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Date: Friday, 28 Oct 2011 01:58

(This is a guest post by Tracy Linden.  She has always had a deep passion in ensuring quality education is available for all who want to attend college. Tracy understands all online colleges aren’t created equal and for the past few years has helped spread the message of the level of education, convenience and opportunity Online University can provide students.)

Two words: social media. How many times have each one of us heard those words in the past few years? Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Digg, StumpleUpon and the list can go on and on. These sites have become to many– a part of everyday life and language and no one can deny the truth that social media sites are everywhere and millions of people are using them more and more every day.

The number of active social media users has skyrocketed. Just five years ago, researchers at the Pew Research Institute conducted a survey asking adults who use the Internet: if they use social media and if so, how. Surprisingly, only 5 percent claimed to be using social media. However results from the same survey conducted last year showed that number was up to an alarming 65 percent.

With Facebook and Twitter being the two giants for new media connection; one particular  group is using social media more than ever — students and professors at online universities and traditional four year colleges. Students are drawn to social media accounts and fan pages because they act as blank canvases for student-faculty and student-student interaction. A student can post a message on a professor’s or student’s Facebook page or Twitter account and receive a quick response. In some instances it’s faster than picking up the phone or typing an email.

Reasearch shows just how engaged students are becoming using these social sites.The National Survey of Student Engagement polled freshmen and seniors at participating colleges using five different benchmarks: academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experience and supportive campus environment. The research gained from the 17,000 students from 40 different colleges, proved when students are actively engaged on their college campuses beyond the classroom, they “ learn more, think more critically, and gain an appreciation for diverse perspectives.” The study also showed students were most engaged in learning with each other when they were preparing assignments, working on projects and directly after exams.

Professors and students aren’t the only ones banking on the effectiveness of educational engagement; colleges also use social media sites as a means of communication in order to tell prospective, current and former students what’s going on with the institution. The primary use of these pages is to help students learn about the university and keep in touch with current and past students. These university pages help prove that over the years companies have learned that social media is where there customers are, and that is where they need to be too.

It would be silly for students not to relish in the joys of no longer having to deal with late night desperate attempts for one of your classmates or professors to answer their email or phone call to get help with a assignment or a study question. Social media breaks down barriers for students. It allows the professor to be available in a less formal environment and fosters communication as students can ask questions and receive answers to questions in and outside of class. Thanks to social media, colleges no longer need to wonder what it is their students are doing, or what they are thinking– all they have to do is go online.

From onlinephd.org

From onlinephd.org

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Tuesday, 20 Sep 2011 14:50

Post image for vinJones.com – Changing The Way We Work

Engaged Learning as a blog has not been receiving much love lately.  This is because I have been spending more time blogging at vinJones.com.  Here, among other things, I am creating short videos that help us reevaluate how we work.  They are meant to be able to be shown and discussed in your meetings at work.  10 minutes of open dialogue can make a huge difference.

The people who follow vinJones.com and use the tools provided there are the ones who want to change the world of business.  They are not content to let the mediocre and the status quo dominate nor do they “just want a job.”  They can see and feel a different world ahead of them.  One that is better in a million different ways.  But it means breaking out of the normalcy of everyday life and doing something extraordinary.  Working differently.  Thinking differently.  Acting differently.  I believe you are they.  You think on a different plane than most people.

Every post.  Every graphic.  Every video.  Every thought.  Every writing.  Every meeting.  Every endeavor is meant to change the world – either directly or indirectly by empowering others to make change.

We help each other by sharing, inspiring and acting.  We bring light to the issues and create the tools to inspire these kinds of people.  People may think we’re crazy – that we can’t change the world of business.  But you are the geniuses, the ones with the inspiration and courage to act and make the change.

Wherever you are in the world, vinJones will support this group of like minds and actions.  Prepar to be bold.

Among other topics, you can learn the top ways in which we can fail at anything “Social,” including Social Learning.

Please join us.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, Video, Blog, business, c..."
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Date: Monday, 27 Jun 2011 19:56

In this post, I cover the content of the session I gave at E2.0, complete with some of the videos (5 in all) that gave me inspiration.

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, June 28th) I will talk about one E2.0 failure a week.  Then I encourage everyone to talk about how we can avoid it and what we might do if we get stuck in the situation.

We learn a ton from our failures, and I hope you can join us!

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "E2.0, Enterprise 2.0, conference, enterp..."
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Date: Friday, 24 Jun 2011 16:46

(This is a crosspost from vinJones.com)

IFRAME Embed for Youtube

(For the Challenge, skip to the bottom)

Attending last year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference was a great experience. I learned a ton, met friends I had never met before in carbon, and left feeling invigorated. But there was a nagging feeling – it was all too perfect.

The sessions and keynotes were all about how great this was and how successful everyone had been. But I knew those were not the full stories. Having worked on Social Business for a few years, I had made my share of mistakes and had made a partial living off of fixing the mistakes of others and I learned a ton from these experiences. Why should a conference be any different? Why can’t we learn from each others’ mistakes? Was there a huge fear of failure?

