The Best Blog Posts of January 2014

calendar-151591_640Here is my personal pick of the best blog posts in January 2014. (For all the posts I tweeted and bookmarked in January, see my 2014 Reading List.)

1 – WEARABLES

January started off with the usual round of predictions for 2014 and one of the recurring predictions was the increase in use of wearable technology. However, a Fast Company post pointed out, in Can Performance Be Quantified? Wearable Tech In The Office (5 January)  that ..

“The age of the quantified self is here. Now business is buying in.”

Stowe Boyd (GigaOm, 14 January) took it one stage further, and talked about the emergence of Bring Your Own Wearable: 

“The additional cost of wearables and the complexities in their use make it harder for companies to ask their employees to switch to company gear … But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be happy to gain whatever productivity increase comes from their use.”

As BYOD morphs into BYOW, another article in ReadWrite (20 January) explains that management are also starting to adapt to a world where you “bring your own everything” : Bring your own social networks; Bring your own contact manager; Bring your own methodology, Bring your own productivity tools and apps.

2 – THE DEMISE OF FACEBOOK

The Guardian (22 January) reported how Princeton Researchers have, by comparing Facebook’s growth curve to that of an infectious disease, predicted that it will lose 80% of users by 2017. Other commentators have responded to this, including Lance Ulanoff exclaiming No, Facebook is Not an Infectious Disease (Mashable, 23 January).  But there was an interesting twist on the debate, as reported in Debunking Princeton: Facebook avenges its takedown with playful data science (Wired, 24 January)

“Facebook data scientists have turned the methodology used to predict the downfall of the social network in a paper by researchers at Princeton University against the Ivy League institution to describe how its days may also be numbered.”

3 – COFFEE & LEARNING

Another intriguing study about the effect of coffee on learning was reported by Scientific American, Should you drink coffee be!fore or after a learning task? (14 January):

“Popular wisdom holds that caffeine enhances learning, alertness and retention, leading millions to consume coffee or caffeinated drinks before a challenging learning task such as attending a business strategy meeting or a demanding scientific presentation. However a new study in the journal Nature Neuroscience conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins hints that when it comes to long-term memory and caffeine, timing may be everything; caffeine may enhance consolidation of memories only if it is consumed after a learning or memory challenge.”

4 -  TRAINING & LEARNING

There were lots more great posts in January – here are a few more with some key quotes I’ve picked out.

Training Hubris by Marc Rosenberg (Learning Solutions Magazine,  14 January)

“Training activity that doesn’t produce business value is primarily wasted.

If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material by Monique Valcour  (HBR, 23 January)

“Skilled managers have never been more critical to the success of firms than they are today.  Not because employees can’t function without direction, but because managers play a vital role in talent management. Gone are the comprehensive career management systems and expectations of long-term employment that once functioned as the glue in the employer-employee contract.  In their place, the manager-employee dyad is the new building block of learning and development in firms.”

On doing the work by Seth Godin (24 January)

“Almost eight thousand people have taken my Skillshare course so far, and the ones that got the most out of it all had two things in common: They did the project worksheets and they actively contributed to the online discussions. Learning is not watching a video, learning is taking action and seeing what happens.”

The Career-Boosting Benefits of Lifelong Learning in Mashable (25 January)

” educational opportunities should be social, whether that means taking place in a classroom or via online chats. Even something as simple as following the author of a book you like and engaging with them on Twitter forces you to start communicating with and learning from a larger community.”

5 – CHANGE

Clark Quinn believes that it is time for L&D to change. In Starting Trouble (28 January) he writes.

“The gist is that there are a number of changes L&D is not accommodating: changes in how business should be run, changes in understanding how we think and perform, and even our understanding of learning has advanced (at least beyond the point that most of our corporate approaches seem to recognize).  Most L&D really seems stuck in the industrial age, and yet we’re in the information age.”

Don’t think you have the authority of power to make changes? Then Ron Ashkenas proffers some advice, in You Don’t Have To Be The CEO To Make A Difference (Forbes, 29 January)

“If you want to be part of a successful organization, you need to be part of the dialogue — to share your views, influence others, and make a difference. If you don’t feel that you can take the initiative to do that, then either think about what gets in your way or what you can do differently. If conditions don’t allow you to speak up and exert your influence, go somewhere else. But waiting for senior leaders or the CEO to make things better is probably not going to be a very effective strategy.”

But, I’ll give the last word to Helen Blunden on the subject of change. In How Do We Enforce Independence in Workplace Learning? (27 January), she writes.

“So the challenge for me – and for other corporate learning teams is this… it’s time for us to create some density from within the organisation to create the change that is required … Those who will find this change disconcerting or who need to hide within organisational hierarchical structures will leave.  The others will, by nature, express independence, create networks and once again re-engage with their work.”

[If you want to share my Top January Picks, please do ensure you provide full attribution to this blog post.]

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