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Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

Brown nosers at work

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on August 10, 2012

King tales inspire so much to some people that they start behaving like a king and aspire to create their own kingdom at work. Behaving like kings, make them fall in the power trap. They enjoy formal power and want to hear only good things about them and their decisions. In order to safely survive and thrive in this culture, employees take help from a well-known and well-practiced technique called brown-nosing.

It would be incorrect to say that brown nosers are non-performers as you can spot some of the great performers too on this duty. Brown-nosing provides equal opportunity to everyone as its open for both performers and non-performers. Are you able to spot brown-nosing at you workplace? You can find people in below positions:

  • Prime movers, leaders who are knowingly promoting brown-nosing.
  • Experts, active participants and subject matter experts in this area. Role models for few others.
  • Victims, People who missed several boats at work because they did not opt for brown-nosing.
  • Change-agents, fighters who want to fix this culture and help people to get rid of this highly spreadable unhealthy syndrome.
  • Observers, who are observing this behavior without any participation.

You can best decide where you fit in. You may also want to change your position considering brown-nosing does work and helps people to get the desired outcome. But, in case you are trying to make your workplace free from brown nosers, you are really on a novel but a tough mission.

As this issue is related to human nature and does exist and practiced beyond the workplace, fix is not easy. You need to help your leaders, who are promoting this behavior, to get rid of this bad habit. At the same time, you need to empower your workforce so that they can choose not to be a brown-noser without any fear of penalty or failure.

Don’t turn a blind eye on this, who knows if you are going be the next victim of this disease.

Posted in learning, management | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Interesting virtual Learning seminar June 6-7

Posted by Anders Northeved on May 24, 2012

If you are interested in Learning and Learning Management Systems I would encourage you to take a look at IHR’s virtual seminar “Technology Enabled Learning” taking place June 6-7.

Participation is free and you can see more and register for the event here:

I am proud to say that for the second year running I have been asked to present at this seminar.
My presentation is on June 7, 11:00am EST and the title is:
“The Future of Learning Management Systems in a World Where Social and Mobile Learning Rules”.

Let me whet your appetite with some of the predictions for learning and Learning Management Systems in 2022 I’m going to make in my presentation:

  1. Standardized personal learning history will be a part of the SCORM standard
  2. The notion of “Social” and “Mobile” Learning has disappeared – it is taken for granted
  3. Social Learning communities will thrive
  4. Learning will take place across organizations and social sites will be the collaboration platform for organizational LMS
  5. More types of learning will be formalized and registered by back-office LMS functionality
  6. Active learner involvement will be the norm

Join if you want to hear why and how!

Hope to see you there.
Anders Northeved

Posted in learning | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Believing is NOT everything

Posted by Anders Northeved on September 25, 2011

Logic and hard facts are not always valued as much as they should be.

Oftentimes people believe that if they just “feel” or “think” something then reality shouldn’t really be taken into account…
I’m sure you all know examples where beliefs and feelings have substituted hard facts whether we are talking economy, environmental issues or politics.

– well, I can’t do much about that, but I can promote research and facts within my area of expertise: e-learning and content creation.

In e-learning and content creation a lot of people have a lot of (different) ideas on how to do certain things.

Therefore it was really refreshing to witness Saul Carliner from Concordia University in Canada talking about his findings about what is scientifically proven to work and what are just beliefs when it comes to Learning.
So here are some common beliefs in e-learning and content creation and whether there is scientific proof underneath or they are just that – beliefs.

If an instructor narrates an asynchronous learning program, you should not display the text of the narration at the same time. “  –  TRUTH!
This is supported by two empirical studies. Called modality effect, the duplicate message causes confusion in the system.  Instead, just use bullet points (like a Powerpoint slide).
My comment: I was surprised by this and will take notice of this in my future work.

Providing learners with control of the e-learning experience increases learning.”  –  MYTH!
No empirical evidence supports this point and 2 empirical studies support the opposite. As the extent of learner control increases, learning decreases except for a very small number of the most advanced expert learners.
My comment: This is what I have always said (without knowing if it was true…). We, as content producers, know how to structure the content in the best possible way and we should use this to help the learners learn in the most efficient way.

