blog posts. Now, just wait until I implement Kanban boards to manage my blog posts like Atlassian does. Whoa Nelly!

In this post, I argue against the need to spend any significant effort trying to capture the tacit knowledge of the so-called baby boomer exodus from the workplace. Why are you trying to capture yesterday's knowledge? 

I seriously think CEOs can completely change the way they engage employees are lead their companies towards a clearer vision of the future. Using MOOCs. Enough with the Quarterly Email Update from the CEO.

Hint: Longer than you planned for when you took at new job. I ran this poll in April 2013. The results are interesting. 

A recap of what I learned at Dreamforce 2013. A great learning experience.