FamilarLand

My professional interest is shifting to helping knowledge workers learn and flourish without training. There are millions of harried people out there who don’t appreciate that learning is a skill that you can get better at. It’s the underground passageway to success. I’d rather work with them directly.

Thinking about learning from the learner’s point of view is different from looking on it as a learning executive or instructional designer. Well, most knowledge workers don’t know they have an CLO and certainly never heard of instructional design.

Anyway, I am on the lookout for useful metaphors to propel the new book on DIY learning and intelligence.

Experiential learning is the biggest lever in the learning toolbox, so let’s start there.

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Picture two territories, FamilarLand, where you already know everything and the Unfamiliar Territory which is loaded with people doing things you don’t know how to do.

The Unfamiliar Territory is where you can grow. Staying in FamilarLand all the time is stagnating. There’s no excitement when there are no surprises.

Since you have all your predetermined opinions, ways of doing things, and beliefs along for the ride, you’re happy when lazing around FamiliarLand. Many will be stuck in place there, non-learners who couldn’t keep up with the flow. They are slouches; we’ve got to hang out with the others.

Go-getters will continuously rewire their brains with dashing adventures in the Unknown Territory. With perseverance, they will grow into the roles they’re shooting for.

Increasing border crossings will boost organizational knowledge.

Is the metaphor of a journey from FamilarLand to the Unknown Territories and back a useful way to look at things?

Cheap books on learning worth the price

kindleunltdToday I paid my $9.99 and started devouring free books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. I spend on average of $40 a month on hardcopy books, so this seems like a steal. Since I’m in the midst of writing a book on solo/DIY learning, I thought I might learn something from these freebies:

45 Elearning Tips and Tricks, by John Araiza. This is an instructional designer’s record of twelve years’ experience. Advice is for building courses. “Don’t buy photos until you get final approval.” “Use animation to spice up a course.” “remember that you are training adults.” “Become familiar with AICC and SCORM.” Not useful for solo learners.

Accelerated Learning. A How-To Guide on Becoming an Excellent Learner and Fast Reader. By Don Long. Brain training, speed reading, self hypnosis, mental clarity, the power of mind. Bummer. The book tells about speed reading, but doesn’t explain how to do it. (It ain’t that tough but usually wears off.) You might get his hypnosis directions to work; I have. At twenty pages, this is more a pamphlet than a book.

Effective Learning. Discover Accelerated Learning Strategies. Learn more, study less. Another pamphlet. 24 pages. Slight academic slant. Flimsy.

Think Smarter. Bulletproof tips to improve your thinking skills, make better choices and increase your overall intelligence. William Wyatt. Mainly aartn essay about thinking logically. About a hundred pages. Short on learning.

The Art of Learning: A Simple Handbook to Improve your Learning Techniques. By Laeticia L. How to study for school. English, Math, Science… Nothing about work.

Become a Super Learner. Learn Speed Reading and Advanced Memorization. By Levi, Goldentouch, and Goldentouch. Yawn. Those two techniques is all you get and the description of memorization is a little fuzzy. Otherwise, I guess super-learners don’t learn from people and events. The authors are quite taken with themselves.

Learning 300% Faster: 25 Learning Techniques. By Sebastian Archer. Not bad but focused 100% on learning explicit knowledge. Build good learning habits — he offers plenty.

All of these authors are stuck in the schooling paradigm: Improve your study skills, use memory tricks to pass tests, speed up your reading, take better notes. You’d think that all there is to learning is studying for the test.

They miss the most important learning: tacit knowledge. This is the savoir faire, know-how, life skills, and professionalism that can’t be told because it’s coded into your unconscious mind and shows itself only after battling with the conscious mind.

Explicit knowledge? That’s what an algorithm can figure out. Don’t make this your main job! Dealing with facts, figures, and logic will be delegated to robots. Soon. Slave wages ahead. That’s not what you’re after.

Tacit knowledge? That’s the intuition, judgments, and behavior that define who you are. It’s learning to become your true self and fulfill your destiny. This is the home of value creation and personal fulfillment.

