Science of Happiness MOOC

Along with 100,000 other people, I’ve enrolled in a free MOOC on The Science of Happiness.

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, is producing the course. It’s being administered on the EdX platform

Week 1: Introduction to the Science of Happiness
Will be available starting on September 9 

Week 2: Happiness & Human Connection
Will be available starting on September 16 

Week 3: Kindness & Compassion
Will be available starting on September 23 

Week 4: Cooperation & Forgiveness
Will be available starting on September 30 

Week 5: Midterm Exam (and time to catch up on course material)
Will be available starting on October 7. Must be completed by November 18. 

Week 6: Mindfulness, Attention, and Focus
Will be available starting on October 14 

Week 7: Mental Habits of Happiness: Self-Compassion, Flow, and Optimism
Will be available starting on October 21 

Week 8: Gratitude
Will be available starting on October 28 

Week 9: Finding Your Happiness Fit and the New Frontiers
Will be available starting on November 4 

Final Exam
Will be available starting on November 4. Must be completed by November 18.

I’ll post about my experiences as we march through the material.

“The Science of Happiness” is being produced by the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley; course co-instructors Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas are the GGSC’s founding director and science director, respectively. The GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: Not only does it sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, it also helps people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. “The Science of Happiness” is a prime example of the GGSC’s work.

 

#ITASHARE

“It was the happiest day of my life!”

So said John G. Sperling of the day his brutish father died.

Until age 15, John was dirt poor, sickly, severely dyslexic, and frequently beaten. He rose to become the most successful education entrepreneur in history. I worked for John in the mid-seventies, before the meteoric rise of the University of Phoenix. He was an amazing man.

sperling

John died last week at the age of 93. The New York Times has a thoughtful obituary.

This was a man who was obsessed with doing whatever he thought was right, regardless of prevailing opinion. Overcompensating for his miserable beginnings, John became an audacious visionary with the wherewithal to take action.

A good place to find out more about John is his autobiography, Rebel With A Cause:

I did not become an entrepreneur until the age of 52. I created my first company with no thought for building a business, per se, but merely as a way to preserve an educational innovation from being destroyed by a small-minded bureaucracy. I had designed a program specifically for working adults that would allow them to earn a degree in the same amount of time it took full-time students on campus. Because this challenged many of the sacred tenets of academe, it was met with hostility bordering on rage.

My involvement was to develop John’s first business degree program during those indeed hostile times.

John told me he wanted our graduates to be able to talk like business people. It was a Turing test — Can you tell the accomplished business person from the recent winner of an accelerated degree? Our performance objectives were rather thin. The subject matter bore a suspicious resemblance to my first year courses at Harvard Business School.

While still in the midst of development, I hired and managed the sales force to sell it. Commission only. John was adamant that we were a profit-making business venture and needed to pay our bills as they came due.

sperling_lunch]

More of the story from The Arizona Republic. My lunch with John about ten years back.

The Missyplicity Project was a project devoted to cloning Joan Hawthorne and John Sperling’s dog, a border collie and husky mix. More on Missyplicity.

 

#ITASHARE

Future of Talent Weekend — Join me?

firepit

Gather talent executives from two dozen Fortune 500’s for a long weekend of conversations about what matters most. Meet in an inspirational spot on the Northern California coast.  trends

What do people talk about? The future, mainly. We talk through the trends that are likely to persist. Kevin Wheeler‘s annual forecast lights the fire. Back and forth discussion draws everyone in. why

Kevin started Future of Talent ten years ago, and I’ve attended every one! This one weekend per year has profoundly shaped how I think about learning, talent, and the future of HR.

Late September’s session has a few more openings.

Call me if you’d like to know more. Disclaimer: Kevin is a personal friend, but I’m not on commission. I promote this event because I’m a true believer.

Three days a year helps keep sharp people sharp. Not a bad deal.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Data at Google

 

clojuneTo see Big Data at work, look to Google, where number-crunching on a massive scale has changed hiring and management practices. Measurements and analytics rule at Google. “All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics,” according to Kathryn Dekas, a manager in Google’s “people analytics” team. Google’s conclusions have a bearing on where CLOs should be focusing their efforts.

