x.hlp technologies asa and Enlight, Europe's largest provider of online
solutions for testing and certification, have signed a Letter of Intent
to merge by the end of next month.
x.hlp and Enlight's services dovetail nicely, so I expect to see synergy, not merely financial engineering, come out of this union. They are well positioned to ride the wave of "show me" compliance training and testing.
The merger follows an increased demand for testing and certification among large organizations in the public and private sectors. “Our existing x.hlp customers already ask for professional testing and certification solutions, and we have several joint customer projects underway with Enlight,” says x.hlp CEO Oyvind Lundgreen.
No Swede Left Behind :-)
"Think globally. Act locally."
The April meetings of Emergent Learning Forum are an experiment in decentralization. Instead of having just one major interaction each month, we're meeting around the Bay in informal gatherings. Please drop by our Berkeley session:
Berkeley, April 1, 5:30-7:30 pm, LaVal's Pizza Northside
1834 Euclid Avenue, 510-843-5617
San Francisco, April 7, 5:30-7:30 pm, Gordon Biersch Brewery
2 Harrison Street, 415-243-8246
The main items on the agenda are (1) networking and (2) beer and (3) learning technology. After that, you might want to discuss how else you'd like to interact with Emergent Learning Forum.
I am pushing for informal meetings of kindred spirits around the globe, sort of Howard Dean flashmobs on steroids. Other events may be 100% online, bringing together experts from all corners in conversations made available for replay. We're working with Spoke to develop an Emergent Learning Forum member network and collaborative environment.
Join me for a brew this week or next. Some learning just might emerge.
Afraid of joining the wrong crowd? Come to the table with the green tennis ball on it!
Also, please bring a colleague or a customer. Remember the "strength of weak ties" concept that Alex Gault described at our February meeting on Social Software? Introduce someone who wouldn't show up at one of our meetings to join you.
|Re: useit.com Inertbox March 2004 Productivity|
Commentary on Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, March 29, 2004:
Yes, it is possible for white-collar workers to work smarter and become more productive. While intranet usability provides substantial initial gains, workflow usability can go much further and will save millions of jobs.
Jay: Give a kid a hammer, and every problem looks like a nail. Give Jakob Nielsen a chance to improve workflow, and it looks like a usability issue.
Example: Productivity Gains in Data Analysis
A personal example of productivity problems in the service sector: it's always going to take me a full day's work to lead a one-day seminar. Can't speed that one up.
Jay: Huh? Of course you can speed that up. Sandwich the face-to-face workshop between material and exercises delivered by the web. It's called eLearning.
That said, the overwhelming majority of the effort required to produce a seminar lies in preparation, not delivery. I recently improved productivity for my current series of usability seminars by an estimated 17%, not by speaking faster, but by proactively accommodating changes in participants' registration behavior.
I did this by building a non-linear multiple regression model of the final registration numbers based on statistical analyses of the sign-up dates for 7,591 people who've attended my conferences over the last few years. This analysis estimated that our final audience would be twice as big as the room capacity in Melbourne, which was our only scheduled stop in Australia. To accommodate the increased demand, I added a series of seminars in Sydney.
Jay: I know lots of people in the seminar business; every one of them has some sort of model to predict attendance. What Jakob identifies as a 17% productivity gain, they call common sense. The 7,591 figure is gratuitous; you don't need that large a sample to buld a predictive model.Information Technology and Productivity
Enterprise software has largely failed until now because it's cumbersome and it automates awkward and inefficient procedures. Business process reengineering must become more than a slogan. In particular, we must change how we define it; rather than simply "automating existing processes" we should be "designing workflow that's optimized through computer support."
Jay: Business Process Reengineering is more than "automating existing processes." For example, the UK's Business Processes Resource Center defines BPR as "taking a holistic customer-focused systems view and changing the organisation." Davenport & Short say it's "the analysis and design of workflows and processes within and between organizations." Teng says it's "the critical analysis and radical redesign of existing business processes to achieve breakthrough improvements in performance measures."
Through methods such as field studies, task analysis, and user testing, organizations can discover new ways of working and better ways of supporting work with information technology.
Jay: Ho hum. That's old paradigm thinking. One of the most exciting things about the workflow approach is real-time feedback. You're doing field studies and task analysis all the time, because they are built directly into the workflow. Our job at the Workflow Institute is to close the gap between analysis and taking action. Admittedly, this is not good news for stand-up seminar providers.Growth in Usability Jobs
One positive aspect of outsourcing some programming jobs is that software development will get cheaper. Applied properly, the savings could improve usability and thus the productivity of end users. One of the main reasons for poor design is that design teams lack the resources required to implement all of the usability recommendations. (The biggest reason for this is that many companies do zero usability, but even companies committed to usability never get around to implementing every guideline.)
Jay: It's naive to assume that time freed up through outsourcing will be diverted into usability. Furthermore, the work to be done is for workflow designers, not programmers.
Usability is key to increasing the service economy's productivity, because only attention to the way humans work can help them work smarter. If we adjust our focus accordingly, we won't just save billions of dollars from productivity gains -- we'll also save millions of jobs and create millions of new ones.
Jay: Oh, silly me. It's only usability? And I was counting on major gains from the continuing advance of Moore's Law, the interoperability fostered by Web Standards, the decentralization of organizations, the evolution of biotech, and the proliferation of networks, too.
Note: No graphics were used in the creation of this page. Usability only goes so far. Someone might still be jacking in with a 300 baud modem.
In answer to your queries, yes, I'm the subject in the photo currently in the header of Internet Time Blog. Palo Alto, California. A few years back.
Here's one from the same era, this one shot in Alexandria, Virginia.
Photographs are the only memories I retain from this period. They aren't real memories, so much as reconstructions. Of course, if you bought the logic of Dr. Gerald Edelman repeated here last week, "real memory" is an oxymoron. "No brain event happens the same way twice. Even memory is always a variant, he says — a re-creation, never a repetition."
We don't "remember;" we re-think.
Here's an answer for the critics who questioned how the Click2Learn/Docent combo was going to cut costs while moving forward.
The company expects to move customer and technical support and engineering work fully to India.
HYDERABAD: SumTotal Systems Inc., the new entity created by the merger of Docent and Click2learn, plans to increase headcount in Hyderabad centre from 90 to 160, though at the global level it will go down from 470 to 400 (excluding Hyderabad additions) by the time restructuring is complete. Investment in Indian operations is also likely to be about $3 million in the next 12 months, according to Sudheer Koneru, Senior Vice-President, International Operations.
Announcing the completion of merger of both the companies here, Mr Koneru said following the merger, SumTotal will end up saving $15 million annually, with a combined turnover of $60 million. The company, which has its largest manpower at the Hyderabad development centre, will add another 30 professionals basically for research and development and product engineering work, Mr Koneru said. He added, “We see the development centre emerging as a hub for our research and development, products engineering and solutions.”
Following this development, the R&D centre of Click2Learn, will now broaden its work and include the Docent product line. This will also increase the number of techies based in the Hyderabad centre from the current 130 to about 160 and expand the maintenance work for the two companies.
The investment of about $ 8 million would cover both the working expenses and capex in the company centre based in Hyderabad.
Tech Update Software Infrastructure
That advice was delivered by Gartner Group CEO Michael Fleisher to a roomful of IT executives here at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004.
