June 30, 2004

Mutlimedia Learning

Here's yet another effective form of learning.


I am thirty pounds overweight and must exercise at leasst 30 minutes a day to work off the fat.

I can transfer MP3 sounds files downloaded from the 'net via the USB port on my computer.

This tiny $80 device can record or play two hours of voice.

Yesterday I downloaded a variety of high-tech intereviews by Doug Kaye. Later, I trudged up a steep hil while listening to interviews with Chris Perillo, Steve Gilmour, and Craig Newmark. Forty-five minutes later, I had completed the day's exercise and learned a lot more about sydication, the Microsoft/Sun deal, and forming social networks. I had also completed the day's exercise.

Hearing a recorded voice has more impact than reading the same message. Talk about a cheap delivery system. Give everyone one of the gizmos and load if up with need-to-know information.

It my case, this is an example of mutlitasking that works.

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Damn, damn, double damn

High on my list of things that really tick me off are:

  1. People who waste my time
  2. Malicious vandals
Since Monday, both of these have hit Internet Time Blog with a vengeance. Some deviant has posted pointers to porn sites in my Comments section. Four hundred times. It has peppered Internet Time Blog, Learning Circuits Blog, and Jaycross Blog.

There's no simple way to put things back to normal. I'm not about to go through the multi-step process of removing each instance of this garbage manually; life's too short. I will clean at the crap at the SQL level.

Then there's the issue of stopping this from happening in the future. I may switch over to MT 3.0 and force people to register in order to comment, but I fear that this will reduce the already pitiful level of response here. I may set up sufficient disguises and spoofs to mislead a Spam-posting bot.

Has anyone found a really effective way to stop this nuisance?

Google should take away the incentive for this by overlooking links that appear in Comments fields. I think I'll jot them a note.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004

Nonverbal impact?

Sahib Spiderman. Maish points to this example of extreme localization. To the right is Indian Spiderman..

I was never a Spiderman fan. Superman and Batman were in vogue when I read comic books. Recently, Spidey has been popping up on my radar. Only yesterday, Boing-Boing pointed to Spiderman satire. [Refresh the page when you get there for a rotation of 20 strips.]

I'm losing my hearing. It's not like someone turned down the volume knob on my ears. No, it's more like the sliders on my mental audio mixer are set to drop out a few frequencies. A sound in an otherwise quiet room is crystal clear but a voice in a crowded room fades into the generalized noise. This got me to thinking about nonverbal communication and the oft-quoted finding that most of what's communicated in conversation does come through our ears.

Professor Albert Mehrabian has pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960's. Aside from his many and various other fascinating works, Mehrabian established this classic statistic for the effectiveness of spoken communications:

* 7% of meaning is in the words that are spoken.
* 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
* 55% of meaning is in facial expression.

"Mehrabian's research involved spoken communications. Transferring the model indiscriminately to written or telephone communications is not reliable, except to say that without the opportunity for visual signs, there is likely to be even more potential for confused understanding and inferred meanings." Mehrabian's site is worth a look, too.

Thinking back on the findings that people tend to treat computers as if they were people, I began to wonder if an avatar can communicate nonverbally.

Spiderman is clearly a poor choice because he rarely changes expression; I'm not even sure he has lips.

Better pick some more expressive figures. Have them all say the same thing and see if the impact of the message differs....

Are the messages equally compelling? Believable?

Does the "speaker" influence your evaluation of the content? Do you feel one communicates better than the other?

Leave a comment if you think there's anything to this.

Top 10 Tips for Nonverbal Communication

Excellent communication skills are the key to success in your personal and professional life. Research shows that nonverbal communication is actually more important than verbal communication. Here are the top 10 tips for using nonverbal communication to improve your relationships.

1. 'Dance' with the nonverbal signals being sent your way on a moment-to-moment basis.

Stop and ask the other person what their nonverbal behavior means if you are uncertain about it. It is more effective to be 'in the moment,' tuning in to your audience, than to drone on with what you were trying to say.

2. Use the tonality of your voice the way that a musician uses an instrument.

When you are expressing love you can speak in soft, lilting tones. When someone is crying you can speak with a 'crying' sound in your voice. When you are setting limits on a toddler's behavior you can use a tone of authority and firmness.

3. Soak in the hugs that others give to you.

Many people have difficulty being 'present' in the moment to truly receive the affection that comes with a hug. You probably need to be hugged more than you are being hugged, so why resist?

4. Express gratitude to your audience when they are being attentive and responsive.

The encouragement could increase the level of attentiveness and responsiveness, making it a more enjoyable experience for you and for them.

5. Use good eye contact.

Many people stop using eye contact when they are speaking about their successes due to fear or embarrassment. Others stop using eye contact when they are talking about painful things.

6. Stop what you were doing when your listeners look glassy-eyed or bored.

Take ownership and responsibility for the situation by saying, "I must be 'off' tonight because I'm not getting that 'you're interesting' look." Change something drastically about what you were doing.

7. Tune in to the 'metacommunication' that is going on at a given moment.

Metacommunication involves noticing the larger context of communication. It can be helpful to tune in to the larger context when there is a sense of being provoked by what a speaker is saying. For example, you might ask yourself, "Why is my teenager telling me that he is going to pierce his tongue? Is he telling me to test me or to take a risk of being open with me?"

8. When you are confronting someone who you are in a close relationship with, reach out to take their hand in both of yours.

This kind of gesture will communicate that you want the difficult words that you are sharing to increase your intimacy rather than to put a wedge in it. A caring gesture during a confrontation can assist the other person in hearing you instead of defending themselves.

9. Notice the effect that your words have on others.

Do they cause life or dampen life? With practice, your 'radar' will improve and you will immediately know the effect that you are having on others.

10. Hug others as if you were St. Peter greeting newcomers at the Pearly Gates.

Leo Buscaglia was on to something. Dr. Buscaglia, the famous educator known as Dr. Hug, made it part of his lectures to hug any members of the audience who would line up for the embrace.

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:29 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

The New Religion

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Screed about Process

If you walked into the conference I’ve been attending for the last two days cold, you would not have a clue what people were talking about or why you would want any part of it. You might think you’d stepped into a revival for geeks. I’ll bear witness to what transpired.

Peaceable Kingdom

The image “http://www.tfaoi.com/am/12am/12am265.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Speakers fervently describe a Second Coming for IT, an entirely new and hyper-productive way of doing business. In the Promised Land, managers and workers no longer need to turn to IT to get their jobs done. Bankers run the banks and merchants run the stores without relying on CIO’s to satisfy their customers. Silos fall. Everyone makes informed decisions. Converts are on the edge of their pews.

The prophets envision the profits, but their belief system lacks a name. Some call it Business Process Management. Other say it’s Web Services. Yet others talk of Service-Oriented Architecture. They describe the wonders of SOAP and UML, seek blessings from W3C and OASIS, and tell parables of independent angels agents doing what’s right. They speak in tongues.

Non-believers sense a sham. The masses have long prayed at the altar of IT for better, faster, cheaper ways of creating value and making the world a better place. The vengeful IT god inevitably punishes the populace with plagues of non-functionality, cost overruns, missed deadlines, administrative catastrophe, scaring away customers, frustration, and demoralization. To every FUD there is a season.

Are those who herald the new order today’s false prophets or are they messengers trumpeting true change? Business people are skeptical. Fool me once, shame on thee. Fool me twice, shame on me.

What does business gain from going to this church? Less lag time between strategy and execution. Faster response time to customers. More agility amid changing conditions. Faster cycles, less lead time, less lag time. Richer innovation and more of it. Focus on core strengths. Everyone singing from the same hymnal. This is not IT; this is business.

Twenty years ago, few executives touched a keyboard. Today, few business people change the process they employ to do their jobs. Tomorrow, workers will contribute to helping their organizations improve the way work is performed. Continuous performance improvement will become everyone’s job.

“Science without religion
is lame, religion without
science is blind.”
Albert Einstein

A New Testament

The image “http://www.fenomeno.trix.net/images/fenomeno-nazca-aranha.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Epiphany: If you climb up the ladder of abstraction several rungs, you can begin to divine what the prophets are talking about. The patterns we couldn’t see because we were too close begin to come into focus. The grand design becomes obvious.

The day-to-day world of commerce is so far below that the cubicles, silos, firewalls, and boundaries fade away. From up here, people and politics are impossible to discern. We’re looking at the broad flows of value across the global marketplace.

The image “http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:5NYkmuPPBcEJ:www.curtin.edu.au/curtin/dept/phys-sci/sun/earth.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Just as the first image of the earth from space raised our consciousness of living on a tiny sphere in space, looking at the flows of knowledge and value from above brings what’s really important in commerce into sharp relief.

From up above, all business consists of flows of value across networks. As on the Internet, all nodes are connected. Sometimes the route from one node to another is circuitous and inefficient, but somehow it all works together. When synapses in the human brain traverse a meaningful route, the result is a memory. When value flows through an organization, the result is a pattern. When patterns are repeated and refined, they become a process.

Processes can be modeled and mapped. In fact, evangelists recommend that business organizations map current processes simply to get a handle on what they are really doing. Disconnects and gross inefficiencies will become immediately apparent.

A map of a process is a picture of how an organization works. The map tracks a common reality, not a view from within a silo. The map divorces descriptions of how things work from personalities and turf issues. A process map is the logic of business laid bare. No fluff. No politics. Just “Here's how it happens.”

Like a mural interpreting a meeting, a process map enables people to talk about what works and what doesn't without getting personal about it. The map is agnostic. Everyone's goal is to make it better. Furthermore, thanks to smart software, the value of choosing this option instead of that is automatically generated and explicitly stated.

For example, when HP was merging with Compaq, the combined organization had many redundant processes. The staff modeled each HP and Compaq supply chain process whenever they overlapped. They chose whichever process promised the best profit potential. Instead of presenting a list of software apps to debate, the supply chain guys presented a blueprint and financials for an optimal mix of interoperable processes. Now HP has taken this to marketing, sales, and manufacturing. Why shouldn’t all businesses be evaluating the way they do business all the time?

"Whatever your mind
can conceive and believe,
it can achieve."

Napoleon Hill

The electronic spreadsheet enthralled business managers with the power of what-if analysis. Process models take what-if analysis to the level of organizational change. In lieu of a spreadsheet’s rows and columns, process maps blueprint the value circuitry underpinning the business. Instead of seeing the effect of a 3% up-tick in sales, management can assess the impact of streamlining a process or outsourcing an entire function.

Time for a miracle. I want to move a few walls in my house to make a leisure room out of two small bedrooms. What if I could tear down the walls and build the new room by doing nothing more than changing the architect’s sketch of my house? Well, of course I can’t do that; I’m going to have to hire a construction crew. However, a process model can accomplish changes. Unlike my house, business is mostly virtual. Software runs the show. Change the process map on the screen, and the system automatically generates and installs revised code!

The seers prophesy a new category of asset: Process Capital. An organization that has its processes rigorously refined should be able to swap entire corporate functions in and out like Lego® blocks. The what-if model shows the bottom-line impact of handing off payroll and benefits administration and applying the resources thus freed up to a core business area. Sufficient Process Capital will enable an organization to focus on what it can do best and to shift that focus as conditions change.

"In the Beginning, ARPA created the ARPANET.

And the ARPANET was without form and void.

And darkness was upon the deep.

And the spirit of ARPA moved upon the face of the network and ARPA said, 'Let there be a protocol,' and there was a protocol. And ARPA saw that it was good.

And ARPA said, 'Let there be more protocols,' and it was so. And ARPA saw that it was good.

And ARPA said, 'Let there be more networks,' and it was so."

-- Danny Cohen
Computer History Museum

The image “http://www.global-vision.org/interview/intergifs/babel.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.A Creation Myth

What laid the groundwork for these audacious claims at the altar of process? Like a voice out of the wilderness, the Internet gave us the sign.

In 1991, CERN released the World Wide Web. A year later, the Internet had 1,000,000 hosts. Two years after that, Netscape went public and the Vatican went online. Assisted by Moore’s Law of the loaves and fishes, the Internet becomes the biggest force in the history of commerce, communication, and culture change.

The miracle of the Net gave us faith and guided us in the right direction.