If you interviewed for a job at Google several years ago, you might have been asked to answer questions like these:

  • You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  • What’s the next number in this sequence: 10, 9, 60, 90, 70, 66 … ? 
  • Using only a four-minute hourglass and a seven-minute hourglass, measure exactly nine minutes—without the process taking longer than nine minutes. 
  • A book has N pages, numbered the usual way, from 1 to N. The total number of digits in the page numbers is 1,095. How many pages does the book have? 
  • A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened? 

Your odds of getting an interview greatly improved if you had a high GPA, astronomical SATs, and graduated from an Ivy League college because the founders believed these things were important. 

No longer. Brainteaser questions have been banned, Google recruiters no longer ask about grades, and you don’t have to have a college degree to land a job. 

In an interview published in The New York Times last June, Lazslo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations said, “On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

College didn’t matter either. Statistics found that GPAs and SAT did not correlate to success on the job, so Google stopped using them. Even earning a college degree rarely seemed to make a difference in job performance, so Google no longer requires a degree to get hired. 

Students in school learn to give specific answers. They memorize and parrot back explicit information. In the workaday world, often there is no pat answer. The challenge is to formulate the questions as well as the answers. Google is seeking people who can solve problems that don’t have a clear answer.

The numbers told Google that its most innovative workers “are those who have a strong sense of mission about their work and who also feel that they have much personal autonomy.” Google looks to what people can become as they grow on the job, not where they come from.

Leadership. “We’ll want to know how you’ve flexed different muscles in different situations in order to mobilize a team.”

Role-Related Knowledge. “We’re looking for people who have a variety of strengths and passions, not just isolated skill sets. We also want to make sure that you have the experience and the background that will set you up for success in your role.” Technical hires — about half of new Googlers — must demonstrate their ability to code,

How You Think. “We’re less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think. We’re likely to ask you some role-related questions that provide insight into how you solve problems.”

Googleyness. “We want to get a feel for what makes you, well, you. We also want to make sure this is a place you’ll thrive, so we’ll be looking for signs around your comfort with ambiguity, your bias to action and your collaborative nature.”

Bock says. “The No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”

Google is more interested in who people are than what they know. Experience is the teacher, not the classroom. 

Your company’s situation may differ. Google is exceptional, an outlier, and it draws on an extraordinary talent pool. But all-in-all, Google’s findings bring into question training’s usual focus on knowledge over personal growth. 

How much of your organization’s investment in L&D centers on developing people rather than teaching skills? At Google, self-directed continuous learning is the norm. Job rotation is fluid. There’s little formal training.

If Google doesn’t value college credentials, it makes one wonder about the national drive for STEM education. 

I’ve posted answers to the brainteasers at http://internettime.com/google

This article appears in the June issue of CLO Magazine.

 

ASTD no more

The American Society for Training and Development has ceased to exist. Now it’s the Association for Talent Development. I have mixed feelings about this.

atd                 Tony Bingham announces name change in Washington, May 6, 2014.

This is hardly the first time this professional association has taken on a new name. In 1947, it came to life as the American Society of Training Directors. That left out lower-level trainers so development replaced directors in a name change and the doors were opened to everyone in the training business.

That change was a good move. Trainers flocked to the organization. They learned stand-up skills and how to conduct a needs analysis. Vendors of packaged training courses filled ASTD’s exhibit halls. Members of the Instructional Systems Association, a group of business owners, wryly called ASTD “the union.”

About ten years ago, the association felt the need to switch monikers once more. Shouldn’t the club be international? Was training really the primary focus? The Board enlisted the help of identity consultants and branding experts and eventually decided on a new name: ASTD. Just initials that didn’t stand for anything.

Naturally, the name changed flopped. People would refer to ASTD, the American Society for Training and Development. 

A couple of years ago, pressure began to build again. Every business you could name was going global. This “America” label was confining. Worse still was the word training. Say training to managers and they think school, teachers, classrooms, and courses. Professionals know that schooling is not the ideal way to help people learn. True learning is experiential, social, incremental, and engaging — the opposite of typical training. Training is generally a backwater in the HR department, and HR is hardly the brightest constellation in the corporate firmament.

Executives say people are their most important asset but pay scant attention to training because they know in their hearts that school-style training doesn’t work very well and they aren’t aware of the modern alternatives to help people learn. It’s wise for ASTD to drop training from its name.