So, when the call for presenters went out, I decided to talk about failures. I had some I could share, and I was sure I could find others so it didn’t turn into a “Kevin Failure Show.” I was wrong. As I started compiling stories I realized that there were very few who were willing to talk about their failures. But I had to go forward and the only failures I knew where my own or were from organizations I had worked with – and I didn’t feel like I could rat them out.

My first thought was, “I don’t have THAT many failures I could share!” Wrong again. It was amazing how many times I had failed. Not catastrophically, but even in small and simple ways.

My sweet wife was concerned. “Will it look like you are a total failure? Will they understand that you are really good at what you do?” I assured her it would be just fine. But this meant I had to be very open and transparent about my mistakes. This really is not an easy thing to do (mentally).

While creating the content for the session I learned that all of us make very few huge failures, but instead we make many small ones, quickly learn and adjust and turn them into wins. And the more I thought about it, the more mistakes I could name off. Soon, there were so many that I had to figure out which went into the presentation, and which I would merely mention and not explain.

The day of the presentation came. I was scheduled for the first time slot immediately after the keynotes. Arriving a bit early, I set up as I watched attendees pour in to this huge room. Susan Scrupski (queen of the Social Business Council) came up and said, “Have you seen the line to get in?” I had to go see this. She was right and it was long. By the time everyone had filed in, this large room was full.

I mention this only to point out that the reason they were there was not because of me, but because of the topic of failure – there were many others that felt the same way I did – a nice validation of my thoughts, but now the pressure was on (I didn’t want a live failure of a presentation on failure!). They wanted to learn from the mistakes of others so they would not repeat it.

In another post I will go over the content, but there are a couple things I did in the session that were kind of fun. The day before, during the workshops, I made the above video, and that is how I started it off. Immediately after it was silent, everyone waiting for me to start. I stood there, quietly for a moment, and then said, “Hi. I’m Kevin and I have failed.” A few giggles followed. I had planted four others in the audience who, in turn, stood up and introduced themselves and said the same thing. It was a Fail Flashmob or an FA meeting (Failures Anonymous). Then I went on to talk about the nature of failure, followed by examples of failure and how they could be overcome.

Time was running out and I had MANY more in the hopper (just in case time went long). I didn’t expect to explain most of them, but just use as examples. Later others told me that as I blew through the last 20 or so, they personally recognized each one and realized that we fail all the time, but we recover.

(Link to the presentation.)

At the very end I issued two challenges to the audience. The first was to share their failures and not be afraid to talk about them. The second was to join me in discussing them after the conference has ended.

And so I invite you as well. Each week I will post an Enterprise 2.0 failure on the vinJones.com blog and encourage you to answer these two questions: 1) how can we avoid it and 2) if it still happens, how can we correct it? I have enough for a half year’s worth and by the time that comes around, we’ll all probably have that many more again.

The response after the session and for the next three days was wonderfully overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who tweeted during the session, blogged (Nigel Danson, Steve Radick) and wrote articles (SearchCRM, CMSWire), came up and talked to me about it and referred to the session in subsequent sessions. I wish I could thank you all individually. I am truly humbled by the response.

So please join us. The more perspectives we get each week, the more we can learn from each other and be better we will be at what we all love to do. I hope to learn from you next Tuesday with the first failure!  (I promise the posts won’t be nearly as long ;-)

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "E2.0, Enterprise 2.0, enterprise 2.0 con..."
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Date: Friday, 17 Jun 2011 18:30

(Crossposted on vinjones.com)


The shoe laces on my shoes just broke.  I bought the shoes two months ago, so they should have been fine.  When I finally found the time, I went into Kohl’s where I bought them and was looking around for shoe laces, thinking they might give me an extra pair.  I asked an associate and they said they don’t carry laces.  But they would just trade shoes – no questions asked.  I was amazed.  So, I found another pair and exchanged them.  Easy.

Kohl’s trusted me that I, as a consumer would make the right decision and not abuse the system.  Guess where I am going back next time.  A similar circumstance happened at Costco.  I will go back to these two stores forever because of the trust they place in their customer.  And because of their trust they will have this family of 10 visiting their store.

Why do we make rules? In this video I talk about consistency.  But very often it is because we lack trust.  Take a look at any person or organization and often you can tell how much they trust the people they serve by the number of rules they make.  A jail has MANY rules – and probably for a good reason.  But what about our workplaces?  Do they need to be filled with so many rules?

I often hear people complaining about the rules, trying to find ways around them and, in general, being less productive – the very opposite of why the rule was made in the first place.

What would happen if we trusted more? Would we get burned or would we realize that there are hidden benefits to trust?  I bet on the latter.

TEXT

Why do we make rules?  When I talk about rules I mean laws, company policies or procedures, sports rules, chore charts for our kids or anything like it.

First, you have to have a goal.  Unless you have a goal there are no need for rules.  You can do whatever you want and get whatever result you get!  Just ask the Cheshire Cat.

But let’s assume we do have a goal – we make rules based off of two factors: trust and consistency.  This video, is about Trust.

(TRUST) Why do we put up railings on balconies?  It’s because we don’t trust that someone won’t accidentally look too far over the edge.

Every day we make trust judgements.  And it’s only natural to have few rules for those we trust, and more rules for those we don’t.  While it’s important we make these judgements, sometimes we can get a little carried away.

