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Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Flash Quiz Tools?

I received a question on my post - Flash Quiz Tools - asking about any tools that were free that allowed you to create a Flash Quiz. The only free Flash Quiz Tool that I know anything about is

Class Marker - a free flash quiz tool. Create multiple choice, true false, free text, short answer, fill in the blank and punctuation quizzes.

So I added this back into my post, but it got me wondering if there aren't a lot of other solutions out there that I don't know about. Certainly you could do this as poll questions. So are there other free flash quiz tools that I'm missing?

If you are looking at this then you might want to also look at Beginning of Long Slow Death of Flash and whether you really want to use Flash. Then take a look at some solutions that don't produce Flash Low-Cost Test and Quiz Tool Comparison.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Firewall Problems and Solutions

I would love to hear back from people on this as I received a question around firewall problems and solutions that I've not heard as much in the past couple of years. This blog reader provides eLearning content to a variety of customers from their hosted solution. Their solution uses a variety of technologies including: .wma files, JavaScript, Flash, HTML and downloadable PPT.

Their issue is that they are running into customers who are tightening their firewall settings and it causes some of their content to not work.

My sense is that the days when IT was doing things like stripping JavaScript, disallowing Flash, etc. are gone. So my first question is ...
Are you finding issues with firewalls these days? If so, what are you seeing?

Anyone having issues with Windows Media and firewalls? How about other media playback?
I couldn't tell from the message, but it could be the case that they are using some kind of custom player. My sense is that using a custom Player is still a really bad idea in most cases. Creating a Flash shell or a JavaScript based shell is fine. Anything else, especially ActiveX or Java is likely going to be a big problem. Even if you try to do everything over port 80, it's still an issue to get something down and run. But that's my bias. So my second question is ...
Are people still using custom players in anything other than Flash? If so, how do they avoid problems with firewalls and other security systems designed to strip out potentially malicious code? Do Flash players cause any problems with firewalls?
Finally, the reader asked about requesting clients to change their firewall settings. My experience is "good luck." There have been a couple of occasions when we could get changes made to the firewall. But unless you have a lot of influence, you should not be creating solutions that generally require changes. Thus, stick with standard ports, protocols, file formats, etc. Does anyone disagree?
What about getting changes made to firewall settings?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Instruction eLearning 2.0 and Quality

On my post Quick Wins, I received some questions around use of Web 2.0 in the workplace (really they relate to eLearning 2.0). My quick example of one strategy that I've seen repeated successfully in several organizations:
  • implement a small Wiki that has performance support materials that goes along with your eLearning on that new software application
  • at first have it only editable by the authors
  • then open it up to edit the FAQ and Common Issue pages by your help desk
  • and then open up editing to end-users
  • and to more pages.
The comments are interesting to see and discuss:
Can anyone tell me where QUALITY comes into play with these collaborative enterprise 2.0 technologies? Or does anyone even care about that anymore?
Later they say:
Invariably, quality will mean very different things to different elearning providers. Also, different needs will necessitate different solutions.

My quality concerns: Is it instructionally sound? What about the user experience? Above all, what are the learning outcomes? At what point do lowered standards become the standard?
This is partly the same instruction vs. support question we've had all along? If we provide information in the form of performance support, reference material, etc., then how do you know if the instruction was successful? The answer has always been:
Is the person able to perform?
Force marching someone through something that is high quality "instruction" - something deemed to be instructionally sound - doesn't make it any better and could be far worse since they probably won't actually go through it, will forget, etc. This will be highly variable on a case-by-case basis and really on a learner/performer basis. This hasn't changed. But our desire to move stuff to performance support has definitely increased and is more and more often the appropriate approach.

What has changed in my example is that the learner / performer or people who support the performance (e.g., the help desk) are able to change content in the support materials.