Fleisher admonished IT executives who have been resisting the "unquestionable" benefits of outsourcing. Fleisher's warning was subtle but unmistakable: Not only IT's rank-and-file jobs are at risk; even IT leaders could be out of their jobs if they aren't looked upon within their organizations as the go-to people on outsourcing.
Fleisher acknowledged that outsourcing, and particularly offshoring, would be a very painful experience for those IT professionals whose jobs face elimination, but he offered little if any practical wisdom on how to deal with the trend. "I don't for a minute want to minimize the pain involved to individuals in this transition," Fleisher said. "The government has an important role in helping our citizens make this transition as quickly and painlessly as possible through education and retraining."
It's an open secret that Gartner reads Internet Time Blog, but this time they beat me to the punch by twelve hours.
Many of the IT jobs being outsourced today are destined to be wiped out by the efficiencies of Service Oriented Architecture in the next few years anyway. Gartner's Fleisher warns CIOs to take control of outsourcing rather than fight a losing battle against it. Otherwise they'll have to deal with the unruly consequences, much as they did when the obvious benefits of unauthrorized PCs forced centralized IT departments to adopt client/server architecture.
Fleisher identified four major factors that are going to reorganize the world of work:
The Workflow Institute was delighted to note that Fleisher did not mention worker empowerment, learning, culture, job enrichment, community, teamwork, or any other human factors, assuring us that we'll have plenty to do amid the evolution to the new way of doing business.
Today I got several LinkedIn requests to connect someone I don't know to someone else I don't know because a friend of a friend in each direction knows them. I blew it off. Why should I be making this connection?
David Weinberger saves me a lot of time thinking. I agree with him so often, it's easy just to adopt his ideas wholesale. He recently offered his take on what he calls Artificial Social Networks (ASNs):
Second, ASNs make us be precise about that which is necessarily messy and ambiguous. This not only leads to awkward social moments (Am I a friend yes-no of some person I met once and don't know if I like?), it also reinforces the worst idea of our age: The world is precise, so our ambiguity about it is a failure.
Third, they inculcate the stupid belief that relationships are commutative. LinkedIn is especially guilty of this. I have been C in a five-term series that A initiated in order to contact E, which means someone I don't know asked someone I marginally know to introduce him to someone I kind of know who maybe knows someone I don't know at all. The formal name for this is "using people." (See my first paragraph.)
Fourth, the fact that they require explicitness in public about relationships guarantees that they will generate inordinate amounts of bullshit. For example, some ASNs let you write "testimonials" about your friends, a feature destined to encourage flattery and sucking up. Worse, they don't let you refuse testimonials as part of your profile, so I've had to to explain to a handful of people why I'm not accepting the sweet sentences they spent time putting together.
Yes! That's it.
With David, there's always more.
A fellow left a message on the Internet Time Group answering machine this morning. He wasn't into this relationship stuff much. He explained that his group could produce any sort of eLearning I wanted...for only $15/hour. Uh huh. He didn't realize I sub out my dogs as coders for only $2/hour. And they're cute.
In business, workers are taking responsibility once shouldered by managers and supervisors. In computing, fluid connections are replacing rigid routines. In our culture, individuals are wresting influence from yesterday's icons. Expect to see more:
Internet Time Group helps workers find challenge, leverage opportunities, produce beyond expectation, take pride in their work, and lead happy lives in this world turned upside down.
Sign up if you'd like to hear from us every month or two or maybe three. We're not very pushy.
You signed up to receive sporadic email from Internet Time Group. This is person-to-person, how-Jay-really-feels sort of stuff. Forgive the typos and over-the-top language.
Jawboning and Writing
Recent ReadingBusiness Process Change by Paul Harmon
It's Alive by Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer
The Future of Work by Tom Malone
Creating Value with Knowledge by Eric Lesser and Larry Prusak
The Moment of Complexity by Mark Taylor
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda by Amy Wallace
The 80/20 Individual by Richard Koch
Emotional Design by Don Norman
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
= Not finished. Too early to rate.
I review most of the books I read in the Internet Time Blog book department.
LinksInternet Time Blog
Learning Circuits Blog
Workflow Instute Blog
eLearning Jump Page
"I think this may be a theme for the decade-that we're going to take packages of things and unbundled them and reassemble the parts. It happens with cultures and biological organisms. It also happens with governments." Danny Hillis
email: [email protected]
This email was sent to [email protected], by Internet Time Blog.
I'm getting five or ten messages a day that read like this one:
Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mail content)
outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have been infected by
a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep your computer safe,
follow the instructions.
For details see the attach.
The attachment is invariably a virus-laden document.
Since I run the "InternetTime.com e-mail server," the emails are clearly bogus. Don't you be fooled.
Yesterday's email also brought a request from "Citibank" that I send them my PIN and account number for "verification." This was a new form of an old con; I alerted Citibank security.
Opening the mail these days is like walking through a mine field.
Context Driven Topologies is a collaborative effort to begin to draw the geometry of knowledge as it changes over time.
Lou Kauffman, a knot theory topologist and project participant explains it as this “For me, the key concept is that of the "pivot". An image in one field can trigger a patterned response in another field due to matching structures at some level of discourse. The surface appearance can be of a "tiny" relationship due to much that lies beneath the surface. The key to this project will be the facilitation of such pivot events. This requires the creation of space and context, not computation or classification. But computation and classification are necessary ingredients to make the images and information available for play and purvey”.
Whoa! Knot theory topologist? Other participants include a cognitive scientist and ontological engineer interested iin semiotics, a theoretical nuclear and particle physicist, a chemist and natural philosopher, a theoretical morphologist, a Los Alamos theorist and inventor in physics, neuroscience and emergent computation; a theoretical cosmologist, a sculptor interested in symbols, form and unseen concepts; an American composer of concert music, a painter using oils on canvas to dwell on the order in disorder, a painter investigating process grammars and artworks as maximal memory stores, an unusual kind of choreographer living in a small town in Germany (He makes audio acoustic clothes), a photographer from New York City who investigates the nature of light and is a painter of formal abstraction derived from physics and mathematics, an artist transforming data from non-art images to suggest a complex economical portrait of how learning and innovation evolve over time, an inventor interested in information visualization and interaction design, and more artists, animators, and archivists.
And what do I have to do with this group? One of my oddball hobbies is looking for art in nature. The person working to get an NSF grant for this project came upon a photograph of gravel I took in Point Richmond five or six years ago. It's the righthand image below:
Deborah MacPherson plans to use this in a presentation at the Fourth International Conference MATHEMATICS & DESIGN (M&D-2004) in Buenos Aires this June. [ Her portfolio ]
Weirder things have happened to me; I just can't seem to recall them right now.
Here's a Rothko that popped up in my window while flying from Paris to San Francisco a couple of years ago. I think this is Kansas:
And another Rothko trouvee, this one the beach in Nice:
We used to think that leaders controlled organizations, logic controlled computing, and individuals were in charge of their thoughts. Organizations are evolving into no-boss demoncracies. On Demand computing relies on the interactions of software agents rather than insturctions from up top somewhere. And today's New York Times has an astounding article on the work of Nobel Laureate Gerald M. Edelman, who suggests that for brains, just as for organizations and computers, no one is in charge.
Reporter Edward Rothstein writes,
Speculating on how the brain ("the most complicated material object in the known universe") does its thing will never be a walk in the park.
