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Archive for December, 2007

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV.  I found this cool site that has a lot of good articles about what’s kosher on the internet.  Give it a look, I think you’ll like it.   The Law

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Well, I’m not sure how to do this but it’s a great sounding title.  Maybe the little video from the Viral Learning Center will help. 

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transbust.gif  I’m looking for training, talent management, HR and learning professionals both working in companies or as consultants who would like to be contributors to this blog. 

Also if you have a great blog on learning or education that you’d like to see in my blog roll give me a shout.  Let’s keep this international so if you’re anywhere on the plant I’d like to hear from you.

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200px-shakespeare.jpg  I’ve been reading lots of blogs in the last few months.  Some are very well written and easy to follow.  Others are simply writing nightmares.  The most difficult blogs to read will have single paragraph posts of anywhere from 300 to 1000 words.  You really, really have to want to read these posts to get through them. 

The way most people read any article is that they look at the first paragraph and then the last paragraph.  If they, want to know more they will go back and start reading from the top again.  This means that the essense of a post should be in the first and last paragraph.  They need to be clear and well written.

I also favor shorter posts with frequent breaks every four or five lines even if they violate basic style rules.  It’s just easier on the eye.  I also think the best style, tone and person for a post is to write the way you would speak directly to the reader.  This means using a mixture of first and second person. 

Try a quick experiment.  Go to the tag surfer or click on a category and look at the full posts.  Look at the ones you decide not to read because their style and format isn’t very inviting.  When you’re done.  Go and write a nice short three paragraph post on your experience. 

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Want to hear me speak live?  I’ll be presenting Learning Paths at this year’s ISPI (International Society of Performance Improvement) on April 7th in New York.  You can read all about all the other speakers from the ISPI website.

If you plan to be there, drop me an email at www.learningpaths@gmail.com and maybe we can have coffee.

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This is a really fun video on digital learners.  Give it a look and leave a comment.

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Forbes does an annual list of the richest fictional characters.  It’s funny that Santa Claus was taken off the list because they got so many complaints that Santa is real.  Here’s a quick link to a report on the list from NPR.  The List

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There are a number of articles with this time of year that rank scientific accomplishments.  I guess there still is more to learn.  Here’s a link to one in Wired Magazine.  I especially like the chimps that make spears.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/12/YE_10_breakthroughs

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You read a lot of criticism of big busines such as Big Oil, Big Pharma and now Big Mac.  A lot of the historical anti-big business comes out of the early 1900s when there was a small number of big businesses and an equally small number of captains of industry.

That world has changed dramatically in a hundred years.  The biggest change comes from the sheer numbers of these businesses.  First, if you look at the top 100 companies only a small handful existed a hundred years ago.  In fact their entire industries didn’t exist.  Even companies like GE look nothing like they did.  Their largest business unit is financial services and not manufacturing.

In something like pharaceuticals, you have hundreds of highly competitive companies that often have very little in common.  Instead of conspiring in a big kabal, they are more likely trying ways to take market share from each other.

There is also a tremendous amount of transparancy in the companies because they are publicly traded and often owned by large money funds.  At the bottom line what these companies really care about is a stable set of rules to play by. 

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Corporate culture can have a lot to do with who you want to work for and who you want to buy from.  Think about the difference between shopping at Walmart, Costco, Target or even Nordstroms.  They even feel and sound different when you walk in.  I don’t want to talk here about which is better but to point out that they are obviously very different.  The same is true between cars companies, plastic manufacturers and even universities. 

So what makes them so different?  I think there are a number of dimensions but here are just a few. 

  1. Leadership – does the company have strong visionary leadership or is it more of a competency, technocrat leadership? 
  2. Risk Taking and Change – does the company reward and encourage risk taking or punish it?
  3. Work Styles – is this a competitive, cooperative or collaborative environment?  Do you work in teams or alone?
  4. Results – is performance measured and rewarded or not measured at all?
  5. Norms and Work Rules – What are the companies formal and informal work rules, and how are the followed?
  6. History – Where is the company located or founded?  What are the values of the community?
  7. Decision-Making – How are decision made, who is involved?
  8. Ideosyncracies – What are the odd and unusual traditions and rituals in this organization? All companies have a few.
  9. Motivations of Leadership Team – The top leadership is driven by a lot of different things.  It’s not just all money and profit. 

I’m sure there are more.  It’s a little like a personality test.  Every time you read articles that seem to lump all business together or words like Big Oil or Big Pharma, take them with a grain of salt.  Each of this companies is very different.  People aren’t robots and neither are companies.

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