Top 50 articles of 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.41.33This is the 6th year that I have produced a list of my favourite articles, blog postings and slidesets of the year, chosen from  my  annual Reading List. Here they are presented  in chronological order with a short quote or image to give you a taste of what each one is about.  I’ve also created a Wordle to visualize the key themes in this year’s list – and  you can compare it with those I produced for my top articles lists 2008 and 2012 below.

January 2013

1 - The Need to Adapt to the Speed of Change or Die: lessons for L&D from the retail industry - Charles Jennings, 16 January 2013

“The point is that L&D departments need to adapt and do things differently, or do different things, if they are to remain relevant. Information dissemination (often the bulk of many training courses) doesn’t constitute the best use of time for specialists in building workforce knowledge and capability, nor for the intended recipients. L&D specialists should be focusing on understanding critical business problems that are being caused by underperformance and then working with stakeholders to design the best ways to solve them.  This may, or may not, involve designing, developing and delivering physical or virtual training, eLearning or some other intervention.”

2- What Do People *Really* Think About That Course You’ve Designed? David Kelly, 22 January 2013

“It started with her talking to her screen, cursing it for not being able to log in.  She called someone, expressed frustration at being placed on hold, and then got increasingly angry as she was still unable to log in … Suddenly I perked up a bit. She was taking a training course, or more specifically, she was trying to and hitting roadblocks. Once she was able to get access to the training, she quieted down considerably. In fact, over the next hour she yawned repeatedly, sat with her hand holding up her head, and often sighed out of what appeared to be boredom. The only other sound was the click of her mouse, every 30 seconds or so… the slow, prodding cadence of the Next button …  After about 90 minutes, she seemed to be getting frustrated again and made another call.  I assume in this case she was contacting a co-worker, because she asked for “help with a stupid question on that training course they’re making us take.””

February 2013

3 - It’s the end of an era – enter the knowledgeable networker, Ken Perlman, Forbes, 13 February 2013

“Knowledgeable networkers are very good at what they do, and at the same time do not pretend to know it all. They consider the entire puzzle and not just their own area of expertise … They see how puzzle pieces fit together without needing to know everything about each piece – instead they KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE and HAVE A LOT OF INFORMATION SOURCES.”

March 2013

4  - There’s no point in knowledge if you don’t share it: collaboration and generosity in the social age, Julian Stodd, 4 March 2013

“In the social age, knowledge itself is no longer power: your ability to synthesise meaning out of multiple sources, your ability to add value, to reinvent yourself and effect change, your generosity of time and expertise, these are the things that add value. These are the things that make you influential, that give you authority around a subject. It’s not about what you know and hide away, it’s about the conversations that you get into and how generous you are (and how willing you are to learn).”

5 - Yes, you do have to change, Clark Quinn, 18 March 2013

“What we see are knowledge dump/test tarted up with trivial interactions.  People will pass a test, but they will not have achieved the ability to affect any meaningful business outcomes.  If it’s knowledge that performers need, create a job aid, not a ‘spray and pray’.  And facilitate people in self-helping.  As things get more complex and moving faster, there’s no way everything can be kept up with by new course development, even if it were a useful approach, and mostly it’s not.”

6 – No cookie-cutters for complexity, Harold Jarche, 28 March 2013

“Beware the cookie-cutter salespeople. They abound, and are aided by marketing departments that do not have a clue about complexity. There are some real advantages in avoiding the large consultancies and going with smaller companies and free-agents.” 

April 2013

7 - Managing learning? Charles Jennings, 2 April 2013

“Learning can only be managed by the individual in whose head the learning is occurring. Of course external factors – such as other people (especially your manager and your team), technology, prevailing culture, general ‘environmental’ factors, and a range of different elements – can support, facilitate, encourage, and help your learning occur faster, better, with greater impact and so on.  But they can’t manage the learning process for you. That’s down to you alone. This raises an important set of challenges. One of which is “if learning is managed by the learner, what will the technologies that support her look like in the next 3, 5, 10 years?” One thing we know for sure. They won’t look like the learning management systems installed in the vast majority of organisations across the world today. Sadly, many of these meet Marc Rosenberg’s description as ‘course vending machines’. “