Because digital natives tend to multitask, we should incorporate multitasking into our designs for learning. “  –  MYTH!
No empirical evidence supports this and several empirical studies support the opposite.
Multitasking may not be as beneficial as it appears, and can result in a loss of concentration and cognitive ‘overload’ as the brain shifts between competing stimuli .
My comment: This is no surprise to me. I have never seen multitasking implemented in a meaningful way in e-learning.

“Young people of the digital native generation possess sophisticated knowledge of and skills with information technologies”  –  MYTH!
No empirical evidence supports this and several empirical studies support the opposite.
My comment: This is probably the most surprising fact for most people and could be used by older people to not give up on all the new gadgets and trends.

“Completion rates are highest for e-learning programs that have associated tangible impacts, such as certifications or compliance. “  –  TRUTH!
This is supported by research.
My comments: This is probably the least surprising fact and something many of our customers have been doing for years.

“As a business strategy, Training groups should transition from training dominated by formal programs to training dominated by informal learning efforts” – MYTH!
This is not supported by any research.
On the other hand research indicates that informal and formal learning interacts in important ways.
My comment: This underlines that both way of learning has its place and should be part of any learning strategy.

“Line drawings are more effective than photographs for teaching technical procedures.”  –  TRUTH!
This is supported by research.
People learn better from multimedia messages when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included.
My comment: Maybe only a small subject, but good to know if you are creating content yourself.

You can read more about this and Saul Carliner on http://education.concordia.ca/~scarliner/

Posted in learning, Uncategorized, web2.0 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Get tough on training!

Posted by Anders Northeved on April 18, 2011

Let me say “Sorry” in advance to all of you working with sales.
The following is not relevant to you, and the situation I describe here would of course never happen in your organization… 🙂

As a professional working with training there are two things you hear over and over again:
“You cannot measure the direct effect of training”
 “You cannot get sales people to spend time on training”

On a webinar the other day I heard a wonderful example that put these “truths” to rest:
A company had several different sales organizations.
The management and the training department had organized a number of different courses that would help the sales people perform on a higher level; better understand their customer’s needs and therefore help them to get happier customers – and reach their individual sales quota.

The issue was that only a few of these people actually took the training, and even though their feedback was very positive, the training didn’t really catch on.
The training department also found out that a lot of the sales managers didn’t want their people to “waist time on this training nonsense” and instead spend more time chasing new customers.

Even if this situation probably (hopefully…) is a little extreme compared to most organization, I guess it is something most training departments have encountered.
But if the situation was common, I think the training department’s solution was not only unusual but also “quietly brilliant” (to quote a well known mobile device company).

Just after the end of the company’s business year the training department ran a report on the number of hours each sales person had spend on training in the last year.
Then they got a report showing how each sales person had performed compared to their sales quota and then they put all of these numbers in one table – clearly showing the direct correlation between sales people not reaching their quota and not having spend time on training.

This table was sent to all sales managers and the COO.

Do I need to tell anybody that the following year the training department saw a big increase in attendance for their sales training…

What can we learn from this?
We can learn that it ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pays to measure the outcome of the investment in training.
And we can learn that you often have to go outside the training department itself to find the results of your training. The last bit seems obvious, but is often forgotten.

Posted in learning | 1 Comment »

Paragons and Renegades

Posted by Ken Klaus on February 13, 2011

Recently I’ve been playing Mass Effect, a role-playing game (RPG) set in outer space.  (Feel free to insert your favorite Star Trek related nerd joke here.)  As with many of the sophisticated RPG options in the market today, the game is designed around a series of tasks, or quests, which get more difficult as the game progresses.  For me though, the actual game play – star ships, swordplay or sorcery – is not as interesting as the character development, the role part of the game.  Some of the RPG games I’ve played let you choose the moral disposition of your character, whether you want to be a good guy or a bad guy.  So from the beginning of the game your choices are determined by your role as the hero or the villain.  Accordingly your actions and personality are based on your predetermined nature.  However, some of the more sophisticated games, including Mass Effect, make your character’s nature a matter of nurture – meaning you become either moral or immoral based on the choices you make during the game.  In Mass Effect you develop either as a paragon or as a renegade.  But here is where the game and I started to have problems.

