Friday, May 25

My conversation with academics

Phd: I heard you think you have a great program.

Me: I do. I have this great program to develop people.

PhD: Why is it so good?

Me: Because it makes people more productive in the workplace.

PhD: So it's vocational? That's not really my thing.

Me: No, it's around leadership.

PhD.: If it is about doing anything work-related, it is by definition vocational.

Me: Well, you could use it to lead in a non-profit organization. Or a lab. Or run a university.

PhD: Well, I guess THAT wouldn't be vocational. What theories of leadership and education are you using?

Me: I can dig some up, but more importantly, I have stacks of results.

PhD: I like theories a lot more. Besides, why should I trust your results? You are a vendor.

Me: Because all of the research was done by third parties.

PhD: Sure, but the research was done by someone.

Me: Ah, yes.

PhD: And that person was no doubt proud of their results.

Me: I guess.

PhD: Well, those people were all bias towards success. Research invalid. QED.

Me: Ah, okay.

PhD: You are thinking about this all wrong. What you need is a firm foundation of theory. Either use an existing theory, or pose a question, and then find the evidence to support it or refute it.

Me: Why?

PhD: That will increase your chances of success.

Me: But I already have success!

PhD: But not repeatable success. Your type of success requires people who care about the results. Your programs require ownership.

Me: I guess...

Phd: But if you build an academic case, then the results just happen, even if no one cares. It's like physcis.

Me: Do your projects work?

PhD: Hardly ever. But that's the best part. First, it's not my fault, it's the theories'. Second, obviously, we feedback that knowledge of failure into the process, and refine our knowledge base. We end up with better theories, not just one off successes.

Me: Hmmm.

PhD: You just don't get it, do you? Where's another PhD? They get it.

Friday, May 11

Dear Hollywood (a heads up from the training world),

Dear Hollywood,

I bring you tidings from the Corporate training world. I hope you are doing well, and am looking forward to your summer fare.

I just have two pieces of bad news for you, and as a friend, I thought I would break it to you directly. Here is the first: your movies are just too long.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Hot Fuzz: 2 hr. 1 min.
  • Spiderman 3: 2 hr. 20 min
  • Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest: 2 hr. 20 min

Plus, when you add driving, parking, and previews, we are talking about a 3 to 4 hour commitment or longer. Who are you trying to kid? WAKE UP!

I can tell as a fact that no one has 3 hours anymore. No one. It is IMPOSSIBLE to find 3 hours in people's schedules. People are just too busy.

Learn from me. If I propose any program, I make sure it takes less than 30 minutes, and maybe even less than 15 minutes of a person's time. My motto is deliver a bit of information exactly when they need it and move on. My ultimate goal is to be a faint, useful smell wafting through the corridors. That is, after all, the easiest conversation to have with my business colleagues.

Now granted, that means I can't actually develop any new capabilities. But I can, using this "wafting" strategy, get enough funds to scrape together program pilots, as long as I only put one group through it of less than twenty people. I know, I know, you are producing blockbusters, and I am facing another budget cut. But that's just because your audiences don't get the new realities, and mine do.

I just thought of another great example. YouTube is doing so well because it provides short movies. My IT people tell me that employees entertain themselves for hours at work watching these clips and.. (oh, wait. Never mind. Bad example.)

The second piece of bad news is actually worse. Your movies take too long to produce. Two years? You have got to be kidding me. Ask any "expert" from the training world (and we have a lot of them). THERE IS NO WAY OF PREDICTING THINGS that far in advance. We have to react constantly. Wait... hold on.... THERE! Everything changed. Did you feel it? Entire social orders were up ended. Old models fell apart. Things change every second. The fact that you actually think you can know what people will like and need two years from now if frankly, a little embarrassing. (And the best part is, "embracing" constant change really means that you always have an excuse for not doing anything very well. Why research anything when you can "gut check?" Why design a program when you can just use Google? Why take responsibility or ownership at all?)

So, I thought I would give you the two pieces of bad news, and please accept my deep, deep condolences. And, of yeah, my resume.


The Training Community

Tuesday, May 8

My ode to PowerPoint

Regarding the Big Question, I love PowerPoint to create graphics and present findings. What is great about them is that I can first play with them for a while to get them right, then embed them in Word documents, where they are small from a size perspective, remain editable, but also print (and translate to Acrobat) incredibly well because the programs still recognize the text in them. Given that the value that I often provide to clients is create fabulous IP, this is critical. Here are some public examples of PowerPoints I have created, and please click to enlarge.

Monday, May 7

Big Question - PowerPoint

Due to some new research, the appropriate use of PowerPoint is again a topic of discussion. I went back to look at different opinions expressed in the past, and I'm not sure that there's much consensus on whether we should use PowerPoint, how to use it appropriately, when it makes sense or when it doesn't and why.

So, this month, The Big Question is...

PowerPoint - What is Appropriate, When and Why?

Please answer this question by posting to your own blog or commenting on this post.
(For further help in how to participate via blog posts, see the side bar.)

Points to Consider:

As you write your answer, please consider some of the following aspects:

  • How should you use PowerPoint differently for different kinds of presentations?
  • Are there times when PowerPoint (or slides in general) are just wrong to use? Conversely, are there times when it's wrong not to use slides?
  • Are reinforcing bullet points (in text) good in some context? What governs their use?
  • Is there research that supports any of these opinions or is it based on our beliefs having sat through good and bad presentations?
  • If you find good resources on this topic, please tag them in with lcbPowerPoint. You can find tagged pages at:
  • Examples of bad slides and improved versions for particular kinds of presentations would be fantastic to see?

