Contributors - Colleagues - Collaborators

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Choose to see beauty

There was much controversy about this Sia video, but, perhaps, it should be thought as a Rorschach test. Art is supposed to provoke, inspire, and make you think. That is what Sia's song and the accompanying dance choreography does. 

Watch it again. 

Watch a heart-breaking portrayal of parenthood. The child can't be tamed. The parent can't hold, possess, or own the child. 

Parenting is the constant act of letting go. Children surprise you, hurt you, love you, leave you, and you can't go with them -- they must go and live their own life. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lots of tools. No time to learn them.

I just heard about a tool that looks pretty cool for online collaboration. Asana. See Video here. Tools like this look like they are on exactly the right track for what teams in this century should be doing. Spend less time on operations and more time doing. I look at a tool like this and instantly see the benefits for collaborating and tracking a project.

The profiles in the video are all young, hip small businesses, which has to be the target audience. Why? Because they have the most freedom to try something new and innovative. They haven't spent years investing in other productivity software or products.

What about large corporations that have already invested millions of dollars in software designed to enhance our productivity? Every company I have ever worked for has had a ton of software at our disposal to supposedly enhance our productivity. The problem is no one knows how to really use it. I don't think anyone has grasped the full functionality of half the things we have purchased.

It is really a waste.

When purchasing software or hardware, the importance of training, coaching, and change management cannot be underestimated. It is worth it to buy the training and support! It is worth it to invest in the time it will take to change habits.

Productivity software should be inherently intuitive and easy, but it must play nicely with the giants that already exist, and in order to get full adoption you need to allow the resources and time for the entire organization to accept the change.

Moving an entire organization to change requires care and feeding. You can't just purchase the hardware or software and cross your fingers.

Plant it, water it, feed it, care for it and watch it flourish.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Connecting Grief

Brian Fairbrother
Dear Friends and Random readers,

I lost a very dear friend on September 8, 2011. He was in a terrible bike accident and suffered a brain injury from which he was unable to recover.

Brian Fairbrother was an institution in Seattle - and my friend of 20+ years. I was incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to sit with Brian, hold his hand and spill out everything he meant to me, ask for forgiveness, forgive - I said everything I meant to tell him when we were much older, much grayer (or balder), and much drunker. I want to believe that he heard me and that when he looked at me he saw me somehow - even though science says that may not be the case. Brian's spirituality says he heard me and I will take that.

In that hospital room, I also visited and talked to people who I hadn't seen in years, but I have felt incredibly close to because we shared a job, family members, neighborhood, and's a lot of history.

People came to the hospital to get a hug, cry, or laugh hysterically recounting some funny shit Brian said. People I didn't know held onto to me like we had been together forever. A life is an interesting thing.

People and events have their moment in your personal timeline. They mean something to you - or you meant more to them than you could ever possibly know.

When you are dying that timeline suddenly becomes today - everything is level set. All the jigsaw pieces of your life rush together. It doesn't matter how long you knew Brian or how well - it matters that he brought something to your life - it matters that he was there. That he walked the planet and was connected to you.

He was, and you are, significant.

Since Brian's accident, Facebook began to be on fire. Everyone who was part of his timeline wanted to be closer and share their grief and their love for Brian and what Brian meant to them. That connection became even more important to me. People that swore off Facebook signed up again because they wanted to be with each other and get more news. But Facebook is a strange place, it can represent a part your timeline - the people of your timeline who want to stay connected to you, but haven't walked all the way through your house; they haven't been in all the rooms of your life. And you may get a sense that your friend is in another room in pain, and you may not be sure what to say or do.

Moreover, often we get only pieces of a story and must try to connect the dots - and may worry if we are intruding or not. Nobody knows what to say or do - even though all these events happen all the time and are part of life. You would think we would have learned by now. If you are reading this, it is because you are connected in some way - you are in my house. And I thank all of you who have read between the lines to offer condolences - even though you played a different role in my life and may not be familiar with this part or knew Brian.

If I have learned anything this week is that someone's life goes deeper and wider than you can ever imagine. And that letting people know they matter to you - matters.

Here are some links concerning Brian. As with all of the stories written about him; those who knew him really well don't always agree with the content or how he is portrayed, but nonetheless, it was nice that many tried to show what he meant to the community. Come on into this room and get to know a little about a wonderful person.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985 as a response to earlier theories of "group mind" such as groupthink. A transactive memory system is a system through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge.

