July 31, 2002

Mammals of Australia Terence Lindsey

Mammals of Australia
Terence Lindsey

The monotremes, platypus and echidna, egg-laying mammals that use the same orifice for sex and defection (mono-treme). The marsupials, which nuture a barely formed young 'un in a pouch, and include roos, wallabies, wombats, quokkas, Tasmanian devils, bandicoots, bilbies, numbats, koalas, possums, bettongs, potoroos, pademelons, almost all of which we saw in Tasmania and/or the Sydney zoo. A great little pocketbook that answers the important questions like

    Are echnidnas smart?
    Is the Tasmanian Tiger extinct?
    Which large Australian mammal leads a subterranean lifestyle?
    How do possums communicate?

A fine little book -- IF you're going to Australia.

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Australia's Living Heritage, Arts of

Australia's Living Heritage, Arts of the Dreaming
Jennifer Isaacs, JB Books

I read this picture book/essay while on vacation in Australia. It describes Aboriginal art from baskets to rock carvings to bark painting to body painting to decorated weapons to sculpture.

"All Aboriginal art is symbolic; much of it is geometric of non-figurative." In fact, it's quite a surprise that the art of the oldest continuous culture in the world (40,000 - 60,000 years old) expresses itself in a form that could be mistaken for "modern" abstract art. Lots of circlues and dots and wavy lines, generally recounting one's personal creation myth and ancestor stories.

Western eyes often miss the frame of Aboriginal art, for it often incorporates found objects from nature. A pile of rocks two blocks down the road from a painted boulder may represent the eggs of an emu.

We tend to look primarily for images that we recognize and that relate to our own perceptions of the world, perhaps ignoring the importance of other evidence relating to another world view. The existence of so many tracks, circles and other marks at most of the rock engraving sites highlights an aspect of Aboriginal perception that differs from that of Europeans. Because it was so necessary for hunters to undestand and relate to the tracks and marks left by every living creature, the engravings frequently showed the 'marks' made by people and animals, rather than presenting representational images of their forms. Examples are the obvious foot tracks, tail marks of the kangaroo, egg indentations to indicate a clutch of emu eggs, arcs and circles to denote seated people and a campfire.
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University of Colorado at Denver

University of Colorado at Denver
School of Education

Instructional Design Models

Models, like myths and metaphors, help us to make sense of our world. Whether it is derived from whim or from serious research, a model offers its user a means of comprehending an otherwise incomprehensible problem. An instructional design model gives structure and meaning to an I.D. problem, enabling the would-be designer to negotiate her design task with a semblance of conscious understanding. Models help us to visualize the problem, to break it down into discrete, manageable units.

The value of a specific model is determined within the context of use. Like any other instrument, a model assumes a specific intention of its user. A model should be judged by how it mediates the designer's intention, how well it can share a work load, and how effectively it shifts focus away from itself toward the object of the design activity.

Models, like other tools, shape the consciousness of those who use them. The tool molds the wielder who molds the tool, ad infinitum. Our models frame the reality we impose on the world and the experience that is forged out of their use brings us to higher levels of understanding about the design problem, but only within the framework of the specific models we adopt.

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July 30, 2002

Bandwidth is time-dependent, so I'll

Bandwidth is time-dependent, so I'll put this handy table from JOHO here.

Kevin Marks' Guide to Magnitude
    Bluetooth is 10 times faster than a 56k modem USB is 10 times faster than Bluetooth 802.11b is as fast as USB 10baseT is as fast as USB 100baseT is 10 times faster than 10baseT FireWire is 4 times faster than 100baseT and 40 times faster than USB Gigabit Ethernet is 10 times faster than 100baseT
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July 29, 2002

The Book on the Bookshelf

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski goes from papyrus scrolls to hardbound codex to chained book, kept in armoires, triple-locked chests, and lecturns by the monastery windows. The name of the book hasn't always appeared on the spine, and early on, the spines faced inward. A wonderful collection of book trivia.

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz implores you to be impeccable with your word, not to take anything personally, not to make assumptions, and to always do your best. Miguel tells you this over and over and over. That's the Toltec way, I guess.

