Reflections from Kevin Jones – A "Social Media" for "Performance Improvement" Expert

I’ve been a fan of Kevin Jones for about two years now. I found him when I was searching for HPT stuff on the web and came across an HPT Wiki he had created for his program at Boise State. Here is from a recent post of his at Engaged Learning:

Having a ‘real’ job helps you to define yourself. You might be a graphic designer, a chemical engineer, a nurse or gardener. But when you are a consultant, the question “Who are you” is largely up to you to define. This is the challenging (yet exciting!) situation I have placed myself in. Doing this for one main, steady company and doing other projects on the side (which is what I have been doing for years) is MUCH different than all contracting and consulting. What a fun time it has been so far!

When I talk to either one person or a large hall of people about what I do, I get so excited! The possibilities for them are HUGE! Most people, because they don’t understand all this, do not realize the impact and savings of time, money and other resources that they would see. And when they finally take the plunge it is wonderful to see their eyes light up and get just as excited as I am. It is even better when they experience, first hand, the effects and become a hero in their organizations. Maybe that is what I do – I create heroes. Hmmm. I need to think about that more!

Where is my focus?
Primary focus: Using social media and social networking for performance improvement and customer communication.Secondary Focus: Using social media for marketing; creating performance improvement solutions including learning environments and curriculum; creating and delivering the training (standup, eLearning, etc.).

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Kevin has been working with me and others at ISPI on using Web 2.0 tools and technologies to help us help others learn how to use and master these to Improve Performance.

What I really like Kevin is that he see the terminal objective the same as I do. That technology is a means to the end of Performance Improvement – so he doesn’t get so wound up in the means versus the ends.

If you are not following his Blog and Social Network, his Podcast series with Dave Wilkinson, or his SLQOTD (Social Learning Question of the Day) on Twitter – you should perhaps rethink THAT! For your own learning. Go to the Blog to get to the rest!


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Should Your List Be Long or Short? Should It Include Anybody/Everybody – or Should It Be Targeted?

After just doing this post last week on the topic – coincidentally in my email inbox just the other day came this quote in the subject line:

Who Should Be On Your Short List?

For making an informed decision? In this case about LMSs. The advert read on…

Short Lists Made Easy – Selection Tools Help Busy Learning Professionals Make Important Buying Decisions…Quickly

This – relying on a “short list” – is versus relying on “the crowd” – and I agree.

It’s often all about what crowd you source from.

It’s pretty critical when you ask/know: “what could possibly go wrong?” An important question to ask oneself at the onset of answering something important – not trivial.

If it is high risk and/or high reward (two sides of the same coin) – then target your crowdsourcing. The crowd’s opinions and knowledge/skills and experience vary widely. Narrow the crowd. Shorten the list. Especially if you are in a hurry and aren’t looking for a wide array of responses/inputs.

Can you get answers to your queries that are closer to six sigma? And is that somewhat or highly desirable – or not? It’s not always what you need/want.

As always, it depends.

Think it through carefully. Ask: What could possibly go wrong? Where is Murphy? What are some of the potential unintended consequences? How could they be avoided? And if unavoidable, what then?

There is a time and place for almost every approach, every type of thinking. Turn-Turn-Turn. But it is “always” situational. Always right or wrong – or even indifferent – in a context. And all contexts are not created equal.

Do the homework – do the critical thinking.

Think – don’t blink – unless that is what your situational context demands!

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Getting the Blend of Formal and Informal Learning & Sourcing Right

One size does not fit all. Blends usually work better. Not always. But most often.

As always, it depends.

There are many stakeholders of an Enterprise:

  • Society/the Planet
  • Governments
  • Owners/Shareholders
  • Executive Management
  • Management
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Communities

They each may have different demands and desires, but most want Performance Competence at one or more levels of the Enterprise: Enterprise, Process, Teams and Individual People.

To enable that Performance Competence the Enterprise must invest in the tools/techniques for Formal and/or Informal Learning and Sourcing.

Formal versus Informal
One type of blend. Formal is planned, deliberate. Informal, not so much – or “at all.” And that’s OK.

Another type of diversity.

Learning Overview
The key question: is learning – which is ability to recall – needed/necessary “and” feasible?

Should that be “invested in” or not? If recall isn’t needed – although it may be desired – it may not be feasible/practical? You may want it – but it might be like zero defects – not feasible in a world chock full of variation.

Formal Learning
Pushed or Pulled. And tracked. Planned because of its criticality “to the Enterprise.” It’s high risk – high reward. You got to make “it” happen. You measure the heck out of it – both the process that makes it happen and end product – the competent individual and/or team. You insist that the Learner finished their Modules and successfully!!!!