Which brings us to talent. Talent has been a management hot button since McKinsey first scared executives with the notion of talent shortages and the ensuing war for talent. The problem is that there’s not enough to go around.

In this sense, we’re talking about people, the way that the entertainment industry refers to performers as talent. When you’re faced with a shortage of, say, engineers, you put recruiting into high gear. Look at the talent management function in most corporations, and you’ll find lot of recruiters, some people concerned with retention, and not a whole lot of emphasis on developing the people who are on board. You won’t find any trainers.

For ten years, I’ve been on the Faculty of the Future of Talent Institute, a colloquium of talent managers from forward-thinking corporations. I’m the token training guy. The attendees take the need for corporate learning very seriously; it’s just not part of their jobs.

All of which brings me back to the Association for Talent Development. One would expect the membership to be talent developers. But are there any talent developers??? I’ve never seen that designation on a business card. Do trainers need to rebrand themselves?

 

And who’s talent and who’s not? Does talent encompass senior management? Or is it like show biz, where performers are talent but producers and directors, no matter how talented, are not? 

The extended enterprise is the organizational form of the future. Because the highest returns come from doing what you’re good at, major corporations will be shrinking to their core expertise. All other activities will be outsourced to partners, specialty firms, suppliers, contractors, and temps. Are these people talent? In an increasingly complex world, an organization would not want to deny them the opportunity to learn along with the core group.

I’ll go out on a limb here. I’ve been in business long enough to see the demise of everything from the typewriter to the minicomputer. I suspect that talent is jargon that will go out of favor when a more apt term comes along. I give it five years. 

In the meanwhile I offer best wishes to the Association for Talent Development.

atd logo

 

 

Top posts on Working Smarter for April 2014

STEPHEN DOWNES: HALF AN HOUR

APRIL 21, 2014

Connectivism as Learning Theory

‘I think the students in the Building Online Collaborative Environments Course has an almost impossible task. Here is their effort to prove that connectivism is a learning theory. Connectivism has a direct impact on education and teaching as it works as a learning theory. They sat in desks, read from a textbook, and completed worksheets. Gibson.
JOHN HAGEL

APRIL 24, 2014

Personal Narratives: Insight and Impact

‘We all have a personal narrative, even though few of us have made the effort to articulate it.   That’s a shame because our personal narrative can be a source of deep insight as well as a great way to amplify impact. Done right, they can be a powerful weapon in helping us to escape from the dark side of technology. What can I accomplish?
EUEN SEMPLE

APRIL 15, 2014

Feeling trapped

‘I often worry about coming across as a smart arse, sniping at organisational life from the sidelines. It”s easy for me, I work for myself. have a degree of agency that many would envy. But I remember. remember the creeping feeling that something”s not right but that you can”t do anything to make things better. Then I read. still do.
IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER

APRIL 2, 2014

Innovation Hubs in the Global Digital Economy

a paper by UC Berkeley professor John Zysman.  It creates opportunities and challenges.”  . Others have tried to become the Next Silicon Valley.
79 Tweets 66 Tweets 15 Tweets 20 Tweets

Would you recommend your L&D department?

Capturing L&D metrics too often entails asking the wrong people the wrong questions at the wrong time.

Line leaders are a CLO’s most important customers. They judge the trade-offs in spending that determine L&D’s fate in the budget process. They base their decisions on what training professionals call Level 4: Did the training impact the bottom line? Did it matter?

By and large, line leaders are not happy with L&D’s performance.

A survey of thousands of line leaders found that 77% were dissatisfied with the results of L&D. A mere 24% agreed that L&D was critical to business outcomes. Only 15% thought L&D effective at influencing talent strategy. 14% would recommend working with L&D; 52% would not; 34% were passive. (Statistics from 2011 Corporate Leadership Council, L&D Team Capabilities Survey)

If a line of business reported such shoddy scores, red flags would arise and heads would roll. A corporate SWAT team would tear into the problem. Was L&D operating this poorly or had it earned an undeservedly bad reputation? How can we put this train back on the track?

The way to succeed with line leaders is to involve them in the governance process. Acknowledge that they are L&D’s customers. Gain their support by planning with them. Monitor trends in their assessments of L&D. Use their feedback to make improvements.

