There’s no respect in tolerance

Tolerance is supposed to be a good thing. The British stiff upper lip demands that we take a deep breath and don’t aggress those who don’t fit our standards. But this is not the same as true respect.

Today in training, we have discussed the different things that annoy us and how we deal with them. Participants have shared several examples of how people do unacceptable things, but they tolerate them. As if that’s a good thing.

But I only need to tolerate something I can’t tolerate! When someone is disrespectful, I can “teach him a lesson” or I can tolerate it. When someone exceeds the limits of what is acceptable, I can “put him in his place” or I can show tolerance.

But respect is different. Respect is true acceptance of the idea that I have my vision of things and you have yours. I have my beliefs and you have yours. I have my way of doing things and you have yours. None of them are “correct”, “better” or more “valuable”.

When I have respect for the vision, beliefs and behaviour of others, I have nothing to tolerate. I accept that everyone has the right to his own vision, beliefs and behaviour. Everything is “OK” and we can all agree to disagree. 

Tolerance is SO last year.,,

Obligations don’t exist

We all feel obliged from time to to me. But obligation is not a “thing”. Not like a tree is a thing. Or an arm. So, what is it? If we can answer this question, we may find the key to some kind of personal liberation. And maybe even real happiness.

When I first met my wife 13 years ago, I started to learn French. Following the first childish phase of her pointing at objects and giving me their names, we moved on to basic grammar and sentence structure. Pretty soon, I heard the phrase “Il fait beau” (It’s nice weather today). I was expecting that French speakers would say “C’est beau” (It is nice) but was instead confused by this “il”, which had thus-far been restricted to meaning “he”. I wondered: “Who makes it nice today?” (And suspected the answer might be “God” or “the sun.”)

As my learning went on, I heard more and more of these strange third-person phrases, but didn’t give them much thought until I noticed that my wife would regularly say “Il faut…”

  • Il faut qu’on parte
  • Il faut manger maintenant
  • Il ne faut pas dire ca

In all of these expressions, the meaning is the same: “It must be the case that…” But grammatically, this strange “he” appeared again, as if someone else was obliging her.

Having at first wondered if French speakers were controlled by some invisible third-person, I decided it must be a cultural thing. Maybe they do feel more obliged by something external. But then I realised that although the grammar is not the same, my own language is full of these same obligations:

  • I must go now
  • I have to eat
  • You shouldn’t say that

Whatever the language spoken, my reaction to such phrases varies based on my mood: Sometimes I ask “Says who?” Feeling friendly, I might say : “If you like.” And to expose what I sometimes see as indirect manipulation in these phrases, I might ask “But what do YOU think?”

But whatever I feel about such phrases it is important to restate that obligations don’t exist. Not like trees and arms. The answer to “Says who?” is always “me”. Even when I first think it is someone else. I accept that for my wife (and everyone else) her education, belief system and habits lead her quite naturally to feel that some things simply “are the case”, or that there are some rules to which we must abide. But we always choose to subscribe to these rules (or not), consciously or not.

If I want to be a law-abiding citizen, then I have to follow the rules of the country in which I find myself. If I want to understand people, then I have to listen to them. And so on and so forth… But if I don’t want to, I don’t have to.

So the first question is always therefore: What do I want? And to answer this, I have to know who I am. If I know who I am, where I come from, what works for me, what I like and don’t like etc.. I start to get a better picture of why I say things like “We have to…”, “I have to..” and all these other seeming obligations. I get a better understanding of why I announce these things as if they were true, rather than simply my own opinion.

The more I realise this, the more I can decide: Who do I want to be? Which obligations do I want to subject myself to? Who is responsible for my life and my behaviours? And every time, whatever I decide, I realise it’s just me who decided. And me who obliged myself.

Obligations are not a thing in the world, but a thing in me.

Communication – diverse references

After a fun 2 days full of communication exercises and learning with IT consultants last week, I delivered the following references to the participants. Maybe there is something in here you can learn from?

General references

Basic communication

“Advanced communication”

Commercial communication

Presentation skills

Assertiveness/Stress

  • Book on “ego states”, how you build your own “story” and all things “transactional analysis psychology”: TA Today
  • 10min video on “ego states” – how your perception of the other person impacts your ability to behave in the way you want

Thanks for reading!