8- Learning technology: are we using it right? Julian Stodd, 8 April 2013

9 - Are you in the training ghetto, Donald Taylor, 15 April 2013

10 - Cognitive Dissonance and the Denial of Social/Informal Learning, Mike Britz, 16 April 2013

“When you think about the amount of money, time and staffing that’s pumped into formal learning in the face of more and more research showing how ineffective it can be, it’s no wonder only the most progressive are able to break their shackles to traditional training and L&D approaches. Those with more conflicted cognitions engage in the simple act of dismissing the evidence. Do they eliminate or discount the other argument because they are justifying the investment?”

11 - Social media at work. Really? John Stepper, 20 April 2013

“Imagine you’re a salesperson at a big global firm and you’re paid well into 6 figures. You’re at your office, about to call a client, and you want to research her first. Who’s she connected to? Where has she worked before? What’s she up to these days?  Now imagine your firm won’t let you do any of that research on their office computer (but it’s okay <wink wink> to use your own phone to do it). And imagine your firm spends millions on training but not a nickel on how you can effectively use the most powerful client research tools on the planet. That’s the state of social media at a lot of financial firms. Many firms block it. (You can’t even read content published by your own firm.) Most don’t train anyone. Most aren’t sure of what to do next. And most have their heads firmly planted in the sand, pretending everything’s okay.”

May 2013

12 - Are you a positive deviant? Jane Bozarth, Training Magazine, May 2013

  • “They are rule breakers, or at least rule benders, who are always “checking the edges” and see holes rather than the net.
  • They are passionate about what they do, which supports them as they work against social convention.
  • They look for what is going right.
  • They look at resources they do have and figure out where to get more.
  • They ask the right questions, flipping the usual ones on their heads: “Why is the staph infection rate so low on Ward 4?”

13 - 3 ways to becoming a master learner, Erika Anderson, Inc, 16 May 2013

“In order to become the best leader (or, actually, the best anything) you’re capable of being, you have to become a great learner. Here are the three things most required to be that kind of powerful learner: Accurate self-awareness … Curiosity … Be willing to be not-good.”

14 - No One Likes to Be Changed, Daniel Markovitz, HBR Blog Network, 16 May 2013

“In his recent HBR blog post, Ron Ashkenas argues that the reason most change management initiatives fail is due to stunted managerial capability to implement change. He points out — correctly, I believe — that in many organizations the responsibility for change initiatives has come to rest with HR, and not with the line supervisors and managers. However, I believe that there’s a deeper, more fundamental problem with the way we frame the whole notion of change management. In fact, I propose that we dispense with the concept of “change management” entirely. History shows that’s a recipe guaranteed to foment fear, resistance, and — ultimately —failure.”

15 - Internet Trends 2013, Kleiner Perkins Caulfied Byers, Slideshare, 29 May 2013

June 2013

16 - Google Glass as Wearable Performance Support, Marc Rosenberg, Learning Solutions Magazine, June 2013

“Here are four features that might make Google Glass a viable performance-support technology:

  1. It’s mobile (actually, it’s wearable). It goes anywhere. That’s great for having access to information and other resources at the moment of need.
  2. It’s non-burdening; it doesn’t seem to be a hassle to use. This is important; we know that if using a performance support tool takes more effort than not using it, forget about it.
  3. It’s connected to the Internet, enabling real-time information sharing to and from users.
  4. Over time, it could be relatively low cost to produce in bulk, allowing all who want one to have one.”

17 - How to deal with barriers, Jane Bozarth, Learning Solutions Magazine, June 2013

“Sometimes the very benefits we tout, such as learners crafting their own experiences, are exactly what resisters fear. In organizations still struggling with implementing even basic eLearning, those who propose change will recognize the response of staff who are stuck in the status quo, those who relish the thought that they are imparting wisdom, and those who fear the weakening of their professional status and position as experts.”

