December 20, 2003


Authentic Happiness, Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.
    "A revolutionary perspective on psychology, Seligman’s Authentic Happiness is a beacon for human behavior in the new century. Laypersons and professionals alike will find this book enormously enriching. It summarizes a huge literature, it provides concrete self-assessment tools, and it speaks with a joyful voice about what it means to be fully alive." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Personality Factors | Four Stages of Group Development | DeBono's Six Thinking Hats | Transactional Analysis |




Warmth Reserved Outgoing
Reasoning Less Intelligent More Intelligent
Emotional Stability Affected by feelings Emotionally stable
Dominance Humble Assertive
Liveliness Sober Happy-go-lucky
Rule Consciousness Expedient Conscientious
Social Boldness Shy Venturesome
Sensitivity Tough-minded Tender-minded
Vigilance Trusting Suspicious
Abstractedness Practical Imaginative
Privateness Straightforward Shrewd
Apprehension Self-Assured Apprehensive
Openness to Change Conservative Experimenting
Self-Reliance Group-dependent Self-sufficient
Perfectionism Self-conflict Self-control
Tension Relaxed Tense


EXTRAVERSION Introverted, socially inhibited Extroverted, socially participative
ANXIETY Low anxiety, unperturbed Easily worried and generally tense
WILL Open minded, receptive to ideas Resolute and determined
INDEPENDENCE Accommodating and selfless Independent and persuasive
SELF CONTROL Free-thinking and impulsive Structured and inhibited


Stage 1: Forming

Individual behaviour is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict.  Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organisation, who does what, when to meet, etc.  But individuals are also gathering information and impressions - about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it.  This is a comfortable stage to be in, but the avoidance of conflict and threat means that not much actually gets done.

Stage 2: Storming

Individuals in the group can only remain nice to each other for so long, as important issues start to be addressed.  Some people's patience will break early, and minor confrontations will arise that are quickly dealt with or glossed over.  These may relate to the work of the group itself, or to roles and responsibilities within the group. Some will observe that it's good to be getting into the real issues, whilst others will wish to remain in the comfort and security of stage 1.  Depending on the culture of the organisation and individuals, the conflict will be more or less suppressed, but it'll be there, under the surface. To deal with the conflict, individuals may feel they are winning or losing battles, and will look for structural clarity and rules to prevent the conflict persisting.

Stage 3: Norming

As Stage 2 evolves, the "rules of engagement" for the group become established, and the scope of the group's tasks or responsibilities are clear and agreed.  Having had their arguments, they now understand each other better, and can appreciate each other's skills and experience.  Individuals listen to each other, appreciate and support each other, and are prepared to change pre-conceived views: they feel they're part of a cohesive, effective group.  However, individuals have had to work hard to attain this stage, and may resist any pressure to change - especially from the outside - for fear that the group will break up, or revert to a storm.

Stage 4: Performing

Not all groups reach this stage, characterised by a state of interdependence and flexibility. Everyone knows each other well enough to be able to work together, and trusts each other enough to allow independent activity.  Roles and responsibilities change according to need in an almost seamless way.  Group identity, loyalty and morale are all high, and everyone is equally task-orientated and people-orientated.  This high degree of comfort means that all the energy of the group can be directed towards the task(s) in hand.

Stage 5: Adjourning

This is about completion and disengagement, both from the tasks and the group members.  Individuals will be proud of having achieved much and glad to have been part of such an enjoyable group.  They need to recognise what they've done, and consciously move on.  Some authors describe stage 5 as "Deforming and Mourning", recognising the sense of loss felt by group members.


WHITE is neutral and objective, concerned with objective facts and figures
RED relates to anger and rage, so is concerned with emotions
BLACK is gloomy, and covers the negative - why things can't be done
YELLOW is sunny and positive, indicating hope and positive thinking
GREEN is abundant, fertile growth, indicating creativity and new ideas
BLUE is the sky above us, so is concerned with the control and organisation of the thinking process

Transactional Analysis


PARENT Critical Parent

makes rules and sets limits

disciplines, judges and criticises

Nurturing Parent

advises and guides

protects and nurtures


concerned with data and facts

considers options and estimates probabilities

makes unemotional decisions

plans and makes things happen

CHILD Free (Natural) Child

fun-loving and energetic

creative and spontaneous

Adapted Child

compliant and polite

rebellious and manipulative


... the "OK Corral"




"I wish I could do that as well as you do"




"Hey, we're making good progress now"




"Oh this is terrible - we'll never make it"




"You're not doing that right - let me show you"

People move around the grid depending on the situation, but have a preferred position that they tend to revert to.  This is strongly influenced by experiences and decisions in early life. 

"I'm OK, you're OK" people are in the 'get on with' position.  They're confident and happy about life and work, and interact by collaboration and mutual respect, even when they disagree.

I'm OK, you're not OK" people are in the 'get rid of' position.  They tend to get angry and hostile, and are smug and superior.  They belittle others, who they view as incompetent and untrustworthy, and are often competitive and power-hungry.

I'm not OK, you're OK" is the 'get away from' position.  These people feel sad, inadequate or even stupid in comparison to others.  They undervalue their skills and contribution and withdraw from problems.

I'm not OK, you're not OK" is the 'get nowhere' position.   These people feel confused or aimless.  They don't see the point of doing anything, and so usually don't bother.


The central concept of TA is that Transactions between people can be characterised by the Ego State of the two participants.  What's more, the Ego State adopted by the person who starts the transaction will affect the way the other person responds.

For example, Mr A says "what time will they arrive?", and Mr B replies "at 2pm."  This is a simple Adult to Adult transaction.

However, if Mr A adopts a Child state: "I'm worried that they might not arrive on time,"  that will tend to produce a Nurturing Parent response from Mr B: "Don't worry, we'll still have plenty of time to talk to them."


We all need and seek care, attention, love and recognition from others, and in TA, a stroke is defined as a unit of recognition.  With children, strokes are obviously sought and given: they show off their new toy, or misbehave to get attention, and know the adults will respond right on cue.  But grown-ups do the same: working hard, deliberately making mistakes, arriving late, or simply arriving home and sighing "what a day!"

Strokes can be positive or negative, and it's generally better to give a negative stroke than none at all (because that may be taken as negative anyway).  But in many business organisations, strokes are subject to a set of unwritten rules:

  1. don't give positive strokes freely;

  2. if you give positive strokes, make them conditional;

  3. don't ask for positive strokes - certainly not directly;

  4. most positive strokes are insincere ('plastic');

  5. never give a physical stroke - by touching someone;

  6. don't miss a chance to give a negative stroke.

The result is a cold, unfeeling environment where normal human emotions are generally suppressed.  Even in 'warm' organisations where it's OK to express feelings, strokes are still subject to certain norms - such as not giving them to people above you in the hierarchy.

In the absence of a free exchange of strokes, people manipulate others in order to get the strokes they crave, and start playing games.


The complexity of the TA model leaves it open to manipulation, or "Games".  You adopt a Child state because you want someone's help, or a Parent state to make them do something for you.  But often the games end up damaging the relationship, and the type of game someone plays is influenced by his or her life state.

Examples of games players are:

The Persecutor: "if it weren't for you",  "see what you made me do",  "yes, but".

The Rescuer: "I'm only trying to help", "what would you do without me?"

The Victim: "this always happens to me", "poor old me", "go on, kick me".

Left and Right

These notes go way back and some are dated. My main champion of the left/right brain thesis (below) has since recanted (see Robert Orstein, The Right Mind.)

left brain
(right side of body)
right brain
(left side of body)



logical, mathematical
linear, detailed
reading, writing, naming
perception of signicant order
complex motor sequences
artistic, symbolic
intuitive, creative
synthetic, Gestalt
facial recognition
simultaneous comprehension
perception of abstract patterns
recognition of complex figures

The User Illusion

In mid-1999, The User Illusion convinced me that conscious vs. unconscious is a more important split than left vs. right brain. "Inside us, in the person who carries consciousness around, cognitive and mental processes take place that are far richer than consciousness can know or describe. Our bodies contain a fellowship with a surrounding world that passes right through us, in through our mouths and out the other end, but is hidden from our consciousness." The nonconscious is largely in control but the conscious thinks it's in control. An amazing book. It will take me a while to propogate its concepts into the Jayhoo Way.

Don't worry. Be happy.

Relativity theory is deterministic, meaning that when given a specific set of conditions, precise outcomes are predictable. Quantum physics, on the other hand, is probabilistic, meaning that when observing a specific set of conditions, change enters into the picture, and predictions can be made only of probable outcomes. Current thinking is that both types of processing, programmed and learned, go on in the brain and similar compatibilities will occur in the marketplace (with today's and neural network computers.)

From a review of In Pursuit of Happiness: "the invisible foot," says Milton Friedman. "That's the law of unintended consequences."

Life is about happiness -- which people (when pressed) generally concur isn't a new BMW or an orgasm, but rather lasting and justified satisfaction with one's life as a whole. Happiness includes the self-respect that comes from accepting responsibility for one's life and earning one's way in the world. It flows from realizing your innate capacities by doing productive work and overcoming ever more challenging obstacles, impelled more by your own inner imperatives than by the mere need to make a living.

See Finding Flow

You might also look at my thoughts on taking your own advice

From Healthy Pleasures, by Ornstein and Sobel...

Happiness changes little even after delightful or devastating life changes.

Man's plight... Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy; happiness is the longing for repetition.

Happiness springs from how much of the time a person spends feeling good, not from the momentary peaks of ecstasy. Simple pleasures are more allied with happiness than are strong, momentary feelings.

When we are in a given mood, such as sadness, anger, or joy, we are more likely to recall other times when we were in a similar mood. This is probably why seemingly minor uplifts such as receiving flowers can "make your day." The mind tends to overgeneralize... Small changes in our current contents of mind have great future consequences.

Make it a weekly goal to think about positive current events and daily experiences as much as possible. Focus on what you have, not on what you lack. The good feelings are likely to spill over into a healthy, optimistic view of your future.

Expecting to be pleased, healthy people cultivate a set of positive illusions. They inflate their own importance and have an exaggerated belief in their ability to control their destiny. They believe that other people hold them in high regard. Human beings never directly perceive the outside world; most judgments are comparative.

When bad things happen, as they will, pessimists explain the causes in stable, global, internal terms.

We often bet our lives on the stories we tell ourselves about the world, but rarely hear them while they are being told. Try to listen carefully to your continuous internal monologue. If we know that our story of the world controls our life, we can choose to rewrite the unpleasant elements.

There is a direct link between good health and knowing what is going on around us, understanding how economic and social forces operate to affect one's life and in general understanding how things work.

Some people have censored so much of themselves for so long that they forget what it is they do feel and think.

from Multimind by Robert Ornstein

"Our illusion is that each of us is somehow unified, with a single coherent purpose and action. That we are consistent and single-minded is a built-in delusion." We do not hear or observe ourselves the way we experience others.

"I know my own mind." But we don't know it very well.

Some conflicts are nobody's fault -- not caused by the badness or madness of one person; it's between the people. linear cause and effect do not apply here. (generally, if something good comes from a relationship, i figure the contribution is mine; if it doesn't work, that's your fault. it's never my fault, i'm merely reacting.) actually, the problems are the product of the relationship. it's just as you can't reduce the properties of water to the properties of either hydrogen or of oxygen.

Ornstein and Erlich: Human culture shaped over a million years; man a sight animal. Focus is on the short-term, visual (mastodon coming); we miss the gradual, invisible (greenhouse effect).

Ernest Poser of McGill University in Montreal found in treating schizophrenic patients that randomly selected undergraduates produced more positive change than did psychiatrists and psychiatric social workers.

Robert Ornstein, The Mind Field

from Do What You Live, the Money will Follow

The more we see ourselves as courageous, even in the tiniest choices, the more self-respect we gain and the more distinctive we become. In addition, acting out our authentic desires and values quickly erases a history of holding back and self-abandonment.
Posted by Jay Cross at 11:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

First Principles

How to get along in the world


Perception is reality. Mental expectations set real limits. Modern people have cro magnon brains. People are warm-blooded, omnivorous, sight-mammals. People like what they know; they don't know what they like. Be alert. Keep an open mind. Follow your heart. To every thing there is a cycle.


Everything flows. All things are connected. Less is more. Everything exists on numerous levels. Process is power. Virtually everything is on a continuum. It's shades of gray rather than black or white. Most things in life are beyond our control. In diversity is strength. Shit happens.


Decisions are a tradeoff of risk & reward. Does it matter? Invest time and resources wisely. When management treats time, space and no-matter as resources rather than as roadblocks, our methods of organization will no longer be lagging behind, at the end. --Future Perfect


In business, take Jack Welch's advice... How to behave Seek patterns I don't ask him ”What's the problem?" I say, "Tell me the story." That way, I find out what the problem really is. --Avram Goldberg

Structure follows strategy. (Strategy = plans and policies by which a company aims to gain advantages over its competitors.)

Drivel, BS, and caution signs

Time problems.

Accepting the wrong answer to the right problem. Evaluating with what's easy to measure rather than what's appropriate. Information is not instruction. Using my context to understand your situation. Confusing meaningless social noise with a message. A word is not the thing itself.

The Principle of Materiality

As Alan Watts titled a book, "Does it matter?" Contrary to what you may think, accountants don't strive to account for every penny. They strive to present a fair picture of an organization's financial condition, not to balance its checkbook. If your employer is auditing your expenses, a $300 discrepancy on your hotel bill is probably significant; it's "material." If Deloitte is auditing Exxon, a $5 million discrepancy in expense reimbursements is trivial -- it's a drop in the bucket that won't even show up on Exxon's financial statements. I interpret the Principle of Materiality as "Don't sweat the small stuff." Don't fixate on false accuracy. And if you're unsure whether or not something's material, change its value up or down to see if it makes a meaningful difference. Impress your friends by saying you're performing a "sensitivity analysis." And, never confuse activity with results.

Words to Live By

Time is all we have. Barnaby Conrad

There is no free lunch.

Perception is reality.

Be here now.

Become who you are! Nietsche

Perform every act as if it is all that matters.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Chinese Proverb

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood. Daniel H. Burnham

Imagination rules the world. Napoleon

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. Henri Bergson

One person's constant is another person's variable.

One person's process is another person's content. Jay

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian. Harold Kushner

Never, Never, Never, Never give up. Winston Churchill

In my life I've experienced many terrible things, a few of which actually happened. Mark Twain

The word processor is mightier than the particle beam weapon. George Carlin

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. The Talmud, also Anais Nin

None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers. David Stockman

Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got. Janis Joplin

If you think you can do a thing, or think you can't do a thing, you're right. Henry Ford

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. - From the tomb of Machiavelli

The truth will set you free - but first it will piss you off.

An invasion of armies can be resisted but not an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo

We look at the present through the rear-view mirror.

We march backwards into the future.Marshal McLuhan

Don't just learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade. James Bennis

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer

It is best to learn as we go, not go as we have learned. Leslie Jeanne Sahler


Edward De Bono on


  1. Value simplicity highly.
  2. Strive for it.
  3. Understanding begets simplicity.
  4. Explore alternatives and possibilities.
  5. Challenge and discard vestiges.
  6. Always be ready to start over.
  7. Think conceptually.
  8. Break things into pieces.
  9. Trade off other values for simplicty.
  10. Know who you're making it simple for.


Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change. Frank Lloyd Wright

My father was a contemptible man. I owe my success to not following in his footsteps. He was lazy; I work very hard. He frittered away his talent, and I nurtured mine. He was poor as a church mouse, and I'm worth $550 million." John Sperling, founder and CEO of Apollo Group


The real voyage of discovery, wrote Marcel Proust, "lies not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes."

To get a different view, go up to the balcony. Look at the big picture. Look down from a higher level to gain a broader perspective. Try to discern what’s really going on. Back away from the trees to see the forest.

The Law of Raspberry Jam

Formulated by consultant Gerald Weinberg, the Law of Raspberry Jam states "The more you spread it, the thinner it gets." Few things scale forever.

Focus on core

Focus on core; outsource everything else. Shareholder value (AKA market cap) is a function of sustained competitive advantage, and organizations achieve it by leveraging their core competencies. Everything else is context (overhead), and context is a needless distraction. Without careful management, context always gets in the way of core because it absorbs time, talent and management attention.

Sunk cost

Don't throw good money after bad.
Imagine you've sunk $100,000 into a project. Another $10,000 and it will be completed. But market conditions have changed and you'll only recoup $25,000.
A colleague discovers an open-source code that will generate the same $25,000 return for an investment of only $8,000 total.
Do you go for the first option and complete the $110,000 project?
Or do you abandon the $100,000 and go for the cheaper new alternative?
The rational businessperson chooses the second option. The $100,000 is a "sunk cost." It's water over the dam. You need to make decisions based on incremental costs and incremental rewards. Paying $8,000 to get $25,000 beats paying $10,000 to get $25,000 any time, anywhere.

Setting Personal Goals

"I shall pass through this world but once; any good things, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, or dumb animal, let me do it now. Let me not deter it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." --John Galsworthy

From a review of In Pursuit of Happiness: "the invisible foot," says Milton Friedman. That's the law of unintended consequences.

Martin Seligman: Life is about happiness -- which people (when pressed) generally concur isn't a new BMW or an orgasm, but rather lasting and justified satisfaction with one's life as a whole. Happiness includes the self-respect that comes from accepting responsibility for one's life and earning one's way in the world. It flows from realizing your innate capacities by doing productive work and overcoming ever more challenging obstacles, impelled more by your own inner imperatives than by the mere need to make a living.

From the Well: Conf: News On/Off the WELL Topic: 643 I should be telecommuting from Tahiti. Dawn on a beach of pure white sand and green sparkling seas....I catch the few fish I need for my daily fare and then walk naked down the beach to my grass hut with massive metal Linking up with the satellite, I quickly type in enough code to make my daily expenses. Length of my workday? Three minutes and thirty-seven seconds. I yawn as I turn off my battery-powered laptop and head for my hammock and a cool glass of fermented coconut milk.

Getting Things Done

Life in the Projects

Fast Company, May 1999, Tom Peters

 Distinguished project work is the future of work—for the simple reason that more than 90% of white-collar jobs are in jeopardy today. They are in the process of being transformed beyond identification—or completely eliminated. “WOW” projects add value and leave a legacy (and make you a star.)

 “Will we be bragging about this project five years from now? If the odds are low, what can we do right now to turn up the heat?” Draft people as if you’re an NBA general manager – get the hottest people you can. And pick projects like a venture capitalist: bet on cool people who have demonstrated their capacity to deliver cool projects.

 Point of the exercise is not to do a good job; it’s to use every project opportunity that you can get your hands on to create surprising new ways of looking at old problems.

Never accept a project as given. That’s someone else’s way of conceptualizing the project!

  1. everyone focuses on the tangibles but the intangibles (i.e. emotion) are what matters.
  2. embrace the confusion: “when we launched this project, we thought we knew what we were doing. Now we know that we don’t know what we’re doing—but the things that we’re confused about are much more important.”
  3. be your own firm within a firm.
  4. think diversity.
  5. project management is emotion management.


 Reengineering by Mike Hammer (See HBR '89). Managing, or administering, businesses doesn't work today. What a retched work--administer. It conjures up the image of a bureaucrat.

 The apotheosis of mid-20th-century administrator was Robert McNamara at Ford. McNamara didn't know anything about cars. He knew nothing about making cars, nothing about selling cars. He was a financial analyst. He had a deep, unspoken assumption that work didn't matter.

Reengineering means radically changing how we do our work. Work is the way in which we create value for customers, how we design, invent, and make products, how we sell them, how we serve customers. Reengineering means radically rethinking and redesigning those processes by which we create value and do work.

 Titles: I would rip out VP/marketing and replace it with "process owner of finding and keeping customers."

 In a reengineered company you have to leave behind this single-function mentality and wear more than one hat. You need to do whatever it takes to keep the customer coming back. Managers are not value-added. A customer never buys a product because of the caliber of management. Less is better. One of the goals is to minimize the necessary amount of management.

 If you are designing a business for a world of stable growth, then you want the Adam Smith, Frederick Taylor, Henry Ford model. Trouble is, stable growth does not characterize our environment today.

 "Folks, we're going on a journey. On this journey, we'll carry our wounded and shoot the dissenters."

 A worker is someone who cares about a task, about getting things done, and is basically working for the wage at the time. We don't need workers in our company. We need professionals. A professional is someone who focuses on the result, on the customers rather than on tasks. Professionals need coaches and leaders.


London: What do you think about all the talk today about "re- engineering the organization." One word I've heard you use is not "re- engineering" but "de-engineering."

Wheatley: Yes, I put that word out to the world. We really have to "de-engineer" our thinking, which means that we have to examine how mechanistically we are oriented -- even in our treatment of one another. This is especially true in corporations. We believe that we can best manage people by making assumptions more fitting to machines than people. So we assume that, like good machines, we have no desire, no heart, no spirit, no compassion, no real intelligence -- because machines don't have any of that. The great dream of machines is that if you give them a set of instructions, they will follow it.

I see the history of management as an effort to perfect the instructions that you hope someone will follow this time -- even though they have never followed directions in their whole life.

How is the world going to be different because you and I are working together?

A Simpler Way

  Author: Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers in A Simpler Way

There is a simpler way to organize human endeavor.
It requires a new way of being in the world.
It requires being in the world without fear.
Being in the world with play and creativity.
Seeking after what's possible.
Being willing to learn and be surprised.

This simpler way to organize human endeavor
requires a belief that the world is inherently orderly.
The world seeks organization.
It does not need us humans to organize it.

This simpler way summons forth what is best about us.
It asks us to understand human nature differently, more optimistically.
It identifies us as creative.
It acknowledges that we seek after meaning.
It asks us to be less serious, yet more purposeful, about our work and our lives.
It does not separate play from the nature of being.

The world of a simpler way is a world we already know.
We may not have seen it clearly,
but we have been living in it all our lives.
It is a world that is more welcoming,
more hospitable to our humanness.
Who we are and what is best about us can more easily flourish.

The world of a simpler way has a natural and spontaneous
tendency toward organization.
It seeks order.
Whatever chaos is present at the start,
when elements combine, systems of organization appear.
Life is attracted to order --
order gained through wandering explorations
into new relationships and new possibilities.

OLD ways die hard. Amid all the evidence that our world is radically changing, we cling to what has worked in the past. We still think of organizations in mechanistic terms, as collections of replaceable parts capable of being reengineered. We act as if even people were machines, redesigning their jobs as we would prepare an engineering diagram, expecting them to perform to specifications with machinelike obedience. Over the years, our ideas of leadership have supported this metaphoric myth. We sought prediction and control, and also charged leaders with providing everything that was absent from the machine: vision, inspiration, intelligence, and courage. They alone had to provide the energy and direction to move their rusting vehicles of organization into the future.