From Babel to interoperability. In Old Testament days, IBM computers did not talk to UNIVAC computers; GE machines did not talk to Honeywells; NCRs did not talk with Burroughs; and RCA tried to talk with IBM but died prematurely. Commercial computing relied on proprietary software to handcuff customers who couldn’t afford to change horses. Software companies upheld the tradition. But the Net provided a lingua franca. TCP/IP succeeded where Esperanto had failed. Open standards enabled any compliant browser to understand anything on the Net. The value of joining the party soon outweighed the rewards of locking in customers, and before you knew it, IBM was spray-painting Linux penguins on the sidewalks of Chicago. Now in-house and commercial systems are adopting Web Standards, and eventually the world will transubstantiate into a single, immense network.

Don’t play God. The Net is a web without a weaver. No master programmer hides behind the curtain. Like Nature herself, the web organizes itself. Start with simple rules; clear the way; don’t get in the way; let it grow. Great and unexpected things arise from complexity if you let them. In IT, this letting-go takes the form of delegating interactions to bots, personas, and software agents.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 25, 2004


Today I had lunch at Google with a friend. Lunch at Google is free and tasty. You can eat things cooked outside on the grill or choose from Italian, Asian Fusion, Mexican, Veggie, Charlie's Grill, or a salad bar. I had Charlie's venison.

You probably want to know what I found out about the IPO and the new product concepts the guys are batting around. Unfortunately, that's not what we talked about. Besides, Google's in their "quiet period." To help you get over that disappointment, I'm going to repeat a number of jokes from Dive Into Mark.

What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
Anyone can roast beef.

A man and a parrot sit next to each other in a plane. The service in the plane is really bad, the man hasn’t had a drink for hours and he’s starting to dehydrate. The parrot on the other hand is getting drink after drink by the harrowed cabin crew. Each time the parrot orders a drink it does so with a lot of cursing and shouting. The man decides to follow the same tactic and starts shouting. "Hey, bitch get me a whiskey!" To his suprise he gets his whiskey and follows through with the same tactic. Soon, both man and parrot outdo each other in shouting and insults untill the cabin crew has had enough. They grab the man and parrot and throw them out of the plane. Now both of them are plummeting towards the ground below when the parrot says to the man: "Boy, for someone who can't fly you sure do curse a lot".

Two molecules are walking down the street. One suddenly stops and says, "Wait, I think I dropped an electron." The other looks at him and asks "Are you positive?"

Mahatma Ghandi was an amazingly spiritual man, but physically he was quite a wreck. His penchant for going barefoot led to him having enormously tough feet. His diet, such as it was between hunger strikes, meant he was very thin and frail. It also had the side effect of giving him very bad breath. In fact you could say he was a super-calloused, fragile mystic cursed by halitosis.

Posted by Jay Cross at 06:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!

Researchers warn of infectious Web sites


It looks like the Internet is turning into a world wide minefield this morning.

MS issues warning on Web attacks, pushes XP SP2 beta

The warnings from the Redmond, Washington, company came as antivirus and computer security experts said Friday that an organized gang of Russian hackers were behind the attacks and were using the security holes in a coordinated, global attack to steal sensitive personal and financial information from customers of leading banking and e-commerce Web sites.

Major Internet Attack Under Way

Security experts say Russian hackers are using a sophisticated attack to compromise major E-commerce Web sites, which then infect visitors with hacker tools designed to steal passwords and financial data, and possibly spew spam.

Web browser flaw prompts warning

Users are being told to avoid using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches a serious security hole in it. The loophole is being exploited to open a backdoor on a PC that could let criminals take control of a machine.

Warning: Widespread Internet Attack Possible

U.S. official sources, along with Internet security experts, are warning of a mysterious virus that can turn infected computers into spam-delivering zombies. The virus apparently has attacked thousands of servers that power popular Web sites already.

IIS 5 Web Server Compromises
US-CERT recommends that end-users disable JavaScript unless it is absolutely necessary. Users should be aware that any web site, even those that may be trusted by the user, may be affected by this activity and thus contain potentially malicious code.

Antivirus experts and the U.S. Homeland Security Department are warning of a mysterious virus that has attacked "thousands" of Web servers that power a number of popular Web sites, none of which the department has yet identified.

The threat of infection is so high because the code created to exploit the loophole has somehow been placed on many popular websites. Experts say the list of compromised sites involves banks, auction and price comparison firms and is growing fast.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 23, 2004

Business Process Management (2)

Worldwide Interoperability Demonstration of ASAP & WfXML 2.0

Presented by The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC)

Demonstration of interoperability among three vendors and two open source initiatives (Fujitsu, Staffware, a client, Handysoft, and another)

ASAP = the Asynchronous Standard Access Protocol. Enter the URLs and the metadata hooks up automatically.

We're watching an interchange of activities on a live flowchart. Then we check the XML code and find that indeed the transaction made its way through the various organizations. Untouched by human hands. This is a virtual replay of pounding in the golden spike.

ASAP can be used today to link systems easily. Next step is to go through OASIS Process, but this is ready to go now.

WfMC is looking to design tool vendors to demo ability to upload and download process definitions using Wf-XML 2.0 in January 2005. Wf-XML 3.0 has "containers" which hold "factories." The URL of the factory automatically calls the details for the "instance" which includes the "activity." The activity contains two blocks of XML Schema: the data and the … The SOAP protocol carries this.

John Pike from Staffware, chair of the WfMC, points out how significant is the demo we have just seen. This was a historic moment.

Panel: Business Process Innovation

Tom Dwyer, Principal, Beagle Research Group, and a panel

Things in process are getting less visible, which is a sign of maturity - when things don't get in the way. The business used to be measuring, monitoring, and improving inefficient processes. The new objective is to use processes for innovation.

1. Innovation = application of an invention (something new) that brings benefit.

2. Two key elements are collaboration and knowledge flow.

3. Process innovation = requires a structured approach of experimentation, education....

Some of the panelists offer all-in-one, others focus on only rules or analysis. It's like assembling cars.

"Process Management Tools should be on the desk of every business user" (says Proforma).

Where is the demand for innovation coming from?

" Need a champion of processes and rules together (says a guy who sells both).
" Demand comes from the business that wants improvement in a process.
" Innovation is overwhelmingly making an existing process better rather than creating processes de novo (Fair Isaac)
" Next processes instead of best practices - things that haven't been automated before (SAP)
" No, most of it's new applications (ProForma, which covers only the analysis and planning end of things)

Where is motivating the demand for process innovation? (Jay.) Okay, I asked a bit more.

I've worked in a number of new industries, and every one had the implementation advice you guys just gave:

  • Get executive sponsorship
  • Start small, score a quick win
  • Talk up the payback
  • People matter, include all the stakeholders
  • Avoid analysis paralysis
What really motivates process innovation?

New paradigm. Higher level, where orgs think of process and rules as assets. Build for change.

Supply side business. We build it and then figure out what to do with it. We back into it.

Fair Isaac actually answered the question.

" Stay out of jail - compliance
" Profitability - cost cuts
" IT - infrastructure cost to high

Bottom up, top down, general awareness…it's pervasive. People are buying into it at different levels.

" Next practices. (says SAP)
" Ad hoc workflow vs. workflow in the silo.
" Seeking competitive advantage (buy, buy, buy says the vendor)

[Uh-oh. The vendors on the panel as jostling for position, only presenting examples that tout the value of their own solutions.]

Tom Dwyer observed that in high tech, we often invent something and later find the use for it. BPM is there. We're reverse-engineering the benefits from the invention.

I can imagine another back-formation from process centricism. When a business manager is confronted with the profit contribution of one way of doing things versus another, won't she want to take the option that's best economically? Will the long-term benefits of lasting processes get American business leaders to think more than one quarter ahead? Eventually, if corporations become truly transparent, market analysts could rate companies not only on earnings but also on whether they're focused on the long term or the short.

Doug Engelbart's name is reverberating in my head. Improve the process. Improve the process of improving the process.

BRP is the logic of business laid bare. No fluff. No politics. Just here's how it happens. It's a roadmap people can understand. Like a mural of a meeting, it enables people to talk about what works and what doesn't without getting personal about it. The map is agnostic. Everyone's goal is to make it better. Furthermore, thanks to smart software, the value of choosing this option instead of that is automatically generated and explicitly stated.

The Process-Centric Company & Business Process Frameworks

by Paul Harmon, Editor, BP Trends

Business process is hot. At least as hot as BPR in '93-'94 but this time the interest is broader, which means it will have more staying power.

Customer focus. The Internet has had an impact on the awareness of executives. How quick can I get through the seller's website?

Better control
Reduce costs

Process-Centric Company = A company that is organized, structured, measured and managed in terms of business processes. (Most companies are still function-centric.) This is more in the talking stage than the reality.

Electrocomponents plc, 743 million pounds
Download Annual Report
Chief Process Officer: Richard Butler

Lots of work on alignment in the 90s was horizontal, integrations from supplier to customer. New alignment is vertical: integrated measures, managers, and resources. The vertical lets management conceptualize the business and therefore to change

SEI CMM Process Maturity Levels, used to assess software by DoD but is a good touchstone for assessing process maturity. From ad hoc to process improvement. Most companies are only at about 2.5. They don't have measures that tie to strategic goals.

Strategy and Goals
Business Process Architecture
Implementation: Employees/Systems
Six sigma/OMG model-driver architecture
Business Process Outsourcing = how to focus on core
Outsourcers are good prospects for BPM

Different groups want to discuss different pieces of the triangle.

Business Process Frameworks
Aka Reference Models, Templates
High level descriptions of a set of processes, measures, best practices
Provide a package that allows an analyst to treat a given process as an instance of a class of similar processes (they characterize processes at a high level)


1. Supply Chain Council (SCOR). 700 companies. How to link up processes at a high level and how to measure them. (Check their layers of modeling) This is essentially meta-processing mapping. Plan ' Source 'Make ' Deliver. At a one-day meeting, a dozen people from many companies spend the morning learning the terminology and notation; in the afternoon they create and agree upon a global, interoperable supply chain. An independent auditing agency provides benchmark data to other in an industry. The Benchmark enables you to assess your level of profitability if your performance were average. Management Plan and HR Best Practices are part of SCOR.

2. TeleManagement Forum eTOM, implemented in IT as NGOSS, their expanded architecture.

3. HPs Extended SCOR Architecture. In the Compaq merger, they modeled both the HP and the Compaq supply chain where each company had a similar process. Which process provides the best profit opportunity? Instead of a list of software apps, the supply chain guys presented a blueprint and financials. Now HP has taken this to marketing, sales, and manufacturing. It works great at HP, but since it's proprietary, it doesn't facilitate conversing with partners. (Two newly established councils are working on taking this to marketing and sales functions.) See www.supply-chain.com
for the latest; this only happened last week.

BP Frameworks are a major opportunity for companies to significantly improve their business process practices. Nothing else offers BP practitioners the speed.

Gary Chan, IT manager, City of Walnut Creek

Gary Chan explained how the City of Walnut Creek implemented BPM, the results received, and the City's vision of the future. This was the first time I've heard the details of a far-ranging deployment that involved all employees and will eventually link all customers (residents) in City projects. Plus, they brought the entire project home for under $100,000 and in less than six months.

BPM is the execution of software, measures, and processes than enable rapid, more accurate, decision making. It makes for fiscal responsibility.

Had a manual system. Nothing real-time. Two-week old reports. Monitor project progress.

Implementation of Metastorm, from signing the contract to generating reports, took place in 5 ½ months. Six weeks for training. Now installing web version. The City no longer uses any other project management software.

Creating paperless environment. Little training required: they pick it up at the push of a button. On-demand reports. Tracks all project communications. Automated processes for approval and to escalate multi-level project changes. Let's public service employees who don't work 8 to 5 communicate with others.

The total tab for the software and some expert advice from the vendor was $85,000. The hold costs down, Walnut Creek did most of the process design in-house.

Walnut Creek is currently putting the app on the Web. They envision opening up the system to citizens. If you've got a pothole in the street in front of your house, you log it on the system and monitor the trouble ticket from there on.

Futures Panel

Difficulty implementing is that companies are not organized by process. We don't need to control so much as to do the right thing. How are our haphazard processes doing? Then how can we do them better?

This is all about making business more efficient, not about adding infrastructure.

BPM has an overall architecture for management.

What are our PKIs? How are we doing against those indicators? How could we do better? What's that worth?

Janelle: At the enterprise level, all the PKIs I know of are financial. (Should Workflow Institute help develop the intangible PKIs?)

