The 6 Hottest Training Technologies

OK, just off the top here, I want to apologize for the title.  I am not a fan of click-bait but I was just copying and pasting an article I wanted to comment on in this blog titled:  The 6 Hottest Training Technologies That You Can’t Overlook.  But, to spare you actually clicking on the links, let me list the 6 below:

  1. Mobile learning
  2. Video-based training
  3. Virtual environments and avatars
  4. HTML 5 and responsive design
  5. Automation and adaptive learning
  6. Big Data

There you go.  Now, don’t you agree those are the hottest?    Good, now that is done, I want to talk a bit more about mobile learning.

Mobile learning – it seems like we have been hearing this for years that mobile learning is coming.  But, I think it is still further out then many may expect.  Here is reasoning.  I believe we are repeating history of back when “e-learning” became the new buzzword.  It was going to revolutionize training it was.  But it took a bit of time.  What happened at first is that everyone just picked up their paper manuals and training material and digitized them.  Boom, e-learning delivered!!!  But, the learners were ‘less than thrilled’ with the new revolution.  It took years for the training area to change not only how they delivered the content, but how they thought about developing the content while utilizing new technology.  As the technology matured, so did e-learning with more engaging content and programs.  I feel that we are the early stages with mobile learning. Sometimes the solution is take the current content and make it accessible on mobile.  Wait, the module is too long for mobile.  OK then, let’s take the 30 minute module and chunk it up to 6 five-minute modules.  There you go, mobile learning delivered!!!!


And hey, that is all fine and dandy for now, but I think it is still early.  I think we need to forget about how we do “e-learning” now and think more about the mobile device and how users consume content.  Here is an example using two large social networks, you may have heard of them; called Facebook and Twitter.  Yes, those ones.  Well, it seems like almost everyone in the free world uses one or both of those services. And what do they both have in common from a content consumption point of view?  They both deliver content in a timeline.  Here is a definition of a Twitter timeline and a Facebook timeline.   I also included an image of the Twitter timeline in this blog.  Basically, content is delivered in a stream that views scroll down to see the latest updates on top.  And it seems that users are ‘OK’ with getting content in a timeline.  So, why do we not have mobile learning in a timeline?  Makes sense, doesn’t it.  It is a format that both users and designers are already familiar with and navigation is easy to understand (hint, scroll down on your phone).  So, why aren’t developers using the most common content delivery user experience?  Well, for one Mr Smart Guy, I am not sure if Code of Conduct is going to be too interesting in a timeline (sorry, that was me talking to me…and now I am going to answer me).  Well, maybe, and maybe not.  But if I locked a bunch of e-learning designers in a room for a week, and said they had to deliver a course in a timeline, I think they might come up with something.  And maybe being in that locked room will help people start to think differently.  Of course, it may not be a timeline at all.  Maybe it’s an interface like What’s App or Instagram or Snapchat.  Or maybe no-one has thought about it yet.

Anyway, I believe that mobile learning will continue to continue to grow and evolve (hopefully).


Rebranding Learning – Masie’s Learning 2014

I was fortunate enough this year to attend the Elliott Masie’s Learning 2014 conference in Orlando this year (October 26-29).  Over the next few weeks, I will share some of my learnings from the sessions I attended.  Today, I am going to write about Rebranding Learning: NBCUniversal’s Talent Lab.  Below is the synopsis of the session:

Chances are your company has a brand that means something to consumers, but what about your learning programs? At NBCUniversal, our business is driven by our ability to create and
build engaging brands that resonate with viewers. We’ve applied this formula to our learning organization in order to successfully engage our target audience: our employees.

So, branding eh?  As we are all SunLifers, I think we are well versed on branding (if this is new to you, head on over to the Brand site).  But what this session was covering was the rebranding exercise they went through in their learning organization.  During their session, they discussed how they worked with a marketing and branding agency to help them navigate towards their goal.  For those of you who do marketing/branding, this might seem familiar, but this is how they worked through their branding:
First, they started off with their team name which is called Talent Lab.  This was the brand name they wanted to get out there.  From there, they wanted to determine the following:

  • Key Attributes (How people describe us, how can you describe yourself)
  • Brand Foundation (What are we known for, how do you want others to know you)

After determining the above, they do a step call design track; where every touchpoint the business has with the talent lab should match the above.
Over time they were able to determine the following for their learning area:

  • What we believe
  • What we do
  • What we offer
  • What People believe
  • Brand Promise
  • Brand Position

Ultimately this led the training department to create their own Brand Book.