I saw an email recently where a company reminded its knowledge worker employees that they were not allowed to come in to work late, leave early nor take unplanned time off unless it was previously approved by a manager.  If they didn’t follow the rules, they may face company discipline, up to and including dismissal.

There is a big contradiction in life here – For 12 years up through high school we were reprimanded if we were late or left early or didn’t show up for class.  Then in college we were told we are an adult and could do whatever we wanted to.  But now that we are in the work force, we go back to grade school rules.  Why is that?

Guidelines like these are important if they are working a shift and production depended upon them.  I get that.  But most people are knowledge workers now.  The models are really very different.

But it isn’t just an 8-5 work time issue.  It’s also applies to sick and vacation time, internet policies, lunch breaks, social media restrictions and a host of other company policies.

I once worked at a company which gave everyone three weeks of vacation, but we were the only ones who would keep track of it.  And we could come in when we wanted to and leave when we wanted to.  If we wanted to watch a movie in the middle of the day, go for it.  As long as the work gets done and we worked hard – that’s what matters.

Although we never turned in our daily hours, sick or vacation days, I didn’t know anyone who took advantage it.  Simply put, they didn’t abuse the system.  In fact, I haven’t worked with a group who worked harder.

On the other hand, with all the restrictions in some companies, I hear employees often wasting time trying to find ways to get around or stretch the rules or complaining about them.  In the end, this makes them less productive – the very opposite of what all those rules are trying to accomplish.

Without the right level of trust from employers, employees often hold back and don’t give their all.  But, it goes the other way, too.  Employees need to give a healthy level of trust their employers.  There must be a good balance between the two.

Wisely letting go is actually liberating.  If you make too many rules with your kids, for example, you wind up spending all your time as an enforcer rather than actually enjoying them.

My philosophy?  Stop wasting time and making rules that, in the end, really don’t matter.  This allows you to give your attention to the things that are most important.  Trust your employees, focus on what will make you successful and let the small stuff take care of itself.

Will they make mistakes.  Sure, just like you do, I do, we all do.  In fact we need to give them that latitude and be OK with it.  What they do next will show their trustworthiness.

And if they’re not trustworthy, they need to leave.  But that also means you need to trust.  It initially might be a scary thing to do, but I bet you’ll find that on many levels, the payback is huge.

****
I once heard a story of a newlywed couple going to marriage counseling. He complained that she didn’t trust him with the other women in the office.  After a little probing the councilor discovered this was his second marriage, she used to be his secretary and she had good reason to not trust him.  Ouch.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Video"
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Date: Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011 21:14

(This is a crosspost from my personal blog: vinjones.com)

Over the years I have given many presentations and keynotes at conferences.  And usually there are blog posts and tweets about them afterward.  But rarely are people talking about the session BEFORE they actually see it.  This is what has happened for my session at theEnterprise 2.0 Conference.

First, I saw Sterling Raphael‘s  tweet pointing to his post.

By attending this session, I hope to come away recognizing and understanding the face of failure. Most importantly, how to circumvent it.

That pointed me to others.  Like Jacob Morgan‘s post:

This session should really help organizations understand what failure looks like and how to avoid it.

And to the post from Steve Wiley (who organizes the E2.0 Conf):

Kevin’s session should provide a healthy contrast by tackling the subject of failures head on.

What great advanced notice of what others want to hear!  Obviously it is a topic that is on the minds of many, as it has been on my mind for some time.

We all know there is Enterprise 2.0 failure, but rarely is anyone willing to talk about their own.  We all want to be successful and to let that shine through and not look like we don’t know what we are doing (at least at times).  But I figure at some point we have to admit it, and embrace it, and not only work out loud, but live out loud as the only way to really succeed is to fail our share of times.

My goal is to do this topic justice and make it so everyone walks away feeling 1) it is OK to fail, 2) just not too much,  and 3) how to manage failure when it does come and 4) how to avoid failure overall.  It is in the first general session time slot – (great!  we are starting with failure ;-) )  It may be a good dose of reality before we hear all the great ways NOT to fail that will follow.

(On the other hand, if I do fail in this session, it will be easy to make fun of!)

So if you are going to be there, come join me and the others.  And be prepared to open up and talk about your failures as well.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "E2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Strategy, conferen..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011 14:21

Challenge Vault is a project I have been working on for about 8 months, and it is finally time to make it public!

The passion behind Challenge Vault is detailed here, with video for more explanation.  But in essence, there are two sides:

1) The business side.  There was a hole in the ability to create online challenges quickly, easily and for little cost.  Engaging customers with a product or service is the best form of marketing.  But up until now, creating an online challenge was a difficult, expensive task – one that only the larger companies could pay for and pull off.  Challenge Vault now makes this easy and inexpensive for any company or organization.  Each challenge page & associated answer can be themed with a company’s brand with a background image and banner ad.

2) We all build off of each other.  Because the Internet has opened our view worldwide, the opportunity to build off of the best – wherever they may live – has grown a tremendous amount.  Challenge Vault is all about getting off our duffs and creating something new and innovative.  This is the really exciting part to me.

