Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Connect your retirees to everyone

Greetings again,

I hope everyone is having a great Holiday season thus far. Its been quite hectic for my family as we recently had our car smashed into by a van. All the same, best wishes to all of your families this season from mine.

So, I thought I'd tackle what seems to be a relatively easy concept of the 4 prior bullet points, then make a comment on an article I read about the biggest disappointments in technology for 2007.

So, the bullet:
Connecting retirees to everyone - (Before they leave AND after they are gone and we'll make it worth their while)
Lets break that statement down.

Connect retirees to everyone - simply put, we develop a social network (easy enough to do today) and allow them to connect with whomever they need to connect with. More accurately, as they will be retired or very busy, let others who need to connect with them easily find them and connect to them.

Consequently, this should be a basic corporate tenant. Let your employees connect with one another in anyway they see fit. In addition, provide them the tools with which to do so. For our uses, much of this hinges on the tool we put together in the previous post. Identify, label and track your experts. Then allow stakeholders to follow and engage them.

Facilitating this connection will save time and money for your organization as well as help build your future leaders.

So finally, the last part of that statement: "And we'll make it worth their while". That is mission critical to the success of this system. Tapping the knowledge of retirees after they leave the workforce will become difficult at best. Yes, you'll probably have some small percentage of people who would stay involved for free, however that is the exception, not the rule.

My suggestion would be to set up a reward system(cash or "stuff" preferably) based on the quantity and quality of the information provided by retirees.

You can manage this any way you choose but I'd recommend the following:
  • Pay them for posts that rise in "helpfulness" above a certain threshold.
    • You could determine this via user rating or subjectively via a community manager.
  • Pay them some nominal fee for being "online" or available to answer emails / questions
    • Let them keep their Blackberry for free! pending they answer communications that come to it
    • Push questions their email address (let them keep their corporate one or set up an alumni address (i.e
    • Pay them for being "logged in" to your social network
  • Pay them for blog contributions. Maybe they could be part of a group blog around their prior job function? Pay them for posts and comments.
These are just a few ways to compensate them. They aren't going to expect a full salary and if you make it convenient they can respond via their Blackberry from the 15th green or from the beach.

You will also have to accept that some of your top performers are just going to be done when they retire and want nothing to do with you anymore. No amount of money can bring them back! For this reason, you want a system in place gathering their knowledge prior to them leaving.

Please enhance the above with comments!

Finally, I was asked comment on the 13th point of this article. For the most part, its true. The social media market is HUGE. Guess what? This space will get even more crowded before it starts to consolidate.

Everyone wants a piece of the potentially rewarding pie. I agree that, as in all types of technology, the vast majority will die a .com death but there will be some winners. The most important point was that all we've seen from providers(as far as innovation) is the same old thing over and over. Features like cooler looking widgets and faster/better sheep throwing.

My 2 cents? I think you'll begin to see innovation in the space start to take shape not in the form of "cooler blogs" but in how Web 2.0 tools are applied. Applying the concept of social media, crowd sourcing and collaborative content to real business problems and bring folks together for the common good of their organization.

What we are discussing here is just one of many potential ways, albeit a good one, to apply social media. This isn't going away despite what many deem to be a fad. It is the way the NET Gen will do business and life at least until the next technology wave comes around.

Have a great Holiday!

- Matt

Monday, November 12, 2007

Please Save the Knowledge!

Try this on for size:

People are not your most valuable asset!
The things they know and the way they learn and apply what they know are.

Right? I'm talking about knowledge and hows its applied. You might say, "True, but I need the person to do that for me." Maybe not.

So, I'm about to begin a series on ways we can use "2.0" to save the knowledge from folks transitioning out of our organizations.

There are a heck of a lot of approaches to this end. Some approaches exist and some are highly theoretical at the moment. As I see it, so called "transition" folks fall in to one of three categories.
  1. Retirees
  2. Voluntary Emigration (employee left on their own)
  3. Involuntary Emigration (employee was asked to leave)
While harvesting the useful knowledge from non-retiree emigrants is an interesting business problem, based on the feed back from Learning 2007 and from other discussions in the field, tapping retirees is the more pertinent topic these days. (and by the way I think we will design a system to do both at the same time!)

