Social_Learning

How Do You Test Competence?

The biggest challenge facing the UK economy is 'Skills Competence' and not 'Skills Shortage'. Everyone always looks at the glass as being half empty instead of half full. So focussing on 'Skills Competence' is better than focussing on 'Skills Shortage', don't you think? Competence is the holy grail, because assessing someone’s competence allows you to directly know whether they are equipped to do the job or not. We have a competence issue in organisations not a skills issue.

Competence: the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

Appraisals, Annual reviews, Objective setting, 360 degree reviews or whatever your name is for reviewing someone’s performance doesn't assess competence. You can only test competence by asking the employee directly if they know the answer to a very specific set of questions that relate to ’what’ they need to know as an absolute minimum to do the job competently.

In every organisation things change. New products or services, new managers, changing procedures and processes, re-organisation which causes job changes, new sales and customer service processes, etc.

Job competency is always under pressure when change happens in an organisation and that's all the time.

To truly understand your employees’ competence you need to test them, regularly. Once you know their competence levels, you can do something about it.

Deploying learning materials in large silos (Learning Management Systems) or any other method of e-learning will allow you to teach skills but not competence. When you teach just skills, you have no idea if the learner has remembered the new skill and whether they've actually become competent in that skill. Indeed it takes time to become competent in any skill and usually it takes repetition of carrying out that skill before you become competent.

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We all know the following 4 phases of learning something new, like learning to drive a car:

1. Unconscious incompetence 2. Conscious incompetence 3. Conscious competence 4. Unconscious competence

The 4th phase is where we want our employees to get to as soon as possible, whether it's with Onboarding (Induction) or learning new skills/knowledge.

Every minute, hour, day, week or month that we take to get them as competent as possible, means the organisation is potentially losing money or not growing as fast.

The Psychology of Study goes as far back as 1932, when Mace wrote his book 'Psychology of Study' and the idea of ’spaced repetition’ was first muted. Earlier still we had Ebbinghaus who told us about the forgetting curve. It tells us that for centuries we've been debating how we can get humans to remember more than how to walk.

Let's take learning languages. If you've ever tried to learn a new language, then you'll know that only by repetition will you become competent in that language. Using flash cards are an even better way of learning to remember a new language. Put the English on one side and the translation on the other. Start with 50 cards on day one and when you know you have mastered a few, take those out of the pack and repeat the others. Keep going until you've mastered them all. It's fairly basic but it works.

It's the only way to become competent in that language. Of course you may decide to repeat it in 3 weeks, because unless you are using these sentences regularly, the chances are that you will forget them.

Take this concept into any skill in any organisation where you require it to become a competence in the person who is performing it and you will rapidly and successfully increase competence throughout the organisation.

Deploying this method is now easier then ever, allowing employees to become more competent through the power of mobile. Not only can you test competence and teach new skills, you can report on the overall competence of a group, a department, a division or the overall organisation. It allows you to succession plan, recruit for competence gaps, evaluate competence levels for new projects. It even tests the individuals who took the course, at the point when they are deemed to be ready to be tested over the phone by a real person. A great motivator for the learner to get up to speed and learn properly.

What if such a tool was available today? What a difference it would make to UK "Skills Competence', to the UK economy, to UK competitiveness, to the Economy of Organisations and especially to the people that work in them.

If any of the concepts above touched a nerve with you and you can see an application inside your organisation, please get in touch with me in the first instance. We’ll get a proof of concept rolling out for you within hours and start your organisation’s journey towards 'Skills Competence' quickly.

Wishing you massive success always.

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

 

Just 3 Apps for busy Executives?

Just 3 apps for busy executives...really? If you are a baby boomer or even if you're not and you're not sure which apps to download on your shiny new Apple iPhone 5S or iPad Air.

How about just having 3 in addition to all the ones you get free from Apple of course.

The idea is for you to achieve a super fast review of what's going on what is being said about your company, so you can scan it (read), write it or find it.

Number 1 is Flipboard

flipboard-banner-logo-640

Flipboard is still for me THE best social integration magazine app around. There are others but as Flipboard was first and they made the biggest impression, for me they have stayed ahead of the crowd.

What do you need to do?

  • You need your company social feeds as priority 1. This means you can view and keep up to date with what your marketing teams are sending out.
  • You need your own social feeds if you have time to be engaged with them. You can have feeds from all the major ones, plus you can post and engage from within Flipboard too, so there's no need to download the individual apps. Its basically your single dashboard for everything.

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Second is LinkedIn

If you're no making use of LinkedIn, then you are missing out on some key intel. LinkedIn is now THE biggest and MOST important professional database in the world.

Fortune 500 employees are there for sure and most Executives have a profile, even if some of them are hiding them.

Time to get out of the shadows and be seen!

The LinkedIn iPad app has received a major overall and now its fast and accurate. You have to meet someone, call them or even research them. Using LinkedIn is the best tool for doing that.

Your company profile should be there too. With all the detail of your latest marketing posts.

Remember of course you can pull a lot of the feeds into your Flipboard too! Primarily though this iPad app is for research and engagement.

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Third is iA Writer

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Not much to be said, its a simple writing app, no distractions, no formatting, no fluff, just think and write. A draft email, a report, meeting notes, just anything that needs recording simply easily and safely. Done!

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 16.49.40

 

Go and get those and STOP playing games, use your mobile devices to do some business and stay focussed!

Success!

 

 

Have You Ever Studied Ants?

flickr | samantha henneke I was recently in Greece and with temperatures in the 30’s, it's best to take it easy lie by the pool and observe the world around you, OK maybe people watch sometimes!