The beautiful part about for businesses is that when a player accepts a challenge, they get their friends to vote for them so they can win.  How do they do that?  FacebookTwitter, email.  This is free advertising for the business or organization.  They create the content centered around your brand, they distribute your brand through their social media channels, and they encourage others to do the same.

There are a TON of ways Challenge Vault can be used with great results:

  • Build a challenge around a brand name, like Mo’s Restaurants.  They have had the same radio jingle since the 70′s and need a new one.   The winner will get a dinner for four and the jingle will be played on the air.
  • A recording artist could challenge his/her fans to write lyrics to which the artist will write the music.
  • Looking for a particular talent and need a pool of people to choose from?  Put up a challenge to complete a certain task.  From there you will receive entries of people who have the necessary skill, and a pool of potential applicants for future projects or positions.
  • Challenge chapters of your organization to come up with the best new slogan, or design, innovative idea, or…
  • Create a video involving your brand and stop half way.  Challenge your customers to finish the video.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.  I have come up with MANY more uses that would engage customers.

What about price?  A non-themed challenge is free and always will be.  Normally a themed challenge – adding a background image and banner ad – would cost, but as I am more focused on getting usage, even that is free for now – but not for too long.

So if you want to take advantage of this and really engage your customers, members, students, family members, friends or any other group, jump on right now and create your challenge.  If you need help, let me know and we can put together the perfect challenge!

I hope you have as much fun with it as I do!

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

IFRAME Embed for Youtube
Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, challenge, challenge vau..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Jun 2011 15:10

(This is a crosspost from vinjones.com)

IFRAME Embed for Youtube

My wife says I have multiple personalities.  In this one area, I might agree.

I am very “by the book”.  And yet, at the same time I could care less about the book.  At NASA, a civil servant was assigned to me to keep me out of trouble because I was stirring up the pot (it is actually part of my role, but that’s another story).  But at home, we have a number of rules we all (not only the kids) need to follow.

This dichotomy started me thinking about rules.  Why do we have rules?  And the rules I refer to can be in any form – laws, company policy, rules at home, etc.  After whittling it down, I came up with two reasons we have rules: Consistency and Trust.

There are some things we MUST have consistent.  Eating is one of them.  It is a principle that must be followed, or we die.  How, where, when and what we eat – that is another matter.  So in this regard, we are all “by the book” on eating for our nourishment, yet there are many books to follow to tailor it to our specific circumstances.

When creating a process at work, very often our main motivation is for consistency.  If it is a rudimentary function that doesn’t take a lot of brain power, it works well.  But if it even takes slight problem solving or judgement, strict processes start to fall apart.  All it takes sometimes is one variable to change and our perfect process goes from efficient to ineffective.  From there we have an internal struggle between what we SHOULD do and what process/policy says we OUGHT to do – between doing what is best or doing what the policy/procedure says.

We have all been there – which do we follow?  Our natural minds pull us toward adapting, yet the corporate side of us tells us to conform.

This video explains some more of these opposites.

TEXT

Why do we make rules?  When I talk about rules I mean laws, company policies or procedures, sports rules, chore charts for our kids or anything like it.

First, you have to have a goal.  Unless you have a goal there are no need for rules.  You can do whatever you want and get whatever result you get!  Just ask the Cheshire Cat.

But let’s assume we do have a goal – we make rules based off of two factors: trust and consistency.  This video, is about consistency.

(CONSISTENCY) Think of a button.  We design it to consistently perform a function and achieve the same result.  So, within the mechanics of a button we build the rules by which this button operates.  And it works like a charm – until it breaks.

The great thing about consistency is that it’s constant.  We can consistently rely on it.

But as we all know, the only constant… is change.

Change is the point where consistency should end, or at least be reevaluated.  But instead, our primal desire to keep the consistency grows stronger.

Imagine you have a process that works perfectly.  In time, however, one factor changes.  It could be a new person joins the team, a change in cost savings, new technology, new goal or the culture of your company changes slightly.

Suddenly, the process doesn’t work as well as it did before.  Instead of trying to accommodate the change, we try to force the same process because we know it works.

Now add up a number of changes like this over time, and what happens? All to quickly, the perfect process is getting in the way of actually doing the right thing.

And we have all seen bad processes.

Rules, processes and policy, by their very nature, are meant to be consistent in an ever changing world.  They are not meant to change.  Do you see the problem here?

Let me be clear here – Consistency is not a bad thing.  In fact it is often very needed.  When launching the Shuttle, NASA MUST be consistent in their checks to ensure safety.

The trick is to identify what can change, and what should not.  True principles don’t change.  How we put them in to practice, does.

For example, taking an occasional break from hard work is a good principle to follow.  How and where and when you take that break, that’s a practice that can change.
Mental exercise: Next time you follow a rule ask yourself if you’re following it because of consistency.  If you do that consistently, you will constantly find discrepancies.  And maybe you can become a constant source of positive change.