One view: IT will come under the business managers. Contrarian: We've been there before. IT people think all Business people are idiots; the business people think IT people are idiots. Another contrarian view: When more people can make changes without coding than there are coders, things will change. Right now there is one BP analyst to every ten Java coders. It should be the other way around.

One view: IT vs. the business. IT should be the business.

Are there efforts to establish standards at a higher level, e.g. accounts receivable? There's SCOR. There are also semantics being developed for some 300 industries.

"Information Resource Management" covers everything IT should be doing.

Business Intelligence has demonstrated how coding can be delegated to business people. It's time for BPM to get on board.

The assembled crowd sings Happy Birthday to Greg Rock,
panel leader and CEO of Brainstorm Group.

From luncheon conversation:

Who's the #1 thought leader in this space? Geary Rummler.

Who do the vendors sell to? It's sort of like the training market. The natural buyers lack budget and clout. Few firms have a Chief Process Officer, so there's no natural prospect at the top level either.

I plan to summarize these reports and attach my consclusions. Then they'll go on the Workflow Institute site.

Your correspondent

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

Really Big

Think Big.

Yesterday I had lunch with Jinlei Ni, the former CEO of China's Beida-Online.

You've may have heard how China's telephone system leapfrogged poles and wires, heading from zero to cell phones with no intermediate stops.

Business in China is going through the roof, making almost unimaginable gains. Workers at all levels need business skills. Think of eLearning as the cell phone. Imagine leapfrogging instructors, classrooms, and chalk talks.

We may form a community of practice to tackle the challenge. Drop me an email if you'd like to be kept informed.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Business Process Management Conference

Brainstorm Group.Tuesday, June 22, 2004. Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport

Business Process Management – The Path to Becoming an Adaptive Organization

by Janelle Hill, METAGroup

Confusion among the terms: BPM, SOA, On Demand, Adaptive Organization. BPM includes integrating human activities with required data & systems.

True e-Business has yet to happen. Although process management theory is mature, process thinking & use of BPM technology is not.

Adaptability of Business Processes

  • Enhancements
  • Extensions
  • Corrections
  • Refinements

How much is too much? How often? Don’t do it all; do the processes that need to be adaptable.

To understand the bounds and potential of adaptability, business users must have an appreciation for the technologies.

Historical perspective

EDI Successes

EDI Failures

Standardized top business documents for reusability; standards based, bullet proof

Point to Point one-offs, hard-coded, complex, high cost, specialized skills, single implementation infrastructure (VAN), data interchange only

EAI/B2B Successes

EAI Failures

Brokered architecture encourages reuse, Simpler tools, metadata driven engine, Standaradized application adapters, Transport Choices

High entry cost, Specialized skills, Emphasis on data an message transformation, not process, Not bullet proof

BPM Advantages


Lowers costs with standards – fewer skills required, commoditization drives down software cost, leverages existing data nd process. E.g., $500K in 2002, $50-250I in 2004. Visual representation (BPMN). Open (XML). Supports multiple levels of process abstraction in the modeloing palette. Change the process and automatically change the code.


The more your applications expose themselves as Web services, the easier they link to existing systems.

A summary of this report will appear at

Modeling must become a business discipline – not a creative pastime. Get a real modeling tool, not just a drawing tool like Visio. The model facilitates the conversation between business process and IT. It defines what events – human or system interactions – advance the process. Abstract objects hide implementation details. (It’s software application-agnostic.) This just lets you define where you want business processes to be adaptive.

BPM is a Service Oriented Architecture. Interoperable, virtual network.

Challenges of BPM…

  • Willingness to “blow up” the current way of doing thing
  • Transcending from a culture of individual hero to team player
  • Embracing change as a constant
  • Different roles, reporting structures, performance metrics & budgets

(Business modeler = someone “like a former McKinsey consultant, who really understands the big picture.” I can’t imagine the cost of putting together a team of these guys.)

IT culture shock: From Code to Models. Model mindset – not just learning the tool. Willingness to share development responsibility. This is a new game for IT, which has been accustomed to squirreling away during development and returning with a solution. If IT architects don’t buy in, this won’t work.

BPM is both a strategy and a set of technologies. It requires business and IT to work with one another. Educate everyone, then assess readiness. Establish notational standards (not just Visio drawing).

Competing on Time with the Revolutionary Business SEx Machine

Peter Fingar, co-author of BPM, The Third Wave and The Real-Time Enterprise

Peter is great. He wraps BPM into a package management can buy into. It's a Strategy-Execution Machine. Give your people "Work Processors" so they can get your business aligned. Bravo!

Dot-com bust: $3.5 trillion sucked out of market. 300,000 jobs lost. Enough technology already.

RTE = real time enterprise; BRM = business process management. Executives are fed up with three-letter acronyms and technology being foisted off on them. They’re reading Nick Carr’s “IT doesn’t matter” in Harvard Business Review. Carr suggests that IT is a commodity. Fingar says IT is nothing but an enabler. Porter taught us that differentiation is the key to competitive advantage. (Don’t read Porter; it’s soporific. Read Max Strategy, a 100 page parable.)

FedEx founder wanted to “sell time.” Poo-pooed at first, Fedex IS NOW A $20 billion enterprise.

George Stalk’s Competing Against Time is the argument in favor of BPM. We need a better vocabulary than IT’s to get managements excited about this.

Toyota and Honda managed structural changes that enabled their operations to execute their processes much faster. Toyota went through a two-year internal M&A. (Now you can do it with BPM.) HBR July 1988.

Change has switched from episodic to evolutionary. What was discontinuous is now a flow; the pace of innovation is what’s key. Serial innovators will run circles around the competition.

Time-Based Competition

Cycle, product design, lead, lag, time to market

The most value for the lowest cost in the least amount of time. Cheaper, Better, Faster.

Toyota: Empower the people on the line, not just the production line.

“Downsizing was the objective of BPR.”

Time based competitors:

········· Compress time to mfg and distribution

········· Cut time to develop and introduce new products

········· Cut inventory thru value-delivery system

········· Lever all competitive differences

Process maps are not the object. The point is whether that map will execute with my business. We need executable BP models. BPM is not IT Software Development, its an IT tool that enables business people to build and manage processes

“Time is the scarcest resource.” – Drucker

  1. Response time: lag time, lead time, cycle time
  2. Restructuring time: reorganization, asset reallocation, business process changes, strategy-to-execution time

GE: Digitization of business process was the key. Now it's shifting to managing processes.

Time-based competition is not new. But the BPM System is a way to make it real. Look for his new book, differentiating BPM from IT.

No one in the corner office has a clue what BPM is.

BPM is all about strategy execution.

Typical value chain has 22 companies in it.

With BPM systems, the tide has shifted--For the 1st 50 years IT has automated the business, for the next 50 years BPM systems will be used to automate IT.

Competition is one end-to-end value chain vs your end-to-end value chain.

Peter conceptualizes a Work Processor. It’s the competitive weapon of choice. BPMS inside. What does it do? It squeezes out time. This squeezes out the right kind of costs.

  • The Work Processor doesn’t create things on its own (nor does Word write the novel.)
  • The Strategy-Execution Machine, the Sex Machine. The competitive weapon of choice for time-based competition and executing on innovation.


The specs. Doesn’t automate people out of their jobs, but instead amplifies their work by providing human connections, a shared information base, a communal knowledge base, shared design tools, shared problem-solving tools, and a command and control capability over existing IT systems…all without onhe line of code.

Underpinning include cognitive science, HCI, AI, pi calculus, M, collaborative filtering, semantic search, etc.

Peter told me he is putting the finishing touches on his new book, which takes the Work Processor metaphor forward.

Expo break

BPM Thought Leader Panel: Creating the Process Oriented Enterprise

  • Greg Carter, Metastorm, CTO. “We do everything that Staffware does, but better.”
  • John Pipe, TIBCO Software, former CEO Staffware (acquired by TIBCO).
  • Mark Christensen, Exigen Group, marketinhg manager. Focus on big installs, e.g. turning on a phone network, transferring bank processes, creating “process utilities”
  • Rachel Helm, IBM. Direct, product market management for WebSphere Workflow Platform. A key priority for most of our Fortune 1000 customers.

Q: John’s familiar with the automation of human processes. That market never took off. What’s different now? What’s the trigger to growth?

A: BAM, Web Services, etc., are all helping from a technical perspective. Accountability and governance issues raise issues of corporate control. A triggering event is the thought of the CEO going to jail.

Q. Greg, senior execs ready to take on process responsibility?

A: Yes, there’s a general understanding that processes are vital. Senior managers feel like they can’t understand ownership and execution. They must own the automation of the process.

Q. Mark, why do you think outsourcing is the right approach?

A: It becomes easier and easier to construct a contract if there’s outsourcing involved. Both parties need to manage their risk. Challenge – example – call center answers in funny accent you can’t understand. A measure might be how long it takes to get a question answered. Either party can game the system.

John: Can an outsource guy go to jail? Who owns the process? Who decides? Rachel: customers are just starting to implement Sarbanes-Oxley. There are interesting court cases on the way. How about process insurance? Seems to me companies and their outsourcers need a pre-nup.

Q. IBM’s modeling tool for BPM is a way to draw boundaries. What’s your experience? Do customers take ownership of the models?

A: The most successful contracts go that way. BPM can enhance teaming, too.

IBM is committed to standards. They are the only one with a BPEL runtime engine.

Off the shelf processes viable? IBM: I’d call them process templates. RosettaNet and UCCNet involve processes, too. Use the 80/20 rule. It’s similar to packaged ERP.

Takeaways from IBM at First Data

Train motivated analysts

Culture change required

Find success everywhere

Build confidence in the modeling process through ultra-competency

Whatever you do, don’t give the analyst job to anyone in IT. They won’t buy it because they know better.

Reading List:

  • Serious Play
  • Technology Paradise Lost by Erik Keller
  • The Michael Hammer collection

Luncheon speech by key sponsor

Enron. Worldcom. Power blackouts. Hurricanes. Every one of these is the result of broken processes. Agility is the cure-all.

AIIM finds that 44% put BPM on the top of CIO to-do lists.

IDC says Managing Business Processes is #1 call in IT.

The prime sources of BP value are:

  1. business agility. (Be quick to change. Speed.)
  2. efficiency (the usual suspects)
  3. control (usually financial, lowering risk)

BPM is not IT. BPM works by consolidating the white space on the chart, not IT.

Gartner looked at 50 BPM projects. 2/3 took less than 6 months to implement. 2/3 were primarily human focused. 2% had no human component. 60% hd no system activity. (Which makes me wonder if this is really BPM.)

I asked METAGroup’s Janelle Hill if BPM designers were thinking about the workers’ quality of life that would result from implementing BPM Suites.

She told me that process designers were aware that BPM would fail without people. They focus on human systems. I replied that eLearning experts all parroted the mantra that what counts is the people, not the technology. Then they sell and install the technology, and the workers are left to sift through excruciatingly poorly-designed programs.

Do BPM folks factor the satisfaction of the worker into the equation? Alas, Janelle told me, no. It’s the old one-quarter-at-a-time thinking. I said we would address the issue at the upcoming Workflow Symposium.

No show.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004


This Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll be attending the Business Process Management Conference down the Peninsula. Why? I'm learning as much as I can about BPM because it underpins the revolution I foresee in business, computing, and learning.

Besides that, the Workflow Institute is conducting a conference on Workflow Learning in October, and I'm one of the ringmasters. It's always a good idea to know what you're talking about.

Workflow is the convergence of work+flow to achieve an optimal balance of work results and individual fulfillment. Business culture is breaking free of the industrial-age mindset that bottom-line results and worker happiness are natural enemies. Work can be among life’s greatest joys; flow drives a loyal, over-achieving workforce. Workflow research investigates how work and flow can converge to replace an unproductive either/or situation with a mutually beneficial worldview of both/and.

The Work I deal with is knowledge work, usually in an environment of next-generation computing which embraces Web Services, agent-based software, enterprise interoperability, extreme adaptability, and many lessons from the Internet. The goal of work is production and accomplishment.

Flow is the trickier piece of the puzzle. I am thinking of Flow in the psychological sense, as Mihaly Csizentmihalyi describes it.

People in flow are fully enjoying their work because they are so engaged in tackling difficult and worthwhile tasks. Channeling flow into work draws on meta-learning, appreciative inquiry, worker empowerment, instructional design, emotional intelligence, and a new concept of the nature of work. Flow is vital because drudgery is avoidable.