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In a Sunburned Country by

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, recently retitled Down Under, is a humorous trek around Australia with an incurably curious funny guy. I read this on the plane to Australia and during our first days in Sydney, chuckling along and thoroughly enjoying Bryson's quirks. Not much about urban life. I started but ran out of time with Robert Hughes's The Fatal Shore, the story of the early days. An engrossing book, but not one I have much use for now that I'm back in California.

the haiku anthology, a delightful anchor paperback from 25 years ago, purchased for a nickel at the Albany Library book sale earlier this year. The 5-7-5 structure is total nonsense, given that the Japanese don't have syllables so much as thought-bites. In English, it's permissable to shorten things:

      tonite northing to write

      but this

      The silence in moonlight

      of stones

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July 13, 2002

I saw this on eClipse

I saw this on eClipse and thought, "How cool is that!" Still honored to be among such company, I noticed that the list is alphabetical.

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July 12, 2002

Lego man. Very cool.

Lego man. Very cool.

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July 11, 2002

McGraw-Hill has posted a charming

McGraw-Hill has posted a charming site in support of Allison Rossett's ASTD eLearning Handbook. Play the eLearning Handbook game! Lots of content.

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Advanstar has announced a Customer

Advanstar has announced a Customer Learning Conference to be held July 29-August 1, 2002, in Chicago

What is Customer Learning? Customer Learning is a new application of e-Learning that focuses on bringing knowledge and skills directly to your customers and prospects. By utilizing a wide range of e-Learning resources, the call center organization can in effect, launch training and e-Learning modules directly to the customer.

The CRM Connection
Another perfect point to integrate e-Learning resources, the sales representative can use customer learning to extend their relationships with customers.

Whether or not the conference is any good, this is great marketing. Attach learning to customers. Heaven knows there's a need. In a recession, tie learning to sales.

The event is co-located with Advanstar's Call Center Management Conference, which makes me a bit skeptical. I hope the focus is on mutual learning, co-creation, and development of stronger relationships and not simply treating customers like trainees.

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July 10, 2002

The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual

The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization
by Thomas A. Stewart

The Wealth of Knowledge is easily the best business book I've read in several years. The logic is sound, the metaphors communicate, and the prescriptions are practical. Some of the goodies I high-lighted follow.

Intangible assets include HUMAN CAPITAL (the skills and knowledge of our people) STRUCTURAL CAPITAL (patents, processes, databases, networks, etc.) CUSTOMER CAPITAL (relationships with customers and suppliers)

All the major structures of companies – their legal underpinnings, their systems of governance, their management disciplines, their accounting – are based on a model of the corporation that has become irrelevant. There are no rules of thumb, no advice, no tried-and-true consulting methods, no academic work on how to make the oil-rig worker more productive during the five-sixths of his time he is not holder a wrench. Knowledge workers are on their own—getting a word of advice here and there from a colleague or a boss, or from self-help books about how to be better organized.

The single most effective way to strengthen employees’ loyalty is to increase their opportunities for growth.

We all know that we learned more from our classmates than from our classes.

Collaboration, customization, constant correction occur in a special kind of place, a place with Ba.

By the middle of 2001, dot-com schadenfreud had become as tiresome and unenlightening as e-business braggadocio was two years earlier.

An organization is defined from the inside out—by budgets, departments, org charts, and reporting relationships. A business is defined from the outside in—by markets, suppliers, customers, competitors.

The Four-Step Process for Managing Intellectual Capital

1. Identify and evaluate the role of knowledge in your business—as input, process, and output. How knowledge-intensive is the business? Who gets paid for what knowledge? Who pays? How much?
2. Match the revenues you’ve just found with the knowledge assets that produce them. What are the expertise, capabilities, brands, intellectual properties, processes, and other intellectual capital that create value for you? What is the mixture of human-capital, structural-capital, and customer-capital assets?
3. Develop a strategy for investing in and exploiting your intellectual assets. What are your value proposition, source of control, and profit model?
4. Improve the efficiency of knowledge work and knowledge workers. Bearing in mind that knowledge work does not necessarily follow the linear path that physical labor often does, how can you increase knowledge workers’ productivity.

