1989 Video Clip References to Online Modules for AT&T Network Systems Product Managers

20 years ago – and earlier – I designed “Online Learning modules” into a Formal Learning Curriculum Architecture Design.

I’ve been writing/posting lately about my experiences with the AT&T Network Systems (the old Western Electric, the NS, then Lucent, and now Lucent-Alcatel) Product Management Curriculum. Here are 2 of the earlier posts: 12.

Here below is a 23:00 video clip of me in Atlanta delivering the 1st Lesson of the 6th session (including the Pilot Test session in October 1987).

At least those are my claims in the video of the session’s kick-off. My Client had asked me to overview the entire Curriculum with the session participants before launching into the session. So I did. We – my team at SWI and my Client Gerry Kaufhold and his assistant Maddy Van Hertbruggen – had just done a lot of work producing the Curriculum Video and the Training Planning Guide/ Supervisor’s Course Catalog. And they wanted all of this introduced at this session’s opening in early 1989.


Boy this is from the old days – overhead projector, transparencies being shuffled through, double-wide flip chart easels on the walls – and me walkin’ and talkin’ at the front of the room.

What was of particular interest to me after watching this – and I had never watched this tape after it was made – were the references to the many “modules” of the curriculum that were available/ accessible “online” – in this case the page-turners (according to me on the video) were from the IDS “tool” that was operated by the DDO – Document Development Organization. The “online modules” covered the various organizational entities within AT&T that had a potential role to play in any Product Manager’s Product Plan implementation.

Those page-turner modules were both “pre-requisites” to the 8-day session I am kicking off here – and they were also “references” for use post-class on-the-job.

After my organization (SWI) developed the first batch of modules – my Client found a closer resource to maintain all of that very volatile content – and it was scheduled to be done 3 times a year – and you’ll hear my several references to the organizational changes that Network Systems (and all of AT&T) were going through at that time. This is about 5 years post-divestiture – when the Justice Department broke up the monopoly that we all knew back then as Ma Bell.

Today all of this would be on a wiki perhaps, and updated by designated folks, not the crowd and their varied wisdom and opinions, because too much of this business is highly regulated. And there was too much risk in having content that was not compliant/ aligned with requirements or otherwise could be used in court against yourself. Too risky.

So the wiki would have a broad audience – but few authors. Perhaps designated folks from the organizations themselves would update the data using templates and guidance. Or appointed authors might poll contacts in each organization and be responsible for making the updates happen.

A SN might be used to enhance communications – as the Product managers today might not all work in the same building as their peers – and communications and seeking help is harder when everyone is geographically dispersed. Managers or top performers might use Blogs within the wikis to communicate with their people and/or teams.

Back in the day – when someone received a paper letter from their team leader about the project status and plans going forward – was that LEARNING? Or is it just Learning today because it might use Web 2.0 and a Blog Posting? Because back in the day early EPSS (Electronic Performance Support Systems) were thought of and labeled as Performance versus Learning tools.

Learning is only one of many means to Performance Competence. Selection is another. And having an Enabling Environment (information, tools, materials, facilities, financial resources, and the consequences of the culture – the Cultural Context of the larger Performance Context) is also key. As Geary Rummler often said: Put a good performer in a bad system – and the system will win every time.

The video of me 20 years ago is of particular interest to me – to reflect on the changes in me – in this traditional season for personal reflection.

I’m older, grayer, and heavier than I was – that has changed. But enabling Performance using the current technology for deployment/ access has not changed. And my thoughts on how to best guide the development of that content – architecting that content – have also not changed. Not when the rewards and risks are high – especially not then.

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One comment on “1989 Video Clip References to Online Modules for AT&T Network Systems Product Managers

  1. Pingback: L&D: Game This | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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