@dan_steer

Katie Linendoll on using media skills for training and other learning

To round-off the ATD TK 2015 conference in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Katie Linendoll takes the stage. Linendoll is a global technology consultant, speaker, writer and media personality who contributes regularly to TheToday Show and The Huffington Post. Linendoll says that her work in media can provide several tips for the learning professional, to help us to a better job of improving people. Here is what she has to say…

 

Be a social chameleon
This line comes from Red Bull, where Linendoll started her career in marketing and sales. Going around the country meeting lots of different people, her mission was to educate people on the drink, at a moment when no-one knew it. The key for her was “creating rapport”.

If you want to connect to people, you need to “read the room” and adapt to people. If they say “awesome”, you say “awesome”. In short, like Covey told us with habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

 

Get trained yourself
If you want to be an expert in your space, you need to be able to walk-the-talk. This is not just about gathering and understanding the content, but about truly understanding the reality and the issues of the learners you are working with.

Comparing this to Robert Todd and Laura McBride’s session on the context conundrum, I was slightly critical of this point. I agree that we need to know what we are talking about. But in 2014, I think learning professionals have so many opportunities to not do this work themselves. The real experts are the learners themselves and the experts in the organisation. Surely they are better placed to bring that context to the learning initiative, or create and deliver content?

 

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Clarify and simplify
Working for a shopping channel, Linendoll’s job was to get her message across in anything from 30 seconds to 1 hour. Feedback was immediate: If she couldn’t make it clear, there were no sales.

Work on your marketing and presentation skills. Even if you are a designer not delivering training yourself, the ability to make your point is key.

See also Connie Malamed’s work on how to really make your point with visuals.

 

Leverage technology
…clearly the running theme of a conference called “TechKnowlege”, but still worth reinforcing one more time. The technology is there. Use it!

Too often in the learning world, we try to create clever things from scratch to achieve important goals. Linendoll reference the challenge of delivering books to Africa to help build literacy. Where some villages don’t even have good roads to get in there,, how are you going to deliver piles and piles of books? The answer: Don’t!

I’ll let you think of better tech solutions yourself…

 

Get your own style and have fun
People want to be entertained. Throw out your materials and forget the PowerPoint, says Linendoll. Bring some fun to learning and be authentic. Some people won’t dig it, but most will appreciate having an authentic real human in front of them.

 

…thanks for reading. Catch you at ATD ICE in May!

@dan_steer

 

Links that for some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me add…

NanoModules of knowledge for training efficiency

Scope: Big company, diverse functions, lots of data, regulatory + compliance needs, large geography, reduction in budget and a need for quality training.

ATD TK 2015 speakers: Kimberly Green and Erika Steponik of Blue Shield California.

Solution: Nano-Modules.

 

Several years ago, Blue Shield took the classical approach to training:

 

Build something in-depth to deliver in a classroom and invite everyone there for a day.

 

If you have ever made such training, you know what the issues are: Time, budget, lost opportunities, attention, travel…

 

Today, they have opted for Nano Modules:

 

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According to the speakers, these modules have multiple benefits: They are repeatable, scalable, flexible and much more economical.

To make it work, we were told to standardise the look and feel of the modules and catalogue them well. This leads to a good, secure and trustworthy feel for the users. In addition, it is important to have an intuitive centralised system that reduces barriers to access and learning. In short, once again, form sells function.

 

If I understood what Blue Shield is delivering to their learners, we are however only talking about giving pockets of knowledge.

 

I say “only” because I am not convinced that delivering knowledge = learning. But that doesn’t make the session irrelevant.

 

In Belgium, one of the organisations I work for is working hard to create a truly flipped-classroom experience. The concept is simple: Put the knowledge-acquiring part of learning out of the classroom so that training time is us to better effect. It works much better than before.

 

If we could further reduce and compartmentalise that knowledge-acquiring in the way Blue Shield have done, maybe we could make it even better.

 

Food for thought…

 

 

Thanks for reading
@dan_steer

 

Jedi Mind Tricks with Tan Le

Tan Le is the founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company inventing and innovating technology to do amazing things with the human brain. Since an early age, she has been fascinated with the brain, which is for her one of the most amazing machines we have at our disposition. Having failed to achieve true Jedi status (moving objects at distance didn’t work!) Tan Le look for other solutions…

 

In the last few years, man’s merging with machines has become very trendy: Bio-sensing devices that observe, measure and record activities and experiences have gone to market and their applications are impressive; GPS, wearable devices and smartphone accelerator can already give us massive amounts of information about our movements, health and even mood. For Tan Le, this is already a big leap. But the real potential is not yet realised. Things will get really interesting when we can merge technology with the human brain.