 Michael Crichton: In recent decades, many American companies have undergone a wrenching, painful restructuring to produce high-quality products. We all know what this requires: Flattening the corporate hierarchy. Moving critical information from the bottom up instead of the top down. Empowering workers. Changing the system, not just the focus of the corporation. And relentlessly driving toward a quality product. because improved quality demands a change in the corporate culture. A radical change.


the first constant in the job of management is to make human strength effective and human weaknesses irrelevant. That's the purpose of any organization, the one thing an organization does that individuals can't do better.

Managers are accountable for results, period. They are not being paid to be philosophers; they are not even being paid for their knowledge. They are paid for results.

 These are the factors stressed by GE in its new management process:

Dee Hock on Management and Organizations

Dee Hock on Management

An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it. Ultimately what determines the organization's performance is the approach to management its leaders take. Some of Dee Hock's management principles, in his own words:

 PhD in Leadership, Short Course: Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don't do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.

 Associates: Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.

 Employing Yourself: Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength. It is idiotic to replicate your weakness. It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgment are radically different from yours. It is also rare, for it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom.

 Compensation: Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality. As Napoleon observed, "No amount of money will induce someone to lay down their life, but they will gladly do so for a bit of yellow ribbon."

 Form and Substance: Substance is enduring, form is ephemeral. Failure to distinguish clearly between the two is ruinous. Success follows those adept at preserving the substance of the past by clothing it in the forms of the future. Preserve substance; modify form; know the difference. The closest thing to a law of nature in business is that form has an affinity for expense, while substance has an affinity for income.

Creativity: The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a room packed with archaic furniture. You must get the old furniture of what you know, think, and believe out before anything new can get in. Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it.

 Leadership: Here is the very heart and soul of the matter. If you look to lead, invest at least 40% of your time managing yourself--your ethics, character, principles, purpose, motivation, and conduct. Invest at least 30% managing those with authority over you, and 15% managing your peers. Use the remainder to induce those you "work for" to understand and practice the theory. I use the terms "work for" advisedly, for if you don't understand that you should be working for your mislabeled "subordinates," you haven't understood anything. Lead yourself, lead your superiors, lead your peers, and free your people to do the same. All else is trivia.

Dee Hock on Organizations

Whenever Dee Hock talks to people about chaordic organizations, someone always wants to know, "Where's the plan? How do we implement it?" But that's the wrong question, he says, because an organization isn't a machine that can be built according to a blueprint.

 "All organizations are merely conceptual embodiments of a very old, very basic idea--the idea of community. They can be no more or less than the sum of the beliefs of the people drawn to them; of their character, judgments, acts, and efforts," Hock says. "An organization's success has enormously more to do with clarity of a shared purpose, common principles and strength of belief in them than to assets, expertise, operating ability, or management competence, important as they may be."

 The organization must be adaptable and responsive to changing conditions, while preserving overall cohesion and unity of purpose. This is the fundamental paradox facing businesses, governments, and societies alike, says Hock--not to mention living cells, brains, immune systems, ant colonies, and most of the rest of the natural world. Adaptability requires that the individual components of the system be in competition. And yet cohesion requires that those same individuals cooperate with each other, thereby giving up at least some of their freedom to compete.

Selling your ideas

Selling the value of a project to management takes more than talking like a businessperson. It requires thinking like a business person. In essence, if you’re not there already, you must become a business person. The overriding focus of business leaders is creating value for stakeholders. Stakeholders include owners, managers, workers, partners, and customers. The firm’s leaders are responsible for articulating a vision of how the organization will create value and specifying milestone objectives along the way there. Any businessperson worthy of the name can relate how his or her activities support those objectives and help fulfill the vision. You should be able to articulate how what you're doing establishes value in these areas. This is your "elevator pitch" and you should be able to giive it in your sleep. Analysis and Decision-making Techniques Here are techniques for business analysis and decision-making that we rely on continually. We suggest you run through them when making major decisions until they become second nature. Business leaders present themselves to the world as confident, authoritative, conservative, results-oriented, deliberate, and a bit staid. It’s best to leave your clown suit in the closet when you’re selling a concept to executives. Be concise. Hit the concepts described above as they apply to your project. When you’ve said your piece, ask for questions and sit down.
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December 13, 2003

CSS, Semantic Mark-Up, and codes

CSS Smorgasbord II

CSS Smorgasbord I

A List Apart on CSS

webmonkey on CSS

Better Living Through XHTML

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November 09, 2003


Instructional | User Interface | Learning Objects | Graphic | Web | Information Architecture | Visual Thinking | Software | Industrial

I am a designer.

Design Principles for Clock of the Long Now (Hillis)

design is not merely an indicator of esthetic taste, but a social phenomenon that both mirrors and shapes how we think. Whereas objects of art reflect the personal vision of their makers, manufactured goods - which are designed to be salable and profitable - tend to embody more generalized beliefs about society, and so ''can cast ideas about who we are and how we should behave into permanent and tangible forms.'' Modern office equipment in ''bright colours and slightly humorous shapes,'' for instance, can help perpetuate the myth that office work is fun; just as modern, streamlined kitchen appliances can underline the contemporary faith in progress and technological salvation. SOURCE

design tradeoffs


IBM on Design

Tog's First Principles of Design

Color Blindness
Efficiency of User
Explorable Interfaces

Fitts's Law
Human-Interface Objects
Latency Reduction
Limit Tradeoffs

Protect the User's Work
Track State
Visible Interfaces

Living with Your Users by Marc Rettig. This is the way all major projects should be planned. Absolutely wonderful.

The Ferrari 355 F1 has a clutch but no clutch pedal. A computer changes gears, using data downloaded from Michael Schumacher's Formula One races. Floor it and you experience Michael's greatest hits -- shocking, slamming shifts that expand one's sense of the possible.

Design History in a Box

The Design Dimension, Product Strategy & The Challenge of Global Marketing, Christoper Lorenz, 1986

The designer's personal attributes and skills are:
  • imagination -- the ability to visualize in 3D
  • creativity -- a natural unwillingness to accept obvious solutions
  • communication -- in words & sketches
  • synthesis -- bringing it together into a coherent whole

Design & marketing -- united in the search for meaningful distinction

Shaker Design Guidelines
  • Industry: Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.
  • Honesty: Be what we seem to be; and seem to be what we really are; don't carry two faces.
  • Functionalism: That which in itself has the highest use possesses the greatest beauty.

Less is more.

Form follows function.

The one-size-fits-all approach to training ignores that people learn in fundamentally different ways. Most current training is highly discriminatory. Howard Gardiner

"The most outstanding design is that which is perfectly appropriate to what is trying to be accomplished."

"Design is one of the few tools that for every (dollar) you spend, you actually say something about your business." -- Raymond Turner, exec, BAA

"The designer's purpose is to stimulate curiosity, amusement and affection."

Achilli Castilgioni
Alessi, Art & Poetry

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Beautiful Things & Ugly Things

Design is in everything we make, but it's also between those things. It's a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy."
Erik Adigard

Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beautry to produce something that the world didn't know it was missing.
Paola Antonelli

Designer's Jumpola

The Psychology of Everyday Things
by Don Norman

keys to good design:

1. provide a good conceptual model

2. make things visible

3. good mapping

4. feedback

A reminder is (1) a signal and (2) a message.
(use different signals with different messages....)

why designers go astray:

1. aesthetics put first

2. they're not typical users

principles for design: 

1. use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.

design model <-> system image <-> user's mode

"In the best of worlds, the manuals would be written first, then the design would follow the manual."

2. simplify the structure of tasks
Short term memory can't hold more than 5 (some say 7) unrelated items at once; the mitations of long term memory mean that info is better and more easily acquired fi it makes sense, if it can be integrated into some conceptual framework. moreover, retrieval from long term memory is apt to be slow and contain errors. limitations on attention are also severe.

provide mental aids.
use technology to make visible what would otherwise be invisible.
automate but keep the task much the same.
change the nature of the task
3. make things visible: bridge the gulfs of Execution and Evaluation

4. get the mappings right

Exploit natural mappings. make sure that the user can determine the relationships: between intentions and possible actions, between actions and their effects on the system, between actual system state and what is perceivable by sing/sound/feel, between the perceived system state and the needs, intentions and expectations of the users

5. exploit the power of constraints, both natural and artificial

6. design for error (Murphy's always there)

7. when all else fails, standardize

The nice thing about standardization is that no matter how arbitrary the standardized mechanism, it has to be learned only once. People can learn it and use it effectively.

Remember, standardization is essential only when all the necessary information cannot be placed in the world or when natural mappings cannot be exploited. The role of training and practice is to make the mappings and required actions more available to the user, overcoming any shortcomings in the design, minimizing the need for planning and problem solving.

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context--a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.--Eliel Saarinen

Instructional design

Internet Time Group Methods of delivering eLearning

Time Capsule of Training and Learning from Big Dog
Product Development Process from Payback Training (now Avaltus)
Characteristics of a Complete eLearning System (Hambrecht)
Instructional Design and Learning Theory
Theory into Practice Database 50 theories relevant to learning and instruction

from the University of Denver School of Education: Theoretical Sources | Instructional Design Models
Instructional Design in Distance Education (IDDE) database of instructional theories and tactics to support the design of effective distance education

Training magazine's April 2000 issue had a wonderful article debunking the effectiveness of traditional instructional systems design (ISD). Why is ISD obsolete?

here's more on the subject...

Roger Shank's delightful Top Ten Mistakes in Education

The implications of the research literature on learning styles for the design of instructional material, Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 1999

source: Cisco

International Society for Performance Improvement
History of Instructional Design
Big Dog and Glossary
Yale Web Style Guide

Distributed Learning: Approaches, Technologies and Solutions
Lotus Institute (1996)

Fred Nichols

(This is why HPT won't work. It's Taylorism in new clothing.)

(It's a joke. Don't get bent out of shape.)

Remember: knowledge work must be configured not prefigured.

It is the day-to-day stuff of leading people, not of managing them or their work, that really affects productivity; it's the hand-holding, the encouraging, the going to bat for people, and the sharing of the hardships, the risk, the recognition, and the rewards that tempts people to contribute and sustains them as they strive for excellence. These leadership behaviors must themselves be configured not prefigured. In other words, conformity at the executive level is as deadly as compliance at the working level.

To sum it up, the era of compliance has ended, and with it has ended the dream of engineering individual human performance. The era of individual contribution has just begun and we don't even have a vocabulary suited to discuss the issue let alone formulate decisions and then carry them out.

Roger Schank interview with Cappuccino, Deloitte

Learning Objects

"Object-orientation highly values the creation of components (called "objects") that can be reused in multiple contexts. This is the fundamental idea: instructional designers can build small (relative to the size of an entire course) instructional components that can be reused a number of times in different learning contexts. Learning objects are generally understood to be digital entities deliverable over the Internet, meaning that any number of people can access and use them simultaneously (as opposed to traditional instructional media, such as an overhead or video tape, which can only exist in one place at a time). Moreover, those who incorporate learning objects can collaborate on and benefit immediately from new versions. These are significant differences between learning objects and other instructional media that have existed previously."

So states the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a complete book on learning objects by David Wiley, David Merrill, Wayne Hodgins, and a host of others. Wiley: "Atoms, not Legos."

Cisco's Reusable Learning Object Strategy.

Objects of Interest, a nice intro

Terms like classes or courses don't capture the essence of personalized learning. I'm starting to think in terms of learning experiences. Here, between the section on instructional Design and User Interface Design, is the ideal spot to point out a really practical site, Good Experience.


1. Assess
2. Design
3. Develop
4. Instruct
5. Evaluate

Instructional Design grew up building courses. Courses are being supplanted by eLearning experiences. A new discipline is called for, Instructional Infrastructure Design. For most enterprises, you buy this from someone else. You can build your own from components, but often that's about as practical as assembling your own Chevy from bags of gadgets you buy at the auto parts store.


The Webby Awards for Education

Impact of different learning media

User Interface design

Human Computer (HCI) Interface Bibliography
Information Design
Nathan's Interaction Design Bibliography
Information Presentation for Rapid Knowledge Transfer
Review of Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum
Interface Design and Usability Engineering from Isys Information Architects provides great examples of what to do -- and what not to do -- in interface design.
Hans de Graaff's HCI Index, Jakob Nielsen's Recommended UI Books
Common Ground, a Pattern Language for HCI -- iffy, incomplete.

Personalization Consortium

Don Norman -- human-centered design

...major improvements in interface design are both profitable and moral — profitable because a good interface is cheaper to implement, is more productive, is easier to maintain, has lower training costs, and requires less customer support than a bad interface — moral because it brings smiles to the faces and erases furrows from the brows of users. One can do good and yet do well by rethinking interface design.

Jef Raskin, The Humane Interface

Future UI

"The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook" -- William James

Graphic Design

Edward Tufte Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency. Graphical excellence is that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Avoid chartjunk! Burn USA Today. See also Tufte's reading list.

Patterns are a vocabulary for design. Christopher Alexander coined the term "Pattern Language" to emphasize his belief that people had an innate ability for design that paralleled their ability to speak. His book A Timeless Way Of Building defines a 'pattern' as a three part construct.

What is Contextual Design?

Explanation Graphics, Nigel Holmes

The Master

Charles Eames: the intersection that maintains the designer's enthusiasm.

Charles and Ray achieved their monumental success by approaching each project the same way: Does it interest and intrigue us? Can we make it better? Will we have "serious fun" doing it?

They loved their work, which was a combination of art and science, design and architecture, process and product, style and function.

"The details are not details," said Charles. "They make the product." A problem-solver who encouraged experimentation among his staff, Charles once said his dream was "to have people working on useless projects. These have the germ of new concepts." from Charles and Ray Eames

Powers of Ten

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November 08, 2003


It's about time

Time is all we have. Most of us can feel time speeding up. Many of us are enslaved by time. But most of what we consider "time" is actually in our heads.

"What part of now is it you don't understand?"
--Zydeco group Frog Kick

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast

Official U.S. Pacific Time

Industrious Monocraft Clock

TimeTicker gives you times around the world with sound effects and one-button correction of your computer's clock. Very cool.

Human Clock

Time around the world - 30 clocks


What is "Internet Time?"

Internet time is shorthand for the accelerated pace of business and life brought about by networks and eBusiness. The amazing growth of Netscape is frequently cited as an example -- in its first year, the firm accomplished what had taken others a decade or more.

Some say a year of Internet time equals seven years of calendar time, but there's really no absolute measure. It's a concept, like a "New York minute."


Timelines provide perspective. Check these out.

Powers of Ten: from 1 attosecond to 31 billion years

Timeline of Knowledge Representation

Time Capsule a la New York Times

Timely topics

> Timelines, for perspective
> Ideas from 50 books about time
> Essays on time from Forbes ASAP
> Clocks and Calendars
> How the average American spends time
> Observations
> Time is relative

On Time at the Museum of American History

"What then, is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know it not. "
--St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II, Sec. 14.


Encyclopædia Britannica:

a measured or measurable period, a continuum that lacks spatial dimensions. Time is of philosophical interest and is also the subject of mathematical and scientific investigation.

time perception
experience or awareness of the passage of time.

The human experience of change is complex. One primary element clearly is that of a succession of events, but distinguishable events are separated by more or less lengthy intervals that are called durations. Thus, sequence and duration are fundamental aspects of what is perceived in change.

Swatch, the maker of curious looking watches, has brilliantly highjacked the term Internet Time, confusing millions of people into thinking that Internet time is "Swatch time." Swatch divides the day into 1000 beats and sets the prme meridian at Biel, Switzerland. While it's great not to hassle with time zones, you'd probably have to buy a Swatch to figure out what time it really is.

Why Time Matters in Business

Breakaway, by Charles Fred, is a marvellous book about the impact of reducing "time to proficiency" in business. Excerpts.

"Put your skepticism on hold and ask yourself if you and the people of your company can reach proficiency at the speed of the new economy. Can your current system for developing people fulfill the growth requirements of your shareholders, satisfy anxious customers, and excite your workers enough to keep them?"

is a French Medieval alchemy symbol for time.

Time concepts presentation (1999)


How the average American spends time

sleep 33 %
work 27.0
leisure 13.0
religion 1.4
eating 8.6
travel 10.0
illness 4.3
personal care 2.5

Ideas from 50 books and articles about time

Deep inside, I know people can lead more productive, happy lives if they overthrow the tyranny of clocktime. I've dumped my digital watch. Now I carry my Swiss railway conductor's pocket watch on days that I carry any timepiece at all.



" I decided to have plenty of time."

Unwinding the Clock “I circle around the arguments, coming back to them again and again, from slightly different angles, touching on them in slightly different places. I do this partly because it’s often the best way to learn—not through single events, and not through strict repetition either, but though variation. And partly because it’s impossible to resolve your relationship with time once and for all.”

If I can fool myself into thinking that I don’t have enough time, couldn’t I just as well fool myself into thinking that I have plenty of time? So I decided to have plenty of time.

In education it’s particularly important to look forward. it’s strange that we so often concentrate on previous knowledge. knowledge that precedes us is, of course, important, but it deals only with things as they once were. it’s just as important to consider things that point forward: expectations, hopes, objectives.

Faster, faster...

Time is speeding up. In agrarian days, time didn't matter so long as you got up around sunrise and turned in at sunset.

Railroads must keep to schedules -- and require people to agree on the time. (Before railroads, time zones were unnecessary--and often arbitrary.) Military coordination and air travel require even greater precision.

These days, two minutes to receive a message from the other side of the world feels agonizingly slow.

When I studied physics in college, we didn't talk about nanoseconds.


Are You on Digital Time? Fast Company's Alan Webber talks with BCG's George Stalk about time-based competition. February 99.


Prisoners Of Time
Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning April 1994

If experience, research, and common sense teach nothing else, they confirm the truism that people learn at different rates, and in different ways with different subjects. But ,,,our schools and the people involved with them are captives of clock and calendar. The boundaries of student growth are defined by schedules for bells, buses, and vacations instead of standards for students and learning.


Po Bronson describes Danny Hillis & the 10,000-year clock

The legendary designer of computer architecture, Danny Hillis ... is building a monument-sized mechanical clock that ... will continue ticking and counting time through the year AD 12,000. In essence, he wants us to stop thinking about what's for lunch and start thinking about how to feed the world.

"In some sense, we've run out of our story, which we were operating on, which was the story of power taking over nature - it's not that we've finished that, but we've gotten ahead of ourselves, and we don't know what the next story is after that."

According to Hillis, certain problems aren't solvable in three years, and it's people's nature not to work on problems they can't solve. If we can extend people's horizons, a whole range of challenges fall back into play.


Hyper History Online
An extraordinary timeline: 3,000 years of history in 2,000 linked files.


Caution! Dates in calendar are closer than they appear!

History of the calendar

When Do You Want To Go Today?,
an awesome list of calendars -- celestial, historical, religious

Calendar Home for links, 10,000 year calendar, no. days between two dates

This Day in History


"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches does not."

"The clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men. The clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the industrial age... In its relationship to determinable quantities of engergy, to standardization, to automatic action, and finally to its own special product, accurate timing, the clock has been the foremost machine in modern technic; and at each period it has remained in the lead: it marks a perfection toward which other machines aspire."

Lewis Mumford

CLOX is a free program that displays the time in as many timezones as you like on an array of clocks reminiscent of the wall of a newsroom. Digital or analog. Pop up a daylight world map. Set alarms and reminders. Have it automatically update the time via the Net every day.
The Royal Observatory at Greenwich.
Ground zero, celebrating the new millennium with exhibits. Also see Greenwich Electronic Time. Introduced with great Y2K fanfare as the new standard for e-commerce, the "What's New" tab contains nothing but the original press release. Interesting links.
One World Time
One World Time is what Greenwich Electronic Time should have been, a time standard for e-commerce. Easy to use.
Official U.S. time
Also links to a history of calendars, an interesting (really!) history of Daylight Savings Time, Brittanica's Clockworks (neat animations), and more. Time Service Department, U.S. Naval Observatory.
The World Clock
Time in cities around the world.
World Time Zone
Time in countries around the world.
People who think Switzerland is the center of the world
Time Sync
Great variety of time synchronization software.
Internet Clocks, Counters, & Countdowns
Lots of software goodies Clocks and Time Horology site for books, magazines, organizations, museums

Geologic Time

Perpetual Headline News
Election in Doubt
Congress Defies Prez
Flood Waters Rising
Moore's Law Upheld
Politicians Found Corrupt
Conflict in Middle East
Industries Consolidate
Markets Fluctuate
Perception is Reality
Shit Happens
Taxes Rise
Time Flies
Entropy Increases
"No Free Lunch," Study Finds
"What's in it for me?" ask consumers

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains." --Henry David Thoreau

"So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time." --Steven Wright

"It's like trying to understand time other than linearly... So maybe we will just give up on leap years and all the seasons will shift slightly and the definition of a year will change and then we will all understand time as a series of concentric circles... or some other nifty metaphor that I can't predict from here in Flatland." Lemonyellow

"The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time."

Tom Cargill, Bell Labs


Getting It Done by Roger Fischer and Alan Sharp

"By formulating a statement of purpose in terms of proposed results over three or more points in time you can have: an inspiring distant vision, a mid-distant goal en route that is a worthy goal in itself, and some immediate objectives to start working on at once."

Continually shift your vision

The rapidly accelerating future and growing irrelevance of the past have thrown our sense of timing out of kilter. We need to look at the world through time trifocals. Each perspective has built-in plusses and minuses.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who often call themselves evangelists, speak with quasireligious fervor of "Internet time" – the apocalyptic sense of urgency caused by the fleeting half-lives of products and business plans.

Tim Race, Industry Standard, August 20, 1999

Save (and Savor) Time

Our advice on Making Time and enjoying it more.

Timing Is Everything
Time is all we have

I am retiring this from the Internet Time Group page in mid-2001 while buckling down to provide eLearning consulting.

Time is relative

Epigenesis... If things don't develop at their appropriate time, they are not going to develop at a later one.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Time

How do you know time is passing?

A lot of the differences among people are, in fact, based on their differences in time perspective. Zimbardo has found that students who are future-oriented tend to wear watches, take many notes in class and study for longer periods of time, smile more and laugh less than those in the here-and-now group. In the south Bronx where Zimbardo grew up, people live in the "expanded present," with no future or past. Some attributes of the expanded-present mode: greater enjoyment of sex, nerve enough to take risks, greater artistic creativity. "What's happening?" .

..research by Stanford's Philip Zimbardo.