I'm not sure, but it seems that the commenter is making an assumption that this lowers quality. It theoretically could. Someone could add total garbage. But what's their incentive to do that. This is certainly something being discussed with revenge of the experts being pitted against the wisdom of crowds. I personally look at it in each case and consider what quality issues we are really talking about. Is it contributions by end-users that may be wrong? Do you have people monitoring? Maybe that gives us a great opportunity to intercept information that otherwise is being transmitted today in channels that aren't monitored. To me, it's often better to have it visible and discussed. In fact, I would claim that
Worries over quality is not something that should hold you back.
What really got me to post about this is the last question - "lowered standards" ... What? How does this equate to lower standards? The person who left the comment is expressing something I hear a lot at presentations and in client organizations. It's not at all the reality that goes along with most eLearning 2.0 implementations.

If you are going to worry about something, worry about lack of participation. Worry about lack of skills. The quality issue is a lot of hot air.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quick Wins

Just saw a post by Mark Oehlert - Danger of Quick Wins. I had to post because, I think that Mark missed the mark (sorry couldn't resist). Here's the gist of his thinking:

As I become more and more convinced that implementing next-gen/Web 2.0 is soooo much less about technology than about culture (Duh Mark, I know)...

I think the idea of 'quick wins' can be not only distracting but wasteful. I think that often 'quick wins' are used to cover up the lack of an over-arching strategy against which actions can be measured and be found either to support an long-range plan or not to support it or to support it in some measure. That strategy is the long pole in the tent - it is the metric that we can measure our actions against.

So 'quick wins' are fine as long as they take place within the context of a long-range plan and are executed in such a manner as to continue progress toward that vision.

I agree with Mark that there are fairly sizable organizational culture aspects to enterprise adoption of enterprise 2.0 / web 2.0 / eLearning 2.0. And I think it's easy to underestimate that impact. I think Mark missed the bigger barriers of Changing Knowledge Worker Attitudes and the work literacy gap.

But what forced me to write this post is that I couldn't disagree more about whether to do Quick Wins. His suggestion to hold up on implementing quick wins until we can figure out all the big picture strategy, OD, etc. answers is bad advice.

My suggested strategy is almost completely opposite. I think you should go ahead and:

  • implement a small Wiki that has performance support materials that goes along with your eLearning on that new software application
  • at first have it only editable by the authors
  • then open it up to edit the FAQ and Common Issue pages by your help desk
  • and then open up editing to end-users
  • and to more pages.
How does this fit into the grand strategy? You don't know? Who cares? It's the right thing to do! I'd argue that it's a good quick-win.

And, when you look at adoption patterns - a lot of what makes adoption of Web 2.0 tools likely is that they are easy to adopt and have immediate value for the individual and work group. They are designed for quick wins.

Mark - there's a reason that Andrew McAfee talks about these things being emergent (Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration) - quick-wins are going to be how this is adopted.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PowerPoint to Teach Composition

Rachel just posted a question via a comment on the post Background Reading - Use of PowerPoint:
I need help with a Powerpoint possible use. I teach freshman composition at a university to non-native speakers of English. They often come to me for extra help in their other classes. However, they ALWAYS need help creating PowerPoint presentations for their other classes of subjects such as economics, nutrition, statistics, travel & Tourism...etc. I spend time teaching and explaining "transitions", custom animations"...etc. I thought, as I am helping them so much, is there any information as to using Powerpoint as an actual tool to teach composition writing? It would be great to impart knowledge just in the structure of a composition....any thoughts or resources out there? Thanks
I always say, I love questions. However, I'm a bit at a loss on how to answer this question.

It seems wrong to be teaching about transitions and custom animations to this audience, right?

I don't know much about using PowerPoint as a tool to teach composition.

Any help for Rachel?

Workshop Exercise Design - Help Needed

I've just posted Identify Knowledge Work Tasks - Workshop Exercise which describes a workshop exercise that I'm considering using in several different workshops. I feel like it makes a lot of the discussion more concrete.

I'm really hoping that folks will help me out by:

a. telling me what they would say if they were in the workshop and
b. giving me thoughts on the exercise itself.