 

For Le, one of the obstacles to bringing brain-linked-technology to market is the level of expertise required to just put EEG sensoring equipment on the subject. EEGs help us to better understand what is happening in the brain and that is the first step towards the kinds of goals Le has. EEG machines have traditionally been limited to qualified (hospital) personnel using expensive bespoke equipment. Enter Emotiv Lifesciences and Tan Le’s easy-use wearable EEG…

 

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In a stunning display of true keynote awesomeness, we moved to a live demo (or parlour trick?). Learning Geek @CammyBean took to the stage and was hooked up to Tan Le’s EEG. First she looked at a video of a flower blooming and tried to focus on what was happening. Then came the amazing part: She thought about the flower blooming and made the video advance by itself.

 

 

Tan Le’s mission is to democratise EEG devices, making them available and easy-to-use for normal people. Does this mean we are really going to get our hands on technology giving us some kind of FireFox-style-ability to control objects (fighter planes?) with our minds? In short, it is clear to me today that the answer is “yes”.

 

During the session, we saw examples of things that are already happening with wearable EEG devices:

  • In Australia, the RAC has created an attention powered car. The driver is hooked up the EEG. If attention is good, the car moves normally; if it’s poor, it slows down. At the moment, this is being done to sensitise drivers to the importance of attention. But Tan Le’s organisation is already collaborating with Volkswagen to create mind-driven cars.
  • In supermarkets, studies are being done to see how consumers give their attention and focus when shopping. Where and how we look at things will give marketeers a lot of data to improve the shopping experience. (Yes, more marketing!)
  • In classroom environments, we can see how we focus on what is being learnt, how mood affects recall and use this information to create strategies to improve learning.
  • Personally, I was moved to tears by the “DJ Fresh MindTunes” work. People with physical disabilities were hooked up to the EEG machine and created music using thought. Watch the video… it is really outstanding. What a beautiful gift to the world!

 

…and guess what? Tan Le says that we will be able to get our hands on a wearable brain-monitor for $300 in a near future. How long will it be before we get an app for that device that lets us do some of the amazing Jedi mind tricks we have seen today?

 

Bring on the revolution!

 

Other references:

 

Thanks for reading!

@dan_steer

 

 

Aaron Silvers and Megan Bowe on (the philosophy of) content wrangling

ATD TK 2015, session TH304 is about content wrangling. The word (wrangling) seems to fit the first speaker, Aaron Silvers. A very peaceful looking man, I can imagine him coming in to put order into the mess and bring everything together. As a learning designer, technologist and strategist, he has worked with the NFL, US departments of defence, homeland security and education …and plenty of others. His equally cool co-speaker Megan Bowe works at Knewton, is a principal at consultancy company “Making Better” and co-created the “Up to All of Us” community.

 

Would you like to audit all the content in the organisation to know what is out there and to organise it better? Or set-up a platform to improve social learning and sharing of expertise and content? Or make existing materials more easy to search and digest?

If the answer is yes, you need to do a good job of content wrangling: Find what you have and make it usable for your people.

 

Megan tells us the primary steps for getting your content in order:

  • First, you need to get everything together (inventory) and know what you have, what you can delete and what you need more of (audit)
  • Next, think about how your people search for content, so you can create an effective “tagging taxonomy” to improve search of that content. Megan’s suggestion for doing this effectively is to do a card-sorting exercise with the users/stakeholders in the organisation. Together, they will create the right structure for the content.
  • Now think about how small you can make content, so that it is effective, but easy to swallow (granularity)
  • Then make things modular, so that content can stand alone. This will allow you to put things in the right order and also re-use content for multiple uses.

 

Once your content is broken down into the right collections of granular and modular well-tagged pieces, it’s time to think about how and where you will put it all together.

Back on the mic, Aaron Silvers says that when we do this, we must remember the mission of our work and the context of today’s business: Our aim is to make it easier for a responsive organisation to pull out content, even when the context or environment changes. We have to be sure that what we make is effective today, as well as sustainable for the future.

Silvers suggests that we take a lean approach to this work, focussing on what really matters: Where are our users? Who are they? What are they trying to do? And why?

 

Rather than get into the technology of content platforms at this point, the formal part of the session came to what seemed to be an abrupt end, opening the floor to any and all questions.

Not being a real techy guy and never building systems for corporate learning, I wondered why I was in this session for a while. But when I looked a little closer at what was being discussed, I realised that what Silvers and Bowe have done is give an effective and lean approach to consulting with customers and organising things (anything) in a given context.

