Sunday, August 29, 2010

Content Fragmentation: Spend time on Reading than Surfing

Content is fragmented across so many sites and we end up spending more time surfing than reading on web. When we are connected, we always seek more avenues for same content than read up the book. Still, I bet that books are the best friend that you share an intimate personal time one on one to come out afresh, soulful, moved and relished even in a busy daily stressed out day.

Content Fragmentation is a reality in connected world. We end up consolidating content through a period, that spawns multiple days without a productive work. Most aggregator sites have tapped into this potential, yet the options among them (Mashable, Alltop, Google Reader, etc) make us compete to shuttle between them and digress from real reading. We will soon be competing for time in selecting devices than performing tasks that needs to get done.

 e-Learning Planet is a great example. A good repository to emulate for an inclusive learning culture in social world that can be adapted by organizations within their intranets.  An inclusive culture to mesh courses from various sources is required to realize benefits of e-Learning in your organization.

e-Learning initiatives focus on content threading and learning path creation adds more value and weight to an individual and corporate training programs. The individuals going through a prescribed learning program adaptive to their goals adds more weight and saves time. e-Learning programs hence need to contain an inventory of sources of relevant and interesting content HAND PICKED from various sources and made available inline. I foresee Instruction Design practice take on a "pedagogic collation" role (pick courses and address pedagogic intent for delivery) that helps in achieving a good Personal learning experience (PLE) and allows to Measure Performance Goals (MPG). Technologies can find related content, but it requires a good coach to sift them and arrange them for an energizing reading experience.

How else have you overcome surfing fragmented content and pushed yourself to serious read ? Would wish to learn from you through the comments section.

Agents, adoption, attraction, patrons

After a sale, after a delivery, do we care if the results, be it product, services are useful?
We rely on users to let us know problems through customer care. That allows a safe deduction that there are interaction points with our delivery (service, products). Isnt it a sad theory to get usage stats and qualitative feedback.

Idea cellular, pune circle has a nice example. After receiving the payment they call up to inform that they have received the payment. The way they are trained to start and close, although mechanical by some call center folks is well meant. They some times call to ask feedback on service and what more we might like to consume. Not required at all. As long as service is uninterrupted i am a happy customer. But happy customers are not necessarily buyers.
To buy, your clients need to be patrons, not just happy.

If you need conversions, mine more opportunities, you need to become agent of patron businesses. Many call it evangelism, the real usp is to have agents who can tell and tour with the client on - why are you spending money here? What are you achieving in solutions vs efforts/schedule/cost when and where your programs are finding takers and for what reasons they click with users.

Agents make adoption a success and are the key to attract patrons.

Then a true learning agent is not your course or boss,  but the most liked person in the group for having delivered and attracted great results. Seek the learning agents for learning programs to be success.


Cheap is never a selling point.
Cost perception is. 
Feel of quality is.

Attention to customer helps.
Engagements  at peer levels gets you a favor.

Response centricity with specifics gets you confidence.
Getting from happy to patronizing clients is the peak. 

Affordance to a product or service is always not a function of purse strings and needs.
The desire to work with, expect and the mental price tuning for the expectation is the affordance point for business to take place.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Repetition is key for a successful learning practioner

Going back again and again lets us learn and perform better. No greater example for an effective application of learning is possible without this key trait.

This is single most advice that all artists (e.g. musicians) are unanimous in passing it to aspiring talents.

My dad made me and my sister read out loud minimum 3 times every paragraph and then asked us to write down what sticks in our mind. We used to think he is buying time as he was tasked by our Mom to keep us off her when she was busy.

Be it your time tracking tool, planner, notes, books, they earn value when you return and use them every day. The more familiar you use them, the more repetitive you utilize them, they enhance and deliver better value. Passing it along is highest form of repetition in that it allows more people to resonate and rhyme. This allows teams to thrive and jive together. That is why sharing and passing along books is a trait practiced by closed powerful communities to enhance and increase their resonating views wield power.

