50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. implementing 70-20-10 is not simple. Sharing 50 suggestions on putting 70-20-10 to work has consumed five posts spread over two months. Today the series is complete. Here’s what you’ll find:

Post 1   Post 2   Post 3   Post 4   Post 5

Post 1 People learn their jobs by doing their jobs. Effective managers make stretch
assignments and coach their team members. Experience is the teacher, and managers shape their teammembers’ experiences. Knowledge work has evolved into keeping up and taking advantage of connections. We learn to do the job on the job. To stay ahead and create more value, you have to learn faster, better, smarter.

The Coherent OrganizationAs standalone companies realize that they’re really extended enterprises, co-learning with customers and stakeholders becomes important as everyone faces the future together. Players throughout the corporate ecosystem need to be operating on the same wave-length. This can only happen when we’re adapting to the future, i.e. learning, at the same pace.Internally, everyone needs to stay current.

These posts offer guidance to managers who want to make learning from experience and conversation more effective. Replacing today’s haphazard approaches with systematic, enlightened management accelerates the development of future workers and gets the entireorganization working smarter. The potential is great.

Among the organizations that have adopted the 70:20:10 approach are Nike, Dell, Goldman Sachs, Mars, Maersk, Nokia, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, L’Oréal, Adecco, Banner Health, Bank of America, National Australia Bank, Boston Scientific, American Express, Wrigley, Diageo, BAE Systems, ANZ Bank, Irish Life, HP, Freehills, Caterpillar, Barwon Water, CGU, Coles, Sony Ericsson, Standard Chartered, British Telecom, Westfield, Wal-Mart, Parsons Brinkerhoff, and Coca-Cola.

Charles Jennings made 70:20:10 a guiding philosophy of learning during his eight-year tenure as Chief Learning Officer at Reuters, the world’s largest information company. (Disclosure: Charles and I are colleagues at the Internet Time Alliance. He is the world authority on 70:20:10 and these posts draw heavily on his work.)

Post 2 The 70 percent: learning from experience. People learn by doing. We learn from experience and achieve mastery through practice. Experience is a difficult task master. We learn more from making a mistake than from getting it right the first time. That’s why wise managers throw team members into stretch assignments. It accelerates learning. Being ejected from one’s comfort zone is why some say that the only thing worse than learning from experience is not learning from experience. Matching the most appropriately challenging experience to the developmental stage of the worker is the most powerful lever in the manager’s toolbox.

Charles Jennings reports that performance inevitably improves when managers ask their team members these three simple reflective questions:

  1. What are your reflections on what you’ve been doing since we last met.
  2. What would you do differently next time?
  3. What have you learned since we last met?

Post 3 The 20 percent: learning through others. Learning is social. People learn with and through others.

Conversations are the stem cells of learning. Effective managers encourage their team members to buddy up on projects, to shadow others and to participate in professional social networks. People learn more in an environment that encourages conversation, so make sure you’re fostering an environment where people talk to each other.

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a social network of people who identify with one another professionally (e.g. designers of logic chips) or have mutual interests (e.g. amateur photographers). Members of CoPs develop and share knowledge, values, recommendations and standards. An effective community of practice is like a beehive. It organizes itself, buzzes with activity and produces honey for the markets.

Post 4 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.

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.

Post 5 You will need to become a champion for the new approach to developing talent. You must convince your sponsor that managers and supervisors are the linchpins to developing new talent. Without them, the company could find itself with nobody on the bench to take on future challenges. For your career, this lead role is high risk/high reward.

Managers have to learn how to develop their people. It doesn’t always come naturally, and managers can get too busy to pay much attention to it. Let them know you don’t expect them to train their people. Rather, they will set examples for their team; they will foster experiential learning by leading their team to tackle new challenges (the 70), by helping them reflect on the lessons of experience and by coaching them at every step (the 20), and by showing them how to get formal learning on the subject (the 10).

The Learning and Development Roundtable of the Corporate Leadership Council pinpointed three management practices that significantly improve performance.

  1. Setting clear expectations and explaining how performance will be measured.
  2. Providing stretch experiences that help their team members learn and develop.
  3. Taking time to reflect and help team members learn from experience.