From the beginning I assumed each quest could be solved either “positively” (helping me develop as a paragon) or “negatively” (earning me points as a renegade).  So as the options were presented I made what I believed to be the “right” choice.  In some cases the “positive” and “negative” choices were clear.  But for some of the tasks there was only one choice to make and in almost every instance that choice was “negative” and earned me renegade points.  This not only frustrated me, it also made me question whether there was any point in trying to do “the right thing.”  I also thought it was unfair because in real life we always have more than one choice.  But do we really?  Are there times when “breaking the rules” is the only option?  The more I thought about it, the more I began to see that the game was playing fair – that there are times when the only way forward is to become a renegade.

But here be dragons my friends.  This is a slippery slope that can lead to all kinds of problems, not the least of which being chaos, anarchy and unemployment!  So the question seems to be, when is breaking the rules acceptable, even necessary, and when should it be avoided?  In his book The Way We Are, Allen Wheelis wrestles with this problem and suggests a way forward of sorts.

Does not all creativity originate in boundary violations, in breaking through to realms outside the old limits?  The completely moral life – that is, the meticulous observance of all of the rules – leads, for both the individual and the group, to a rigidity that falls increasingly at odds with a changing world.  Yet boundary violations, if reckless – reckless measurable, usually, only after the act and its consequences – destroy the individual and destroy the social order.  The individual becomes an outlaw, the group becomes a mob.

Creative change in a society issues from violations great enough to alter the social structure, but not so great as to bring it down altogether.  One wants a society of law that allows some laws to be ignored.  It is those violations we let stand that organize the ongoing transformation of social structure.  The observance of rules, with a wise measure of slippage, coupled with the violation of rules, with an ironic measure of prudence, creates flexibility, strengthens the group, and thereby creates the possibility of nonviolent change in the social order.

So the questions we need to consider then are first, whether the breaking of a rule is reckless, that is, does the risk – the potential consequences of our choice – outweigh the hoped for reward; and second, whether our violation of the rules also serves the interest of progress, meaning the way forward can only be achieved if the rules are broken?  I understand this is perhaps an overly simplified way to think about this problem and I’m not suggesting that the ends justify the means. Yet I do think that there are times when progress is utterly blocked by “the rules” – the business processes we’ve had in place “since the company was founded”; our multi-layered bureaucracies with their endless forms and approval chains; the “blockers” in the organization whose raison d’être is to obstruct, obfuscate, and aggravate.  In these instances I believe the judicious breaking of the rules is most definitely in order.  Understanding that the point is not to bring down the system (or your career), but to move the business forward – the end result being a stronger, more flexible organization.

Acknowledging that we may need to play the renegade from time to time is not easy, especially for those of us who, by nature, are designed to play by the rules: We want to do the right thing for the right reasons.  We want to work for companies that value and respect their workers and treat them fairly.  And we want to believe that everyone else in the organization wants the same.  But if we are honest, we know things are not always this way; and if we can learn to make choices based on what we know, then we can also learn to accept that we may have to break the rules so that the world in which we live and work can evolve beyond what it is, to what we want it to be.  Building a bridge to span this gap is only possible when individuals, who are paragons by nature, can also learn to wisely nurture their inner renegade.

Posted in change, development, learning, risk, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Feb 21, 2012 – Are you ready?

Posted by Anders Northeved on January 26, 2011

According to phonecount.com on Feb 21, 2012 (give or take a couple of days I guess…) the number of connected phones will surpass the number of people living on Earth. For everyone that doesn’t have a phone, someone will have two.
Just think about what people would have said if you predicted this 10 or 20 years ago!
I’m sure this already has a profound impact on most people’s life in many ways, but let me just focus on the possibilities for corporate HR programs.

Self Service
Lots of organizations have ripped the benefits of Self Service in their HCM program.
The administrative work has gone down; the HR data are more accurate; it’s easier for the users to get access to information; the user acceptance has gone up and the cost has come down – all well and good if the employees have access to a computer…
But with more and more people having a mobile, we will see the benefits of Self Service come to a lot of areas where people do not have access to computers like retail, production and transport.

With the widespread availability of phones the management has got a new direct communication line to all of their employees.
Want your employees to know about a new product; a new initiative; reward someone; tell everyone how it’s going… a message on the mobile is the answer. 