I've been questioning the utility of logic in figuring out our world. Logic simplifies understanding but that doesn't make it an accurate reflection of what's really going on. A spreadsheet is all logic, and I've used what-if scenarios in Excel to convince myself and others of the viability of outlandish, absurd outcomes. It was comforting to read, "The brain is not a logically structured organ; these processes of connection resemble the processes of metaphor more than those of logic."
The Times placed the article on Edelman (The Brain: It's a Jungle in There) not in the Science section, but rather, in the Arts section of the paper.
Have you heard -- or used -- these stats?
"Only 10% of the investment in training
actually transfers to the job."
"Although $100 billion is spent on
training each year, only 10%
of these expenditures
result in transfer to the job."
Rather than accept stuff like this, Will Thalheimer responds, "Says who?" You see, Will takes a scientific approach to learning. His workshops are fascinating because he describes experiments, not theory. (No, he doesn't pay me to say this.)
A Pennsylvanian named Robert Fitzpatrick nailed the source of the 10% bunkum above. Here's the story.
If you're a contrarian like me, you'll enjoy Will's site.
Paul Horn, svp and head honcho of IBM Research, posited the question, “What does work mean in today’s world?” Paul’s main point was “Differentiate or die.” To be on the high-margin end of the food chain, IBM must out-innovate. Innovation is the intersection of invention (which IBM does well) and insight. Services is the up-and-comer; if IBM can’t differentiate that, it lets down half the business.
MIT’s Tom Malone shared the essence of his new book, The Future of Work, saying that:
Throughout most of history, humans organized themselves into small, decentralized, unconnected groups (“bands”). Then came kingdoms, with a central authority. In the last two centuries, democracy replaced the kingdoms. (1776, 1789, power to the people.) This evolution rides on the falling cost of communication, hastened along with the invention of writing, the printing press, and the net.
Consider how falling communication costs have changed the structure of business organizations in the 20th century.
When I was growing up in Hope, Arkansas, business was locally owned and operated. Mr. Cox filled our prescriptions at Cox’s Drugstore. The Lagrones sold nails at Lagrone Hardware. The Citizens Bank of Hope had but one location.
At the same time, the “centralized mindset” had taken hold. Bigger was better. People respected General Motors. ITT’s Harold Gineen bragged that he could run hotels, insurance companies, and manufacturers solely by running the numbers. Jimmy Ling built a conglomerate that made airplanes, smelted steel, and played the market. This “progress” made its way to Hope; Mr. Cox and the Lagrones were no match for Wal*Mart.
New organizations are akin to a bag of components that take on different shapes to meet immediate needs. Their goal is to optimize their value chain, some of which they own, other parts they receive from partners, and yet other components they outsource to someone who specializes in that particular function. As in a democracy, decision-making is decentralized. This “no-boss” network is akin to geese flying in a V-formation; the goose in front is not the leader. Rather, each bird flies in relationship to all the other birds.
|For a fascinating simulation of leaderless groups, check out Boids (Flocks, Herds, and Schools)|
Malone’s narrative reminds me of Stewart Brand’s wonderful book, How Buildings Learn. When you look at a group of buildings, they appear solid and unchanging. If you looked at a time-lapse movie of those buildings over a century, you’d see continual change. In time, every front porch sprouts walls and becomes a front room. Land-use patterns change. Upscale neighborhoods turn into derelict war zones. Bad neighborhoods are gentrified. When you take a long-term perspective, new patterns emerge.
Toward the end of the day, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM’s VP of technology and strategy, took the stage to describe the On Demand enterprise. “On Demand” is IBM’s flavor of what other companies call “organic IT” or “adaptive enterprise.” Many players recognize this model of computing as an inflection point. This is precisely what gave rise to the Workflow Institute; our goal is to optimize the contributions of people in this new environment.
Mind-blowing advances in technology and our evolution to a knowledge-based society are driving the move to On Demand. The Internet showed us the value of connected, integrated technology. An open standards culture plugs all the pieces together. (Consider Web Services, XML, Linux, WSDL, grid computing, services architecture, and valuing interoperability more highly than efficient but unconnected processes.)
What does On Demand get us? Flexible business solutions. The ability to grow organically. The capacity to respond to change in real time. A dynamic business and technical environment. A model that applies to all layers of the stack: systems, apps, and business. Shared processes. Loose coupling. Business objects. More intelligent businesses. Like a fractal patter, the model works at any scale: departmental, enterprise, or ecosystem.
I asked Irving if the evolution of this new computing model were not directly parallel to the model of human organizations Tom Malone had begun the morning with. He replied that we were looking at precisely the same thing.
IBM has been a factor in my life since college days, when I struggled to write Fortran IV programs to run on Princeton’s IBM 7094 mod 2. When I was with NCR and later UNIVAC, IBM was the competition. They were haughty. After all, “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” In fact, one guy I sold an NCR mainframe to got fired for not choosing IBM. THINK. Hubris. FUD. IBM knew more than the customer would ever fathom. IBM always had the answer.
At the Almaden Institute, I met friends from numerous other companies. IBM no longer claims to have all the answers. Jim Spohrer, Paul Horn, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Robert Morris, and a bevy of other IBMers shared their concepts generously and invited us to build on them. Entering an era when “coordinate and cultivate” takes precedence over “command and control,” IBM is eating their own cooking.
This is but the tip of the iceberg. We talked about all manner of things throughout the day. As Arnold says, “I’ll be back.”Excerpt from The Future of Work in HBS Working Knowledge Other takes on the day:
Convergys, an outsourced billing and customer service operation spun out of Cincinnati Bell, is buying custom content developer DigitalThink for $120 million, about 3x revenue. Think of it as buying staff at $320,000/head.
DigitalThink was riding high in mid-2000 when it announced a long-term $100 million deal with EDS. Yesterday DigitalThink said their arrangement with EDS was toast.
Late this afternoon I drove from Berkeley to south San Jose, a two-hour journey along crowded but fast-moving freeways. Usually I'll spend a long drive contemplating the future or just letting my brain hop from one topic to the next: Honda Accord as isolation chamber. Today I cut on the radio. NPR was broadcasting Senate hearings on 9-11.
Deja vu. Senate hearings are an old dance form. Al Pacino and Robert Duvall in the Godfather captured them perfectly. The McCarthy Hearings were better live tango than Uncle Miltie ("Senator, have you no common decency?"). The propaganda & innuendo of the House Unamerican Activities Committee waltzed through my school and countless others (Operation Abolition -- Watch the lefties ride the spray of the firehose down the steps of San Francisco City Hall). The Watergate shuffle kept me glued to the tube for the better part of a summer (bonus points: John Dean lived in the same block in Alexandria as my parents at the time).
When Rummy came on today to go through the motions, the image of Robert McNamara kept popping into my head. In Fog of War, McNamara says that when they ask you a question, you don't answer it. Instead, you answer the question you wish they'd asked. I smiled as a senator told Rumsfeld that his answer was great but it didn't address the question he'd been asked.
The central theme of today's inquiry, and I'm cutting a few corners here, boils down to "Does shit happen?" A senator would ask whether we shouldn't have figured that bad guys might hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings. No, not necessarily, would come the reply. You can't be ready for everything. The smart-ass senator would suggest that maybe if we'd declared war on Al Quaida, that would have focused our attention. How so? asked the intel guys, noting that while always alert to avoiding "collateral damage," we've been trying to off Osama for years. Declaring war on a decentralized organization that flies no flag wouldn't have helped. Yeah, but maybe we'd have assessed "actionable intelligence" more liberally. I'm certainly not an apologist for Rummy, but the Senate's Monday-morning quarterbacking is so far from reality, it makes me ill.