Same with your learning programs. Return back to them consistently daily and be in constant touch with them to see the results flowing through.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Success begets Success needs a Human Value

It should be Success begets Scale begets Success to achieve human potential.

This can span a lot of arguments around how scaling leads to a faster fall, a deep nose dive and the old lessons taught to us that we should be guarded against all possible eventualities before taking extreme steps, baby steps are the best way to be cozy on a rainy day etc. Yes, lots of them above are true. But they will eventually happen even if you don't scale. And believe it or not, they happen faster in absence of scale and worst is, the existence is erased without a trace. Sample the following non-scale conditions for your own check:
  1. Being the most experienced in one skill and/or loyal person doesn't guard you against lay off in current corporate/political context.

  2. Being content with managing your expenses based on a fixed one-source income does not save you from heavy expenses that is inevitable or a splurge because heart wanted it.

  3. Being a highly profitable unit with flattened revenues is a valid case to sell-off than to invest and grow the business more.
Getting to scale is the first motto for success. ...And that is why you should get small successes first but set sights to improve scale in same event and time. When you deliver an order of say 10K, you should prepare your team to take on 50K project and set sights to get even higher order. After 50K, it should be a 100K, 500K, and then in millions and billions till the strains appear and need it to be broken down to grow yet again.

If success can get success, all hard workers should get more and more success. However we realize that hard workers get more work while smarter lot get ahead. Well, smart lot is not smarter as you think. Few things they do differently are:

1. Broadcast Success: On Time. It is a sacrilege to let go of opportunity to congratulate and thank people immediately on success. Waiting for opportune moment of some things to happen is going to take away the zing.
2. Keep open Channels: They open multiple communication links. With Twitter, Face book, news letters, thought cards, magazines - print and digital, advertisements, they open doors to potray good things. There are lot of people who are better than you.

3. Get to your community: This is an old living being trait.We never venture individually until the odds and pressure forces us to move on. We always seek friends and family to be around. Same applies to professionals. Irrespective of your company, be aligned to your community. Your good will becomes your asset in your organization. Never though, use your community for personal gains. They will be only there till you belong there. Few easy way to be with your community will be:

3.1. Join your Alumni.

3.2 Make a donation to a public cause.

3.3 Join a conversation you are passionate about.

4. Keep connections active: A face to face or telphonic call goes a long way to keep your consituency alert to you. Being consistently active in place you choose to be is more important than a heavy work out, mad aficionado for a short time and then going to long stillness.

5. Reach out to increase density in their sphere of influence: Success gets to scale when you increase the network you work with. The more people who know you, becomes a selling point to who you are and your business. "Developing business is building networks".

A small set back if avoided to fix and address will lead to multiple failures. My colleague told me that failure as a word has many synonyms. He was mentioning how a service line got associated with such a perception and how it has become a bottle neck in exciting internal stakeholders to make a sale. No one says failure in straight terms. They always cite events to mean failure.

When you measure success, it is the above 5 points that you should care. Building human rapport and spreading the network is the important success criteria.

How have you succeeded today ?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Misunderstanding Andragogy

One of Adult Learning principles is that they learn when situations are practical and problem centered. No problem with this principle, but  to address the problem, the solution described is to allow creation of learning materials that provide for direct application of the new information.

But what is the point? Aren't we forgetting that the best part of our lives were spent in doing activities that aided in learning ? How can we eliminate the naturalization of this learning with a just factual presentation ?

I strongly wish to put forth hypothesis that "Adults too wish to learn through activities". They need to be as much simple as kids play. The look and feel (colors, handles, shapes) need to be as much intuitive and attractive as a kids toy. The activities need not be a real world activity. It can still be arranging of few blocks, clicking to move pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, etc and embed learning in them. The true learning happens when learning is shared/explained or sitting in a peer teaching session.

e-Learning of yore, relied on hyper text medium of clicks and taking you to the information you want. Look around at cool apps you get during searches and surfing the web. Any site, feature, functionality, content that gets you hooked is a cool learning activity that you need to adapt in your e-Learning program.

