ASTD, Sunday

Sunday, May 18 San Diego
The Conference keynote opened with cliches that transported me back to the 80s:

  • Link your training plan to business objectives.
  • Become a Performance Consultant instead of a trainer.

Time for a cup of coffee. I returned for the keynote by Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point. He presented the Cliff's Notes version of his book, which is okay since it's an exciting message, even if it's one I've heard and read before.

Social Power is often under the radar but it's what makes things work. Diagram the connections between people; it looks like the routes of an airline, lots of activity around the hubs.

Connectors are the human hubs. Most of us connect with about 35 people. Connectors link to one-hundred and twenty or more people.

Mavens are expert sources, for example the nerd who tells his acquaintances what technology to buy. Mavens exert incredible influence in buying decisions. They spark informal learning, but often that's not appreciated.

Paul Revere had social power; people listened when he said "The British are coming." William Dawes set off at the same time; no one paid him any attention. He was neither a connector nor a mavein.

Jennifer Homer, ASTD's charming PR chief, arranges interviews with keynoters for the press corps at these events every year.

The first was with Malcolm Gladwell. Noting that we'd talked before, I asked Malcolm if he'd stuck his finger in a lamp socket. What's with the big hair? He replied that his hair looked like this most of time. The short hair was an aberration.

Social Power is related to emotional intelligence but connectors and mavens are virtuosos of the art.

Can one change roles? Yes. More often, it's simpler to encourage the latent connectors and mavens to come out of the closet. Or to show people how to take advantage of the networks before them.

Because it's not easily quantified, social power is often considered second class compared to formal, explicit power. Women, when excluded from formal power, have used social power to great advantage.

I asked if anyone was suggesting what corporations could do to take advantage of social power. Malcolm mentioned rewarding active participants. It impacts how you arrange your office. My interpretation: Not many people have advanced from reporting on social networking to doing something about it.

Walking the halls, I reverted to Jay Cross, cyber-reporter, and began asking people what important trends they saw in training and development.

Rob Henderson, Custom Building Products, Seal Beach, brought up a point from the keynote that I'd missed: eLearning has reached the tipping point. It's no longer some off-the-wall flyer. Rob's wife is an airline executive who has seen air traffic to Asia drop 70% due to SARS. Virtual meetings are the order of the day. More and more, eLearning is used for knowledge transfer and face-to-face is used only for well-defined social events.

Business is good at Talentkeepers, because organizations are waking up to the huge costs associated with turnover. Craig Taylor points out that pay and benefits aren't sufficient motivators to keep people on the job. If they don't like the work environment or their relationship with their boss, people go somewhere else. Front-line leaders should be held accountable for turnover, not HR. They need to learn retention skills. Craig put the cost of a defection in a low-level job at $5,000 and in a high-level position, say an investment banker, at $100,000. I bet it's a lot more than that.

Haidee Allerton, editor of T+D magazine, noted how fast things are moving these days. She also senses a backlash against ineffective tech solutions.

Marc Rosenberg

Following the dot-com bubble, Marc Rosenberg is seeing a lot of new faces. Companies have cleaned house and are starting over. The new crowd is less starry-eyed; they ask good questions. While I may have found deja vu in this morning's keynote, it was new material for many in the audience who have yet to discover Robert Mager, Dana Gibbs Robinson, and other sources I consider gospel.

Lance Dublin

Lance Dublin attended a session where a variety of statistics on eLearning were presented. The problem? Everyone defines eLearning as they see fit. 80% dislike eLearning, but what do they dislike? Eight-hour online class experiences? Using Goodle to look up answers?


The dot-com razzle-dazzle fooled many of us into thinking that eLearning was the universal cure-all for training woes. Apply eLearning to your problems, cut costs, boost performance, and defy gravity. Now we're waking up from the dream. eLearnia's Brenda Sugrue and I talked about how corporations are going back to applying the right tool to get the job done. They're also moving away from self-paced instruction as a silver bullet, instead developing competency models and communities of practice.
Posted by Jay Cross at May 18, 2003 05:21 PM | TrackBack

Summary of The Tipping Point

Posted by: Jay at July 29, 2003 08:28 AM

not bad

Posted by: paris hilton car at June 29, 2004 02:00 AM

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