First time out

This evening I presented 5 minutes of Real Learning story at the Future Salon in San Francisco. About 40 people in attendance.

Presentations were 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. I gave a fair performance, certainly more together than a few convoluted sales pitches. But I did not grab people’s attention. It was uh huh, very interesting, let’s move on. I offered free books only 3 people took me up on the offer, one who was watching online.

These folks are generally into saving the world. Zann Gill, Claudia Brenner, Mae Lin, Sean, Bill Daul were there. Mark Finnern and Jean. Co-creation.

We talked about brainstorming. And schooling. But they couldn’t make the connection with sustainability and making it a better world.

This is the wake-up call. Work and life today involve dealing with mind-blowing amounts of data and decision-making, novel situations, filling in for others, changing models, and the promise of continuing uncertainty, surprises, volatility, and experimentation.

All these require learning. Learning and working are becoming one and the same.

If you’re solving a previously unheard of problem for a client, are you working or are you learning? You can’t really separate the two. I call this intertwined working and learning netWork.

If you can’t perform netWork, you are toast. You may be able to play today’s game but you won’t be able to play tomorrow’s. I asked 200 Chief Learning Officers if what they were doing was adequate to prepare their workforce for the needs of the future. Three out of four said no. People need learning but they don’t need the flavor most corporate training departments serve: courses. Most corporate training  has so little impact that senior managers in large, progressive organizations don’t consider calling on their services.


The stultifying brainwashing we received in school is very difficult to break through.

I’m not very interested in rote learning, preparing for one-time tests, and memorizing arcane things you’ll never use (or could look up if you did). Nor am I interested in learning that is dictated by others. Intrinsic motivation is so much more gratifying. Besides, research shows that you can’t really be coerced into learning. People learn because they want to learn. The stuff that’s forced down their throats (trigonometry springs to mind) is not going to stick.

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” Paul Simon

That word LEARNING conjures up the frame of SCHOOLING. All of a sudden, everybody’s got an opinion and several stories. Most people I talk with, some of them off-scale brilliant in everything but this topic, veer off into focusing on explicit knowledge. Measurable stuff.  STEM and its brothers.

This is misplaced. Explicit knowledge can be algorithmized and before you know it; people who try to add value with encyclopedic knowledge in their heads are going to brief Mr. Robot before finding something more fulfilling to do.


Work and learning are as tightly bundled as (analogy needed). Dealing with an ever more complicated future will take us being better at netWork. The learning aspect is Real Learning; the work portion is Working Smarter. They are bound at the hip. They always work in tandem.

Real Learning rests on what science tells us about how we learn and rejects the folklore of schooling.  Working Smarter is outcome of taking a systems view.  They are a powerful combination.

So let’s take a timeout. Try not to think of “rhinoscerous.”

The sort of learning that changes lives involves gaining tacit knowledge. That’s things you can’t write down in a blog post. It’s deep, emotionally-charged, fuzzy. You gain explicit knowledge when you learn about things. You score tactic knowledge through experience. You have to do it. Learning is experiential. It’s the difference between reading the Kama Sutra and actually making love. You could have read about it forever, but without experience, you’d not have learned.

What sort of scientific results am I talking about?



essentially, create a thought piece selling the importance — to survival — of improvement mechanisms that empower people. 

do video of same

shoot for HBR?


learning: many things. when i need prodding, i will put myself in a situation where I have to have an opinion, a paper, a presentation (all the same since I self plagiarize whenever the opportunity arises).

where else might i practice the message? back yard?

need to complete big picture, offer my top five

To be an optimal Real Learner,

  1. written goals
  2. stretch experiences
  3. socialize
  4. reflect
  5. work out loud




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