Managers who set clear objectives and expectations and explain how they measure performance are much more likely to succeed. Their teams outperform their peers by 20%. That’s an extra day every week to get the job done (and engage in deep learning). Managers should make explicit why they’re assigning particular projects, what they expect people to learn and what sort of debrief will occur after the assignment.

The 70-20-10 model depends on L&D teaming up with managers to improve learning across the company, but often managers do not appreciate how vitally important they are in growing their people. This is the absolute, must-do secret to success to improving learning and development. Frontline managers must take this as the very definition of manager: someone who develops others by challenging them with assignments that stretch them to the point of flow17. This takes a can-do manager who knows how coaching creates mental models and habits, how motivation activates a chain of high-performance activities and what success habits their team members need to adopt.

Charles Jennings says that the role that managers play is far more important than that of Learning and Development or HR. Your role is to help managers learn that:

  • People learn from experience.
  • Managers shape the experience of the people on their team.
  • Experience coupled with reflection sticks lessons in memory.
  • Daily mid-course correction is much more powerful than after-the-fact reviews.
  • Every project they assign is a potential learning experience for their team members.

#itashare

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10 (5)

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

(Here are Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4)

How to sell an executive on 70-20-10

Changing the role of managers is a wrenching organizational change. You will not be successful without the support of a senior management sponsor who can open doors to at all levels and help your make your case.

You will need to become a champion for the new approach Continue reading

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
ita

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

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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 www.gototraining.com.

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.

Technical Knowledge and Practical Knowledge

In a New York Times Op-Ed, David Brooks poses the ultimate higher-ed question: What is a university for?

Brooks separates knowledge into technical knowledge and practical knowledge.

Technical Knowledge enables us to understand a field. These are basics like statistics or fundamentals of biology. You can find it in books. The faculty teaches it. In many cases, a MOOC or a robot could teach it. It’s the mainstay on campus.

Practical Knowledge is about being rather than knowing. It can’t be taught in the classrooms or books. You learn it through experience. You absorb it from your environment. You can pick it up from your communities of practice.

Examples of Practice Knowledge abound in Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, “Lean In.” Says Brooks,

… tasks she describes as being important for anybody who wants to rise in this economy: the ability to be assertive in a meeting; to disagree pleasantly; to know when to interrupt and when not to; to understand the flow of discussion and how to change people’s minds; to attract mentors; to understand situations; to discern what can change and what can’t.

 

Brooks would have students master Practical Knowledge by leading the band or joining the debate club, something on campus. I think he’s off. Back to his “What is a university?” For most of us, the answer is “Not the best place to master Practical Knowledge for the workplace.”

What if we think of Technical Knowledge as explicit and Practical Knowledge as tacit?

  • Technical Knowledge lays bare the intricacies of complicated concepts. It’s the facts. It’s clockwork models and the results they gin out time after time. Technical Knowledge deals with certainties and absolutes. In other words, it’s often theoretical and “not found in nature.”
  • Practical Knowledge deals with complex, unpredictable, unruly patterns that emerge in real life. It is nature.

Caveat emptor. This next part is speculation on my part. I’m looking for corroboration.

The world is growing more complex. Outsourcing and automation have eliminated work that is merely complicated. The more interconnections in network, the greater the complexity, and the tendrils of networks everywhere are intertwining at a surreal pace.

informal learning research.374

Things kicked into high gear in the last twenty years of the twentieth century. Between 1980 and 2000, the value of the publicly traded companies flip-flopped from 80% tangible assets to 80% intangible assets.

This is an astounding change. Think about it. Most of a company’s worth had been in hard assets: plant, equipment, and cash. Two decades later, most of a company’s worth was in relationships, know-how, and secret sauce — things you can’t even see.

Many managers haven’t seen the light yet. Look at their allegiance to accounting measures that have less and less meaning in the real world. They righteously demand “hard numbers.” Those are the numbers that don’t mean to much any more.

informal learning research3.374

As the world becomes more complex, are we not in the midst of another phase change? Might it be that the university heyday when explicit knowledge was king, is giving way to a new world where skills for navigating complexity rule?

If you can’t increase your social intelligence at college, isn’t it time to go somewhere else to get it?