"In the old days, you'd finish a day's work and announce, 'I'm done.' Nobody ever does that now. There's never enough time."

Elliott Masie

"The space of time separating George Washington's first inauguration in April 1789 from Lincoln's first in March 1861 was only seventy-two years, a mote in the eye of history. But that slice of history contained extraordinary events. From a third-rate republic, a sliver of sparsely populated seaboard extending inland from the Atlantic for a few hundred miles, threatened by foreign powers and dangerous Indian tribes, America had become a pulsing, burgeoning world economic power whose lands stretched across the entire continent." --Don't Know Much About History Here's one that's out of the box: non-solar time. Check out OmniTime. I am not a believer. Then again, I never thought FedEx would make it either.

from the first (October 1999) issue of CapGemini Focus... Yes, yes, yes. Somebody else gets it.

Thinking out of the time box
by Jayne Buxton and Crystal Schaffer

"Breaking time paradigms The way to approach the task of re-timing work is to think about it differently."

"First, consider that there are no jobs but, rather, that there is work to be accomplished. This requires a business to break down its jobs, analyze them, and reconstruct them as collections of work that need to be done as opposed to positions that need to be filled. As processes are pulled apart and put back together in different ways, re-thinking how we use time becomes easier. Some of the things once regarded as essential to effectiveness are seen for what they are: bad habits which developed to support a particular inefficient process. For example, the assumption that a manager needs to be on call five days a week, eight hours a day, disappears when work is restructured to enable employees to make more effective decisions themselves, and to take managerial input at specific times.

"How do you start this breakdown process? You begin with a long-term perspective."

"Companies that want to make the most of the time available to them must abandon their 'punch the clock' mentality, be it a full-time, part-time, or flextime clock. It is not enough to 'bend' work time; it must be broken up and reconfigured if the power of technology and human ingenuity and diligence to create growth opportunities in today's knowledge and service-driven economy is to be realized."

"Happiness may well consist primarily of an attitude toward time. Individuals we consider happy commonly seem complete in the present: we see them constantly in their wholeness, attentive, cheerful, open rather than closed to events, integral in the moment rather than distended across time by regret or anxiety." --Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Current organization models are not time-based. They still operate in a three-dimensional universe of being rather than becoming. Notions of a real-time business and of an organizational life cycle are not widely held or used. --Stan Davis, 2020 Vision

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."

Albert Einstein

Einstein's Dreams 1905-1999 -
The interactive adaptation

Einstein's Web

How much is that in Dog Years? It's a myth that each year of a dog's life is the equivalent of seven human years. Here's the real equivalency for an average-sized dog:

Dog Years/Human Years:
  1 /15 2/ 24 4/ 32 6/ 40 10 /56 14 /72 18/ 91 21/ 106


Every time we postpone some necessary event, we do so with the implication that present time is more important than future time.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Time is best spent when we are:

What is to be avoided is preoccupation and disordered occupation--the compulsive worry, the nervous escape from thought to thought, the scratching and hair-fluffing, the short circuit of distraction.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Henry Ford The month Henry Ford was born, July 1863, horses dragged Union and Confederate cannon to Gettysburg. The first gasoline-powered automobile was 23 years in the future. When Ford died, in 1947, one in seven U.S. workers held a job in the automobile industry. Ford said of the Model T, the only thing wrong with it is that people stopped buying it.

Lenk, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

A trail always takes longer the first time. Therefore, to extend time, be adventurous and take a lot of new trails. Avoid the familiar path. Stay out of ruts.


Clock time has lulled us into a wrong-headed sense of expectations.

"How much does he want per hour?" asked the fellow who was requesting some of my colleague's time. It's as if we churn out a good idea an hour, like working on an assembly line.

For creative knowledge workers, a brilliant insight may pop up in a matter of seconds. The world looks like this:

Nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, flash of brilliance, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada.

In knowledge work with a high degree of discretion, a flash of brilliance before breakfast is worth a lot more than eight hours of nada at the office.

More chaos, fewer hours?

The User Illusion explains that consciousness lags reality (and then covers its tracks). Your nonconscious mind is a lot closer to "now" than you are. The Mind's Past reiterates this reality, saying that our internal "interpreter" chooses the slides in the show we see. The brain decides to hold up our right arm--and we think this is something we thought up. Hah!


excerpts from Islands in the Clickstream

Telling Time by a Broken Clock By Richard Thieme

Trying to understand what's happening using old words, old images, old paradigms is like telling time by broken clocks. The landscape created by speech, writing, print is being terraformed by digital humans, rocking in our boots, out of joint with our times. We are riding a ship on the river of time as the ship is being built. It will take time to finish that ship, and when we do, we will already have been becoming something else.

In the meantime, we live between, snickering at those who expect something immense in the Year 2000 because they are rowing to the rhythm of a river overflowing its banks, flooding our town and cities, rising like rain into the mystified sky.

Millenium's End

My machinery is wired to move pretty fast, and all my life people have told me - bless their hearts - to slow down. It always comes from people who move more slowly, never from those who are faster, so once in a while I reply, no, YOU speed up. But then they think I'm rude.

It's fashionable to equate being slow with being spiritual. There's something to that, but popular culture turned it into the Forrest Gump School of Wisdom, where life is never complex and wisdom is rules for the first day of kindergarten.

Fast and slow are relative. For some projects, cycles of a thousand years work best, for others, nanoseconds. Yes, we twitchers often find serenity when we take things down a notch, when we focus on something outside ourselves that induces a state of flow and short-circuits our habitual thinking. But it's also true that we relish those moments when our brains or bodies twitch like the fingers of a teen genius at a game of Quake, lost in light-speed heaven.

THE END OF TIME The Next Revolution in Physics. By Julian Barbour. Illustrated. 371 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $30.

Warning: extreme complexity ahead. Deep relativity.

Time does not exist. Imagine collections of triangles, cubes and other geometrical shapes. Think of an entire three-dimensional universe as built up of them and all their spatial relationships. Any universe of shapes (a configuration) compares to another, not with respect to relations in time or space (they are not ''in'' time or space), but qualitatively, in terms of their internal, intrinsic properties. (Still with me?)

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November 07, 2003

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is a high-fallutin' buzz phrase for creating and sharing know-how. A hot item circa 1998, overuse watered down KM's popularity as a category (although it's still a hot item in Europe). To vendors, KM became "whatever I want to sell you," be it document-tracking or warehousing good ideas or building web pages or reinforcing innovation or focusing on intellectual capital.

Knowledge is like the sound of the tree that falls in the forest when no one is there: it doesn't exist unless people interact with it. Nurturing innovation and rewarding the sharing of ideas fertilizes seedling ideas. Setting up processes to highlight what's worthy and weed out useless undergrowth help grow heathly trees.

While it may carry a different name in the future, knowledge management anchors one end of the learning/doing continuum and is vital to improving organizational performance.

"Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody -- either by becoming grounds for actions, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different or more effective action." -- Peter F. Drucker in The New Realities (The same might be said of learning.)

"If HP knew what HP knows, we'd be three times more profitable." Lew Platt

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time. Knowledge is more valuable and more powerful than natural resources, big factories, or fat bankrolls.? Thomas A. Stewart, Intellectual Capital

Jack Welch of GE: We soon discovered how essential it is for a multibusiness company to become an open, learning organization. The ultimate competitive advantage lies in an organization's ability to learn and to rapidly transform that learning into action.And, in GE's boundaryless learning culture, the operative assumption is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it, and put it into action fast.

In 25 years, knowledge will double every three months. What will that do for learning requirements? Doug Engelbart

"Knowledge Management is the broad process of locating, organizing, transferring, and using the information and expertise within an organization. The overall knowledge management process is supported by four key enablers: leadership, culture, technology, and measurement." American Productivity and Quality Center

A wealth of knowledge exists and can be generated among people with a passion for learning and a willingness to explore connections across traditional boundaries. Meg Wheatley

To Verna Allee, it's all a matter of making connections. I think she's got it.

KM=BS? An abstract of T.D. Wilson's The Nonsense of Knowledge Management

Life On The Internet: Could Blogging Assist KM? from Amy Wohl
Knowledge Blogs Are Tough

Denham Gray's amazing KM Wiki

What's knowledge?

Knowledge maps, knowledge architecture, taxonomies, and more from KAPS Group

On the rebound? Peter Martin, writes in CLO:

The Market Is Coming Back to Knowledge Management In hindsight, knowledge management was a recklessly defined initiative. Companies were going to be able to empower the intellectual capital of their enterprise--with ad hoc software purchases. Over time the initiative lost its cachet, very much like the "portal" -- a key element of knowledge management. As the meaning and value of the portal has risen from the ashes, so has knowledge management. The comeback for knowledge management can be traced to the economy, consolidation of vendors, technological advancement and enterprise software vendor buy-in.

Knowledge Management is a case of the blind men and the elephant. KM refers to one or more of these activities:

At a minimum, do these things:


  1. Corporate yellow pages
  2. Best practices system that captures lessons learned
  3. Competitive intelligence


  1. Groupware
  2. Empowered Chief Knowledge Officer


  1. Top-down belief
  2. Spirit of sharing and collaboration
  3. Experimentation encouraged

Five Basic Principles of the Mind

  1. Minds are limited.

  2. Minds hate confusion.

  3. Minds are insecure.

  4. Minds don't change.

  5. Minds lose focus.

Jack Trout



Come together

Tom Barron, drawing on the ideas of GartnerGroup's Clark Aldrich and others, presents an astute view of the impending merger of e-Learning and Knowledge Management in A Smarter Frankenstein, lead article in the August 2000 issue of Learning Circuits.

Take an eLearning course. Chunk it into discrete learning bites. Surround it with technology that assesses a learner's needs and delivers the appropriate learning nuggets. Add collaborative tools that allow learners to share information. What do you get? Something that looks a whole lot like knowledge management.

Just In Time

Embedded Help
Performance Support

Knowledge Management
Traditional KM
Combined eLearning/KM
Just in Case Classroom Replication
Self-paced courseware
Virtual classes
Skills-building sims

The training function is accustomed to limiting its scope -- offering a curriculum that provides grounds for assessment. KM is open-ended, encouraging participants to share whatever works without an intermediary to translate things into lessons. Oil and water? The accelerating pace of business is already obsoleting the authoring function -- there's not enough time for lengthy development cycles; intitutive authoring systems are replacing middleman authors by taking content directly from the expert's mouth.

An obstacle I've personally never overcome to my satisfaction is countering the hoarding of knowledge by those who believe knowledge is power, or are perhaps too self-motivated to contribute to the good of their organizations.


What to Blogs have to do with it?

Weblogs (AKA Blogs) are important. If you're not familiar with Blogs, read Rebecca Blood's excellent Weblogs: A History and Perspective.

1. Blogs are a free authoring tool that enables anyone with a net connection to publish content on the web. The doors are open.

2. You cannot keep up with the raw flow of information being posted to the web without a lot of help. The Blogs of people you trust point the way to the good stuff. For example, I read Camworld because it has proven worthy of my time; I've grown to trust Cameron Barrett -- I know where he's coming from.

3. In time, organizations will encourage in-house Blogging.



Tacit & Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge Creation Spiral

In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. When markets shift, technologies proliferate, competitors multiply, and products become obsolete almost overnight, successful companies are those that consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization, and quickly embody it in new technologies and products. These activities define the knowledge-creating company, whose sole business is continuous innovation. (source: Ikujiro Nonaka, The Knowledge-Creating Company, Harvard Business Review, November-December 1991)


Explicit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge


You can write it down. Easy to share.

It?s tough to explain. Tough to share.


Left brain, pragmatic ? learned. Think classroom.

Right brain, idealistic ? internalized. Think watercooler.

Theory of organization =

Machine for processing information

Living organism with a purpose

Knowledge =

Formal, systematic, quantifiable

Know-how and ingrained mental models and perspectives. Subjective, hunches, intuitive, highly personal.

Metrics =

Quantifiable: increased efficiency, lower costs, improved ROI

Qualitative: increased effectiveness, embodies company vision, expresses management aspirations and strategic goals, builds organizational knowledge network.

Impact =

Increases immediate capabilities

Profoundly shapes how we perceive the world around us.

Communicated =

Via words, textbooks, CBT

Via figurative language and symbolism, metaphor, analogy, modeling.


Other sources

The Economics of Knowledge, Eric E. Vogt. "Knowledge is a perspective shared by a community which allows for some effective action. ...the economics of knowledge dictate that we think in terms of creating collection systems that allow for the instantaneous sharing of these new perspectives. Collection systems allow us to listen to the needs and concerns of customers. Collection systems allow us to tap into the global flow of creative ideas and fuel the imagination of our knowledge community."

Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization (JOHO). David Weinberger has the most level-headed approach to knowledge management you'll find anywhere. He's also a laugh riot. JOHO is one of my favorite reads on the Web.

Weinberger? He's a commentator on NPR, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
"Jay of, has put a link to JOHO on his site, We hereby declare to be the new Finest Site on the Web."

Knowledge Management News, Brad Hoyt. Sporadic ever since Brad joined a start-up but worth the wait. Pointers, reflections, jobs, events.

University of Denver: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management

Karl Erik Sveiby's impressive "library" of on-line resources

ASTD on KM -- an overview of what's going on in the field

E&Y Center for Business Innovation -- a great resource

Scient sells KM as something that strengthens them and their customers

The Knowledge Management Paradox: How to Manage Your Most Strategic Asset, CPT

BRINT -- exhaustive and exhausting links and essays. More is more?

Thinking Business -- the document tracking end of KM

Leverage the Value-Hierarchy of Knowledge

Different skills produce different levels of impact. (Stan Davis)

Difficult to replace,
low value added

Staff jobs, skilled factory workers, experienced secretaries

?Know the ropes but don?t pull the strings.?
Don?t directly impact customers.


Difficult to replace,
high value added

Irreplaceable role in the organization;
nearly irreplaceable as individuals

Create the products and services
that draw the customers in


Easy to replace,
low value added

Unskilled, semi-skilled labor.

Success not dependent on these individuals.


Easy to replace,
high value added


Work is valuable but not this particular individual.


Often, the value added is the information subtracted.

A hired hand is not a hired mind. Routine, low-skill work, even if it's done manually, does not generate or emply human capital for the organization. Unleashing the human capital already resident in the organization requires minimizing mindless tasks, meaningless paperwork, unproductive infights. The Taylorized workplace squandered human assets in such activities.

'Informate' = change the work to add more value to customers.

Outsourcing frees resources to continue developing high-return expertise.

Capitalize means providing opportunities for learning. People need to feel they?re ?in the game,? and not ?being kicked around by it.?

How to Capitalize on High-Value Knowledge

Structural capital company property builds on corporate yellow pages, knowledge maps, speedy transfer. Do enough and no more; many overinvest. HP and others find that demand-driven approach is more effective than pushing information into people?s emailboxes. Avoid overinvesting by making it okay not to know everything ? leverage the expertise of specialists. When a manager brings in a problem, the experts teach her how to apply the lessons of a module to solve it.

Customer capital, the relationships of the company with its customers, is measured by market share, customer retention and defection, and profit per customer. This is the most valuable capital of all it's where the money is but ironically, it's also the least well managed. Tom Stewart has a wonderful line, The customer today can call the tune because he knows the score. The goal is to maintain an increasingly intimate relationship. Empowered customers deal directly with companies' databases.

Ten Principles for Managing Intellectual Capital

  1. Companies don't own human and customer capital. Companies share the ownership of human assets with employees. They share ownership of customer capital with suppliers and customers. An adversarial relationship with employees destroys wealth.
  2. To create human capital it can use, a company needs to foster teamwork, communities of practice, and other social forms of learning.
  3. To manage and develop human capital, companies must unsentimentally recognize that some employees, however intelligent or talented they are, aren?t assets. Invest in proprietary and strategic knowledge workers; minimize all other costs.
  4. Structural capital is most easy to control because companies own it, but customers are where the money comes from.
  5. Structural capital serves two purposes: to amass stockpiles of knowledge that support the work customers value, and to speed the flow of that information inside the company. Just-in-time knowledge is more efficient that knowledge stored in the warehouse.
  6. Substitute information and knowledge for expensive physical and financial assets.
  7. Knowledge work is custom work. Mass production does not yield high profits.
  8. Analyze your value chain to see what information is most crucial. The knowledge work is generally downstream, close to the customers.
  9. Focus on the flow of information, not the flow of materials. Information once supported the real business; now it is the real business.
  10. Human, structural and customer capital work together.

Source: Thomas Stewart, Intellectual Capital

Ideas @ Work

Diane McFerrin Peters

(Harvard Management Update, Vol. 5 #3, March 2000)

Most companies underestimate the importance of intangible assets such as knowledge, creativity, ideas, and relationships. All these account for more value in our economy than the tangibles. Yet it's difficult for companies to get their arms around intangibles, so they rarely protect them as carefully as they do bricks and hardware. What would you do if your smartest people suddenly left? How can you ensure that what one department or division learns is widely shared throughout the company?

1) Create a setting for sharing knowledge.
Access to knowledge breeds more knowledge, and the best KM techniques ensure that everyone's involved. Try an open meeting policy.

2) Eliminate communication filters.
Politics, turf, and implementation responsibilities can squelch ideas in traditional communication channels. Going outside the channels, for example, by allowing people to skip levels--leads to more ideas on how to do things better.

3) Prioritize the tasks.
Most companies' to-do lists contain twice as much as they could ever accomplish. A prioritization process can align brainpower and effort behind what's truly strategic. Senior leaders get together to rank all vital activities first to last, no ties allowed. The process lets people challenge assumptions about the value of long-running projects, share knowledge about what is being accomplished, and break down the departmental barriers that bottle up ideas and creativity.

4) Keep time budgets.
Few individuals and fewer organizations get a true read on where their time and effort really go.

Picasso had a collection of masterpieces in his home. They were hung slightly crooked, and visitors couldn't resist the temptation to straighten them. But Picasso felt that when a painting was straight, the observer focused on the frame around it. When the frame was crooked, the beauty of the image jumped out. It's the same with knowledge. Instead of trying to put boundaries around it, we should be letting it jump out of its frame.

Enlightenment Magazine on < href="">Collective Intelligence

George Por's Blog of Collective Intelligence

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2003

Building Community

Building community is like gardening: you plant the seeds and pray something worthwhile happens. Fertilizer helps. Care is indispensable. But you can't force them to grow.

Online Community Technologies and Concepts by Cameron Barrett

reputation management
content management
mail list management
document management
collaborative filtering


Well, duh.

Internet Time Group on building community (dated)

Beyond One-to-One: The Power of Purposeful Communities, ArsDigita
Building an Online Community (book), ArsDigita

Learnativity on Building Community

Nine Timeless Design Strategies for Community Building

(Amy Jo Kim)

Doblin Group's community bibliography

Joel Udell's Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration is a comprehensive guide to software for coordinating events, discussing issues, publishing findings, and making & distributing news.

These Sites Make Teams Work, Fast Company's comparison of five Web-based tools that are designed to help teams work better.

Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace by Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt
Distributed Learning Communities, CU Denver
Inhabiting the Virtual City, Judith Donath
The Nature of Nets, Doblin Group
Collaborative Strategies -- great case studies and astute analysis by SF consulting firm. groupware gurus.

Cafe Knowhow from The World Cafe (Juanita Brown)
Howard Rheingold handpaints his shoes,
group jazz hosts events

Electronic Learning Communities Research Group at Georgia Tech. (Amy Bruckman)
Sociable Media Group at MIT (Judith Donath)
Online Discussion Groups

Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion (Collins and Berge)

The Last Word: Where is the Future of Learning? by Nick van Dam, eLearning, November 2001

Yet, there are times when people need to see each other face-to-face for optimal learning. What are these?

Teambuilding—True teambuilding means being together—at the same place. Building trust, a sense of purpose, and commitment to outcomes requires an intimacy not possible through technology at this time.

Personal coaching—Feedback and coaching around performance issues is difficult, if not impossible, if the climate of trust and respect hasn’t been built in real-time, face-to-face.

Networking/Teaming—Getting a sense of an individual, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and crafting the invisible links that tie a network together require engaging the senses in the interaction.

Building culture—Organizational culture is built on a shared commitment to values. The shaping of these values to inspire and motivate performance need multiple face-to-face contacts with all involved—thinking, doing, acting, and reacting to embed the cultural values in each person.

The Invisible Key to Success, Fortune, Tom Stewart (1996)

Denham Grey's Knowledge Community has a great and growing selection of links on communities of practice, who's doing what, and who the players are. See also his Collaboration Tools (How can you have community without collaboration?)

Convergence is coming....

On-line Collaborative Learning Environments, a special issue of Journal of International Forum of Educational Technology & Society

Setting up a live eLearning session, a how-to by Bryan Chapman

Is "virtual community" just a Ponzi scheme?

Participating on The WeLL taught me more about community than anything since. They have a deal (until 3/31/01) where you can try it out for $2. Use me as your reference ([email protected]).The WeLL was acquired. The only way I could maintain my email address and access was to purchase Salon Premium. Good bye, old friend.

Wenger's Communities of Practice Home Page

Rheingold Associates


Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim. ISBN: 0201874849 . $29.99. Check out the companion web site.

Don't leave out the fun.

The Social Life of Information

by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguit (2000).

Well-written argument that kontent is not king. The refuge of simplistic infocentric futurists: demassification, decentralization, denationalization, despacialization, disintermediation, and disaggregation.

Jay's notes on The Social Life

Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier

Harvard Business Reivew, 1/1/00
by Etienne C. Wenger & William M. Snyder

A new organizational form is emerging in companies that run on knowledge: the community of practice. And for this expanding universe of companies, communities of practice promise to radically galvanize knowledge sharing, learning, and change. A community of practice is a group of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise.

Communities of practice can drive strategy, generate new lines of business, solve problems, promote the spread of best practices, develop people's skills, and help companies recruit and retain talent. The paradox of such communities is that although they are self-organizing and thus resistant to supervision and interference, they do require specific managerial efforts to develop them and integrate them into an organization.

Fred Nichols on Communities of Practice (2000)

Nurturing Three Dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks, Knowledge Management Review, Richard McDermott, PhD (1999)

Key Hypotheses in Supporting Communities of Practice by John Sharp (1997)

Peter Senge: "Knowledge generation really only occurs in teams, where people engage in doing meaningful work." Teams are task-oriented and fleeting; they don't last. As the teams dissolve, people go off and reform in other teams. But they keep those networks of relationships, and they maintain those community ties." The Fifth Discipline... "was really about team learning and not very much about organizational learning. It took all our experience with member companies to recognize that communities are the place where this knowledge moves into, gets tapped, accessed, diffused and shared. Knowledge is contextual; it comes in the context of doing work. We send people off to training, we educate them, we give them tools and ideas. But that's not really knowledge generation. The real question is what happens when people try to use their training?"