Stephen Denning, at the World Bank, identified 114 knowledge domains, and for each, created a help desk, a who-knows-what Yellow Pages, a collection of key sector statistics, records of the bank’s previous projects (emphasizing best practices and lessons learned), an electronic bulletin board, and finally provision for outsiders (such as the bank’s client countries) to get into the system directly.

Collegiality (and knowledge-sharing) contends with subverters, wiggle-outers, and a few outright foes. Auditors, lawyers, security officers, personnel staff—everyone wants to keep secrets.

The Disciplines of a Knowledge Business

Traditional organizations are run like buses, with routes to follow and schedules to meet; real-time organizations are taxis, which respond to a waving armor a voice crackling on a two-way radio.

· Decisions that once were made internally are now made with and by outsiders—customers or the market as a whole.
· The more choices people get, the more they want.
· Time is present time and distance is zero.
· Volatility is baked in; live with it.

You find knowledge products not by looking at your own value chain, but by look at that of your customers.

“Never sell anything only once.” Art Buchwald

“If you’re not absorbing knowledge from your customer, you’re not doing anything.” Nick Bontis

Value creation itself, more and more, is a collaboration between buyer and seller.

A fully developed customer learning process will have four traits. First, it will emphasize communication over information mining. Without a process of mutual learning—which permits smarter buying and selling—there’s little basis for customer loyalty in a low-friction knowledge economy. Second, customer learning needs to be integrated across functions—that is, not just confined to marketing, sales, and service, but reaching into new product development and even HR and finance. Third, the process should create a kind of relationship capital that is as valuable to the buyer as it is to the seller. Finally, the customer learning process should be so visible day to day that you can’t imagine running the company without it.

Knowledge sharing builds social capital, trust, morale, and culture. Whatever your business imperative—speed, innovation, frugality, quality, customer focus—knowledge sharing helps it. (Yet a study of thousands of professionals by Korn Ferry found that only 12% had access to lessons learned within their own company!)

Bill Raduchel says, “You can’t have a virtual conversation unless you also have real conversations. The indispensable complementary technology to the Net is the Boeing 747.”

Consultantware = semi-finished products that consultants then tailor to their clients’ needs.

In a knowledge economy, where unthinking jobs have been automated, companies are asking all workers—and especially managers and knowledge workers—to make decisions. Their inner gyroscope must be aligned with the corporate compass.

How to Train More Effectively

Emphasize action learning. Classroom training has its place: a small one. It’s inefficient: Half the people in the room are secretly working on their “real” jobs….

Build informal learning into work. Make it easy—and culturally acceptable—to ask for help.

Train for today’s job, not tomorrows, and train to increase the overall flexibility of the workforce.

Focus on key skills and knowledge workers. A company’s training should emphasize what differentiates it from its competitors.

Accounting, long dead, is not yet buried, and the situation stinks. Okay, that overstates the case, but not a lot.

Organizations are not so much collections of parts as they are connections of brain cells, nerves, and sinews. To discover this is to discover the power of knowledge set free and of technology made human. It is to discover that it’s possible to improve not only a company’s performance today, but its responsiveness, its repertoire of skills, and its capacity to deal with the future.

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From The Wealth of Knowledge

From The Wealth of Knowledge by Tom Stewart,

On a lakeside near Zurich, a city where Lenin plotted Bolshevist revolution, ur-capitalist Dean LeBaron, former fchaiman of Bastterymarch Financial Management, contrmplates the information revolution: "We financial analysts were brought up looking at charts whose x-asis represented time.You'd see trends. Time was a wave. In the new economy, I'm beginning to think time is a quantum. What comes next bears no relationship to what came before." That glorious abstract image becomes earthy as LeBaron explains: "It use to be that information oozed out into the makret. Now it's dumped out all at once."

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USDLA Journal Bulletproof Instructional Design:

USDLA Journal
Bulletproof Instructional Design:
A Model for Blended Learning
Frank J. Troha
Corporate Learning Consultant and Adjunct Professor of Instructional Design

Allow me to apply the lessons of the previous post.