The Times also reported that Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break. Seems that elite MOOC consortium EdX is experimenting with automated essay grading. Skeptics of course came out of the woodwork. Anant Agarwal, the EdX chief, points out that the grading software begins by learning how professors would grade; then it gives students instant grades and an opportunity to improve.

That latter bit — instant feedback and opportunity to resubmit a stronger essay — has lots of promise.

The skeptics are fighting a pitched battle. Traditional grades, having to do only with Technical Knowledge, are not correlated to any measure of success outside of schools. A system can’t do much worse than that.

There’s also the myth of the learnèd professor working away into the wee hours marking papers. I’m sure this happens some places but it wasn’t the way things worked at Harvard Business School when I went there. I have reason to know.

Several of my papers were rejected. These were WACs, Written Assessment of Cases. When I explained my logic to my professors, they said my arguments were brilliant and original. In fact, my ideas were so original that they didn’t appear on the grading checklists given to the Radcliffe students who actually graded the papers. I’m not saying every prof did this nor do I know how it works today, but an automated system might be an improvement. #justsayin

The User Illusion

userill (1)The User Illusion, Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, by Tor Norretranders, published 1991 in Danish, English translation 1998.

Key: We’re primarily nonconscious. Shorthand: conscious self = “I”; unconscious self = “me” Training and preparation are key to any performance. The most important thing about training is that the I comes to trust the Me. The I learns to believe that the Me can feel the emotion and carry out the movement. Training creates a quantity of automatic skills that can be applied without the need for awareness that they are being so used. The I’s beady eye is there during the training but not during the performance proper.

Consciousness is at once the most immediately present and the most inscrutably intangible entity in human existence. Consciousness lags what we call reality.

Consciousness is riddled with deceit and self-deception. The conscious I is happy to lie up hill and down dale to achieve a rational explanation for what the body is up to; sensual perception is the result of a devious relocation of sensory input in time; when the consciousness thinks it determines to act, the brain is already working on it; there appears to be more than one version of consciousness present in the brain; our conscious awareness contains almost no information but is perceived as if it were vastly rich in information.

This is a profound book, particularly for someone like me who spends too much time “in his head.” Most of what we consider learning, from ISD to multiple-choice, focuses almost exclusively on the oversimplified, civilized, linear constructs of consciousness.

Trust the force. (The unconscious.)Could the effects of a little nonsconsciousness creeping into the conscious realm help account for ADD and schizophrenia?


Computation

Information is very tedious. What is interesting is getting rid of it-—and that means discarding it.

  • Gödel goes from the old paradox of “I’m lying” to “I cannot be proved.” Consistency and freedom from contradiction can never be proved from within a system. Unprovability and undecidability are fundamental features of our world. We can know that it is order when we see it. But we cannot know that it is not order just because we cannot see it—and no mathematics, logic, or computers can help us. Order is order. The rest is undecided.
  • Information is associated with entropy, a measure of thermodynamic disorder.
  • Information cannot be defined without knowing the context. Not because there is anything wrong with our notion of information, but because the notions of order and randomness necessarily include an element of subjectivity.

There is a terrain between order and chaos: a vast undiscovered continent—-the continent of complexity. Complexity appears midway between the predictable and the unpredictable, the stable and the unstable, the periodic and the random, the hierarchical and the flat, the closed and the open. Between what we can count on and what we cannot.

  • Complexity is to be measured not by the length of the message but by the work carried out previously. The meaning does not arise from the information in the message but arises from the information discarded during the process of formulating the message, which has a specific information content. What matters is not saying as much as you can. It is thinking before you speak.

“Exformation” and the richness of information remind me of the operations of compression algorithms. The more information, the longer it takes to create a ZIP archive. Compression from nonconscious to conscious is extreme, much heavier than compressing an image to jpeg at 1%. Nonconscious compression sands down all the rough edges found in the original.


Communication

Talking & exformation

  • From congé, Victor Hugo wired his publisher about the success of Les Miserables, “?” His publisher replied “!” The important part is what was explicitly discarded, the “exformation.” A message has depth if it contains a large quantity of exformation.
  • Exformation is the history of the message, information the product of that history. Each is meaningless without the other; information without exformation is vacuous chatter; exformation without information is not exformation but merely discarded information.
  • The least interesting aspect of good conversation is what is actually said. What is more interesting is all the deliberations and emotions that take place simultaneously during conversation in the heads and bodies of the conversers.