18 - Here’s to the trouble-makers, Oscar Berg, 14 June 2013

“To be successful in this reality, organizations desperately need people who are both thinkers and doers. People that are able to things done, but always start with asking “Why?”. Paradoxically, this behavior is something that is rarely encouraged or rewarded in organizations. Most organizations still measure and reward performance in other ways, similar to how our children are being measured and rewarded at school. You shouldn’t think or question the tasks you are given. Instead you should comply and do as you have been told. If you complete your tasks sooner than expected and find the right answer for each task, you will be recognized and rewarded.”

19 - Help! – the professional2.0 is coming, Joitske Hulsebosch, 18 June 2013

“Online communication is becoming increasingly important in finding the right professional for the job or project. If you a professional and you are not on Twitter and LinkedIn, you have been fairly invisible.Internally channels like Yammer or other social networks are becoming increasingly important to be visible within the organisation, especially in larger companies. Professionals should therefore clearly know what makes them distinctive and unique from other professionals. A professional2.0 will build an online reputation and that reputation is more durable than the job he / she has. The organisation only ‘borrow’ the reputation of the professional.”

20 – Social learning is for human work, Harold Jarche, 23 June 2013

21 - On Leading, Managing and Co-creating in the Connected Workplace, Jon Husband, 23 June 2013

“Champion-and-Channel replaces Command-and-Control.  Thousands of articles have talked about how command-and-control dynamics are less than effective in the new set of interconnected conditions found in the workplaces of the Information Age. Remember how you felt (or feel today) when commanded by a parent or other authority figure? All too often, going to work in today’s organizations feels like re-living the adult version of that experience. Not all organizations are like this – but fewer and fewer of tomorrow’s organizations will be able to function effectively if command-and-control remains the dominant dynamic.”

22 - So how do we know they are getting the right answers, Helen Blunden, 27 June 2013

“This was a question posed to me today by a colleague about the impact of staff seeking answers on the web or on our Enterprise Social Network such as Yammer.  The particular example was “what if they ask a question on say, credit policy and the answers that come back to them are actually wrong – and then he acts on that information and it causes some reputation or other risk to our organisation?” It’s a great question.”

July 2013

23 – Learning is too important to be left to professionals, Harold Jarche, 1 July 2013

“Workplace learning professionals are in for a shock. Business is waking up to the fact that learning is now mission critical. Will executives continue to allow learning policy to reside in a separate department or some sub-department of HR for much longer? Do you think they will let “learning professionals” maintain sole control? I doubt it; especially if the military, which is either training for war or engaged in one, is an example.”

24 - 5 Practical ideas for Embedding learning into the workflow, Towards Maturity, 4 July 2013

 “In Towards Maturity’s new In-Focus Report we look at the massive importance of integrating learning into the workplace and the vital position that technology has to play in this role.” 

25 - Good, bad and ugly: 7 critics of social media, Donald Clark, 11 July 2013

“I’m of an age (56) where lots of my contemporaries show contempt towards social media. It’s rarely a reasoned argument, simply a sneer accompanied by a ‘I’m too good for that sort of thing’ attitude. Euan Semple made the valid point on Facebook that “Not being attracted to the social web is OK but adopting a sneering tone when you tell me that, frankly, isn’t.” and that it’s not easy dealing with the criticism as the debate as it’s very difficult arguing the case for something your opponent has never used or has no real knowledge of.”

26 - Social Business: “This is not just a drill, people”, Social Business News, 15 July 2013

“I sometimes get the feeling that some of today’s leadership, are just waiting for “this whole social media thing” to pass.  I get the sense that leading a conversation for whole-hearted, organization-wide adoption of social tools and principles, seems idealistic, unrealistic, and that the best solution might be just to “wait it out” and “see where it all goes.” I’m sorry to be the one to do it (though I’m sure there are others who came before me), but I have to deliver the wake up call.  This is not some cute little trend that the kids are doing.  This is not the wave to let pass. This is not a drill.”

27 - The 4 things people can still do better than computers, Fast Company, 19 July 2013

“1 – Unstructured problem-solving. 2 – Acquiring and processing new information. 3 – Nonroutine physical work. 4 – Just … being human.”