Hey, you guys inside the Beltway, the world is unpredictable. Get over it. Sometimes there's no one to blame. As I mentioned, shit happens. Q.E.D. Deal with it. Let's work on improving the situation. Or is that too bi-partisan?
Coming up next: Religion. (Just fooling.)
In 1897, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that wealth was distributed unevenly. 20% of the people owned 80% of the assets. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, says that often, 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
20% of people have 80% of the wealth
20% of the sales force makes 80% of the sales
20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes
20% of the carpet gets 80% of the wear and tear
20% of the products account for 80% of the profits
20% of the defects cause 80% of the problems
20% of the suppliers provide 80% of the stock
20% of the stock fills 80% of the warehouse
20% of the staff causes 80% of the problems
20% of the project takes 80% of the time & resources
(the first and last 10%) On the web, Lou Rosenfeld says,
80% of your site's users belong to 20% of the site's audiences.
80% of users' information needs are served by 20% of the site's content.
80% of users' navigational needs are served by 20% of all possible architectural components.
80% of users' searches are represented by the 20% of unique searches that appear most frequently.
Do you see a pattern here?
The “80” and “20” aren’t precise. You can interpret the 80/20 as saying, “A small part of the overall effort produces most of the results.”
The results of many decisions are what the Department of Defense calls asymmetrical. Putting your chips on the high-impact people or activities provides more bang for your buck. If you’re selecting people for sales jobs, a 20% candidate is obviously a better choice than an 80%-er. Sixteen times as much! Here’s the math:
Top Performer 80% output/20% input
So-so Performer 20% output/80% input
Time is all we have
The Pareto Principle also applies to the investment of time in getting a job done.
Often, less than 3% of the elapsed time performing a process has anything to do with real work.
Manufacturing companies spend anywhere from 5-10 percent total time actually adding value to the product.
Mangers and supervisors spend less than 25% of their day doing what they were hired to do. Most of their time is spent putting out fires.
My original graphic said Fluff instead of Ancillary, but I decided that was misleading. A worker drinking a cup of coffee isn’t moving widgets down the assembly line, but it’s an ancillary activity without which the worker would quit.
Geoff Moore’s Living on the Fault Line says anything that raises one’s stock price is core; everything else is mere hygiene. Do you bathe? Good. If you didn't you'd lose your job. But don't expect to receive a promotion for bathing no matter how squeaky clean you are. Differentiating on things that aren’t core is the single biggest waste of resources in Fortune 500 operations. Without very careful management, the ancillary stuff always gets in the way of core because it absorbs time, talent and management attention.
The way to prosper as an organization or as an individual is to hand off ancillary activities and put more time into core. It’s called “working smarter, not harder.”
A business that can do more in less time will have happier customers, lower inventories, and higher profits, but how can a business speed up its people? What kind of training would that take?
The answer comes from engineering. You’ve heard the principle described as lean manufacturing, time-based competition, kaizen, and zero-latency. If you’re familiar with the discussions coming out of Workflow Institute, it’s the real-time enterprise. Practitioners of six sigma look at it as reducing cycle time. They’re all about optimizing systems to speed things up.
Automobile manufacturers figured out what increased throughput was worth to them. Visit a Toyota or Honda assembly plant. You’ll witness a smooth operation. “From aerospace assembly to chemical manufacturing to production enhancement in oil and gas, our customers are enjoying bottom-line results and easier operations,” touts an ad. Managers in pharma, intelligence, minerals, the military, and other sectors of industry are boosting profits through optimizing their processes and accelerating how quickly they get things accomplished.
It’s time for eLearning to adopt the approaches of the industrial engineers.
A process is a series of steps that bring about a result.
Cooking a meal is a process. Walking the dog is a process. Brushing your teeth is a process. Making a sale is a process, as are sending a fax, writing a brochure, delivering a package, inflating a tire, developing a business plan, and assembling a computer. Bringing a new product to market is a process. So is bringing a new employee up to speed.
In sum, processes occur everywhere. Knowledge workers perform processes, not just factory hands. And a process may range from tiny (a memory cycle in your PC) to immense (a merger or acquisition). Conceptualizing a group of activities as a process enables us to analyze and often improve upon it.
A business is a collection of processes that create value for a customer.
A process is a series of steps that occurs over and over again. A process begins with an input and ends with an output. Each time that happens is called a cycle. Every cycle has a start, a middle, and an end. The elapsed time from the start of one cycle to start of the next is called cycle time.
Factories and offices are not very efficient. In fact, workers spend relatively little time performing processes, the real work. Processing time in factories is often only 5% to 10% of cycle time. Knowledge workers spend only 5% to
25% of their time doing the work in their job descriptions.
The remaining 75% to 95% is Slack Time – time spent waiting for materials, looking things up, dealing with interruptions, fixing what didn’t make it the
first time, straightening up the work area, going to the bathroom, putting out fires, taking a cigarette break, answering wrong numbers, eating lunch, reading junk email, and learning how to do a better job.
Use the 80/20 rule to select an important process. Cutting cycle time by 1/3 increase profitability ten times over.
Generally, the processing itself is already quite efficient. It has been under the efficiency expert’s microscope for a good while. Also, it’s the smaller component of cycle time.
To improve cycle time, cut the slack. There’s a more to cut from. The slack is often made up of departmental anachronisms, historical accidents, slow start-times, linear processes that could be done in parallel, and things at boundaries that nobody has taken responsibility for.
A high-tech company sent new recruits to a two-week sales boot camp before sending them into the field to learn on the job. On average, it took new hires eighteen months to be selling at quota level ($5 million/year).
The company re-structured the process to include online learning on the technology in preparation for the boot camp. Freed of technical training, the boot camp focused on selling strategies. Structured online activities, mentoring, and seminars replaced the catch-as-catch-can learning from experience in the field. Shortening the slack cut the development cycle to nine months.
Do the math. ¾ year x $5 million = $3.75 million incremental revenue/person. This company was adding more than a thousand new sales people annually. That’s more than $3 billion in new-found revenue.
 FedEx Center for Cycle Time Research at the University of Memphis
Jakob! You rascal! And I was hoping to pick up an Esther.
Laurie Bassi is a rare individual. Research convinced her that companies that invest in their people just had to do better than penny-pinchers that cut training and payroll the moment the economy sours. She invested in a portfolio of stocks of companies that invest heavily in their people. The returns are "in line with a growing body of empirical research showing that organizations that make extraordinary investments in people often enjoy extraordinary performance on a variety of indicators, including shareholder return."
"For years now, our research has measured the effect of spending on employee education and training—a “cost” that is buried in general and administrative expenses—on the stock prices of 575 publicly traded firms."
Every year for three years, Laurie and Daniel selected a portfolio of 20 to 40 companies that spent at least twice as much as their peers to develop their human resources. In 2003, these heavy investors in human resources outperformed the S&P by 17% to 35%.
Yesterday's itinerary: Fredericton, Boston, Atlanta, Oakland.
It may not look like it, but this is Canadian bacon.
The pub as community networking center.
Chinese scallop scavengers. Or maybe they're eLearning guys.