The Bandwidth of Consciousness

  • What we perceive at any moment is limited to an extremely smart compartment in the stream of information about our surroundings flowing in from the sense organs. Our consciousness processes about a millionth of the information it receives. Metaphorically, consciousness is a spotlight that shows but a tiny fraction of what’s on stage.
  • Consciousness consists of discarded information far more than information present.
  • Consciousness possesses peerless agility, but at any given moment you are not conscious of much at all. To be aware of an experience means that it has passed.
  • Human bandwidth is ±16 bits/second. The rate varies with age:

“All these numbers are approximations,” but there’s a giant mismatch of input to consciousness no matter how you slice it:

Sensory system  

Total bandwidth (bits/second)

 

Conscious bandwidth (bits/second)

Eyes

10,000,000

40

Ears

100,000

30

Skin

1,000,000

5

Taste

1,000

1

Smell

100,000

1

Impression à Consciousness à Expression

 

Bandwidth

television >1,000,000 bps
radio >10,000 bps
text read aloud 25 bps

The Bomb of Psychology

In 1957, an enterprise named Precon Process and Equipment Corporate, in New Orleans, started offering the placement of subliminal messages in advertisements and movies—messages not perceived by consciousness but containing sufficient influence to get somebody to pay for their being there. Messages that work unconsciously or preconsciously, hence Precon. Backlash stunted pscyhological research for years.

Drink Coca-Cola

When the case reopened, scientists found that the unconscious is not merely a morass of repressed sexual desires and forbidden hatred. The unconscious is an active, vital part of the human mind. One canlearn form a stimulus that is so brief that one does not perceive it. A large number of social judgments and inferences, especially those guiding first impressions, appear to be mediated by such unconscious processes.

A person perceiving a familiar object is not aware that what is perceived is as much an expression of memory as it is of perception. Thinking itself is highly unconscious. In The Stream of Thought, William James noted that consciousness “is always interested more in one part of its object than in another, and welcomes and rejects, or chooses, all the while it thinks.”

The View from Within

Computers find it easy to do what we learned at school. But computers have a very hard time learning what children learn before they start school: to recognize a cup that is upside down, recognizing a face,seeing.

Richard Gregory: “Our sight really consists of a hypothesis, an interpretation of the word. We do not see the data in front of our eyes; we see an interpretation.” And, “The senses do not give us a picture of the world directly; rather they provide evidence for the checking of hypotheses about what lies before us. Indeed, we may say that the perceptions of an object is an hypothesis.” We see a configuration (in German, gestalt). We do not see what we sense. We see what we think we sense.

Pablo Picasso was once asked why he did not pain people “the way they really are.” Picasso asked the questioner what he meant. The man pulled a snapshot of his wife out of his wallet and said, “That’s my wife.” Picasso responnded, “Isn’t she rather small and flat?”

Kant distinguished between things as they are, Das Ding an sich, and things as we know them, Das Ding für uns. A study of frogs showed that “the eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted, instead of transmitting some more or less accurate copy of the distribution of light on the receptors.” Visual input passes through the thalamus before getting to the cortex.

attention. The essence of consciousness of the outside world. When a number of nerve cells oscillate in synchrony at forty hertz, this is attention.


Consciousness

Our actions begin unconsciously! Consciousness of the will to carry out an act decided on by ourselves occurs almost half a second after the brain has started carrying out the decision. Consciousness portrays itself as the initiator but it is a fraud – which requires considerable cooking of the temporal books.

Free will operates through selection, not design (It can veto.)

Man is not primarily conscious. We are not conscious of very much of what we sense, what we think, or what we do. We’re primarily nonconscious.

Shorthand: conscious self = “I”; unconscious self = “me”

Training and preparation are key to any performance. The most important thing about training is that the I comes to trust the Me. The I learns to believe that the Me can feel the emotion and carry out the movement. Training creates a quantity of automatic skills that can be applied without the need for awareness that they are being so used. The I’s beady eye is there during the training but not during the performance proper.