So, I suppose the place to start is by identifying what problems the system should solve.
  1. When employees retire, they take with them valuable knowledge and experience
  2. Contracting retired employees back only delays the problem of lost knowledge
  3. New hires seldom benefit from working with the senior ranks of the company
There is a system that can fix this. Wait before you think of it, NO its not a community.

O.K. I lied, it is a bit of a community but tossing a blog at this problem isn't going to solve it. If it were that easy, it'd be done by now. In addition, just connecting people to people won't solve it or would be rolling in money.

Nope the solution doesn't exit yet. At least not as a whole.

A working system will solve the problem by:
  1. Connecting retires to everyone
    • (Before they leave AND after they are gone and we'll make it worth their while)
  2. Capturing valuable knowledge intelligently
    • (i.e recognize each interaction they have, what is is, who its with and catalog it)
  3. Tap their daily life quietly and efficiently
    • (let everything they do be a contribution, each time they type an email give them an easy option to capture that experience into "teachable moment")
  4. Push them into it
    • (make them do it, force them, and above all make it easy and seamless)
Lets kick off by exploring those 4 bullet points. No it doesn't yet discuss the delivery of this "captured" knowledge to people who need it or a less web based approach of juniors spending meaningful time with seniors. However, its a start. Next time, we'll begin blowing this out into a system.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Learning Changes: Learning 2007 recap

Good evening gang, (including anyone new from Learning 2007)

So, I had the privilege of attending Elliot Masie's Learning 2007 as you may have noted from the last blog post.

I neglected to say it in my previous blog but there is something fundamentally wrong about being "lectured" about the wisdom of crowds! It was veritably shameful really. At one point, I had the mic in hand to make a comment and I was verbally trampled for 5 minuets as the guy kept on lecturing. Needless to say, I had no comment after that.

Well, if you want a recap of what went on, you can browse as well as to get an idea.

So the questions are:
  1. What did I learn.
  2. How does it apply to what we discuss
Well, I learned a lot. Some of the key notes including Don Tapscott, Dan Pink and OF COURSE Bobby Flay all had insightful things to say about learning and how the mind works etc. Dan Pink intrigued me enough to buy his book A Whole New Mind. After I read it I'll discuss again what I learned.

My purpose for going what several fold. I, of course, went to support my job function, but as a personal goal, I went to really "test drive" the idea of Learning 2.0 with some real training professionals. Here is what I found.

  1. Training professionals have a great desire to capture and more so facilitate informal learning. You know that peer to peer over the cube stuff I talk about frequently.
  2. They are VERY scared about the retirement of the baby boomers and how that will impact their talent pools.
  3. Community and Knowledge Management, shockingly, are not necessarily connected. (I know they aren't quite the same but in Learning 2.0 they certainly complement one another)
  4. People loved our definition of Learning 2.0
  5. Few people are driving towards developing a full Learning 2.0 solution. Further more, those that are, are selling it poorly!
So how does does that apply to what we discuss? Well, I think it gives us the opportunity to explore a few new avenues of Learning 2.0.

I'll put it to a vote. Should the next blog post talk about:
  1. The ideal learning 2.0 system.
  2. Using learning 2.0 to supplement / relieve the stress of baby boomer retirement?
  3. The challenges of getting people to use a learning 2.0 environment.
  4. Q/A about the Learning 2007 conference.
You guys decide! We'll cover them all, you can just pick the order.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cutting Edge from Learning 2007!

As I post this, I'm listening to John Abele from Boston Scientific speak about "The Wisdom of Crowds".

Thus far, nothing "earth shattering" has been laid out regarding Learning 2.0 or Web 2.0 at least in this session. Currently they are talking about "polling the crowd" via audience response systems.