The last time I posted something like this it was a HUGE help and I significantly redesigned the exercise which probably saved me a lot of grief. See comments in Conference Session Breakout - which convinced me not to do it as a breakout activity. Actually, I probably never will do session breakouts unless there's a REALLY compelling reason... but I digress.

Please help: Identify Knowledge Work Tasks - Workshop Exercise

Monday, June 16, 2008

What are the Odds?

At lunch today, I had a funny experience that I just had to share. The person I met for lunch (a CEO at a client company) today is his birthday. And, it's my birthday. And it's today.

So, if I'm right, then it's a 1 in 365.25 chance that we share a birthday. And maybe a 20 in 365.25 chance that it would be on our birthdays that we get together. So, that's roughly a:

1 in 6,700 chance

and even the chance of that happening in a lifetime is pretty remote.

It just struck me as a pretty cool occurrence.

The only disappointing part is that when we told the waitress that it was both our birthdays, she seemed completely unimpressed. (But she did give us each free dessert.)

Revolution in Workplace Learning

Just wanted to announce that I'll be doing a full-day workshop in Cincinnati (actually in nearby Kentucky) for the Greater Cincinnati ASTD on July 15. I think this is going to be an interesting and fun workshop. I'm hoping that a few folks who read this blog will go.

You can go to their site: to find out more about specific place, time, cost, etc.

Likely I (and others in Work Literacy) will be doing similar workshops over the next few months. If you are interested, but can't attend this workshop, then you might want to go to Work Literacy and go to Services to state your interest.

Hope to see some of you there. If you are going, please drop a comment.

The workshop description is:

A Revolution in Workplace Learning

Tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, social bookmarking, and RSS readers are revolutionizing formal and informal workplace learning.

GCASTD is bringing nationally-known expert Dr. Tony Karrer to Greater Cincinnati to present a fun, engaging, fast-paced workshop that will allow you to use these "eLearning 2.0" methods and tools for yourself and your organization.

You will:

  • Learn specific methods you can use to accelerate your own knowledge work and learning
  • Define strategies for eLearning 2.0 for your organization
  • Make a plan for getting an eLearning 2.0 toolset for yourself and your organization
  • Leaders responsible for organizational learning and development
  • Individuals seeking to improve their own skill and knowledge

Dr. Tony Karrer is CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a software, eLearning and web development firm based in Los Angeles. A expert on using technology to improve human performance, he is a sought-after presenter on eLearning 2.0 and it’s implications on workplace learning. He is author of the award-winning eLearning Technology blog.

Dr. Karrer earned both his M.S. and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of South California. He attended USC as a Tau Beta Fellow, awarded to the top 30 engineers in the United States, and was valedictorian for his class.

Clients include: Credit Suisse, Citibank, Lexus, Microsoft, Nissan, Universal, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun, Symbol Technologies and many others.

Second Life Learning Videos

If you want to get a sense of what Second Life is like and particularly what it is like as part of learning, here are some videos that help describe this.

What videos did I miss?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Knowledge Worker Take Ownership

Must read post by Michele Martin - Changing Knowledge Worker Attitudes. I had chills as I read it.
I believe that we have to start with making people conscious of the fact that they own the most precious resource in just about any organization today–the power of their ideas, social connections and thought processes.
That's it - knowledge workers must take ownership. And it's the responsibility of learning professionals to lead that charge. Join this discussion on Work Literacy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Skimming Strategy

Fantastic article by Nicholas Carr in Atlantic Monthly - Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains.
I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
I know what he's talking about. In the past, I've discussed this as Stop Reading - Skim Dive Skim. He cites a recent study by University College London that looked at behavior of visitors to two research sites. Carr states:
They found that people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited. They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site. Sometimes they’d save a long article, but there’s no evidence that they ever went back and actually read it.
The authors of the study report:
It is clear that users are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of “reading” are emerging as users “power browse” horizontally through titles, contents pages and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.
While Carr expresses concern about the impact that this has, I'm not quite so sure. Yes, we need opportunities to reflect, but for me that's blogging. I'm reflecting on his article as I write. But, indeed, I skimmed through passages.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Virtual Language Immersion

Great post by Karl Kapp -Immerse Yourself in Another Language. As someone who's always felt that immersion is the best way (possibly the only way) to really learn languages. While I like the new tutoring systems such as EduFire, the idea of putting someone in a virtual environment to learn the language is fantastic.