One thing I found interesting was that in their journey, they started to collect common language that described their area/value.  They put together a list of words that they wanted to be associated with, and ones they did not want to be associated with to help them “love the brand.”  One example is from when they were determining their logo, someone on their team said one of the designs looked industrial.  And oddly enough, industrial was one of the the words they did not want associated, and that logo was discarded based on one person saying that.  Although a small example, it showed their committment to begin “living the brand”.

One more item which I thought was great.  To go along with their brand, they had their mission statement which was the following:

Their role was not to fix broken people, rather it was to help great people get even better.

Anyway, I hope I captured some of the session for you and I will be posting more blogs on Learning 2014 sessions in the coming weeks.

Coffee, Starbucks and Lean

A few months ago I wrote a blog about buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean and improving the speed of getting a latte.  But with Lean, there is always room for improvement as we seek perfection.  Thus I was looking at my new streamlined Starbucks experience and began to think of ways to improve.  And I think I have one that impacts just the coffee drinkers….but improves the overall customer experience.

So, let’s setup the scenario.  If you recall from the Latte blog, you could open an app (the NoLine app) and order ahead to get your drink.  But let’s add another scenario/player in this process:  the coffee drinker.  One problem I have had in the past is that when I just want a cup of coffee, I need to wait for the barista to make serve all those annoying (zing) latte drinkers which, of course, is a waste of my time.  Or, even in using my NoLine app, my order might be impacted by how many fancy latte drink orders are before me (I am really giving it to the latte drinkers today eh?).  Or, by examining customers, I have not taken the time to look at the impulse drinkers.  You know, the ones that walk by a Starbucks and think, yes, I could go for a coffee before I go to my meeting.  But alas, I need to get in line as I did not order ahead.  Blah, that NoLine app does not help.

But maybe with a few tweaks, we can improve this process.
So, let’s base line the time it is going to take me when I want an impulse coffee:

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
    2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
    3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
    4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:10) ** this task is less time than the latte so I have removed 25 seconds

The total is 4 minutes (4:00) though if the latte drinkers were ordering online maybe the line would be shorter…but let’s keep the original time. So, I still have my phone.  I still have my Starbucks app.  So, this is all I need with a small tweak to what currently exists I can cut down on the wasted time of waiting in line for a single cup of coffee.

Currently, within the Starbucks app there is a prepaid card with a barcode:


Here is my idea.  How about we automate the coffee carafes and build in bar code readers?  So, when I go into Starbucks, I no longer line-up.  Rather, I walk over to the self-serve coffee section.   I grab an empty Grande cup, place it under a coffee carafe, take out my Starbucks app/pre-paid card and, this here is the new technology, scan my card on the coffee carafe bar code reader (the reader is built right into the coffee carafe).  Boom, my drink gets poured immediately, Starbucks gets paid immediately, and the line-up for those buying food or paying (gasp) cash get shorter/faster.

And, let’s revisit my time to get a coffee now:

  1. Getting a cup and filling it up with coffee (0:15)

Total = 0.15 seconds vs the original 4:00.  Thus, I have saved myself 3:45 per visit.   And remember, if my break is only 15 minutes long, I have just saved myself almost 25% of my break time.
So, in theory, we have now removed both Latte(Cappuccino) and coffee drinkers from our Starbucks line-up and freed up staff to deal with customers who want face to face interaction or other items such as food or bags of coffee.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, I am still pretty new to learning Lean but that is my second idea.

Buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean

As many organizations start to journey through a Lean transformation, it started me thinking where I could apply this to what I do on a daily basis.  For today, I am going to use Starbucks and buying a Latte (buying a coffee will be in the next week or so).