Alas the largely self-published pamphlets on DIY learning tell you a little bit of how to prosper in school and next to nothing about how to get ahead in business and in life.

The most important learning is learning to be. That’s where I’m focusing my attention this year.

 

Summarizing Learn for Yourself

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I just copied a rough draft of my new book, Learn For Yourself, into a free summarizer. In a few seconds, it reduced my 116-page manuscript to 10 items


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It’s all a matter of learning, but it’s not the sort of learning that is the province of training departments, workshops, and classrooms.

You are learning to learn how to become the person you wrote the obit for.

It’s learning to know versus learning to be.

Most of what we learn, we learn by interacting with others.

Sharing is an act of learning and can be considered your responsibility for the greater social learning contract.

Know-who (social networking skills, locating the key people and communities where competencies, knowledge, and practice reside and who can add the greatest value to one’s learning and work) Two students working on one computer learn more than both would learn if working individually.

Learners can give more than they take by sharing what they learned and how they learned it with others.

We call this phenomenon the new culture of learning, and it is grounded in a very simple question: What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?”

While the summary skips over the primary content, fifty ways to learn better and work smarter, it catches the spirit of the book rather well.

When I’m deciding whether reading a lengthy article is worth my time, I’ll sometimes dump it in a summarizer to figure out if it’s worthwhile to read further.

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Here’s a summary of the Working Smarter Fieldbook:

 

 

While learning is ascendant, training is in decline, for workers are embracing self-service learning; they learn in the context of work, not at some training class divorced from work.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” The use of social media in learning is is often referred to as “social learning”, but as has been demonstrated this has a much wider meaning than simply using social media for training – “social training” – but also for social (workflow/informal) learning where workers can share information and knowledge with others in networks and communities as well as adopting a new collaborative approach to working.

Note, this does not mean building lots more learning content nor implementing a traditional “command and control” (social) learning (management) system where everyone’s learning is tracked, monitored and managed, but rather providing an open,and enabling environment for individuals and groups to support their own learning and performance needs.

Any system that claims to “manage informal learning” is a learning management system, since once you start to “manage informal learning” it becomes “formal learning” as in a LMS the learning of the learners is still under the control of the organization.

In order to reinvent formal learning ALSO requires a re-thinking of the existing provision of formal learning, but to go further and to transform learning requires a complete NEW mindset in understanding the role of “learning” in an organization, – and to appreciate that, as my colleague, Harold Jarche in the Internet Time Alliance says “learning=working; working=learning”.

The shift from training (we tell you what to learn) to learning (you decide what to learn) increases the scope of the director’s job from classes, workshops, and tests to the broad array of networks, communities, meta-learning, and learning culture.

However, if the mindset has stretched beyond event-based learning to where most learning occurs for workers, which is in the workplace at the point-of-need, where process-based learning serves best and where learning through doing and learning as part of the work process happens, then ID takes on a whole new dimension.

We’ve looked at blogs, wikis, FAQs, instant messaging, crowdsourcing, sharing ideas, discussion among colleagues, discussion with experts, discussion with customers, learning on demand, chat, prediction markets, outsourcing innovation, communities of practice, subject matter networks, collaboration, expertise location, video learning, podcasts, coaching, use-generated content, experiential learning, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning.

[Traditional] 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.

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Finally, here’s a summary of Informal Learning. When a book is loaded with content, it’s impossible for the Summarizer to boil it down to 10 items.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

Back in California, Peter and I met at the Institute for Research on Learning to talk further about informal learning, communities of practice, anthropological research, and learning as engagement.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

…..The emergent way of learning is more likely to involve community, storytelling, simulation, dynamic learning portals, social network analysis, expertise location, presence awareness, workflow integration, search technology, help desks, spontaneity, personal knowledge management, mobile learning, and co-creation.

We aim to create a learnscape where workers can easily find the people and information they need, learning is fluid and new ideas flow freely, corporate citizens live and work by the organization’s values, people know the best way to get things done, workers spend more time creating value than handling exceptions, and everyone finds their work challenging and fulfilling.