Roaming through Half-Price Books a few days ago, I spied a copy of Csikszentmihalyi's latest work, Good Business, marked down from $25.95 to $9.98. I'm already 75 pages into it.

Mihaly's writing is uplifting, for example:

We need a certain amount of stability in our lives. But it is not enough simply to know that the sun is going to rise the next morning, and that the robins will return in the spring. We also have to feel that despite chaos and entropy, there is some order and permanence in our relationships and that our lives are not wasted and will leave some trace in the sands of time. In short, we must have the conviction that our existence serves a useful perpose and has value.

He says that instead of One-Minute Managers, we need hundred-year managers. The author is quite pragmatic about business taking a long-term view. Happy people do better work. They have higher morale; they are less likely to jump ship.

We've had opportunities to improve working conditions again and again. The peasant's lifestyle was impoverished and hard, but the early factory hand or coal miner working 12-hours days in wretched conditions certainly had it worse. People were not treated as machines. Foremen didn't beat machines. Supervisors didn't yell at and berate machines. Plant managers didn't abuse machines to the breaking point. No, the industrial workplace treated people worse than machines, as if they were throw-away tools.

We've come a long way, you think. Out of sight out of mind. But sweatshots, slave labor, stoop labor, lost limbs, and the working poor are all there if you look. Not to mention McJobs.

At least you can see the McJobs. I fear something nearly invisible: the working environment we are creating for knowledge workers.

Twenty-five years ago, the common wisdom was that by the time we reached the 21st century, our biggest dilemma would be figuring out what to do with all our leisure time. Even scooting around in your personal helicopter gets boring after a while.

Instead, we've got a world where nearly everyone has to work. Nobody feels they have enough time. Uncertainty reigns. Cancer, ulcers, and stress are leading us to premature graves. Our institutions are a shambles. Fewer and fewer people take pride in their work. Work encroaches on family time. Labor-saving technology merely raises the bar on what's expected. One in five American workers do nothing on their jobs but show up. The mass of knowledge workers lead lives of quiet desperation. We're rats in a maze.

I am optimistic about the future. Breakthrough technologies are poised to shower us with many gifts. We have in our grasp the ability to create jobs that challenge the worker and grow with her. We can provide clear goals, immediate feedback, and a balance between opportunity and capacity, the very things that define Flow. We can leverage the coming networks and interoperable, smart software to pull ourselves out of our ruts. Or we can engineer the most mind-numbing, rote, awful jobs the world has ever seen.

At the Workflow Symposium, I'd like to get these issues out in the open. How can we learning professionals make the future world of work a more enjoyable and, therefore, productive place? How can we apply our knowledge of learning and behavior to humanize the workplace? How can we ourselves attain flow in our work by performing in an enlightened manner?

I hope you'll join me in taking the higher ground.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN

When Jennifer Hoffman asked me to record a few thoughts from Training Directors Forum on a tiny RadioShack IC recorder, it struck me as kind of hokey but since I'm always open to experimentation, I recorded a blurb.

"Listen, learn, change"
David Gergen

Someone responded yesterday, so I trekked over to InSync Center to post a reply. Once there, I saw a few friends' faces and felt obligated to hear what they had to say. When I heard Lance, Ghenno, Marc, Saul, Harvey, and others giving their extended sound-bites, it triggered their larger messages. It helped to have their photo alongside, tool

As I upgrade the Workflow Institute site, I plan to add some soundbites you can call up with a button. Jennifer's done a great job of making this easy to use. I suggest you take a look.

Meanwhile, on the screen, this message just arrived in my gmail box:

Dear Sir

I Durga doing research in e-learning standards relationship and its role.

So I am conducting survey on this area. Here I attached my survey form. I will be happy if you could give me your opinion. I look forward to a favorable reply.

Please send my form by email or Fax.

A year ago, I would have opened the attachment and answered this chap's questions. Not now. For all I know, this is a virus-bomb being lobbed inside my firewall from a spoofed address. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

A pity this crap is so commonplace.

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June 19, 2004

It's only natural

The San Francisco Bay Area has been blessed with great weather for a few days, and nature is ripping me away from my computer to go for walks. This morning I wandered down the hill to join the Saturday ramble of the path wanderers. Along the way, I plucked ripe purple and yellow plums from the trees overhanging the sidewalks. Then a season first brought a smile to my face: the first blackberries of the season. Yum. I'll be nibbling as I hike for the next couple of months! Picking wild berries as I walk is one of life's greatest joys, right up there with discovering cool shells on the beach.

The best back-to-nature walks around here are in Tilden Park, about a mile from here. When I started out yesterday, a buck was standing at the end of the block. (Today a small specimen raced past us on a busy shopping street down the hill, startling drivers and pedestrians alike.) Tilden is hilly and rugged. The grass is already brown but flowers and the red leaves of the poison oak punctuate every vista with color.

Tromping up the hill, a fellow with a dog passed me. "This is the cardiovascular section," he said. I told him that's why I was here.

Health was only one justification for my tromp. I'm hatching a new concept of what's going on in the world, and nature's a great place for quiet contemplation. It blows my mind that I can see San Francisco from the East Bay hills. It's jam-packed with people. Yet the guy and his dog are the only creatures I see during an hour of hiking.

This morning, when I awoke, I wrote: "We are at the dawn of an era that will change the structure of business, the nature of work, our view of the world, and our impressions of ourselves. Our culture and institutions are stretched to the breaking point. After a quarter-millennium of the Industrial Age, humankind is poised to rewrite the rules, abolish modern slavery, stop plundering the earth’s resources, and focus on using our time wisely.

In 1848, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, and others revolted against heavy-handed, absolutist rulers. In 2004, workers and business leaders are rejecting inflexible, top-down, Industrial-Age holdovers out of step with today’s fast-paced, networked, egalitarian world.

Business leaders are confused. Strategy is a luxury. A sea of information washes over us. Entropy replaces purposeful behavior. The future is a crap-shoot. People dread their jobs. Executives feel they’ve lost control. Corporations destroy the environment. Politicians destroy the economy. All is chaos. Chaos creates stress, and stress fosters cancer, heart disease, stoke, adult-onset diabetes, and mental collapse. Change is preferable to continuing the charade that nothing’s wrong.

The model for the future is biological. Nature doesn’t have executives, managers, supervisors, or bosses. No one’s in control. Living things interact with one another and their surroundings. They adapt. They grow. It’s not planned; it just happens. There are no hidden agendas, no shadow organizations. In business, complex interactions will spontaneously create organizations without bosses, software without programmers, webs without weavers, and learning without instructors.

Imagine the opportunities of businesses that are distributed, decentralized, collaborative, and adaptive. Everything flows. Slack evaporates. Cooperation replaces competition. Learning and work merge into a single stream.

I'm refining the mission of the Workflow Institute. We want to make the world a better place. Luckily, I've got some great advice to draw upon.

    "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." Albert Einstein

    "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew."
    Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004


Yesterday evening my friend Jason at Google/Blogger asked me, "Got your Gmail account yet?" I said I thought I'd wait until the privacy and intrusion issues died down. My said I should give it a whirl. I just signed up.

In the press coverage of email-with-Google-ads, I'd missed a valuable benefit of Gmail. With a gig of storage, you only need to delete old mail once a decade. In fact, when you push the "Trash" button, this message apprears: "No conversations in the trash. Who needs to delete when you have 1000 MB of storage?!" Furthermore, you don't need folders. You can tag an email with multiple labels for retrieval purposes. When you want something, just search for it. I'll take Google's word for it that their search is faster than that of Outlook or Eudora.

It would certainly be handy if I could upload my past emails into Gmail, so I'd have everything in one place.

For the present, I'm going to forward mail from other email accounts to Gmail. If I decide it's not my cup of tea, I can always cut off the forwarding and go back to my original set-up.

I'll add comments as I gain experience with Gmail.

There's no way to import a contacts file. Agh. My Outlook file has 1,000 names.


The contact list contains a place for free form entry. I may use this for my frequently called directory. (I don't have a PDA and don't really want another gadget in my life right now.)

Pro: I like being able to label emails for easy recall. It's less klutzy than folders and one mail can have multiple tags. Also handy to be able to attach a star to an email that requires follow-up (which you can easily remove when you've done it.)

Con: When I send an email with an attrachment, I am locked out while the attachment uploads from my machine to the mail server. This interrupts the pace of my work.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:11 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Go with the flow

Jerry Johnson, one of my instructors at business school, taught us facetious business maxims such as "There are always three things." As I've become grayer and wiser, I've found that Jerry's rules often held up well. There often are three things.

Jerry's universal, three-step model of everything has proved itself particularly useful.

Applied in a learning context, it's a reminder to pay attention to what comes before and after a focused learning experience. Pre-work, screening, and maybe a getting-to-know-you pizza party before, and follow-up sessions, an alumni support network, and recognition after, can turn a lackluster workshop into something inspirational.

Thoughtout most of my life, I've been in a hurry to complete the 1-2-3 and get on to the next project. The fourth letter of my Myers-Briggs is always a big "J," indicating that I value Closure. I thought of projects like phone calls: 1. Ring, 2. Talk, 3. Hang up.

On Tuesday I was chatting with a friend in the U.K. We were using Skype, a nifty combination of instant messaging and free VOIP phone calls. We had been talking about all manner of things for twenty or thirty minutes when a client call interrupted our conversation.

When my friend started to say good bye, I suggested we not think of it like that. We weren't terminating our conversation; we were merely putting it on hold. We'd pick up where we left on whenever Skype showed that we were both online and available. Recognizing our conversation as a flow of information rather that a discrete event let me keep it open. Our conversation is like my connection to the net. It's up 24x7 but frequently idle. It's not off, it's merely not in use. Our conversation is not over, it's merely on hold.

Tuesday night half a dozen of us went to see the interminably long screed against business called "The Corporation." This movie slams business very hard, saying that if the corporation is legally a person, it's a psychopathic one. Examples abound: Monsanto shutting down a (true) Fox news story, Bechtel trying to charge Bolivians for water, Kathy Lee and Nike employing child labor, a market research outfit counseling retailers to increase sales by teaching children how to nag, and IBM colluding with Nazis. Noam Chomsky tells us it doesn't have to be this way. Michael Moore cuts up and tells us the only thing the corporation cares about is the bottom line. Milton Friedman agrees.

This movie is anything but balanced. Corporations = bad, bad, bad. Nonetheless, it raises some fundamental questions. The corporation is heartless. It has no morals. It leaps borders, becoming more important than government. It pollutes the environment and suffers no consequences. It pledges allegiance to only its shareholders. Public companies are following the old 1-2-3 model:

How can we get corporations to focus on the longer term? How can we hold them accountable for damaging the earth? What would make corporations support sustainability?

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Time Out for the Fair

Yesterday I walked half a mile down the hill to Berkeley's Live Oak Fair, so named because it takes place in Live Oak Park, a block up from Wavy Gravy's house. I go every year. It's free. And fun.

All manner of crafts are on display, from ceramics to exotic clothing to handmade jewelry to vibrant framed photos of bears, coastal fog, and mountain tops. (That's scuplture made of forks to the right.) Four aisles of booths. This being Berkeley, the shoppers wore Birkenstocks, dashikis, face paint, Free Tibet t-shirts, mu-mu's, peace symbols, tie-dye, and other proto-hippy accoutrements.

On the other side of the creek, a four-piece combo played wonderful music while people noshed on smoked salmon caesar salad, pesto pizza, and Polish sausages. Kids splashed around in the creek itself. (The creek comes above ground a block upstream and disappears back underground at the perimeter of the park. Environmental activists are "daylighting" Berkeley's five major creeks.)

Finding Tom Killion and his woodcut prints of Hawaii and the California coast was a treat. I first admired Tom's work in a beautiful book, The High Sierra of California.

From Tom's http://www.tomkillion.com:

"Tom Killion describes his technique, tongue-in-cheek, as "faux ukiyo-ë" to emphasize his aesthetic debt to the landscape prints of early 19th century Japan, but also to acknowledge his embrace of early 20th century European / American wood-engraving and book illustration techniques and styles as well. Among his influences are both the Japanese ukiyo-ë landscape masters Hokusai and Hiroshige, but also European and American wood-engravers such as Eric Gill and Rockwell Kent. Killion carves his images into cherry, all-shina plywood, Amsterdam linoleum and other block materials using Japanese handtools. He prints his often elaborate, multi-colored images on handmade Japanese kozo papers using oil-based inks and a German hand-cranked proofing press."