I've mentioned before that I also think Second Life as a Learning Tool can be fantastic if you set up an environment like Plymoth Plantation - a recreation of Plymouth where actors playing the part of Native Americans and Colonists told stories and answered questions about life, religion, history, etc. It was a fantastic learning experience where you learned things in such a great way. And there were quite a few surprises, that I didn't remember ever hearing in all my different history classes. (We have a rather idealistic view of the colonists.)

I came home from the trip thinking that the California Missions should really do something similar. I've had to take my kids to a Mission several times as part of their school work and it's frankly boring to walk around reading as compared to the experience at the Plantation. Maybe one of the tribes that has casinos could sponsor putting this together?

This is good timing given the LCB Big Question is: Second Life Training.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Social Media and Experimental Innovation

Interesting post by Clark Quinn - Innovating by Conversation - where he refers to the idea of the Experimental Innovator - an innovator who iterates through lots of ideas before arriving at something that works. Clark tells us ...
Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds, Tapscott’s Wikinomics, and Libert & Spector’s We Are Smarter Than Me, are telling us to tap into the wisdom of crowds, and with lots of examples of how creating conversations with folks can spark new insights.
The thought this sparks is that experimental innovation can be accelerated through broader conversations. This is interesting. Much of Gladwell's discussion of experimental innovation discussed innovation occurring over very long periods of time (10 years). But one of the promises of social media is that we can arrive at innovation more quickly and test it more quickly.

In many ways, this is exactly how we are approaching Work Literacy. It's a big, hard problem. Get lot's of people together to foster discussion, innovation, experimentation.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Learning Organizations, eLearning 2.0 and Edupunk

Janet Clarey wrote an interesting blog post in response to the relatively recent edupunk meme which is basically an ideology that DIY learning and repurposing content is the way to go (and somewhat the ONLY way to go). Janet juxtaposes the recent inclusion of eLearning 2.0 type tools in Learning Management Systems against the philosophy that corporate and commercial is evil of the edupunkers. The questions she raises are:
Is the edupunk ideology saying that the use of social media in commercial learning management systems is an assault on the very philosophy of learning 2.0?

Ideologies shouldn’t be rigid should they? Rather they should be adapted and used in pragmatic ways don’t you think? If you’re a trainer embracing learning 2.0, who gives a rats ass where it lives.
These are fair questions that are also central to the issues of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption. Corporate IT is interested in rolling out systems that they can control for security, auditing, back-up and a host of other control reasons. This is counter to the very being of a person like Stephen Downes. They would argue that the individual chooses what makes sense in their personal work and learning environment.

As a trainer, you are going to get stuck in the middle of this. If you have a population of learners who have already adopted tools (such as blogging and social bookmarking) for themselves that are different than the corporate tool (the LMS) do you ask them to move? It will depend on the content, but it certainly won't be good for the learner. If your population has not adopted a tool yet, do you have a responsibility to the individual to show them tools that can live beyond their engagement at the company? Do you show them the internal blogging tool only?

The answers are going to depend on the particular situation, but in a few cases I think the answers are fairly well known.

For Wiki-like capabilities, it likely is fine for an LMS to provide these and for learning organizations to use them. Most knowledge workers are used to thinking about that type of content being created for internal use only. It makes sense in many of these cases to keep it inside the firewall. So no problem if their Wiki is tied to the LMS. Just don't make me login to get to it. Allow it to be easily searched. Etc.