“One way to utilize spacing is to change the definition of a learning event to include the connotation that learning takes place over time real learning doesn’t unusually occur in one-time events.” …..In the chapter on Informal Learning, I likened formal learning with riding on a bus and informal learning with driving a car or riding a bicycle.

When you’ve finished, you not only learn your top five signature strengths, but also how you compare to everyone who has taken the survey, people of your gender, people your age, people in your line of work, people with your level of education, and people who reside in your and neighboring zip codes.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” [Traditional] 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.

Do you use a summarizer to condense text?

I’ve been depressed. You?

vangogh1I’ve been depressed. 

Telling you this will blow my chances of running for president, but what the hell: I have been clinically depressed for the last two years. It’s a form of going crazy. I lost interest in my work, stopped blogging and taking photos. I became a near-hermit. 

dogI want to share my experiences with you so that if the black dog visits you or one of your friends, you’ll recognize it for what it is and take appropriate action. No one deserves to go through life feeling shitty and that’s precisely what depression can do to you. Everything is gloomy. Nothing seems worthwhile. Yet this condition is treatable.

Before going on, let me explain that I am no longer depressed. Hallelujah! I have found my cure and have returned to my normal jovial set-point. Let’s grab a beer sometime.

How do you recognize depression? Lots of us are sad. Pollsters tell us more than half of all workers are disengaged. Many jobs are gone forever; PhDs are pouring the lattes at Starbucks. DoD is in an intractable war with Muslims. The maw between rich and poor widens daily. Technology has accelerated the business cycle into a frenzied pace few can maintain. There’s plenty of sadness to go around.

Depression is more than sadness, however. It doesn’t have a target. It’s irrational and self-destructive. When my last episode came on two years ago, I could sense pulling down the shades on optimism. I was slower, weaker, and lacked energy and the ability to focus. It was physical (the juices in my head) and mental (the belief-set that controls my interpretation of the world).

The acid test: Do you think of taking your life? If you think yes, go to the doctor. Get help. You’re depressed. Or maybe you have a suppressed anxiety disorder (I did.) These two often go hand in hand. Happily, both get better with the same treatment. You’ll recognize you’re getting better when suicide disappears as an option.

My neurologist will tell you that depression is a neurological condition. No amount of trying hard and talk therapy is going to change it, any more than they’ll heal broken bones. Here, take these blue pills and if that doesn’t work, we have some yellow ones. Of course, it makes sense to follow general principles of good health: get enough sleep and exercise.

My cognitive behavioral psychologist tells our therapy group that drugs are largely ineffective. This is psychological condition. Emotions are the products of thinking. Get your thinking straight and your feelings will follow. Let’s look at what’s really going on. Got that? Say it back to me.

Stanford’s David Burns is the author of Feeling Good and cognitive behavioral therapy’s leading advocate. Watch this video not only to understand Burns’ work but to cry your eyes out at the surprise ending.

A few months ago the cloud of doom lifted from my shoulders. I was no longer eternally bummed out. The depression was fading away. 

I dropped out of the therapy group which was beginning to wear on my nerves by this point anyway. Then the psychologist and I agreed I no longer needed his treatment.

My restoration to normalcy is the result of a lot of people, a lot of reading, and a lot of pushing the boulder up the hill. However, I attribute 95% of my change in mood to drugs.

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During an episode similar to this twenty years ago, Prozac did nothing for me but Zoloft restored me for years. Two years ago, I re-tried Zoloft but had grown immune to it.

The doctor and I dropped into a rhythm of taking a few weeks to build up to a proper dose of a drug, try it long enough to know it’s not working, then take a few more weeks to wean and clean out the system for the next round. Again and again and again.

In the last four years, I’ve been prescribed these drugs for depression and/or ADHD.

  • Wellbutrin
  • Straterra
  • Nuvigil
  • Zoloft
  • Effexor
  • Latuda
  • Abilify
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall
  • Provigil
  • Brintellix
  • Vibryd
  • L-Tyosin
  • Selegiline
  • Sertaline
  • Venlafxine

None of them did anything positive. Zilch! I was running low on hope after years of fruitless drug testing, but I remembered how Zoloft had once turned my life around.

