This is inspiring: I wonder how many CEOs get hundreds of customer emails every day. I wonder how many of them would consider it a privilege.
It’s interesting to me — and I think this is a privilege for Apple — just like we’re sitting down at this table today, I get e-mails all day long, hundreds, thousands per day from customers who are talking like you and I are talking, almost like I’ve gone over to their home and I am having dinner with them.
They care so deeply about Apple they want to suggest this or that or say, “Hey, I didn’t like this,” or, “I really love this,” or tell me that FaceTime has changed their lives.
I received an e-mail just today where a customer was able to talk to their mother who lives thousands of miles away and is suffering from cancer, and they couldn’t see her any other way.
But the point is they care so much they take the time to say something. It’s not a letter like you might think is written to a CEO. It’s not this formal kind of stuff. It’s like you and I are having a discussion, and we’ve known each other for 20 years, and I want to tell you what I really think. I love it. I don’t know if there’s another company on earth this happens with. It’s just not people from the U.S. These are people from all over the world. I look at it, and I go, “This is a privilege.”
Is there another company in the world where their customers care so much they do this? I don’t think there is. Other companies I’ve worked at, you might get a letter every six months, and it was, you know, “I want my money back,” or something sort of terse. There was no emotion in it. So I think this is really something incredible.
At one of the companies I worked at, not to mention any names, we’d put (new products) in the lobby. We’d get on the employee intercom system and say, “Come look at them,” and nobody came. They didn’t even care.
I’ve talked to many other CEOs who look at me like I have three heads when I talk about getting hundreds or thousands of customer e-mails in a day. It’s a privilege. It’s like you’re sitting at the kitchen table. You’re a part of the family. And we have to continue to honor that.
Read the entire interview here.
6 Dec 12 3:24 PM
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Would you like to create e-learning that learners and stakeholders love, and that effects real change within your organization? Here’s how:
Start with a goal.
If you’re going to spend time developing a course (and ask people to spend time taking it), the training should have a specific, measurable goal. I like Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping process:
Start with a measurable business goal, then figure out what learners need to do in order to reach it. Identify the minimum information learners need in order to perform the desired behavior and include only that information in the course. If you must provide additional reference material, link to it as an external resource; don’t force-feed it to learners as part of the course.
Perfection is attained, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Lean, focused training saves your time during development, and ensures that you don’t waste learners’ time: Every moment they spend with your training moves them closer to your goal.
Here’s another great post on this subject that I wish I had written. If you don’t already read Ethan Edwards’ blog, you should start now.
Make it emotional.
Quick: Think of your favorite scene from a movie or TV show. Why do you remember that scene? I’ll bet it provoked an emotional reaction — excitement, surprise, laughter, romance — the first time you saw it. People remember (and are moved to action by) experiences that engage their emotions. How can you apply this principle in your training?
A great way to get people emotionally involved is to tell a story, a realistic scenario that helps learners see how the training relates to them.
For example, I began a course on service-oriented architecture (SOA) with a story about Linda, a software developer, and Bill, her manager. Linda wants to use SOA on her current project; she believes the long-term benefits are worth a bit of up-front investment. Bill thinks it’s a nice idea, but there’s not enough time in the schedule to try something new.
The conflict between Linda and Bill invites learners to choose a side and helps get them emotionally involved. Try to think of a story with a plot and characters to which your learners can relate.
For more excellent ideas on creating a memorable message, read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
Make it practical.
If your goal is to teach people how to do something, your course should include interactions that allow them to practice the desired behavior. By “interactions”, I don’t mean a multiple-choice quiz or matching terms with their definitions. Learners must be able to practice what you expect them to do on the job, including the ability to make mistakes and see the consequences of those mistakes. Dr. Michael W. Allen recommends a model that he calls CCAF: Context, Challenge, Activity, Feedback.
Context is the setting in which the learning takes place. It includes the story you choose to set the scene as well as the visual design of the course, which should be immersive and reflect the learner’s day-to-day work environment as closely as possible.
Challenge refers to creating a desire in the learner to complete the course successfully, a sense that something personal is at stake. Ethan Edwards explains:
When the learner makes forward progress equally, whether an answer is correct or incorrect, he or she learns that it does not really matter what one gives as an answer… If there is no real chance for the learner to fail, then failure or success is a matter of indifference. And if the performance required of the learner seems pointless or irrelevant, there will be little motivation to work toward that end.
The learner must know that success is possible, but that it’s not necessarily guaranteed without some mental effort.
Activity is the physical action the learner must perform to achieve success. Ideally, the activity should mirror as closely as possible what the learner will actually do on the job. The goal is to demonstrate mastery of a skill, not simply the recall of information.
Feedback is the information we communicate to the learner in response to his or her actions. Telling the learner whether he or she completed an activity correctly is just scratching the surface. Instead, you can show the learner the consequences of his or her actions (intrinsic feedback). Or you can give the learner a challenge at the beginning of a lesson, then use feedback after an activity to present the associated content. By tailoring the content to the learner’s needs (as demonstrated through the activity), the instruction takes less time and becomes more relevant, and the learner will be more receptive to it.
For more information on the CCAF model, download this free e-book from Allen Interactions. (That link requires you to register before you may download the file; there’s also a copy here that you can read online without registering.)
By starting with a specific, measurable goal, engaging the learner’s emotions, and making the training practical and relevant to the learner, you will greatly increase the appeal and effectiveness of your e-learning.
What challenges have you faced in applying these principles? What successes have you enjoyed? Please leave a comment below.