At the booth, Tom had a set of proofs showing each stage of the making of the print you can see over his left shoulder in the photo. I took a photo of each proof, thinking they'd make a nifty animation. Unfortunately, I'd need to use a camera stand to do this right. The results (caution: large files) are in the Comments section below.


Click to see the animation


The Proofs

and of course:
Posted by Jay Cross at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Informal get-together in SF this Wednesday

Flash Meeting in San Francisco

Wednesday 6/16/04. 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Meeting Coordinator: Jay Cross, [email protected]


1. Post mortem on ASTD and TDF
2. Suggestions for fun places to meet
3. Whatever moves you


ThirstyBear Brewing Company
661 Howard Street (next to Chevy's on Third)
San Francisco, CA 94105
415 974-0905

How to identify the group:
Jay will wear his name tag from TDF

This is an informal meeting.

The Thirsty Bear is the only combination tapas bar and microbrewery in the world. The tapas are quite good. You need not feel embarrassed if you are a non-drinker.

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 13, 2004

Repetition, reverb, and echoes

It's Sunday morning and I've giving myself the luxury of interspersing web crawling with work. I just landed on Robin Good's Online Collaboration news page.

Robin filters, reviews, and points to noteworthy items on the web. His interests and mine dovetail, so I can spend beaucoup time sifting through what's here. For example:

  • Group Collaboration Vs. Individual Achievers = 1-0 Wired
    "The evidence is clear: groups - whether top executives evaluating a potential acquisition or sales reps and engineers analyzing a new product - will consistently make better decisions than an individual. Companies have spent too long coddling the special few. It's time for them to start figuring out how they're going to tap the wisdom of the many."

  • Small Technologies Loosely Joined. The Small Technologies Loosely Joined presentation is a complementary and fascinating participatory online event, focusing our attention on the emerging use of readily available, mostly free, discrete sets of "small" and "loosely joined" technologies - weblogs, wikis, instant messaging, audio video conferencing tools.

    There's the start of a great debate over centralization vs decentralization. The decentralists picture their position as:

  • The Individual Is The Epicenter Of The New Media Revolution is a theme with which I could not agree more.

    How's this for a self-referential play-within-a-play? "Individuals, the future "newsmasters" and "digital information librarians" will
    be the ones that will elect themselves to become active filters and aggregators
    of the increasingly vast amounts of information becoming available online.
    Without them, you would be either submerged or you would have to surrender to the poor, superficial and frequently manipulated reporting available through
    mainstream media channels only. Individuals are also the new sustainable artists of tomorrow.

So much great information, so little time.

But that's not what I intended to ponder and write about this morning. Robin's Online Collaboration blog also lists this pointer:

    Collaboration Technologies Empower The Enterprise Jay Cross shares his original live presentation at the ASTD Conference. The presentation containing his original audio and all of the accompanying slides gives an extraordinary overview of just some of the critical issues relevant to effective collaboration inside the enterprise, while exemplifying in very simple words how the greater facility of communicating and sharing in groups can so dramatically enhance the work and the results we are to obtain with it. Jay covers RSS, information overload, blogs, wikis, social networking and much, much more. In his familiar, uncontrived and direct tone, he breezes through an interesting and textured panorama of skills and technologies no organization can afford to do without. Highly recommended. (1:06' Breeze streaming format).

(Thanks, Robin!)

When I posted my presentation to the Web, I mentioned it on thisblog. In typical blog fashion, that entry has scrolled off the page. For visibility, that's worse than being "below the fold" on the front page of the paper. Off the page means Lost in Space.

As anyone who has run an ad campaign knows, nothing really happens until the ad is repeated again and again, sinking into the buyer's consciousness. Imagine the multiplier effect of hitting a diverse group of readers again and again that this post is out there for free viewing. Maybe I'll put a pop-up box of faves on the front page to give the good stuff longer tenure there. While I enjoy creating new stuff, the 80/20 rule tells me there's more payback from seeking exposure from what's already here.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who Knows?

CLO magazine June 2004 - Jay Cross

What would you think of an assembly line where workers didn’t know where to find the parts they were supposed to attach? Absurd, you say. Heads would roll. Yet for knowledge workers, this is routine. Consider a knowledge worker stymied by a lack of information—hardly an uncommon situation. In fact, in many professions, knowledge workers spend a third of their time looking for answers and helping their colleagues do the same.

How does our knowledge worker respond? She’s five times more likely to turn to another person than to an impersonal source, such as a database or a file cabinet. Often she asks whoever happens to be close by, the denizen of the next cube or someone getting a cup of coffee. Half the time, this person doesn’t have a clue.

Only one in five knowledge workers consistently finds the information needed to do their jobs. This happens to “knowledge customers,” too, half of whom bail before completing online orders. Other studies have found that knowledge workers spend more time re-creating existing information they were unaware of than creating original material.

All this slows the pace of the enterprise, burns out the workforce with scut work, reduces responsiveness to customers and increases job dissatisfaction. Reinventing the wheel, looking for information in the wrong places and answering questions from peers consumes two-thirds of the average knowledge worker’s time. Slashing this waste time provides a lot more time to devote to improving the business, reducing payroll or, more likely, a bit of both.

This knowledge productivity problem is destined to get worse before it gets better. The haystack is getting bigger exponentially. Corporate information doubles in volume every 18 months. Half of the recorded information in the entire world has been created in the past five years!

Specialists used to keep their heads above the floodtide of incoming knowledge by knowing “more and more about less and less.” In today’s interconnected world, boundaries between disciplines are becoming porous. Everything’s multidisciplinary. We have to know more and more about more and more.

Successful organizations will connect people. Learning is social. We learn from, by and with other people. Conversation, storytelling and observation are great ways to learn, but they aren’t things you do by yourself.

Job one is to help knowledge workers find the answers they need. Rob Cross and others describe many ways to go about this in a marvelous new book, “Creating Value With Knowledge,” edited by IBM’s Eric Lesser and Laurence Prusak (Oxford University Press, 2003).

If people are going to go to other people for answers, make it easy for them to get to people in the know. (Get them to look for their keys where they’re likely to find them, not where the light’s better.) Set up help desks to support new product rollouts and organizational initiatives. Have the help desk apply the 80/20 rule and document the common queries in a mercifully short FAQ. Then, tier responses by triage. First query the FAQ, then ask the help desk, and if those don’t work, contact the prime subject-matter expert.

Learning a new software release is a special case. Since a release generally builds on an existing foundation, workers more often need answers to specific questions than the sort of overview that workshops and courses provide. Trial-and-error is a great way to learn—as long as there’s a way to deal with roadblocks. Since the release is new, learners won’t find answers in-house. In this case, outsource mentoring to a firm that does have the answers.

Web standards and smart software can monitor workflow to provide lessons or contacts precisely when they are needed.

Now that business organizations have been de-layered, downsized and re-engineered to the bone, how will they transfer their special ways of doing things to new employees?

The answer lies in exploiting the savvy of seniors, the wise elders who have “been there, done that” and can offer counsel and know-how to the newcomers. Old hands often make outstanding sales and service coaches, too.

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004


Here's a baker's dozen of interesting things. I offer them up in hopes that you'll reciprocate.

  1. eCornell Reference Blog

  2. IBM Research

  3. Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools

  4. Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp

  5. Chris Allen's Life with Alacrity, home of the awesome EditThisPagePHP

  6. AllLearn

  7. Positive Psychology Center

  8. Time for the Blind
    This is soooooo retro. This link went dead a few hours after I posted it.

  9. OnFocus

  10. Zoom into San Francisco (NASA)

  11. Eric Weisstein's World of Science

  12. Werblog

  13. Ray Ozzie's Blog

In the early days of the Web, proto-bloggers shared links with one another. "Look what I found"! Karma ruled the day. Let's share what we've got, man. Someone on the Well pointed to Yahoo! and we were enthralled. You could go through every link on Yahoo! in few hours but it was the largest link list we'd ever seen.

If you enjoy any of these links, post a link to one of your special places in the Comments section. Share the wealth. Maybe we can start a movement! Make the gift economy a reality!

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Cognitive Mapping

Bob Horn, inventor of Information Mapping, visualized and described hypertext long before the Web was invented. His "maps" of connections and thoughts explain concepts better than any 10,000 words, often nearly instantaneously.

Many a workshop or conference on strategy or a reorganization or a new product launch could be replaced by a good cognitive map and a discussion. I imagine the lessons would stick better, too. Workshops try to fancify and retell what's going on. PowerPoint reductionism. Cognitive maps, by contrast, attempt to diagram the real thing.

Three years ago, Bob Horn, Jim Spohrer, and a bunch of other polymath geniuses got together under the auspices of the NSF to discuss the convergence of cognition, biology, nanotech, and information technology. The common thread of Nano-Bio-Cogno-Info? It's all code. This is better than science fiction.

I had the good fortune of chatting at length with Bob right after he returned from the NSF session several years ago. The event was a catalyst for his thinking deeper about unravelling the Human Cognome. Cognome? You got your genome and your bionome. Why not?

Today I was delighted to see where Bob has taken this. Here's his preliminary cognitive map of for researching the Human Cognome itself.

A small chunk:

Bob suggests these major themes for study of the Human Cognome.

  • Cognitive prostheses for human limitations.
  • Reduce fragmentation of social-psychological disciplines.
  • Visual language to manage complexity.
  • Understanding each other's worldviews.
  • Sequencing the Human Cognome.

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June 10, 2004

Push vs pull

A bunch of you have written that the email pings bring you back here. Without them you forget. The ayes have it. The email notifications will continue. Since I don't want to wear out my welcome, I send out a notice for important posts, not for the frivilous stuff.

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The Big Picture on ROI

Capitalworks' Jeff Kelley addressed this morning's meeting of the Learning Economics Group on the topic of Dimensions, Dynamics and Drivers of Learning: Optimizing Learning Value for Capital Effects. If you really want to get to Level 4 at the highest level, Jeff's your man.

Lucky for you, you can grab Jeff's PowerPoint presentation here.

Capitalworks' logic and findings are the best I know of. They inspired my understanding of informal learning and metrics. The Capitalworks material is so compact yet so eloquent that it's almost poetry. Let me amend that. It's poetry if you're conversant with the concepts of finance.

Jeff and his partners get it. Jeff contends that "Learning is the single greatest contributor in all enterprises to superior operating performance and robust value creation."

Capitalworks stalks Learning Effectiveness, defined as:

    The performance of an organization's applied learning portfolio in contributing to operating performance and value creation. Applied learning includes formal learning (training) and informal learning occurring naturally in social practice.

Why is learning vital?

  • Learning enables flows and exchanges of knowledge through diverse intra- and inter-enterprise interactions.
  • Learning transcends hierarchical constraints.
  • Learning connects demand drivers.
  • Learning accelerates systemic effects.

Learning is the great enabler of flows and exchanges of knowledge. With flow, you are primed. Everyone has workarounds. Workarounds are really positive. Learning transcends hierarchical constraints. Organizations are not optimized to connect demand drivers. In fact, we're living with obsolete, 19th century organizational structures created for an illiterate workforce long before the advent of computers. Jeff points out that "Optimizing dimensions, dynamics and drivers of learning are natural means of transforming costs of coordination in all enterprises and their ecosystems." Learning itself is the ultimate workaround.

Learning is one of our primary earning assets and we should manage it that way. Looking at the flows, here's the Value Creation Circulatory System:

It's nonlinear, continuous. Process orientation. Feedback loops are critical. A single measure doesn't get us there. (Emergence, emergence....)

What enables flow? Self-study contributed as much to job proficiency as instructor-led training programs. Own volition. Regard selves as professionals. Informal learning dynamics contributed 70-to-80% of operating performance. Cohesion of social practice contributed to learning effectiveness, with informal learning as an enabler. Conversations are the primary conduit:

Read this one twice if you need to; it's important. "We see contributions by learning, like other intangibles, through value drivers. They enable us to depict causal relationships in the interactions associated with transactions, decision flows, procedures and other normal activities. Value drivers interact in clusters and sets throughout organizational work practices."

Intangibles, which we had thought of the sauce, is what it takes to drive performance.

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
Albert Szent-Györgyi


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Art Break

The world would be a more attractive place if every company devoted a moment at least once a month to art and humor.