Learning Organization (but read the above)

Telepresence just has to be part of the secret of online community-building.

Dance of Change

Peter Henschel, in LiNEzine

The manager’s core work in this new economy is to create and support a work environment that nurtures continuous learning. Doing this well moves us closer to having an advantage in the never-ending search for talent.

By sheer force of habit, we often substitute training for real learning. Managers often think training leads to learning or, worse, that training is learning. But people do not really learn with classroom models of training that happen episodically. These models are only part of the picture. Asking for more training is definitely not enough—it isn’t even close. Seeing the answer as “more training” often obscures what’s really needed: lifelong, continuous learning in work and at work.

That is one reason why preserving the integrity of these informal communities is so important. The worst effects of downsizing and reengineering come from their complete disregard for communities of practice. The fact that training deals only with explicit knowledge, while the value is often in tacit knowledge, is another reason training can get at only part of what is understood to be effective. The other main limitation of traditional classroom training is that it is episodic and mostly relies on “push” (we want you to know this now) rather than “pull” (I need to know this now and am ready to learn it).

Another dimension to the community idea is seldom discussed, but critically important: Learning is powerfully driven by the critical link between learning and identity. We most often learn with and through others.

What we choose to learn depends on:

  1. Who we are
  2. Who we want to become
  3. Which communities we wish to join or remain part of.

So, not wanting to be like “them” can be enough to keep someone from learning. That fact seems to hold whether we are talking about company apprentices, high school gangs, or seasoned software engineers.

But it gets even more interesting: IRL studies, among others, have shown that as much as 70% of all organizational learning is informal. Everyday, informal learning is constant and everywhere. If this insight is true even in a bare majority of enterprises, why would we leave so much learning to sheer chance?

Posted by JonKatz on Tuesday October 03, @12:00PM

from the de-bunking-the-utopians dept.

Berkeley scholar Joseph Lockard (a doctoral candidate in English Literature) claims the idea of the virtual community is a Ponzi scheme, promoted by benighted utopians and elitists who equate access to the Net and the Web with social and democratic enlightenment. This myth has been virtually unchallenged for years, he says, and in a provocative and interesting essay called Progressive Politics, Electronic Individualism, and the Myth of Virtual Community, Lockard claims that it's nothing more than a bunch of hooey. Does anybody out there think virtual communities are real?

Lockard's essay scores more than once. He's right in going after the hype that has surrounded the idea of the virtual community for years now. The tech world is rich and elitist, and becomes more so daily. Apart from developments like open source, which has done much to try and make technology more inclusive (though very few people will ever be able to successfully program) there are few signs yet that the Net is re-vitalizing democracy, or that virtual communities are supplanting or improving upon real ones. online, we see little organized concern for the technologically-deprived, or worry about the inevitable social divisions created by classes of empowered and tech-deprived people. It's already obvious that people with access to computing and the Net will have enormous educational, social and business advantages over those who don't; the latter face menial, low-paying jobs all over the planet.

Lockard also accurately points out that the largest communities forming online are corporate, not individualistic, and their agenda is marketing, not community. He calls the very idea of a "virtual community" an oxymoron.

"Instead of real communities, cyber-communities sit in front of the [late but not lamented] Apple World opening screen that pictures a cluster of cartoon buildings which represent community functions (click on post office for e-mail, a store for online shopping, a pillared library for electronic encyclopedias, etc.)" Such software addresses only a desire for community, Lockard writes, not the real thing.


...Certainly there are bulletin boards and mailing lists -- from sex sites to San Francisco's WELL, from media-centric gatherings from pet rescue forums to AOL's Senior Net -- that have functioned for some time as very real communities that foster conversation and mutual understanding, spawn friendships, generate support for members in trouble. Topical, community oriented Websites -- everything from, Kuro5shin and to Slashdot -- function as information or true cultural communities as well -- sometimes for idea-sharing, sometimes for material support and information.

The early cyber-gurus definitely got carried away by notions that everything would become virtual, a mistake now shared by all sorts of panicked businesses -- publishing comes to mind -- and starry-eyed utopians. Cyberspace is definitely a new kind of space, but there's as yet no reason to believe that it won't compliment or co-exist with the material kind. So far at least, virtual communities suggest a Middle Kingdom, existing somewhere in the middle between the utopian fantasies and Lockard's dismissive jeers.

Online people do make powerful connections and the virtual realm does permit us to share information (including software), research and commerce and and encounter all sorts of people in all kinds of places -- something that has never been possible before. But when the dust settles, and if the history of technology offers any clues, people will always hang out with their friends, get drunk. They'll still be logging off their computers to have sex, get married, fight with their parents, send their kids off to school and go to the movies, and seek out the company of human beings to meet human needs. The best virtual communities have always complimented that need, not supplanted it.

Corporate Culture in Internet Time

By Art Kleiner

Anyone who has tried to create a culture knows it can't be done on Internet time. Cultures aren't designed. They simmer; they fester; they brew continually, evolving their particular temperament as people learn what kind of behavior works or doesn't work in the particular company. The most critical factor in building a culture is the behavior of corporate leaders, who set examples for everyone else (by what they do, not what they say). From this perspective, the core problem faced by most e-commerce companies is not a lack of culture; it's too much culture. They already have two significant cultures at play - one of hype and one of craft.

...during most of the 20th century, as companies matured into mainstream corporations, other cultures - those of finance, labor relations, marketing and managerial bureaucracy - eclipsed and overwhelmed the cultures of hype and craft.

It is currently fashionable to say that the old, tightly knit mentoring relationships of bricks-and-mortar companies are dead, that individuals are now responsible for their own development and career growth. Unfortunately, this view is not sustainable; there are too many risks, even in a high-growth economy, and too much human waste. The task of developing people will move away from companies, since they are not stable enough; it will move to the team level. In other words, if success depends on building a new "culture," that effort will have a lot more effect at the team level than on any company-wide level. It's reasonable to expect, in the turbulent e-commerce business environment, that companies won't necessarily evolve intact cultures. But teams do; as one e-commerce veteran puts it, they're "islands of stability in a place where nothing else is stable."

Ultimately, I suggested to Jane, all the organizational-learning techniques in the world wouldn't do her any good unless she were willing to go to her bosses, the startup's founders, and say something like this:

"If you let me build my own team, and choose and develop the people, I'm willing to take on [name of tough, challenging project here]. But I want to take our own development seriously. I want to try some new ways of organizing the work, regularly evaluate them, and try to learn how to manage ourselves in this new territory. After a few months, we'll come back together and see what we've accomplished, and which of those innovations might apply to the other teams around here. But it will only work if you give our team enough autonomy to learn from our experiments."


12 Principles for Designing an Online Gaming Community

  • Define the community's purpose

  • Create distinct gathering spaces

  • Provide rich communications

  • Implement a rankings ladder

  • Evolve member profiles over time

  • Provide online hosting and support

  • Offer guidance to new members

  • Provide a growth path

  • Support member-created subgroups

  • Anticipate disputes

  • Hold regularly scheduled events

  • Acknowledge the passing of time

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

Work in the Information Age
First Monday, 5/2000

"It's not what you know, but who you know," could, paradoxically, be the motto for the Information Age. We discuss the emergence of personal social networks as the main form of social organization in the workplace.

NetWORK is our term for the work of establishing and managing personal relationships. These relationships can involve a rich variety of people including customers, clients, colleagues, vendors, outsourced service providers, venture capitalists, alliance partners in other companies, strategic peers, experts such as legal and human relations staff, and contractors, consultants, and temporary workers. These are fundamental business relationships in today's economy. As we have noted, studies that focus on narrowly scoped "teams" miss the vital work that goes into relationships that enmesh workers in a much wider, more complex social framework.

To keep their network engines revved, workers constantly attend to three tasks:

  1. Building a network: Adding new nodes (people) to the network so that there are available resources when it is time to conduct joint work;
  2. Maintaining the network, where a central task is keeping in touch with extant nodes;
  3. Activating selected nodes at the time the work is to be done.

NetWORK is an ongoing process of keeping a personal network in good repair. In the words of one study participant, "Relationships are managed and fed over time, much as plants are."

The reduction of corporate infrastructure means that instead of reliance on an organizational backbone to access resources via fixed roles, today's workers increasingly access resources through personal relationships. Rather than being embraced by and inducted into "communities of practice," workers meticulously build up personal networks, one contact at a time. Accounts of the "virtual" organization and organizations with flattened hierarchies have stressed the benefits of the streamlined, nimble, democratic workplace, responsive to contingency, empowering workers to make decisions quickly and independently. It seems however, that these transformed organizations also mean reduced institutional support, and that individual workers incur some of the costs associated with these corporate gains. In the Information Age, workers meet the challenges of diminishing organizational resources through who they know.

from Feed's loop discussion on community, Crowd Control

It is this discussion that has captured the categories we use to analyze the social impact of the Internet. The Internet has been drafted to serve duty as yet more evidence of the disintegration of "community", etc. As is sadly always the case in American intellectual discourse, complex social and historical issues get reduced as quickly as possible to simplistic binary oppositions which exclude by definition all the really interesting choices and developments (a good analogy here is our reduction of the categories used to analyze sexual behavior to either promiscuity or monogamy).

I do not believe the internet is an effective facilitator of community. And this fact is largely irrelevant to how we judge its impact on society. Instead, what the internet facilitates is friendship, and it does this in a very 19th century way - through writing. The modern replacement for traditional community is a web of self-chosen relations that can now span the globe. In this respect we are recreating the relations that existed among scholars and humanists in Europe before the modern era, except that now it is no longer just the elite that have this opportunity.

The development of friendship in this manner is I believe a very good alternative to traditional community, which, for all the "meaning" it bestows on life, is more often than not coercive, intolerant and closed-off. I see the disappearance of the one and the ascent of the other as a good thing, not something to lament. (Most of the intellectuals today whining about community would never put up with one in reality for a second, since they would never assent to the restrictions on their personal freedom that communities traditional require).

Participation Inequality

from Jakob Nielsen

A major reason why user-contributed content rarely turns into a true community is that all aspects of Internet use are characterized by severe participation inequality (a term I have from Will Hill of AT&T Laboratories). A few users contribute the overwhelming majority of the content, while most users either post very rarely or not at all. Unfortunately, those people who have nothing better to do than post on the Internet all day long are rarely the ones who have the most insights. In other words, it is inherent in the nature of the Internet that any unedited stream of user-contributed content will be dominated by uninteresting material.

The key problem is the unedited nature of most user-contributed content. Any useful postings drown in the mass of "me too" and flame wars. The obvious solution is to introduce editing, filtering, or other ways of prioritizing user-contributed content. One idea is to pick a few of the best reader comments and make them prominent by posting them directly on the primary page, while other reader comments languish on a secondary page. It is also possible to promote the most interesting postings based on a vote by other readers who could click "good stuff" or "bozo" buttons.

Collaboration is a lot more than communication and will eventually split off into a separate topic. See Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration.



Value discipline

Where it shines

Source of shareholder value

Global focus

End stage


Discontinuous innovation

Early market

Infectious charisma

Shared vision



Product leadership

Early, bowling alley, tornado

Pierce competitiveness

Measurement & compensation

Caste systems


Operational excellence

Tornado, Main Street

Relentless improvement

Business Planning



Customer intimacy

Bowling alley, Main Street

Perceptive adaptation

Customer focus


From Clock of the Long Now


The Learning HIstory Project is a combination of story telling and corporate culture. Very much in tune with the work we did at Oral History Associates.

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:10 PM | Comments (5)

November 05, 2003

Social Software

Many-2-Many on Corante

Clay Shirky

Ross Mayfield & Socialtext

The Social Software Weblog

Seb's Open Research

Are you ready for social software?

Cappuccino: When it comes to knowledge management and learning, "we may be witnessing the death throes of the command and control organization," according to Berkeley, California-based author and researcher Jay Cross. "The pendulum seems to be swinging from an institutional, top-down model to an individual, or bottom-up, model," he said. Learning, according to Cross, can be defined as optimizing the performance of your social network. You want to find information faster and cut out the less useful, or underperforming parts of your network. Social software makes this happen. "Reputation has to factor into it," he added. The eBay model for feedback may be relevant beyond the online auction business.

Posted by Jay Cross at 02:19 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 12, 2003

String theory

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2003

Learning Links

Frequent Stops

Edu_RSS (syndication) from Stephen Downes
elearningpost, Maish Nichani's daily digest
Learning Circuits
& blog, wisdom collected by ASTD
Elearning Centre, from Jane Knight in the UK
Stephen Downes keeps tabs daily & also an archive
elearnspace, educator George Siemens is encyclopedic
eLearning Guru, Kevin Kruse has a cornucopia of resources
Training Watch, a newcomer but lookin' good
CLO, now a monthly magazine

Research on Learning

LineZine, astute but inactive
Learnativity, Marcia Conner and Wayne Hodgins
Big Dog, a great overview from Don Clark
CIO, the IT magazine
eLearn, from the IEEE
Learning & Training Innovations née eLearning magazine
eLearning Forum
eLearning Guild

Ageless Learner
First Monday
Clive Shepherd
ISPI Performance Express
IT Training
Learning Development Institute
Elliott Masie
Online Community Report
Technology Source

Chron Higher Ed
EPSS Central
CIT InfoBits
more ed journals

The Virtual Community
MIT Future of Learning Group
Informal education
Creating a Learning Culture
Training Journal
vnu - E-newsletters Archive
vnu - Recommended Resources
Denham Grey
Sun training - Executive Focus
Lab for Applied Ontology
VNU free sessions
USDLA Journal

eLearning Start4All


Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization, from David Weinberger. Hilarious take on knowledge management. Intense learning + entertainment = the way life should be. Now, with blog.
KM Magazine
CIO Magazine - KM Research Center

eBusiness & strategy

Strategy and Business (Booz)
Mercer Management Journal
Cap Gemini E&Y Center for Business Innovation Outstanding!
McKinsey Quarterly
Santa Fe Institute Update
Technology Review -- MIT. Come on, push the envelope.
These are fantastic catalysts for thinking out of the box.

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:53 AM | Comments (3)

Learning Standards

If you're looking for information on XML and Web Standards, try the Workflow Learning Institute. This page addresses learning object metadata. Rather than reinvent the wheel, you can find descriptions galore in:

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards :
A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption

(2nd edition)

Eighty-two pages of cogent explanations, history, processes, and reference sources. This is one of those reference works, like a good dictionary, that you need at your fingertips for answering questions about standards you may be a little fuzzy on.

Philosophically, standards for learning object make an awful lot of sense. They have the potential to bring to learning design the efficiency of using component assemblies to build houses or computers. Standardized objects are interchangeable parts that can be combined to create non-standard, personal learning. Perhaps they can be recycled.

In practice, several issues remain. How large is an object? To some it's a course, to others it's a paragraph. Wayne Hodgins foresees objects like grains of sand, taking the form of any mould they are poured into.If objects are the size of sentences, will we ever be able to string them together into something meaninful? Assemble all the film clips in your repository, and you still won't get Citizen Kane.

The Emerging Standards Effort in eLearning by Ed Cohen, eLearning Magazine, January 2002:

Torrents of tags
Much of what SCORM has assembled is preoccupied with the tracking, tagging, and storing of content objects. The standards dwell at length upon "metadata," specifying the identifying tags that all learning objects in a course should carry-be they graphics, text, animations, or simulations (see "A Primer on Metdata for Learning Objects," e-learning, October, p.26). For those who envision a future in which users wander through vast content repositories filled with such objects-plucked from various courses, each of them immaculately categorized and easy to use-SCORM is a dream.

This focus on metadata labeling is understandable, given that we all believe reusing course content will be crucial in the near future. Oddly though, this standard may be both too demanding and not demanding enough. If SCORM is ultimately dominated by a giant catalog of tagging requirements, it would pose a daunting hurdle for companies with large amounts of legacy content for dubious gains. And it would ignore important principles of instructional design-which, if they were established as a uniform standard, would help trainers and teachers get the most out of their courseware.

Online Learning, November 2000:

"Web-based training standards entered a new era in June when the major developers agreed to make learning management systems (LMSs) and content from different vendors work together. The agreement between the Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Global Learning Consortium is not an official partnership ? yet. And because it is informal in nature the responsibilities of the respective parties haven?t been clearly defined. But it was determined that the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative of the Department of Defense, which was the catalyst for the new spirit of cooperation, would act as a coordinating body."

Standards: The Vision and the Hype, Learning Circuits, by Tom Barron The drive to create industry-wide technology standards for e-learning is gaining momentum and adherents. But some see perils--and posturing--amid the promise.

All about Learning Technology Standards, LINEzine, Wayne Hodgins. Learnativity has the articles, presentations, and links of standards visionary Wayne Hodgins.

Achieving Interoperability in e-Learning, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh.

In today's Internet economy, achieving integration and interoperability in digital systems is increasingly important. Such integration is possible with open protocols, which allow an organization or system to exchange information with suppliers, partners, and customers in a format that accommodates each organization's system. The same approach is being applied in the e-learning arena, where a new breed of software application frameworks and approaches seek to enable true interoperability of separate systems. This article examines trends and enabling frameworks for making true interoperability a reality.

An Intro to Metadata Tagging, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh. Get ready for the Dewey Decimal Classification system of e-learning

The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, an online book on the topic

Standards Groups

Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (JAPAN) -- Objective is to establish an active society by reasonably and effectively providing a learning environment which enables anyone to learn anytime, anywhere, according to the goals, pace, interests and understanding of individuals and groups. Also, to foster experts who will be the origin of global competitiveness. Targets: Advanced learning infrastructure that are from Primary and secondary institution to high school, company training, and tertiary school; Technology and Service; Learning system and contents that use information technology, such as network. Examples: e-learning, Web-based training, technology-based training, computer-based training, long distance learning.

World Wide Web Consortium -- Develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential, specifically XML.

Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) -- Formed in 1996. The mission is to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for software components, tools, technologies and design methods that facilitate the development, deployment, maintenance, and interoperation of computer implementations of education and training components and systems.

Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe (ARIADNE) -- Develops the results of the ARIADNE and ARIADNE II European Projects, which created tools and methodologies for producing, managing and reusing computer-based pedagogical elements and telematics supported training curricula.

IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) -- Developing and promoting open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning activities, such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems. IMS -- Meta Tags and Knowledge Bits

Advanced Distributed Learning Network -- Purpose is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required. This initiative is designed to accelerate large-scale development of dynamic and cost-effective learning software and to stimulate an efficient market for these products in order to meet the education and training needs of the military and the nation's workforce of the future. It will do this through the development of a common technical framework for computer and net-based learning that will foster the creation of reusable learning content as "instructional objects." Check out Plugfest 5.

The Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC) -- An international association of technology-based training professionals. The AICC develops guidelines for the aviation industry in the development, delivery, and evaluation of CBT and related training technologies.

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative -- An open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models. DCMI's activities include consensus-driven working groups, global workshops, conferences, standards liaison, and educational efforts to promote widespread acceptance of metadata standards and practices. (If you're invited, don't get out your passport. That's Dublin, Ohio.)


Judy Brown's home page

SCORM is mil-spec. It will probably work in military apps where standards can be rigidly enforced, and where performance outweighs price much more than in the commercial sector. SCORM comes from the same place as $1000 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats.

Corporations may find it easier to standardize learning as part of the Semantic Web. It's XML, interoperable, flexible, and will soon be the underpinning of business transactions. What better way to integrate learning and work? The Semantic Web would enable us to build performance support directly into the job (rather than as an add-on.)

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:22 AM | Comments (3)

The eLearning Museum

Goldfield, Nevada, is the site of the largest gold strike in the 20th century. Founded in 1902, Goldfield boasted a population of 30,000 during its boom year of 1906. The bar at Tex Rickard's Northern Saloon was so long it required 80 tenders to serve its customers. My great grandfather invested heavily in Goldfield shares; they now trade for pennies and mighty Goldfield is a ghost town.

When I began writing about eLearning in 1998, some of us felt the training industry had struck gold! We were going to change the world and pick up some dot-com riches while we did it. Irrational exuberance? We didn't think so at the time. eLearning was going to make email look like a rounding error. It reminded me of the spirit of Woodstock. People in the business exchanged knowing smiles. "We must be in heaven, man!"

In late 1999, Training and Development magazine interviewed me....

Says Cross, "Successful leaders inspire members of their organizations to work smarter. Collaboration, learning portals, and skill snacks have replaced Industrial-Age training. The Web is revitalizing personalized learning and meaningful apprenticeship. Learning is merging with work."

Here's what lies ahead in our not-too-distant training future, according to Cross:

At least I didn't get specific on "not-too-distant," did I? Well, it looks like I did.

According to Jay Cross, information architect of Internet Time Group, "eLearning" is the target model for corporate training in the next three to five years. It will be a key survival skill for corporations and free agent learners and is a convergence of:

What happened? We fumbled the implementation. We naively expected workers to flock to the glowing screens. We thought we could take the instructors out of the learning process and let workers gobble up self-paced (i.e., "don't expect help from us") lessons on their own. We were wrong. First-generation eLearning was a flop. Companies licensed "libraries" of content no one paid attention to. PowerPoint became the authoring language of choice. (Personally, I get more content from a Jackson Pollock drip painting than from someone else's PowerPoint slides.) Dropout rates were horrendous. After-the-fact finger pointing is not productive. I don't use the term eLearning much these days.

Lance Dublin and I wrote a book with our prescription for turning things around: (1) gain stakeholder support through change management and (2) offer worthwhile learning experiences and sell them to the learners. Too little, too late.

I'm moving on to things that work, a set of tools, techniques, and attitudes I call 20/80 learning. They are tied to workflow, immediate need, human interaction, respect for the worker, networking, and more. This page will remain as a relic of yesteryear's euphoria. If my grandchildren ask "What did you do for SmartForce?" or "Why did you spend time at Cisco?" or "What did you speak about at Online Learning in Anaheim?" I'll have a URL to back up my stories.


SmartForce, Learn Fast, Go Fast, pdf (11/99)
Disclosure: SmartForce was an Internet Time Group client..

Will Companies Ever Learn? "Learning has got to be connected directly to the business," says Judy Rosenblum, former chief learning officer at Coca-Cola. "The idea is to stay away from a standard 'learning program.' Instead, learning needs to be embedded in processes, projects, and experiences. If you put your energy into people who are ready and willing to join you, and if those people add value to the business, others will come."

eLearning: Rhetoric vs Reality, Gautam Ghosh

Into the Future, a Vision Paper by Wayne Hodgins and Jay Cross (2/2000) for ASTD and NGA. pdf.