The organization I work for is devoted to finding better ways to train. This is a wonderful work environment because we question everything without question. This includes the content within our delivery systems. As I write, we are looking to re-vamp our LMS, social business software, and partner portal.

What impact does this shifting and moving of information have on our audience? As our business changes and grows we create print, video, web based trainings, and instructor led seminars. Sometimes we look at the number of views per training piece and wonder why there are so few views relative to our audience.

One guess, of many, is that the information is a moving target or we put the information in a place where “we” think it should go. Basically, we may be playing hide and seek with our audience. If that is the case then how is our audience still getting the facts correct?

Having done some time in the field I have a guess – they are using their account managers and representatives find the answers for them. I can tell you that when I was an Area Sales Manager I spent 70% of my time explaining and relaying information to my accounts. Information that was available in 3 hyperlinks or less.

The basic idea behind transactive memory is that within a groupthink system, we no longer choose to retain information because the answer is a mouse click or an email response away.

Our audience isn’t getting their information through osmosis; they are just leaning on the human barrier between them and on-demand information. I believe we call this a conundrum. You could cut off the human Google engine but transactive memory tells us this is the equivalent of losing your mind – almost literally.

The answer may lie in training in the New World Order. We have become so dependent on letting our knowledge live in the clouds that we have to train people on how to use the system that stores the information – so they don’t have to. This is a little scary to be completely honest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Learning Interrupted

"Learning interrupted" is how mLearning was described by Richard
during the final panel discussion at mLearnCon 2011.

This got me thinking about what, for me, is the biggest challenge for designing and developing mLearning.

How do we get our train of thought back when we are interrupted from the learning?

How do we minimize the time to reorient and to get back to being productive?

Jason Fried argued in his wonderful Ted talk that "people need long stretches of uninterrupted time" in order to get meaningful work done. Contrast this to what we are saying about mLearning; we say that we should create content in small, easily consumable chunks.

But does that help someone learn, ingest, and apply what they learned? How do we help our learners connect all the smaller chunks to create a meaningful whole?

And worse, even the small chunks may be interrupted, and when that happens the learner
wastes time to reengage, what do we do to help our learner get back his or her train of thought?

Jeremiah Owyang argued that a key component to developing successful mLearning was to provide context.

Context - this is key to any mLearning development - or any lesson plan for that matter. Whenever I engage in learning, and in that lesson I am reminded why it's importation, and I am given a timeline of where I am in my course of study, I know exactly why I need to know this information; I know exactly why it's important. When context is provided, I remember more content and the lesson seems more meaningful. And studies show this to be true for most learners.

So, how do we provide context in mLearning with our small screens and short bursts of information?

How about incorporating intelligent bookmarks? Picture this, the learner is interrupted and pauses a module. But this time, when she reengages, a window pops up that outlines what was learned so far and provides a road map to what's next.

What's your creative solution on how you would provide context in short learning modules?
How would you help the learner stay on his or her train of thought?

*Picture "China Train" by Mark Unrau can be found in Burn Magazine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Filters and Funnels

Awhile back I had a discussion with a colleague and brought up Maclom Gladwell’s Tipping Point. He harrumphed and said, “Psshhh Gladwell just recycles everyone else’s ideas.”

My response was, “Uh huh, how come his books are selling like hot cakes at Barnes and Noble?”

Because Gladwell never claimed to come up with anything new – he just does a better job of filtering and packaging the hard work of academics and a gaggle of other smarty pants types that I’m sure are a riot at parties and have a large collection of hounds tooth jackets and extensive knowledge of scotch.

Ever hear of John Krohn?

He’s also known as RJD2, a famous DJ who is best known for creating the opening music to Mad Men. Is he a classically trained musician? No. Is he a dyed in the wool jazz head who studied under the masters? No. He’s a club rat from Ohio who does an above average job of shoving jazz, R&B, and rock through a funnel and filters out the sound of music into some of the best jams being played today.

Would Freakonomics be a bestseller if journalist Stephen Dubner wasn’t there to craft Levitt’s “rogue” economic theories into such an accessible form? A journalist’s job is to distill everything from science to geo-politics into a medium designed to help you pass the time in the bathroom. Are you, oh bathroom reader, any less informed because the journalist did the filtering for you?

As trainers and educators we should all strive to take the glut of information no matter how infected it is with technical or corporate-ease and shove it into the funnel and filter out the elements that disrupt the audience’s ability to process the information.

Be little Gladwells – don’t fear research but consume in easy to digest bits from sources that use pretty pictures and nice looking graphs. Scratch that turntable to a beat your audience can dance to.