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June 09, 2004

TDF Finale

Training Directors Forum wrapped up midday. I am an exhausted but happy camper. Phil Jones told me 475 people attended (including 83 faculty and about 40 sponsor reps). I felt much more intimate. Talking with vendors and with friends, everyone agreed that small is beautiful. Training Directors Forum has the most loyal customers of any VNU training event.

Informal Learning Center

The small size, combined with healthy breaks, sponsored meals and open bar, and inviting facilities, encourage schmoozing. I talked myself hoarse.

Real Learning

More real learning.

Watch out for this bunch!

I have more notes and scribbles...but no more energy tonight.

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June 08, 2004

New Community of Practice Forming

Since the lack of Wi-Fi access in the conference center here has put the kabosh on my plans to blog this event in real time, I'm going to experiment with another format. This entry reports on a session that's not on the program and will take place right on center stage before the afternoon keynote address about four hours from now.

"The fellow who invented local area networks once said that no matter how much you hyped the power of the Internet, it wasn't enough. That's the way I feel about the Future of Learning that IBM has been describing. But it's not just IBM. It's all of us. It's the convergence of learning and work."

Instructional design and business process design are becoming one and the same. Our role will be to facilitate the flow of work rather than dispensing contentl. It's an exciting new world.

Talking with some of you here reminds me of Napoleon saying to one of his field marshals, "We must plant trees along every major road in France to protect our soldiers from wind and cold when they march off to new conquests." "But, mon emporeur, it will take decades for them to grow." "Alors, better start right away."

So today we're forming a community of practice around workflow learning. You don't build a CoP step by step. It's more like lighting a match and fanning the flames.

I don't know what shape this will take. I'll volunteer the WorkflowInstitute site to host the discussion. VNU has established a conference within a conference on workflow learning at Training West to be held in SF this October. If you want to be in on something big, join the community. Help me fan the flames. Let's talk at the reception immediatey following the zebra guy.

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Tammy Galvin has stepped down as editor-in-chief of Training magazine, along with Stacey Marmalejo. I'm looking forward to a revitalized Training mag.

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June 07, 2004

More TDF04

The Wild Horse Pass Resort is a classy operation. The help smiles and says hello in the hallways. The towels are full-sized and plush. The fake boulders in the lobby have fake petroglyphs.

Saguaro cactus ribs are built into the gigantic Native American fetishes on the ceilings. The morning OJ is served in handsome wine glasses. But (there’s always a “but”)…there is no Wi-Fi in the conference rooms. So I’m writing this on the fly and will periodically go back to the lobby to upload.

Saul Carliner is exhorting people to take some of the empty seats at the front of the room, saying that it has been proven that people in the front of the room learn more. Saul’s hosting this event, the 20th annual TDF.

Research Results You Can Use

Brenda Sugrue, ASTD’s research director, challenges each of us to jot down a research question as a warm-up for her presentation on Benchmarking. Benchmarking is the ultimate performance improvement strategy. Benchmarking research can focus on expenditures, cost/hour, outsourcing, etc., across companies, award winners, profit leaders, etc.

    Sample question: How large should the annual training budget be?

    Issues: “Dirty data.” 50% of that submitted to ASTD is rejected.

    Brenda displayed data on training budget as a percent of payroll and per employee. The mean % of payroll is 3.6% but the variance is wide. The mean budget is $1626 per employee, averaging $231 to $4,970.

    This is interesting but doesn’t tell that much. It doesn’t address the organizations’ strategy, correlation to results, spending patterns, a training industry value chain, a more sophisticated diagram.

    ASTD has discontinued its former benchmarking service. The new Benchmarking Forum is asking new questions and developing a Benchmarking Performance Scorecard. It will evolve into an online performance support tool.

Jim L’Allier, CLO of Thompson NETg, is preparing to talk about the impact of various combinations of learning methods. Jim’s framework is Kirkpatrick Levels (agh) and blended/unblended. He just about lost me until he said the measure of evaluation was ability to use the skill (completing a spreadsheet).

    The instructor-led blend cut the time to complete the task in half. However, the non-blend option did not include the opportunity to use the software. More meaningfully, there was no significant different between ILT, text, and sim. Blended learning is not about blended media. It’s about how the media is designed to be used. The important factors are job-specific scenarios, realistic job problems, competencies linked to the learner’s job. The questions to ask are:

  • Does the instruction contain job-specific scenarios?
  • Are the scenarios realistic?
  • Are the competencies being taught linked to the worker’s job?
  • Is the learner given opportunity to practice?
  • Does the learner received corrective feedback?

27% of the population of the U.S. are boomers (born 1946-1964). We have an aging population. Life expectancy is up nearly 10 years in the past fifty years.

Time to consider retention, succession planning, mentoring programs, knowledge capture, KM, training burden, for in seven years, the boomer begin to drop out of the workforce.

Let’s see now. We have all these wise people about to leave the workforce. Why don’t we redefine their roles where we can continue to tap into their strengths, their knowledge, and their judgment? Instead of putting oldsters out to pasture, make them into coaches, mentors, and high-level help desks. I think the training community continues to draw too tight a boundary around their turf.

Once upon a time, fulltime employees were the only beneficiaries of training. Then we began to add subcontractors and part-timers. Then partners and distributors came on board. Now we talk of training everyone in the value chain, from suppliers to customers. It’s about time to add corporate alumni to training’s charter.

Sam Adkins gave a presentation on the latest in learning technology.

  • Benjamin Bloom found out long ago that tutored students learn as much as the top 2% of classroom students. New work finds that cognitive tutors produce even better results!

  • Enterprise application training (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, etc.) has accounted for 55% - 65% of all corporate training, but several years from now it will be dead, replaced by the smart single business interface.

  • 17% of the American workforce is actively disengaged from work.

  • Business process design is indistinguishable from Instructional Design.

IBM’s Nancy Deviney gave the lunchtime keynote on The Future of Learning. You’ve heard my thoughts on IBM’s learning strategy before. In sum, it’s great.

James Sharpe and Andy Sadler showed a variety of integrated tools for supporting informal, unstructured learning. The demo was compelling because it dealt with realistic examples (figuring out an Excel spreadsheet rather than trying to boil the ocean). Within an on demand workplace, Jim and Andy built a course, enrolled in a class, located experts, set up an emeeting, and more. Guidance was built right in every step of the way.

Posted by Jay Cross at 04:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Training Directors Forum 2004

Training Directors Forum kicked off this evening at the five-star Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa outside of Phoenix. We're in the middle of an Indian Native American Reservation in the Sonora Desert. This enables the hotel to run a casino which is (thankfully) located away from the resort proper. I hitched a ride in with Marc Rosenberg. It's so pleasant to hop into a car with the air conditioning on full blast when it's 100 degrees outside." border="0">

TDF attendance is up 9% over last year. The evening reception was a chance to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances. (Note to ASTD: The bar here was free. After what you pay to attend one of these events, the cash bar thing is insulting. It's nickel and diming your best customers.) Many familiar faces: IBM's Margaret Driscoll, Nokia's Andreas Forsberg, Julie Groshens (who's training to run a marathon!), Deborah Stone (we go back decades), Saul Carliner (who kicks this thing off tomorrow morning), Lance Dublin, Phil Jones (who has his heart in this business, as do a lot of the former Lakewooders), Ghenno Senbetta, Fred Posar, Leah Nelson (great smile!), Brenda Sugrue, and many others.

I remember reading Robert Cialdini's book Influence when it was published. Click, whirr, act as if you are a robot. The concept has legs. Bob is presenting here. We talked about Influence, its longevity and rebirth, and his current projects. He's focused on time, specifically, what moments have the most impact. One of his latest experiments was testing which environmental-friendly cards in hotels ("Don't replace the sheets") were most effective. The winner: "Most people do this...."

Richard Leider challenged us to think about "What makes you get up in the morning?" He's spent his time on earth as a "student of the second half of life." Most of us were clearly in the second half; those in the first half were probably in the pool, dancing, getting new tatoos, or doing things that defy description in a professional blog.

Richard has asked many oldsters what they'd do differently if they could relive their experiences. They tell him:

  1. More itme for reflection. Grow whole, not old. Come closer to the magic of the fire. Stare into the flame. Join the village elders in the front row.
  2. Courage. Take more risks in work and love. "What do you intend to do in your wild and crazy life?"
  3. Purpose. Everyone wants to make a difference, to leave a dent in the world.
Be authentic. Find your calling: give your gifts away. Passion. Values. Find a calling, not a job.

Great grounding talk. I asked Richard if he knew the Fritz Perls remark that at the end of his life, he didn't want to be saved. He wanted to be spent.

The gang from Enspire Learning, demonstrating what it's like to work in a start up. I remember these folks from when it was six guys in a house in Austin. Bjorn tells me they now number more than 20 and are hitting the targets in their original business plan in spite of the recession. Enspire creates cool simulations.

Jack Phillips and I talked for 90 minutes about ROI, values, lifestyle, the future, and more. The power of face-to-face: i now respect a fellow I'd previously classified as focused entirely on yesterday's news. Jack's a delightful fellow and has his head screwed on right.

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June 06, 2004

June 05, 2004

PlaNetwork LIVE 2

Brian Narelle, "CEO/Janitor" of Narelle Creative captured and replayed thoughts from the "assembly" sessions in his delightful cartoons.

Drat! Wi-Fi access is getting spotty.


Joan Blades of MoveOn is the first speaker after lunch. MoveOn is the poster child for political activism on the net. "Democracy is changing. MoveOn Primary: Ending the Money Primary." Over 300,000 MoveOn members participated in the online primary. (More than Iowa and New Hampshire combined.) Substantive communication to and from candidates is possible through online.

    MoveOn Ad Conetst: Political ads by and for Real People. 100,000 MoveOn members rated the ads. (1,000 were submitted.) www.bushin30seconds.org Members are contributing funds to run the ad.

    Bake Sale for Democracy. Raised $750,000. People are getting together. It starts online but results in face-to-face.

    "Driving Votes" encourages people to move to swing states where their votes will count. MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country explains "how to find your political voice and become a catalyst for change."

    Where does the connection take us? Beyond the broadcast culture that creates cynicism. Fox News. Events reported like professional wrestling. Conversation in politics is being reborn.

    People have a hunger for connection to core values. Compassion, fairness, justice, opportunity, diversity, community, family, country, freedom, responsibility, democrcacy = WE

    Two Americas? But progressive values are American values.

    Commercials.... Child's Play, Polygraph, What Are We Teaching Our Clildren? If the Bush admoinistration was your roommate, Al Keyda. These are great.

    MoveOn has 2.2 million members, the AFL-CIO 1.7 million.

    Lead from the Heart. Don't split the difference. Make the difference.

    I asked if other nations have an equivilent of MoveOn. Joan's not certain. The next question asks if we can do it. We're going to need international rules; this administration has been very poor in international cooperation.

    Right now, the Iraq War is George Bush's war. If we re-elect Bush, it becomes our war. That's the sort of rallying cry that sets MoveOn apart.

Club of Rome. I'm tired. Raoul is speaking in monotone and I'm drifing off to sleep. I hate to walk out since I'm sitting in the front row and the speaker has been making frequent eye contact. The Club of Rome, Raoul assures us, is more optimistic that the (infamous) Limits of Growth report by Jay Forrester in the 60s. The new concept, pretty loose at the present time, is to educate the world via satellite. Someone asked me, "Why should we believe them this time?"

At this point, my battery died.

Top-Down vs Bottom-Up

Brad de Graf talked of complexity, drawing parallels to human systems. The patterns of cellular autometa demonstrate how order can come from simply acting according to what your neighbors are doing.

AmwaySmart Mobs
industry economyinformation economy
top downbottom-out
command & controlemergent

Brad contends we no longer need the old model. This is precisely the feeling I've been getting.

Zephyr Teachout, who was part of the Dean Campaign, began by saying "Nobody understands what they're talking about." Look inside any campaign and you find a mess. Organizing, if you can call it that, centers around the message.

    A key to getting active participation is having the transparency to see that others are taking part; it gives you the feeling of being part of something larger.

    Chapters were a dying organizational form (cf Bowling Alone) but technology may revive them.

Marty Kearns began with a poster of a bear catching a leaping salmon with the caption, "A journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly."

    Marty likened a nonprofit to a business value chain. An advocacy network exists only so long as it provides value. (Is there workflow?) A shared story propells the activities.

    This doesn't do justice to Marty's message, so check out his Green Media Toolshed.