Should be focused on the terminal objectives: performance competence. Not topical competence.

Informal Learning
Pulled. On demand. Not planned or tracked. Traditional and/or non-Traditional. You don’t measure the heck out of it 9 ways to Sunday. You don’t care if the Learners “finished their Modules.” You hope they got what they needed and then bailed!

Learning Summary
Learning leads to “recall” or it failed miserably! When the Learners/Performers don’t get opportunities to practice in the job, in the workflow/process, you re-train. To enhance future recall ability – when needed. Because of the high Risk/Reward nature of the performance and its consequences.

Rule: High Rosk/Reward needs FORMAL LEARNING. Less Risk/Reward defaults to Informal Learning.

Sourcing Overview
When people do not need to recall – or that isn’t practical – let them source what they need. Source data or people.

Formal Sourcing
Pushed and/or Pulled. But planned – and then tracked. Pushed when needed: think: pop up help screens when on certain pages. Or the giger counter clicking when near radioactive materials.

When the Performers don’t need to “recall” – or when that – desirable as it might have been – isn’t feasible/practical. So you let people source the facts and guidance that they need to perform.

Informal Sourcing
Not planned, not tracked. Data and guidance made accessible – but – whatever. Whatever, whenever, however.

Sourcing Summary
When you don’t need recall ability – or it’s not feasible – let ’em source!

PUSH versus PULL
Another Blend-type. Another type of diversity.

Push is – make them do it! Pull is – whatever.

Formal can be either Pushed or Pulled. Informal is typically Pulled.

Learning & Sourcing Modes/Media
Watchwords: this to shall pass. Or- this too shall change.

Whatever we have now – is likely to be different as technology advances roll on… and on… and on.

More modes/media exist today than back in the day. Some fall off the table and some remain.

Today – and I may be missing some (please comment):

ILT-synchronous and a-synchronous, on-line meetings, WBT, Coaching, Mentoring, Web 1.0, Blogs, Social Networks, Wikis, Mobile Phone/PDA, etc.

What Governs and Constrains?
Task performance requirements. What’s available. Development/implemenation and maintenance first costs and life cycle costs.

Recall – or – Not Recall?

That is the question. Or a question.

Formal or Informal?

That is the next question!

This is important:

“In fact, the evidence from the past 50 years of research on this issue is unequivocal – unguided or minimally guided discovery and constructivist learning programs simply do not work for more than a very small percentage of people.”

From ASTD 2005 Research-to-Practice Conference Proceedings “How to Turn Research into Successful Practice: A Technology of Performance Design for Organizations, Teams and Individuals “ – Richard E. Clark Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California –

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Managing Change : Tipping Point

I attended the following session at the ISPI Carolinas a couple of months ago. George Smart delivered the program. He was excellent as was the session.

Managing Change : Tipping PointTM

Situation: Most corporate change efforts never get their desired results, especially concerning changes in corporate culture (re-engineering, CRM, teambuilding, quality, coaching, just-in-time, etc.). Making change “stick” is challenging because there is no “silver bullet” for every business problem. In Leading Change, John Kotter estimated that 85% of companies fail to achieve their objectives. Paul Strebel, in the Harvard Business Review, reports that 50-80% of Fortune 1000 change efforts fail. These numbers are huge – and alarming.

Solution: The Tipping Point Simulation™ is a nationally successful half-day leadership development simulation showing managers how to set up changes that last. In small teams, participants compete on a case study to see who can make strategic decisions to create a lasting change – on time and on budget.

Appropriate for: The Tipping Point Simulation™ leads leaders to discover and address the most common causes of failure during large change efforts such as major technology shifts, mergers, process improvement initiatives, acquisitions, and corporate reorganizations. The variables are drawn from the experience of many change agents and research. However, the simulation is not a prescription for resource allocation; it is a tool to promote dialogue. The model leverages the fact that, at its heart, an organizational change is an idea and ideas spread when people advocate them. Appropriate for those with headcount and/or budget authority, general management development programs, those internal managers assigned to take the role of internal consultant, and university MBA programs.

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Check it out further here.

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What Goes Around Comes Around – More Informal Learning Drives Need for More Formal Learning

From Bersin & AssociatesModernize Corporate Training: The Enterprise Learning Framework:

…L&D professionals, must “formalize” this informal learning environment and make sure we align our investments toward talent management and the needs to build deep levels of skill.