However even people watching gets boring, so whilst resting on my sun bed in the shade, I started studying the floor beneath me and to my amazement saw this fast moving highway of very small ants. Now usually in hot countries ants are very big, but these weren't and that made them all the more interesting.

As I studied them, I noticed that although their movements appeared random, many were carrying food crumbs back to their colony, which had entrances along a short section of a raised plant border wall. One by one several of these very efficient creatures were collecting these crumbs from all around the pool and taking this very important food stuff back to their colony.

By the way none of them actually ate the food on their journey back, which if you saw how far they were travelling, you would not have blamed them if they had. Now if this was a human doing this, ’collecting free food’, the chances are that it would have been eaten by the time they had completed the journey back.

I also noticed to my amazement that with larger crumbs 2 or even 3 ants would work together to carry it, as it was too big for just one.

This gave me an idea, next time someone in my party came back with cake at tea-time, I would use one of the crumbs and give those hard working ants a challenge. A super large crumb to see how they would manage this.

Have a look and see what happened, I recorded it on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChZGj9BEQRk

What did I learn?

Ants are ’Team Players’, one ant who passes the crumb and checks it out, decides to start moving it and immediately another ant starts assisting, and then another and another until I counted 12 ants moving a massive crumb. Nobody said, ’that’s not my job’ or ’I’m busy doing something else, or ’its not in my job spec’. They just did it because they know that one ant will never manage it on their own and therefore they just started helping out. The ants who joined in just happened to be passing by, they weren't called from the colony, didn't get an email and nobody checked their calendar to see if they were available.

For me it was just the best possible demonstration of excellent team-work. Wow if business could learn just one lesson from ants and if employees and HR teams could stop their compartment thinking, what a different world we would have around us.

Each morning a few scouts would be up early looking for anything that they might have missed and as the day moved on and more holiday makers sat around the pool, eating and drinking, more ants came out scouting the neighbourhood. Obviously they had developed their knowledge that more crumbs would be available later in the day.

Accordingly more troops were scouting in the afternoon.

So here are 3 takeaways from this story:

  1. Be open to helping out anyone in your wider community or organisation, without being asked for help, ’Just Do It’.
  2. If there is a big task or project happening, go and ask if you can help out. They probably will say ’no thanks’ but make sure you insist, even if it is to make the coffee!
  3. Teach your kids or colleagues the power of team work and share the story of ants. I found this great film on YouTube, which will explain and share the story of ants and their incredible behaviour. Watch it together with your kids or colleagues. Teach them how they can adopt the same approach in life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-gIx7LXcQM

Success!

Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?

As published in The Non-Significant Journal of Business & Consumer Psychology Issue 2.1 - Spring 2013

Background

In recent years, an increasing number of scholars have sought to study and measure the impact of social networks (social media).

Social media network connection concept
Social media network connection concept
  • A 2010 study by the University of Maryland suggested that social networks may be addictive, and that using social networks may lead to a "fear of missing out", also known by the acronym "FOMO" by many students.
  • It has been observed that Facebook is now the primary method for communication by college students in the U.S.
  • According to Nielsen, global consumers spend more than six hours on social networking sites.
  • Consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20% of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30% of total time online via mobile.
  • Tim Berners-Lee contends that the danger of social networking sites is that most are silos and do not allow users to port data from one site to another. He also cautions against social networks that grow too big and become a monopoly as this tends to limit innovation.
  • According to several clinics in the UK, social media addiction is a certifiable medical condition. One psychiatric consultant claims he treats as many as one hundred cases a year.

Introduction

Networks are not new; they have existed since the very first existence of cells on planet earth. It's quite amazing to know that our cells work together in networks to achieve tasks together. One such example is wound healing. For wound healing to occur, white blood cells and cells that ingest bacteria move to the wound site to kill the microorganisms that cause infection. At the same time fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) move there to remodel damaged structures. This is a wonderful example of how cells behave together in networks.

Even our brain neurons wire together in associative networks to create our memories and skills. Cell division even mirrors the way that networks grow.

We humans are no exception in nature. We exist and flourish as part of networks. We seem to have some inborn instinct to behave in this way, actively involving ourselves in many different systems of connections.

Thumbs up like button on white background.
Thumbs up like button on white background.

The first network we experience in our lives is the immediate family, where we learn how to be social by watching our parents and siblings. Beyond that, we soon learn how to ‘network’ with other groups of adults and children. We then start our social journey by joining many different networks, the nursery, primary and secondary school, the college and university and then our work and leisure networks.

The size, membership and complexity of these networks may grow or contract during our lifetime, but they always remain an important part of our experience. There are several theories put forward to explain this networking phenomenon, from Social Comparison Theory,Role Theory,Homogeneous Theory and the Social Identity approach. The evidence seems to point to the conclusion that networking is in part driven by our genetic make-up.

Tribes

These networks have a major impact on our lives. They determine how we see the world and how we see ourselves; we constantly monitor how we are accepted in our various networks.

Perhaps another word for these networks could be 'tribes'.

Belonging to a 'tribe', gives us the feeling that we are part of ‘something bigger’ then we are. It helps to give our lives more meaning and significance. The belief that you belong to a ’tribe’ is reinforcing, as it encourages you to relate more strongly with the other individuals in that ’tribe’. It helps with the identity that you have given yourself as you became an adult.

When your ’tribe’ behaves in the same way that you do, you will consider them the same as ’you’ and somehow feel a connection. It triggers an automatic approval, telling yourself that they are OK as they behave in a similar way to you.

