Category Archives: Just Jay

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


Do not take this sitting down!

CLO December 28, 2012

How far does a CLO’s responsibility extend in an enlightened, twenty-first century company?

Assume your silo walls are coming down. Pockets of your organization are beginning to resemble W.L. Gore or Google or the agile companies you read about in Fast Company. Self-organizing teams are popping up. R&D is increasingly crowd-sourced. For the first time in memory, lots of workers are singing from the same hymnal (it’s accessible on the corporate social network.) You are becoming a Cohesive Organization.

You’re the CLO. The New York Times tips you off to something that could improve your company’s performance while lowering your workers’ risk of heart attack, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. The intervention is somewhat controversial but the medical community agrees that it works. The cost is minimal. No manager in the company is clearly accountable for this area.

The issue is sitting down, namely the new finding that too much time spent sitting down is bad for your health. Office chairs kill.

Let’s use the Sitting issue as a case example. Read the facts and then decide whether you’d speak up and push for change or just let this one pass. Ask your peers what they think.

“What does a man do on two legs, a dog do on three legs, and a woman do sitting down? The answer of course is shake hands.” (That’s your ice-breaker for introducing the topic of standing while working to your colleagues).

Author note: What you’re reading is what I submitted. The CLO site has the version they printed. I didn’t expect to get away with the joke.

Mayo Clinic’s Dr. James Levine says “Sitting is the new smoking. It’s literally bad for you.” Levine points out that “People who sit more are more prone to cancers, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon, I mean, multiple cancers. In addition, sitters are more prone to depression, to feeling blue. Even people who have mental illness, their illness is actually worse.”

Sitting more than three hours a day reduces your life expectancy by two years. Watching more than two hours of TV per day takes another year off your life. The more you sit, the greater your risk of having a heart attack or coming down with diabetes. Regular exercise does not counterbalance the bad effects of sitting.

Sitting makes you fat. Obese people sit an average of two and a half hours a day more than thinner people.

A few companies are consciously trying to promote standing up:

  • They have instituted walking lunch groups and yoga classes.
  • Timers remind employees to stretch, walk around, and take breaks.
  • People take phone calls standing up (which also boosts confidence and voice quality).
  • Companies are removing tables and chairs from meeting rooms. This leads to shorter meetings.
  • Savvy employees take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • People walk to others’ desks instead of emailing them.
  • Participants encourage everyone to stand at meetings.
  • People can order stand-up desks and even treadmill desks.

Let’s acknowledge that adopting less sedentary work practices will be difficult. People like to change but they don’t like to be changed. If you make standing while working compulsory, many employees will engage in a (forgive me for this) sit-down strike.

Difficult does not mean impossible. Remember when smoking was banned in offices? In restaurants? In bars? Many of us didn’t expect that to work any better than Prohibition, yet today it’s the law of the land.

Unlike smoking, where worries about second-hand smoke endangering non-smokers’ health led to regulation, people who sit excessively only hurt themselves (and perhaps increase their employers’ health insurance premiums).

Unlike smoking, standing can be implemented piecemeal. It can be voluntary. People can stand wherever they work; they don’t have to huddle outside of the building in the elements.

Standing all day isn’t particularly good for you either. Too much standing wears out ankles and knees and can contribute to bad posture. Standing for 50 minutes and sitting for 10 may be optimal.

That’s the case study. On the plus side, standing while working increases longevity and the likelihood of dodging diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and other maladies. On the negative side are the one-time cost of acquiring new furniture and the rebellion of workers who resist change. Net-net, it makes business sense to encourage workers to stand and to make it easy for them to do so.

What are you going to do as CLO? Are you obligated to share this knowledge? Will you advocate standing up for something that makes people healthier at little cost? If not you, who? If not now, when?

Is making the company a better place to work a CLO’s responsibility? Or is that someone else’s job? Yeah, I’d really like an answer to that one.

A Solution to the College Crisis


Corporate colleges


Higher education in the United States is broken. Costs are ouf of control. Students are dissatisfied. Graduates can’t get jobs. Says MIT’s Andy McAfee, “What’s going on is halfway between a bubble and a scandal.”

I propose we put higher ed back on track by founding Corporate Colleges.

Corporate colleges break higher ed into its constitutent parts and reassemble Continue reading


The Strip

Tripping through Texas

Closed on Sunday
because God’s service
is better than ours.

Barbed wire.

Cattle, oil, mesquite, prickly pear,
Cowboy boots, Stetsons, buzzards,
Roadkill, skunk smell, Hummers.

Bar-BQ, chichen fried steak,
Dairy Queen, Applebee’s, Sonic,
Enchiladas, chicken fried chicken.

Sheep and prickly pear and jack rabbits, but not to eat.

Ranches, hosses, antiques and tarnished Continue reading

Modularity, BMWs, & MOOCs

Recognize this? It cost me $1,000.

bmwWhen my car was detailed, this part of the steering column was damaged. It doesn’t come any smaller. You can’t buy these individually.

bmw1 bmw4bmw3



BMW has decreed that you have to buy all these parts, even when some of them are perfectly okay. (My car’s issue was with the collar thing-a-ma-bob in the center.)

Dumb design, eh? It’s Continue reading