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.
Jurgen Appelo plays with more models of how things ought to work than anyone I else I know. His book Management 3.0 presents, assesses, and sometimes interconnects with agile, people-oriented processes relentlessly. I’m a fan. See his blog. And this presentation:
The Twenty-First Century Corporation
Businesses around the world are transforming into extended enterprise networks but their training departments are stuck in the previous century. In the pursuit of trying to ﬁx what’s broken, let’s imagine what ideal corporate learning would look like if we could start over from scratch.
In the 1800s and 1900s, successful companies ran like well-oiled machines. Workers were mere cogs in those machines. The people were interchangeable parts. Companies paid them to follow instructions and do the same thing over and over again.
Workers have since replaced machines as the primary means of creating value. Companies rely on them to solve problems, delight customers, and stay ahead of the game. They are what make a business go and grow. A company’s market value echoes the ingenuity, know-how and reputation of its people.
Twenty-ﬁrst century employees have to do complex, unpredictable work. They have to keep up with a torrent of new products and services, not just their own but also their competitors’. They have to stay sharp in a
world that’s going ever faster. They have to grapple with a barrage of new information and demands on their time. Continuous learning is the only way they can keep up. Their work has become learning, and learning is the bulk of their work.
And, on top of this, technology has connected the world, making it possible to connect with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere. The ease of sharing of information has lead to a cultural phenomenon, which relates to our topic at hand; people are used to being able to get the answers to their questions – to learn – of their own accord through
research and conversation. But this way of learning – autonomous searching and social collaboration – has not yet been reﬂected in corporate learning, demonstrating that corporate learning has fallen behind.
To keep things simple in our following exploration of how corporate learning needs to change, let’s call the industrial-age (old school) companies Hierarchical and the network-era (2012) companies Collaborative. Control in Hierarchical companies resides at the top. Orders and instructions are pushed down through the organization. Control in Collaborative companies is distributed throughout the organizations. Workers and supervisors have a large say in what they do and they pull in the resources they need for themselves.
So, imagine the training department just disappeared because our organization has shifted from Hierarchical to Collaborative, and learning has become everyone’s business.
Where should we focus to improve learning? It’s a matter of people and infrastructure. Those will be the topics of my next posts on this subject.
My previous post had an incorrect URL for the Trip to Europe curator, but you didn’t tell me.
I’ve been counting on you readers out there to yell at me when I mess up like that. You
are were my safety net. “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”
Profound apologies to those who clicked for the curated vacation and ended up on an obscure page on Amazon.
Twenty-five years ago Apple released a visionary product, Hypercard. Bill Atkinson designed the app to free people to create their own programs without the rigors of programming. Hypercard invited anyone to create “stacks” of linked cards that could display text, play sound, and show video. Hypercard was sort of like an internet browser for your hard drive except that it included authoring as well as consuming from the get-go. Apple abandoned Hypercard in its near-death days, but the idea lived on with General Magic. The Mosaic team credits Hypercard with many of the concepts that went into the first web browsers.
We celebrated Hypercard’s 25th anniversary at the Hillside Club in Berkeley this evening at one of Sylvia Paull‘s Cybersalons. Raines Cohen, co-founder of BMUG (Berkeley Mac User Group), once the largest user group in the world, drew out Bill Atkinson with initial questions and then wowed the audience by searching and displaying sites and photos on the web in real time as Bill and the audience brought them up.
Bill credits his success to Steve Jobs. “He believed in me.” They were best friends for three years, often as not having dinner together. Bill created MacDraw, QuickDraw, and Hypercard. Bill had gone independent by the time he wrote Hypercard. Apply had agreed to bury another brilliant programmer’s masterpiece, Mac Basic, to get a lifeline from Microsoft, which immediately killed it. Programmers were wary that Apple might not do what was best for their applications.
People in the audience stood up to tell Hypercard stories. A number of former Mac journalists were on hand. Some people credited Hypercard with having started their now successful businesses.
Bill? He spends a lot of time perfecting a postcard writing app. To his mind it’s cooler than Hypercard. You can upload a photo and the app will print a high res card, stamp it, write your message on it, and get it in the mail. It’s ironic, a sophisticated app that is out to save an old artefact, the post card. PhotoCard is s a free app for the iPhone.
I was struck by the simplicity of Hypercard. It was powerful but never added the useless chrome and doo-dads that modern apps ship with. Someone asked, “How did you know you were done?” Bill said he was finished when the kit was complete. You’re through when the app does what you’d asked it to do. Hypercard is sort of like Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. You don’t have to be an architect or city planner to get the concept and apply it elsewhere.
Many of us have tread in Bill’s shoes, trying to find ways to enable people to pursue their passion without having to become experts in arcane domains like programming.