Category Archives: Just Jay


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.)

Rijks Museum

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.

Reflections from May trip to Italy, UK, and Netherlands


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.

Brighton, Hastings

Two days of the trip were paid work: One day I keynoted the Learning Innovations and Quality Conference and participated in the launch of the International Council Continue reading

The Heinz Ketchup Case Study

heinz-largeMy 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.

13 books on learning, people, organizations, corporate culture, and change

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.

  1. Informal Learning by Jay Cross
  2. A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown
  3. Working Smarter Fieldbook by Jay Cross
  4. Implementing eLearning by Jay Cross
  5. Engaging Learners by Clark Quinn
  6. Social Learning Handbook by Jane Hart
  7. The New Social Learning by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner
  8. The Connected Company by Dave Gray
  9. Now You See It by Cathy Davidson
  10. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
  11. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  12. The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management by Stephen Denning
  13. Designing mLearning by Clark Quinn

Nailed! How managers develop proficiency

Informal Learning and the Transfer of Learning: How Managers Develop Proficiency

“Our study suggested that managers learn mostly from informal learning, that proficiency is the product of informal learning, and that metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation skills moderate informal learning and the transfer process. In the light of these findings, companies should harness and leverage informal learning and cultivate the metacognitive abilities of managers, as opposed to increasing spending on formal training programs. By applying these strategies, companies may save money, develop more proficient managers, and gain a competitive advantage.”

Michael D. Enos, Marijke Thamm Kehrhahn, Alexandra Bell

Read those lines again. Think about how you develop managers. Stirring, isn’t it?

Too bad the article appeared ten years ago and didn’t make waves. (HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT QUARTERLY, vol. 14, no. 4, Winter 2003) 

Informal first!

Learning Styles, ha, ha, ha, ha

retro-postI wrote this post in Thursday, December 08, 2005, but I’m reposting it here because some people still have not got the message.

Normally, I would not expect to get many chuckles from a 186-page report entitled Learning styles and pedagogy post-16 learning A systematic and critical review, 2004, by Frank Coffield, Institute of Education, University of London; David Moseley, University of Newcastle; Elaine Hall, University of Newcastle; Kathryn Ecclestone, University of Exeter. This is an exception.

This marvelously tongue-in-cheek report looks at 800 studies of learning styles and concludes that there are better uses for educational funding. “Learning style awareness is only a ‘cog in the wheel of the learning process’ and ‘it is not very likely that the self-concept of a student, once he or she has reached a certain age, will drastically develop by learning about his or her personal style’.”

The authors at the Learning and Skills Research Centre doubtless had a rollicking good time coming up with conclusions like “Research into learning styles can, in the main, be characterised as small-scale, non-cumulative, uncritical and inward-looking. It has been carried out largely by cognitive and educational psychologists, and by researchers in business schools and has not benefited from much interdisciplinary research.”

And how about this? “The sheer number of dichotomies in the literature conveys something of the current conceptual confusion. We have, in this review, for instance, referred to:

  • convergers versus divergers
  • verbalisers versus imagers
  • holists versus serialists
  • deep versus surface learning
  • activists versus reflectors
  • pragmatists versus theorists
  • adaptors versus innovators
  • assimilators versus explorers
  • field dependent versus field independent
  • globalists versus analysts
  • assimilators versus accommodators
  • imaginative versus analytic learners
  • non-committers versus plungers
  • common-sense versus dynamic learners
  • concrete versus abstract learners
  • random versus sequential learners
  • initiators versus reasoners
  • intuitionists versus analysts
  • extroverts versus introverts
  • sensing versus intuition
  • thinking versus feeling
  • judging versus perceiving
  • left brainers versus right brainers
  • meaning-directed versus undirected
  • theorists versus humanitarians
  • activists versus theorists
  • pragmatists versus reflectors
  • organisers versus innovators
  • lefts/analytics/inductives/successive processors
  • versus rights/globals/deductives/
  • simultaneous processors
  • executive, hierarchic, conservative versus legislative,
  • anarchic, liberal.

“The sheer number of dichotomies betokens a serious failure of accumulated theoretical coherence and an absence of well-grounded findings, tested through replication. Or to put the point differently: there is some overlap among the concepts used, but no direct or easy comparability between approaches; there is no agreed ‘core’ technical vocabulary. The outcome – the constant generation of new approaches, each with its own language – is both bewildering and off-putting to practitioners and to other academics who do not specialise in this field.”

The question at the end of the 186-page report asks whether government doesn’t have better things to do with its money, “Finally, we want to ask: why should politicians, policy-makers, senior managers and practitioners in post-16 learning concern themselves with learning styles, when the really big issues concern the large percentages of students within the sector who either drop out or end up without any qualifications?”