But I would claim that if you are talking about blogging as an ongoing learning and networking tool, then you are doing a disservice to learners if you show them only internal tools bundled with the LMS or any tool that is locked inside the walls of the corporation.

These are going to be real challenges for learning organizations and trainers moving forward.

Hopefully, we'll begin to see ways to allow a better handling of inside and outside the firewall solutions. For example, having social bookmarking that allows links to be kept private to a group. Interestingly when Yahoo create MyWeb as a competitor to before acquiring del.icious - they had features that did this. I'm expecting them at some point to put this into so that you can control visibility of bookmarks.

Final thought - I would claim that a bad reaction to this debate is to do nothing because we aren't sure. We need to be building work literacy. This will benefit the corporation and the individual.

Topic Diversity

Through the post on Conference Balance an in thinking about the keynotes at ASTD that I attended (ASTD Keynote - Malcolm Gladwell, Dysfunctional Teams), I realized that one of the reasons that I like going to conferences is it forces me (sometimes slowly and painfully) to get exposed to a diversity of topics. Through my PWLE methods (reading blogs, etc.) I would not have run across the concepts in Dysfunctional Teams. This was a good topic to go through and think about - and to have captured in my blog.

But, if I'm suggesting that conferences should head towards participation and F2F because more people are going to effectively get information through their PWLEs, then am I going to miss good topics like that talk. The closest equivalent are things like TED videos (which are always short and to the point). But more recently those videos have become more and more theoretical. I ran across a video on the topic of making a good presentation that was great. But, I still have this nagging worry that I would miss out if you didn't have keynotes on random, related topics.

Am I just being an Infovore and shouldn't worry about it?

Should I be seeking new information sources that will bring in random but related topics?

Where do you get this kind of information? How do you know to get it?

tag: workliteracy

Friday, June 06, 2008

Conference Balance

Just read a great post by Clive Shepherd - Cutting the Pie - where he discusses what the appropriate balance is at conferences. As you know creating Better Conferences is something that very much interests me. Check out that post, the poll results and the discussion for lots of ideas on how to make conferences better. But Clive's major point is that at today's conferences the mix is:

His definitions are:
  • ideas - presentations from gurus, experts and thought leaders, primarily abstract in nature.
  • examples - case studies from users, sharing successes and lessons learned.
  • participation - opportunities for attendees to interact with each other to explore the ideas, share their own experiences and make contacts that can take follow-up after the event.
He'd like to see a balance:

This is interesting timing for me having just returned from the ASTD Conference. That conference was certainly the old model - mostly ideas and examples. Very little participation. But in fairness to ASTD - it seems like it's hard to get participation when 70% of attendees are relatively new to the industry and are first time attendees.

I personally tried (a little) to create my own participation ahead of the event through getting together at conferences. But I wasn't very successful.

I've always highly encourage participation, but my general sense is that people aren't really that interested in doing the Conference Preparation that might be required to Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee or using Social Conference Tools

So while I agree, my basic question:
When can you get effective participation at conferences?
It seems like the eLearningGuild is doing a better job at this recently. There were morning discussion groups last time that I thought were great. They are starting to do more with online tools. I think that conferences really need to adopt a mentality of having unconferences within a conference structure to allow for participation of all kinds intermixed with ideas and examples.

I'd be curious to hear thoughts on this as I always struggle with whether going to a conference is worth the investment of time.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

ASTD Handouts

Lance Dublin mentioned a couple of handouts today from sessions I was not able to attend. It took me a little while to find this link to the ASTD 2008 Session Handouts. My session (yesterday) can be found: M313 - E-Learning 2.0 for Personal and Group Learning (PDF).

Dysfunctional Teams

At the ASTD keynote by Patrick Lencioni - Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Quick search and I found some good notes on different web sites so I don't have to type so much. Here's a good one.

He used an interesting thing in order to get questions - gave free copies of his book to people with questions. He got a lot of questions right away - not sure it works all that well with an audience of 5,000.