I can imagine (I know, I’m a geek) going home to my DVD collection like a character from “High Fidelity” and getting all that film in order, searchable and chunked down into “all the best bits” for consumption by friends and family. But their work is much more than that…

When they talked about card-sorting, it reminded me of courses on metaphysics, Pirsig’s books (“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and “Lila”) and how the structure you give to something defines the experience you have of the world. There is beauty in this functional work. Silvers and Bowe are not wrangling content at all. They are defining purpose and values for the organisation, creating the space for breathing creativity and innovation.

 

Humans like to categorise and structure things. It brings comfortable order and a sense of safety. But the way these categories and structures are defined can change the way we experience things.

For example, if I look out of my window to Las Vegas Boulevard, I may compartmentalise what I see into buildings, water, people and lights. If I were thinking about making changes to that environment or its processes, I might then think of how the space is used and the efficient flow of traffic. But if I break down that same vision into entertainment activities, advertisements and mood, I would have a completely different vision. And that vision could lead me to work instead on improving the user experience or linking publicity to user emotions.

Our perception defines our reality and our subsequent behaviour.

And so, the work of “putting things in order” is not to be overlooked. Get it wrong and you may have an impossible mess that no-one can deal with. Or you may have a specific vision that leads to specific (potentially undesired) outputs. Get it right and you will give people the power to see new things, find more value and create change.

You might also find the answer to the questions that opened this blog-post.

 

Thanks for reading!
@dan_steer

ps For more “how-to” information on content wrangling, go here: http://eepurl.com/LpdwD

Connie Malamed on how to really make your point with visuals

Humans have selective attention. And they have a bad capacity for processing information. But: If you can get their attention and help them process what you show, humans have excellent long-term memory. Professional Explainer Connie Malamed is here to give tips on how to use visuals to really pass across your message.. Welcome to ATD TK15 session W400.

According to our speaker, there are 3 basic (good) ways to pass across information: Story, graphs or data representations, and diagrams.

Stories are good for creating emotion. If it really IS a story. A real story has a situation, complication and resolution, with a character/protagonist that achieves a goal. That IS the story: How the protagonist deals with the complication. During the session, Connie showed us some beautiful examples of comic book style stories.

Graphs are an excellent way to show data. If you get it right. According to Cleveland and McGill, our understanding of data changes dramatically depending on the type of graphic used. Humans can deal with position and length easily, but not so well with volume.

Malamed says that, although very fashionable, info-graphics are actually pretty bad for recall. They look nice, but they don’t serve the basic purpose of a data-driven graph. If a graph is to get and keep attention and create recall, it needs to SHOW the viewer the shape of the numbers. Personally, I found Zelazny’s book on charts quite handy.

Diagrams are also really good, if you use the right one.

Our speaker noted 5 different types of diagram and gave some basic rules to follow.

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As I write this blog-post, I realise that as a reader it might be tough for you to get some real learning from it. Connie Malamed’s session was quite simply brilliant. But it’s difficult for me to summarise all the guidelines here (live). Look below and you will find a lot of references to help inspire and instruct you.

The basic message is this: How you visualise things DOES make a difference. As a trainer, I pay a lot of attention to my flipcharts, even if they are mostly text based. Connie has got me inspired to go further…

Further references you might like:

Thanks for reading

@dan_steer

Free Content You Can Use from Creative Commons – Michelle Lentz at ATD TK15

One of my clients is very serious about intellectual property and copyright. As a research-driven company creating innovative products, this is their whole business. When I have to make some training materials for this client, they almost always get sent back (you would think I would learn!) for an update. Why? Because I shamelessly steal and use everything I find on the internet. Sometimes not even intentionally.

So Michelle Lentz‘s ATD TK15 session on “Finding Free Stuff For Your Training With Creative Commons” seemed interesting to me. This blog post outlines some simple tips for trainers…

note: having trouble with my WordPress app putting in links right now … all reference links at end of this post

 

Tip 1
If you want to make it clear what people can and can’t do with your own work, materials, images, blogs etc.. add the right Creative Commons license information. This affirmation can be as simple as adding the corresponding image to your content.

 

Tip 2
If you want to help other people find your shareable Creative Commons licensed work via the Internet (blog, images, sound etc) you need add the right license code. This is because the Creative Commons search engine looks for code, not pictures.

 

Tip 3
If you want to find content you can use, use the Creative Commons search engines to search by license type.