The Saturday morning market in Fredericton. Local producers, fresh goods, community gathering point. I bought cheese for the flight with Delta, which now considers food an extra-charge add-on.
Stunning views of the Maine coast.
A passenger with time on his hands.
Provisions from Legal Seafoods at the Delta terminal in Boston.
Steamers are not served in California.
"I'll have clams to start and then some clams for lunch."
On the way back, sleep deprivation kicked in and I drew pages of models and insight that I hope looks as cool in a few minutes as it seemed at the time.
I find it miraculous to depart from a town in Atlantic Canada in the early afternoon...
The St. John's River at Fredericton.
...and to awaken in Berkeley, California, the next morning.
Redwoods and maple in the backyard on Poppy Lane in Berkeley.
View south from my living room.
Pictures louder than words department:
The river here was majestically frozen.
This farm dog was suspicious of me taking pictures on the frozen riverbank.
Moncton is healthy, except maybe for this place where the pizzas are great, and the beer brewered on premises.
Stephen Downes and I compared notes in the aforementioned Pump House.
Harold Jarche and I talked about everything from CMS and Drupal to pumping up eLearning in the Province.
You know how you learn a new word, one you've never seen before, and all of a sudden you see it three times in the next week? We humans see what we're alert to. As I've been talking with people, reading the web, and taking in news the last 90 days, the concept of complexity has been the meme I see everywhere I turn.
Why has complexity become my recurring obsession? Perhaps because complexity challenges the bedrock of Isaac Newton, rationality, cause and effect, an ordered universe, and faith in logic. The worldview I believed in for the first fifty years of my life does not explain the world I live in today. Some things will never be figured out. Prayer does not assure salvation. Anything could happen. The world defies logic. Shit happens.
My mind works in parallel. Sometimes this is a gift, often it's a distraction. No matter how focused I am, my consciousness always drops down a few steps to look at micro-level underpinnings and hops up a step or two to perceive things in context.
Whir. My mind's going up a level here, to look at some implications of the post-newtonian worldview.
|"The In Crowd"
|"Faith of our Fathers"
Newton, Descartes, et alia
|Role of worker||Improv||Scripted|
Most of you aren't newbies, but here's a warning, just in case.
My emailbox is overflowing with bogus warnings from Microsoft this morning. Typical copy:
A new variant of the W32.Mydoom (W32.Novarg) worm spread rapidly through the Internet. Anti-virus vendor Central Command claims that 1 in 45 e-mails contains the MyDoom virus.
The worm also has a backdoor Trojan capability. By default, the Trojan component listens on port 13468.
The attachment is a virus. Do not open the attachment.
Microsoft does not email virus alerts. Ever. These email bombs are sent out by the viruses themselves.
I love it when people come up with stuff like this.
Get an instant comparison of hits on the topic of your choice on Google and Yahoo. The blue lines show the relative position.
Give it a try. (Go ahead, do some ego-surfing. See the relative rankings of your ego-boo.)
Thanks to David Weinberger for the pointer.
After dinner, I figured I invest an hour in crafting my RSS experiments page. Fat chance.
I scanned the first half dozen items and then my curiosity kicked in. There is simply too much cool stuff on the web. Maish Nichani hijacked my attention, saying
I sense a similar shift in e-learning design: from instructional design to learner experience design (LXD). If this too is going to be a mind, body, and soul shift, then we are need to be more holistic. We need to look beyond learner characteristics and learning objectives. We need our own set of learner experience methods to help us understand the complexities of learning, working, and decision making in the real world.
Nathan's site was beautiful and thoght-provoking (and marred by dead links). Ideo's experience design was so compelling that I shelled out $50 for a set of methodcards (which I'll tell you about once I have them in hand).
Next I followed Maish's lead to Zen and the Art of Knowledge Management, a short but cogent description that cuts to the chase. It's as if author Carl Davidson has been reading my mind, for he's giving the same oddball advice that I do: visual learning, storytelling, talk spaces, social network analysis, and even a lovely quote from e e cummings:
I'll be back to explore the other resources here.
I spent the last 90 minutes on Orbitz trying to find the best multicity fare for a trip to Washington and New Brunswick. Finally, I found the right combination and clicked the "Book It" button:
Twenty seconds later, I had signed in. Then I received this message:
Drat. How could the price jump so fast? Answer: It hadn't. I went back to the beginning and re-entered the data. Guess what?
I know that airline pricing is a very complicated, ever-changing, mix of stuff, but that's no excuse for promoting one price when your software knows it's higher.
There's the old story about the woman who goes into the butcher shop.
Butcher: "Why don't you buy your hamburger from him?
Woman: "He's sold out."
Butcher" "Lady, when we're out of hamburger, it's only $1 a pound."
The next three flights I chose were sold out.
When I finally found a flight that actually had seats, Orbitz told me:
This time I made it all the way to bottom of the final screen:
Then my screen froze. I waited ten minutes, then bailed. My "My Stuff" folder showed that I'd booked the flight. Time to pick a seat.
Uh oh. Looks like the skies are crowded. Six legs on my trip; not an aisle seat in the bunch.
Counts! Metrics, ROI, and Accomplishments (the missing element)
A recent publication, Metrics, by Jay Cross of the Internet Time Group, presents an opportunity to comment on some current issues in measurement and evaluation. The author, who happens to be an old friend, is an entertaining and wide-ranging thinker (some might say Renaissance Man), and his book is noteworthy in part because of its unconventional form: a constantly updated eBook available for purchase online. Jay’s history in financial services, training, marketing, and a whole host of cerebral pursuits has left him most recently in the world of e-Learning, where he has become something of a pundit.
While I don’t agree with everything in Metrics, I recommend it because it’s a quick and enjoyable read, because it contains valuable references and links, and mostly because it challenges us to think outside many of the current ruts in measurement and evaluation.
Things I Like about Metrics
Here are some of Jay’s key points along with my comments:
“Metrics are measurements that matter.” With this sentence, he challenges us to measure results that our clients agree are important and to look for large valuable improvements. He adds, “Don’t fritter away time on the small stuff.”
“Start with business problems and work backwards.” He later adds that we should “focus on process not on behavior.” These comments point in the direction of our best strategy for measuring the right things, following Thomas F. Gilbert’s dictum to identify accomplishments, the outputs of processes or of individual jobs that contribute value toward business results. Behavior costs money while accomplishments have value. Following the path from business results back through measured accomplishments will lead to the behavior and improvement strategies that produce worthwhile organizational outcomes.
“Forget measurement of value based on cost savings!” As an e-Learning strategy consultant, Jay has probably tired of cost justifications based on saving travel time and expenses. It is critically important that we find ways to use our technologies and interventions to improve outcomes, not simply reduce costs for the same (often mediocre) outcomes.
“Time matters.” Whether we’re speaking of time to perform (fluency, productivity), time to achieve benchmark performance (ramp-up), or results over time (revenues, profits), we cannot ignore the time dimension in either our measurement of learning and performance during training or our measurement of desired business results.
“Gather baseline data.” While it is easy to interpret this statement as simply that we need a “before” measure to evaluate the worth of our “after” results, the “line” in baseline is very important. To clearly understand the effects of our interventions, we must view current performance in the context of measured levels, trends, and bounce (or variability) over time. We need a series of counts (per minute, per day, per week, or per month) to establish a true baseline so that we can tell whether our interventions or ongoing efforts are changing trends, levels, and/or the “bounce” (variability) of measured outcomes.