What’s the appropriate yardstick for measuring the confidence and loyalty of line leader customers? I propose that CLOs adopt the Net Promoter Score® methodology developed by Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company and Satmatrix.

The Net Promoter Score® measures loyalty based on one question, “How likely are you to recommend our service to friends and colleagues?” Scoring is from 0 (Not likely at all) to 10 (Extremely likely). A open-ended question often follows to provide guidance for corrective action.

Here’s how it works: Survey your customers. Calculate the percentage of detractors (scores 0-6) and the percentage of promoters (scores 9-10). Your Net Promoter Score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. Passives (scores 7-8) don’t count in the equation.

In a variety of industries, Net Promoter Score correlate directly with differences in growth rates among competitors. (Fred Reichheld, The One Number You Need to Grow, Harvard Business Review, December 2003).

Customer loyalty increases profitability. It’s less costly to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. Loyal customers who talk up a company lower the expense of gaining new customers. If you’re like me, when a company exceeds your expectations, you’re much more likely to come back.

Reichheld and his peers tracked more than 10,000 Net Promoter Scores at 400 companies. This one simply number explained the growth rates in industries as different as airlines, internet service provides, and car rental companies.

Now that we’ve determined who to ask (line leaders) and what to ask them (“Would you recommend…?), let’s turn to when to ask them.

My Internet service provider asks if I would recommend their service at the conclusion of every support call. Many online merchants ask the question immediately after taking an order. Airlines distribute questionnaires to people in flight.

CLOs should wait six months before asking the question. Unlike a product that will be delivered in two business days, it takes a while for lessons to sink in and/or to disappear due to the Forgetting Curve.

You may be wondering why Net Promoter Score hasn’t taken the world by storm. Reichheld thinks that maybe market research firms can’t find a way to make money administering something so simple.

Simplicity is the hallmark of the Net Promoter Score, so much so that it represents a phase change in how we regard metrics. Instead of being buried in quarterly reports read by few, the Net Promoter Score can become a management tool.

The prime directive of any organization is to create customers. The Net Promoter Score shows how the organization is doing in terms all managers and workers can understand. The score points to relationships that need improvement. Practitioners actively intervene to convert detractors into promoters. Insiders call this “closing the loop.” Some companies factor it into the calculation of incentive compensation.

As Reichheld says, “The path to sustainable, profitable growth begins with creating more promoters and fewer detractors and making your net-promoter number transparent throughout your organization. This number is the one number you need to grow. It’s that simple and that profound.”

________________________

This column appears in the April 2014 issue of Chief Learning Officer.

February 2014: Creation Spaces

 

John Hagel tells us that “Answers can be helpful but they only have a fixed value. And answers, no matter how good they are, tend to become obsolete at an accelerating rate.  As conditions evolve, those answers that only a little while ago seemed so compelling and helpful now begin to seem stale and worn.”

Instead of answers, “… questions do something else that’s absolutely vital for influence – they rapidly build trust with the person posing the questions. The person posing these kinds of questions has just done something very important – s/he has expressed vulnerability.  S/he has acknowledged there’s something really important that s/he doesn’t know and needs help to solve.”

The most powerful networks would take the form of creation spaces that support the formation of tightly knit teams and then connect these teams in a broader space where they can seek out help from each other.

My colleague Charles Jennings says that to support learning effectively and engender behaviour change,  we need to create environments where emotional responsesrich experiences and social learning are at the forefront. These are prerequisites for Hagel’s creation spaces (and my own workscapes.)

In a series of articles, Jane Hart describes learning flows. A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities – accessible from the web and mobile devices. This is an important step beyond the course. Learning flows are another arrow in the workscape quill.

These are the top articles that passed through my screen this month.

 

JOHN HAGEL

FEBRUARY 24, 2014

The Big Shift in Influence

‘Influence is becoming more and more challenging.   It’s hard enough to attract attention, much less retain it or use that attention to shape the behavior of others. And yet, in a world of scarce resources and mounting pressure, the ability to influence others becomes more and more central to the ability to set big things in motion.