So, let me setup the scenario.  Friday morning, I want a Latte.  So, I put my IM status on Away (haha) and I go over to my local Starbucks.  Here is the process.  I arrive in Startbucks and line up with all the other annoying people on their iPhones talking loudly to each other (note: I also have an iPhone).  Finally I get to the cash and tell the person my order (Latte, non-fat, blah, blah, blah).  I then scan my iPhone to pay or give them cash and they give me change…or if I want to be REALLY annoying, I use my Visa to pay (you know who you are).  Then, I wait with all those annoying people until my name is called and I get my drink.
I think there could be a better way…as there is too much of my time is wasted (muda).  To break it down further, there is too much waiting.

So, let’s walk through me wanting a Latte when I arrive at Starbucks.  Keep in mind, I already know what I want, I just need to tell someone to get it for me.  Unfortunately, it is an inefficient process to actually get my drink.  Here are the steps and I have averaged out the time below (minutes: seconds):

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
  2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
  3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
  4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:35)

A total of almost 4 ½ minutes (4:25) to get my drinks – and, IMO, a lot of wasteful steps for me to get a drink (Note: since my break is only 15 minutes, this process takes up 30% of my time).  So, how can it be done better?  Well, I am going to turn to my good friend mobile technology to streamline this process and create a smartphone App.  It is an App that I call the NoLineOrder App.  Starbucks already has a mobile app, so, my NoLineOrder App will be incorporated within.

OK, so, here we go.  It’s Friday morning and I want a Latte.  I know I am going to my local Starbucks.  So, I open my Starbucks App and click on the NoLineOrder icon which gives me the following options

  1. Choose Location – (default your last one or favourites)
  2. Your order – (default your last one or favourites)
  3. Arrival Time – (enter the time you will arrive to pick-up your drink)
  4. Payment (using my Starbucks mobile card I can prepay)

Once I have filled in the above, I receive the following on my screen:

  1. An order number with bar code (automatically generated)


Thus, my drink will be made before I arrive.  So, if my pick-up time is set to 10:47 (synched with my phone), when I show up at Starbucks, I can approach the counter and have the staff scan my number/barcode on my phone to get my drink.

The new steps are as follows:

  1. Complete app for drink order – (0:35)
  2. Pick-up drink – (0:10)

Total = 0.45 seconds vs the original 4:27.  Thus, I have saved myself just under 4 minutes per visit.

I would think that this could change the layout/job functions in Starbucks; for example, a longer counter for drink pick-ups, shorter area for those “old schooler’s” who want to line up and pay with (gasp) cash or even worse, credit card.
And though this is not the focus of my blog, this has many opportunities for direct marketing, tracking behaviours, loyalty programs, rewards, etc.
Anyway, I am pretty new to learning Lean but that is my idea.

ROI and Innovation

Rob Cottingham

I came across this cartoon the other day and it really hit home about the focus on ROI.   Listen, don’t get me wrong – I understand the importance of measuring ROI. But sometimes, it is not as easy as A+B=C. Sometimes you need to just let it incubate. Let folks try it, stretch it, taste it and see what they can come up with. You never know…a new wheel might be around the corner.

What Makes Google Tick?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Google’s Jonathan Lister present at a speaking series.  His presentation was titled “Constant Dissatisfaction: Google’s Approach to Understanding New Media“. In the presentation he spoke about “What Makes Google Tick” (their DNA).  I captured his points below to share:

1. Innovation, not instant perfection
2. Focus on user and all else will follow
3. You don’t have to be at your desk to need an answer
4. A license to pursue you dreams – 20% of time
5. Data is Apolitical
6. Morph projects, don’t kill them
7. Share as much information as you can (that is a mantra)
8. Make money without being evil
9. Creativity loves constraints

The last point of “creativity loves constraints”  was an interesting one as most people assume large amount of time, people and money enable more creativity.  Whereas in Google, they give their engineers tight time lines, reasonable budgets and existing tools to solve their problems.  As anyone who has used Google (and seen Google labs), I believe that they have been quite successful.

Which of the points above resonate with you?