Saturday, September 25, 2010

27 Books for L&D Folks...

I have listed down a few books that have shaped my thinking over the last one year. I believe they are all very essential reads for today’s learning and development folks. They are not predominantly directly related to learning or instructional design or theory (except for one or two); however, they all helped me to see the larger picture, to understand where workplace learning and training fits in, and why and where change is needed. There are many more that can be added to the list but I will keep that for another post…You can see some of them in the picture of my bookshelf above...
Some of the might seem out of place in a list for L&D folks, but I think it is important to read around a subject to understand the context, and the emerging patterns...

 Sr. #
Instructional Design
Richard Mayer
Workplace Learning

Peter Senge
Workplace Learning

Jay Cross
Workplace learning
The Working Smarter Fieldbook
Jay Cross
Workplace Learning/Training

Jane Bozarth
Knowledge Management
Etienne Wegner, et al.
Knowledge Management/Workplace learning/Innovation/Business
Morten Hansen

Garr Reynolds
Training/Performance Management/HPT

Allison Rossett
Dan Roam
Dan and Chip Heath
Change management/Communication/Self management/Innovation
Dan and Chip Heath
Self management/Change/innovation
Seth Godin
Management/Innovation/21st C thinking
Gary Hamel

Motivation/Change management/Innovation/Performance Management
Daniel Pink
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Sir Ken Robinson
Ken Wilber
Web 2.0/SoMe/Collaboration/Workplace learning
Andrew McAfee
James Surowiecki
W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Howard Gardner
Creativity/Thinking/Mind Maps
Tony Buzan
Network/Web 2.0
Clay Shirky
Network/Web 2.0
Clay Shirky
 Nassim Taleb

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Tweetbook: Save all your Tweets and Favorites...

Inspired by the post TweetBook: Create a PDF diary with all your Tweets by David Hopkins, I went ahead and did just that.

I generated a PDF of all my tweets (of the last one year and that is pretty substantial) as well as one of all my favs. Neat!

sahana2802's Tweet Book

sahana2802's Favorite Tweet Book
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Building learning organizations require a paradigm shift!

We are in the performance business, not the knowledge-gain business. The learning leaders who understand the difference are the ones who succeed.
1. Lead with a performance strategy, not a learning strategy. For far too long we have designed learning approaches to every problem. When a business unit approaches us with a new learning issue, be it technology- or business skill-based, we immediately begin thinking of ways that fall back on traditional approaches such as the classroom, be it virtual or bricks-and-mortar, and e-learning. What if we first considered strategies that enabled knowledge gain, sharing and maintenance in the workplace and then backfilled with the appropriate training to support the gaps that remained?

The above is an excerpt from the article Selling Up, Selling Down by Bob Mosher. He goes straight to the point by emphasizing a need for performance-focused training instead of a knowledge focused one. He also stresses the importance of:
1. Building learning tools that both support and teach.
2. Fostering understanding of performance strategy with front-line managers. 

This article reminded me of Harold Jarche's post, You need the right lever to move an organization. He summarizes Klaus Wittkuhn article on Performance Improvement and writes:

A key concept in the article is that you cannot engineer human performance. Human performance is an emergent property of an organization, and is affected by multiple variables. Therefore Witthuhn suggests to first address the “Steering Elements”. These “ensure that the right product is delivered at the right time to the right place”, and include – Management, Customer Feedback, Consequences, Expectations and Feedback. Once the steering elements have been addressed, then look at the “Enabling Elements” – Management (again), Design, Resources and Support.
Only after the steering and enabling elements (the non-human factors) have been aligned, should we look at work performance. The rationale here is that it is only within an optimized system that we can expect optimal human performance.

Both the ideas, I felt, are closely linked. Just as it is futile to training learners for the sake of learning, it is equally futile to train them if the conditions are not conducive to performance. To build a "learning organization", one that can hope to survive the flux of the future, much more is needed. It will require a mental overhaul on the part of the strategic decision makers and probably a re-hauling of the reward system in an organization.

The mismatch, I believe, happens at least at two levels.

  1. ~The training does not map to the actual performance need and hence does not show result.
  2. ~The context of the performance is not conducive.

The line managers/supervisors responsible for "getting the job done" are not rewarded for showing patience and sustaining learning. They are conditioned to respect the language of productivity, efficiency, resource management, output, and the like. Hence, any time spent away from the "actual" delivery work is effort wasted and not encouraged. OTOH, the employees required to show improvement in performance post a training session do need time to adapt to a new way of doing something. It is that initial extra time that all new approaches require before the sudden spike happens; once it happens, the effect is lasting. 

However, berated by their supervisors for wasting time, the employees soon slip back to the old ways of working with a "that training just didn't work"! attitude. Training gets a bad reputation. Supervisors continue to harass frustrated employees. Productivity remains the same or may dip. The management thinks of further cutting down training cost during the next budget (since it doesn't work anyways!). Training never gets a chance to speak. Frustration is rampant. In the meantime, employees turn to each other for support and to get their daily job done.

The training department and management needs to stretch training to the actual performance by "training" supervisors to support and sustain skill acquisition. Any learning will have a long-term impact only if applied, given the freedom to make errors, reflect, correct, and reapply...This can be expedited with support and mentoring; coaching and peer programming. The supervisors need to be introduced to tools they can use to sustain learning. They need to shift focus from "short term productivity" to long term skill acquisition. However, they also need support. 