Claudia Escribano LifeLongLearningLab A Big Question on PowerPoint 30-May-2007 20:58:36

Tom Crawford thcrawford PowerPoint - What is Appropriate, When and Why? 30-May-2007 07:52:35

Wendy in-the-middle-of-the-curve More Thoughts on PowerPoint 16-May-2007 15:44:51

Dave Lee eelearning there they go with the powerpoint thing, again! 16-May-2007 00:00:00

LCB Learning Circuits Blog Big Question - PowerPoint 14-May-2007 09:44:15

Jim MacLennan cazh1: on Business, Information, and Technology Five Under-Emphasized PowerPoint Best Practices 13-May-2007 12:38:56

Keith Peter PowerPoint Big Question 12-May-2007 02:59:43

Jacob McNulty Revolutions What’s the Point of Power Point? Or…what’s the Power? 15-May-2007 14:30:15

Shilpa Patwardhan Closed World Presentation Tool? Yes. Teaching Tool? No. 11-May-2007 06:46:18

Geetha Krishnan Simply Speaking Making Presentations 11-May-2007 06:25:10

Dave F. Dave's Whiteboard The power's in the point 10-May-2007 20:48:29

Tony Karrer eLearning Technology PowerPoint - A Question 10-May-2007 15:05:59

Gary Hegenbart eLearning Development News The Value of PowerPoint 10-May-2007 12:51:52

Giulia Calfapietro La Community di LTEver P.P.: What is Appropriate? 10-May-2007 12:17:55

Giulia Calfapietro La Community di LTEver Power Point: What is appropriate? 10-May-2007 12:12:28

Giulia Calfapietro La Community di LTEver Power Point: What is Appropriate, when and why? 10-May-2007 12:10:35

Lanny Arvan Lanny on Learning Technology PowerPoint - Again 10-May-2007 11:45:11

Gabe Anderson Articulate - Word of Mouth Blog 7 Quick Tips for Spicing up Your PowerPoint Design 11-May-2007 09:27:38

Dennis McDonald All Kind Food PowerPoint: The Tool People Love to Hate 11-May-2007 03:31:14

Clive Shepherd Clive on Learning The Big Question: PowerPoint 11-May-2007 01:49:31

TATA INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS TIS Corporate Blog Evil Tools or Evil Uses? 10-May-2007 06:29:07

Karl Kapp Kapp Notes Avoiding Death by PowerPoint 09-May-2007 19:53:55

Wendy in-the-middle-of-the-curve PowerPoint - My Thoughts 09-May-2007 13:40:43

Clark Quinn Learnlets PowerPoint, evil or just a tool? 08-May-2007 09:18:16

Owen Ferguson Learning and Development PowerPoint - What is Appropriate, When and Why? 09-May-2007 08:25:26

Tony Karrer eLearning Technology PowerPoint - Seth's Booklet 08-May-2007 17:05:11

Dennis McDonald All Kind Food Using a Blog for a "Web 2.0" Presentation instead of PowerPoint 08-May-2007 10:45:19

Guy W Wallace The Pursuing Performance Blog The Big Question is... 08-May-2007 07:38:52

Tony Karrer eLearning Technology PowerPoint Preparation is Good 08-May-2007 07:17:18

Jay Cross Internet Time Blog The Big PowerPoint Question 07-May-2007 21:21:14

Mitch Owen Lead2020 Powerpoint: Should you use it? 07-May-2007 19:24:27

Karyn Romeis Karyn's blog This month's big question: PowerPoint 08-May-2007 03:57:23

Mark Frank Learning in Context PowerPoint 09-May-2007 04:40:08

Dennis Coxe Sailing by the Sound Cognitive Load and PowerPoint 08-May-2007 11:57:36

Tony Karrer eLearning Technology Background Reading - Use of PowerPoint 07-May-2007 08:39:55

Thursday, May 3

The New Hierarchy: First, learning to BE; second, learning to DO; and only then, learning to KNOW

I had a high school teacher who observed that the male students seemed to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to be male students, and the female students seemed to spend a lot of time trying figure out how to get male students.

As I work with companies implementing both social networking and simulation technology, I have observed a new hierarchy of needs.

1. Learning to Be

People strive to know who they are. What do they like to do, and what do they hate to do? With whom are they most comfortable, or motivated, or depressed? Who are their role models? How can they get satisfaction and sustainability out of life? What are their priorities? What is a good day and what is a bad day? Where do they fall on the issues of the day? Is it better to be directive or participative?

As people figure this out, they want to test this new personality out on the world. They make comments online, and post pictures. They speak up at meetings. They give suggestions and then orders of their co-workers, friends, and subordinates. They strive understanding and validation.

To a large degree, this has been the drive of much of social networking and web 2.0, as well as pop culture, and "Cosmo" and self-tests. People today strive for self definition increasingly globally, not just defining themselves by where they live, where they work, or as a friend or enemy of the next door neighbor.

2. Learning to Do

People then want to have a impact on the flow of their world - to change the course of activity in a positive way because of what they do.

This is where the big skills, such as leadership, stewardship, project management, and innovation come in. This is where people put forth some blood, sweat, and tears, and experience ownership

This is where simulations play a critical role. Immersive learning simulations, especially practiceware, have the ability to give people ten years of distilled experience in 15 hours.

Sims develop an awareness of the all-critical "active knoweldge" trinity of:

  • actions;
  • results; and
  • the hidden system that too often counter-intuitively connect the two.

3. Learning to Know

At this point comes the learning to know. This might be cultural literacy/history, or organizational history, or trivia. This is where we try to make sense of the world we inherited - to piece together the giant puzzle. This is where books and the History Channel become so interesting. It is around this third category that academics has built both their curricula and their research process, one of the reasons I have so little hope for the role of Ph.d dominated Foundations to add significantly to the first two.

I say again that what we teach is limited by what we can teach. The exciting thing about this new media order is that we have more power at our fingertips for development than ever before.