It’s now possible to get feedback from your entire workforce whether they have access to a computer or not.

Using mobiles for education for people who would otherwise not have access to education has enormous potential.
I would even go so far as to say that the right use of mobiles for education for organizations with employees without access to a computer could be THE competitive advantage that would define whether an organization would be successful or not!

Even if I find these possibilities very exciting, I’m sure there are other areas that could be added to this list.
I would love to see your comments on what other topics within HCM that could be helped or advanced using mobile devices!

 (Photo by Brandon Hall)

Posted in communication, global, hr, HR Technology, learning, predictions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Mobile Learning

Posted by Anders Northeved on November 18, 2010

(photo by Gary Woodill)

Some time ago I participated in a webinar by Dr. Gary Woodill from Brandon Hall on the topic Mobile Learning.

Mobile Learning is something we have all been talking about for a long time, but now it seems something is really happening in this field.

He defined a set of categories that will be important to the future of Mobile Learning.

Here is a list of the ones I find most interesting and relevant:

  1. User controlled learning apps – think Apple or Android Apps
  2. Micro-blogging and text messaging – Facebook, Twitter etc.
  3. Mobile research tools and data collection – geotag a picture of a rare flower taken with your mobile
  4. Trend tracking and analysis – HealthMap, Google etc.
  5. Just-in-time Information – your baker twitting when the bread is ready or the manual for your car build into the infotainment system
  6. Augmented reality – Learn about the architect when you point your GPS enabled and direction sensitive phone at an old building
  7. Contextual learning – personalized and location sensitive. Point your phone at a subway station and see when your train leaves
  8. User controlled media production – most phones and even an iPod have a build-in camera these days
  9. Performance support – a doctor operating a patient in a remote area guided by text messages from a colleague
  10. Social networking and communities – Facebook, Wikipedia
  11. Collaboration – made possible by the easy availability of communication devices
  12. Haptic feedback – think Nintendo Wii
  13. Self-organized collective behavior – think smart mobs e.g. recent demonstrations in Iran

To me they paint a very exciting new way of learning in the future – and they point to some interesting trends and truths in learning.

Often it is not technology that is limiting our possibilities but our minds
– only #6, #7 and #12 have been held back by technology – the rest is our minds catching up 

Learning gets embedded in our everyday life
– #2, #3, #5, #6, #7 and #10 are good examples 

The teacher is no longer always the focal point in future learning
– look at #1, #2, #8 and #12 

The old line between gathering information and learning becomes even more blurred in the future
– #2, #5, #6; #10 and #13 are examples of this 

Welcome to the new world of learning!

Posted in communication, learning, web2.0 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Real successes are invisible

Posted by Anders Northeved on October 15, 2010

Does your TV have colors? Of course.
But is it a “color TV”? – No, it’s just a TV. Today it is not even a flat panel TV, it’s just a TV.

What does this tells us?
If a product or feature becomes really successful it is taken for granted. No one talks about it, and if you didn’t know better you would think it had disappeared.
But our TV is flat and colorful, our toaster has a timer and the temperature in the living room is constant – without anybody mentioning it.

Some of us have been working with e-learning for a long time.
We always knew it worked, but it was still encouraging back then to hear the CEO of Cisco say that “e-learning would become more important than the Internet”.
Today no one talks about e-learning anymore. Does this means that e-learning has failed?
No, it means that e-learning has become so common that we don’t mention it anymore – we take it for granted.

 In her blog Karen O’Leonard (Bersin) gives some figures on the use of e-learning.
In 2009 33% of all training was taken on-line.
Let me just repeat this: 1 in 3 hours of corporate training was e-learning in 2009!

 Is this then as big as the Internet? – no, but if you had told people 10 years ago that 33% of corporate training hours would be e-learning in 2009, they would have thought you were crazy – or working in the industry 🙂

 So where is e-learning headed now?
Due to the cost effective nature and flexibility of the concept I’m sure we are heading towards at least 50% of all corporate training being done online.

 Everybody is talking about how social media can enhance training and learning.
I will explore this – and why gaming will never be a major factor in learning – in a couple of upcoming postings.