(Ref: The Inner Game of Tennis. “When you short-circuit the mind by giving it an ‘overload’ of things to deal with, it has so many things to attend to that it no longer has time to worry. The “I” checks out and lets the “me” check in. Also, this is what Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is all about.)

The social field is established through agreements, social contracts, entered into verbally. So the cohesive force in our social life is something with a very low capacity or bandwidth.

Spirituality merely involves taking your own life seriously by getting to know yourself and your potential. This is no trivial matter, for there are quite a few unpleasant surprises in most of us. The dominant psychological problem of modern culture is that its members do not want to accept that there is a Me beyond the I. The Me is everything the I cannot accept: It is unpredictable, disorderly, willful, quick, and powerful.

“placebo” = “I want to please”

The User Illusion

Studies of split-brain patients show that the I lies like crazy to create a coherent picture of something it does not understand in the slightest. We lie our way to the coherence and consistency we perceive in our behavior. (It’s like making up logical explanations for a dream or filling in the missing portions of a fuzzy picture.)

What we experience directly is an illusion, which presents interpreted data as if they were raw. It is this illusion that is the core of consciousness: the world experienced in a meaningful, interpreted way. If there were not half a second in which to synchronize the inputs, we might experience a jitter in our perception of reality. I am my user illusion of myself.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, Princeton, 1976. >3,000 years ago, consciousness did not exist. All the nonlinguistic activity in the right brain was passed on to the left brain in the form of voices talking inside people’s heads. There was no independent reflective activity in people’s heads.

The body is in a state of interaction with the world. We eat, drink, and dispatch matter back into the cycle of nature. In no more than five years, practically every atom in the organiism gets replaced. The vast majority of atoms are replaced far more often. Identity, body structure, appearance, and consciousness are preserved—but the atoms have gone. The feeling of individual continuity is real enough, but it has no material foundation.


Composure

The dominant theme of our times is consciousness regaining composure through the recognition of the nonconscious; computer formalism regaining composure through the recognition of unpredictability; descriptions regaining composure through the recognition of what is being described; the low bandwidth regaining composure through the recognition of the high bandwidths.

Interesting things happen when and where order meets chaos. People live on coasts, rivers, mountain chains, mountain passes, near boundaries. Neat the transition from one element to another.

The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe. But that is what we are consciously trying to do with the artificial lives we live in our technological civilization.

Most of the world has to be described through nonlinear mathematics—i.e., formulae and forms that are not regular and smooth but marked by the fact that the tiniest change can lead to a huge difference, because things bend and break everywhere. Our civilization is completely different from nature. Civilization is about attaining predictability; and predictability is the opposite of information, because information is a measure of the surprise value of a message: the astoundment it unleashes.

Zeno’s paradoxes. An arrow flying through the air. At any given instant, where is it? Stopped or moving? The impossibility of the question is the result of trying to split time and space into an infinitely divisible continuum.

The balance between the linear and the nonlinear is a major challenge for civilization. In the final analysis, it is closely related to the challenge of finding the balance between the conscious and the nonconscious. After all the difference between consciousness and nonconsciousness is precisely that there is very little information in consciousness. It can therefore apprehend only straight lines, having trouble with crooked ones, which contain far too much information.

The tendency of civilization toward linearity is therefore precisely the power of consciousness over nonconsciousness; the power of projection over spontaneity; the power of the gutter over the raindrop. The straight line is the medium of planning, will, and decision. The crooked line is the medium of sensory perception, improvisation, and abandon.

The I is linear; the Me is nonlinear. The social domain, the conversational domain, tends to be linear, unalloyed chatter. The personal domain, the domain of sensory perception, is more able to preserve the nonlinear.

Art seeks out the nonlinear; science the linear. The computer demolishes the difference, because it gives consciousness the ability to convert large quantities of information by machine.

Information society presents a lack of information. For just as there is far too little information in a linear city, there is far too little information in information society—a society where more people’s jobs are performed body, mind, and soul via the low bandwidth of language. Where artisans in the past used to possess vast tacit knowledge of materials and processes and crops, they now have to relate to consciously designed technical solutions presented via computer interface. Sensory poverty is on its way to becoming a major problem in society, provoking a cry for meaning amidst the flow of information. Man has moved down to a lower bandwidth, and he is getting bored. Consciousness is taking man over: The straight line is vanquishing the crooked one, and the amount of information in life is getting too small.