As it turns out, our definition of Learning 2.0 is actually being received quite well! I've run it by several "learning colleagues" and they seemed both interested and intrigued in our blog project. I suspect we'll get some "inflow" of lurkers into the blog with in a few days.

I'll post a follow up to this post in short order and detail some of the learning highlights such as speakers, books, sessions etc.

Oh and just in case a few of you were wondering, Bobby Flay delivered a great speech.
I"ll post some pictures / video soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day


Today is blog action day!

The theme? Draw attention to the environment. My little tidbit would be this spot of advice.

Check out Planet Earth (HD if you have it). It is a fantastic documentary about the earth and how amazing it is. Its about 8 hrs long but it provides an in depth look into seldom seen places on earth.

In addition to stunning shots it also drops substantive hints about what "We" are doing to the environment and to our planet.

If we don't act soon, the only way to see these natural wonders will be on DVD. So in short, do yourself a favor and and "learn" something about what you can do to help our planet.

- Matt

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why don't the pieces fit? Connecting people to the right people.

So, we briefly detailed ways to "incent" participation last time. Getting people to participate is hard enough but what about getting the RIGHT people to participate?

Here is the challenge. Lots of things cause a community to fail or never really grow to begin with. Credibility is the key and correct content is your reputation.

A community that provides the WRONG answers to the questions posted will fizzle more quickly than can be imagined.

Harnessing the power of a true Learning 2.0 community requires not only getting bodies in the door, but it's getting the right people involved to answer the questions they should answer.

This just isn't easy to do.

I'll be brining a guest blogger in next time to explore ways to avoid this, but for now, lets get some conversation going.

So the challenge is this, how do I get the right people answering the questions my employees/students/community members are posting?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sell Selfish

Sorry all for the delay in this posting, it has been a hectic several days.

I wanted to give "Josh" a public thank you for being the first person to comment on the blog!

Incidentally, his comment transitioned the conversation perfectly into today's topic.

So our title is Sell Selfish. What does that mean?

The basic premise is thus: "People will do what benefits them" WIIFM! (whats in it for me?)

So to frame our discussion a bit more tightly, Sell Selfish will be my motto when discussing how to motivate a group of people to contribute as you wish them too with a particular focus on web based communities .

So how does this apply to Learning 2.0?

"Learning 2.0 will be connecting people who need to know with people who know on demand."

That is easier said than done.

The burning question now is what would it take to get someone who "knows" to expend effort relaying their knowledge to someone who "needs to know"?

The simple answer is make it benefit them!

Lets talk about how to make this happen.

$$$ MONEY $$$
Money is the universal extrinsic motivator, kind of like the "water" of motivators. Everyone could use a little more cash-in-hand. Paying those that know, to spend time & effort imparting their knowledge will work. No questions asked.

  • Universal - will motivate just about everyone
  • Tangible - easy to see the value
  • Sellable - easy to sell or advertise
  • Expensive - costs you money
  • Not scalable - as your community grows, so does the cost to incent the community
  • Offensive - some of your major contributors that aren't motivated by money could be turned off by the fact that you offer it.

Rewards/ Stuff / Toys / Trinkets / Deals / Points
Many people will contribute if they are rewarded with things rather than just cash. Clearly, this model works as we see time and again, internet banner adds saying; "Fill out a survey. Get 2 free Ring Tones"

What about answer a question, (accurately) and get a chance to win an iPhone?

  • Universal - Motivates many people
  • Tangible - As with pure money its an extrinsic reward
  • Cheap(er) - As opposed to money, the rewards you give away for participation can be just about anything. They could be iPods to coupons or points towards just about anything. Cambrian House is one company that motivates users with "points"
  • Cost - These rewards, while cheaper, still cost you money which will inevitably cut into the bottom line.
  • Offensive - as with money, people can be offended by what is offered in trying to garner their participation
  • Must be distributed - depending on what you offer, if its tangible, you have to ship it. Often times, this is an undesired challenge.