The way that this translates in social networks is that individuals will follow people on twitter, send each other friends’ requests on Facebook or ask to be connected inside professional networks, like LinkedIn. We may have never met the person but for some reason we want to share intimate details of our lives with them.

Facebook
Facebook

Never in the world have we seen this kind of behaviour before. It did not exist before social networks appeared on the worldwide web. You could not have imagined walking up to strangers, people you have never met and suddenly start sharing your personal life with them. It just didn’t happen. We as humans need to trust someone first before we will share personal details. In social networks personal details are being shared all the time without any apparent shyness or reservation.

And the only reason this happens is because we have connected at some level with this stranger in a social network where their behaviour mirrors our own. In social networks we behave for around 80% of the time exactly the same way as everybody else. Just the act of being in a social network together, posting updates, sharing content means you are doing the same as everyone else and that makes you part of that tribe.

Significance

Social networks give us a platform for significance. According to Anthony Robbins, significance is one of the 6 human needs as per his Human Needs Psychology model.  We all have a need to be significant in our lives and when family and friends, like, comment or respond to our activity inside social networks, we feel good, we feel loved, we feel significant.

Dopamine is closely associated with reward-seeking behaviours, such as approach, consumption, and addiction. Recent research suggests that the firing of dopaminergic neurons is motivational as a consequence of reward-anticipation. This hypothesis is based on the evidence that, when a reward is greater than expected, the firing of certain dopaminergic neurons increases, which consequently increases desire or motivation towards the reward. This is why social networks are so addictive and why games inside social networks (e.g. Farmville) are so popular. Equally though, aggression is also evident in social networks and recent studies indicate that aggression may also stimulate the release of dopamine.

Why do humans enjoy social networks?

Humans are social beings, they thrive around other humans and other humans make them thrive. Without human interaction we have no reason to exist. Compassion and love is a ready built-in operating system, which we are born with. Without the love we experience on the day of our birth we would probably die. Throughout our lives we crave that love and connection with other humans. Especially as those humans are the same as us or expressed in another way, exist in the same tribe as us.

Anthony Robbins’ Human Need Psychology says that one of our 6 human needs is love and connection15 .

Physical social networks, whether it’s the family unit, our workplace unit or other tribal social networks, which we belong to for our sport, hobbies and political activities, all exist because there is some love and connection that takes place.

Virtual social networks via the web also exist for the same reason. The creators of these networks have been able to create certain activities to allow us to feel love and connection with a connection or a tribe that exists inside these networks. Whether it is ’liking’, ’commenting’, ’sharing’, ’re-tweeting’, ’favouriting’, ’re-posting’, the user feels good when this takes place or in other words they do feel loved. This is very addictive and when dopamine is released in the brain, we want to experience more of this feeling16 .

As human beings we also want to give out love and this is another one of the human needs and is called ’contribution’. And therefore in social networks we also like to contribute to our fellow human beings.

The way that this translates inside of virtual social networks is no different. For example by actively ’liking’, ’sharing’, ’commenting’, it makes us feel good and drives us to do more of it, whenever the recipient rewards us in some way for taking this selfless action. And guess what happens more dopamine is released and the more addictive it becomes.

Put on top of that Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment

and ’ding, ding, woof, woof’, every time our mobile device makes that familiar notification noise, we know that this could mean more dopamine and more love, so we’ll react instantly to the need of that possibility.

How social learning grows networks

In 1961 Albert Bandura conducted a controversial experiment known as the ‘Bobo-Doll ‘experiment, to study patterns of behaviour associated with aggression. Bandura hoped that the experiment would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory, and that similar behaviours were learned by individuals modelling their own behaviour after the actions of others. The experiment was criticised by some on ethical grounds, for training children towards aggression.

Bandura’s results from the Bobo Doll Experiment changed the course of modern psychology, and were widely credited for helping shift the focus in academic psychology from pure behaviourism to cognitive psychology. The experiment is among the most lauded and celebrated of psychological experiments.

Penguin points
Penguin points

This study can be viewed as quite significant and why social networks grow so fast. When we see the activities of others in social networks, we start to wonder if we're missing out on something and whether we need to start involving ourselves. When we then discover that our tribe, (whether family, work, hobby or other tribe), is doing the same, we will stay and investigate it further. And that is when we start enjoying shots of dopamine in our brain and when the addiction of this social network interaction starts working.

CAUTION: NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS

Conclusion

Social networks are here to stay, they've always existed and whether they are physical or virtual they are an important piece of our human make-up. My personal view too is that back in the times when humans went through war and terror they would draw closer to each other and grow closer socially. For example, during World War II, it was easier to connect with our fellow humans as we were all going through the same terror and strife. We would look out for one and other and support each other.

Basically we were giving each other a lot of love.

Bird Doodles
Bird Doodles

As the human population has grown and spread across the globe, some of the physical connections may have been lost. Virtual social networks have allowed us to make that re-connection with each other and in fact get in touch with people who we may not have seen for many years.

Of course this makes us feel loved and appreciated too.

And now, because these virtual networks show us how many fans, followers, and friends we have, this is proof to the world and ourselves how popular we are.  We take this metric as an important measure of how many people approve of us or rather love us, a kind of ‘love-o-meter’!

...or in Bryan Ferry’s - Roxy Music words...”Love is the drug I’m thinking of...”

 

What is stopping YOU?

I probably speak to people daily about the power of video and how this is such an important area for businesses to invest in. In fact I have been on about this since 2004, even before the birth and rise of YouTube and yes I was way ahead of my time, even if I say that myself. How right I was, if only I had invested more time and effort, I could have been an Internet billionaire by now. Oh well there's still time! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRC16SEJMmc

And whenever I mention it, they agree, they wax lyrical about YouTube and how they have found stuff on there, which was really useful and how they learned so much from it. Or how they saw this really funny video about a cat and a dog!!