 

Tip 4
If you want images, Michelle recommends http://www.flickr.com – you don’t have to be a Flickr user to search, find and copy images and… … wait for it… you can search by license type. We saw some of the available images for a simple search (“guitars”) and they were great!

 

Tip 5
If you are using things CC licensed by others in your work, you need to attribute the work to them. But you don’t have to literally put that attribution under everything you use. Consider putting a “credits” page at the end of your document.

 

Reference links:
-> Video introduction to copyright and “Creative Commons” : http://youtu.be/io3BrAQl3so
-> Overview of Creative Commons license types and what they mean : http://creativecommons.org/licenses
-> Get your Creative Commons license image and web-code here : http://creativecommons.org/choose
-> Creative Commons Search Engine : http://search.creativecommons.org
-> Michelle’s ATD TK15 Presentation : http://bit.ly/CCTK15
-> Get free sounds here : http://www.freesound.org

 

Thanks for reading!
@dan_steer

 

 

Solving the learning-context conundrum at LinkedIn

Robert Todd is Director of Learning Technologies at LinkedIn. His colleague Laura McBride is their Editor in Chief, responsible for content strategy and delivery. Both are here today to talk about a new model for digital learning content…

 

Robert opened the session by asking who is building digital content in their role. Many people said “yes”. But why is this?
Surely there is enough content out there? To prove his point, Robert’s team did some internet research on the topic of “giving and receiving feedback”, looking for exactly that search result. He found 65 LinkedIn posts with that exact title, 918 slideshare presentations, 3640 YouTube videos, 3606 books on Amazon, 41000 PDFs on Google … … … you get the point.

 

So, why are we building new content?
Maybe we want to own the content, or e think we know best, or that none of the existing content will be relevant to our organisational context.

Robert Todd agrees that getting the context right is important to creating effective eLearning, training or formal learning experiences. In fact it is key. And this is what leads to the need for a new digital learning strategy.

His own experience suggests that investment in contextually relevant, well-designed courses is far more likely to please the learner; they are far more likely to “dig it”. But context-specific learning has its problems..

  • Courses are expensive to make, requiring a lot of thought, design and content-building time
  • They are difficult to update
  • Functions and processes change, making courses irrelevant
  • If you are not close enough to the user, it’s difficult to make something really authentic
  • They push made-up high-high-context detailed situations, rather than helping people deal with their own questions and situations
  • They are not “ready” in-the-moment people actually need to learn something

 

So we have a conundrum based on the following dichotomy: Either its low-context, model-based job-aids, FAQs or courses that don’t engage or fit our any reality; or its overly high-context case-based simulations and courses that can’t work in practice because they are too specific to one person. There needs to be another answer… An effective blend.

 

 

Enter ?WhatIf!, the international innovation company, Todd’s first port-of-call to solve this conundrum.

They created a blend of low-context “formal” content and high-context experience-based learning consisting of fundamentals, “seeing it in the wild” and “doing it in the wild”. As the learner progresses through the experience, context was added step-by-step:

  • Walkthroughs (5 minute videos to teach basic principles) and skill-checks (online exercises to check understanding) to deliver fundamental ideas, concepts and knowledge
  • Best-practice sharing and real-world stories from the field (video format) and highly curated discussion (online) to help people see how other people applied those things in real-life
  • Field-guides (PDFs with checklists, tips and pitfalls) and mobile-based missions that learners could undertake in the field; both designed to transfer the learning to personal high-context workplace.

 

If you buy into this strategic approach to the conundrum of low vs. high context, McBride says you will have to think a little differently about your role as a learning person and the competencies you need to be successful.

To summarise her part of the speech:

  • You will need to become and expert on content. Not “things to be learnt” content, but what types of content work for which types of learning. You need to be a media expert to make good choices on how content is presented.
  • You will have to have a lot of dialogue with experts in-the-field and learners with specific questions. Successful learning comes from making relevant connections between those small fundamental concepts and real-life experiences.
  • If your people are going to share their stories, you have to make it easy for them. Whatever platform you use should be simple to navigate and add-to.
  • Invest time and effort in curating content, story and sharing from within the organisation.
  • Be consistent in the look and feel (or brand) or different platforms and media-types. And make it beautiful! (See also my blog post on how “form sells function”)
  • Make any formally delivered content mobile-friendly. This will certainly help in the “mission” phase.

 

Once again, it seems so obvious. But when I think about the training I deliver or how the majority of Belgian learning management people approach their formal learning initiatives, I think it’s worth some more consideration and effort.

 

Thanks for reading

@dan_steer

 

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