****
And unless you want to ruin your car’s engine, it’s a good idea to consistently checking the oil.

I unfortunately know that one from experience.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Friday, 20 May 2011 23:59

Post image for It’s Time To Try Social Technologies – Video

(This is a repost from vinJones.com)

This is a video I have promised to do for some time.  It is in response to those who won’t even consider social technologies with their organizations – now or in the future.  I have heard about all of the excuses – and for the most part I don’t buy any of them.  They range from “Our culture won’t support it” to “It is a waste of my time” to “We have better things to focus on.”

It’s like saying, “This new thing called the phone is nifty and all, but we don’t need it.”  You don’t know it yet – but yes you do.  And eventually it will come.  The question is, when will you allow it?

Most don’t dive in because of two factors: Fear of the Unknown and Fear of Change.  Now, honestly, it is FEAR?  They may not label it that, but I believe so.  Social Technologies for this group are unknown and they usually don’t want to know anything about it because of their incorrect preconceived ideas – they actively resist it.  They also think that everything at their company is working well enough.

So did Blockbuster and Borders.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of parachute pants without stealing a photo.  Oh well.)

IFRAME Embed for Youtube

TEXT

Do you remember parachute pants?  They were cool for about a month and then they suddenly weren’t cool anymore.

Bell bottoms were in style for longer, then they were ugly.  Now, renamed as “flair” they are cool again.

Same thing with thongs.

But some things never lose their usefulness and don’t go out of style.  Like toilets. And door handles.  And, unfortunately, fruit cake.

And ever since we started using it, social technologies within organizations – no matter what we have called it – has has only proven to be more and more useful.

For those who haven’t taken it seriously yet – it’s time.

For many people, just the name “social networking” scares the bejeebers out of them.  Why?  I have found two main reasons: fear of the unknown and fear of change.

Fear of the Unknown –  There are so many factors with this one.  But the way to overcome it is to try it out and prove your theories right or wrong.  You just have to jump in.  Or you could continue to do nothing about it.  But with as big as it’s getting, I wouldn’t recommend that approach.

Fear of Change –  Now, believe me, I get it. Changing the way you work is not an easy thing to do.  You’re comfortable with what you do and how you do it.  Much like everyone was comfortable 1903 with the way they travel, even after the wright brothers made some crazy flying contraption.

Only hearing about why you might want to use social networking in your company will only sink so far into your brain.

It isn’t until you actually try it out.  That is when the AH HA moment comes, and it all starts clicking.

Kind of like my son who would never think of kissing a girl.  But I guarantee the AH HA moment WILL come.  I just hope it doesn’t come too quickly. But I hope it comes quickly for you.  Well, not the kissing part, the social networking part.

So the only way to figure it out is give it a good sustained try.  Don’t just quit after a week of lame attempts.  Find someone who knows and understands all this social stuff and ask them what you might start with.  Then, let the clicking begin.

MY SON: Why would I ever kiss a girl?
ME: Oh, that’ll come.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Friday, 20 May 2011 23:51

Making a an exciting change (at least for me), I am moving over to vinJones.com – a new blog I have just created.

There were posts that I wanted to write that don’t fit in to the topic of this site.  I wanted to explore new veins of thinking, try new things and branch out a bit (including creating videos).  But I didn’t feel I could do that here because of the confined (although fantastic) topic.  So I will be transitioning to vinJones.com as time marches on.  Everything here will be reposts from there, but not everything there will live here.

So I would humbly suggest getting your notifications from the new site, as it will be more comprehensive.

I am not sure what will happen to Engaged Learning in the future.  It may fade out, it may become  a collection of posts from people in the Learning world, or morph another way.  But for now it will continue on until further notice of a change.

Thank you to all who have read and commented and have helped me learn and expand my thinking.  I hope to see you over at vinJones.com!

(Notice the title is a bit leading…)

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Tuesday, 03 May 2011 22:58

A week after I wrote the original post, I lived it.  As I said near the end, “Count on change.”

The press has been covering the Tuscaloosa tornado heavily (from what I hear from others outside of the area) and for good reason – it was huge.  The smaller ones aren’t getting much press.  There just isn’t time to cover them all.  But one scene of destruction was in our town.  In fact, only three miles away from my home.  After we came out of hiding in our basement with another family, it was pretty dark.  No phone, electricity and not much movement from our neighbors.  We knew trees had fallen in our neighborhood, but didn’t know what had happened elsewhere.

After getting the kids in bed, we went to the bishop of our church.  He said that everyone was accounted for except for above highway 53.  So my wife Kelly, my oldest son and I went to check on them.  Because it was so dark, even with headlights we could only see right in front of us.  But what we did see was unbelievable.  A direct, sweeping hit to neighborhoods.  Powerlines on the ground.  Buildings only a heap of wood, steel and brick.

The second story was lifted up and placed in the back yard while the first story was swept away.

When we reached a friend’s neighborhood, we wondered why there was so much debris on their street.  We soon learned that the tornado hit immediately behind their home, completely wiping out homes and leaving others only partially standing or as a frame only.  Some whole levels of homes were in the streets or in the back yard.  The stories we heard were incredible.  Thankfully, all of our friends and those in our church were spared.  There were surprisingly few lives lost in comparison to what could have happened.  Yet for those who lost loved ones, I know this is a very difficult, tragic time.

From then on, it was a non-stop recovery effort.  The outpouring of volunteerism the following days has been unbelievable.