So why is it then that YOU aren't doing it yourself?? I even remember (ok so I am getting on a bit) when websites first started emerging, those horrible American sites with the textured backgrounds, companies were saying that it wouldn't take off and that people wanted to be able to feel something tangible, a brochure or a leaflet, is what they needed. The same people who said that email would never take off, because people wanted a physical letter, and I bet they also said that photography was wrong online and that there was nothing better than having a printed photo, to put into a physical album. You have heard it all before I know you have...

Could these dinosaurs also be the ones who said that social media was for kids and for sharing what you had for breakfast and how they didn't get it? Actually a lot of them are still saying that even now. Yep they certainly are! Ah I nearly forgot of course they also said that music could only be listened to via a physical product like a record or CD, yes even a CD was hard to swallow but they had to give in on that one, because the quality was better.

Back to Video then, let me share an infographic with you. Whether you believe it or not there are a few things I am sure you will accept.

Watching video is fast, you probably watch an average of 5 hours each day, whether through the TV, DVD's and online.

You get what's said in a video very fast, much faster then via the written word.

Most of your senses are engaged with Video, eyes, ears, feeling or VAK as the experts call it Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Yes indeed these senses make you remember so much more from watching video. That's why 'the movies' are still so successful because they know how to get you to get a full sensory experience, which makes you want to come back for more and no I am not talking about the popcorn and coke!

Broadband speeds are getting faster and the roll out of fibre across the UK means soon everyone will enjoy over 30mb download speeds and even more over the next few years.

This means the likes of Netflix, Apple, Amazon and many more will see their video download services explode, in the same way music downloads did. And yes there will be the dinosaurs that say that copyright, piracy will be an issue and since when has that stopped anyone?

My appeal to you then is to get engaged with video, whether it's to promote your business, educate your colleagues or communicate to your staff.

JUST DO IT!!

Have you Embraced 'Social Learning'?

The term 'Social Learning' in current days, doesn't mean the same as it did when Bandura did his experiments in the 60's. It encompasses a theory that individuals enjoy learning in a social context, when our learning is discussed and debated.

After all 'everyone has an opinion', and this means that we actually learn more about a topic, news story, event, training intervention, when we can reflect on it and interact with it.

Learning & Development (or training) at school and at work has and will continue to be the holy grail for all education professionals. We're always looking for better ways to engage students and drive a change in human behaviour.

Trouble is millions of $'s & £'s are spent every year to achieve these objectives. And it's so painful to see when the results don't match the spend.

Think about it. The world is at War somewhere in the world and always has been. Consider the economic conditions in most countries currently. If education, training and development works, we would not be in this state of flux. But really think about it. We as humans haven't evolved as much as we like to think. Our nature is closer to animal instinct then we give ourselves credit for.

If we are truly sophisticated and used more of our frontal lobe, which is the part that separates us from animals, then surely we wouldn't be carrying out wars, we wouldn't have an issue with CO2 emissions and global warming, the economies would be running smoothly.

Surely it would? Am I mad? I don't think so, I believe I am quite a rational kind of person, who can usually see both sides of the argument and yes I do see the best in most humans, because after all they should be educated, rational, intelligent and loving beings. And you also know that this isn't always true, but we have to start somewhere and I start with everyone's good until proven otherwise.

Anyway where is this leading us towards?

Oh yes, 'Social Learning'.

Consider the success of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and the latest kid on the block Pinterest.

What do they all have in common? Any idea?

Humans connecting with humans, that's the common thread through all of it. So why is this so important at this time in the world? It has allowed millions of us to have a voice, to discuss, comment and debate on news stories on major world events and on individual stories and their life events.

My theory and its only my theory and it makes perfect sense to me is as follows.

Remember the war? Which one you will say, because there have been so many.

Well let's just talk about World War II.

The War brought people closer, they looked out for each other and they knew more about each other's lives compared to any time in history. Well it's nearly 70 years since the ending of that major war and ever since then we as humans have drifted apart and have become more unconnected.

Social Networking is not an accident or a happy coincidence, it isn't either the creation of a Harvard University graduate or silicon valley's entrepreneurs. Their invention would never have worked if there wasn't the appetite for it.

The old saying ’people buy people first’ applies in social networks too, not just in business. We like to connect to like minded individuals or people that interest us and maybe we can learn something from them!

And yes we do like to learn, we are always learning, the brain collects millions of impressions every day, without us even realising it. If we don't learn we will die. As humans we have an inherent need to grow. But when we think about learning we think about, classrooms, teachers, exams, pressure, stress and recall many unpleasant memories.

We don't perceive consciously that reading tweets, Facebook posts, articles, blogs, watching YouTube videos as learning and of course it is, you are learning all the time.

The learning methodology of 70-20-10, is showing us that actually we learn 70% on the job or in our daily lives, 20% from our colleagues or family members or friends and 10% formally, so that's when we sit in a classroom, either at school or in the workplace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdHZQ2VXhE

The development of social networks, will and is changing the world of learning forever. Millions of teachers and trainers are having to adopt these new technologies as part of their delivery methods.

This requires the teacher / trainer to become proficient in these new tools and get their own knowledge of these networks up to scratch. After all their students are using these to learn, so now we better embrace these too and make use of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H4RkudFzlc#!

Those that do, will succeed in helping to change the landscape of learning for themselves and students alike. A more engaged student will mean a more connected world and a more connected world will mean a world with more compassion and understanding for our fellow human.