The Five Dysfunctions of Teams are:

Absence of Trust: Trust is the foundation of real teamwork. However, in most teams members will not be "vulnerable" with each other (air dirty laundry, admit mistakes, weaknesses and concerns without fear of reprisal). Without trust the team will not be able to achieve results.

One member of a team can break down trust. You can't go into a process unwilling to get rid of any team members.

Even if it's the leader - who you must be honest with about their issues.

You should be more vulnerable - but must be genuine. Vulnerability is always a little painful. Can you be too vulnerable? No. But showing yourself as incompetent is not good either.

Fear of Conflict: Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate about ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.

Productive, idealogical conflict is good. This looks different for different teams. Conflict in Japan is quite different from the US. He talked about NY vs. Silicon Valley. Not important the style that's in use, but you want to know they are engaging when they disagree.

You have to be able to disagree, even passionately.

Why don't you do it more? Fear of getting feelings hurt. His point is that if you don't have conflict around issues it will become conflict around people.

Leader must model and even mine for conflict.

Lack of Commitment: Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions.

Without conflict there's no commitment. He doesn't necessarily want consensus. Most times you have an important decision to make - you have to hear everyone out and then decide which one to go with. If they don't feel they've been heard, they will simply not commit.

Disagree and commit.

Avoidance of Accountability: Without commitment and buy-in to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.

Biggest problem on teams. Peer-to-peer accountability is the most powerful. If they know that peers don't buy in, then there won't be action.

Leader must be willing to confront tough problems. CEO might say - I don't have the time and energy for that. Afraid to hold people accountable for behaviors. People don't like to do these confrontational events.

Inattention to Results: Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where team members put their individual needs or even the needs of their division above the collective goals of the team.

What else can you focus on? Feelings. Relationships.

Healthy teams:

  • Members trust one another.
  • They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  • They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  • They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  • They focus on the achievement of collective results.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Frank Nguyen - EPSS - at ASTD

Frank Nguyen is presenting at ASTD on EPSS. You can find his presentation on his site. His major points were:

  • Search is not an effective method for performers to find information.
  • Integrating information closer to the work flow and work interface can improve performance.
  • Novices cannot effectively use the same support systems as experts.
  • Providing learners with more on-the-job performance support does not eliminate the need for training and there are cases where training is preferred
  • When in learning mode - people want minimal information. When in performance mode - they want more detail. Thus, you can't use the same content for both - EPSS needs more than training.
  • You must focus on more than the technology in order to drive adoption of EPSS.
Choices for what to do as performance support vs. training:
  • Routine (perform the task often) -> Training
  • Not routine -> EPSS
  • Critical -> Training
Only situation safe to do only support (not training), not critical, not routine.

One of the points that Frank made that I had to jump on at the session and mention Work Literacy was that even though most people know how to use Google search, they wouldn't find it to be an effective tool. I don't disagree that often search is not a great vehicle to support particular performance. However, I take issue with the claim that most people are good at using search. In fact, I would claim that most people muddle through search.

Frank is doing great research in this area. Really enjoyed his relaxed presentation style and his method of engaging the audience around key questions.

ASTD Keynote - Malcolm Gladwell

Next up at ASTD - Malcolm Gladwell - new book in November - Outliers - how people get to be successful. Talks about two kinds of creative styles:
  • Experimental innovator - never has a big bold idea, works slowly, trial-and-error, empirical, approach master
  • Conceptual innovator - big idea, can execute it themselves
He draws this distinction in artists, writers and the point is that it applies to any kind of field.

We have a tendency to value the conceptual innovator more than the experimental innovator. He spends about 10 minutes to show this through discussion of Fleetwood Mac vs. the Eagles and how the music industry focuses on conceptual innovators today.

Compares scouting combines in sports to how you select talent. Break down into specific skills and measure against those skills. He claims that scouting combine scores have almost no correlation to actual abilities. In the NBA, Kevin Durant - 75 out of 81 people in combines, but he was rookie of the year. Very little correlation. Similar issue of intelligence tests in the NFL. I have to check his facts - Bradshaw, Marino, McNabb all scored among the lowest on intelligence?