*** Reputation / "Rep"/ Street Cred / Kudos ***
Some people are intrinsically motivated. They do things just to be recognized for doing them. Reputation tracking encompasses the idea of a "flat" world where everyone is equal until proven not. Believe it or not, one way to get people to contribute what they know, is purely by recognizing that they know it!

  • ITS FREE! - this costs nothing and its still rather effective!
  • It scales - no matter how large our community gets, recognizing contributes costs the same.
  • Will not work on everyone - just that, some people just don't care if people "know they are cool"
Off the top of my head, those are the most frequently used "methods" to motivate people to participate. Not a new concept but a different take on something old, maybe like the Curves for learning communities? O.K, Maybe not that innovative.

As a note, I plan on exploring the concept of incenting and motivating community use and methods by which to do that further, BUT for those of you interested, it won't be on this blog. Keep looking though shortly there will be a forum where we can all talk about it!.

On the other hand, lets keep exploring "How We Learn" and some of the ideas behind that.

Next time: Why don't the pieces fit? Connecting people to people.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Communities: Eye on Learning

Due to the title, as write this I can't help but hear the theme music to The Simpson's: Eye on Springfield.

Clearly, that has nothing to do with our conversation today.

So my first official foray into the world of learning 2.0 will be with the concept of web based communities in mind.

Community will continue be an important tool in the years to come. Already, a countless amount of learning occurs in web communities each day. The technically savvy demographic, clearly the first to embrace the internet, has been using it to communicate and learn for years. So the question is, why hasn't everyone embraced it?

As a former software developer myself, I noticed that much of the time when I would 'troll' the developer forums for the answer regarding an often obscure question, I would post my question but rarely would I answer questions other users had posted.

I never thought much about it at the time, but now I ask myself why is that? Why didn't I answer questions that I already knew the answer to?

After analysis, I could really only come up with 2 reasons.
  • I lacked confidence in the answer
  • I didn't benefit by answering the question
If the "people with the answers" do not provide those answers, how can we hope to connect people who want to know with those that do know?

My theory is that people will only participate if they benefit from their participation. That may seem very selfish, and the truth of the matter is, it is!

Short of changing the focus of "the people" to the greater good, I suggest we merely find a way to capitalize on selfishness.

I recently finished reading a book about the power of crowdsourcing and the wisdom of crowds, (which you can preview here at, and while I enjoyed the book and the concepts therein, each of the businesses that capitalized on the model addressed the concern of "what's in it for me".

So the question is how do we make this work for the learning community? Is it something that can be developed into a product? These are some of the topics I will explore soon.

Next Time: Monetize, Incentivise, Sell Selfish!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Web 2.0 Concepts

Let's talk about Web 2.0.
Yes, granted, everyone is talking about 2.0(some radicals are even talking about Web 3.0).
However, as the principles of Web 2.0 are very fundamental in our future discussion of Learning 2.0 we should have at least a basic understanding what Web 2.0 means.

Wikipedia, states the Web 2.0 is the second generation of the web, primarily based on communities. You can read for yourself and see exactly what that means. Essentially, as Time magazine put it, Web 2.0 is about you. Web 2.0 empowers the user to be heard rather than be herd. It flattens the playing field for anyone and everyone who has access to the internet.

Clearly, any one of you reading this has embraced Web 2.0, at least in part.

Let's take some time to explore a few of the "tools" or mechanisms utilized in Web 2.0.

The Community:
Communities have existed virtually forever. Now, ironically, we can access and participate in them virtually. This basic premise is the foundation of the "new" internet. Users gather in online communities to communicate and collaborate with one another about what is important to them.

The Blog:
You're reading one. That should be enough. Though, if you're bent on learning more, by all means click here.

Blogs are an efficient method by which an individual can communicate thoughts and ideas while generating commentary from the community.

The Forum:
This is one of the older tools used for web based communications. A forum is a site categorized by some interest generally broken down into topics and sub topics where users can post thoughts and/or questions and other users can respond. In general, its an online discussion area.