Success!

 

Do you really make assumptions all the time?

I read a fascinating article in Wired magazine by Jonathan Lehrer, where he discusses the phenomena of our brains making assumptions on how things work, based on a set of data that we have collected.  In fact we collect data in our brains all the time.  And when we analyse data we start making all sorts of assumptions and conclusions based on that data.

And of course we can never have enough data to make our decisions on and at some stage we have to decide that we have enough of it to base our decisions on.

And this happens all the time in the most dangerous industry in the world, pharmaceuticals.  This article highlights some lessons for us all on how we make assumptions all the time in our private, business and social lives.

I have extracted what I believe to be the important constituents from his article:

On November 30, 2006 executives at Pfizer - the largest pharmaceutical company in the world held a meeting with investors at the firm's research centre in Groton, Connecticut.  Jeff Kindler, the then CEO began the presentation with an upbeat assessment of the company's efforts to bring new drugs to market.   He cited "exciting approaches" to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis.  But Kindler was most excited about a new drug called torcetrapib, which had recently entered Phase III clinical trials, the last step before filing for approval.  He confidently declared that it would be "one of the most important compounds of our generation".  Kindler told investors that, by the second half of 2008, Pfizer would begin applying for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The success of the drug seemed a sure thing.  And then, just two days later, on December 2, 2006, Pfizer issued a stunning announcement: the torcetrapib Phase III clinical trial was being terminated.  Although the compound was supposed to prevent heart disease, it was actually triggering higher rates of chest pain and heart failure and a 60% increase in overall mortality.  The drug appeared to be killing people.  That week, Pfizer's value plummeted by $21 billion (£14 billion).

The story of torcetrapib is one of mistaken causation.  Pfizer was operating on the assumption that raising levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL would lead to predictable outcome: improved cardiovascular health.  Less arterial plaque.  Cleaner pipes.  But that didn't happen. (According to a recent analysis, more that 40% of drugs fail Phase III clinical trials).

The problem was, it's this assumption that causes a strange kind of knowledge.  This was first pointed out by David Hume, a Scottish 18th-century philosopher.  

He realised that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts - tangible things that can be discovered - they're actually not at all factual.  Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a "lively conception produced by habit".  When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity.  Hume's sceptical insight was that we don't see gravity - we see only an object tugged towards earth.  We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between.  We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact - it's fiction that helps us make sense of facts.

The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental short cuts.  Most of the time, these work well enough.  They allow us to discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies.  However when it comes to reasoning about highly complex systems - say the human body - these short cuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading.

Consider a set of classic experiments designed by Belgian psychologist Albert Michotte, first conducted in the 40's.

His research featured a series of short films about a blue ball and a red ball.  In the first  film, the red ball races across the screen, touches the blue ball and then stops.  The blue ball, meanwhile, begins moving in the shame basic direction as the red ball.  When Michotte asked people to describe the film, they automatically lapsed in the language of causation.  The red ball hit the blue ball, which caused it to move.  This is known as the launching effect, and it's a universal property of visual perception.  Although there was nothing in the two-second film - it was just a montage of animated images - people couldn't help but tell a story about what had happened.  They had translated their perceptions into causal beliefs.  Michotte would go on to conduct more than 100 of these studies manipulating the films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_jKNlC2YKo

There are two lessons learned from these experiments.  The first is that our theories about a particular cause and effect are inherently perceptual, infected by all the sensory cheats of vision.  Hume was right that causes are never seen, only inferred, but the truth is we can't tell the difference.  And so we look at moving balls and see causes, melodrama of taps and collisions, chasing and fleeing.  The second lesson is that causal explanations are oversimplifications.  This is what makes them useful - they help us grasp the world at a glance.  

The article is far too long for me to include everything in it and I have not been able to find it online either.  However I think I have got the main message from it.

And the question I pose to you, is:  What assumptions are you making today, that are based on incorrect date or not enough data or just that you have perceived the information  in a certain way?  Is the red ball chasing the blue ball instead of them just moving independently of each other?

And then there is the other old saying: "Perception is Reality"

Success!

Is your speed reading working?

I am finding the volume of tweets, links, posts, articles a touch overwhelming at times, so this short article explains how I manage this in today's super digital age. Ideally the following tools are needed:

  1. iPad or iPhone
  2. iBooks
  3. Safari or equivalent browser that allows you to save a web page as a PDF
  4. Or a PDF converter
  5. Dropbox

Basically I leverage my iBooks app as much as I can, by saving PDF documents to it for reading later.

Articles and the like come at you like a formula 1 car at top speed sometimes and this is how you can stop it in its tracks.

Apple's Safari web browser is a major plus but not essential.  Whenever you find a link that provides you with an interesting article, but you don't have time to read it, immediately convert or save it as a PDF into Dropbox.

Then retrieve it from your Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone and open it into iBooks.

Now you can decide to read them when convenient to you and not when the article catches your eye via a tweet, email or something else.  Plus you've got the article for future reference in a meeting, discussion with your colleagues or clients.  I've found it very handy.

And if you have found other ways of capturing your links, please do share.

The other way where I can interact with them is on Flipboard, the best iPad and iPhone app in my opinion.

Let me know how you get on.

Success!

 

 

Are you making enough use of Video?

With the majestic rise of YouTube, there really is no excuse for any of us not to be making more use of video in our communications with clients, training of our employees and using it to get our marketing message out.

The images are from an infographic commissioned with research data from the following 3 companies; smallbiztrends.com | getresponse.com | emailmarketingreports.com and gives us an idea about how important video is in email marketing.