Cisco eLearning
Disclosure: Cisco Systems is an Internet Time Group client.

The Future of Online Learning by Stephen Downes (7/98), a classic

The eLearning FAQ

Caution: I wrote this in March 2000, before the dot-com bubble burst, and it remains somewhat overenthusiastic. Here's a more current take on what's going on:

The State of eLearning
Guest lecture at the Business School of San Francisco State University, October 2, 2002.

For something more current, see Jane Knight's wonderful Guide to e-Learning at e-Learning Centre


eLearning is learning on Internet Time, the convergence of learning and networks and the New Economy. eLearning is a vision of what corporate training can become. We've only just begun.

eLearning is to traditional training as eBusiness is to business as usual. Both use the net to augment tradiitonal means.

This FAQ addresses corporate learning. In this context, effective eLearning dramatically cuts the time it takes for people to become and remain competent in their jobs. For context, check out the first eLearning White Paper ever written.

eLearning is the convergence of learning and the Internet.

Howard Block
Bank of America Securities

eLearning uses the power of networks, primarily those that rely on Internet technologies but also satellite netowrks, and digital content to enable learning.

Eilif Trondsen,
SRI Learning on Demand

eLearning is the use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer, and extend LEARNING.

Elliott Masie,
The Masie Center

eLearning is Internet-enabled learning. Components can include content delivery in multiple formats, management of the learning experience, and a networked community of learners, content developers and experts. eLearning provides faster learning at reduced costs, increased access to learning, and clear accountability for all participants in the learning process. In today's fast-paced culture, organizations that implement eLearning provide their work force with the ability to turn change into an advantage.

Cisco Systems

eLearning is dynamic. Today's content, in real time, not old news or "shelfware." On-line experts, best sources, quick-and-dirty approaches for emergencies.

eLearning operates in real time. You get what you need, when you need it.

eLearning is collaborative. Because people learn from one another, eLearning connects learners with experts, colleagues, and professional peers, both in and outside your organization.

eLearning is individual. Every e-learner selects activities from a personal menu of learning opportunities most relevant to her background, job, and career at that very moment.

eLearning is comprehensive.
eLearning provides learning events from many sources, enabling the e-learner to select a favored format or learning method or training provider.

Greg Priest,
The e-Learning Company


eLearning [is] the delivery of content via all electronic media, including the Internet, intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape, interactive TV, and CD-ROM.

Connie Weggen
WR Hambrecht & Co

We define eLearning companies as those that leverage various Internet and Web technologies to create, enable, deliver, and/or facilitate lifelong learning.

Robert Peterson,
Piper Jaffray

eLearning is using the power of the network to enable learning, anytime, anywhere.



Best Practices

Accept no substitutes! Anyone with a web site can claim to provide eLearning. How does one separate the real stuff from the bogus? Legitimate eLearning is more likely to:

eLearning? e-Learning?
E-learning? E-Learning?

In the early days, way back in 1998, it was always e-learning, with the hyphen. SmartForce is the "e-Learning Company", and Cisco's John Chambers evangelizes e-learning.

As eLearning matured, some of us are dropped the hyphen (and started "intercapping" the "L".) Microsoft uses eLearn, as do SRI and Internet Time Group. The Google search engine finds:

Does it matter?


Change is rampant. It's the Knowledge Era, New Economy, Internet Age, Information Revolution, yadda, yadda, yadda. Brains have replaced brawn.

Networked organizations demand rapid-fire, front-line decisions, and people must be in the know to make them. Everything's converging or already networked, cycle times are speeding up, and competition is coming from all directions. Are you ready?

Staffing for eBusiness is a make/buy decision.

Buying is pricey and shortsighted. (Techies with tongue-studs and purple hair command six-figure salaries, and there are too few of them to go around. We're short half a million high-tech workers, and business gets more techie every day.) Buying talent is not like buying tools. The shelf-life of knowledge has dwindled to the point that a four-year engineering degree is obsolete in, well, about four years.

People once agonized over career decisions for fear of looking like "job hoppers." These days they hear about a new opportunity over lunch and go to work for a competitor that afternoon. Money doesn't necessarily talk to a young person who drives a Porsche. What keeps people on board these days is the opportunity to develop, to build valued skills, to achieve certifications, and to add to their store of intellectual capital.

Learning has become a vital business function, but old-style training can't keep pace with Internet time. Traditional workshops cost a fortune in airplane tickets and time away from the job. In the eyes of many senior managers, off-site workshops have always been somewhere between a total waste of time and a boondoggle, the "great training robbery." Training has grown too important to be delegated to training departments.

eLearning is attractive to corporations because it promises better use of time, accelerated learning, global reach, fast pace, and accountability. It's manageable. It cuts paperwork and administrative overhead. Sometimes it can be outsourced, providing more time for leveraging the organization's core competence. eLearners like it, too.

The Brand Called You

The Future of Work

Hire for attitude;
train for skill

Free Agent Declaration of Independence


As human capital becomes the chief source of economic value, education and training become lifelong endeavors for the vast majority of workers.

Peter J. Stokes,

We need to bring learning to people instead of bringing people to learning.

Elliott Masie,
The Masie Center

Technology has revolutionized business; now it must revolutionize learning.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time. Knowledge is more valuable and more powerful than natural resources, big factories, or fat bankrolls.

Tom Stewart,
Intellectual Capital

American education needs a fundamental breakthrough, a new dynamic that will light the way to a transformed educational system.

Chris Whittle
The Edison Project

Organizations today realize that they cannot use traditional training methods if they want to stay competitive. Because product cycles, competitive intelligence, industry information and corporate strategies are moving and changing so much faster than they need to, companies understand that the only way to get knowledge to their employees is thorough an eLearning initiative that relies on the Internet.

Kevin Oakes

Education is the next industrial era institution to go through a complete overhaul, starting in earnest in 2000. The driving force here is not so much concern with enlightening young minds as economics. In an information age, the age of the knowledge worker, nothing matters as much as the worker's brain.

Peter Schwartz
The Long Boom

Technological changes increase complexity and velocity of the work environment. Today's workforce has to process more information in a shorter amount of time. New products and services are emerging with accelerating speed.

WR Hambrecht + Co

eLearning solutions provide the missing link that allows organizations to effectively measure ROI and the learning to business results.

Dave Ellett

....the number one reason employees leave existing positions for new jobs is not pay but that their employer was not investing in their development.

Thomas Weisel Partners LLC

Learning is what more adults will do for a living in the 21st century.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray

Imagination is the most powerful human resource on the planet. Harnessing it and its resultant electronic tools in the service of education is the great hope of the world.

Glenn R. Jones
Jones International

Human skills are subject to obsolescence at a rate perhaps unprecedented in American History.

Alan Greenspan

It is estimated that we will need 1.3 million new computer scientists, systems analysts and computer programmers by 20006 in the United States. Yet, currently one out of every ten IT positions, or approximately 350,000 jobs, are open today.

Merrill Lynch

With the aging of the U.S. workforce (median age of US worker expected to increase from 35.3 to 40.6 in 2006) and technology automating a large percentage of unskilled jobs, training is necessary to remain relevant in today's knowledge-based economy.


Knowledge workers require greater flexibility in the workplace. Globalization, competition, and labor shortages cause employees to work longer, harder, and travel more than previous generations. A the same time, these workers require more independence and responsibility in their jobs and dislike close supervision. Today's knowledge workers have a nontraditional orientation to time and space, believing that as long as the job gets done on time, it is not important where or when it gets done. B the same token, they want the opportunity to allocate time for learning as needed. Modern training methods need to reflect these changes in lifestyle.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Discreet training events held off-site in a hotel room that fulfills the "20 hours per year, "check the box" regimen will not suffice.

Thomas Weisel Partners LLC

Drivers of Cisco's Learning and Training Needs

The Objectives

  • Fast, effective deployment of mission-critical knowledge
  • Well-trained and up-to-date workforce
  • Lower-cost learning

The Challenges

  • Geographically dispersed learners
  • Phenomenal growth
  • Difficult/Expensive training logistics
  • Need for Knowledge on Demand

The Pressures

  • Relentless Competition
  • Constantly changing technology
  • Shorter product cycles
  • Shorter time to market
Source: Cisco Systems


How does it work?

Different perspectives

eLearning is like a cubist painting. To make sense of it, you need to look at it from different perspectives.

From the philosophical viewpoint, eLearning is framed by the principles and practices of the eLearning community -- a mix of social concern, instructional design, software savvy, entrepreneurial zeal, and extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo. Another view looks to the components of eLearning -- collaboration, simulation, databases, and so forth. The eBusiness perspective relates eLearning to ERP, supply chain optimization, and disintermediation.

eLearning is revolutionary. As Nicholas Negroponte says, incrementalism is innovation's worst enemy. The Internet changes everything; education and training are about to be changed. Radically. It's time for a fresh approach.

eLearning focuses on the individual learner. For years, training has organized itself for the convenience and needs of instructors, institutions, and bureaucracies. Bad attitude. Think of learners as customers. Compete for their time and interests. Provide them legendary service. Convert them into raving fans. Give them choices. Don't make them reinvent the wheel.

From instructor-centric:

to learner-centric:

eLearning is forever. Continuous education. The forty-year degree. Daily learning. Work becomes learning, learning becomes work, and nobody ever graduates.

Performance is the goal. The objective is to become competent in the least time and with the least amount of training. If people could take a smart pill instead of logging in to class, bravo! How long is this going to take? No more credit for seat-time.

Most learning is social. The coffee room is a more effective place to learn than the classroom. Studies reveal that the majority of corporate learning is informal, i.e. outside of class. eLearning seeks to foster collaboration and peer interaction.

A classic study at Standard found that Hewlett Packard engineers who watched videotaped lectures followed by informal discussion performed better than Stanford engineering students who attended the same lectures on campus. Instead of an on-campus lecturer pouring content into students' heads, the HP engineers were challenged to construct their own interpretation of the subject matter.

Smart pill. Would you prefer this or the workshop?


Most eLearning is personalized. The best eLearning system learns about its users and tailors its offerings to their learning style, job requirements, career goals, current knowledge, and personal preferences. <buzzword alert> Small chunks of learning (granules, objects) are labeled (metatagged within IMS standards) so systems can automatically mix and match them to assemble and deliver individualized learning experiences. At least that's the dream. Nobody's fully there quite yet. </buzzwords>

Hierarchy of Learning Objects

eLearning is delivered in the right-sized pieces. Why take a one-hour class for the five minutes' worth of content you're looking for?

eLearners are responsible for their own learning. eLearning empowers them to manage and implement their own learning and development plans.

Education in the Knowledge Economy

Old Economy
Four-year Degree
Training as Cost Center
Learner Mobility
Distance Education
Correspondence & Video
One Size Fits All
Geographic Instituting

New Economy
Forty-Year Degree
Training as Competitive Advantage
Content Mobility
Distributed Learning
High-Tech Multimedia Centers
Tailored Programs
Brand Name Universities & Celebrity Professors
Virtual Learning Communities

Source: The Book of Knowledge, Merrill Lynch, p. 8


Overview of an eLearning Setup

eLearning is inevitably a mix of activities -- people learn better that way. An eLearning environment generally includes:

self-paced training delivered over the web (although it could be via book or CD or video or what have you)

1:many virtual events (which could take place in virtual classroom, virtual lecture hall, or expert-led discussion)

1:1 mentoring (which might entail coaching, help desk, office hours, periodic check-in, email exchanges)

simulation, because we learn by doing. Learners from all over the globe experiment on millions of dollars worth of routers and bridges at Mentor Labs. Consultants learn about eBusiness from a game developed by SMGnet.

collaboration, either joint problem-solving or discussion among study groups via discussion groups and chat rooms

live workshops (yes, the old way), for some topics are best taught in the real world by a flesh-and-blood instructor or expert

assessment, both for initial placement and for opting out of topics the learner has already mastered

competency roadmap, a custom learning plan based on job, career, and personal goals

authoring tools, to develop and update content

e-store, to pay for learning or post costs against budgets

learning management system which registers, tracks, and delivers content to learners; reports on learner progress, assessment results, and skill gaps for instructors; enrolls learners, provides security, and manages user access for administrators.

Important facets of eLearning

The continuous evolution of the learning industry is hell-bent toward an experience totally personalized to the individual learner. Today, the vertical communities accessed by an individual learner provide a comfortable envinroment to learn skills required in the learner's industry. Tomorrow, access will be through a corporate-sponsored community completely tailored to the individual's needs, with content delivered on demand and technology that will continually monitor the learner's abilities as the learning takes place, adjusting content and pace seamlessly.

Wade Baker
Payback Training Systems

Improved collaboration and interactivity among learners. In times when small instructor-led classes tend to be the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative. ...a study found that online students had more peer contact with others in the class, enjoyed it more, spent more time on class work, understood the material better, and performed, on average, 20% better than students who were taught in the traditional classroom.

WR Hambrecht + Co

The magic is in the mix!

eLearning blends the best of:

Elliott Masie
The Masie Center

How well does it work?

The cards aren't in yet. eLearning is too new to have produced hard evidence of learning gains. eLearning's top-line upside is speculative; its bottom-line savings are on more solid ground.

Undeniably, eLearning cuts the costs of travel, facilities, administrative overhead, duplication of effort, and more importantly, the opportunity cost of people away from the job in times of great need.

There's no doubt that eLearning can be rolled out fast. The time required to roll out a new product globally can shrink from months to hours.


Sharing and managing knowledge throughout our company...was one of the keys to reducing our operating costs by more than $2 billion per year....

Kenneth T. Derr
Chevron Corporation


...learners ...can better understand the material, leading to a 60% faster learning curve, compared to instructor-led training. ... Whereas the average content retention rate for an instructor-led class is only 58%, the more intensive e-learning experience enhances the retention rate by 25-60%. Higher retention of the material puts a higher value on every dollar spent on training.

WR Hambrecht + Co


Motorola calculates that every $1 it spends on training translates to $30 in productivity gains within three years.

A recent study found that corporations that employed a workforce with a 10% higher-than-average educational attainment level enjoyed 8/6% higher-than-average productivity.

Computer-based training and online training can reduce training costs over instructor-led training. A congressionally mandated review of 47 comparisons of multimedia instruction with more conventional approaches to instruction found time savings of 30% improved achievement and cost savings of 30-40%.

Merrill Lynch,
The Book of Knowledge

What are the pitfalls?


Whenever the topic of bandwidth comes up, the phone company yowls about ?the last mile,? the flimsy wire bottleneck between their switching station and your house.

e-Learning providers also have a bottleneck, the last yard from the monitor into the learner?s brain. Without motivation, this final connection will never be made.

Professional training via CD-ROM flopped. Why? Because we took instructors and coaches out of the picture. The learning process breaks down when "untouched by human hands." A ringing phone interrupts a standalone learning exercise, and CD-ROM courses morph into shelfware.

Companies that adopt eLearning as a cost-cutting measure and provides no human support will not be successful. eLearning is not training by robot. Learners will live up (or down) to expectations.

Which of these two scenarios presents a better environment for learning? Assume your boss arranged for one of these two learning events for you:

instructor-led, off site


Before you leave, the boss calls you in, tells you this is important, and explains what he expects you to come home with.

You receive an email from personnel.

You fly away to the beach-side resort hotel where training will take place.

You study at home after work.

Your peers know you?re away for learning. (They have to take up the slack.)

No one even knows you?re taking part in training.

You return home, and everyone asks what you thought, what?s new, anything to share?

They still don?t know you?re taking a course.

You learn with members of your study group. After you and the guys finish your lessons, you hop out for a few brews and a game of pool.

You learn on your own.

You hang your certificate of completion on the wall. Or put the paperweight on your desk.

Another email from personnel.

It doesn?t have to be this way. Managers must go the extra mile to pat learners on the back, give them recognition, and encourage them to learn with their peers. eLearners are customers; they continually need to be sold.

Finally, eLearning is not for everyone. Some people simply will not learn outside of a classroom.

Learning to the desktop

This is one of those benefits that's better in theory than in practice. Learning complex subjects requires concentration. Most people's desks are less than optimal for learning (and often for working, too, but that's another matter).

Buddha was right. "When you do something, do it as if it were all that mattered." Get away from the phone. Shelter yourself from colleagues. Go to a learning cubicle. Put up a "Do Not Disturb" sign.

"Ah ha," Dilbert's pointy-haired boss would say. "I've got the solution -- take it all home." As if there aren't distractions aplenty at home. Feed the baby, watch the game, talk with the spouse, have a beer on the patio, or log in for learning? Besides, what message does the boss communicate about the value of learning if he expects people to do it on their own time?


Hurdles to eLearning!

Elliott Masie
eLearning Briefing
January 2000, Seattle

Certain content -- because of its nature, relative value, or importance -- is not suitable for technology-based delivery. While online training is especially well suited for the acquisition of IT skills, it has certain limitations in the arena of soft skills training. Other educational content that does not translate well into a virtual environment is material requiring significant hands-on application, with a strong emphasis on peer review and collaboration.

WR Hambrecht + Co

Update in mid-2002:

A horrific pitfall has turned out to be cajolling workers to participate. One third to one half of workers never register to take part. Half to three-quarters of those who start a program drop out before completing it. I've just completed a book on how to improve employee participation.

What are the trends?

Short term

Corporations increasingly outsource training to Learning Service Providers (think Application Service Provider + Learning).

Standards-based learning management systems assemble large-grain learning objects on the fly. (XML meets learning).

Learner relationship management mirrors customer relationship management.

ERP and CRM vendors replace learning management systems as learning is recognized as an enterprise application.

Longer term

"Intelligent" interfaces learn about the eLearner over time. (Apple's Knowledge Navigator finally arrives, only twenty years late.)

Learning becomes imbedded in work processes and equipment.

Economies of scale will development of "cool" learning using rich media, popular entertainers, and game interfaces.

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2001


Weblogs (blogs) began as personal websites which make it easy to record daily entries. I blog to learn. Blogs let me read content from a single individual, unadulerated with corporate claptrap. On the outbound side, my blogs stick memories in my head -- the teacher always learns more than the student. Blogs are gut-simple to set up. Go to Blogger to see for yourself.

Cut on your speakers and listen to this five-minute summary of what makes a blog.

Then look at some blogs.

My main professional blog is

And my personal blog is The Jay-Blog

I moderate the Learning Circuits blog.

If you read lots of blogs, you'll become interested in syndication and, more recently, here.

Blogging was arcane when I started in mid-1999. Now (2003), a million people have registered with Blogger alone. Once the realm of individuals, corporations are joining the blogosphere.

Blogging captures some of the individualist spirit of the early days of the web. I believe blogs have lots to offer in knowledge management, customer communications, and community-building.

How to Save the World offers wonderful advice on style, usability, reader interest, and more. It's also an interesting read in general.

Semantic blogging.

12/03. After reading Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, I started separating form from substance here at Old habits die hard. My fingers are programmed to use "<b>" for bold and "<br>" to insert a line. From now on, I need to use "<strong>" for bold and proper "<p>" tags for spacing. And convert everything to XHTML. And use style sheets to define all style. I'm recrafting pages as I come to them.

Customer Blogs

Blogging for Business
by Jay Cross, August 2003

Blogs are a great way to put information on the Web. They’re fast to implement, and most blogging solutions are dirt cheap. Here’s who’s using them.

New formats are intimidating. Remember buying your first DVD? Or your first book on tape? Felt odd at first, but soon it was natural.

Blogs are a new format. Approximatley four million people write blogs, and blogging is growing faster than when the Internet was experiencing its period of maximum growth. Nonetheless, when I asked the audience at a recent knowledge management conference how many of the three hundred people in the room maintained blogs, only three hands went up. As Neuromancer author William Gibson says, “The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

So, if you’ve been reluctant to look into blogs, let me tell you some of the things you’ve missed.

How to read the LC Blog

An informal rule among bloggers is to keep the front page lean enough for you to skim and decide if you want to go deeper. So, some of the articles on the front page may seem short, but they usually end with “There’s more! Continue reading….” You will also see a line that reads “Comments”. Click it to add your own thoughts. Blogging can and should be quite participatory. If there’s a number attached, such as Comment (2), a click will show you previous comments.

Down the right-hand column of most blogs, you’ll find a search box and indexes to earlier entries by category or date. (The LC Blog shows only the most recent entries on the front page.) Also, the small, orange XML boxes at the bottom of the page enable users and organizations to syndicate content from the LC Blog.

Bottom-up organizations use blogs. Indeed, blogs are the leading edge of the social software movement that’s propelling the bottom-up, self-organizing reformation of versatile businesses. A bottom-up organization values the collective work of individuals over top-down authority; it supports cooperation and co-evolution in lieu of command and control. Instead of telling people what to do, it provides the networks that enable them to do what they want to do. Hence, they use blogs.

Schools are embracing blogs. They use them to create projects, offer and access feedback, study in groups, post assignments, develop portfolios, and build relationships.

Newspapers and newsletters blog, too. Why? Blogging is faster than printing and useful feedback is inevitable. Learning Circuits has its own blog where you’ll find a series of short pieces written by Clark Aldrich, Sam Adkins, Tony O’Driscoll, David Grebow, Clark Quinn, and a dozen other thought leaders. Some excerpt posts include

Blogs to reach out to customers. Let me tell you about a new marketing service I’m developing with DeepSun in San Francisco: customer blogs. These are designed to tear down the walls that traditionally separate corporations from their ultimate constituency. As The Cluetrain Manifesto says, “Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.”

With a simple customer blog in place, a company can make announcements to its Web customers immediately. All customers can benefit from a question asked by only one. To be sure, the intimacy found in blog culture conversation, customers can get to know workers—and vice-versa. Affiliation breeds loyalty. Customers begin to talk among themselves. A typo that would be an embarrassment in an advertisement becomes a sign of authenticity on a blog.

Overgeneralization alert: Blogs are informal, breezy, shoot-from-the-hip, personal, newsy, rapid-fire, defiantly individual, stream-of-consciousness, individualistic, enthusiastic, emotional, unfettered, daring, creative, and focused on the moment. As such, they embody the important messages of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

“Markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about 'listening to customers.' They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”

The Cluetrain Manifesto

One more example: Have you read about the campaign of presidential candidate Howard Dean? The opposition is building a war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars to inundate the American people with sound bites and attack ads. Dean is rallying crowds by blogging and using the power of the net. For pennies. Which would you prefer?

This story is a beginning, not an end. Let’s continue here, on the Learning Circuits blog. I’d like to hear what you think.

Learning Circuits
TechTools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . April 2002
By Jay Cross


Learn to blog, blog to learn.