Moderator Bill Pease of GetActive made dozens of summary points such as:

  • link online and offline activities
  • support critical roles (e.g. clusterers, connectors, leaders)
  • hierarchy is not inherently bad; it's what makes us human
  • MoveOn's viral networking infects existing social clusters

Other items:

  • del.icio.us is a shared link list worth checking out
  • upcoming.org enables nonprofits to manage and track events
  • check out favors.com and Live Directory for help
  • Progressive Pipes takes mail list entries, aggregates them, and provides an index by type of issue or type of message. Think of it as email converted to RSS format.

I will miss Sunday's session, for I'm hopping a plane to attend Training Directors Forum in Phoenix.

Isn't the Presidio gorgeous?

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PlaNetwork LIVE

Once again, I'm at the PlaNetwork conference, sort of a loose confederation of people interested in sustainability, privacy, political activism, networking, and social justice. The location is wireless-enabled and these are my as-it-happens notes and observations. I'll come back to add photos later. (And indeed, it's Sunday morning and I'm adding pictures and commentary I missed when my battery died yesterday.)

The demilitarized Presidio, now part of the Golden Gate National Recretation Area, is a great place for an event like PlaNetwork. Aside from the guns-into-plowshares parallel inherent in a decommissioned 200 year old army post, The Presidio is another world, far from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco proper.

Collaboratory is becoming the core of the event, which organizer Jim Fournier sees as "applied network theory". The network islands are coming together. The electronic agenda is getting in sync with the human agenda, for I think of PlaNetwork as a sort of gathering of the tribes. Kindred spirits for the preservation of progressive values, sustainability, and defeating W.


Gail Tayor leads the "assembly" of We are assembling complexity. The value of increasing return. The system escapes to a higher order. Complexity assembles itself from the bottom up. Often the complexity is not fed back on itself, to see it through and accelerate the process. That’s what we’ll be working on today.

We know we need to reinvent our social system. (I should tap Gail for advice for Emergent Learning Forum.) Our work is to tease out the synergy (this weekend and ever after). I hope so. Last year's participants vowed to keep the ball rolling but then dropped it.

This theme resonates with what Emergent Learning Forum is after: Fitness. "Through perturbing and nudging each other - each part seeking to optimize its own wel being -- the whoel is strengtehed. When taken together a complete 'answer' emerges that enables the whole parts to be at their 'fittest'."

A "patch" is an analogy drawn from ecology, as in a patch of grass in the prairie; in network theory: a a node or cluster , also a work group, project, company, affinity group, or community of practice.

The rules of engagement are: (1) converse, (2) share, (3) use what you get, and (4) optimize your own patch.

Blue Oxen is hosting the wiki that underlies the conference. They've also set up an IRC and linked to Living Diretory and Neosociety. Wikis confuse the daylights out of some people, even the techno-literate.

      “Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not as in fiction, to imagine things that are not rellly there, but just to comprehend those things that are there.” Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law


enames. New protocol. Five-year development. The code is new. Here to kick the tires. Identity Commons has been exploring the social level.

What is the value of an ename? A universal private address. Unspammable. A single identifier containing any information you want to share. It’s persistent and portable. Corollary to a personal name. The hard part is privacy and security. The most important thing is control.

I don't quite get it. A fellow describing the ename project alluded to a reported exchange between Isadora Duncan and a porter:

Isadora, what’s the meaning of the dance? If I could explain it, I wouldn’t have to dance it.

Jim Fournier “drove the Golden Spike” by setting up the first ename.

Best Practices in Online Activism

    Sally Greenof Human Rights Campaign is describing their "Million for Marriage Petition" which has signed by a third of a million people. Oceana has worked with most of the other panelists: Meet-Up, Planned Parenthood, others. HRC has 500,000 people on their list!! HRC issues immediate information alerts in response to presidential pronouncements. Let's people develop pages for a fee. She has linked up with Meet-Up to take the burden off of the staff.

    Jason Lefkowitz, e-Activism Manager, Oceana. "Worst Practices from Oceana." We're too early into this to call it best practices. Oceana is campaign-focused (ocean), international, and science-oriented. They fight individual campaigns.

      Why e-activism sucks. The primary tie is email -- but nonprofits sell your name. Sending a prewritten email to a congressman sure doesn'[t feel like "activism." It furthers the atomization of society -- how unprogressive is that?

      Core principles: Respect your members' intelligence and you atract smart people. Engage with your members, and they will stay engaged with you. Keep your email short as possible. Don't waste their time. Use direct mail principles. The ultimate objective: to accrue and maintain a positive balance of trust.

      Engage with your members. Show them your faces, let them hear your voices. Let them push you back. Encourage their independent efforts -- and give them tools to make those efforts more effective.

      Be a storytellker. Go beyond the dry facts. Construct a narrative -- and give them the opportunity to be the hero. Close the circle -- tell them how the story ends. Tell them the end results.

    Don Means is the senior political advisor to MeetUp.com. Built two years ago to enable communities of interest to meet in their local areas. Dean Campaign: 8,000 people were leaving their homes to go out for Dean. This changed the way people look at politics for evermore. The technoilogy gives people new avenutes to activism.

      (I'm wondering if Emergent Learning Forum should totally go member-driven, going directly to the MeetUp platform, not trying to keep tabs on things. Who cares? We don't need no stiniking Level 1. Or 2. MeetUp empowers the local group.)

      MeetUp encourages participation in our democracy, each in their own way. Five to six thousand people are Meeting Up for Bush. (More than that are Meeting Up to impeach Bush. [Applause.])

      At one point, 1000 MeetUps for Dean met on a single Wednesday evening. 200,000 were signed up.

      Business: Not forced, but venues may pay for listings. Partners who support a particular cause pay for pass-through checks. There is also a MeetUp plus.

      Esther Dyson: The essence of MeetUp is that the users use MeetUp, not the corporation.

      Esther: Where are RSS feeds, given that email is "broken?" It's not there yet... The non-techies need an explanation of RSS. Oceana has a loink to an RSS FAq. People don't hit the RSS button.

      Large organizaitons often like email because of its push nature. They have a hard time letting go of

      ppipes.org. Guy stands up in the audience. He's the inventor. "Just putting up feeds is really lame. It's screwing up -- I only wrote it weekend before last." Frustrated with email connections, the fellow created his own RSS feeds. Wow! Jason calls this "a warning shot."

    Becky Bond, Working Assets. Activism from within a phone company. Get out the vote. In fact, encourage nonprofits such as Craig's List to link to the Get Out the Vote site by rewarding them for sign-ups.

    Ruby Sinreich from Planned Parenthood of American. 1916. SaveROE.com. Separate sites for members. Affiliates key. National supports them.

    (I just tried to post this on the PlaNetwork Wiki -- and received this error:
    A problem occurred in a Python script.
    [email protected] contains the description of this error.")

    Continued in next post... Comment removal entry.

    Posted by Jay Cross at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2004

ASTD 2004 Leftovers

This is the fourth in a series of reports on ASTD 2004.

"Profits, like oxygen, are necessary for life, but you don't live to breathe." Arie de Geus

Pat Galaghan charms the crowd at the Canadian Embassy by offering her thanks in both English and French.

Telling Ain't Training is the ASTD Press best seller of all time. (7,500 copies)

Words I heard over and over again: Perform, organization/individual, leadership, change, engagement.

Leverage positive energy for change.

Gloria Gery: "It's a Rubik's Cube sort of problem but you have to solve it in a short time."

Grand Canyon University, "Arizona's only private, Judeo-Christian, liberal arts university," is renaming its business school "The Ken Blanchard School of Business." I imagine a zany curriculum of The One Minute Manager, Gung Ho!, Raving Fans!, Whale Done!, and Full Steam Ahead! Perhaps students will earn an MBA! degree.

Sam Adkins: "Service-oriented architecture is the end of software as we know it."

Sam also suggested we check out www.alicebot.org, and that soon led me to the Prosthetic Head.

DDI's Periodic Table,
a well-executed concept.
(Click for humongous view.)

Washington has the most beautiful Metro in the land.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


One of my freshman roommates at college continually quoted Eccelesiastes, saying, "Vanity of vanities," sayeth the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." I don't know about you, but I'm glad college is behind me.

Googlism is all vanity, but it's quick and kind of fun. In brief, Googlism gathers phrases about you from you-know-where, e.g.

Googlism for: jay cross

jay cross is founder and ceo of internet time group
jay cross is a thought leader in elearning
jay cross is ceo of elearning forum
jay cross is a social scientist
jay cross is valiantly trying to get a webcast working on other end
jay cross is acknowledged
jay cross is a blunt proponent of the bottom
jay cross is doing some very interesting research and writing on elearning
jay cross is director of the omega institute
jay cross is strictly business

Naturally, I had to try a few other names, for example:

Googlism for: brandon hall

brandon hall is the official name of the administration building
brandon hall is not an appropriate setting for students with severe learning disabilities
brandon hall is murdered on sept
brandon hall is from north carolina
brandon hall is a very structured and traditional school community which holds high expectations for its students
brandon hall is a leading independent expert in e
brandon hall is an internationally recognized researcher and speaker on e
brandon hall is a person
brandon hall is an ideal location for your meeting or conference
brandon hall is probably the best known name in the lms
brandon hall is the lead researcher for brandon
brandon hall is a completely innocent victim
brandon hall is a renowned e
brandon hall is een onafhankelijk onderzoeker op het gebied van e

On a roll! Gotta try another name.

Googlism for: bill gates

bill gates is a satanic worshiper who uses microsoft to gain
bill gates is richer than
bill gates is the anti christ
bill gates is a theif
bill gates is on the bus
bill gates is a hero
bill gates is darth vader
bill gates is opening windows on world health
bill gates is the pope
bill gates is the devil
bill gates is "biggest
bill gates is killed in 1999
bill gates is evil
bill gates is not the
bill gates is committed to the macintosh
bill gates is a racist
bill gates is scheduled to testify in antitrust
bill gates is a wanker
bill gates is 666
bill gates is the devil himself
bill gates is an american unoriginal
bill gates is smiling
bill gates is not richer than god
bill gates is an arrogant
bill gates is a genius
bill gates is a wimp
bill gates is number one and worth 110 billion dollars
bill gates is sharing his fortune
bill gates is a bleeding heart do
bill gates is very busy taking over the world
bill gates is not the sort to allow a rival like steve case to get an edge on him
bill gates is not the only one who needs to think about antitrust
bill gates is going to have to physically come over to my house and lobotomize me before i believe that ie is not just an application
bill gates is a nice man really
bill gates is dead
bill gates is still rich
bill gates is richer than all african countries put together
bill gates is so powerful that microsoft has just declared itself a nuclear state

And another....

Googlism for: monica lewinsky

monica lewinsky is lovely
monica lewinsky is sex
monica lewinsky is not alone in this world
monica lewinsky is jewish? if she wasn't
monica lewinsky is another person who
monica lewinsky is so staged and controlled
monica lewinsky is writing a "tell
monica lewinsky is interviewed on tv
monica lewinsky is not alone in this world not so much time ago the whole world was watching the development of the notorious story between
monica lewinsky is trying to say? read the original in russian
monica lewinsky is what the cia and the kgb used to refer to as a "honey trap"
monica lewinsky is safe sex? try telling your spouse oral sex isn't adultery?
monica lewinsky is a dame

For this final one, I'll admit that I deleted lots of redundancy and distastefulness.

Googlism for: britney spears

britney spears is dead
britney spears is not my daughter's role model
britney spears is #1 woman
britney spears is here
britney spears is a new elvis presley and a new american icon
britney spears is one fine shtook of ace
britney spears is the world's top celebrity according to forbes
britney spears is feeling fine
britney spears is so hot when
britney spears is single
britney spears is not a real woman
britney spears is a virgin
britney spears is smoking cigarette
britney spears is vet
britney spears is fake
britney spears is the best
britney spears is set for a role in buffy the vampire slayer
britney spears is 2001's #1 woman online
britney spears is planning to release a collectible book and dvd in december
britney spears is spending some time away from music
britney spears is one of the biggest sensations to hit the world of pop
britney spears is living a 'dream'
britney spears is nude
britney spears is not a slut
britney spears is awfully busy
britney spears is a man
britney spears is writing a tell
britney spears is evil
britney spears is naked on the net
britney spears is like many 17 year old girls
britney spears is a three
britney spears is the target for parody
britney spears is world tour starts let me know thanks re
britney spears is walking down the street with a pig under her arm
britney spears is the pentium 4
britney spears is much inspired by the man with great contributions to computer science
britney spears is ready to drive milk fans crazy one more time
britney spears is back and she's here to stay
britney spears is hanging out with jenna jameson and according to friends
britney spears is to be given an award for her charity work
britney spears is far from upset over her parents' recent divorce
britney spears is eyeing a future career in politics
britney spears is a virgin i
britney spears is mine
britney spears is still a virgin and plans on remaining pure until marriage
britney spears is both religious and conservative
britney spears is 20 years old
britney spears is an amazing young woman
Bet you can't resist: Googlism
Posted by Jay Cross at 05:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Worker Effectiveness Improvement, not KM

The Internet Time Glossary defines Knowledge Management as "whatever you want it to mean."