28 Jun 12 9:30 AM
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From David Kimbell’s 10 Golden Rules for Managing Engineers:
(1) Refuse to manage. Lead instead.
What [engineers] need is someone who will set them clear goals, give them the necessary tools and training, and protect them from distraction. That’s leadership.
I have not come across many leaders in my career. Lots of managers. Few leaders.
(2) Give them clear direction, then get out of the way.
Too many managers behave as if they are indispensable. That’s often because they fear they might not be.
Engineers need to know what’s expected of them, and what their priorities are to be. Then (unless he/she is a newbie), leave them to it. Remain accessible, but out of the way.
Amen! The rest of the list is good, too, but those are my favorites.
13 Jun 12 12:11 PM
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I’ve been working on a post about how software development has moved away from heavy, big-design-up-front methodologies like Waterfall to more agile, iterative processes, and maybe it’s time for instructional design to do the same: Abandon the dated and cumbersome ADDIE model for something that allows us to produce training more rapidly and incorporate feedback from actual learners.
Then today Nicole Legault tweeted about this: Instructional Design and Rapid Prototyping: Rising from the Ashes of ADDIE. So, um, go read that.
I will add, however, that I love this point from Justin Searls’ presentation, The Mythical Team-Month:
Consensus doesn’t scale.
Consensus corrects for the team’s needs; feedback corrects for the users’ needs.
Sadly, time spent gaining consensus costs you in feeback.
Rather than spend time in meetings talking about training, get something in front of learners as quickly as possible and let them tell you how to improve it.
12 Jun 12 12:50 PM
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As this blog approaches its tenth anniversary, I’ve been considering some changes.
For my first year of blogging, I used Radio Userland, a now-defunct piece of software created by the godfather of blogging, Dave Winer. Userland charged $40/year for Radio; when the time came to renew, I researched the available alternatives and chose Movable Type, which is free for individuals. I’ve used it, more or less happily, ever since.
A few weeks ago, Scott Hanselman tweeted about a new service that lets you create a web site by simply saving text files to Dropbox. That concept appealed to me, particularly since it would simplify blogging from my iPad.
It turns out there are several such services. Scriptogram seems the most flexible, so I created an account and began the process of converting my existing content to Markdown format.
I soon realized, however, that Scriptogram creates URLs like this:
scriptogr.am/username/post/post-title. The service supports custom domains, so I could do this:
philweber.com/post/post-title, but beyond that I can’t customize the generated URLs. If I migrate this blog to Scriptogram, all the existing URLs will change. Not good.
If I were starting a new blog, I would definitely use Scriptogram. But until I can keep my existing URLs, I’ll leave this blog where it is. I am, however, going to start writing posts in Markdown and saving them in Dropbox; I used Byword and MarkdownPad to compose this one. When it’s time to publish, I’ll paste the text into Movable Type (which supports Markdown); not as seamless as Scriptogram, but it’ll do.
I also plan to change this site’s focus (or, more accurately, give it one): Ten years ago, I was a software developer working on my first major ASP.NET project; I wanted a place to capture what I was learning and share it with others. Since 2005, I’ve been a technical trainer, learning instructional design, facilitation skills, and how to create e-learning that doesn’t suck. Watch for posts on these topics in the coming weeks.
10 Jun 12 10:00 PM
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In October, a friend asked me for help with an Acer Aspire One netbook that wouldn’t boot. It turned out to be a bad hard drive; I picked up a new one at Fry’s and popped it in. Then I thought, “I wonder if Linux would perform better than Windows on this anemic processor and 1 GB RAM?” So I downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 and installed it. I was impressed: it installed effortlessly, ran speedily and required less than 200 MB RAM. And the Netbook Edition launcher looks slick!
When I returned my friend’s computer, I explained that I had installed Linux instead of Windows and walked her through some basic tasks: connecting to a wireless network, importing photos from her digital camera, etc. She seemed pleased with the snappy performance and cool appearance; she said she only used the computer for basic tasks, so Linux should be fine.
As I was leaving, she asked, “Will this work with my Zune?” Uh oh. Current versions of Ubuntu can sync with Apple devices, but apparently Microsoft’s player uses a non-standard protocol that hasn’t been ported to Linux. So, um, no. “No problem,” she said, “all my music is on my mom’s computer anyway, I’ll just sync the Zune there.”
A few weeks later she called me about another problem: she had recently purchased a Palm Pre phone, and had downloaded a program to install third-party apps onto the phone. The program is written in Java, but apparently it requires the Sun (now Oracle) Java runtime, which is not included with Ubuntu. She had made a valiant attempt to download and install the correct runtime, copying and pasting commands into the Linux terminal, but she couldn’t get it to work (turns out she had downloaded the 64-bit version).
I borrowed the computer again and installed the correct Java runtime. I also installed VirtualBox, Windows XP and Microsoft’s Zune software, so she’d be able to sync her Zune without going to her mother’s house.
A few weeks ago she sent me a frustrated email with the subject, “I give up.” She was trying to apply for a job, and the application included an online test; for some reason the test didn’t work on her computer. She asked if I would please put Windows back on her machine: VirtualBox was giving her an error and she didn’t want to keep bothering me. So I did.
So, the Great Linux Experiment lasted about two months. Maybe if I had installed the Sun Java runtime and VirtualBox at the outset, my friend wouldn’t have gotten frustrated so quickly. Or maybe you need to be a geek (or live with one) to make it work.
26 Dec 10 1:24 AM
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