28- 19 Antiquated Employee Engagement Approaches Contributing to Organizational Anxiety, David Zinger, 23 July 2013

“Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian philosopher of communication theory who passed away 33 years ago, once stated: “Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools and yesterday’s concepts.”  I have been thinking about that quotation in relationship to employee engagement.  Here are 19 antiquated employee engagement tools and concepts.”

August 2013

29- Collaboration is about behaviour, not software, Adi Gaskell,  27 August 2013

“Changing behaviours at work requires changing the environment that surrounds people when they’re at work. You need an environment that gives people the right cues on a daily basis.  There are a number of levers you can employ to help you.” 

30 - Stand up for trivia, Euan Semple, 27 August 2013

” It is so easy to sneer. Easy to sneer at newbies. Easy to sneer at other people’s “rubbish”. Easy to sneer at what other people do with social media.”

September 2013

31 - Moments in learning, Andrew Jacobs, 26 September 2013

“I’ve been thinking about MoT [Moments of Truth] from the Jan Carlzon definition. A former chairman of Scandinavian Airways (SAS), he turned the company around in the early 80s with a focus on customer service which bordered on the obsessive.  He wanted an empowering culture where staff were able to make decisions for the customer benefit. One way he did this was to start a series of seminars and introduced them by stating that SAS customers faced moments of truth where staff could delight or disappoint a customer in every interaction with the airline. Each customer might have 5 of these moments of truth every day.”

32 - The unwilling learner: curated links , LearnPatch, 27  September 2013

“A week to this day Brent Schlenker, director, product/technology training for IO, wrote a blog post – his first in a year. Schlenker, a prolific learning and development blogger is back to blogging after a year out. Reflecting on his year back in corporate L&D he says that learning is about people, not technology and at the end of his post he says this: The truth is, there are no learning problems in corporate settings. There are only people unwilling to learn.

33 - The Dysfunctionally Connected Workplace Problem–And How To Fix It, Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard, FastCompany, 30 September 2013

“Today’s workplace is wired for communication–but the human connection is often missing. That’s the message coming through loud and clear, according to data we collected in a recent survey. Employees are saying that in spite of all the technology at our disposal, managers and direct reports aren’t connecting any better than they did in the past–and are possibly connecting even worse now.”

October 2013

34 - Return on intangibles, Jay Cross, 6 October 2013

“Intellectual capital is largely a matter of mind and relationships. It’s impossible to measure directly, but you know in your heart that it’s real. What’s more important, the plant or the people? Where’s the real value to come from? The biggest upside is improving know-how, relationships, and processes; that’s what gives investors the confidence to up their ante.”

35 – The future of work, Achievers, 11 October 2013

36 - Workplace Learning: Adding, Embedding & Extracting, Charles Jennings, 14 October 2013

37 - What did Einstein know about knowledge management, Chris Collison, 16 October 2013

38 - PKM In 34 pieces, Harold Jarche, 29 October 2013

39 - Dear C-Suite, we don’t do training, Dan Pontefract, CLO Magazine, 31 October 2013

“If the C-Suite thinks talent development is solely about training — a term with which we now abhor — and they leave it to Human Resources (or the Learning Department within HR) to execute, yet the Learning Department itself is there delivering formal courses because ‘that’s how it’s always been done’, it’s no wonder the C-Suite’s view is that learning is in fact training. HR and/or the Learning Department aren’t doing anything to change the fixed mindset of the C-Suite on the definition of learning in the first place so how could they possibly change their own views? It’s not as though the C-Suite spends a lot of time thinking about this particular issue.”

40 - The tragedy of L&D, Nick Shackleton-Jones, October 2013

“And it is now that the twofold tragedy of L&D becomes clear: the vast majority of actual learning (circa 90%) happens as the left hand side of the diagram, where people are responding to challenges. And yet L&D wastes its time and money at the right hand side: trying to teach people stuff they don’t really feel is important. It’s actually really hard to get someone to care about something (because the kind of care I am talking about is predominantly a system 1 function)  – it would be so much better to focus on resources which have a fighting chance of having a real business impact. And so the second tragedy becomes clear: if you really wanted someone to care about something – and I accept that this is a noble aspiration – you wouldn’t do it by dumping content on them. To give an example: if employees really cared about data security, they could learn everything they needed to know very easily, on the web. But instead of thinking of ways to instill concern, the tradition of content fly-tipping continues. Because learning is not understood; because it is thought of as ‘knowledge-transfer’.”