It reports that around 80% of small businesses see videos as a vital medium through which to communicate to their audience.  With around 88% of companies considering video most effective in training courses (29%), product demos (22%), product promotions (19%) and customer testimonials (18%).

I have certainly started focussing more on video, whether it is to explain a concept in social media or assist people in getting their marketing message out to prospects.

I have also learned from Fusion Universal, that presentations never need to be dull any longer. Instead of the usual death by PowerPoint it's more effective to create a 2-3 minute video, which you play at the presentation, and gives the client the essence of your proposal.  Then you can spend most of the meeting discussing it, rather then taking up most of the meeting discussing your presentation or demo.

You can literally see the delight on people's faces, when they have just watch a short video and "get it". It solves a massive problem and that is "attention-span". Most of us struggle to concentrate for more than 5 minutes sitting through a presentation.  Our mind is always thinking and even when someone is talking to you, you are thinking.  Even when you are reading this you are thinking and our thinking wanders from thinking about the subject being discussed or presented to our personal thoughts, back and forth.

What we do a lot is deciding whether we agree with something or not and we get ready with our critical questions and objections in the first place.  This I believe comes from our primeval survival response to believing that this may be threatening to us in some way. Therefore I have to ask some challenging questions, to make sure that I will be safe.  Does that make sense?

Anyway enough of the "Philosophy".

My recommendation to you is to investigate the use of video more in your endeavours on the web and with your marketing activities.  It will continue to grow and it's time to become more active with it.

Success!

Facebook, Death and Timeline

Facebook is amazing and with an end of year (2012) forecast of 1 billion people who have a profile on Facebook, it's a brave person who says that they have reached their peak. Even those people who criticise Facebook are eventually convinced by their family members to get a profile and connect with them there.

But one thing that I believe they will be remembered for most is the ability for anyone who upgrades to "Timeline" to have their life history in activities, photos, videos and events for family members and friends, young and old to view.

I have always been fascinated by my own parents' history and indeed my family history. It's even more interesting that my Dad was Dutch and my mother was Anglo-Indian. Can you just imagine what their timeline would look like if I had their full history from their birth until death for me to review on Facebook?

And my family is not special in fact everyone's family is special to them and just think how grateful your children and grand children will be if you were to complete your full life history inside Facebook's "Timeline".

This became even more evident when my father-in-law passed away on the 10th January 2012.  I only knew him a few years, but even in this short time I learned that this man had a very interesting history.  He was a criminal lawyer, a glass expert and an enthusiastic letter writer to national and local newspapers.  He even managed to get on BBC Midlands Today in the past 2 years.  It would have been really interesting to review his full life history.

So the best thing my wife Clair could do, thanks to Facebook, was to set up a Facebook page to allow people to post photos and messages about him. The local press in his hometown, Stourbridge, also included the page URL in their online and off line news reports about him.  I did not have this opportunity when my parents passed away and now anyone can create a Facebook page in the memory of a loved one.

Thanks to Facebook, all of us have a fantastic opportunity to create our own life story there and when we do eventually cross over to the "other" side, there will be a history for our loved ones who remain on earth to look at and remember us by.

So my message to all of you is convert to "Timeline" and start populating each of your years since birth with your key events, photos and activities.  Not only is it a great way for you to review your own life and remember everything you have done, it will also provide a rich picture for your family and friends and understand your history right now whilst you are still on planet earth.

Success!

This article is dedicate to John V. Sanders who passed away peacefully on the 10th January 2012.

 

Steve Dineen | 'The Future is Social' | 11.11.11

Steve Dineen, Executive Chairman of Fusion Universal, talks at the 'The Future is Social" event at Mahiki London on 11.11.11. Explains why workplace learning has to adopt a new way of learning and demonstrates how 'Fuse' has been developed to facilitate this.  It's 25 minutes long, but well worth listening to.  Steve has an amazing vision.  He talks about and introduces some videos, and as it is just an audio recording, they have obviously been left out.  Enjoy!

Steve Dineen | 'The Future is Social' | 11.11.11 by Stayingaliveuk on Mixcloud

Scott Watson on Female Unemployment

Shock statistics have painted a grim picture of retail unemployment particularly among female workers.  A recent study undertaken by analysts Ssentif has shown that unemployment among female retail workers has risen by an astonishing 27% in the last 12 months.

With high street retail giants such as Habitat and Jane Norman entering into administration, 126,000 former retail workers are now claiming job seekers allowance up from 94,000 one year ago.

Human Resources expert Scott Watson says that companies should be legally obliged have a duty to their redundant staff to up skill their job hunting skills in a proactive effort to help them exit unemployment more quickly.

'Of course companies needing to make job cuts or entering administration need to rein in costs.  This does though need to be balanced with corporate social responsibility for those staff who are affected.  He continues, 'This will not only help the economy to regenerate but also help skills transference in to other more buoyant sectors'.

'During the 1980's the mass closure of coal mines throughout the North resulted in the emergence of new service centre economies such as the call centre industry. Even with the current economic climate, this skills transference can be replicated in today's challenging job's market, ' Watson added.

Scott and his team have started a ground breaking online service for job hunters, called MyOnlineJobCoach, which provides expert advice on how to prepare and secure your next career move.  Fascinating concept and at a fraction of the cost (Normally £87 but via here Just £47 for 12 months) of what outplacement companies charge you for that advice.

A must for corporates who are making redundancies or putting people in the "at risk" category.

Although corporates may not be able to do anything about the economic issues, they could provide their redundant employees with a 'feel-good factor', by providing access to a site where they have over 40 videos with practical and sound advice.

Scott Watson is an international human resources expert who advises organisations including DHL, GE, AXA amongst many others.  He is author of the book 'Win Every Time - Essential Lessons For Existing and Emerging Leaders'.  Scott has personally trained over 10,000 individuals across the globe to enhance their effectiveness.

How to Fix the UK!?

A friend of mine (Clare G.) sent me this via email and it put a smile on my face.  I added a few pictures and decided to add it to my blog.  Some ideas not so silly either? Hope it puts a smile on your face too!

Dear British Prime Minister (That’s David Cameron then!)

Please find below our suggestion for fixing the  UK 's economy.

Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.

You can call it The Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force. 

Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST  retire | Ten million job openings - Unemployment fixed 

2) They MUST buy a new British car | Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed 

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage | Housing Crisis fixed 

4) They MUST send their grand kids to school/college/university | Crime rate fixed 

5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week | And there's your money back in duty/tax etc. (Not so sure about this one though!)

It can't get any easier than that! 

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.

And There Is More...

Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. 

  • This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. 
  • They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out. 
  • They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. 
  • Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. 
  • A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. 
  • They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. 
  • They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education. 
  • Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request. 
  • Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens. 
  • Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. 
  • There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to. 
  • The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised.  Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week.  Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out. 

Think about this!

More points of contention...

COWS 

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls.  But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants around our country.  Maybe we should give each of them a cow?
And Lastly?
Think about this!
If you don't want to share this for fear of offending someone then; YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!
It is time for us grumpy old folk of Britain to speak up!

UK Unemployed?

It could be the worst crisis the world has ever seen.  Millions of unemployed people in the Western World.  It's all being blamed on the bankers and their greed, but actually were they merely responding to our demands?  Our demand to have more and maybe even feeding our empty feelings and our need to satisfy our competitive nature. So why is it that the Western World is still attempting to get back to business as usual. Do we not realise that business will never get back to where it use to be?  Big business, governments and us need to look at living a different life, doing more with less and looking at giving more rather then taking more.

As I started writing this blog post I heard news reports of threatened strikes all over the UK and suggestions that it will be the worst since 1929?  (The Great Depression in the United Kingdom, also known as the Great Slump, was a period of national economic downturn in the 1930s, which had its origins in the global Great Depression. It was the largest and most profound economic depression of the 20th century for the United Kingdom).  You may be fooled for believing that it's over pension reforms, but underneath it all it's because people are dissatisfied, in fear and just generally annoyed with the speed of the suggested cuts across the UK, the depth of which we have probably never seen in our lifetimes.

To fully understand why this has happened, you have to look closer to home.  You have to take a serious look at your own spending habits.  By the way I am not blaming you, I am blaming companies who have brainwashed us for years through advertising and the media in believing that we need things, that actually we can do without.

As early as 1896, experimental psychologists began studying the mental processes involved in advertising.  The first psychological theory of advertising maintained, in effect, that the consumer was a non-rational, suggestible creature under the hypnotic influence of the advertising copywriter.  Walter Dill Scott was the major proponent of this theory, and it was largely through his writings that advertising men learned about the psychology of suggestion.  Scott's theory was consistent with a growing trend in the advertising profession toward viewing consumer behaviour as irrational.

So what will happen to all of these unemployed people, how will they survive and will they ever get another job?

These are all worrying questions for anyone who finds themselves without a job from one day to the next.  How is it possible that we can survive with less people in employment, when those people at one time were needed?  Anyone who has ever been made redundant, will feel demotivated, a failure and will find it hard to get going again.

Most of us need some way to get motivated again and get some support.  Visiting the job centre won't do that for anyone, that will just get you more demotivated.

Companies won't always support your exit from the company, only those with deep pockets.  But after all they have to pay redundancy costs and usually there won't be much left after that.  So you are on your own, you need to do it yourself, so how do you get started?

There are a few recruitment organisation out there, who promise a tailored service from end to end, getting you to part with huge amounts of money, with a promise to help you to re-draft your CV, practice interviews with you and find you some jobs to go for.  There is no guarantee, there never is and with most job vacancies heavily oversubscribed, your chances are slim.

What you do need is to stand out from the crowd, some way of being noticed, becoming excellent at presenting yourself and knowing that you only have one chance to get it right.

Step in MyJobCoachOnline, probably the first of it's kind in the UK.  At last someone has had the insight to provide something very affordable and still get all the great tips and techniques that is needed to land the dream job.  A training company based in Yorkshire that I have used and highly recommend, has developed a very comprehensive online learning portal, where job seekers can develop themselves and learn about the do's and don'ts in getting themselves ready and applying for jobs.

It's even more impressive that this is done through the medium of video and therefore easy for everyone to get to grips with.  It also means you can play it over and over again.

I wish I had thought of it, but more importantly they have provided a great public service to people worried about how to prepare for getting the next job.

And because its so affordable (11 pence per day), it also means that organisations can provide this service to their leavers, by way of a thank you and goodbye.  A gift for them to allow them to feel appreciated even when they are leaving the organisation.  A great idea!

I can wax lyrical and talk about all the benefits etc., but if you want to learn more and find out how you can get hold of this, just go and visit www.MyOnlineJobCoach/stayingaliveuk

I had a chat with Scott and Dirk and they very kindly gave me a preferred offer (46% discount) for my friends, business contacts and in fact my entire social network, including anyone that subscribes to my blog.

I applaud Scott and Dirk for what they have created and can see how this will grow over the next few years to being a very successful project.

Wishing you success with your job search and do let me know what you think of it.