My family, like all others, was out of power (and still are as I write this from a generator powered laptop), and without access to any local conveniences like grocery stores.  For a family of 10, that might be pretty scary, but it wasn’t.  We cooked all of our food on the BBQ & dutch oven.  We had plenty of candles and flashlights.  We have three months of regular food stored, one year of food and supply storage, plenty of water stored so our needs were met.  This enabled us go and concentrate on those who needed it instead of trying to only meet our needs.  The only major thing we were lacking was a generator to keep our refrigerators and freezer going.  But friends lent us one.

A neighbor’s brother’s family’s home was completely destroyed (as were many others – picture below).  We spent the days helping clean up the mess the tornado left behind.  Then we came back and fixed dinner for us, our neighbors and the brother’s family – 20 of us all together.  Those were great times we will never forget.  Laughter, good company, the kids playing guitar and piano in the candle light and having fun.  Not once did the family complain about the loss of their home.  They were a great inspiration.  Life is about family and friends.

The owners of the home in the foreground (now a heap) hid in the home in the background and were saved.

Whole neighborhoods were wiped out.  One in particular was less than affluent.  The homes were not well built.  Instead of a home being destroyed, the homes were scattered all over the place.  Acres of jumbled sticks.  During the days we tarped damaged roofs, chainsawed trees off of homes and out of yards and driveways, and helped families look for their personal belongings among the pile that was once their home – all in a rush before the rains came.

I learned so much from this experience – and still am.  There are a number of questions I have needed to answer, including,  ”If life sent me a jolt, would I be ready?”  ”If that jolt affected others, would I be in a spot where I was taken care of to go help others or would I be a burden on them?”  After this all calms down, they are questions I will need to reevaluate.

Today it is raining, so little work can effectively be done.  What personal items that were not found and picked up already are certainly ruined now.  We still don’t have power and may not for days.  But we are OK and very blessed to be spared.

There is a LONG recover ahead – years worth.  But we are in it for the long haul.

Our safety can be wiped out in an instant on many different levels and in many different contexts.  But if we are prepared, not only will we not fear, but we will be able to be of service to others.  My purpose is not only survive, but thrive.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Apr 2011 12:49

No, I don’t want you to come work for me and then purposefully be a failure.  But this is what I DO need…

In June I am speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston.  All the sessions talk about what you should do.  My session will be about what you should NOT do.  We are going to focus on case studies where the result was failure and glean lessons from them.

So what I would ask of you is the story of your failure (and YES, if you want to be anonymous, I will most certainly make sure the story is not attached to the name or company).  These failures can be smaller failures: “We tried this with a team and it didn’t work out.  Here’s why we think it didn’t work…”  Or they could be humungous failures: “We implemented E2.0 at our company, spent $1M and no one used it.”

If you would be so kind as to share and help others learn from mistakes you have seen, please tweet me, call me (503.213.4505) or even comment below.

Thank you!

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Thursday, 21 Apr 2011 04:09

I don’t know about you, but when I get comfy, something is wrong.  Are there exceptions to this?  Although I have thought about it, I haven’t found one.

If I get too comfortable in my marriage, I need to reevaluate.  Am I taking her for granted? Not appreciating her enough?

If I get too comfy in my career, I need to reevaluate.  Am I not growing?  Do I think I will have a job/client forever?

One of my favorite music artists, Harry Connick, Jr. had it right – Honestly Now, Safety’s Just Danger, Out of Place.  Lately I have watched – yet again – too many people be comfortable with where they are and a jolt hits them unexpectedly.  Like being awoken suddenly by a sharp clap of thunder immediately above their home.  They are disoriented, in a little state of panic and at a loss for what to do, if anything.  It is sad to watch more people go through it.

Those who are comfortable in their jobs may enjoy a season of rest, but there is a good chance it will come to an abrupt end at a very inconvenient time.  Pessimistic?  No.  Realistic and forward looking with a dose of empowerment.  A reminder to all out there: Make sure you hold the reins and you are driving the cart and that you haven’t turned it over to someone else.  I’m not saying you need to be totally paranoid, however.  Make sure you enjoy the journey – thoroughly.

Quoting Malcom Gladwell in The Tipping Point, “We are all, at heart, gradualists, our expectations set by the steady passage of time. But the world of the tipping point is a place in which the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than a possibility. It is – contrary to all our expectations – a certainty.”  Count on change.

A few reminders for everyone: Safety’s Just Danger, Out of Place.  If you don’t have control of the reins, time to take it back.  Get comfy being uncomfortable.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, career, comfy, danger, j..."
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Date: Monday, 14 Mar 2011 19:41

No, really, I need your thoughts on this one.  This is a personal matter.  Today I strongly dislike the health care industry.  Here is the story.

I was very un-Boy Scout like and sliced my finger open.  We went to the Urgent Care.  I called ahead to confirm they were an Urgent Care and would be charged Urgent Care rates (for me, $50 total). Yes.  We went in.  On the outside of the building it says, “Urgent Care.”  The web site?  ”Urgent Care.”  It took longer than normal not because there were a lot of others there (as far as I could tell I was the only patient) but it was the Iron Bowl.