David Pollard has posted a wonderful description of how KM ought to work on his blog, How to Save the World.

His views on Knowledge Management echo many of the themes I've talked about here on the Internet Time Blog.

  1. The measure of success is high performance of the worker. Personal knowledge management -- enablement -- is more important than flowcharts and databases.
  2. KM should leverage natural processes, not try to change the basic ways things are acomplished.
  3. Collaboration -- making and maintaining connections -- is more important than trying to capture and store ideas.
  4. KM must be bottom-up, not top-down. The holistic systems viewpoint, e.g. Nonaka's model, means nothing to the individual in the trenches.

Dave comes up with these bottom-up processes:

That covers just about everything a knowledge worker is challenged to do. Do what you can to improve these dozen processes and forget the top-down stuff.

My thinking is so conceptual that I sometimes see patterns where none exist, but Dave's approach seems like yet another illustration of this:

It is so difficult to free our minds to recongize that context trumps content. There's life outside of classrooms, books, and databases.

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Upcoming Events

This Saturday I'll be attending PlaNetwork in the San Francisco Presidio. It's a great venue for strengthening weak ties.

Sunday afternoon I arrive in Chandler, Arizona, for Training Directors Forum. I'll be there through Wednesday afternoon.

Will exchange scintillating conversation and/or consulting advice in exchange for rides to and from Sky Harbor Airport. I arrive in Phoenix 3:30 pm Sunday and depart 4:30 pm Wednesday.

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2004

eLearning Effectiveness?

Oxymorons.info lists more than 800 combinations of contradictory or incongruous words, such as 'Cruel Kindness' or 'Jumbo Shrimp.'

IndependentFinancial Advisor
LimitedLifetime Guarantee
NewAntiques (Arriving Daily!)

This got me thinking about the state of corporate learning.

Level 1evaluation

This page intentionally left blank.

For a non-laughing matter, how about this post to David Farber's IP maillist:

    From: "Trei, Peter"
    To: [email protected]
    Date: Tue, 01 Jun 2004 10:58:50 -0400
    Subj: The worst case of password abuse - ever.

    This is just Strangelovesque....

    What was the password which controlled the firing of America's ICBMs for years during the height of the Cold War?


    That's right. For *all* of them. The Permissive Action Link codes for all of Americas missiles provided less protection than on an average suitcase.

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 02, 2004

Jay's Talk at ASTD

This is the third in a series of reports on the 2004 ASTD Conference.

Collaboration Supercharges Performance

Fifteen minutes before the last breakout session of the Conference, I found myself at the front of a nearly empty room with seating for several hundred. When the big hand got to twelve, fifty or so people had joined me. Whew. I'd hate to give a presentation on collaboration to just two other people.

This afternoon I meshed my PowerPoint deck with a recording from the Conference. Then Macromedia Breeze uploaded the narrated presentation to the web, converted it into Flash for rapid playback, and stuffed it onto a publically accessible website. This is the way life oughta be.

The full presentation, narrated, is here. I'll describe the flow of things since you may want to pick and choose what you listen to.

Here's what a sixty-minute mpg3 of my presentation looks like. Sort of pretty, eh?

We began by looking at a universal model of everything.

This led into a discussion of blogs, RSS, plogs, and customer education blogs.

You'll note in the online presentation that major changes in direction are indicated as SHIFT GEARS.

Next up: the scary part. We are drowning in information, the world grows ever more complex, time is speeding up, and everything is topsy-turvy. Rigid organizations won't make it through this. Flexibility is prerequisite to survival.
Networks are the next step in computing, business organizations, and more. As internodal communication costs drop, networks replace hierarchies.
The age of collaborative learning is at hand.
Mentoring used to be tied to events. Collaboration can be omnipresent. We considered examples.

We wrapped up with the evolving framework for Emergent Learning Forum.


Internet Time Group on Blogs
Collaboration Cafe
Ensemble Collaboration

Emergent Learning Forum
Spoke, our choice for social software
Social Network Analysis (Rob Cross)

Robin Good is the best source of info on collaboration.
Robin Good & friends
Ross Dawson wrote the book on networking in organizations.
Posted by Jay Cross at 08:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Mintzberg & Cooperider

This is the second in a series of reports on the 2004 ASTD Conference.

Henry Mintzberg

Henry Mintzberg is a professor of management at McGill, well known for his books and articles (Here is his 23-page CV.) He earned both his PhD and his MS in Management from MIT's Sloan School of Managmenet. His appearance at ASTD coincided with the publication of his new book, Managers, Not MBAs.

Professor Mintzberg's website describes the message of the new book like this:

Henry Mintzberg believes that both management and management education are deeply troubled, but that neither can be changed without changing the other.

Mintzberg asserts that conventional MBA classrooms overemphasize the science of management while ignoring its art and denigrating its craft, leaving a distorted impression of its practice. We need to get back to a more engaging style of management, to build stronger organizations, not bloated share prices. This calls for another approach to management education, whereby practicing mangers learn from their own experience. We need to build the art and the craft back into management education, and into management itself.

Mintzberg examines what is wrong with our current system. Conventional MBA programs are mostly for young people with little or no experience. These are the wrong people. Programs to train them emphasize analysis and technique. These are the wrong ways. They leave graduates with the false impression that they have been trained as managers, which has had a corrupting effect on the practice of management as well as on our organizations and societies. These are the wrong consequences.

Mintzberg describes a very different approach to management education, which encourages practicing mangers to learn from their own experience. No one can create a manager in a classroom. But existing managers can significantly improve their practice in a thoughtful classroom that makes use of that experience.

I caught up with Professor Mintzberg at a press briefing and also at an event at the Canadian Embassy. Henry is an entertaining speaker, although I sense that his compelling soundbites cover up some rather weak arguments in favor of his view of management. (Disclosure: I have yet to read more than the introduction to his book.)

"Take away the dollars, and you'll find there aren't many leaders left."

"Management and business schools are 'off the rails.'"

"Shareholder value is another term for corporate irresponsibility."

MBAs need to "do a better job, not get a better job."

"You cannot measure what people learn. Attempts to measure learning are a monumental waste of time."

In the press briefing, Henry said that as a starting point, he'd reviewed the performance of top grads from Harvard Business School. Only five out of nineteen had a clean record. The losers included Frank Lorenzo, who personally destroyed more than one airline! HBS does not teach management. It teaches only business functions. The students are youngsters. Business is taught as if it were engineering.

Explaining that I would soon be returning to Harvard Business School for my MBA class reunion, I asked for clarification, since I didn't want to mislead my classmates when I gave them the news. Some have said that if you housed HBS's entering MBA class in a large motel in the middle of Kansas, they'd come out a couple of years later having learned most of what they would have had they stayed in Boston. I wondered whether Henry's findings were the result of the admissions policy or the schooling. After all, Henry had said the schooling was largely ineffective.

Reflecting on this exchange later in the day, I couldn't reconcile Henry's ability to judge Harvard from observing a few dozen graduates with his statement that you cannot measure what people learn.

Before the press briefing ended, Mintzberg said that the primary utility of laptops among students was email, not assisting learning.


Henry and I met the next day at a buffet table at a reception at the Canadian Embassy. I'll admit that I baited him. He had complained that MBAs don't learn management. I pointed out that is was he who had a Master of Science in Management and a PhD from a School of Management. My Masters is in Business Administration; it was awarded by the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. Wasn't he attacking the wrong school?

The day before, the subject of Harvard's case method had come up. I said that I didn't think any program should slavishly commit to a single method of instruction. In fact, my reaction to the case method had been to develop the first business curriculum for the University of Phoenix. "The University of Phoenix? Is that Thunderbird?" he asked. No, it's a different operation. "What is the University of Phoenix?" I explained that it was the largest accredited, for-profit university in the world, with an enrollment of 125,000. Its students are working adults who average 34 years of age. 36% of them are enrolled in undergraduate management programs; 20% are taking graduate management courses.

At this point, I was called away to the podium to give the opening remarks. When I returned, I couldn't find the professor. I hoped to find out how someone can study management education for decades, conclude that it's wasted on the young and learned through practice, and not know of the University of Phoenix.


David Cooperider

Lest you this I'm just in a nasty mood, let me say that I was really looking forward to meeting Case Western's David Cooperider, and I was not disappointed. David is the father of "Appreciative Inquiry," or "AI" as it is called by its adherents.

Cooperider's core message is to lead from positive emotions and strength, not negativity and problems. As Peter Drucker told him, "The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, making our weaknsses irrelevant."

Just as Marty Seligman's positive psychology focuses on individual happiness in lieu of mental illness, AI builds on achievements, opportunities, innovations, tacit wisdom, vital traditions, social capital and business strengths, not problems. Cooperider contends that organizations move in the direction of what they study. Focus on problems and that's what you'll get ("Deficit Change Theory").

Change begins in the imagination of the creative mind. Before reading about Appeciative Inquiry, I billed myself as a problem-solver. Since then, I've converted into an opportunity maximizer.

We must learn to scale wholeness, to ask what's possible rather than what's wrong, and to move from systems thinking to systems living.

While the AI methodology sounds touchy-feely, the results are real. One organization's recent AI Summit focused on:

  • Customer retention
  • Market share growth
  • Exploiting market position
  • Entry into adjacent markets
  • New lines of business

Who's doing AI? Blue Cross, BBC, Boeing, Bristol Myers Squibb, British AIrways, BP, British Telecom, Cap Gemini, GE Capital, GlaxoSmithKline, John Deere, Roadway...

Soren Kaplan is working to support AI with Icohere. David said the potential "sends chills up his spine."

David concluded with two of my favorite Einstein quotations:

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew."

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."


Visit the AI website

T - 20 minutes, Thursday morning.
Will anyone fill the chairs at Jay's session?
FInd out in the next installment.

Posted by Jay Cross at 04:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lest ye forget

Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom created this taxonomy for categorizing level of abstraction of questions that commonly occur in educational settings. The taxonomy provides a useful structure in which to categorize test questions, since professors will characteristically ask questions within particular levels, and if you can determine the levels of questions that will appear on your exams, you will be able to study using appropriate strategies.


Skills Demonstrated

  • observation and recall of information
  • knowledge of dates, events, places
  • knowledge of major ideas
  • mastery of subject matter
  • Question Cues:
    list, define, tell, describe, identify, show, label, collect, examine, tabulate, quote, name, who, when, where, etc.

  • understanding information
  • grasp meaning
  • translate knowledge into new context
  • interpret facts, compare, contrast
  • order, group, infer causes
  • predict consequences
  • Question Cues:
    summarize, describe, interpret, contrast, predict, associate, distinguish, estimate, differentiate, discuss, extend

  • use information
  • use methods, concepts, theories in new situations
  • solve problems using required skills or knowledge
  • Questions Cues:
    apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete, illustrate, show, solve, examine, modify, relate, change, classify, experiment, discover

  • seeing patterns
  • organization of parts
  • recognition of hidden meanings
  • identification of components
  • Question Cues:
    analyze, separate, order, explain, connect, classify, arrange, divide, compare, select, explain, infer

  • use old ideas to create new ones
  • generalize from given facts
  • relate knowledge from several areas
  • predict, draw conclusions
  • Question Cues:
    combine, integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan, create, design, invent, what if?, compose, formulate, prepare, generalize, rewrite

  • compare and discriminate between ideas
  • assess value of theories, presentations
  • make choices based on reasoned argument
  • verify value of evidence
  • recognize subjectivity
  • Question Cues
    assess, decide, rank, grade, test, measure, recommend, convince, select, judge, explain, discriminate, support, conclude, compare, summarize

* Adapted from: Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York ; Toronto: Longmans, Green, via University of Victoria.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack