Tag Archives: development

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

part 1 of 5

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 those experiences.

These posts offer guidance to managers who want to make learning from experience and conversation more effective. Replacing today’s haphazard approaches with systematic, Continue reading

Yes, I write white papers.

A friend of ten years asked, “You write white papers? I didn’t know you wrote white papers.”

For vendors? To make them look good? To help sell stuff? Yes, yes, yes.

Here’s recent proof, 25 pages on how to implement 70:20:10.

“This paper offers a vision of how management — with the help of learning and development (L&D) professionals — can make learning from Continue reading

What Universities Must Learn About Social Networks

What Universities Must Learning About Social Networks

By 

Increasingly, businesses are looking to more social approaches to employee learning and development. Higher education institutions must capitalize on this shift.

Co-written with Chris Sessums | Director of Educational Research, Internet Time Lab

THE ISSUE IS NOT whether you are going to become a socially networked university but how soon.

Businesses are being transformed into social businesses.

Social business is the flavor of the day in the C-suites of the Fortune 500. A social business is one where all the members of the corporate ecosystem (employees, customers, partners, and customers) network with one another to delight their customers

IBM describes socially networked corporations as the next step in the overall evolution of business. Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company say collaboration and collective intelligence are the engines of innovation. The first question from new hires, accustomed to doing their homework and living their lives with friends on their networks is “Where’s the social network? Where do I post my profile? How do I search for information?”

Networks are the glue that connects us. No one works alone. It takes a team to get things done. No one learns alone either. Others show us the way, share their know-how, and help us make meaning of the world. We rely on colleagues and social networks to separate the signal from the noise; their advice makes our experiential learning productive. Collaboration is the key to success in both working and learning; they usually take place simultaneously.

The social business bandwagon has arrived and companies are installing Chatter, Jive, Connections, Socialcast, Yammer, Socialtext, Sharepoint, HootSuite, and more to replace outmoded intranets and improve the way they transact business. McKinsey & Company reports that implementing social business creates:

  • Improved business performance (profit, productivity, margins, etc)
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Stronger outcomes from knowledge intensive work
  • Easier methods of capturing and retaining institutional knowledge
  • Better awareness about business opportunities and colleagues needing help
  • Richer cross-department contamination and collaboration
  • Reduced email traffic and information overload
  • Cheaper and quicker mechanisms to connect colleagues, find and reuse knowledge
  • Improved cross-departmental communication
  • Reduced travel expenses
  • Facilitating the emergence of collective social capital and limiting duplication of effort
  • Stronger employee engagement and motivation
  • Increased satisfaction of partners and suppliers
  • Reduced supply chain costs
  • Lower on-boarding and talent retention costs
  • New levels of business agility and faster cycle times

Social and informal learning are the hottest trends in corporation learning and development. Social networks empower workers to engage in self-determined “pull” learning. People learn their jobs while doing their jobs. They learn more in the coffeeroom that in the classroom. Some training departments see this as learning being out of control; workers flock to it for the same reason.

Many companies rely on Facebook, Twitter, and other consumer applications to connect their people. Others will never do that for reasons of security, lack of the ability to customize, limited feature sets, or the risk of relying on a wildcard like Mark Zuckerberg.

The question you have to face is not whether or not the university needs to provide the social networks that can supplement our educational offering whille at the same time bringing us together to operate more effectively.

Universities have a mandate. Most students, faculty, and administraters use social networks extensively outside of school. They will use them with your blessing or without it. Mobile devices route around IT; amateurs can bid software slaves do their will.

Some schools are comfortable encouraging students, faculty, and adminstratoin to use consumer apps on the open web. Most universities we’ve talked with are concerned about their responsibilities protecting students. But beyond making alternative social network connections available, a school with no internal networks is pushing its consitutents out into the street. It’s like hosting a teenage party. You don’t enjoy being chaperone for a messy event but if you don’t like the thought of the kids partying down at the beach on their own.

A handful of universities have adopted some aspects of web 2.0 but none have taken it all the way. Students everywhere joke about pre-historic systems. What universities need to do is make up their minds about the inevitable and get on with it.

Universities will transmogrify into networked universities.

Students, faculty, and staff share numerous benefits of social networks. Furthermore, universities need to become networked to meet the needs of businesses seeking training. Their employees already know how to use the networks and will adapt better to the learning experience.

By introducing social networks, corporate students will be able to organize study groups, share notes, and better prepare for exams and projects by using these networks to foster peer-to-peer collaboration.

It isn’t just to the benefit of students, though. Faculty use social networks to support communication and information sharing among committees, teams, and research projects. Institutional staff use social software to improve communication with students for both recruitment and retention purposes. Development offices use social networks to stay in touch with alumni and support them with news, information, and networking opportunities.

Each of these areas of the university may benefit from sharing next practices, facilitating cross-department collaboration, facilitating collaboration among departments or teams, streamlining business processes, building support for strategic initiatives, and reducing internal email.

Practical considerations.

Universities face many of the same pressures to embrace social networks as corporations. It simplifies and streamlines the transactional aspects of administration, it encourages open communication and shared decision-making, and it provides a learning ecosystem that enables students to co-learn in order to supplement the formal aspects of their education.

If you’re with us thus far, you next question is “Now what?” You have four or five options for turning on your social network.

Here are some suggestions that draw on Chris’s experience developing and purchasing university-level educational software and Jay’s work with corporations using social networks to implement experiential learning.

Don’t boil the ocean. Start with one team, unit, or department with a crying need and potential social network champions. Build on that success to inspire other groups to join the effort.

While institutions could get help from their LMS vendor, we advise they don’t. Social networks do different jobs than a Learning Management System (LMS). As social learning began to create a buzz, LMS vendors have responded by tacking blogs and microblogs (tweet streams) onto their registration and delivery systems. A bloated LMS suffers the same downside as a Swiss Army Knife. It may be handy to carry a leather punch and Phillips screwdriver in your pocket, but if you plan to do a lot of cutting, you’ll be better off with a single-purpose knife.

While it may be easy to develop a rudimentary social networking system in-house, it is advisable for higher education institutions to bring in a contractor who can develop a specific type of network and protect its security and growth.

Beware of any supplier who is not dedicated to building social networks. The tools of the social web are in constant flux. It takes a dedicated software provider to keep up with evolving user interface conventions and emerging technologies. Activity streams, a “river of news,” are the lifeblood of today’s social networks. Activity streams were virtually unknown until Twitter popularized the format a few years ago. “Favoriting” popular content so the cream can rise to the top caught on after Facebook made it de rigeur. In the last six months, mobile access has become essential. Six months hence, HTML5 will be an absolute requirement. Keeping up is a nightmare unless network software is your primary line of business.

Don’t use software developed by a faculty member (unless you’re Carnegie Mellon, Duke, or maybe Stanford.) The ease of assembling software applications from plug-and-play modules and checkboxes has led numerous faculty members to build social network systems in-house. This is like building a factory with Erector Set. Relying on such “free” software is penny-wise and pound foolish. Homebrew software is difficult to maintain, and often breaks when volumes increase. Keeping everything humming may require access to the author.

Choose the tool/application based on the types of relations/relationships you want to foster and build, not on the features of the tool. Prepare simple guidelines for implementation so that participants know what’s expected of them.

Very much like the continuous changes in social network software, network security is a day to day concern. Security experts work 24/7 to keep a step ahead of crackers trying to crack into their systems. Student and faculty privacy are sacrosanct. It’s vital to have pros lock the doors shut and be ever vigilant. We’re amazed when we find elegant software written by faculty that misses something so fundamental as privacy protection.

You have to weigh the values and culture of your institution to decide whether to provide a protective “walled garden” or the rough-and-tumble of the social internet.

Generally, we suggest: Design for short and long term goals. Measure gap closings, not simply engagement. Define clear objectives. Solve nagging problems. Pay attention to relationships. Get leaders involved. Create rewards and incentives for participation.

Where do you turn for your in-house net?

Sign up for one of the commercial social networks solutions like Jive, Connections, Socialcast, Yammer. Downsides: can be very pricey. Also, someone’s going to have to map your terminology and ways of doing things. These packages generally start life as a blank canvas. Do a pilot test with a moneyback guarantee to get a feel for things. Pick an area where communication has been a major stumbling block and there are enthusiastic

Several groups are preparing social networks built particularly for universities with academic and administrative starter kits already on board. these are start-up companies, so you have to put up with some rough edges but in return you can probably make a good deal. one of the more mature efforts, San Francisco-based GoingOn, has installations in this area, that area, whatever. A lot more of these will be popping up.

We both understand Moore’s Law: everthing gets faster, better, and cheaper at an exponential rate. If it hasn’t fully sunk in, Moore’s Law is what made you feel stupid when you recently bought a computing gadget, only to find a faster model for less money a short while after.

Open source “social network in a box” software is under development that will cost less than a nice learther sofa. That’s a one-time fee, not a subscription. Just as you shouldn’t avoid buying new technology, because there will always be a better and less costly alternative on the market in the future, don’t hold off experimenting today. You might as well start reaping benefits now.

 

The Evolllution

Let's get Agile

“On February 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, seventeen people met to talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground and of course, to eat. What emerged was the Agile Software Development Manifesto.” Source

On January 6, 2001, at a mountaintop ski resort in Stoos, Switzerland, another group is meeting to talk, ski, and discuss how to make the philosophy underpinning Agile a management practice beyond the realm of software development. Steve Denning, one of our ringleaders, wrote “We will be searching to see what can be done to create and energize organizations in ways that make them better for the organizations themselves, better for the people doing the work, better for those for whom the work is being done, and better for society as a whole and to do so on a sustained basis.”

The practice of management is due for a makeover. Today’s organizations are not productive; their workers are not fulfilled. In many situations, agile management seems more appropriate than command & control. If this is how to make the world better, I’m all for it. Hence, I’m headed to a Swiss mountaintop.

What was it that made that session at Snowbird more than ten years ago so effective? I called Ward Cunningham to talk about the session. Here’s a brief excerpt from our conversation.

Related links

Ward Cunningham on Agile: 10 Years After

Agile Software Manifesto

 

How Business Must Change — in 30 seconds


Last month, Rede Globo television in Rio interviewed me for half an hour. I covered the waterfront: radical changes in how business is conducted, social learning, informal learning, problems with schools, and economic development. Today I received a link to a broadcast which includes an excerpt of what I said. Globo cut my message to 25 seconds!

30 minutes is an impossible length for most videos. Who has that kind of time to invest? 10 minutes is too long for most videos. I’ve promoted the concept of video snips, something shorter than a video clip, maybe 3 minutes.

Twenty-five seconds feels too short to get the message across, but I’ll see how many hits this video snippett gets.

Rio

Yesterday I flew from San Francisco to Atlanta.
Rio
Aspen trees in Colorado

…and then to Rio de Janeiro. I’m looking forward to ten days in Brasil.

Rio

Rio Rio

This city feels good. A broad beach is but a ten-minute walk from my hotel. Trees line the promenade. The weather is good: many stores open right onto the sidewalk.

Rio

I struck up an acquaintance with a local couple who are here to attend Rock in Rio, a two-day rock concert. Beto’s a businessman; Greciele teaches geography. We sampled local beverages and had dinner together.

Rio

Rio

This feels like an ideal spot for contemplating the future of management development, my current obsession.

 

Customer Spring

I’m on vacation and have reduced my daily internet diet of posts, tweets, and email to ten minutes or less a day.


Today in Bergen, Norway

Nonetheless, this great post by Dion Hinchcliffe, Converging on the Social Enterprise, made it through my filters and rattled my cage. In this, and a related post, Dion describes Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff saying that customers and society are social, but corporations are not. The widening gap may lead to rebellion à la Arab Spring; he calls it corporate spring.

My research into what front-line managers need to be doing in the 21st century workplace has led me to precisely the same conclusion. Two weeks ago I wrote our advisory board that I foresaw a customer spring:

Business organizations are lagging reality. The 21st century is radically different from what came before and yet most businesses act as if nothing has changed.

Half of the adult population of the United States uses social media, up from 5% a scant six years. 750 million people converse on Facebook. Yet most corporations are  reluctant to “take the risk” on social media.

Managers and professionals do daily battle with rigid systems that don’t flex with the times, strain under mountains of trivia, and rely on obsolete practices that serve neither the customer or the company.

Our research suggests that business in general may be facing a “Customer Spring.” Like the Arab Spring, customers who are weary of being dominated by unresponsive corporate regimes will rise in protest and topple the old order.

My colleagues and I have identified 21 optimal behaviors to enable front-line managers and professionals to prosper in 21st century organizations, e.g. delight customers, nurture serendipity, and re-model. Many of these performance drivers won’t work in 20th century-style, a-social businesses.

When our research morphed into a fresh approach to managerial development, should we even offer it to organizations that don’t have a clue about social business?

It wouldn’t feel right selling a product to a company that is not going to get much in return beyond a brief moment of feeling hip. Perhaps we should be content to provide the first management and leadership development programs geared to the social business environment.

Seeing how I’m on vacation, I’m not going to worry about this until returning home in a few weeks. Tomorrow we’re off to Denmark.


Really old-style business: Hanseatic-era warehouses in Bergen

Welcome to the 21C Leadership Project

The 21C Leadership Project is creating an on-ramp for hands-on managers and professions to adopt the behaviors that will make them and their organizations successful in the 21st century workplace. We are developing written materials, shooting video, identifying supporting sources, and putting performance support tools on the web.

Everyone involved in conceptual worked is a leader. Our goal is to help leaders at all levels adopt and use these practices:

  1. Shoulder responsibility. Take charge of yourself and for getting things done on the job. Bootstrap; lead yourself. Drucker said the next challenge was “managing yourself.” Make a commitment to your own personal development. Be all that you can be. Figure out your personal knowledge management strategy. Build an effective network. Agency. This is personal leadership.
  2. Don’t hesitate. Do it now. Don’t mistake thinking for action. Close the knowing/doing gap. Always know the next step. Actions speak louder than words. Do what you can to make things happen. Excuses get you nowhere; action is required. Take charge of the situation. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Change the things you can. Agency. Make the world and the workplace better.
  3. Manage agilely. Use self-organizing groups to get things done; that involves daily meetings, rapid prototyping, iterative development, living by customer feedback, extreme flexibility, short deadlines, sprints to accomplishment, and multidisciplinary cooperation. Originally confined to software development, agile management is being adopted for more general projects.
  4. Delight customers. This is the new goal for business generally. “Good enough” is no longer good enough. Delighting customers includes exceeding expectations, forming meaningful relationships, and destroying crap like pushy telemarketing and mass advertising. This is what The Cluetrain Manifesto called for and it’s the new field of competition. Zappos, JetBlue, Apple. The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers….
  5. Focus on results. If it’s not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem. Make the mission explicit. Cut bureaucracy, busywork, redundancy, politics, unnecessary costs, and other obstacles. Protect your margins. Understand the organization’s goals and what it takes to accomplish. them. Know the organization’s history and culture. Live by the organization’s core values.
  6. Make sound decisions. Make projections and assess probabilities. (Predict the future.) Systems thinking. Apply business acumen. Balance the pros and cons.  Leverage time. The large once ate the small; now the fast devour the slow. The pace of time has accelerated. Winners make things happen sooner. Time-to-accomplishment is the primary metric of performance. Opportunity cost is huge. Balance short and long term perspectives.
  7. Make things better. Change or die. Innovation is now everyone’s job, not just something that’s stuck in R&D. It’s continuous process improvement. Ofttimes, it involves transplanting an idea or concept from one domain into an entirely new area. Encourage fresh thinking at all levels. Change is all there is. Welcome it, take advantage of it, don’t fight it. (You’ll lose.) Be open to possibility. Life is beta. Remain flexible. Probe, sense, respond. Perspective.
  8. Generate enthusiasm. Instill passion. Instead of downer performance reviews, follow Dan Pink’s Drive formula. Optimism. Esprit de corps. Celebrations. Show linkage to greater purpose. Help people flourish. The positive psychology movement has moved on from happiness to a fuller concept that includes accomplishment and feeling meaningful as well as positive affect and cheerfulness.
  9. Nurture serendipity. Be open, explore, be alert, try hard — and often an unexpected breakthrough results. Make time for reflection. Google’s 20% innovation time fits here. (or maybe the innovation driver gets folded into this one). Take your eye off the ball. All work and no play… Trust is the glue that brings people together. It occurs on several levels. There’s ethics — trusting someone to be sincere and do the right thing morally. And there’s competence — trusting that a worker knows how to get the job done. This is a two-way street: being deemed trustworthy by others as well as knowing others well enough to trust them. Letting someone know you trust them empowers them to act. Ties in to values of openness, authenticity, and narrating the work.
  10. Coach courageously. Provide specific, constructive feedback. Conduct frequent one-to-ones, co-creating solutions. Inspire others to greatness. Challenge people with stretch assignments. Tell it like it is. Be open to bad news. Be transparent. Courageous conversation.
  11. Commune & collaborate. Individuals don’t create value; groups of individuals do, and they do so by collaborating (co-labor), that is, working with one another. Think teams. Net-Work (work the net). Understand and exploit the power of connections. This is where we address social business, making connections, social network analysis, web 2.0 tools, and so forth. Get tech-savvy. Building and participating in communities of people with shared interests. Shifting responsibility and power from hierarchies to interest groups. Share what you know.
  12. Learn voraciously. Learning enables work. Increasing your capabilities, your repertoire, enables you to tackle more a greater challenges, to play a higher game, to add more value, to lead a more fulfilling life. Bring in social, co-creation, informal. (This one, like most of the drivers, has an individual and a group component. The group aspect is nurturing an ecology for learning.) Encourage conversation. Ask questions.
  13. De-stress. Chronic stress kills performance. Robert Sapolski (Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers) is the source on this. TED. Root out fear, have a solid network to turn to, etc. Lots of advice out there on this one. At the same time, be healthy: sleep, exercise, meditate, don’t overindulge. Manage crises to help others avoid stress.
  14. Make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not daring enough. Change happens at the edges, out of your comfort zone. To make more progress, fail faster. Similarly, encourage others to push the envelope. Praise lessons learned and experimentation; don’t punish attempts that don’t work out. Eliminate fear. Reward risk-taking.
  15. Tell great stories. Stories carry culture. Narrative is more powerful than any other prose. It’s a vital skill for influencing behavior. Communicate a compelling vision.
  16. Conduct kick-ass meetings. Most meetings in organizations are a waste of time. They are demoralizing, over-long, set up wrong, etc. Group graphics practices belong here, too.

This list — and everything on this site — is beta. This is where we’re building the project. Please add your thoughts and comments.

Re-imagining the Book

Background

For the past two years, I have been writing and publishing an unbook entitled Working Smarter. Six versions have been published in that time, the latest being The Working Smarter Fieldbook 2011. Unbooks are printed on demand; they change when the author has something new to say. By definition, unbooks are in perpetual beta.

Several months ago I decided to write a book about working smarter for managers and executives. I thought I’d be able to do this by changing the voice of the Fieldbook. A friend of mine who has published numerous books sent the Fieldbook to his editor, a PhD English grad in India. Through her and my efforts, we chopped the Fieldbook from 400+ to 200 pages. It was an improvement, but it didn’t go far enough. The book remained choppy, disjointed, and repetitive. It was too beta.

These pages document the progress of my thinking about the book. It’s obviously a work in progress. And it ends up not being a book at all.

 

Recognizing a problem

Weekend before last I attended Overlap, an annual retreat for meta-designers. Our opening exercise was to draw a cartoon that explained a problem we were working on. Here’s mine. Permit me to explain.

1. I’d been writing and re-writing the unbook.

2. I realized that the perpetual beta concept was partly my ADD at work. The book jumps around because my focus jumps around. The book wasn’t going where I wanted it to go.

3. I’d like to enlist others in the development on the new book. This will take organization, strong design, collaboration, and artistry.

4. Creating the new book raises some interesting issues. Most managers don’t read books; they gather information on the web. eBooks are overtaking printed books. Should I design the book for print (i.e. by chapter) or for web (i.e. hyperlinked)? What format is best for what content (think iPad and smartphone)?

 

Suggestions on design approaches

In the next session at Overlap, groups of half a dozen people each drew and described an idea where we were looking for help. I asked “What’s the optimal process for creating a book/ebook for managers? What design considerations?” I received these responses:

  • Design with intentional gaps in the knowledge of the book to encourage high bandwidth communication might be fatal. Semantics as organizational triggers.
  • Individualize…maybe not all the content, but “write it” to them somehow. (Inscription/preface/cover design). A design consideration. Their own microblog for note taking, feedback, questions to mentors.
  • How do you motivate people to re-read? Consider collaborative writing. The optimal manager book would not offer recipes but rather ways to explore and discover relevant ones and how to adapt them to your personal needs. Instead of success stories stories about how that exploration and search happened and what wisdom was gained.
  • Concise and clear directions for actionable change. What would the content look like on different time horizons? With different storytellers? Can the book be “read” in different ways?
  • Focus on enabling different choices and options for the reader. If you can empower the manager to have a sense of ownership while he/she reads, then the lessons will feel more personal.

Ah ha! This was a conceptual breakthrough for me.

My objective was not to produce a book for people to read; it was to spur change agents to take action.

We reported back to the larger group (about 50 of us) and proposed projects we’d like to tackle

Boiling it down to a poster

Half a dozen of us (different folks than in the previous exercise) decided to tackle the issue of how to re-invent books that will lead to meaningful action. Our challenge was to prepare a poster to share with the rest of the group. We talked for a long while, making sketches individually to illustrate our points, before ever tackling the poster.

We discussed things like:

  • the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve and the need for reinforcement
  • how academic publishing is broken, with a single author on a pedestal
  • the need to serve self-interest, use emotion
  • giving conversation starters, just enough to practice
  • incorporating visuals, maps, cartoons, ease of access
  • social interaction
  • information nuggets
  • zig zag board, Osterwalder’s business process generation

My summary at this point:

I’ve been preaching that action is the measure of learning, not knowing. Knowing something but not doing something about it is sterile. I realized I was setting the same goal for books. Reading is not the end-goal, it’s a stepping stone to getting things done.

We collaboratively created this poster:

 

After we presented our concept to the larger group, it seemed to me that we’d milked this concept as much as we were going to be able to at Overlap, so I joined another project (developing a process for conducting kick-ass meetings). I left it to “the boys in the back room” to take the next steps. I slept on it for two nights.

A fresh take on my new book for managers

I looked back at lists of potential content I’d drawn up several weeks earlier. Typical topics were how people learn, learning as a process, courses are dead, reinforcement, social learning, wikis and networks, etc. These were topics I had previously written about. They lacked a call to action.

Overlap ended and I headed to another retreat, this one in Asheville, North Carolina. At the airport, I perused the best sellers at the Hudson News bookstore. As always, there were several books on sales. This planted a seed. Business readers don’t have time to read or reflect. They aren’t very good at converting theory into practice. They won’t take the time to generalize big-picture lessons into specific actions. They want quick take-aways.

I realized that my new book needs to start with the end-state, e.g. higher sales. From there, the book can delve into ways to do that, for example Dare2Share, the SUN Learning Exchange, accessing just-in-time tips via Twitter, mobile podcasts, Cisco’s communities of practice, and so forth. Then on to the next topic. The participant (no longer just a reader) could take what they wanted and slam it into action.

Over breakfast before my flight, I jotted down thirty additional business topics that have natural learning solutions, for example feeding the talent pipeline, improving morale and lowering turnover, improving customer service, leapfrogging competitors, keeping everyone on the same page, not re-inventing the wheel, aligning with core values, developing managers and leaders, cross-skilling the workforce, personal development and growth, doing more with less, helping others learn, adopting good/next practices, and even improving the results of training. Within self-development, there are such things as leading better meetings, becoming a more effective speaker, improving one’s memory, being more persuasive, managing projects well, and writing to the point. These range from low-level how-to things like job aids to big-picture items like implementing strategy. There are doubtless many more topics.

Decisions

Before the retreat began, I met with three friends to plan how we would work together to create the non-book or whatever it would be called.

Non-fiction books printed on paper are a dying art form. I created some personas of potential readers; few of them read books. We are not creating a book. I began to think that we are developing a body of knowledge that would appear in many forms:

Many participants at the North Carolina event were intrigued what the new non-book is going to look like.

After nine days of brainstorming and talking with others, I found myself focusing on organizing the Body of Knowledge. It has grown to incorporate feedback loops and community involvement. It’s expanding by the minute.

The structure of the Body of Knowledge has shifted. Now it is made of calls to action, performance support, exercises, and tools. A 3-D matrix is teasing out descriptions of potential content for prioritization.

On the flight home to San Francisco yesterday, I began drafting the prospectus for developing the alternative to the book. It’s turning out to be an alternative to training, traditional learning, and management development as well.

What on earth does one call a new species?

For now, we’re using shorthand to describe the overall project. A name for the category will emerge down the road.

We have launched the 21C project.

21C: The Prospectus

“We are tackling an immense challenge: conceptualizing the optimal ways for organizations to work in the network age, coming up with the replacements for the principles of scientific and industrial management we’ve lived with for the past two hundred years, and creating organizational ecosystems to bridge the knowing/doing gap and imbed new behaviors.”

“Picasso said, ‘I do things I do not know how to do in order to learn how to do them.’ The Internet Time Alliance and TULSER are leading the charge but we won’t be successful without thought partners to shape the vision, corporations to provide reality tests, co-creators to design fresh approaches, and implementors to put things in place. Our target is emergent. We welcome your participation in 21C. Your questions will frame the issues we  need to address. Please join the conversation.” (Details will follow. Comment or ping me if you want to be in on this.)

This morning

I opened Twitter and spied a link to Post-Artifact Links and Publishing. There must be something in the air….

It's all about working smarter


My work helping clients work smarter generally involves informal learning, collaboration, knowledge-sharing, organization development, and nurturing learning ecosystems. I rely on concepts from design, psychology, consumer marketing, network theory, social science, and media. I work with these disciplines because that’s where I have experience. However, they’re only the tip of the working smarter iceberg.

Working Smarter is a holistic approach to doing business.

An article by Jonah Lehrer in today’s Wall Street Journal describes the impact of the color of workplace walls on performance. People in red-walled rooms were “much better at skills that required accuracy and attention to detail, such as catching spelling mistakes or keeping random numbers in short-term memory.” People in blue rooms “did far better on tasks requiring some imagination, such as coming up with creative uses for a brick or designing a children’s toy.” I’ve noted before that people who work in yellow-walled rooms are more optimistic and happy — and therefore more productive.

Does this mean interior design could be a factor in working smarter? Sure.

Jack Welch has said, “Getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy.” People are most productive when they’re creating lots of value doing things they like and are good at. Is slotting people into the best jobs for them working smarter? Sure.

Business organizations are undergoing a grand convergence. Work and learning are becoming one and the same. Smart companies don’t send workers away for training; they enable them to learn in the course of work. Learning well is working smarter.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe,” wrote John Muir. He was writing about nature, but the same holds true for the human side of enterprise. The “people disciplines” of organization development, talent management, training, and management development are all interlinked. You can’t do one without impacting the others. Who cares? It’s all just working smarter.