Archive for the ‘Learning ’ Category

Summer Reading

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Two conversation-shaping books

Here are my Summer Reading picks for those who go for both engaging narrative and penetrating insight. I’m recommending two distinctly different books by writers who don’t want to merely inform their readers; they want to shape the conversation. Both authors accomplished what they set out to do.

Tim Harford | Adapt – Why Success Always Starts with Failure

“Today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt—improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up rather than the top down, and take baby steps rather than great leaps forward.” ~Tim Harford


Planning for What’s Next

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Scenarios are the most powerful vehicles I know for challenging our “mental models” about the world and lifting the blinders that limit our creativity and resourcefulness. ~Peter Schwartz

Using a longer lens

It’s been twenty years since the publication of Peter Schwartz’s insightful primer about scenario planning, The Art of the Long View. In the book, Schwartz makes a convincing case for using scenario planning in approaching strategic challenges of various kinds.

Schwartz, who led scenario planning efforts at Shell, Motorola, and Pacific Gas and Electric, concluded that the technique could be applied to handling the emergent complex threats that companies were confronting in the 90’s.

Since then, the world has grown radically more complex, more uncertain. Globalization and the Internet have woven together our institutions so that a crisis in one corner of the world can spread virally with far-reaching consequences.


What Clients Want…

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The insightful magazine, Chief Learning Officer, released its 2008 Business Intelligence report [exec summary here] covers trends and practices in the world of corporate learning and talent development.  They sampled over 1,400 heads of learning organizations in the US market. It’s a thorough, informative report that offers a comprehensive view of the industry—this is the 4th year they published it, and it gets better every year.   

Respondents identified new waves in the industry – novel practices and technologies, innovations, what’s hot and what’s not in the world of enterprise learning. 

These executives were also asked what they look for from a learning outsourcer.  Their answers aren’t surprising but, as a set, they’re a useful guide for what most clients are looking for from any services outsourcer — be it a learning, contact management or business process partner.  It’s great advice for any of us who design and deliver services, especially knowledge-based offerings:

  • “Be clear about costs from the beginning.”
  • “Be honest in what you can provide.”
  • “Do your homework and get to know the company before the engagement.”
  • “Better understand a customer’s needs.”
  • “Don’t sell me your programs and services…Sell me what I need…customize.” [emphasis mine]
  • “Always remember that one size does not fit all and the client is always right.”
  • “Establish a clear vision for deliverables and process.”
  • “Customer service should always be a top priority.”
  • “Differentiate yourself in the marketplace. There are a lot of choices.”
  • “Listen, listen, listen.”
  • “Always put quality first.”

P.S. — What a useful checklist for anyone at any level in the service biz, in this market or any other…


Learning through Collaboration

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

It’s always interesting to browse TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.  TED is like a virtual symposium of talented thinkers and doers.  The videos are bite-sized nuggets that can be sampled anytime you like—how cool is that? I’d like to get through most of them and catalogue my top picks for bold new insights.

Speaking of which, here’s a gem: It’s Rice University professor Richard Baraniuk (TED, 06) discussing his vision of creating a free online learning system based on collaboration among global instructors and learners.

He’s realizing his vision with Connexions, a collaborative software platform that enables anyone to create, share, modify and vet learning material accessible, at no charge, through Creative Commons licensing.

Currently, their content is accessed by over 850,000 users per month — a critical mass of global learners — making it one of the world’s most popular OER sites.

What’s next, I think, is the rise of global knowledge networks and learner-driven content made possible by the new generation of collaborative tools like wikis. Big things come from small steps…

The “Learning Hub”

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

What’s next in corporate education? Our agile corporate learning programs have evolved over the past 5 years through successive approximations, i.e. experimentation. Our current framework is that of a Learning Hub (LH) which is designed to promote on-going, self-directed learning among our clients’ workers at all levels.

Why this approach—why now? Simply put, we’re seeing corporate learning increasingly move away from a traditional skills training-passive learning approach to more of a performance engineering process, and for good reason.  Traditional training doesn’t build the capabilities that today’s market leading companies need to succeed.  Moreover, it doesn’t address the needs of sophisticated learners in the Knowledge Economy.

In contrast to conventional training, our efforts are directed at improving overall organizational capabilities while stressing frontline performance — connecting performance to the desired business impact. We’re aiming at driving performance improvement through all levels of the organization.

In addition to building the skills, knowledge and talents needed to improve performance now, we help clients anticipate the skills, the knowledge, the talents necessary as consumer demands shift over the 18-24 months.

The LH isn’t a training center, or a set of dedicated classrooms. It’s conceptual — a web-enabled learning environment that provides access to a wealth of knowledge resources–both internal and external. It entails on-line learning, peer collaborations, links to outside resources, and partnerships with academic institutions, all intended to deliver knowledge that is necessary at the moment the employee needs it.

The LH enables leaders to be able to emphasize the importance of learning to the success of the organization. It enables our clients to come together around a shared educational platform. This formal approach to on-going learning enables different units to come together which is one of those key business challenges that organizations are dealing with today – that is, trying to get different work groups to collaborate.

Technology is enables access to and connectivity with resources that couldn’t otherwise be reached in person. It also allows us to do things such as simulations — a lot of things that we can practice, which we would not be able to do in the operational environment, are enabled by technology.  This is aparamount in a world where workers are distributed across continents.

And we bring technologies that simulate the work setting. The result is there’s no demarcation between the learning environment and the work setting. So, when learners move from the LH Lab to their day-to-day jobs, it’s a seamless transition.

Learners come to the LH environment expecting not only to get particular knowledge or skills but they expect to enjoy a learning experience that contribute to their ability to effectively engage customers while also feeling more confident and therefore more satisfied workers.