Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.
Half a dozen years of journals and notebooks are migrating from my shelves to recycling. I need the space — and I don’t have much use for yesterday’s thinking.
I had to save a few memorable entries. Here’s The Great Divide (from the age of material to the age of relationships).
I thumbed through the journals as I took them from the shelves. As I dropped each volume into the stack, I tried to let go of its ideas. I want to make room for the next wave or thoughts worth jotting down.
I’m soundly convinced that Learning Platforms are crowding out Learning Programs. This is an inevitable part of moving from Stocks to Flows, from Push to Pull, from institutional control to personal freedom, and from rigid industrialism to flexible, more human work environments. Focus on improving the learning ecology rather than tackle one event at a time.
“Learning in advance” doesn’t work in a realtime world, so learning and work have converged. Learning is simply an aspect of getting the job done. Learning new things — sometimes by inventing them — is an obligation of corporate citizens. Most of this learning takes place in the workplace. The learning platform is the organization itself, not some separate entity.
I call these learning aspects of an organization its Workscape. A Workscape is a metaphorical space. The Workscape can include the water cooler, the Friday beer bust, the conversation nook at the office, wi-fi in the cafeteria, the enterprise culture, in-house communications, access to information, cultural norms around sharing and disclosure, tolerance for nonconformity, risk aversion, organizational structure, worker autonomy, and virtually any aspect of the company that can be tweaked to enable people to Work Smarter.
This afternoon I’ve been trying to come up with next practices for Workscapes in general. What are the design principles for optimal workscapes? What aspects of good learning should migrate into the Workscape. A starter list:
I’ll keep building the list but I’m hungry for more. I don’t want to get caught thinking small. What other aspects of sustaining the organization should be here?
Most of the value of organizations derives from Social Capital. (See my post Measure what’s important.) Were you able to deconstruct an organization into molecules of social capital, you’d have:
Thus far, my list deals with only human capital. Help me think through the role of the Workscape in leveraging relationship capital and structural capital as well.
Two weeks ago, I led a half-day masterclass on informal learning and 70:20:10 for staff and customers of the Dutch high-tech consultancy Ordina. This video highlights some of the main points. The masterclass was half a day; the video’s three minutes (plus another minute in Dutch).
“I do things I don’t know how to do in order to learn how to do them. That’s the basis for informal learning — trusting people to do the right thing, to go after it for themselves and take responsibility. This is so different from formal learning. People don’t like being told what to do and they usually don’t remember what they’re told for very long. Informal learning in a nutshell is giving control to the learner and setting up an environment that encourages experimentation and discovery.”
There’s no point in learning something if you forget it before you can put it to use. Yet research finds that people forget the majority of what they learn in workshops and classrooms. Typically, only 15% of what’s covered in a workshop ever shows up on the job!
Many L&D departments act as if their work is (more…)
The Roman consul had his son beheaded for disobeying orders. The Amsterdam Admiralty commissioned the painting to hang in its headquarters. (It’s now in the Rijksmuseum.)
The painting carries two messages. First of all, insubordination will not be tolerated. Second, decisions must be impartial.
Be glad you live in the 21st Century, not in the 1660s.
I just got home from two dozen days in Rome, (rent Vespa) Perugia, Passignano, Torre del Colle (Bevagna), (return Vespa) Foligno, Rome, London, Malvern, Winchester, Brighton, Amsterdam, Heerlen (Maastricht) in 24 days. Photos.
My midterm exam in Marketing Management at Harvard B-School was the Heinz Ketchup Case.
You, the student, had just been appointed brand manager (we called it product manager back then) for the iconic red condiment. The case included the demographics of buyers, the geographic spread of the market, and all manner of information about packaging options. Sales were steady and growing. The case asked the classic question, “What would you do?”
The school solution was: Do nothing. Don’t mess with a winner. Leave things as they are. If you suggested changing anything, you failed the test. You don’t walk into an established company with no experience or credibility and suggest they mess with the cash cow.
The brand managers and UI designers at Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and other consumer web services need to learn this lesson. No change for change’s sake. Don’t confuse the customer. We don’t want New Coke.
I’ve been on the web since the beginning, when you had to log in to Sir Tim’s NeXT machine at CERN to access the World Wide Web. I have blogged for more than a dozen years. I’ve shown thousands of people how to join the collective consciousness that is today’s net. I once knew how to get things done expeditiously.
Now I’m confused about some basic functions. While I was on the road for the last 24 days, Google+ donned a new skin. I lost a long post (by pushing the wrong button?). Ironically, I find G+’s search function confusing. WIIFM? I haven’t found anything in the changed appearance for me.
Then there’s Yahoo’s Flickr. I have been unable to upload portrait-mode photographs since the new look came in. Sometimes I can only upload two or three photos at a time. The uploader apparently can’t recognize some of my photos–they show as black and won’t upload. I’m on the lookout for something that will work for my 30,000 photos.