Blog stands for Web-log, an informal personal Website. Thousands of people blog every day. (Blog is both a noun and a verb.) I’ve blogged for 18 months, and I’m convinced that blogs are destined to become a powerful, dirt-cheap tool for e-learning and knowledge management.

A blog is defined as a Website with dated entries, usually by a single author, often accompanied by links to other blogs that the site’s editor visits on a regular basis. Think of a blog as one person’s public diary or suggestion list. Early blogs were started by Web enthusiasts who would post links to cool stuff that they found on the Internet. They added commentary. They began posting daily. They read one another’s blogs. A community culture took hold.

In 1999, blogging software arrived on the scene, enabling anyone to post content to a Website. Generally, blog software comes with a personal Website for those who don’t already have one. The software captures your words in dated entries, maintaining a chronological archive of prior entries. In the spirit of sharing inherent to Net culture, the software and the personal Websites are usually free. Currently, blogging is one of the fastest growing trends on the Web. Nearly half a million people have downloaded blogging software.

But what’s so special about this way of posting text to the Internet? Blogs are personal and unfiltered. Real people, rather than corporate PR departments or ad agencies, write them.

"Imagine Hunter S. Thompson writing about the new Mac operating system," writes Carlyle Adler in Fortune Online. "That's the wacky spirit you can expect when you check out the online narratives known as Weblogs. While these sites represent both the best and worst of Web self-publishing (the virtual tour of ugly couches wasn't for us, nor were the angry ex-girlfriend sites), several of the technology Weblogs are worth checking out."

Blogging to learn

Not long ago, a blog pointed me to Chris Ashley's article "Weblogs: A Swiss Army Website?" He writes, "Weblog software and the Weblog model of content production and platform interoperability are proving to be increasingly useful and powerful, pushing and inspiring innovative developments for, and uses of, the Web. These areas include content, information, and knowledge management; community building; publishing and journalism; teaching, learning, and collaboration; and course management systems.… Weblog software, interfaces, and workflows are helping to realize a Web of increasing organization and interoperability, ease of production, improved and flexible information flow, and interlinked accessibility…."

After reading this, I asked Ashley to discuss the role of the e-teacher, meta-learning, and more. Our conversation revealed a half-dozen ways that blogging can support learning. Essentially, blogs are a personal writing space to organize our own thoughts and share information with others.

Blogging pioneer Peter Merholz adds, "the power of Weblogs is their ability to immediately put form to thought. I can get an idea in my head--however [half] baked it might be--and, in seconds, share it with the world. Immediately, I get feedback, refinement, stories, and so forth spurred by my little idea. Never before was this possible."

Also, blogs are easily linked and cross-linked to form learning communities. A few days after we met, Ashley emailed, "It was interesting how the next day you posted on your blog about our talk, about which David Carter-Tod commented on in his blog. One of my colleagues, Raymond Yee, noticed it after we had lunch, and I told him about our discussion. Then, Yee wrote a post about our circle on his blog. Of course, then I had to comment about it on my blog. It's all an interesting little Web that blogs make happen so quickly."

In another setting, innovative teachers are encouraging students to maintain class and personal school blogs. Enthusiasm grows as students take ownership of the content. They write, edit, review, and publish content. They also critique each other and present different viewpoints. Teachers make articles available to read electronically. Blogs maintained by individual students enable teachers to assess their students’ thinking patterns and depth of understanding. In the future, students may learn by assembling personal digital portfolios.

Former MTV-vj Adam Curry is working with teacher Peter Ford to offer free school blogs and advice on how to use them. They note that "Children are vain, just like adults. They desire and require an audience for their thoughts and achievements." they add, "The simple intuitive nature of SchoolBlogs is precisely what's required to allow students to express themselves on their own terms. Children's involvement with Websites has to be more than a posting of a few pieces of their work on a third person's static Website for a non-existent world to see. There's no ownership in that. School Blogs can give children their own soapbox, their own voice. They become habitual writers. They are in control." (See Weblog-ed for additional accounts of the power of blogs in schools.)

Although everyone would like to learn a craft by apprenticing to a world-class master, it’s not always possible. Workshops held by master craftsmen don't scale. By combining blogs and digital storytelling we get the next best thing, a virtual apprenticeship. The Center for Digital Storytelling believes that "in the not distant future, sharing one's story through the multiple media of digital imagery, text, voice, sound, music, video, and animation will be the principle hobby of the world's people." Imagine learning to teach by observing and learning from stories told by a world-class instructor.

Sample blogs

Build a Blog
To start your own blog, go to A blog account is free! Here are instructions for building your personal, company, or team blog.

The best way to understand blogs is to visit a few.

ElearningPost. Maish Nichani’s blog deals with corporate learning, community building, instructional design, knowledge management, and so forth. Every weekday Maish links to four or five interesting articles. Sample sources are Wired, Chronicle of Higher Ed, Syllabus, First Monday, Training, PBS, and CIO. Maish writes a brief paragraph to describe each link.

I no longer read three-quarters of the magazines I once felt obligated to, but I do read e-learningpost religiously to find out what I need to read. It’s also more fun to read from a variety of voices--an article from Fortune, a story from Learning Circuits, or a white paper from IBM.

Research on Learning and Performance (now the learning category of blog began as a personal tool to capture ideas that I would later add to the e-learning page of my company's Website. As more information about e-learning became available, keeping that page up-to-date became a burden. Now, every couple of weeks I harvest worthwhile entries from the blog to post. What sort of content do you find on this blog? Whatever I found interesting at the time. Essentially, the blog is a clipping service. Love me, love my blog. Some sample content includes

My blog contains more than a year’s worth of items like those. The content comes in small bites. How do people retrieve needles from this haystack? Most use the Google search box that appears atop each page.

Bottom line?

For me, blogs highlight useful information that I may never find on my own--or think to find on my own. Cameron Barrett's blog has taught me more about Web design than any course. David Weinberger’s blog mentors me on knowledge management, and often it has me laughing out loud. Chris Pirillo keeps me abreast of Windows' developments. Recently, Stephen Downes began augmenting my understanding of how people learn.

I know what you're thinking. Why couldn’t I get the same insight from reading a book or a magazine? Let me count the ways. First, the informality of blogs makes them engaging. Second, they're a time management tool. Because bloggers read one another's stuff, the best of the best rises to the top and eventually appears on the handful of blogs I read. In addiiton, blogs offer personal and even contrarian viewpoints. Third, blogs are current. For example, and unfortunately, I first learned about the World Trade Center disaster on DaveNet rather than CNN.

Basically, blogs work.

Learning Circuits
December 2002

Visit the New Learning Circuits Blog

by Jay Cross

Blogs (short for weblogs) are informal Websites where people publish stories, opinions, and links--often on a daily basis. The most recent entry comes first; old entries are relegated to online archives. Originally personal diaries and lists of recommended links, blogs have blossomed into tools for knowledge sharing, public education, customer service, journalism, community-building, and marketing.

Learning Circuits was there first. The Learning Circuits Blog kicked off in April 2002 with commentary from Peter Isackson, Tom Barron, Clark Quinn, Bill Horton, Kevin Wheeler, Ellen Wagner, Margaret Driscoll, Allison Rossett, Richard Clark, and me. Six months and 18,836 words later, this starter blog sputtered to a halt, a victim of overly long postings, advances in technology, and other priorities. Today we're re-starting the new Learning Circuits Blog with the ability for you to make comments and an enthusiastic team of contributors.

Bloggers have always linked to one another; it's how one gets known. Lately, blogs have begun to accept comments. Many blogs are "syndicated." For example, my blog entries are automatically swept into a consolidated blog published in China. Comments, cross-referencing, and syndication connect bloggers.

For example, I just posted this comment on George Siemens's elearnspace: George, at first, your piece on blogging made me angry but now I'm growing to love it. You see, I sat down twenty minutes ago to write a progress report on blogging for Learning Circuits. A link from Dave Winer's blog to Phil Windley's blog led me back to elearnspace, where I found that you'd already written a lot of what I intended to say. But then it occurred to me that the true spirit of blogging is sharing ideas. Passing along a meme can be as powerful as originating one. After all, most bloggers gladly point to other sources they like. So now I'm happy, for instead of writing something original, I'll just quote you extensively. Thanks.

Discussing the implications of the tremendous expansion of blogging, George says: "As a disruptive technology, blogging is altering (or perhaps responding to?) many aspects of information/content creation and use. These changes are not without impact. What are some of the implications of a tool that functions at the same speed as the medium
it serves? Here are a few:

Please drop by the new Learning Circuits Blog. Post a comment. Join the fun. And visit again.

Published: December 2002

"A pretentious and presumptuous attempt to document what bloggers have learned, without any formal instruction, to do every day. And then a description of what's needed to make blogs a medium for real conversation."

The blogger is no longer the solitary writer, detached from the real world. Today's blogger spends quite a bit of time reading, commenting, researching, recommending, and promoting. She may be part of a community of bloggers.

"A Weblog (also known as a blog) is a personal Website that offers frequently updated observations, news headlines, commentary, recommended links and/or diary entries, generally organized chronologically. Weblogs vary greatly in style and content." from Triumph of the Weblogs by Kevin Werbach.

Blogs about blogs

Blogroots index of sites, pointers, books & more

BlogDex (MIT) "blogdex is a system built to harness the power of personal news, amalgamating and organizing personal news content into one navigable source, moving democratic media to the masses. at current, blogdex is focused on the referential information provided by personal content, namely using the timeliness of weblogs to find important and interesting content on the web."

BlogHop "About BlogHop! Your friendly neighborhood blog portal. Bloghop was made with one thing in mind -- to help readers find good blogs. It's all about the readers, man. If you find a blog you like, rate it, and it'll float to the top for the next reader."

the complete guide to weblogs "This resource is intended to contain as much information as possible about weblogs." And they do it rather well.

Keep Trying "Mike Sanders Looks at Life Through The Blog"

LinkWatcher aims to "supply linkwatcher users with much more powerful tools for searching, monitoring, and discovering new blogs."

Eatonweb Portal Brigitte says "this portal is a labor of love. it started back in early 1999 when there were less than 50 known weblogs-there were a lot more than that out there, they just hadn't been discovered. as more kept turning up or getting started, i kept adding them to my list. it's grown a little since then." She lists 3377 blogs.

BlogCon 2002 the first blogger conference. Vegaa, August 23-25

Weblogs and the News "Where news, weblogs, and journalism intersect. The following links provide information about new forms of personal journalism — including weblogs, collaborative news sites, personal broadcasting, and more — as well as pointers to examples of each genre."

Weblog Review "This page has been made so that people can find weblogs that interest them. Rather than just a bunch of links like other weblog portal pages, this one will actually include reviews of weblogs."

Write the Web "News for web users that [sic] write back."

12 Things No One Ever Told You About Having a Weblog

Google zeitgeist

Full article

Will businesses blog?

Jay Cross, CEO of the Internet Time Group, a Berkeley, Calif., e-learning and knowledge management consulting firm, thinks a Blogger-enhanced content management system could be a powerful business tool.

“It would allow subject matter experts to document what’s important to them, and then publish it,” Cross says. “Instead of some knowledge engineer telling you what’s good for you, which is the old style of top-heavy corporate thinking, you’d have people in the sales force saying to each other, ‘This is information that’s really worthwhile.’ So you get informal exchanges of information within the corporation.”

Cross believes that a Blogger-based content management system would help employees deal with information overload, as an editor could filter out the clutter and make sure only relevant information gets posted.

While Cross sees the potential for Blogger and other Web log software, he believes it will be a difficult sell at a time when dot-com technology is out of vogue and the nation’s economy is depressed. “I think a content management system using Blogger may be a stealth sell; people buy it because it doesn’t cost much. If you offer five seats for $1,000 and there are some early adopters, it might catch on,” he says.

Blogging as Knowledge Management Tool

Corporate lawyers aren't going to applaud my concepts of KM through blogging. After all, if old email that might be subpoenaed as evidence is a legal nightmare, imagine what attorneys will think of uncensored blogs. Ray Ozzie has offered a policy to keep employee blogs from violating SEC quiet period rules.

Of course, the urge for secrecy, understandable for a Worldcom or Enron, can backfire if employees can't access their own firm's know-how:

People who have heard my call for information sharing in business warn that (1) knowledge workers won't share their know-how because it's their meal-ticket and (2) you'll never get everyone on board. The first issue is motivational; reward systems can change the balance. Secondly, things will be a whole lot better if only one person in five takes part; 100% participation is not the objective.

See Using Blogs in Business, chapter from We Blog

Blogs for Education

Edblogger notes

a place to write, nothing fancy, Chris Ashley

Weblogging: Another kind of website, Chris Ashley

"What is a weblog? A weblog is easy to use but less easy to explain, a technology that is becoming more widely used but still remains little known, and a writing tool that supports practicing writers and previous non-writers"

Weblogs: A Swiss Army website?, Chris Ashley

"Weblog communities are encouraged and supported by the ability of writers to use relatively simple publishing and writing environments that they can own, by the tools that help readers and writers find each other and connect over similar interests, and when readers themselves are empowered to write."

weblog-ed, Will Richardson

Weblogs in Education/School Blogs, Adam Curry and Peter Ford

Berkeley Interactive University

Grassroots KM through blogging - Maish Nichani & Venkat Rajamanickam - 14th May 2001

Blogs are a really cool way of telling stories. And because they are digital and use the Web for publishing and distribution, they have some advantages over traditional means of storytelling.

Finally, as the popularity of blogs catches on, we are going to see many more twists on their use, but as we have noted, many will grow from their grassroots ability to communicate and share personal stories. In concluding this article, we take another quote from David Weinberger (he seems to have the most commonsensical approach to KM; simply can't resist quoting him):

So, here's a definition of that pesky and borderline elitist phrase, "knowledge worker": A knowledge worker is someone whose job entails having really interesting conversations at work.

The characteristics of conversations map to the conditions for genuine knowledge generation and sharing: They're unpredictable interactions among people speaking in their own voice about something they're interested in. The conversants implicitly acknowledge that they don't have all the answers (or else the conversation is really a lecture) and risk being wrong in front of someone else. And conversations overcome the class structure of business, suspending the org chart at least for a little while.

If you think about the aim of KM as enabling better conversations rather than lassoing stray knowledge doggies, you end up focusing on breaking down the physical and class barriers to conversation. And if that's not what KM is really about, then you ought to be doing it anyway.

Weblogs and the News -- "Where News, Journalism and Weblogs Intersect"

"Blogs are heaps of words that stick to the water: annotated transcripts of conversations that have no sides. They are the accumulata of What We Know, of open-ended conversation with who-knows-who. And perhaps I mean that last phrase a bit more literally than I intended when I wrote it eight seconds ago." Doc Searles

Dave Winer's History of Weblogs

Tacit Docs by David Weinberger "To hell with tacit knowledge. Go for tacit documents instead."

Still not satisfied? Rebecca's Pocket (a weblog, of course) offers this history of weblogs.


from Netsurfer Digest: Blogging or Web logging has been around since the early days of the Web. Weblogs offer a vital, creative outlet for alternative voices. While conventional media haven't exactly faded away in the meantime, as some thought they might, blogging is an increasingly potent, credible and creative force for individual expression. It allows people to reach out beyond their immediate geographical confines and find an audience, no matter how small, on any subject under the sun. The lure of blogs is their creative freedom; no one else has a say in what you say and how you say it. And, it's becoming easier for anyone to join in with relatively simple and inexpensive tools for self-publishing. Diversity of viewpoint is another important rallying cry. There's a lot to be said for blogging, and three interesting, expressive bloggers do it well here, providing thoughtful, intriguing and diverse points of view about the phenomenon. We should shamelessly but briefly blow our own horn a little here and point out that in some ways Netsurfer is a blog, and perhaps the oldest of them all.

An early list from the eLearning Jump Page

(In time this will become a history lesson.)


Learning Circuits

BlogDex (MIT)

A List Apart
Robot Wisdom

megnut & at O'Reilly


JOHO the Blog
Tomalak's Realm
Kevin Werbach

Rebecca's Pocket
The Guardian
Fuzzy Blogic
Jon Udell
Steve Johnson
elegant hack

Technorati Top 100
JD Lasica/News
Rebecca Blood's links

Yahoo Groups Klogs

Six Apart Log

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 21, 2001

Making It Work (Implementing)

+ Consumer

Why this community? Organizations implement eLearning to improve the performance of their people. The successful ones gain organizational backing through change management and ground-level support through internal marketing.

We set up this site to build upon the concepts in our book, describe new findings and insights, and give our readers the opportunity to share best practices. Welcome!

Template for Developing an eLearning Implementation Action Plan

Twenty pages of forms, checklists, and text.

Fill in the form to complete your comprehensive plan.

FREE Download

Conference Presentations

Lance & Jay's PowerPoint slides from the ASTD Conference in San Diego, May 2003

Watch the video of Jay and Lance's keynote presentation at TechLearn 2002

Free Consultation with the Author

We want to help you succeed.
Call Lance Dublin at 1.415.759.1258 or email him at [email protected] to schedule an appointment. The first 15 minutes are on us.

Implementing eLearning, the Director's Cut

Find out what didn't get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas, and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart. Unexpurgated.

Tips & Best Practices Examples

Communications plan for NCR University from George Brennan
eLearning Brochure for Pharmacia from Donald Oguin. Also Cafeteria table tents & Poster ( pdf )

Decades of Marketing in 5 Minutes from Internet Time Group

Customer Experience Meets Online Marketing at Brand Central Station from Boxes & Arrows

The Marketing FAQs

Survey Says? Identify Your Objectives from HBS Working Knowledge

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood." Daniel H. Burnham

Change Management 101 by Fred Nichols

Please contribute to our community. If you're really proud of your team's accomplishments, send your stories and artifacts to us: [email protected] or [email protected]

Critical Success Factors: eLearning Solutions , Cappuccino, Deloitte

Cisco's e-learning development vision - It's a process with up's and down's.

Best practices: people

Online Instructor Competencies from Learning Peaks, Patti Shank. A good online instructor wears many hats.
What's an eTrainer? & New Role: eLearning Guide , Internet Time Group 2/2000
Smile, Everyone! It's Time for Your Computer Training, Fast Company, 5/2000. Empower the learners and let them have fun!

Worst practices: people

The Training Weenie Syndrome : Five Foolish Things Trainers Do To Demote Training © INSIGHT ED Patti Shank Trainer, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

The Lie of Online Learning, Training magazine, March 2000. "Let?s move learning out of the workday and into the employees? own "uncompensated" time. No one wants to tell you that the anytime of online learning is supposed to be after work and that the anyplace is at home."

Learning in the Real World . Skeptics' views on why we should be cautious about putting computers into children's schools. "In the real world we can teach, explore and learn the patterns of connection which link different people, plants, animals and places. If education software even attempts to deal with these crucial concepts, the limits of the media may make the presentation inflexible, superficial, and inadequate." Much of this reasoning applies to computer-mediated training of adults as well.

ERP Training Stinks , CIO (6/00). "The average ERP implementation takes 23 months, has a total cost of ownership of $15 million and rewards (so to speak) the business with an average negative net present value of $1.5 million. And the news gets worse."

    "But the consensus that's emerging is that the training that matters isn't techy, "this field shows this; this button does that" training. In fact, what we normally call training is increasingly being shown to be relatively worthless. What's called for, it seems, is an ability to figure out the underlying flow of information through the business itself. The traditional view of training may blind the unwary to its significance and to the tightly woven links that exist between training, change management and staff adequacy."

"The first problem is that word: training . It conjures up images of dogs jumping through hoops. This is not helpful."


Is it Time to Exchange Skinner's Teaching Machine for Dewey's Toolbox? (Yes.)

A New Role: eLearning Guide

Learntivity's Attention Links Zounds - Compelling Experiences

Motivation in Instructional Design. ERIC Digest

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence Services
Emotional Intelligence Consortium

Bringing EQ to the Workplace (research paper)

What Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence is the source of ROI, human happiness, responsible behavior -- well, what more could you want? It's taken a backseat to such mundane issues as IT training because its payoff is not immediate, engineers don't get it, and it's a tough nut to crack. This is a major opportunity.


Network Architectures For E-Learning Applications
tells how Cisco wires things together in support of content on demand, broadcast, and virtual classrooms. Microsoft Research on Telepresence

Adoption and barriers to eLearning & Approaches to Implementation , both from David Simmonds at Forum Corporate

Change Management and eLearning by Tom Werner

Sales Knowledge Management by Carl Binder

Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education

A study of distance learning benchmarks at six colleges prepared by The Institute for Higher Education Policy for the NEA and Blackboard. April 2000.

While the methodology is a bit dodgy (literature review followed by ratings from administrators, faculty, and students), the study is provocative.

The benchmarks considered essential for quality Internet-based distance education are:

Quality on the Line

Coach Roles

goal articulation
acting as a role model
challenging questions
achieving results
personal growth
gaining and keeping balance
giving expert advice
dealing with adversity
making tough decisions
social skill development
improving skills
inner peace and reflection
lifestyle decisions
finanical or economic well being

Strategies for Learning at a Distance

Morgan (1991) suggests that distant students who are not confident about their learning tend to concentrate on memorizing facts and details in order to complete assignments and write exams. As a result, they end up with a poor understanding of course material. He views memorization of facts and details as a ?surface approach? to learning and summarizes it as follows: Distant students need to become more selective and focused in their learning in order to master new information. The focus of their learning needs to shift them from a ?surface approach? to a ?deep approach?. Morgan (1991) summarizes this approach as follows:

Improving Distant Learning

The shift from surface to deep learning is not automatic. Brundage, Keane, and Mackneson (1993) suggest that adult students and their instructors must face and overcome a number of challenges before learning takes place including: becoming and staying responsible for themselves; "owning" their strengths, desires, skills, and needs; maintaining and increasing self-esteem; relating to others; clarifying what is learned; redefining what legitimate knowledge is; and dealing with content. These challenges are considered in relation to distance education:

Learning for purposes of IT Certification must combine the motivational and social reinforcement academia is working on with the PI/simulation approach of traditional IT training.

Enabling Learning in a Digital Age, 1998

This is about kids but applies to adult learning equally well.

The model that education has used for centuries considers the student a vessel to be filled at regular intervals with knowledge. The alternative I hope you´ll strive for is seeing the student as co-discoverer of knowledge and the teacher responsible for seeing that the discovery takes place. This model may mean we don't need to be confined to a classroom if discovery can take place in different spaces, even cyberspace. The impact of today's information revolution on schools goes vastly beyond replacing the old blackboard with a shiny whiteboard. Technology is revolutionizing the very nature and dynamics of the conventional classroom experience; this new learning environment, by design, emphasizes students, autonomy and independence.Classroom learning will become student-driven, interactive, experiential and collaborative - all goals long-cherished by many educators but never before attainable. Students will no longer passively receive information but will manage and synthesize it and even contribute it.They become not only takers, but givers – creators -- of information. This level of interaction will herald new types of student communities of practice.The world need more problem-solvers. It needs more explorers.