Posted in learning | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Power of Developing Teams

Posted by Mark Bennett on August 21, 2010

Ravi and I had just been discussing the question of values and culture, when I saw Kris Dunn’s post on Which Managers Are Responsible for the Reality of Your Culture? All it Takes is One Question…

What I liked most was that Kris captured not only how managers and their behaviors are the real indicators of values and culture, but that perhaps the single most desirable value sought by employees is “they’re looking for managers who seem to care about development of their teams.”

This is a really powerful statement. Developing teams is key in two ways. First, developing people helps them find the meaning in their work. Done right, it links their passion to achieving the purpose the organization has laid out. Second, you are developing all the members of the team, which helps them see how, as each member brings their increasing knowledge and experience to the team as they develop, they in turn increase the knowledge of every other member of the team as well as that of the whole organization. But there’s a lot to making this happen.

But I Do Develop People!

First, the notion of developing individuals is seen as a risky proposition. If you invest in the development of someone and they leave, you’ve lost your investment. If they go to a competitor, it stings twice as much. Of course, your best people will leave if you don’t invest in their development, so what do you do? One thing that can help make the development investment create a tighter bond between the individual and the organization is to focus on things the individual is passionate about. In other words, rather than simply roll out a plain vanilla development plan, or throw a generic catalog at them, or stick them in programs or assignments that are tilted solely to what the organization needs, spend time to find what really makes them tick and help them create a plan (and a backup plan) that meets both party’s needs.

I know + You Know = We Know More

Second, the actual team aspect of development is often overlooked and that’s really a shame. This isn’t about everybody on the team getting the same development; it’s about how unique individual development and team development are intertwined and can amplify each other as well as create more cohesive teams. Instead of everybody getting the exact same development and thus very likely seeing others’ development as potential competition, each person brings their unique development experience into a truly collaborative team environment. That is, each person shares and exchanges their knowledge and what they’ve learned. This has multiple benefits – each person feels and is seen as a source of valuable knowledge and teaching to the other team members and everybody in total learns more than if they had all gone through the exact same development. It give them a greater sense of identity. What’s more, in the very act of sharing knowledge with their teammates, each person learns more about their subject because of the questions they get as well as their desire to teach it well.

We really believe in the positive impact these values have on organizational performance and it’s great to see the survey data back it up. Thanks for sharing with us, Kris!

Photo by papalars

Posted in development, leadership, learning, management, passion, teams | 1 Comment »

Focus on Failure!

Posted by Mark Bennett on February 6, 2010

funny dog picturesNo, this is not advice to try to fail, but rather if (and when) you do fail, you’ll want to expend some time, thought and energy into actively learning from that failure. This is hinted at by an interesting finding from some neuroscience research done at MIT, which has implications not only for individuals, but organizations as well.

The research showed that the part of the brain that tracks success and failure appears to change and process more efficiently after success, but not after failure. What does that mean for us? Here’s a telling quote from the HBR article citing the research:

“But after failure,” Miller points out, “there was little change in brain activity.” In other words, the brain didn’t store any information about what went wrong and use it the next time. The monkey just tried, tried again.

In other words, left to its own devices, our brains will likely not learn from failure. Fortunately, we have the ability to recognize that fact and take steps to correct it. We can pause after failure and seriously ponder what went wrong – what was the cause of the failure? But that takes time, thought and energy to figure it out.

Now, consider what you might be short of in an organizational culture dominated by fear. That’s correct; there’s never enough time, don’t stop to think – act, and the energy generated by fear is more typically applied to shift the blame or hide the failure than in learning from the failure. So, without Psychological Safety, as Victorio puts it, you get a compounded problem with failure. First, as we already know, people will be averse to taking risk in general. That means fewer opportunities for innovation, profit, etc. Secondly, when failure does occur, its ability to even have any positive learning effect at all is almost entirely wiped out. No learning occurs automatically and, since more effort is spent hiding the failure or shifting the blame, no learning from thinking through the failure occurs either. Since no one sees any benefit from taking the risk, the cycle is reinforced and even fewer risks are taken and even less learning occurs.

However, if your organization has tolerance for thoughtful risk-taking, the cycle can be turned positive. Just recognize that a bit more effort is required to make a failure become a learning experience. Avoid what happens to the monkeys!

Posted in failure, fear, learning, risk, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 12 Comments »