I used to filter many concepts and value judgments through the left brain/right brain metaphor. The more important distinction is what’s conscious and what’s not. CBT, PI, ID, and the like all embody the reductionism and oversimplification of consciousness. “Objective” tests are 100% reductio ad absurdum.

The Sublime

Information is a measure of unpredictability, disorder, mess, chaos, amazement, indescribabilty, surprise, otherness. Order is a measure of the opposite.

Consciousness does not consist of very much information and regards itself as order. It is proud that by discarding information it can reduce all the disorder and confusion around it to simple, predictable laws for the origin of phenomena.

Civilization consists of social and technological organization that rids our lives of information. As civilization has progressed, it has enabled the withdrawal of consciousness from the world.

It has enabled a worldview in which the acknowledged picture of the world is identified with the world; where the map is identified with the terrain; where the I denies the existence of the Me; where all otherness is disclaimed, except in the form of a divine principle; where man can live only if he believes that the otherness is also good.

But consciousness has also reached the age of composure. Through conscious studies of man and his consciousness, it has become clear that man is much more than his consciousness. It has become clear that people perceive far more than consciousness knows; that people do far more than consciousness knows. The simulation of the world about us, which we experience and believe is the world itself, is made possible only through systematic illusions and reductions that result from discarding most of the unpredictable otherness that imbued the world outside us.

Inside us, in the person who carries consciousness around, cognitive and mental processes take place that are far richer than consciousness can know or describe. Our bodies contain a fellowship with a surrounding world that passes right through us, in through our mouths and out the other end, but is hidden from our consciousness.

Consciousness is a wonderful creation, brought about by biological evolution on earth. An eternal awareness, a bold interpretation, a life-giving measure. But consciousness is about to retain composure by appreciating that it does not master the world; that an understanding of simple rules and principles of predictability in the world does not provide the possibility of guessing what the world is like.

Reposted from review in 2002.

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AT&T, shame on you

Our 29-year old son Austin emailed my wife Uta last week from vacation in Hong Kong and Seoul. He couldn’t get any reception on his Android phone.

He wanted to be able to read messages and make emergency phone calls. Wednesday morning Uta went online to look at AT&T international calling plans. The three phones on our plan had worked in the UK, Switzerland, and Italy last year. AT&T’s services had changed since our trips abroad.

Uta called AT&T for further information. An AT&T rep in International Calling told her Austin would not be able to make calls on his phone. “But he has the latest Galaxy,” she explained. Again and again, the rep said international service was not available on that line. My wife said she did not understand. The rep repeatedly said my son would not be able to make international calls from his phone. “I don’t understand. What are you saying?” she asked repeatedly. Finally, when the International Calling representative could not explain further, she hung up and went to the local AT&T store.

A representative at the store looked up our accounts and mentioned international calling plans. Uta said she didn’t want a new plan. austin’s problem is that he was not even receiving calls on his phone. He wanted reception and a way to make pay-per-use calls.

All Austin needed was reception and an option of making pay-per-call calls. Besides, he was on a short trip and that was half over.

The rep advised that Austin remove the battery and put it back in to reboot the phone. Go to settings, check for local providers. Uta emailed Austin, who had already rebooted the phone. Settings showed eight providers. Nonetheless, he was getting no reception.

Thursday morning Uta called the rep at the store. She admitted that this sounded like an AT&T issue, not something wrong with the hardware. She checked with her manager and called back to say Austin’s phone needed expanded international roaming allowance.

All Uta needed to do was call Customer Care and request this free option.

An hour later, Uta received an automated email asking her to call an 800 number. The number was an automated voice telling her how to activate her Go-Phone, requesting her confirmation, and requesting she replace her SIM card. She called the store to ask what was going on. The rep confirmed this was an authentic AT&T mail but had no idea why we’d received it. (Go Phones do not require outside activation.) The rep could not identify who sent the superfluous email.