Forums are very popular today and have been for quite a while. One of the draw backs for forums is user participation. Industry statistics, though I'm pained for a reference, state that about 1- 3 % of the user base will contribute 90% of the content in a forum. One of the challenges of Web 2.0 will be getting everyone to speak out and contribute, not just the small vocal community.

Tagging, which takes on multiple names, meta data, folksonomies, Tag Clouds etc, is primarily a form of data categorization. While all of the above methods either differ in form or delivery, they all accomplish the same goal, albeit with varying degrees of success. They help users find the data they are looking for by using terminology they understand and relate to the data they are attempting to locate.

Some of these constructs are even more Web 2.0 oriented because they are user generated. Specifically, the folksonomy allows users to label data the "way" they would search for it. Other users can then search that data based on how other users "tagged" it. Conceptually, this could be used to synthesis a corporate jargon rather than impose one.

The Wiki:
This is one of the tools or mechanisms that can be uses by multiple used to communicate and collaborate. A wiki is user generated site were any user, with access, can edit the content of the site. Wikipedia is the worlds most prominent example of a wiki. Employing this tool is an incredible way to get users to share and co-develop documents and ideas.

I should note, from personal experience, users can be very reluctant to contribute to wiki content, especially when editing a document they feel another person owns. It can be hard for users to give up control of something but this is what Web 2.0 is really about!

So, if Learning 1.0 is about control, then Learning 2.0 is about releasing that control!

Certainly, the largest percentage of learning occurs informally, whether that occurs peer to peer across a cube wall, over the phone or via the internet. People seek answers to their questions from other people. Learning 2.0 will be an effort to optimize those connections.

In short, Learning 2.0 will be connecting people who need to know with people who know on demand.

Next, concepts leveraging community: An eye on learning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Learning 2.0? What is Learning 1.0?

To comprehend the idea of Learning 2.0, we should have a solid knowledge of what Learning 1.0 or as most of us call it formal learning, is.

Formal learning takes a variety of forms. For example, our own elementary education, and consequently high school and collage, are generally very formal learning. Then, on to corporate learning which sees a variety of learning tools ranging certification form legal/compliance training to e.learning for fast and cheap(by comparison) deployment of education.

Let's break down some of the more common pieces of Learning 1.0, keeping a focus on corporate learning.

Instructor Lead Training (ILT): We have all experienced this at one point or another, whether in school or at the office. Essentially, ILT is classroom training on a chosen subject. Due to the web, ILT has taken on some changes. Now, these classes can be prepared and delivered online. Major providers of such technology are, iLinc, Webex, Centra, Microsoft and Interwise.
E.Learning: E.Learning is a generally interactive, computer based type of training. Any topic can be converted into E.Learning from machine repair to programming skills. E.Learning content designers use tools, ranging from Flash and Java, to end user authoring tools such as Lectora and Composica to create this content. Usually, the content is engineered to meet one of two industry standards AICC or SCORM.

Learning Management System(LMS): The LMS serves as the tool for distributing, tracking and reporting on training for the company. This is the main tool of choice to facilitate learning for most companies today. Major LMS providers are Saba, KnowledgePlanet,, SumTotal and Plateau.

So in a word what makes up Learning 1.0?


Learning 1.0 is delivering learning an educator believes a student to need or requires a student to have in a format that the educator believes is effective. This in no way implies that the student is getting the information they actually need to do their job faster, easier or effectively.

Next: Web 2.0 concepts

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Statement: Traditional Learning is thought of, and generally is, a dull and boring practice and only marginally effective at best.

Thought: Who says Learning has to be that way?

Going Forward: Together, lets begin to explore that ways in which learning is changing. This blog will reflect my personal path of discovery into what Learning 2.0 means as well as how today's hot topics such as:
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Community 2.0
  • Informal Learning
  • Knowledge Capture
will affect the new wave of learning.

Join me in this journey as we strive to comprehend, quantify and eventually contribute to the direction of Learning 2।0.

Tomorrow: "The Basics"