We later received our bill, totaling hundreds of dollars.  My wife tracked down the source.  They billed it as an outpatient hospital visit.  The service is NOT an urgent care, they only give care to those who want it urgently.  I signed something that said it would be billed that way.  I didn’t notice the difference, but my wife did, but trusted the lady who told us differently.  We were told that even if we had not signed it, it would still be billed the same.

This obviously happens all the time because the supervisor my wife talked to said she goes through this often.  In fact when my wife voiced that she wanted to spray paint “NOT” next to the urgent care, the supervisor asked if she could join her.

We are obviously stuck with the bill.  Thankfully, we can pay it, but had it been in our younger years, it would have hurt us.  And I am sure it has hurt many people.

I need ideas of what to do on two levels:

  1. Revenge (not the destructive kind, but the kind that will make them take notice and possibly resolve this so others don’t have to go through it).
  2. Finding a new health insurance company that will be fair (we had another, separate incident with them as well).

Your thoughts?  I would love to use the power of social media & networking to help slay this giant.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Mar 2011 14:53

We work toward including as many people as possible – we don’t want them to feel left out or undervalued.  So we create corporate activities, events and initiatives to make sure everyone feels a valued member of a team.

But recently I saw a graphic for one particular initiative that showed the faces of about seven people – none of them were white males.  I saw it and didn’t think anything about it.  But when this graphic went public, I received a complaint that said, in essence, “The white male as under represented here. I am offended that when we are trying to be inclusive, you would leave out a major part of this valuable workforce.”

She (yes, she) didn’t realize that just because white males were not included, they were not excluded – they just weren’t included.

The opposite of inclusion is not exclusion, it is not being included.  And there is a big difference.  This goes back to an earlier theme I wrote on regarding opposites (which explains the blunder in “opposites”).  If I am not invited to a meeting, it is not that I was excluded, it is just that I was not invited.

As a result of this misunderstanding, this woman let herself become offended over an issue that never existed.

I write this only as a warning: Just because life isn’t one way, doesn’t mean it is the opposite way.

Just because someone doesn’t think they are successful DOES NOT mean that they are a failure.
Just because someone didn’t win, it does not mean that they lost.
Just because someone is not included does not not mean they are excluded.

The paradigm on the other side can lead to a whole new attitude and life.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Culture, exclusion, inclusion, offended,..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Mar 2011 16:32

There are five factors to asking the right questions to create a great discussion in a group.  They are so critical, yet so overlooked.

First of all, many of us talk when we should be listening.  I think we can all agree on that one.  Second of all, we need to be asking questions.  But the RIGHT questions are essential. Not only the CONTENT of the question, but the DIRECTION of the question.

There was a TV show or movie some time ago I remember seeing.  A lawyer said, “Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.”  For some reason that has stuck with me.  That may be right for lawyers, but not for non-legal folk like you and I.  Yet still, there is a hint of truth there.   Sometimes we need to at least have a clue of where the answer will go.  Other times, it should be wide open.  It depends on your purpose and your audience.

Purpose is factor #1.  This post focuses on starting a wide-open discussion.  Audience, or forum, is factor #2.  This is important for the content of the question.

Lately I have come across a number of incidences where a group wants to have a healthy discussion, but lack focus in their questions.  Last month I helped launch “ExplorNet” –   NASA’s MSFC’s internal social network.  One group implemented a QOTW (Question of the Week).  The first question was great.  60 or so responses.  The next question received about 3 responses.  What was the difference?

The first question had three additional factors or characteristics:

  1. The answer came the the reader’s mind as soon as they read the question.
  2. It was easy to answer.  They didn’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to articulate their thoughts.
  3. It hit an emotional nerve.

Bingo.  Question #1 was a hit.  But Question #2 was different.  It was a great question, but didn’t fulfill all three requirements.  The answer came to the reader’s mind easily, but it was difficult to articulate, plus it only had a moderate to low emotional nerve factor.

This pattern also became obvious to me when I co-ran the Social Learning QOTD (day) on Twitter (which later turned into the E2.0 QOTD).  All the questions were good, but the answers didn’t have all of the above elements.

Next time you want to get ideas, think of your purpose, your audience and these three guidelines.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Culture, collaboration, slqotd, answers,..."
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Date: Monday, 07 Feb 2011 22:10

There are bad books, good books and great books.  Bad books I don’t want to finish.  Good books I read right through and finish.  Great books I never finish or it takes a long time to do so.  Why?  Because I become inspired by an idea I must put the book down and go off on my own ideas that have flooded my brain or do more research.

MacroWikinomicsSuch is MacroWikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams.

Not, “such was” but “is” because I still have not been able to finish the book. Within the pages of the book is nothing short of world changing should the ideas be implemented.  It tackles the big issues of today: health care, academics, transportation, and government as a whole (and more) and applies the principles of wikinomics to large scale, world-wide problems.

Here are a couple of examples that inspired me.

“Rethinking the University” Being very interested in education, I had to read this section first.   I had taken my son to piano lessons and stayed in the car for a good read.  But instead of reading, I only made it past the first few pages when I had to put it down.  An idea of how to revamp the whole university system flooded my mind.  My iPad came out and I started typing.  I read a little more, and then continued typing in a fast-paced frenzy.