Thus, supporting learning must be built into an organization's DNA, into its strategic plan, into its appraisal and feedback system, into the reward system. Leaders and supervisors also need to become mentors and teachers. And that can only happen when the organization undergoes a paradigm shift.

Quoting from Senge:

“Leader as teacher” is not about “teaching” people how to achieve their vision. It is about fostering learning, for everyone. Such leaders help people throughout the organization develop systemic understandings. Accepting this responsibility is the antidote to one of the most common downfalls of otherwise gifted teachers – losing their commitment to the truth. (Senge 1990: 356)
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Blog Book Tour: Social Media for Trainers--stop #9

#SoMe for Trainers: Beating the Forgetting Curve

This is the 9th stop of the Blog Book Tour for Jane Bozarth's new book, Social Media for Trainers. Needless to say, I am extremely proud to be a part of the tour and to have been invited by Jane Bozarth to add my thoughts along with thought-leaders and stalwarts in the field.

Jane Bozarth, in her usual inimitable style, makes the difficult easy. I am not saying SoMe is difficult to grasp or use—but then I am quite an active user and already sold on its advantages. There are many I know for whom SoMe is either incomprehensible or perceived as time and effort wasted. This book addresses the sceptics, the doubting and the uninitiated as well as those experienced in using the tools.

Jane has the rare capacity of inspiring one to actively try out what she is recommending (I had the same feeling when I read e-learning Solutions on a Shoestring), she makes it that simple. This book is a case in a point.

In this book, she “breaks down” the components of each SoMe tool, clarifies when these can be best used, how to use them and, most importantly, why. With her focus on the main tools that have grabbed “global imagination” namely, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and Wikis, Jane Bozarth writes a lucid, eminently readable account of what technology has to offer in terms of Social Media tools and their position in the sphere of learning.
Most importantly, from the perspective of trainers who have been immersed in classroom training for years, Jane adds the “comforting and promising possibilities” of technology use without the alarm of having to throw away all the time-tested methods of training like role plays, debates, post a question, etc. She shows how tools like Twitter and Facebook can enhance these same activities by taking them to a larger audience, making it easier to conduct them, providing feedback at the point of need…

By demonstrating SoMe tools as a natural, positive and much needed evolution and extesnion of the way we do training, and not a radical revolution that requires throwing away of years of accumulated experiences, she ensures that trainers with zero experience in using these tools will also feel comfortable in deploying them, and view them as a means to achieve the end more effectively and engagingly.

Probably one of the most important uses of SoMe is the ease with which it allows a trainer, an organization L&D department, a learning analyst/strategist/consultant include formative and summative evaluations, and “stretch” the course—preventing it from becoming another classroom event that is soon forgotten. How often do we get to know how the learners are faring once a course has been delivered and they have gone back to their work schedule? Hardly ever. Whether as trainers or performance consultants, we never get to know the results of our labor. SoMe can remove that barrier by improving accessibility and engagement. Today, a trainer/ID/L&D director can ask a group of learners on Facebook or Twitter (or any other micro-blogging service that operates within the company firewall if security is an issue) how useful they find the course, what do they like or dislike, which aspects are most relevant to their real work, what could be removed, and so on. 

Imagine the efficacy of such training! Imagine the ROI in this case. There is direct data available to show the impact (or lack thereof) of the training on employee performance. And a training “event” can stretch and evolve into a community of practice, bridging distances and overcoming silos…think about it!!! There are exciting times ahead for trainers. The forgetting curve will may not be able to do its job so effectively with SoMe to deal with.

With tons of examples to get trainers started off in using SoMe for training, this book is a more of a DIY than just a book explain SoMe and its advantages. Examples of how to start, sustain and invigorate discussions in different platforms are discussed in depth. She even adds a tip on how to start a You Tube video at a desired point by adding a code snippet.

Here's an excerpt from the book to give you a feel:
Sentence Stems  One way to help learners manage the 140 - character limit is to provide them with sentence stems — they need only to complete the thought. For example:  “ One thing that concerns me about the new shipping protocol is.  . . .  ”   

GroupTweet  If you want to manage your class as a private unit, a free tool from www  will convert a standard Twitter account into a group space where members can send tweets to everyone in the group using direct messages. When this group account receives a direct message from a group member, GroupTweet converts it into a tweet that all followers can see. New Twitter tools appear all the time, so search the web for other similar products.

Aside: I thought was using Twitter quite effectively…absolutely not said the book (my learning from it rather)!!! There are possibilities I have not even explored. Thanks for the book, Jane and for continuing to share your knowledge, experience and passion.
Next stop: Manish Mohan's Learn and Lead:

An instructional designer and performance consultant, with past experience as a classroom trainer and a long-time facilitator of virtual classes for adult, Japanese learners learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL), I can easily appreciate what Jane writes.
I taught EFL to Japanese learners much before the advent of Twitter or the popularity of Facebook climbed the charts. But we used forums, discussion threads and wikis to communicate, collaborate and evaluate the assignments. Even though we had never seen each other, we managed to create strong bonds that helped us to communicate and collaborate. I can vouch for the efficacy of these modes of learning, if used correctly.
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Organizations as Communities — Part 2

Yesterday, in a Twitter conversation with Rachel Happe regarding the need for organizations to function as communities, I wrote the follow...