“You must be able to relate your decisions and choices to the profitability of your organization.” While much of Jay’s discussion focuses on what I call “validation data”—measurement to justify expenditures by showing that programs work—the best measurement systems support ongoing decision-making. This is why I recommend ongoing measurement as feedback to performers and decision-makers, and why I like Timm Esque’s book, Making An Impact, so much.
Jay disagrees with much of the current thinking about ROI, suggesting that his book can save you the cost of an ROI workshop. Whether or not this is true, managers would certainly prefer to see how your program improves their specific outcomes beyond a general payback ratio or cost justification. And since some current-day ROI “methods” use subjective estimates of payback rather than direct results measures, we need to question in detail many ROI claims before we accept them.
Things I Don’t Like So Much About Metrics
Lest you think I’m giving my friend a free pass, let me make a few comments about shortcomings.
The second half of the book is mostly a justification for e-Learning, something I would have preferred left to a few pages. I recognize that Jay makes his living in this field, but it would be more helpful if the book addressed the general case with a broader set of examples. Moreover, it is inconceivable that even the best e-Learning program will produce optimal results without efforts to improve other factors in a performance system, including expectations, feedback, tools, resources, consequences, and selection.
Jay does not discuss what’s a good measure and what’s not. For example, he mentions the limitations of test results as metrics but does not explain that percentage correct is not a measure of performance because it is a dimensionless quantity from which we cannot determine either the count of behavior or accomplishments nor the time required to complete them. He does not point out that the best metrics count things in absolute units (dollars, widgets, gallons, etc.) rather than rating them on subjective scales. Careful application of all his recommendations can still yield meaningless measurement if we fail to adhere to this basic principle.
I suggest you read Metrics yourself, and discuss it vigorously with your colleagues and clients. I am sure you will find it both entertaining and illuminating.
Dr. Carl Binder is a Senior Partner at Binder Riha Associates, a consulting firm that helps clients improve processes, performance, and behavior to deliver measurable results. He may be reached at [email protected]. For additional articles, visit http://www.binder-riha.com/publications.htm.
I dunno, Steve.. Dyslexia, maybe?
Yesterday I followed a link from cogdogblog to a presentation in Breeze by Alan Levin, D'Arcy Norman, and Brian Lamb that showed the power of RSS in education. The presentation is worth watching simply as a model for rapid-fire, low-cost, yet compelling development. But in my case, the content was quite useful as well.
Check out my test page to see the most recent posts to a dozen favorite blogs.
Admittedly, I'm a newbie. (I think Stephen has been doing this since the beginning of time.) The page takes forever to load -- so I think I'll move the underlying scripts to my own server. Also, it doesn't look like the items automatically refresh.
If you're an RSS afficianado who owes me one or wants to top off her/his karma account, I wouldn't mind receiving some advice on this.
Like the fish that is unaware of water, Ted Nelson says computer users are blind to the 2D tyranny of paper. Herewith, a few excerpts from his thought-provoking paper....
WAY OUT OF THE BOX
Theodor Holm Nelson
Keio University and University of Southampton
The usual story about Xerox PARC, that they were trying to make the computer understandable to the average man, was a crock. They imitated paper and familiar office machines because that was what the Xerox executives could understand. Xerox was a paper-walloping company, and all other concepts had to be ironed onto paper, like toner, to be even visible in their paper paradigm.
There are still millions of people who believe that the Macintosh represents creative liberation. For this astounding propagandistic achievement we can thank the Regis McKenna public relations company, which sold the Macintosh to the world (in the famous 1984 video commercial and after) as smashing the prison of the PC. In fact the Macintosh was a newly-designed prison-a-go-go. And that prison's architecture has been devotedly copied to Microsoft Windows in remarkable detail.
Today's arbitrarily constructed computer world is also based on paper simulation, or WYSIWYG. That's where we're stuck in the current model, where most software seems to be mapped to paper. ("WYSIWYG" generally means "What You See is What You Get"-- meaning what you get *when you print it OUT*). In other words, paper is the flat heart of most of today's software concepts.
This too was a key legacy of Xerox PARC. The PARC guys got a lot of points with Xerox management by making the "electronic document" MIMIC PAPER-- rather than extending it outward to include and show all the connections, possibilities, variations, parentheses, conditionals that are really there in the mind of the author or the speaker; rather than presenting all the details that the reporter faces before cooking them down.
One result is office software that's incredibly clumsy, with slow, pedestrian operations. Think how long it takes to open and name a file and a new directory. Whereas video-game software is lithe, quick, vivid.
Why is this?
Very simple. Guys who design video games *love to play video games*. Whereas nobody who designs office software seems to care about using it, let alone hopes to use it at warp speed.
Even stranger is the "browser" concept. Think of it-- a serial view of a parallel universe! Trying to comprehend the large-scale structure of connected Web pages is like trying to look at the night sky (at least, in places that stars are still visible) through a soda straw.
Finally, we must overcome the tyranny of the file-- meaning stuck lumps with final names. While files are necessary at some level, users don't need to see them, and much less need to give their projects unchanging names and locations. Human creativity is fluid, overlapping, intercombining, and many creative projects overflow their banks time and again.
Computers aping paper, corporate learning aping school, popular songs aping wisdom:
When laser printers first came out, many people began turning out memos that used as many font faces and sizes as possible. These garish "ransome notes" obscured the message they were trying to communicate. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself now that it's drop-dead simple to create 3D headlines like these:
Here, try it yourself:
The complete package, which also does 3d objects, buttons, and vector graphics, costs $45. Here's more information.
Advice to would-be designers: Don't put too much chrome on the car.
Very cool, a concept map about concept maps. Click for full size image.
My co-conspirator at the Workflow Institute, Sam Adkins, sent me a delicious link to the Organization for Quality Education, a group of Ontario citizens up in arms over the poor quality of their public schools. Nothing is funnier than the truth.
Let's start with a few definitions of education buzzwords.
Buzzword: Research has shown...
What parents THINK it means: It's proven.
What it REALLY means: Other people say so, too.
What parents THINK it means: Your child is of greatest concern
What it REALLY means: Your child does what he wants to do
Buzzword: No memorization
What parents THINK it means: No boring stuff
What it REALLY means: We don't teach facts
Buzzword: High-order thinking
What parents THINK it means: Thinking
What it REALLY means: Lost in the fog
Buzzword: Brain-based learning
What parents THINK it means: Science teaches a lot about learning
What it REALLY means: I believe in feng-shui, too
Buzzword: Discovery learning
What parents THINK it means: It's fun to learn
What it REALLY means: Kids will spend a week learning what lively, engaged instruction could teach in a day
Buzzword: We don't "teach to the test"
What parents THINK it means: No drills just for the sake of passing some test
What it REALLY means: We don't like being told what to cover in class
Buzzword: Education theorists
What parents THINK it means: Deep thinkers about education issues
What it REALLY means: People who spout opinions without any supporting data
Buzzword: Education researchers
What parents THINK it means: People who analyze data about what actually works
What it REALLY means: People who summarize the view of the theorists
That was just a warm-up. What is a quality education? How can you judge? You look to your customers.
Much of what is wrong with Ontario education today is the result of the system's clinging to an outdated concept of quality. Over the past 30 years, organizations in the private sector - and now increasingly in the public sector - have come to the realization that quality can no longer be patronizingly defined by the providers of goods and services. Today, quality means meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers. In other words, something isn't good quality unless the customer says it is.