“There’s one more drug to try,” said my neurologist. “It’s rarely used these days but it was actually the first anti-depressant. It can interact with your diet, for instance you can’t eat fermented foods. It’s called Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAO-I.

Wikipedia reports:

Because of potentially lethal dietary and drug interactions, monoamine oxidase inhibitors have historically been reserved as a last line of treatment, used only when other classes of antidepressant drugs (for example selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants) have failed.[2] New research into MAOIs indicates that much of the concern over their dangerous dietary side effects stems from misconceptions and misinformation, and that despite proven effectiveness of this class of drugs, it is underutilized and misunderstood in the medical profession.[3] New research also questions the validity of the perceived severity of dietary reactions, which has historically been based on outdated research.[4]

The reason most of the restrictions on diet are bunk is that MAOIs can now be delivered with a patch, thus bypassing the liver. The current regulations were set for pills, not patches.

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Every evening I peel off the old patch, leaving a red mark behind for a day or two. I apply a new one to the other arm. Every morning I awake with a smile. This stuff works for me.

PatientsLikeMe has reports from people who have used these various drugs. What works wonders for one person sends the next screaming to the toilet.

My message for depression sufferers is to keep trying. The latest research recommends trying both drug and CBT treatment as well as community activity. See what works for you.

We who have wrestled the black dog seriously are sort of a secret society. Lots of people I’ve talked to begin with, “Yeah, when I was going through that….” All are open to helping one another. There’s camaraderie among people who have been there. Ask for advice. You’ll be surprised at how commonplace this is.

Wisdom 2.0: Mindfulness and business

Wisdom 2.0 Conference, San Francisco, February 27 – March 1.w21

Billed as “the intersection of wisdom and technology,” the Wisdom 2.0 conference drew 2,500 people who spent $625 for two and a half days of secular Buddhism.

I am interested in the interaction of mindfulness and business. Mindfulness – the opposite of mindlessness – is a natural component of Working Smarterw2-2

I generally sit in the front row at conferences. You can see better and often get to schmooze with speakers. But this time I opted for…w2-11

…the bean bag chairs in front of the front row. I spent most of the main stage sessions on my back, Mac balanced on my knees.

w2-5When I got tired of the main sessions, I’d head to Inspiration Village.

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Part of the Village was set up as summer camp. Let’s play.

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In the hallway outside, four Tibetan monks made an elaborate sand mandala. w2-10

Jack Kornfeld seemed so authentic and emotion-laden, not what I expected from a meditation leader. “Quiet your mind.”

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Richard Davidson spoke on Well-being as a Skill. He reported on progress in neuroscience, a field that has come a long way in 20 years. What’s important?

  • neuroplasticity. need to intentionally cultivate it. take advantage to if.
  • genomics. epigenetics: how genes are expressed. can change this through experience. eights hours of practice is enough to change the brain. had thought brain was fixed.
  • bidirectional highway between mind and body. how alterations in the body will feedback back to the brain. data are clear. cultivating well being will change the brain in ways that change the body.
  • we come into the world with innate basic goodness. Animals demonstrate basic goodness as well.

Well being is a skill. You can get better at it.

47% go through life without thinking about what they’re doing.They report as unhappy.

Which kinds of people need which type of practice?

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Sherry Turkle, advocate of face-to-face communications, ironically the only person to use PowerPoint, had this unscientific view of artificial reality. The slide drew applause.

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Eileen Fisher advised us all to shut our eyes and take a deep breath. She rang finger cymbals to bring us back.16065114033_26cc9aa59b_z

Eileen has a daily practice. At age 64, she feels more energetic than twenty years ago. Her aim: to feel totally in my body.

Her employees take two days a year for spiritual retreats.

Blackrock, at $4.7 trillion and 12,000 employees, is the world’s largest asset manager. They’ve popularized meditation sessions 30 minutes, taking place in conference rooms around the world. Employees receive weekly emails with tips. Mindfulness is a topic at leadership off sites.

How do we bridge the gap between mindfulness and business?

Starbucks is the “perfect environment for exploring mindfulness.”