It needs more rough edges.

Enable learning, don´t teach. a good teacher doesn´t teach at all. They enable students to teach themselves. And it´s not just symantics. Enabling learning is entirely different from teaching.

While a significant part of learning certainly comes from teaching, much comes from exploration, from reinventing the wheel and finding out for oneself. Until the computer, the technology for teaching was limited to audiovisual devices and distance learning by television, which did little more than amplify the activity of teachers and the passivity of children.

The computer changed this balance radically. Suddenly, learning by doing has the potential to become the rule rather than the exception. Since computer simulation of just about anything is now possible, one need not learn about a frog by dissecting it. Instead, children can be asked to design frogs, to build an animal with frog-like behavior, to modify that behavior, to simulate the muscles, to play with the frog.

The opportunity is an unrealized potential.

The Future File

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How People Learn

What's important

Learning is the pathway to doing. If an instructor teaches something and nothing changes, no learning took place.

Learning is learnable. You can get better at it. We set up the Meta-Learning Lab to help people learn better, faster, deeper.

"Knowledge is constructed, not transferred. It's built out of known chunks. It's always linked to the situation, thus 'situated.' Skills and knowledge do not exist outside of context. Everything is connected, in mental, physical, or social space." Peter Senge, Schools That Learn


This book is the best summary of what it's all about.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors. "This volume synthesizes the scientific basis of learning. The scientific achievements include a fuller understanding of: (1) memory and the structure of knowledge; (2) problem solving and reasoning; (3) the early foundations of learning; (4) regulatory processes that govern learning, including metacognition; and (5) how symbolic thinking emerges from the culture and community of the learner."

Robo-teacher has left the building

eLearning was born during the dot-com frenzy. Like many start-up ideas, the first descriptions of eLearning were oversimplified, extreme, and wildly optimistic. Otherwise rational people defined eLearning as putting all learning on computers, as if it had to be all or nothing.

Imagine the savings in plane fare, instructor salaries, and keeping people on the job instead of at the class! Employees could learn anywhere they could plug into the net, whenever you wanted. Learners would save time by studying only what they needed. They would learn at an optimal pace, neither held back nor bypassed by the rest of the class. Cool.

The only problem was that this sort of eLearning rarely worked. Learning is social. Even in the classroom, lots of learning takes informally, between students. Workers learn more at the water cooler or coffee room than during classes.

Learning requires much more than exposure to content. Most people drop out of 100% computer-led instructional events. These same people learn well when computer-mediated lessons are combined with virtual classes, study groups, team exercises, mentors & help desks, off-line events, and on-line coaches.

As the hype cools down, we find that learning hasn't changed; it still requires a variety of activities. Computers can make aspects of learning more convenient but they don't eliminate the need for human intervention. The presumption that eLearning would automate every aspect of learning today seems irresponsible. That dog won't hunt.

For great overviews, see Learnativity and Marcia Conner's Learning & Training FAQ, especially How adults learn.

The old way of looking at learning:

Teach = Fill their empty heads. Assess = See what's inside.

From the Institute for Research on Learning

Constructivism and other theories

Today we realize that learning isn't pouring content into heads. Rather, the real deal is an interaction between what's incoming and what's already there. Learning is rewiring the brain by sculpting new pigeonholes and adding connections.

Theories of Learning, from Funderstanding, explains constructivism, behaviorism, and so forth simply.

Greg Kearsley's Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database is an awesome resource.

Marc Prensky's Digital Game-Based Learning has a great list of theories of how people learn:

Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for School Redesign and Reform, American Psychological Association, Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) 11/97.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Cognitive learning is demonstrated by knowledge recall and the intellectual skills: comprehending information, organizing ideas, analyzing and synthesizing data, applying knowledge, choosing among alternatives in problem-solving, and evaluating ideas or actions.

Affective learning is demonstrated by behaviors indicating attitudes of awareness, interest, attention, concern, and responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, and ability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate to the test situation and the field of study.

Psychomotor learning is demonstrated by physical skills; coordination, dexterity, manipulation, grace, strength, speed; actions which demonstrate the fine motor skills such as use of precision instruments or tools, or actions which evidence gross motor skills such as the use of the body in dance or athletic performance.

I think of these as training the head, the heart, and the hand.


Best Practices

Implementing The Seven Principles of Good Practice

Internet Time Group has found that people learn best when they...

Excerpts from the LiNE (Learning in the New Economy) Zine Manifesto, Brook Manville and Marcia Conner (6/2000).

Learning requires engagement

Methods of engagement include:

1. Presenting information as tentative, which asks the learner to engage in assessing its veracity.

2. Offering opportunities to compare one's views to those of others. "18% of Americans feel public money should not be 'wasted' on art."

3. Feeding back information from a group of peers. "In a poll, 32% of you professed to never have seen porn on the web."

4. Providing challenges that call on one's exformation. "Exegesis means (a) pulling a tooth, (b) tracking feedback, (c) assembling unrepresentative cases to support one's argument -- what Nietsche often did, or (d) disinterring a body from the grave." Go ahead, take a guess. The answer is here.

5. Making connections to other contexts, e.g. You want to learn to fly. Let's compare flying to driving a car. Your mind begins mapping the differences and similarites.

Methods of Delivery

Live face-to-face (formal)
• Instructor-led classroom
• Workshops
• Coaching/mentoring
• On-the-job (OTJ) training

Virtual collaboration/synchronous
• Live e-learning classes
• E-mentoring

Self-paced learning
• Web learning modules
• Online resource links
• Simulations
• Scenarios
• Video and audio CD/DVDs
• Online self-assessments
• Workbooks

Live face-to-face (informal)
• Collegial connections
• Work teams
• Role modeling

Virtual collaboration/asynchronous
• Email
• Online bulletin boards
• Listservs
• Online communities

Performance support
• Help systems
• Print job aids
• Knowledge databases
• Documentation
• Performance/decision support tools

from Allison Rossett

Internet Time's Method Matrix

Distance learning is no less effective than traditional means, the "No Significant Difference Phenomenon".


Changing the Interface of Education with Revolutionary Learning Technologies by Nishikant Sonwalkar

Learning Styles for Online Asynchronous Instruction

A building block approach for presenting concepts in a step-by-step procedural learning style.

Based on events that trigger the learning experience. Learners
begin with an event that introduces a concept and provokes questions.

Learners are first introduced to a concept or a target principle using specific
examples that pertain to a broader topic area.

Based on stimulating the discernment of trends through the presentation of simulations, graphs, charts, or other data.

An inquiry method of learning in which students learn by doing, testing the boundaries of their own knowledge.


Making Training In The Enterprise Pay Off, Datamation

Why schools suck

A narrow view of how the American public school system got so screwed up. (The Germans did it.)

Schools may be the starkest example in modern society of an entire institution modeled after the assembly line. This has dramatically increased educational capability in our time, but it has also created many of the most intractable problems with which students, teachers, and parents struggle to this day. If we want to change schools, it is unlikely to happen until we understand more deeply the core assumptions on which the industrial-age school is based.
? Peter Senge


The Neurobiology of Memory & Learning from Hughes


Employee Motivation in the Workplace

The answer is "C". Both Nietsche and I are guilty of using exegesis to make our cases. BACK

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius
"If I hear and see and do and teach and practice, I understand even better." -Jay
Information is not instruction.
Yeah, so? Doing is what counts.

Real learning is not what most of us grew up thinking it was. --Charles Handy

Meta-Learning Lab

The Distance Learner's Guide

I never allowed schooling to interfere with my education. --Mark Twain

Great diagram of the brain

Marc Prensky matches content to learning activity to game styles.

"Distance education should be called 'not-so-distant education.'" Bill Clinton, Online Learning, October 1, 2001

"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let's Tie the Digital Knot by Seymour Papert is a wonderfully feisty, common-sense look at education with fresh eyes.

Paradigmatic Vision Using an Internet connection in the classroom to enliven the fourth grade math curriculum is a good thing. By all means do it if you are a fourth grade teacher. But do not confuse it with the prescribed activity of developing a vision of the future of learning.

As an exercise of the educational imagination to strengthen your visionary powers, think about a world in which there is:

  • No such thing as fourth grade, because age segregation has gone the way of other arbitrary divisions of people.
  • No such thing as a classroom, because learning happens in a variety of settings.
  • And no such thing as curriculum, because the idea that everyone should have the same knowledge has come to be seen as totalitarian.


Leftovers & Oldies on this topic

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:54 AM | Comments (8)


Emergent Learning Chief Learning Officer (2004), Before the World Trade Center attack, the world was more predictable. Knowledge was power. Adaptability has now taken its place. Our requirements have changed. Corporations and government agencies are on permanent alert. Networks have taken the slack out of the system. Timing is the critical variable. The performance metrics for troops on a plane headed to a new hot spot and for systems engineers countering a new competitive threat are the same: How soon will they be ready to perform?

Personal Intellectual Capital Management Chief Learning Officer (2004), Ultimately, you’re responsible for the life you lead. It’s up to you to learn what you need to succeed. That makes you responsible for your own knowledge management, learning architecture, instructional design and evaluation.

Connections: The Impact of Schooling Chief Learning Officer (2003), "Your 16-year-old daughter says she’s going to take sex education at school and you’re relieved, but she tells you she plans to participate in sex training and you’re unnerved. Why? Because outside of education, you learn by doing things."

Informal Learning: A Sound Investment Chief Learning Officer (2003). "Workers who know more get the most accomplished. People who are well connected make greater contributions. The workers who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do."

Blogging for Business Learning Circuits (2003). "Four million people write blogs, and blogging is growing faster than the web at its high point. A customer blog enables a company to make announcements to its Web customers immediately. All customers can benefit from a question asked by only one. The intimacy in blog culture conversation enables customers to get to know workers-and vice-versa. Affiliation breeds loyalty. Customers begin to talk among themselves. A typo that would be an embarrassment in an advertisement becomes a sign of authenticity on a blog."

Informal Learning -- The Other 80%. DRAFT. eLearning Forum (2003). This paper addresses how organizations, particularly business organizations, can get more done. The people who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do. People learn these things through informal learning that flies beneath the corporate radar. Because organizations are oblivious to informal learning, they fail to invest in it.

How E-Learning Professionals Learn About E-Learning Most of the respondents said that they place a higher value on information from individuals: friends, fellow bloggers, authors, and people who send them email or that they meet at conference. As a group, they didn’t put much stock in information from organizations: suppliers, magazines, and conference sessions.

eLearning: You Built It -- Now Promote It, eLearning Developers Journal (2003). "Your elevator pitch is what you say when your CEO steps onto your elevator and asks what you're doing. You'll probably include the three basic elements of marketing design: your brand, your position, and your target segments."

eLearning: Apples and Oranges, Learning Circuits (2003). "Perhaps corporations should consider how small an e-learning application can be and still get the job done rather than try to create monster centralized e-learning systems. In doing so, would companies lose economies of scale? Maybe. But consider this: As many as half of all grandiose, enterprise software initiatives fail to live up to expectations. Many simply fail."

See What I Mean, eLearning (2002). "In the 20th century, we confused reading words with learning. Learning is a multisensory, both-sides-of-the-brain experience. Pictures unlock the imagination. Yet, most books do not contain a single illustration." More legible jpg here.

The Value of Learning About Learning, with Clark Quinn (2002). "If Olympic athletes approached running the marathon the way business people approach learning, they would show up for the race without having trained. Learning is a skill, not a hard-wired trait. The discipline of meta-learning seeks to re-invent learning as a self-correcting, ever improving process. Its measure of success is not effort, but business results."

The DNA of eLearning, with Ian Hamilton (2002). "eLearning technologies, as platforms for business-critical training needs, simply don't do what companies need or envision them to do. The fact of the matter is that different companies need them to do different things. Lacking the ability to purchase an effective eLearning technology platform, companies certainly cannot be convinced to purchase third-party eLearning content to play on these platforms."

Tomorrow's Too Late LiNEZine (2002). How would you describe an elementary school principal who didn?t conduct fire drills? Irresponsible. And how would you describe a chief operating officer who didn?t prepare for crises? Typical.

Envisioning Learning (2002). "It's right before our eyes, but we're so habituated to it that we can't see it. We've confused reading and writing with learning. What's the problem with line after line of type? They're linear. This is not the way we think. We think associatively. Thinking resembles freeform conversation, hopping from one subject to another, changing in emphasis, delivered with emotion, forever an engaging assortment of choices and surprise. The written word conveys but one of the options."

Blogs Learning Circuits (2002). Blog is short for web-log, an informal personal website. Half a million people have blogs. "...blogs are destined to become a powerful, dirt-cheap tool for learning and knowledge management.

The SunTAN Story (2001). "Appropriately enough for a company whose motto is 'The network is the computer,' Sun Microsystems started using eLearning to train newly hired sales people long before the term eLearning was invented.... The time it takes sales people to achieve quota dropped from 15 months to 6 months. What's the value of 9 months of additional sales from 1,440 people? Given that the people have $5 million quotas, that's in the neighborhood of $5 billion in incremental revenue."

A Fresh Look at ROI Learning Circuits (2000). "Where you stand on ROI depends on where you sit. Different levels of management make different sorts of decisions, so it's appropriate that they use different measures of ROI. In a nutshell, traditional accounting recognizes nothing but physical entities; intangibles are valued at zero. Vast areas of human productivity--ideas, abilities, experience, insight, esprit de corps, motivation--lie outside the accountant's field of vision. Accounting fails to recognize that people become more valuable over time."

Frontline: eLearning Forum Learning Circuits (2001). "Cliff Stoll caught everyone's attention by loudly proclaiming, "E-learning is a fraud!' Unquestionably, Stoll took control of the floor. He asked the group, 'If you were hiring a plumber, which would you choose: one with an online degree in plumbing or one who learned firsthand?' Muttering that simulations were a great way to avoid the person sitting next to you, Stoll said that the designers of flight simulators spent more time making the clouds look right than getting to what the pilots really need...."

Being Analog LiNEZine (2001). "Computers are bipolar. A bit is on or off. 1 or 0. Unless you're a digital processor, this binary thinking can trick you into oversimplifying what's going on. The human world is not yes or no; it's a sea of maybes. Most decisions aren't black or white; they're shades of gray. Are you liberal or conservative? Perhaps like me, you're a little of each. Treating the world as an open-or-shut case leads to thought crimes like "The Internet changes everything." In my work, I struggle with the knuckle-headed assumption that learning must be either instructor-led or computer-delivered rather than a blend of the two. Few things in life are really all or nothing."

The Changing Nature of Leadership LiNEZine (2001). "Wide, ever-shifting boundaries change all the rules. We once rewarded compliance; today we reward innovation. We once praised obedience; today we praise ad hoc solutions. Yesterday?s subversive employee is today?s innovator. Leadership?creating value by hopping outside boundaries?used to be the province of a well-paid, well-educated few somewhere near the top of the pyramid. Turbulent times have converted leadership into a responsibility shared by all members of the organization."

Food for Thought LiNEZine (2001). "Treat the learner as a customer. Make it easy for the learner to buy (learn). Use interactivity, relevance, wit, and excitement to keep the learner/customer engaged. If the customers aren?t buying, it?s your fault, not theirs. The learning revolution is over. The learners won. Take control by giving control. Problem formulation often counts for more than problem solution. School always gives you the formulated problem; life does not."

eLearning (1999). "In the training jungle, corporate performance is the elephant. Training's only function is to hunt the elephant. Focusing solely on employees' needs does not bag elephants. The "e" in eLearning is not only for electronic; it's also there to remind you about the elephant. Remember, corporate performance is what you're hunting for."

Vendors commission us to write white papers and articles, for example:

Time Matters, Profit Returns (for X.HLP, 2001). "While training directors may have different objectives than CEOs, everyone in today's business world shares one need: they want it all now. Benefits you don't see until two years from now are hardly benefits at all. Given enough time, a million monkeys at a million terminals could develop your entire curriculum, with Flash animations and a repository of SCORM-compliant learning objects. Nobody's got time to wait."

Leveraging the People Value Chain (for SmartForce, 2000). "Companies looking for workers who take orders, understand discipline, and put the welfare of the company above their own will be disappointed. Workers like this no longer exist. While some companies decry high turnover, others turn the mindset of the new recruit to their advantage. After all, they want innovators, not followers. They prefer self-starters who will do what's right rather than waiting for instructions. They need people more concerned with getting the job done than punching the clock. For too long, we've looked at investing in people through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of trying to keep the cost of training and development down, what if we were to try to keep it up?"

Converting Intellectual Capital into Competitive Advantage (for Avaltus, 2001). "Success in the knowledge age requires new tools. This paper describes a unified approach to creating, maintaining, and exploiting intellectual capital, the knowledge platform. The objective is to deliver the right information at the right time to the right person, simply, economically, and immediately."

Learn Fast, Go Fast. (for SmartForce, 1999). "eBusiness needs an eBusiness approach to learning itself, something we call eLearning. eLearning is to traditional training as eBusiness is to the five-and-dime. eLearning puts the learner in the center of the equation instead of the trainer."

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Collaboration Supercharges Performance, ASTD International. Macromedia Breeze. Covers blogs, RSS, information overload, complexity, time acceleration, network models, value of collaboration, Emergent Learning Forum, social network software, and more.

Vision for Emergent Learning Forum, Macromedia Breeze, 15 minutes.

Trends in Collaborative Learning (Macromedia Breeze)
Keynote presentation for Collaborative Learning '04

Implementing eLearning, (Webex)
Presentation by Lance Dublin & Jay Cross, October 8, 2003. More than 350 people attended the live presentation.

Writing the Next Chapter of eLearning (Macromedia Breeze)
slides from Interwise webinar with Boston eLearning Association, July 2003. No sound.

Blogs (Macromedia Breeze)
very short, from Interwise webinar with Boston eLearning Association, July 2003

A Pocketful of Memes (Macromedia Breeze)
Jay's Keynote at I-KNOW 03 in Graz, Austria. July 2003

Silicon Valley, The DNA of a Community of Practice (Macromedia Breeze)
Jay's presentation to a group of Canadian eLearning Entrepreneurs, April 2003

Envisioning eLearning (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's presentation at Online Educa in Berlin, November 2002

Some Difficulties with ROI (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's presentation at Online Educa in Berlin, November 2002

Implementing eLearning (Windows Media streaming video)
Jay and Lance's presentation at TechLearn 2002, November 2002

The State of eLearning (streaming, Impatica)
Jay's lecture at SF State University, October 2002.

eLearning is not Important (streaming, Icohere)
Jay's presentation for Collaborative Learning 2002, November 2002.

Feel free to download or quote these so long as you credit as your source.

I speak frequently to groups of every size and composition on every topic you find in my blog and some you won't. I'd be happy to come speak to your group, meeting, or conference. I'm quite comfortable giving one-hour keynote style speeches, conducting panels, or moderating group discussions. I'll entertain discounts and fee waivers for non-profits, educational groups, community groups, or conferences with significant exposure.


Posted by Jay Cross at 01:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Metrics & ROI

Four years ago I attended a how-to-ROI presentation at a major eLearning event and found it so misleading that I began writing about how companies really evaluate project potential and after-the-fact results.

Recently I've noticed ROI Workshops popping up. Spend a couple of days and the better part of a thousand dollars. Get a certificate. Such a deal. Unfortunately, neither the workshops nor the conference presentations cover the things I deem important:

  • Metrics are in the eye of the beholder. They are not simply the application of a rote formula or accounting rule. They are subject to interpretation. This is what makes them worthy of discussion.
  • The internal customer for metrics is your sponsor, also known as the person who pays the bills. When you talk with an executive, you need to talk about execution, not training.
  • The only valid metrics for corporate learning are business metrics. To converse in business terms, it helps to be fluent with the concepts of trade-offs, risk assessment, expected value, focusing on core, changing perspective, the 80/20 rule, and the bottom line.
  • Business goals. Strategic initiatives. Quarterly objectives. New product introductions. Figure out what matters in your organization. Then show the connection between what you do and what matters. It will make you an insider instead of an outcast.
  • Kirkpatrick's four levels are a history lesson, not a guide to action. Imagine telling your sales manager that the sales force was well prepared ("Levels 1 & 2") but simply hadn't sold anything ("Levels 3 & 4"). Good luck in your next job.
  • Most of a company's value resides in the know-how and relationships of its people. Traditional accounting assigns these intangibles a value of zero. Hence, traditional ROI has little credibility with enlightened executives.

Rather than update my various white papers and articles, I have consolidated my thoughts into a single one hundred-page eBook called Metrics. Check it out.

Power Shift

eLearning infrastructure decisions are climbing up the corporate ladder. A few years ago, eLearning was pigeonholed as a cheaper, faster way to train employees. By default, eLearning decisions fell to the director of training or HR.

Now, functional managers are using eLearning to meet business objectives. Managers look beyond employees to customers, suppliers, and distribution channels -- everyone benefits from seeding eLearning throughout the value chain. This is where we are now, with eLearning decisions seesawing back and forth between can-do functional managers anxious to get on with it, and CIOs/CLOs who want to go the next step to enterprise solutions. Still rare but perhaps the next step in this evolution is the CEO who looks at eLearning as a competitive weapon, the way to create a nimble organization, improve customer service, move quickly, and stay ahead of the pack.


January 10, 2003. Those of you who've read my thoughts on ROI know that I believe cost/benefit analysis is manditory and most ROI calculations are utterly worthless. Thus, I was delighted to come upon Enough Already! Getting Off the ROI Bandwagon by Kevin Kruse (mistakenly identified as Kevin Kenexa) in the current issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Kevin writes that:

    First came the articles, then the books, and now I see that an entire conference is devoted to the ROI of training. Obviously we're seeing a backlash against the orgy of IT spending of the late 1990s, and against e-learning initiatives that fell short of expectations. Personally, I think it's all hype, and I've had enough.

    First, many senior executives don't care about ROI. In Jack Welch's book, "Straight From the Gut," he tells of his decision to invest millions in GE's new Crotonville training facility, even while undertaking massive layoffs. He didn't have an ROI spreadsheet to tell him training was a good investment; he just knew that investing in talent was critical to GE's future.

    Second, ROI is an imperfect science that often involves making educated guesses at potential savings and gains. Senior executives know this, and they also know that there are many variables that can't be captured by a formula.

    Third, ROI guesstimates are often a cop-out for tougher measurements of results. How about measuring employee engagement scores before and after management training, or doing pilot studies of sales training programs that measure closing ratios and time-to-close?