So what are the customers of Ontario's schools saying? The employers and post-secondary educators, the school system's most obvious customers, are its most vocal and consistent critics. Meanwhile, parents line up overnight to enroll their children in academy schools where high academic and behavioural standards prevail, in stark contrast to the laissez-faire attitudes in most schools. Much like sixties Detroit automotive engineers who largely ignored the requests from motorists for smaller, fuel-efficient cars, the education system dismisses these criticisms as coming from people unqualified to determine what constitutes quality education.
Modern quality is about outputs, not inputs. Yet status quo educators define quality primarily in terms of inputs to the education system, such as funding levels, class size, and teacher certification. The effects of these inputs on learning outcomes, however, are anything but clear. Studies in some jurisdictions, for example, have found that the more school boards spend, the worse students learn!
Meanings are important. I maintain a glossary at Internet Time, one of about five edutech glossaries on the net that aren't simply copies of someone else's glossary. OQE offers a glossary for debunking edubabble. It's extremely thought-provoking. The definitions come from The Schools We Need & Why We Don’t Have Them by E.D. Hirsch.
multiple intelligences = ...Despite the fact that schools are not competent to classify and rank children on these highly speculative psychological measures, the concept had become highly popular, probably because it fits in with the already popular notions of “individual differences,” “individual learning styles,” “self-paced learning,” and so on, not to mention its appeal to our benign hope for all children that that will be good at doing something and happy doing it. The distinguished psychologist George A. Miller has said that Gardner’s specific classifications are “almost certainly wrong.”
portfolio assessment = A phrase for a version of performance-based assessment. In portfolio assessment, students preserve in a portfolio all of some of their productions during the course of the semester or year. At the end of the time period, students are graded for the totality of their production. It is a device that has long been used for the teaching of writing and painting. But there its utility ceases. It has proven to be virtually useless for large-scale, high-stake testing.
I'm writing this as I explore the site. I was going along with Hirsch for the first few definitions but now I am beginning to suspect that he's an extremist. His message is that students need to master basic skills and learn facts with rigor. Only then will they be able to develop (Hirsch hates this term violently) "critical thinking skills." But Hirsch seems to win his arguments by setting up strawmen and then knocking them down.
Admittedly, my expertise is in adult performance, not childhood education, but I'm too big a fan of learning by doing to throw it out the window just because some teachers don't set it up right or some students don't join in. Hirsch says learning by doing is "a phrase once used to characterize the progressivist movement but little used today, possibly because the formulation has been the object of much criticism and even ridicule." He continues on, saying "The idea behind it resembles the real-life activities for which the particular learning is preparing the student. It is claimed that the best form of learning is that which best allows the student to learn in the natural, apprentice-like way in which humans have always learned."
So far, this sounds pretty good to me, but not to Hirsch, who writes, "By performing 'holistic' activities, the student, it is claimed, will reliably discover the needed learnings. This is an attractive doctrine, but it is also a highly theoretical one that has proved to be false. The value of such a method depends on its actual effectiveness. If by 'effective', one means that all students learn reliably and efficiently by this method, then the theory has been entirely discredited in comparative studies. Both recent history of American education and controlled observations have shown that learning by doing and its adaptations are among the least effective pedagogies available to the teacher."
I disagree. Situated learning -- doing the work rather than learning about the work -- is often the best way to learn. By "effective," I don't mean something works for all students, just that it's a winner for some of them. Of course learning by doing in the real world requires leaving the artificial reality inside the protective walls of schools.
I'd hoped to win one for the Republic of Berkeley, debunking public education, but I end up admitting that schooling is a supremely complicated area and that (Are you ready for this?) I don't have a clue as to how to fix it. It's late. I was looking for black and white; I found shades of gray. This is a provocative site, well worth visiting.
Here's a moving account of a woman's motorcycle tour of the abandoned area around Chernobyl. The Clue Train honesty of this story shines through. Only a few years ago, I would never have heard stories like these. Not only were government censors suppressing the news, but also a Russian motorcycle mama had no way to publish her observations.
I'm not a religious person, so my prayers don't mean a lot. Nonetheless, I pray that sharing our thoughts and images with one another leads to understanding, empathy, and friendship throughout the world.
This morning, when separating the e-wheat from the e-chaff in my mailbox, something compelled me to click open a mass mailing from ASTD. The first article, A Positive Approach to Performance Improvement, caught my eye.
Richard Gerson, the author, had been drawing on the same sources as I: Martin Seligman's Positive Psychology, Csikszentmihaly's Flow, and sports psychology. I lump Daivd Cooperrider's Appreciatve Inquiry, the positive reinforcement described in Don't Beat the Dog, and even Richard Eyre's Spiritual Serendipity into the same category. Build from the positive. Don't always seek "a balanced perspective." Accentuate the positive.
Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm, Living on the Fault Line, The Gorilla Game, etc.) exorts companies to focus on core strengths and hand off everything else (usually to someone who considers your leavings to be their core strength.) "Do what you're good at" and "Leverage your opportunities" are nearly synonymous.
Years ago an author I was listening to at Black Oak Books in Berkeley, had described dozens of ways we've screwed up the world. Someone in the audience asked him, given that his book was filled with doom and gloom, how could he be so sunny? How could he be optimistic?
He replied, "I'm an optimist because it works better."
That works for me.
I went to my DSL provider's site because they've imposed some limit on the number of recipients allowed per email, and I wanted to get some information. (The only inbound information I ever receive from these guys is a bill.) Their site appears to be five years out of date. Must be one of those artifacts from the phone monopogy culture of days gone by.
Windows 98 and your Pacific Bell Internet Services Account
Pacific Bell Internet Services is now providing software that is compatible with Windows 98. This is a very specific package, and needs to be used exclusively with Windows 98.
I'm in the midst of doing taxes. I once had a securities account with Bache, before they merged with Halsey Stuart Shields and were acquired by Prudential, becoming Prudential-Bache and then Prudential Securities before being acquired by Wachovia recently. Lord, but I detest banks. Here's one more reason:
Chuck Fred is author of Breakaway. Here's my Amazon review:
What has really changed in our world in the last two decades? Time has sped up and surpassed all the other busienss variables in importance. These days time is more important than money.
To win in business, you must break away from the pack and stay ahead by serving your customers extraordinarily well. "Speed-to-proficiency is more than a theoretical advantage; it is the most devastating competitive weapon in a world where the competitive forces of scale, automation, and capital are subordinate to the power of a proficient work force."
I enjoyed this book, right from the first sentence -- "This book is designed for the business reader, to be read in the time it takes to fly from Chicago to San Francisco or Denver to Miami." Breakaway is an easy read with a vital message. Read it.
Chuck and I talked this afternoon about the continuing lack of discipline in measuring the impact of corporate learning. That's the topic of my Metrics, my strongest statement yet that "training metrics" are a fantasy. The appropriate metrics for training are business metrics.
Chuck and I are both obsessed with time. Chuck's a former competitive runner and the "breakaway" of his book's title is that point when the winners pull ahead of the also-rans. It worked for Jesse Owens and it works for Wal*Mart. The name of this site is a reflection of my view of time. Time has become the prime business metric. How soon can our team reach proficiency? How can we get there faster? How can we stay ahead of the game? How can we speed things up? How soon will we be ready to execute?