Uta called Customer Care about the mysterious email. They couldn’t explain it either, but as long as we’re talking could Customer Care help us expand Austin’s international roaming alliance?

Certainly, she was told three times, Customer Care could sell us an international calling plan. No, that’s not what we’re after. By this time, Uta could recite the international calling plan specs better than the AT&T reps. They could not even say whether international calling applied to Hong Kong and Seoul. Some said yes; others said maybe. Customer Care only offered the option of for-fee international calling plans.

Friday, the next day, Uta called Customer Care again. She reached a helpful fellow named Evan. As with every new contact at AT&T, she had to recount the entire story from scratch. AT&T apparently does not document customer calls.

Evan said he would call International Calling and request the “expanded international roaming allowance.” the right person to deal with this while Uta was on the line. Evan turned us over to Kershe Rumph in International Calling. Kershe understood what we were asking for: Expanded international roaming, free, not a new plan. He added the feature to Austin’s line. He said Austin would only need to recycle his phone.

Uta asked if Kershe could switch her line to international roaming, too. Kershe said he would do that and confirm by email. His email the next day mentioned only Austin’s line.

During the call with Kershe Rumph, Uta pointed out that we’d gotten reception overseas last fall. Why did we no longer have international roaming? “Because it has to be added,” she was told. Uta pointed out that we had international service last year. Kershe told her that they only add the service during sweeps of many accounts.

Why did Jay’s iPhone have international roaming but the others not? Uta was told my phone had been automatically updated in a sweep in November 2012.

This is balderdash. In November, I had purchased a new iPhone from Apple. Were our other lines deactivated for international calling at this time? Was neutering our phone retaliation for buying from Apple instead of AT&T? I’ll probably never know.

On Friday afternoon, Austin emailed Uta that his phone was working.

Uta had invested three days learning AT&T’s confusing terminology and retelling the same story over and over.

How does she feel about the experience?

She became very angry when the International Calling guy told her over and over that Austin’s line could not work internationally. What? Why? How is this possible? Again and again, the rep could provide no information.

Here’s a formula for stress: Feeling helpless when encountering stories that are at odds with one another. The feature might cost something or then again it might not. International might include Korea and Hong Kong or then again it might not. Receiving a spurious email without a way to contact the sender and with clearly inappropriate content. Frustration with dealing with an illogical, dysfunctional system.

I did my best to provide an explanation for what might be going on. Half of America’s workforce is disengaged. They don’t care whether they serve the customer or not. Judging from their service level, I suspect AT&T hires more than its share of the disengaged workforce. Also, AT&T either lacks or doesn’t use any form of Customer Relationship Management system.

AT&T people don’t know their products. Their knee-jerk response to service outages is to try to sell another product. How many people do they dupe into buying international calling plans by cutting off the free international call-per-call option and offering a recurring “plan” instead? I will forward a copy of this paper to the FCC to make sure they’re aware of the practice.

Clearly something is off when only one AT&T rep out of half a dozen can fulfill a simple request. This is a failure of leadership. By chance, I happen to have met the head of leadership training for AT&T; we spoke on a panel together. I’ll forward this to him, too. Perhaps leadership training could use this as a case study. AT&T has my permission to use this for those purposes.

My mantra for management is “Delight the customer.” This is not how.

The Divided Mind on RSA

The last three minutes of this RSA Animate on using your whole brain rather than favoring one hemisphere is sheer poetry. One inspiration after another, staccato, overloaded by circuits. My mental movie was nodding in agreement. Yes, yes, yes, right, right on, of course, yes, yes, right, yes.

Start here and then go back to the beginning.

I’d been trying to reconcile Dan Pink’s bi-cameralism and other’s put-downs. The Divided Mind clarifies it.

gift and servant

passion

hallofmirros

berlusconi

gullotine

Steve Hargadon + Jay Cross

Steve Hargadon interviewed me about informal learning yesterday. Steve does his homework and asks great questions.

If you listen to podcasts while exercising, perhaps you’ll enjoy the Audio of Steve letting me amble on for an hour.

A one-hour audio goes against my religion of brevity & less-is-more. However, if you want a painless way to peak into my thinking while hiking or peddling, this may be up your alley.