meaning and failure

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Hire character. Train skill.” — Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche via @2080strategyex

“Human beings augmented by other human beings is more important than human beings augmented by technology”@eskokilpi

“Interesting that there is now a whole ‘mindfulness’ industry when all it takes really is to just get out & play/explore.”@DebraWatkinson (more…)

beta conversation 2017-05-18

I will be hosting the next Beta Conversation on Thursday, May 18th at 15:00 UTC [08:00 Pacific, 11:00 Eastern, 16:00 BST, 17:00 CET]. The subject will be understanding the effects of technology. It will focus on examining pervasive and emerging technologies from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan’s media tetrad, as presented here: tetrads for sense-making.

The session will be 90 minutes long. For participant confidentiality, these sessions will not be recorded.

The format of each session is as follows:

  1. Presentation of the key themes by Harold
  2. Discussion of any questions provided by participants in advance
  3. Open discussion


the missing half of training

The training industry is based on models that were developed for the military. The Systems Approach to Training includes the ADDIE [analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation] model, with variations used throughout industry. Robert Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction inform much of instructional design. Gagne’s early work was in military training. Other models were developed in the second half of the 20th century but they mostly remained in line with their military roots. One model for instructional design that I promote is Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping. It’s a welcome change, but is focused on individual training.

In the military there is much more training than individual, skill & knowledge-focused, course work. There is also ‘collective training’. Collective training is what military units do when they are not on operations. Collective training is run by operators, not trainers, and is informal, social, with an emphasis on simulation. Types of simulation can range from expensive highly technical combat mission flight simulators, to distributed war games, or command post exercises involving thousands of personnel. (more…)

the uncertain future of training

Training courses are artifacts of a time when resources were scarce and connections were few. That time has passed.

The roots of training are to get a lot of people to do the same thing competently. The Roman army trained soldiers for battle and many other duties, like building roads. Standard methods were developed. Drill and feedback over time helped to develop competence. But the modern training field exploded after 1945. Large organizations created training departments, now called ‘learning & development’ or some other variant, but still focused on one thing: looking backwards. Training looks at how people currently do work and then gets others to replicate this. These are described as competencies, made up of certain, skills, knowledge, and attitudes. The assumption was that what works today will work tomorrow. The training department assumed the status quo. (more…)

knowledge-sharing, post-technology

Your organization just implemented an enterprise collaboration platform. Now what?

Most large organizations today have some kind of knowledge-sharing platform. The recent announcement of Jive’s purchase shows that this field is consolidating with a few large players dominating. The arrival of Workplace by Facebook may even limit tool choice more. For example, Jive sells for $5 – $16 per seat, while Facebook’s Workplace is $1 – $3 per seat, with no lock-in. Facebook Workplace is also free for non-profits and educational staff. Given the diminishing choices, enterprise knowledge-sharing today is even less about the technology.

Over many years of working with enterprise knowledge-sharing and collaboration tools I have learned that the hard work comes after the software has been installed and the initial training sessions are over. Then comes the question, what do we do now? Quite often the answer is: the same as we did before. Even with fewer tools to choose from, the biggest challenge is changing behaviours. This takes time. Therefore training is not the solution. A course will not result in behaviour change. Practice and feedback are needed, as well an environment that reduces barriers to seeking out knowledge, having time to make sense of it, and sharing it with discernment. (more…)

first we shape our tools

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

@wimleers : “We’re building tools for authoritarianism just to get people to click on a shoe ad” — @zeynep at @DrupalConNA #DCzeynep (i.e. @facebook)

Automation is transforming work and the US isn’t ready, via @scottsantens

‘The latest study reveals that for manufacturing workers, the process of adjusting to technological change has been much slower and more painful than most experts thought. “We were looking at a span of 20 years, so in that timeframe, you would expect that manufacturing workers would be able to find other employment,” Restrepo said. Instead, not only did the factory jobs vanish, but other local jobs disappeared too. Acemoglu and Restrepo say that every industrial robot eliminated about three manufacturing positions, plus three more jobs from around town.’

Alien Knowledge: When Machines Justify Knowledge

“Since we first started carving notches in sticks, we have used things in the world to help us to know that world. But never before have we relied on things that did not mirror human patterns of reasoning — we knew what each notch represented — and that we could not later check to see how our non-sentient partners in knowing came up with those answers. If knowing has always entailed being able to explain and justify our true beliefs — Plato’s notion, which has persisted for over two thousand years — what are we to make of a new type of knowledge, in which that task of justification is not just difficult or daunting but impossible?”


simplifying the complexity

Complex Problems

I like complex problem-solving. Perhaps my most interesting project was when a client gave me a statement of work to ‘simplify the complexity’. I did not have a solution but felt that with my extended networked I would be able to solve their problem. I have explained this project in detail (video) and how I was able to make connections with people in my network as well as access the materials I had curated over the years and saved to my blog and other retrievable media. In this case, ‘chance favoured the connected mind’, as Stephen B. Johnson would say.

In the end I was able to develop a simple lens to evaluate current and future tools against the learning and performance requirements of the company. One advantage of this project was that I had worked with the company previously and understood the context of the work. The image below is an example of how we evaluated each tool in the enterprise. (more…)

the innovation imperative

“It turns out that to develop a ‘cumulative culture’ – technology that constantly ratchets up in complexity and diversity – a species needs to be able to share information very accurately. It doesn’t matter how much novel invention takes place, unless those inventions are replicated accurately then they die out before they can be built upon.” —Prof. Kevin Laland, University of St. Andrew’s

Humans differ from other primates because we share our knowledge and build upon it. Society has advanced because we share that knowledge with a large population. If not, we will cease to progress,  because innovation is a network activity. (more…)

training > performance > social

Thank Goodness It’s Monday! This is my second TGIM post. Mondays for freelancers mean new opportunities. Weekends are often times to get work done when it’s quiet. Mondays are good days to take a day to reflect, as clients are usually busy going through their inboxes and catching up. So happy Monday to everyone.

In my last TGIM post I went through my social bookmarks on PKM. This post looks at resources related to my training-performance-social workshop.

One approach to supporting workplace learning, based on the 70:20:10 model, is for the organization to provide three types of enablers (see image at bottom):

  • Tools: that workers are dependent upon to do their work
  • Skills: competencies to work independently
  • People: social structures to work interdependently with others, inside & outside the organization


humility is the new smart

In Humility is the New Smart, the authors put forth a new mental model and management framework, based on extensive research on what the ‘smart machine age’ (SMA) will look like.

“We believe that to truly excel at the higher level thinking and emotional engagement underlying the SMA Skills requires us to engage in four key behaviors: Quieting Ego; Managing Self (one’s thinking and emotions); Reflective Listening; and Otherness (emotionally connecting and relating to others).”

The book explores each of these four skills in depth and provides exercises and questions for reflection. In addition to the four skills are five principles of what the authors call the ‘New Smart’. The second principle is core to my own work: “My mental models are not reality—they are only my generalized stories of how my world works.” (more…)