Facebook locked me out because someone in Wilmington, North Carolina, tried to access my account. I didn’t bother setting up a new password until just now. The garish new timeline page that greeted me was cluttered with marketing crap, boxes trying to get me to divulge my taste in movies, books, and television shows. I’m cutting off every option I can.
Whenever I visit Facebook, which is rare, I tiptoe around, fearful that I’ll fail to click one innocuous-looking little box and give Zuckerberg & Co. the email addresses of real friends or the right to repeat anything I write or say. I treat Facebook like quicksand and it’s troubling when the hazards have all moved to new locations.
Worst of all, changes like these are needlessly disruptive. We all have too many balls in the air right now to waste time rewiring our brains and fingers to punch buttons that have moved.
Effectiveness, Chief Learning Officer magazine, June 2013. This is the article as submitted; the printed version may vary.
Most columnists in CLO magazine advocate something they’re sure of. This column is different: it’s about an issue I’m not at all sure of but I think it important and would enjoy getting your opinion.
In 1959, British scientist/novelist C.P. Snow wrote an essay describing the “two cultures, whose thesis was that ‘the intellectual life of the whole of western society’ was split into two cultures — namely the sciences and the humanities — and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems. Snow contended that scientists did not understand the humanities and humanists did not understand science. As the world grew more complex, the two groups grew further apart.” (Wikipedia)
Half a century later, the world grows more complex everyday and the two cultures have grow further apart. It’s worth a revisit because the growing divide will shake the training industry to its roots. I am going to use the concept to describe two different sorts of knowledge and the different way we learn them. #1 is intuitive knowledge and #2 is logical knowledge. They are different as night and day.
Intuitive knowledge is what Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman describes in Thinking Fast and Slow as System 1. It’s the province of the emotional brain. Intuitive knowledge works with patterns; it knows no words. In other words, it is tacit. Since the emotional brain is much older and works faster than the logical brain, intuitive knowledge is the first to come to mind; the rational brain uses logic to weigh whether or not an intuitive response is valid or must be tempered. Intuitive knowledge is also known as muscle memory.
Intuitive knowledge is complex and hence unpredictable, inductive, volatile, and emergent. It’s the realm of imagination. It deals with people’s interpretations. It lives in the minds of the people who pull it together.
Examples of intuitive knowledge: how to dance and to sell. Training departments can’t do much with the increasingly important Intuitive skills. Intuitive things are learned by doing: experientially. People “get” the skills of dealing with complexity: critical thinking, prioritizing, working with people, design thinking, and so forth — by doing them.
“I do things I do not know how to do by doing them.” Picasso
Experience can be supplemented with stories (someone else’s experience), simulations (fake experience), trial and error (the school of hard knocks), and mimicry (copied experience).
Rational knowledge is the opposite of Intuitive knowledge. It’s the province of the rational brain. It works with logic. It is explicit and can be explained with words.
Rational knowledge is straightforward (or complicated, which is several simples mushed together.) It’s Newtonian clockwork, an equal and opposite reaction for every action. It is formulaic, yes or no, and reductionist. It deals with facts. It’s true no matter who is looking. Training departments help people learn the Rational. Workshops, programmed instruction, and Kahn Academy can teach Rational Knowledge. Example of rational knowledge: programming PERL, the states and their capitals, multiplication.
The Explicit and the Tacit
As the world becomes more complex, people need to rely more on the interpretive power of Intuitive knowledge. So what does this have to do with a CLO? (The editor here gets on my case if I don’t relate topics to the needs of chief learning officers.) Well, here’s the punch line: people learn Rational knowledge and absorb Intuitive knowledge by different means.
The basic difference is that you get to know Rational Knowledge. Intuitive Knowledge, on the other hand, transforms your identity. For example, I can know a lot about plumbing but until I have Intuitive Knowledge, I can’t call myself a plumber. It’s learning to know vs. learning to be.
While different parts of the brain deal with Intuitive and Rational knowledge, these are not the old (and discredited) left/right brain theories. This is more about the conscious and subconscious minds.
Dave Snowden, a oracular figure in interpreting complexity for business ends, says the greatest danger is confusing a complex situation for a merely complicated one.
If you are concerned only with helping people learn rational knowledge, you’re abandoning a vital facet of learning. Facts are impotent until coupled with feelings. Feelings without facts are mute. A successful learning organization is bi-cultural; it melds the intuitive with the rational
Bi-culturalism melds two originally distinct cultures into a holistic co-existence.
Ask yourself: is your learning bi-cultural?
There’s no point learning something in the first place if you forget it before you can put it to use. Here’s a recording of my recent webinar on making learning stick.
I’ll be in Italy the next two weeks, then in the UK for a week, and wrapping up with a week in the Netherlands. Anyone up for a rendezvous?
This morning I conducted a webinar on Making Learning Stick. Funny, isn’t it, that we invest so much to help people learn and so little to help them remember? Lots of what we learn goes down the drain before becoming converted to action.
To encourage participation, I gave away my favorite books for making the most of learning. It’s a biased list. All but three are by friends and colleagues. I like what I know.
This baker’s dozen have influenced my thinking enormously, sometimes by the act of writing them.