Our research shows that 68% of knowledge workers now feel that their biggest learning problem is an “overwhelming volume of information.” This information exists in many formats, it is often out of date, and they are not sure how to find what they need. In some sense the need for “formal” training is greater than ever (you can make sure you get the right information presented in the right way).

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I generally liked what I read in this Post.

What seemed to be missing was a focus on the Processes for the Enterprise to drive Requirements for Knowledge/Skill – and the recognition that some K/Ss needed to be learned prior to the moment of need and some need to be learned in the moment of need. And that is determinable – via analysis of Enterprise Processes.

Understand the Processes’ outputs/measures and tasks and roles/responsibilities of the learner/Performer – and then the enabling K/Ss. Then determine when and how to deploy/make accessible.

Perhaps that notion in buried in their white paper – which I will review soon. Perhaps you should as well.

You just can’t create content and put in systems to connect with it and with others – getting 3,000 hits on your queries isn’t performance support – it’s performance retardation. And with a negative ROI.

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Memories of 3 MEMORIAL DAYS Past – Back in the Day

Memorial Day weekend 1973 and I am just recently out of Boot Camp (San Diego) and two months on my ship – the USS Okinawa – and more immediately had finished with a short visit with my KC Family (as opposed to my Chi Family) – and I’m driving the old man’s car from Kansas City to Indianapolis where I will be doing 6 months at “A School” at Fort Benjamin Harrison (now an industrial park in the NE suburbs of Indy).

Print and Broadcast Journalism. 2 Schools.

Guy’s Boot Camp Picture – Something to show the folks back home that you survived the learning experience.

School at DINFOS – the Department of Defense Information School. This is where my love of acronyms began – in the USN.

The old man loaned me his car because he was so happy/so proud.

When I got my draft notice at my apartment back in October of 1972 and called home with “the news” – he was at my door with a Navy recruiter within 60 minutes. That recruiter told me the sufficient amount of lies – “you’ll get any A School you want with your test scores when you are in Boot Camp” – as I had seen this coming with the testing and physical I had to go through in the summer of 72 – and my chosen Schools were now full as the recruiter checked at his office the next day. Don’t worry!

And then there was that 2 years in the Army versus 3 years in the Navy versus 4 years in the Air Force. And the Viet Nam war was not over – yet. THAT happened while I was in Boot Camp in January – and then the war and the draft ended simultaneously. Timing IS everything.

Just like for my dad. He had joined the Navy as soon as he could – and WWII ended for him while he was in Boot Camp. Like father – like son. Navy men.

It had been raining most of my drive that Memorial Day weekend in 1973 and I had tuned in the Indianapolis 500 race on the radio. It was raining there too. I was headed to my A School after spending a short time on my ship on the Deck Force in Long Beach CA where my ship was home ported and in dry-dock. You see all of the schools that I wanted when in Boot camp were still full – and so I did not get any of the “A” Schools that I wanted – and I spent two extra weeks after normal Boot Camp (if Boot Camp could ever be referred to as Normal) learning how to scrape paint and paint ships.

There is a wrong way and a right way and a Navy way. You learn that quickly in Boot Camp. Or they punish you and 74 of your closest colleagues. They call that team building in the civilian world – where lack of team cohesion doesn’t often lead to death versus continued life. Different context – don’t you know.

It never rains in Southern California – and so I had not experienced rain for months. And I’d never been to Indy – although I had previously been a Hoosier (La Porte, 5th – 7th grades). So I was entering new territory. New Learning experiences. I was 20 going on 21. And the command of my ship had decided to send one of their own to this A School rather than take whomever the School sent them. They were about to install a 75 TV Closed Circuit -TV systems on board – and that was being done while I was away at school.

I arrived at the Army Base with my paperwork in a jacket (never ever lose that jacket son! I was “counseled” at full volume along with my peers).

I was checked in and escorted to my dorm room where I met my new roomie – Pat – who was in the Army. I had a car – so we decided to “blow this pop stand” as the phrase in Chicago went in the 1960s (WLS) – and head out to a local bar – and not the bar at the Enlisted man’s Club – but off base – to explore our new surroundings.

Me at DINFOS – in our barracks/dorm room. A Photo of Guy The Navy Sailor – by Pat of the US Army- for our Print Journalism class.

The bar we stopped at turned out to be a gay bar – and the bartender told us after we ordered and he served us. We finished our drinks while trying not to look around at everyone else who was staring intently at us – with our very short haircuts. We weren’t welcomed – not that it would have bothered me a whole lot – but we both got out of there after that first drink and drove downtown Indy – around the fountain downtown – and then headed back to our NE corner of Indy and The Fort. And the bar at the EMC.