This well-written artcle calls for planning ahead of training, with the twist that F2F be considered and then online, divvying up the learning tasks for which each is appropriate. (Check out the original article for the full argument.)

Early on, the author cautions us that: "The following design model presumes a performance analysis has indicated the need for training, as opposed to another type of performance improvement intervention." That gets caught in my crap detectors. I always presume that performance analysis indicates the need for better performance, and generally it's unsound to assume that training alone can carry the load.

The author describes the necessity of having a transfer strategy to insure that the results of training are applied to the work. Since this isn't school, where we purposely wall off kids from the real world, why are training and work separate in the first place? All the bulletproof content is delivered in courses, i.e. the model presumes that all learning is formal. What of informal learning, where most of learning really takes place? For that matter, why is there no discussion of groups to accompany the focus on individuals? Furthermore, conceptualizing learning as a series of courses doesn't provide a pathway for future learning as the course content becomes dated.

The "Bulletproof" Instructional Design Document includes these topics:

    Course title Purpose Statement Audience Title Duration Prerequisites Learning Objectives Constaints Content/Learning Activities Outline Transfer of Learning Strategy Evaluation Strategy Content Sourcing

I can't go along with deciding that we have a training problem and then trying to solve it as if the larger organization that spawned it has ceased to exist. This is like the scientist who prefaces everything with "everything being equal," knowing full well that it's not.

Why would anyone take this "bulletproof" approach to stakeholders for review rather than a statement of the performance problem and how we'll know we've solved it. Better we should go back to Robert Mager, asking What are we trying to do? How are we going to do it? How will we know we've done it?

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My dinners with Pierre (et

My dinners with Pierre (et ses amis)

Last week in France, home of Bergson and Proust, I noted some differences between French and US notions of time.

  • The French have not only minutes, but also "small minutes." This appears to be a euphemism for "it's really going to be longer than that." Petit pops up in other contexts, e.g. "Do you want a whisky?" "Maybe a small one." Thus, a petit minute is to a minute as "just a sec" is to a second. Different.

  • For the most part, American meetings cut to the heart of the matter and Continental meetings start with social and philosophical foreplay. I suspect that the Americans assume the existance of "one best way" and see no need to open that bucket of worms when discussing business matters. The French are more philosophical and enjoy confirming the context before getting to the point. Also, the circular warm-up in France paves the way socially for deeper interaction -- if and when the point of the meeting is reached.

  • In one day-long session to formulate strategy, for the first couple of hours, I felt like I was in slo-mo. My Dinner with Andre. And yet after lunch, we reached more agreements in a shorter time than I've ever experienced in American sessions. The lengthy warm-up built the foundation for rapid agreement. Overall, the Continental approach was more time-efficient. And in addition, we had time left over to discuss nuances over a pleasant dinner at a local brasserie.

  • On the road, American drivers assume other drivers will obey the rules of the road. American highways are less ambiguous in defining what's proper and what's not. Driving in California, I can almost flip into auto-pilot, monitoring details with my peripheral vision and not paying much attention to the second-to-second interplay of the automobiles and trucks around me. In France, many streets were laid out for carriages and farm animals. Streets meet at oblique angles. Cars parked along residential streets leave but a single lane for traffic. When cars approach a chokepoint from opposite directions, it's not at all clear who has the right of way. Driving on auto-pilot in France would be suicidal. It's a much faster game, where one driver has to react to the moves of the others. I suspect French drivers have much quicker reflexes than their American counterparts because they have so much practice.

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In case you missed it,

In case you missed it, everything in this blog is my opinion. This is the way it is, but only in my own mind. "It's just my opinion. I may be wrong."

Thoughts distilled from an event I participated in recently
    “No one else calls them learners.” You don’t stop work to learn. Learning is the work.

    Decide what you want to do before deciding how to do it. Structure follows strategy. Technology follows objectives. Form follows function.

    Learning culture involves questions, not answers.

    People learn from one another. Epistemology deals mainly with individuals. We need new rules to accommodate groups and teams.

    People like change but don’t want to be changed. (People like to buy but hate to be sold.)

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July 09, 2002

It's tough to get

It's tough to get them over the chasm, and there's no point in trying to get the laggards on board.

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