Their mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

(see mission statement)

100% said the campaign was very effective. Partners are hungry for mindfulness. Able to make it real, mesh authentically with others.

Barristas love it. It’s taking a life of its own. Bubbles up, organic.

16477779127_836797b6dc_zNeed a break? Visit the Meditation Studio.

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Flashing lights and booming noises didn’t help me meditate. For $249, you can try it for yourself.16498921319_1ce0164f4d_z

BuHaGirl, which appears to make yoga bangles, was a major sponsor and had an exotic tent set up in the Inspiration Village.16065117023_24fd67b993_z

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The Mandala nears completion.

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Googler Chang-Meng Tan

Born at Google and based on brain science, SIY uses the practices of mindfulness to train Emotional Intelligence skills, leading to resilience, positive mindset, and centered leadership. In the midst of complexity, it’s about finding the inner capacity to create, to thrive, to lead. And it’s surprisingly fun. Backed by some of the world’s leading experts in neuroscience and mindfulness, SIY is changing thousands of lives in over a dozen countries.

With that vision in mind, Meng connected with Daniel Goleman and Jon Kabat Zinn to develop a unique program for Google. He then assembled a team that included mindfulness teachers, business executives and scientists. The Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program was born and launched, refined and tested over four years at Google, where it is currently one of the most popular, impactful and highly rated programs focused on wellbeing and sustainable high-performance.
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Mindfulness in Business

“Once upon a time I was young….  I joined a startup called Google.”

Mindfulness day. Search Inside Yourself.

All leaders in the world are wise and compassionate, thus creating the conditions for world peace

Need to define wisdom + compassion.

Wisdom.

  • Clarity and insight to know what to do.
  • Calm mind. Leadership: the ability to think under fire.
  • Self-awareness. Seeing beyond self

Compassion.

  • Beautiful intentions (do no harm, ahimsa). Generosity.
  • Loving kindness. (The wish for others to be happy). Create inner joy. It’s born of kindness. 
  • Compassionate action.

All of these are born of mindfulness. Self as process.

Business at its best is about helping people.

The best leader makes the team shine. They practice wisdom, impersonate

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Video of the event is here.

Does mindfulness have a place in business? Not yet but it’s inevitable.

pendulumThe focus of business is shifting from Institutions to Individuals. Mindfulness helps individuals perform better — and be happier and more fulfilled.

Mindfulness shares many values with Working Smarter, digital transformation, social business, and Product Knowledge Mastery, for example openness, transparency, and self-determination.

Years ago, a professor named Herbert Benson wrote a book and a compelling article in Harvard Business Review on The Relaxation Response. He met with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Here’s the message: repeat a mantra; assume a passive attitude. A best seller in 1975, this Buddhism-without-the-Buddha book has faded from the scene but it leaves us a valuable lesson: putting the mantra in English makes the practice of meditation more acceptable to business people. (Benson’s medical school colleague had refused t meet with the maharishi.)

Mindfulness will go mainstream; it’s that essential a practice. I don’t think it’s going to win executive hearts and minds until we separate it from the Tibetan monks, BuDaGirl bracelets, and Patchouli oil.

Ebbinghaus was a pessimist

ebbinghausMore than a hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus formulated the forgetting curve, which describes the relationship between memory and time. During a lecture, if your absorption rate is at 100 percent on day one, there is a 50-80 percent loss of learning from the second day onward, which is reduced to a retention rate of just 2-3 percent at the end of thirty days.

The forgetting curve is so unforgiving that if it applied to all learning, you’d question the value of investing time in learning at all. But Ebbinghaus’s findings don’t really apply to most learning situations.

Ebbinghaus measured the retention of random numbers. This is explicit knowledge. He learned by concentration, entirely on his own.

Ebbinghaus’s list of numbers to memorize don’t connect to anything else. Yet most learning is exactly that: connecting new concepts into existing frameworks.

Most learning comes from experience. I retain lessons learned in the company of doing things with others.

I wonder what the forgetting curve for tacit information looks like. I hope I can retain more than 3% of the lessons of experience I gain in concert with others.