After the holiday – we started school with Army and Air Force and Navy and Marine and Coast Guard members – an all branches school – which was cool. Lesson learned: the AF officers didn’t feel a need to denigrate their people to get the job done. Not so for the other branches – at the time – back in the day.

The next Memorial Day – 1974 – I am on a WESTPACT Cruise. Western Pacific Cruise – in the South China Seas – not as you’d think of a civilian cruise. Days and weeks at sea – patrolling the coast of Cambodia mostly. Waiting to evacuate the capital and our embassy there. Didn’t happen – that cruise – and after an 11 month cruise we went back to Long Beach and soon moved our home port to San Diego. A great place to be – unless you are a poor sailor.

But on that first cruise – in between numerous times at sea – it was interspersed with time in ports such as Hong Kong and Singapore – where I had my first Singapore Sling at the bar at the very British/very famous Hotel Raffles. Just watch the very old Charlie Chan movies to see what that hotel and bar looked like “back in my day.”

Mike, Dennis and Guy in Hong Kong – walking above the city where all the artists sold their wares.

When we weren’t patrolling the South China Seas we spent most of our time in Subic Bay. I had White friends and Black friends and Hispanic friends and Filipino friends, and as it turned out – just as I was getting out of the Navy I discovered that several of my friends where gay friends. In fact, I am the god father of one of those gay men’s sons – and that came about a few years after the Navy – and a year before he came out. You learn a lot, informally, every where you go.

You meet all kinds of people, every where you go.

The film chain where a 16mm film projector “fed” a TV Camera – I had two for continuous programming – no need to stop for reel changes.

Rewinding each film reel before sending it on to the next ship was a routine job task.

A pile of Programming from AFRTS – the Armed Forces Radio and TV Service – my source of Programming in 16mm film and 2 inch video media.

Wallace hanging out with friends Brousard and Jackson – Bill took the picture. All “last names” because that’s how it was.

In my Dress Blues before a day or two in Hong Kong – probably late ’73/early ’74 – the 2 stripes give that time frame away.

The old and the new in Hong Kong. That’s a Mercedes Benz – which is what most Taxis in Hong Kong were back then. The Rickshaws were the old style Taxis in Hong Kong – and I rode them both.

The Memorial Day after that – 1975 – I am on my 2nd WESTPAC – – which ended up a 13-month cruise – and we have already completed the evacuations of both Phnom Penh, Cambodia AND then Saigon South Viet Nam – earlier in April 1975. That helicopter in Miss Saigon – was from the USS Okinawa. LPH-3.

600 Sailors taking care of 2400 Marines. And my job was to keep all 3000 of them “occupied” after work hours with TV entertainment – and my 5 minute nightly newscast. To keep the fighting down. So I never ran the commercials. To keep the fighting down. After all – you don’t “train” Marines to kill all day long – and then send them down to the mess decks to eat with he sailors – without something happening. Get real.

We were in Subic Bay – our home port away from home port. A bunch of us had bought 10-Speed bicycles and had gone out for a ride in the mountains surrounding the base.

I still have a “ticket” issued by the Shore Patrol for running a stop sign on base a couple of months later – when we returned from another ride in the mountains.

I had seen their jeep and had fully stopped at the sign before proceeding – but everybody I was with just rode through the stop sign – but you know how that goes – the SPs gave each and every one of us a ticket – our ration of **** – as it was referred to in the military back in those days.

But our ship was leaving the very next day – so we just all laughed about it. Sail on brother.

Memorial Day 2009.
Our troops serve us admirably in two concurrent war efforts. Plus elsewhere across the planet.

It is tough duty and the pay stinks. And the living conditions? Typically worse.

May I suggest you consider giving up your first class seat to anyone on board your flight sitting in coach in uniform? And call to their wait staff at the airport bar to have them bring you THAT bill – if they are in uniform? I don’t travel much at all anymore – so I cannot continue my practice of that.

Which is something I learned I learned from some British and Australian business men in Hong Kong (Kowloon actually) at Ned Kelly’s Last Stand – a favorite bar for us poor sailors on leave for a day or two – as they bought us pitcher after pitcher of beer – and said their thanks to us – EVERY time we went there. That bar is still there today. Click here.

Thanks to them. Thanks to those who serve us today. Thanks to those who have also served. Pay it Forward. Pay it Back.

To those who ask: Where is MY bailout?
They are in uniform – buster.

Next question? Something not so self-centered, not so self-absorbed.

Bless the troops – and let’s really take care of them upon their return. And take better care of their families while they serve. Pay for Performance. What price freedom?

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