Systems Changes

Traditional ROI has suckered corporations into evaluating learning initiatives on a project-by-project basis, and this has lead to supporting each new approach as if it existed in isolation. The Meta-Learning Lab is developing ways to improve the overall learning process.

Take the old cliché of "Give a man to fish and he won't be hungry today. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again." (Excuse the sexism; this dates back several thousand years.) The Meta-Learning Lab's goal is to teach fishermen how to improve their catch.

Scientific rigor: The Baloney Detection Kit

How to draw boundaries between science and pseudoscience, or between useful metrics and pure hype. From Scientific American

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does this source often make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by another source?
4. How does the claim fit with what we know about how the world works?
5. Has anyone gone out of the way to disprove the claim, or has only supportive evidence been sought?

6. Does the preponderance of evidence point to the claimant's conclusion or to a different one?
7. Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, or have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?
8. Is the claimant providing an explanation for the observed phenomena or merely denying the existing explanation?
9. If the claimant proffers a new explanation, does it account for as many phenomena as the old explanation did?
10. Do the claimant's personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusions, or vice versa?

"Clearly, there are no foolproof methods of detecting baloney or drawing the boundary between science and pseudoscience. Yet there is a solution: science deals in fuzzy fractions of certainties and uncertainties, where evolution and big bang cosmology may be assigned a 0.9 probability of being true, and creationism and UFOs a 0.1 probability of being true. In between are borderland claims: we might assign superstring theory a 0.7 and cryonics a 0.2. In all cases, we remain open-minded and flexible, willing to reconsider our assessments as new evidence arises. This is, undeniably, what makes science so fleeting and frustrating to many people; it is, at the same time, what makes science the most glorious product of the human mind."

Corporate Learning Strategies by Dan Tobin. "If you start and end all of your learning efforts by focusing on your organization's goals, you will never be asked to do an ROI analysis to justify your budget."


There's no cookbook approach to measuring the ROI of training. Fred Nichols is so right about this.
Because the definition and perception of value varies from person to person, so do the purposes of evaluation. Moreover, the various audiences for evaluation frequently act as their own evaluators. If you look carefully about you, or if you reflect upon your own experiences as a "trainee," you will quickly discover that training is being evaluated every day, but by trainees, managers, and executives -- and in accordance with their criteria and purposes.


Technology-enabled learning creates value by speeding things up. Business-school professors compare making big corporate changes to turning around the Queen Mary. Turn the rudder and in a few miles, the ship changes course. These days, organizations that lack the agility to turn on a dime can only go about as far as the Queen Mary (which is moored in cement alongside a pier in Long Beach, California.)

A Fortune 50 company used eLearning, knowledge management, and collaboration to bring new-hire sales people up to speed in six months instead of fifteen. Nine months x 1400 new hires/year x $5 million quota = $5 billion incremental revenue. To be sure, better products, sales campaigns, and a host of factors contributed to the gain but a tiny faction of $5 billion still yields a significant ROI. (Here are the details: New-hire training at Sun Microsystems.)

Ten thousand consultants at a Fortune 100 technical services company earned professional certifications via eLearning. The result? Less attrition, better esprit de corps, and $100 million revenue/year attributable to higher billing rates.

A software firm launches a new system into a $250 million global market with eLearning and virtual meetings. This accelerates time-to-market by two months, gives them first-mover advantage over a major competitor, builds a more confident and enthusiastic sales force, and gets the channel up to speed at the same time as the direct sales force. Gain? $80 to $100 million incremental revenue.

A very large retailer of personal computers realizes that customers are frustrated with their products because they don?t understand the software that accompanies them. The company offers customers free admission to an online learning community created by SmartForce. More than 100,000 customers sign up to learn Windows, Word, and Office apps online. Value of increased customer loyalty? Conservatively, $20 million in repeat business over three years.

Often an e-Learning initiative pays for itself right off the bat by eliminating travel and facility costs, but that misses the point, because in comparison, upside gains dwarf cost savings.

The eLearning Emperor Has No Clothes

Go to any major conference for trainers and you'll find many sessions on evaluating results and measuring performance. If you're a line manager with no training background, you will at first be confused when participants make statements like, "We evaluate 100% at Level 1, 80% and Level 2, and 40% at Level 3. We're going to shoot for some Level 4 next year."

The "levels" come from a taxonomy developed by a budding academic, Donald Kirkpatrick, as his Pd. D. thesis more than forty years ago. Level 1 evaluates trainee reaction (generally via evaluation forms derisively known as "smile sheets.") Level 2 checks retention (can they pass the test?) Level 3 looks at whether theydo what they were trained for. Level 4 is whether the learning creates meaningful results for the organization.

Picture this. A national sales manager is reviewing quarterly sales performance with his boss. He tells her the new sales trainees scored 95% on Level 1, 82% on Level 2, and 9% on Level 3. Unfortunately, Level 4 improvement was infinitesimal. So the sales force loved the sales training, the majority passed the test, and nearly four out of five could demonstrate great sales behavior in a role-play. The only trouble is Levels 3 & 4: they aren't selling. How long would the sales manager keep her job? In business, Level 4 is, in fact, the only thing that matters. No wonder senior managers question the value of training.

The only valid measure of training is business metrics, not training metrics.

As the Godfather said, "This is business." If you can't see a benefit, don't do it.

Jack Zigon's list of performance measurement sites

Excerpt from Ed Trolley's Running Training Like a Business

Evaluating e-Learning by Dorman Woodall

Jay's notes on making the business case, new ROI challenges

The trouble with the "four levels" is that they falter when they go outside of the limited context of training. What happens outside the box is what counts inside the box. See Measuring Training ROI & Impact (1999). You can guess how I see this.

The Evolution of Management Accounting by Robert S. Kaplan

BNH on ROI. Their software models simlify complex ROI calculations.

Discussion group: ROInet

The Business Case website

The Fallacy of ROI Calculations

Measuring the Success of Training

Baruch Lev

Measuring the ROI of Training, CIO

Economic Value Added (EVA)


Learning at home

Training magazine, the March 2000 issue: Train on your own time, not "during work."

Sure, moving training from the classroom to the Web can mean reduced travel costs, less learning time away from the job, and certainly lower delivery costs. But most corporate training doesn't require travel, says Paul Reali, president of CyberSkills Computer Training Centers in Winston Salem, NC. And, he points out, no valid study has yet shown that online delivery significantly reduces learning time - actual time spent mastering a skill or acquiring knowledge-compared with instructor-led training of similar quality.

"No one wants to tell you that the 'anytime' of online learning is supposed to be after work and that the 'anyplace' is at home," he says.

Another reason: Despite yellow crime-scene tape barriers and "do not disturb" signs, the cubicle is a tough place to have a quality learning experience. And it's almost impossible to reserve the necessary time and concentration without broad organizational support--and the backing of trainees' immediate managers for regular learning time-outs.

This is so true and so short-sighted.
Posted by Jay Cross at 01:05 AM | Comments (1)


Acronyms. You'll need to know many of these to keep up with Workflow-Based Learning.
  • BAM Business Activity Modeling
  • BI Business Intelligence
  • BPM Business Process Modeling
  • CA Customer Analytics
  • Collaborative Web Conferencing
  • CPM Corporate Performance Management
  • CRM Customer Relationship Management
  • ECM Enterprise Collaboration
  • ECM Enterprise Content Management
  • ERM Employee Relationship Management
  • ERM Enterprise Resource Management
  • EM Expertise Mining
  • HCM Human Capital Management
  • IM Instant Messaging
  • LCMS Learning Content Management System
  • LMS Learning Management System
  • PA Presence Awareness
  • PDM Product Data Management
  • PLM Product Lifecycle Management
  • SCM Supply Chain Management
  • SFA Sales Force Automation
  • SKM Structured Knowledge Management System
  • UKM Unstructured Knowledge Management
  • WFA Workforce Analytics
  • WFM WorkForce Management
  • WFO WorkForce Optimization
  • WM Worldflow Management

ADL. Advanced Distributed Learning, an initiative originally established by the U.S. Department of Defense and now a collaboration between government, industry, and academia. The purpose of the ADL is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required. The ADL maintains a set of guidelines under the acronym SCORM to accomplish their purpose.

AICC. Aviation Industry CBT Committee. The granddaddy of standards bodies. Originally formered to set guidelines for the aviation industry, AICC concepts are the foundation for subsequent work by ADL, IMS, and others.

Andragogy. Word coined by Malcolm Knowles to describe how adults learn -- which is different from how children learn ("pedagogy"). I'm beginning to suspect pedagogy denigrates children and that andra is the gogy to go with for all. Main points are:

  1. What's in it for me?
  2. Let me decide how I'll learn it.
  3. Where does this fit in relation to the other stuff I know?
  4. Sell me on learning this.
  5. Remove the obstacles from my path, please.

Asynchronous. [pretentious] Any time you like, e.g. watching a rerun on your VCR.

Bandwidth is a description of how much information can squeeze through a data pipe. Your intranet has high bandwidth; your dial-up connection is low bandwidth. Also used anthropomorphically, e.g. "He has low bandwidth" is equivalent to "He is a taco short of a combo plate" or "Her elevator doesn't go all the way to the top."

Bipolar thinking. The tendency to see everything in black and white when faced with shades of gray.

Blended. Current rage in eLearning circles. Means using more than one learning medium, generally adding an instructor component to web-based training. Duh! Blended is only a revelation for people who had been trying to do everything with just one tool – the computer. Classroom teachers having been blending various means of learning – lecture, discussion, practice, reading, projects, and writing, for example -- for eons.

Blog. An easily updated personal website, generally updated daily and expressing. See About Blogs or look at a sample.

Blog digest, blogathy, blogerati, blogger bash, blogger ecosystem, bloggeral, blogoverse, blogistan, blognoscenti, blogapottamus, blogorrhea, blogosphere, blogroach, blogroll, blogspot, blogstipation, blogule, blurker. See Blog Vocabulary.

Boiling the ocean. Trying to cure all problems at once, often with a single tool.

Broadband. Unscientific term for sufficient bandwidth to receive streaming video and sound. Usually refers to bandwidth equal to or greater than DSL or Cable Modem speed.

Career Limiting Move. It refers to any incident that puts a roadblock in your career path. "Jack spilled coffee on the boss. It was a major CLM."

Caution: Learning isms ahead.

  • Behaviorism. Show me. If you can't show me a change in behavior, nothing was learned. A vital aspect of rat-maze psychology.
  • Cognitivism. It's all in your head. Cogito ergo sum = I think, therefore I am. Unlike Behaviorism, I don't have to show you.
  • Constructivism. Learning is what changes your current worldview. It builds on what you already think you know. A teacher who knows where you're coming from has a better shot at positioning new learning to have impact.

Certification. Pass the test, get a certificate. This started with technical subjects, e.g. Certified Novell Engineer and Microsoft Certified Professionals. Cisco offers a progression of certificates that reminds one of the ranks in Boy Scouts. Since there's no authority legitimizing the certifications, expect a continuing proliferation of these things. Certifications simplify hiring decisions; on the downside, they encourage "studying to the test." For $500, I can get you an Certified Internet Time Professional ranking.

Chat. Real-time communication, text or voice. Generally, messages disappear when the session's over. Otherwise, you're probably having a discussion.

c-learning. Classroom learning. Used to be just "learning," but now we need to differentiate c-learning from eLearning.

Collaborative filtering. Example: Amazon tells me that other people who like the books I like are buying a particular book.

Community. A group of people united by a common purpose who share information and knowledge with one another.

Community of Practice. An informal group that shares values, perspectives, and ways of doing things. The motivation to learn is the deisre to participate in a "community of practice."

Complexity. It's a nonlinear, interconnected world and you will never figure it out. Shit happens.

Content. What's being learned, information. If it doesn't cause change, it's not information. The challenge is how to get the right content to right person, at the right time. This involves media choice (e.g., paper versus on-screen), speed, delivery cost, relevance, learner motivation, and other factors.

Context. The environment of content. Who's talking? When? Why? Content and context are like inside and outside: you can't have one without the other.

Content management system (CMS). A CMS supports the creation, management, distribution, publishing, and discovery of content from cradle to grave. A CMS helps users find what they're looking for. It also separates content from presentation. See StepTwo Designs.

Course. Rigid unit of learning, generally expressed in days and 'led' by an instructor. Opposite: 'Just enough.'

Dead-tree media. Paper-based publications.

Dynamic information. 'Real time.' Current, up to the second. Instead of reading pages prepared in advance, the pages are assembled on the fly, incorporating current information and taking into account current needs.

eLearning. Also e-Learning. Best practices for learning in the new economy, implying but not requiring benefits of networking and computers such as anywhere/anytime delivery, learning objects, and personalization. Learning on Internet time. Often includes ILT.

Explicit knowledge. Knowledge that's easy to communicate. (Opposite of "tacit knowledge.")

Gap analysis. Figure out what to do by assessing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Most people then begin building from the present into the future. We favor looking at the step right before the ultimate one and backing toward the present one step at a time.

Hitnosis. Obsessively checking your web counter to see if the number has changed.

ILT. Instructor-led training, generally a workshop.

IMS - A standards body developing and promoting open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning. Its traditional emphasis surrounded meta-tagging specifications

Informal/formal learning. Formal learning is a class, a seminar, a self-study course -- everyone recognizes it as learning. Informal learning is over the water cooler, at the poker game, asking the guy in the next cube to help out, collaborative problem solving, watching an expert, or sharing a terminal for eLearning. More than half of corporate learning is the informal kind.

Instructional design. A systems approach to designing a learning experience. Heavily promoted by DoD investment, formal instructional design is currently under attack for fostering slow development, a printed-paper mindset, and insufficient attention to informal learning.

Internet time. The accelerated timeframe of the new economy brought on by eBusiness and the Internet. A year of Internet time may equal seven years of calendar time. Or more. Or less.

Intangible. Something that cannot be perceived by the senses. Accountants and financial types only grudgingly concede that some intangibles have value, and they find it in things like brand names and patents. Because you can't immediately sense a person's capability, a customer's loyalty, or a relationship with a supplier, accountants say these things have to value.

Job aid. Cheat sheet. Checklist. Process map. Generally, a piece of paper that helps you do your job.

Just-in-time learning. Getting the right knowledge to the right person at the right time.

K Log. Knowledge blog. A euphemism used by corporate types who don't want to be typecast as mere social bloggers.

Kittyblogger. A person who uses their blog to write about their cats or equally interesting topics.

Knowledge Management (KM). Whatever you want it to mean.

Learner-centric. Organize things for the good of the learner, not the instructor and not the institution. The core tenet of eLearning.

Learning. To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

LMS or Learning management system. eLearning infrastructure. At the simplest level, a tracking system. LMS's range from simple course-by-course registration systems to humongous, real-time databases that deal with personalization, learning prescriptions, job competencies, and parsing learning objects.

LCMS. Learning content management system. An LCMS is a multi-user environment where learning developers can create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content from a central object repository.

Learning object. A machine-addressible "chunk" of learning. When labeled with metadata, an eLearning system can mix and match learning objects to create individualized learning experiences. Controversy swirls around the question, "How large is a chunk?" A course is too large -- that's yesterday's object. A couple of sentences is too small -- you would lose the context that provides meaning. Think five or ten minutes.

Learning service provider. Delivers eLearning - including learning management -- over the Internet. A learning ASP. Focus in-house IT on core processes; outsource eLearning to an LSP.

LOMBARD. Lots Of Money But A Real Dickhead. Coined by The Economist. Sometimes applied to vulture capitalists.

Low-hanging fruit: In an apple orchard, it’s the apples on the low branches. In business, it’s the easy sales to get. Problem: You run out of low-hanging fruit long before you become profitable.

. On the Web, a destination site that links to other worthy sources of information.

Meme. A self-replicating idea that propogates through people and networks, much like comptuer viruses. A thought-gene. Coined by Richard Dawkins.

Metadata. Information about information. Often, "metatags" that describe what's inside a chunk of learning. Generally machine-readable. Analogous to a barcode on an incoming shipment.

Meta-Learning. The process of learning. Learning to learn is a major component. See Meta-Learning Lab.

Meta-tags - Descriptive labels applied to media assets, pages, information objects and/or learning objects that describe the object so it can be managed more effectively. Machine-readable.

M-learning. Mobile learning. Learning delivered or augmented by an untethered device, for example by cell phone, WiFi PDA, wearable with headmounted display, or wireless tablet.

Moblog. Combination of "mobile" with "blog," moblogs are websites where people can post pictures taken with mobile phones in real time.

Nurnburg funnel. Source of the metaphor of training being akin to pouring knowledge into a person's head.

Ontology. The capstone of the Semantic Web. XML describes what the data is. RDF explains what the XML tag means in our context. An Ontology describes how all the pieces fit together.

Paradigm drag. When old thinking holds back new. From David Gelernter's Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology.

Peer to peer. When the PC is both client and server, able to swap resources directly with other PCs. Resources? Files, songs, videos, processor cycles, disk space. This wil be big for self-organizing teams.

Performance. The goal of learning. AKA productivity, results. It's relative to context. Decide what constitutes performance, then design the learning to support it.

Performance support. Learning imbedded in work. Microsoft's talking paperclip and 'Wizards' that guide users through applications are examples.

Permalink. A permanent marker or reference point to a certain document on the world wide web. Most commonly used for weblogs, news sites and newspapers. A permalink is denoted through the use of a symbol (pound sign, arrow, dot), date of content creation, the word permalink or image.

Personalization. Learning opportunities tailored to the learner's background, style, previous knowledge, etc. 'Mass customization' and '1:1 marketing' applied to learning. Results are saved time, accelerated learning, more wheat/less chaff, phenomenal performance gain.

Portal. 1. Synonyn for entry screen. Widely hyped 1998-1999 because anyone can imagine the utility of an in-house Yahoo. 2. Transactional portal. A front-end which lets you do as well as see things.

Problem. Sometimes, a way of blinding oneself to new opportunities. Dr David Cooperrider says “Once we describe something as a problem, we assume that we know what the ideal is - what should be - and we go in search of ways to close any ‘gaps’ - not to expand our knowledge or to build better ideals.”

Pronoia. The belief that the world is conspiring to make you happy and successful.

RDF - Resource Description Framework. A dictionary and thesaurus for XML tags that sits between XML and an ontology.

RLO - Reusable Learning Object. A discrete chunk of reusable learning that teaches one or more terminal objectives.

RSS - Real Simple Syndication, among other definitions. A format for syndicating blogs.

Search learning. When you learn from perusing Amazon, looking up topics on Google, or paging through business magazines on the airplane.

Semantic Web. Will enable computers to talk with one another. How we will address "the difference between information produced primarily for human consumption and that produced mainly for machines. At one end of the scale we have everything from the five-second TV commercial to poetry. At the other end we have databases, programs and sensor output. To date, the Web has developed most rapidly as a medium of documents for people rather than for data and information that can be processed automatically. The Semantic Web aims to make up for this." Tim Berners-Lee in Scientific American.

SCORM. Sharable Content Object Reference Model. Standards are very popular; that's why there are so many of them. SCORM is the Federal government's standard. It seeks to track and manage courseware developed by various authoring tools using a single system. The objective is to bring together diverse and disparate learning content and products to ensure reusability, accessibility, durability, and interoperability. Built on the work of AICC, IMS, the IEEE, and others. See for the latest. Coming under fire for narrow focus on self-directed learning as well as for military backing.

Shelf-life. Knowledge is perishable. Some suggest it be labeled with pull-dates, like cartons of milk. (And others point out that spoiled milk may have been put in the eLearning bottle to being with.)

SOAP - simple object access protocol. Describes how one application talks to a Web service and asks it to perform a task and return an answer. SOAP makes it possible to use Web services for transactions—say, credit card authorization or checking inventory in real-time and placing an order. See Web services.

Synchronous. [pretentious] Live event.

Tacit/explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowing how; it's impossible to transfer to it you in words. Explicit knowledge is the opposite -- you're reading it right now.

Technophilia. The belief that technology will solve all ills. Especially prevalent during the dot-com delusion, fostered by Wired magazine.

Timing. The first 90% of a development project takes 90% of the time. The remaining 10% also takes 90% of the time.

Training. An attempt to impose learning, often more at the convenience of the provider than the learner.

UDDI (universal description, discovery and integration) A virtual yellow pages for Web services that lets software discover what Web services are available and how to hook up to them. See Web services.

VOIP. Phonecalls over the Internet. When you conduct a meeting with Centra or Groove, people from all over the world can speak with one another with NO PHONE CHARGES. The technology is not yet out of the woods; unable to reach someone at Cisco last year, a colleague explained, "Oh, she's testing one of our VOIP phones. She never receives her calls."

Warchalking. Marking the location of open wi-fi connections to the net on the sidewalk or wall in chalk.

WSDL - Web services description language. If UDDI is a virtual yellow pages, WSDL is the little blurb associated with each entry that describes what kind of work the Web service can do—say, that it can give you access to a database of ZIP codes.

Web log. AKA blog. Try this one. "If journalism is the first draft of history, then blogging is sometimes the first draft of journalism...." says Ed Cone.

Web services. Standards that enable interoperability on applications on the net. Includes XML, SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL. More

Wireless learning. Tell me once again. If my cell phone craps out at random intervals, how will a wireless modem enable me to cut the cord?

Workflow Learning™Also, Workflow-based Learning™. Term coined by researcher Sam Adkins to describe the sort of learning the real-time extended enterprise requires. The merger of work and learning in Enterprise Application Integration. Seen Workflow Learning Institute. Term is trademarked by Internet Time Group.

XML. eXtensible Markup Language. Like HTML but more flexible because you can redefine tags to say whatever you want. Instead of <H1>, you might have <duration> or <invoice>. This enables computers to talk with one another without pesky human intervention.

For learning objects, XML is equivalent to the labels on cans at the supermarket -- it's lets you determine what's inside without opening the package. This enables an object-level Learning Management System to assemble strings of learning objects into personalized learning paths. See Web services.

YMMV. "Your mileage may vary." Recognition that your results may not be the same as mine. (Other things are never equal.)

eLearning. Internet Time Group dropped the hyphen at the turn of the century.

Other worthwhile glossaries

Learning Circuits' eLearning Glossary

Cisco's eLearning Glossary 2001 (pdf)

Big Dog's Learning Glossary

Financial and Business Terms (New York Times)

Net Lingo

Wired's Encyclopedia of the New Economy

Accounting Glossary

eCommerce Glossary

Business 2.0 Glossary

Encyclopedia of Educational Terminology

Encyclopedia of Business Case Terms

Performance Deisgn Glossary (Geary Rummler)

Specialty Dictionaries

Library Spot