November 2013

41 - Does technology improve employee engagement? Dion Hinchcliffe, ZDNet, 5 November 2013

42 - “Blogging is just people showing off”, Euan Semple, 15 November 2013

“There seems to be a feeling that bloggers are seeking attention, that they should keep their ideas to themselves. Presumably we should leave expressing ideas to the professionals – whoever they are?! I suspect that there is a good deal of projection going on in the stronger reactions. No one is making them read this stuff!! Besides blogging is so varied in its manifestations that blanket statements about what it is or is not are nonsense. I understand the wariness of people seeking attention but for me the joy of blogging is the conversations it kicks off and the relationships that it has helped me to form and sustain.”

43 - MOOCs will ultimately play a transformational role, Stephen Downes, 7 November 2013

“The democratization of the MOOC cannot be underestimated. We have reached the point in the history of MOOCs where the initial excitement is waning and people are beginning to ask questions about whether MOOCs will play a useful role, much less a transformational one, into the future. This comes as record numbers of MOOCs are being offered by numerous providers MOOCs have become a worldwide phenomenon, with Britain’s FutureLearn launching in beta and the first Arabic MOOCs coming online.” 

44 - Why We No Longer Need HR Departments, Bernard Marr, LinkedIn, November 2013

“So, the first point I want to make is that the name is wrong: very wrong. It signals to everyone that this department manages ‘human resources’ in a top-down fashion, i.e. managing humans in a similar way to other resources such as finance, property or machines. If departments can’t see that this is sending out the wrong messages, then they don’t deserve to be there anyway.”

December 2013

45 - Since when did elearning get so serious? Helen Blunden, 5 December 2012

“Whether it’s completing annual compliance e-learning programs sitting on an LMS or being told by a manager that I must attend an event to learn about a new service or product that may or may not be relevant to my needs, the words ‘mandated’ and ‘learning’ should never be in the same sentence together. Why? They cancel each other out.”

46 - MOOCs: the C***** word is the problem! Donald Clark, 7 December 2013

“I simply ask you to flip your mind and see MOOCs not as courses but free content. In this respect, it’s more like Wikipedia and YouTube, both massive learning tools, used by hundreds of millions of learners. We don’t talk about drop-out in Wikipedia or YouTube. What they talk about are drop-ins – the huge amount of real use.”

47 - Improve Your Learning From A to Z, Dennis Callahan, Learnstreaming, 7 December 2013

Improve Your Learning From A to Z

48 - Timeframes for the future of work: trends and uncertainties in this decade and beyond, Ross Dawson, 9 December 2013

49 –  Building The Case For Social Business: Part I – Appeal To The Mind, Jeff Gibbard, 9 December 2013

“There will be three steps necessary to getting buy-in, and the first is to engage the decision maker’s mind. … We need them to see that the world is smaller, faster and more connected.  We need them to see that information is right at our fingertips and that connectivity is part of our everyday lives. It has forever changed how we: communicate, complain, promote, seek help, find information, and share information.”

50 – The best of times, the worst of times: opportunities and challenges for the L&D profession, Charles Jennings, 20 December 2013

“I believe the L&D profession can take some lessons from both of these Charles Dickens stories, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol. It really is the best of times and the worst of times for learning professionals. There has never been a time of greater opportunity to make a real difference. Equally, there has never been more danger for the profession. There is a choice. Rethink what’s gone before and adapt to change, or keep on doing what’s always been done in the hope beyond hope that it will work.”

Compare the themes in previous Top articles lists

2013 Top articles 2012 Top articles
2011 Top articles 2010 Top articles
2009 Top articles 2008 Top articles
 
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Jane Hart

Founder at C4LPT
Jane Hart is an independent Workplace Learning Advisor, Writer and International Speaker. Every year she compiles the Top 100 Tools for Learning activity. She also offer a number of online workshops on modernising workplace learning. Find out more about Jane and her work.