The genesis of Chuck's book was interviews with 300 CEOs. He promised them absolute confidentiality in return for their candor. He maintains these relationships to this day.
Late last year, Chuck asked the CEOs about their levels of confidence in the ROI presentations made in suport of training expenditures. Specifically, he asked about purchases of off-the-shelf courseware, training technology & infrastructure, and training-related advisory services.
Nine out of ten CEOs said they had no confidence in the ROI of training as presented to them. You can reach Chuck at Breakaway Group.
This morning's email contained the monthly update of Jane Knight's e-Learning Centre. I traipsed over to Jane's What's New page, and now, an hour later, my head is swimming in cool new stuff and even more that I feel compelled to read.
What caught my eye?
Inspiring learning for all
Collaborative learning environments sourcebook
Theory and Practice of Online Learning
How many social networks are too many?
Trackback, Where blogs learn their places
Visual interpretation of the Table of Elements
Creating Streaming Media Presentations with Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003
The CMS Matrix
Building a Learning Community online
Yoga Learning Center
Effective - and ineffective - instructional strategies
RSS: A Primer for Publishers and Content Providers
The promise of online simulations
Many of those items left breadcrumbs to other interesting material but after three or four hops, I'd remind myself that I have to complete my taxes today and return to eLearning Centre.
I learn by recording new findings and insights on a blog or in my online journal. Categorizing factoids forces them to link into my wetware network. Selecting the right category is getting tougher and tougher, because my interests are expanding as I seek knowledge from a variety of disciplines. The old boundaries between fields are disintegrating.
In the last year, I've become intrigued by complex systems, social networking, contextual collaboration, content aggregation, value networks, realtime enterprise, business process modeling, the economic return from intangible assets, and more.
Earlier this week, I was giving a presentation at a conference. (I also learn by listening to myself; I don't know where some of this stuff comes from. Increasingly I simply channel my stream of consciousness, passing off the work of my subconscious mind as if it were something I'd consciously thought about.)
One of my points was a foundation of Sam's and my thinking at the Workflow Institute, namely that information of every sort is growing exponentially. The amount of information in businesses doubles every 18 months.
I like to look at problems from different levels. Is there a micro-level solution? If I go up a few notches, does a new pattern emerge? Have I been spending too much time immersed in the content, when I'd be better off tweaking the process?
A couple of things come to mind.
CSS, Semantic Mark-Up, and codes
How People Learn
Making It Work (Implementing)
Metrics & ROI
The eLearning Museum
I'll probably draw a concept map using these topics and categories as nodes. Then I'll be able to recognize what I've been missing.
Perhaps I'll apply Rob Cross's notation for analyzing social links in business to people I learn from. Rate the editors, so to speak. Look out for echo effects, group think, frequency, freshness, disciplinary focus, etc.
Learning is work.
People have called Dave Winer by many names, names I can't repeat before the kids are safe in bed for the night.
Dave's an edgy guy. He's out there. Often he's a lightening rod. He can be obnoxious. To the chagrin of some of his critics, Dave is also brilliant.
Five years ago, Dave threw his energy, and there's a lot of it, behind an obscure protocol, XML, writing...
First, here's why we think XML is exciting.
Interoperability. As Dave would say, Coooooooooooool!
Thank you for Metrics. I read it immediately. (Most of what I needed anyway, which was a lot)
I was able to compose a draft Revenue Model for E Learning Enterprise justification because your knowledge, references, links and other insights were there when I needed them. I will be discussing the metrics on Wednesday to determine the level of acceptance of my projections.
The metrics included estimated comparative costs of conventional training to E learning, lost opportunity costs, profit loss, turnover savings, and increased revenue due to decrease in job analysis error rate.
I don?t know where this is going, but the potential could be groundbreaking for solutions to problems in the industry under study.
Your approach to ?get real? terminology regarding the important items to measure for training effect is refreshing and entertaining.
I have been in the training, and performance change, business for more years than I would like to admit. However, these days are encouraging, because we are being invited to leave the laboratory of the ?fuzzy? and enter the arena of investments that matter.
EQUIFOCUS offers training consultation, E Learning content development, and outsource services that improve performance for Equipment Manufacturers and supporting Service organizations.
Metrics is an eBook because it's continually updated. Buy a copy today. You can download the current version immediately. When the next edition is ready, I'll send you a copy of that as well.
Metrics shows you how to calculate ROI, but that's the tip of the iceberg. More important is understanding how business executives make decisions, how to describe "soft" benefits in monetary terms, how to sell your ideas, and how to perform a meaningful cost/benefit analysis. Here's a map of the topics covered:
| "Can't imagine anything I'd add or change ... for anyone looking for a real understanding of ROI,as well as various ways to calculate their return, this is the best A-Z guide I have read. And you hit the nail on the head ... it's ultimately about performance and the cost of improving performance."
Next on stage at the WebEx User Conference was Regis McKenna, marketer extraordinaire. This is the guy who helped launch America Online, Apple, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Intel, Linear Technology, Lotus, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, Silicon Graphics, 3COM, and many others.
Regis is my kind of marketer. He published an article in Harvard Business Review that claimed "Marketing is everything." His focus on time played a role in me naming my company Internet Time Group.
Since I've read all his books, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that Regis's thinking directly parallels mine.
Marketing evolves as it involves.
The goal of marketing is to build and sustain relationships with buyer and seller, and to expand and sustain those relationships over time.
In 2002, humans created 5 exobytes of new informaiton (that's about as many bytes as the earth has ants.)
Marketing is being redefined as a learning process.
Moore's Law is behind the ascendence of value-added services.
Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) wrote that the Net made possible "drive-by relationships."
Marketing is everybody's job.
Starbucks is in the real estate business. In Silicon Valley, there's a Starbucks inside another Starbucks.
Regis pulled a few gadgets out of his pockets, noting that he'd given his 10 year old granddaughter an i-Mac. Upon receiving it, she turned it on and said, "Life is good." She has a cell phone, too.
Regis pulled a transistor out of his pocket. Next he held up a tiny chip that contained 500 million transistors. And after that, a vial that contained 1.5 billion nanodevices.
Of course, I had to find a way to talk with this guy, so I followed him behind the curtain. Handing my camera to someone in the crowd, we posed for a picture. Damn. Eyes closed again. At least this will give me an excuse to try to force my way into see Regis once more.
This morning I wandered into a hotel ballroom set up like a theatre-in-the-round, with a raised 20'x20' platform in the middle and big video screens in each corner. Sonny & Cher were belting out "I Got You Babe" as I took my customary seat in the front row. Then Grace Slick and the Airplane did "I Need Somebody to Love." The came The Doors.
Screens reminiscent of sixties' light shows appeared on the screens.
WebEx's first User Group meeting was underway. I asked marketing director David Thompson if they were aware of the double-entendre of the name of the show:
He assured me WebEx understood. "WebEx advertising...," he began. I cut him off. Yeah, this was the outfit that blew their initial marketing budget on a Superbowl ad featuring transvestite RuPaul.
Inuendo? Sex? Drugs? Rock and roll? Us?
Co-founder and CEO Subrah Iyar took the stage, telling us how he and Min had shared a vision seven years ago. WebEx was born five years ago. Since then they've hosted millions of meetings. Last year they racked up in excess of 20 million person-meeting hours.
continued in next blog entry