It could be the "Like" feature in Facebook, RT or DM feature of twitter with quick thoughtful posts, pinging a friend in Orkut/Wave and carrying a conversation. Or it could be the Note Taking Feature, copying the content to a pin up board, Adding more references and linkages related to content. None of these have any direct application to their real world problem. But they do allow for adults to mature in handling such problems and guiding more followers to the correct approaches.

Would you support me in this thinking?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mental Chasm: The Need for Coaches

Necessity to learn is to fill in gaps. It is known by many names:
  1. Curiosity
  2. Interest
  3. Willing to Learn
  4. Not easy to understand
  5. Doing it for first time
  6. Have heard about it but now seeing it real
  7. Would love to play with it
  8.  What is next and so on...
In short, effective learning and good coaches seeks to bridge the current mental chasm and create new ones. It is not to tie more knots in existing mental chains.

In every single opportunity, learning manifests itself when you see them as discrete entities. Laying the entities as events on a timeline can get you to realize the meaning within the discrete entities. The earlier entities only help to identify the current failings and to quickly address the new chasm (current problem). Unfortunately, we reverse the equation and flip side to learning happens: We tie the entities into mental chain and perceive then as discrete in time.

"Time is and will always remain Analogous".

It happens all the time and we miss the learning potential. When you seek to provide a fresh solution, we often get rebuffed. "This is how we did in past. Conform to the practice" or similar messages gain credo.  ("I did this and this and this. Suggest you repeat the same").

Isn't it a simpleton thinking to state that the current game can be won with last successful plan? Rather, wouldn't it be prudent to look at current game as a discrete entity on a timeline, identify the earlier event (success) on the same timeline, quickly identify the new areas for learning, and immediately put them to practice to trump the opponents? This is what game coaches are expected to do:
  1. Observe the current game from sidelines,
  2. Seek answer to the chasm about what the opponents know about his team and plan,
  3. Change and apply a new tactic to surprise and over power the opponents.
The opponents, if they have their earlier understanding/learning in their mental chain, will fail to realize the change and hence the chasm does not get created for them to learn effectively. The result is missed chances, blown out mistakes, avoidance of the routes to success.

Have we, as e-Learning coaches given in to the mental chain errors of clients or resisted avoided creating new mental chasm in learners using the e-Learning program ?

Mental Chains: Applicability

A unique visitor who was kind enough to stop by my blog for first time, asked "What does it imply for Learning Practice"? Not that all my posts are learning centric, but this sure has a link. When I re-read the post, I felt, may be the topic needs more justification. So here is the applicability of Mental chains and the need to break them down.
  1. Why do change initiatives often fail ?
  2. Where do communication gaps occur ?
  3. What is the foremost issue with a new joinee (senior , experienced and decision making profiles included) in a team?
In every instance above, you would notice, that prejudices, pre-conceived notions, perceptions, environment and mentored context, all contribute as knots in a mental chain. Hence, the shake up, means going to individual knots  and appealing to break them down to enable insertion of:
  1. new ideas,
  2. listening power,
  3. cultural sensitivity
A learning scenario, typically addresses any or all of the above business queries and seeks to insert the conditions mentioned before this parah. When we talk of individualized learning paths, they rather be unique and take into account the mental chains of an individual and introduce mental chasm that can develop their growth.

Take the case of a training manager. If the training department follows the slope, the mental chains make the members wedded to an yearly time table and stick to the old content and the travel plan decided based on bargain travel tickets of travel department.

For the training manager to make their department climb the steep, means to bring in enough metrics and feedback or push few training persons to be in business conditions to vouch for the applicability of the training. With enough mental chasm, the chains of walking the slope get weaker. It is now that the training manager can break the chain and insert the change desired.

In e-Learning, we administer a pre-test to decide and prescribe what more the learning needs are.
Rather, if only the prescription is to provision the mental chasm, which then the user will seek the learning themselves than get a mandate to turn the pages.

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