Interesting to juxtapose this versus the discussion of talent management by Tony Bingham. Talent management likes to look at things exactly this way.

Gladwell's claim is that you really want to find an experimental innovator in sports or other talent - who is going to grow into a star. Some of his main points:
  • Talent is not a narrow, fixed thing.
  • Picking talent requires judgment - hero of stories are those that can see future talent
  • Along the way, talent will make a lot of mistakes
  • Flexibility is required to be successful growing talent
  • Measures (if they can even be done) must be much broader than simple skills measurement
  • Must be patient
  • Must be prepared to help
Commentary - the problem here is that in the fast paced world with a fluid flow of talent that we have today, how do you balance the need for immediate performance versus the need to be patient, develop over time, etc. To me a key aspect that is missing here is the transition of thinking about the corporation as being the key talent manager - that has moved to the individual. The corporation still has responsibility, but the individual has greater responsibility.

When you think about the parallel of this with the sports world - it's pretty close. Listen to any sports talk radio and they will talk about how you can try to draft for players who will have immediate impact or those who may develop into a bigger, more valuable player. There's a definite trade-off to be made in that choice. It's a tough choice to make. And the right answer is situational. Sometimes getting the lineman who will make immediate impact is a better choice than drafting a quarterback who may or may not develop into a star in three years.

I wish we could have had some discussion with Gladwell vs Bingham. Could have been pretty interesting.

ASTD Keynote - Talent Managment

I'm at the ASTD Conference in San Diego at the general session. It looks like there are about 5,000 people in the room. A complete guess at the number, but pretty good size.

Tony Bingham, ASTD CEO, is talking about and showing videos around talent management. It's interesting to see the message be around talent management when often that's fairly separate from the learning function. My experience is that talent management is more focused on performance review, succession planning, recruitment, retention, and other HR processes - less on specific learning / development. I've got to say that having someone showing a bunch of videos (of people from the BEST winners) isn't all that engaging or meaningful without more context.

Tony asked the audience - how many know the key strategies of your organization and then key metrics of your business. Very few (10 percent) raised their hands.

Tony's Keys at the end of his presentation:
  • Create a Learning Brand
  • Learning - most important role is in talent management
  • Take Action on the Skills Gap
  • Become a business partners
Great quote in one of the videos - self-development is the greatest challenge. It's often easier to change the world than it is to change yourself. Okay - maybe I was too hard on the videos. :)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Work Literacy Launch

I'm very happy to announce that Michele Martin and I have just launched Work Literacy - a network of individuals, companies and organizations who are interested in learning, defining, mentoring, teaching and consulting on the frameworks, skills, methods and tools of modern knowledge work.

This venture comes partly from my experiences doing presentations, workshops, blogging around eLearning 2.0. When discussing new(ish) tools like blogs and social bookmarking, and discussing things like advanced search techniques, there's a gap in knowledge work skills. In fact, we all have blind spots. Why is that? It's just coming at us too fast to continue to acquire in an ad hoc fashion. We need something to help us make sense of all that is happening that changes how we do our knowledge work.

Our goal is create a vibrant network of individuals, companies and organizations interested in participating in a variety of ways: learners, testers, experts, teachers, coaches, and I'm sure many others. The network is intentionally defined in a way that will allow it to emerge over time, but there are some very interesting people involved already.

Some ways to Participate:
  • Subscribe
    • RSS Feed for the Work Literacy Blog
    • RSS Feed for an aggregation of related content.
    • You can subscribe by email using the entries in the sidebar to either of these feeds.
  • Point us to resources using the tag: WorkLiteracy
  • Comment
  • Blog your thoughts. When you blog, include the term workliteracy or better yet a link to and we’ll do our best to aggregate these posts for access by the community.
I truly believe this is something important, and I hope it sounds interesting enough that you want to come participate with us.