STEPHEN DOWNES: HALF AN HOUR

FEBRUARY 1, 2014

Theories Related to Connectivism

‘I was asked: But i have some questions about my research. First i need ten-year findings of connectionim learning theory, second i got confused with telling the difference between connectionism, connectivist because some Chinese translators/scholars have had their own versions.The version raises argumentation. Here is my own take on it.

EUEN SEMPLE

FEBRUARY 6, 2014

Case study porn

‘A while back I tweeted “Stop reading case study porn and get on with it”. Even all those years ago when we were getting started at the BBC there was a pressure to justify what we were doing with examples from other organisations. Best practice” is a dodgy idea that is increasingly discredited. It is so easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis.

CHARLES JENNINGS

FEBRUARY 3, 2014

Learning is Behaviour Change: why is it often so hard to help it happen?

If you didn”t, your time would end soon — a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most?”
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Want Results? Champion the Informal

First published in Chief Learning Officer magazine, February 2013

cloFormal gets all the money, but today more learning happens outside the classroom

Learning is more important than ever. We have an information explosion. The world is becoming more complex. We have to learn more just to keep living our lives. That doesn’t mean we need training departments — and that’s where the budgets are cut.

We need to pay more attention to experiential learning, We need to look at peer-to-peer learning. A lot of the courses out there are absolute crap. If you look at behavior on the job, you’d be lucky if you find 15% of the results of courses.

So get rid of lots of the structure, which by the way mimics school and that’s not a good model for learning. Look at ways people can really accelerate their learning — by having managers who encourage people by setting stretch goals and by encouraging individual initiative. It’s important to have a lot more of these.

And I have to comment on eLearning. eLearning covers all manner of sins. There’s great stuff out there and you can take part in in at 2:00 am if you want. But there’s also some absolute garbage shovel-ware that nobody should have to endure. All it is is “e” — electronic, and that’s not enough for quality.

I first heard about informal learning was at a conference in Orlando, Florida, a dozen years ago. Peter Henschel from the Institute on Learning described how sent anthropologists to an insurance company to investigate how people learned their jobs. The scientists discovered than over 80% of the way people learned their jobs was informal. There was no control. It was, “Hey, I’m going to watch you. You’re good at this. I’m going to mimic your behavior.” Or I try something, make a mistake, and say “Whoops, I’m not going to do that again.” Maybe I’m going to read something at night on my own.

Most of this doesn’t happen in training classes. Research in Canada, in Massachusetts, and a number of other places, usually with government funding, found generally 80% of the way people learn their jobs is informally.

When I say informal, I mean that the person who is learning is in control of the learning. They are choosing the learning experience they want to get into. Maybe the boss said, “It would be good for you to speak French; I’m sending you on an assignment in France.” It’s a lot different from a top-down structure.

That’s what got me into informal learning but what got me writing about it, because deep down I’m a business guy at heart, is that all the money was going into the formal training and almost all of the learning was going on in the informal side. This mismatch didn’t set right with my soul.

The explanation for the anomaly is that often training departments work only with novices, and training novices takes a sort of school focus. You have an empty vessel and you try to fill it. Training departments seem to overlook employees who are further along in their profession, figuring “they’re not going to go for it.”

CLOs tell me the stuff that keeps them awake at night is that now the realization that learning is social, mobile, and collaborative. Learning happens in social networks. It happens in the course of work. This is brand new turf for the profession. They have scant experience with it.

As for metrics, the appropriate metrics for learning are “Are they doing the job better?” The intermediate part, I don’t care about. The fiction that’s been going around since the fifties, that you have four tiers — how happy are they, can they repeat it back, can they actually do anything, and did it doing anything for the business — I say to hell with the first three. All that matters is whether it did anything for the business.

The person who makes a difference in metrics is the person who has checkbook power. If that person is convinced that the workers did this and they’re performing better as a result, I’ll buy it. It’s never going to be 3-point accuracy. It’s like in marketing, where we can’t tell which part of the advertising leads to sales. We’re never going to be very precise, but if we’re believed, that’s all it takes to get the budget and make things happen.

 

Quicktime vs YouTube vs ?

Here’s a shot from a Quicktime video on my desktop:

quicktimeHere’s the same scene from a video uploaded to YouTube.youtube

YouTube roughs up the video.

I’m going to need another place to post videos. Anyone got a suggestion?