A very practical post this time.

Two bits of confusing terminology that have come up in conversation recently: '70/20/10' and 'Online learning vs E-learning'.

I often encounter confusion regarding where our online work sits (it belongs in the 70), and I am sure some of our suppliers are baffled when I politely explain that we do online learning so we don't have any involvement with E-learning.

So I've found the diagram above useful in explaining to our internal stakeholders (who may get frustrated with our own apparent confusion) what goes where. This is how I explain the relationships:

70/20/10 has both a face-to-face dimension and an online dimension: for example there are face-to-face social aspects (like learning from peers) and online social aspects.

“If you want to get to there, I wouldn’t start from here"

There are, I suppose, two perspectives on AI: an attempt to coax technology into working like people, or a way of doing things that people do.

As AI progresses we find that we can do more of the second thing whilst getting further from the first. That is: with more processing power we can get technology to do things like play chess or drive cars - but how they do it resembles less and less how people do it.

As a child I took bad photos. I still take bad photos, but as a child they were bad in a specific way.

I was maybe early teens - I had a Russian camera which I loaded with black and white film (because processing black and white film was cheaper) and I would snap away, then wait days for processing. They would come back with stickers on, telling me that they were various kinds of poor.

I was interviewed recently about the work we've been doing at BP and at the end the researcher asked what question I'd like to ask of other organizations. I said 'what mistakes have you made?'. It occurred to me that I should probably share a few of mine:

1) Building a course when I should have built a resource: around 20 years ago I was working for a global telecoms company who sell the kinds of phones that you have on your desk, if you still have one (either a desk or a desk phone).

The learning industry suffers from the chronic disorder that things that are supposed to work, don't. Lectures, e-learning modules, learning styles, blending and MOOCs to name a few.

Of course there are some things that work pretty well - performance consulting for example - but until we have a working theory of learning it's going to stay pretty hit and miss overall.

Years ago our HR Director challenged us all to consider the question ‘what does the organisation really hire you to do?’

The answer – delivering learning – never seemed very satisfactory to me. The business is really interested in outcomes. They have never been entirely convinced that learning delivers them, and we have never been very convincing.

But now I think it is clear: either you are delivering engagement, or you are improving performance. There is no ‘learning’ role.

For the most part, our learning is driven by challenges. I fear that we cease to learn, as we grow fearful of challenges - and of failure.

We put together a list of challenges and did our best to complete as many as possible.

One of the challenges was to write 5 poems. At school I had tried to write poetry as part of a small group led by the Headmaster. We took turns to read. When I had read mine I looked up. The headmaster was frowning. 'What's wrong with it?' I asked.

"we do not remember events; instead we remember how we felt about them and we use these feelings to reconstruct the event."

Click here to read A Preliminary Explanation of Human Learning and the Methods of Learning Design.

What’s your stopping-off point?

I'm reading Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson. One of the things I like about his writing is how quickly he exposes people's 'stopping off point' - what some might call 'core beliefs', but which I like to think of as the point where they decided to stop going any further and said 'this is as far as I'm going'.

It varies a lot. It can be religion, or football, or something your parents said. Or a belief in UFOs.

During the last twenty-odd years, I have worked for some of the most interesting organisations in the world, trying to bring about innovation.

I have often thought about the challenges that this presents - and wondered if I should write a book about it. It seems a popular topic these days; Ray Wang talks about the importance of Digital Artisans, for example - and the big four consultancies routinely produce reports extolling the importance of innovation in times of change.