50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10 (4)

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

(Here are Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3)

The 10: improving the outcomes of formal learning

Formal learning includes courses, workshops, seminars, online learning and certification training. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations aren’t using online learning to its full potential, and the results at those organizations reflect that. Learning expert Robert Brinkerhoff figures only about 15 percent of formal training lessons change behavior.12 This is a reflection of both formal learning creation and of the lack of focus on experiential and exposure learning. If what we learn is not reinforced with reflection and application, the lessons never make it into long-term memory.

Only when all three learning components are implemented together will a learning and development department see superior results.

Formal learning is typically conducted by an instructor. So why do we address it in a paper on managers? Because managers can make or break the success of formal learning programs

Research has found that the most important factor in translating formal learning into improved performance is the expectation set by managers before the training takes place13. Understanding the needs of the learners and following up after the event are also essential for formal learning success.

Broad’s research highlights the fact that the manager’s expectations of the team’s performance and aptitude should closely align with the objectives and design of any formal learning course. Otherwise the course will be of little or no use.

Create an environment
that nurtures learning

Working through managers instead of through courses is a radical shift for learning and development.

Managers need to understand — and this is where senior management support is mandatory — that both L&D and the managers themselves are shifting responsibilities. Managers will be making 70-20-10 productive; L&D will be doing anything possible to increase performance and productivity.

Blended, a leading learning organization in Australia, has implemented 70-20-10 in many organizations. Blended asked companies “Which of the following is the main barrier to a leader-led learning culture in your organization?”

They responded:

  1. Leaders do not have the time to perform a teaching/coaching role: 28 percent
  2. Leaders lack teaching/coaching capabilities: 32 percent
  3. The organization lacks formal performance expectations for leader-led learning: 28 percent

How would you rebut these responses? Like this:

  1. This is not time away from the job. Rather, it’s ramping people up to do a better job. The time required for mentoring is offset by more delegation to subordinates and improvements in the way work is performed.
  2. No one is asking managers to become teachers. Rather, the focus is on helping people perform better. This sort of coaching produces results.
  3. If you don’t have performance expectations, this is a great time to set them. That’s one of the important areas in which we need senior executive support.

A word on motivating employees

People are naturally motivated to do things they find meaningful. The trick is that meaningful is subjective, so people have to find the work that they find personally meaningful — and often that changes over the course of a career. But when someone finds meaningful work, they take pride in accomplishment. They enjoy solving problems. They don’t shirk working for a cause they believe in.

Free workers to make their own decisions, give them a mission that’s greater than themselves and set high expectations. Establish targets and give workers the discretion to figure out how to reach them. Challenge them to learn how to be all they can be and get out of their way. Don’t take them by the hand unless they ask for it. Managers must challenge their people to be all they can be and give them the freedom to do it. Sell the managers on the 70-20-10 framework.

About the Internet Time Alliance

The Internet Time Alliance helps clients understand and embrace complexity and adopt new ways of working and learning. We ask the tough questions and explore the underlying assumptions of how they do business. Then we work with them to develop strategies and plans for transformation and improvement. Email me for information on working with the Alliance.


About GoToTraining


Online Training Made Easy™

Citrix GoToTraining is an easy-to-use online training service that allows you to move your entire training program online for more efficient customer and employee training. Hold unlimited online training sessions with up to 200 attendees from around the world right from your Mac or PC. Reach more trainees, collect real-time feedback, record and store your training sessions and more – all while slashing travel costs. To learn more, visit

Citrix sponsored the research and writing of much of the material in this set of posts. Please visitCitrixOnline to see the original paper in its entirety.


About the authorjcc

Jay Cross is an author, advocate and raconteur who writes about workplace learning, leadership, organizational change, innovation, technology and the future. His educational white papers, articles and research reports persuade people to take action.

Jay has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix. A champion of informal learning and systems thinking, Jay’s calling is to create happier, more productive workplaces. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He literally wrote the book on Informal Learning. He is currently researching the correlation of psychological well-being and performance on the job.

Jay works from the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley, California, high in the hills a dozen miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge and a mile and a half from UC Berkeley. People visit the Lab to spark innovation and think fresh thoughts.He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.

Does your company need substantive white papers and webinars like this? Get in touch.

Free Jay webinar. Win a great book.


Join me for an hour on the last day of April to explore how to make learning stick. Register. I’ve unearthed some exciting material about how people convert learning to action in the workplace — how to make it stick.

You folks know so much about how to increase the productivity of learning. Something old, something new, something small, something larger… for the most part, you Continue reading

Happiness deck

Prototype for happiness/well-being card deck.

What do you think?

2My calling is to help a millon people lead happier and more satisfying lives. Mainly business people caught up in the rat race. There’s great hope and cause for celebration. Moore’s Law favors us all. Help me reach a million by the end of the year. Pass the word.

Let’s go viral now
Everybody’s learning how
Come on and safari with me
(come on and safari with…)      lyric