Archive for August, 2009

I ran across this video that questions that validity of Learning Styles.  What struck me is that it focuses the research on learning information which is most of what happens in schools.  I would like to see the same analysis done on learning how to do things which is what business focuses on.  I welcome your comments.

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bananaSo what do Call Centers and Dairy Queen have in common?

I remember when I was much younger you’d make frequent trips to Dairy Queen in the summer.  What you’d find is that they’d hired lots of high school kids.  They’d all be able to make a basic cone but that’s about it.  However, there was always one kid who knew how to make everything.  So if you ordered the super banana split, you’d have to wait for the one expert.

In any call center there is always someone who knows how to do everything.  It’s not necessarily a supervisor.  So if you don’t like the answers you’re getting, my advice is to hang up and redial until you find that individual.  If you ask for a supervisor and you don’t get a good answer, redial and see if you can get a different supervisor.  I recently did this with Sprint.  After about 5 frustrating calls, I got an agent who knew the issue and how to handle it.  Plus the agent saw from my bill where I was wasting money and made some changes.  So if you’re frustrated by a call center call, think Dairy Queen.

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I think you need to start by thinking about Linkedin as a longer term networking tool. You’re not going to generate dozens of consulting opportunities in the first week. However, over time you can meet hundreds or even thousands of people who share like interests.

You also have the advantage of being able to confine your activity to those who have the profile of those you want to talk to. Here are some quick ideas.

1. There are more than 3000 groups. Try to find those with the most members, the most flexible rules and the most active. Since you only have 50 at a time, you’ll need to join and unjoin until you get the right 50.

2. Become visible. Start good discussions and comment on others. If you find a good discussion topic, consider repeating it in other groups.

3. Offer something free that the group will value. A webinar, whitepaper, etc.

4. Start your own group and then ask everyone you come in contact with to join. Make sure you are putting up good content in your group. You can join my group by searching on Learning Paths.

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One of the challenges of measuring effectiveness is trying to build the evaluation as a last step. This is especially true of training.  It actually works really well. It follows the model used in six sigma. We often use a business case that looks at the potential return on investment for reducing time to proficiency. We try to show that every day employees aren’t fully productive has a direct financial impact in terms of productivity, safety, quality, etc. Then the initiative looks at what would be the gains for reducing time to proficiency by say 30%. It’s turns out to be a lot of money

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Bloom Taxonomy has been very popular for more than 50 years concern levels of cognition. It helps write objectives from simple..recall to complex..evaluation. Works well in school systems where knowledge is king. However, in the world where doing is more important than knowing..the corporate world, a different paradigm is needed.

I recommending replacing objectives with definitions of desired results in terms of quantity, quality and time.. or how good, how much, how fast. For example, being able to get the right answer on the job is only good if you can do it quickly, spontaneously or on the spot.

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Twitter for Training?

Have you considered how you might use Twitter for training?  You could do tips of the day, word of the day or something clever of the day.  You might want all participants to post a journal entry as they practice after a class.  It might also be a place to ask the class a quick question.

I’m not sure how useful it would be because I haven’t tried it.  But if you use cell phones it might be a good thumb workout.

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One of the problems most people have with traditional education is that it focuses on knowing. However, knowing how to do something is a long way from being able to do it.

For example, you can know how to throw a hundred mile an hour fastball but it doesn’t mean you can do it.

So as you look at your next training, consider if all your objectives are about knowing and then change them to doing objectives. It makes you training very different.

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