By the time my son had finished and come to the car I had outlined the structure around a new higher educational model.  I eventually finished that chapter and, not to my surprise, it fit right along with my model.  It was so exciting to me that it consumed my thoughts for the next few days as I refined it.  So, all is great on paper, but will it really work?  I really think it would.  But it will take much more than my efforts alone – but that is outside of the scope of the post.

“Inside the Future of Music” A love of mine, music, was the topic of another chapter.  My first understanding of what MacroWikinomic could do for music was when I saw this video.  What an incredible task!  (And the music was beautiful to boot!)  This was just the tip of the iceberg.

Don & Anthony gave some wonderful examples of how the principles of MacroWikinomics is up-heaving the music industry.  And this is one aspect I loved about the book.  They not only showed how change MIGHT happen, but how it IS happening.  They then talk about what it might take for there to be a bigger change which effects more of the mainstream, in whatever topic they discussed.  Their ideas are nothing short of radical, yet they are not so far out there that the reader can’t visualize how it might be.

Reading the chapter on music made me want to start something on my own.  (That darn sleep that gets in the way!)

I believe this paragraph sums up the book.  It, in one form or another, is repeated in each section and shows us why we are not moving along as quickly as we could.

“The problem is that media incumbents are moving too slowly.  They’re getting mired in the thick underbrush of thorny contractual agreements and outdated and costly infrastructures.  What’s worse is that the economic foundation of the industry is based on a business model suited for the era of analog publishing, not for a world of user-driven digital creation and distribution.  These institutions are powerful and deeply ingrained in the industry’s social and economic contract.  It’s hard for senior executives to imagine a world where their companies could lose control of the very resources that they have monopolized for so long” (p. 240).

After reading the book the only question is, what are YOU going to do about it?  It would be difficult to read this book and not be inspired with ideas of what to do and how to do it.  To do so would require that we move out of the “mire” that holds us in our outdated place.  Using the principles of MacroWikinomics, we just might be able to do it.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, book review, macrowikino..."
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Jan 2011 16:56

I have submitted two sessions for the Enterprise 2.0 conference this year.  Could I ask a favor and have you please vote for them to be chosen?  I would sure appreciate it!

To me they are great topics that have not been discussed at length yet – but many people keep saying they want to hear more about them.

E2.0 Failures – And What We Learn From Them

The Role of E2.0 in Employee Performance Improvement

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "E2.0, conference, Enterprise 2.0, submis..."
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 18:20

When we were young, the stars weren’t even the limit.  We had our goals high and proudly told others what we were going to be when we grew up.  As we grew up, plans naturally changed, and we adapted.  But who would have thought we would have spent a lot of time on activities that would be of marginal value?

Inspired by a previous post I wrote on ways of working (which has a positive spin on it) with a cameo by the Monster.com commercial, I created this video.

When I grow up, I want to stay until 5, even when I have nothing to do.

I want to suppress common sense for company policy.

Strive for mediocrity.

Learn not to take chances.

Not state the obvious because I fear retribution.

I want to pretend like I’m not on Facebook.

On Twitter.

On Youtube.

When I grow up

When I grow up

I want to hord information so I’m still valuable.

Learn only in a training room.

Follow old processes even if it doesn’t make sense.

Play political games just to keep my job.

I want to make things up for my year end review.

Fight traffic to do work I could have done at home.

Be forced to attend worthless meetings.

Write reports that no one will read.

(how do you want to work?)

(there is a better way.)

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0"
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Date: Thursday, 06 Jan 2011 15:10

Everyone has at least one if not a few.  Yes, you do to.

I’m talking about a superhero work trait.  You may think, “No, not me.  I just work.”  Good try.  I know many people who feel they are just workers.  In fact, one friend with whom I work has said, “I am just a worker bee.  Tell me what to do and I will do it.”  But every time I talk with her I feel better after.  She has a calming influence in my sometimes hectic life.  She has the ability to bring calm to a storm and smile all the way through it.  That is one of her superhero work traits.

One boss I had years ago had one that I really appreciated.  I came to him – pretty stressed – with an urgent matter.  It was a situation that was about to get ugly.  He looked at me, smiled and said, “Wait.  First tell me: Is this going to keep my kids from going to college?”  ”No.”  ”Is this going to put my wife in the hospital?”  ”No.”  ”Will this make it so the Red Sox won’t win their next game?”  ”No.”  ”Then it isn’t as bad as you think.  We’ll get through it.”  WOW!  What a shift his superhero powers gave me!

What have you seen in others?  Have you seen them explain complex information simply? Or calm tense situations.  Or bring in another point of view when an impasse is creating a stalemate in negotiations.  Or politically handle a delicate situation using just the perfect wording for the people involved?  Or always happen to know just the right person to turn to for help? Or can wordsmith copy in such a way that it pops off the page and grabs everyone’s attention?

What is YOUR superhero trait?  Everyone has one.  Identify it.  Start using it more – focus on it as one of your strengths.  And, as with all superheros, use it for good and to better (your company’s) society.

Author: "Kevin Jones" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, superheor, trait, work"
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