Yammer Social Learning

I copied this thread from Jane Hart’s Social Learning Community http://c4lpt.co.uk/community and I felt it made such interesting reading and illustrates the debate that is taking place in organisations today about Social Media, Social Learning and how to embrace and engage these technologies.

Elliot R

My organization is just entering the informal learning and social media discussion. My position is that both topics should be addressed in the same conversation. This statement says it for me: "Social learning/media is simply informal learning facilitated by technology." Does anyone have data to support this? I have lots of excellent articles, and Jane's reference to this

http://www.danpontefract.com/?p=847 really helped. I am familiar with the 70/30/10 model as well. Anything else?

Charles J: Elliot, not to be pedantic, but social media, social learning and informal learning do describe different things. Unfortunately it's not black-and-white.

Social media is just that. Media that supports social interaction. In it's raw state in our market-driven world social media is usually as much focused on advertising as on learning.

Social learning is what I'd term 'learning through others'. Where interaction with others (colleagues, like-minded folk, our boss, people we meet on the street or in virtual environments like this) leads to new ideas and new behaviours. There is a school of thought that ALL learning is social. My view is that quite a lot is, and it's increasing with the proliferation of technologies, but there is some learning that is deeply personal and self-directed.

The 'informal' term is rather a catch-all. It's also slightly misleading as it can be taken as 'haphazard' and serendipitous. Some informal learning may be that, but a lot isn't. Informal learning is all learning that is not directed in a structured way. It can be social or it can be isolated learning (where you learn through practice, for instance). It may be accidental, but it's more likely to be highly directed.

Harold Jarche separates learning into a set of categories: directed/self-directed/undirected with learners (or workers) being dependent learners, independent learners or interdependent learners depending upon particular context. Jane has pulled this into a structure here http://bit.ly/eOQwyX that you may find useful. It's not something to show business managers, but it may help clarify for people who have some experience and expertise with how people learn.

The 70:20:10 model is another framework for categorising learning - with the '70' describing learning through experience and practice, the '20' describing learning through others, and the '10' describing formal, directed learning. Again, unfortunately, some specific learning experiences are likely to 'bleed' across categories.... nothing is black-and-white.

Charles J: I should have said that informal learning is 'more likely to be highly directed BY THE LEARNER' ....

Charles J: Good catch, Nic! I shouldn't have used 'unfortunately', or should at least have qualified it with "unfortunately for people who want to put things in nice neat rows"..... I can't count the number of times I've been challenged on the 70:20:10 split by people saying that 'it won't work that way in my organisation, we need to do 'x' amount of formal development... etc'.

The point is that all of these frameworks and categories are intended to act as useful tools, not recipes.

Nic L: Charles. Thanks for a very helpful differentiation of the terms. There is currently lots of confusion and overlap of use of them even amongst those who truly "get" the learning revolution.

I would take issue with a single word in your post! "Unfortunately" in your description of the 70:20:10 model suggests that we ought to be able to categorise every element of learning and behaviour. You then go on to say nothing is black and white! I think we have to understand that as scientists and analysts and conceptualisers of one type or another there are no hard line differentiations in human behaviour - it is a continuum.

One of the difficulties we face as the L&D fraternity is to explain clearly to those with whom we seek to collaborate what we are all about. Using hard definitions and differentiations provides some insight but also again confuses the reality. There is a huge diversity to the way we learn and that the way forward is to recognise the centrality of the "learner" and to meet his/her needs by fostering whatever media, mechanisms and structures that will make the process effective. Drawing lines on the continuum invites the taking up of standpoints that mask the incredible breadth of the field in which we work. In doing so this risks the promotion of inappropriate or sub-optimal ways forward for the learner.

Jane H: Exactly! As Harold has articulated clearly here, there are no cookie-cutter solutions http://internettime.posterous.com/

David S: Charles, your explanation of the differences in definitions is very helpful, thank you.

Is there is a distinction to be made between the private and public sectors in terms of both mindset and investment?

I work a lot in the public sector and many in L&D are still coming to terms with facilitating learning rather than instructing, never mind the use of technology. E-learning is in there but with its detractors. Initiating and integrating online CoPs are rare in my experience as most rely on intranets which are not the same thing.

Charles J: I don't see any difference between the needs and outputs in terms of mindset and investment for public and private sectors, David.

When it's boiled down everyone is focused on helping people do their best and work to their potential using the most effective and most efficient approaches available. I think it's irrelevant whether there's a profit motive behind the organisation's raison d'etre or not. For-profit and NFP organisations all want to get the best outcomes from their people.

However some of the levers that L&D and others in organisations can pull may be very different. For instance, for-profit organisations will respond to levers that are couched in terms of productivity and profitability. NFP and Govt. organisations will want the semantics to be presented differently - in terms of best value for the end user/customer/client/taxpayer and efficiencies.

So the routes to the end goal may be different, but the goal - helping to maximise workforce capability in the best way possible - will be the same.

Social and informal learning have a very important role to play in getting to the goal in every organisation whether it's a multinational for-profit, a small or medium-sized enterprise, a government department or a charitable trust.

David S: I absolutely agree that the goal is the same and on the importance of social and informal learning. I sense sometimes in public sector environments that there is a mystique about the methods and 'that's what others do'. It's a cultural resignation attitude.

Elliot R in reply to Charles J: Agreed. My recommendation to my team would be to use the term "social learning" v "social media" as the latter implies more of a marketing strategy via social technology.

However, I don't believe you can have social learning without technology. But, IMHO, you can have informal learning without technology. Would you agree that the potential use of technology is one factor that distinguishes social learning from informal learning?

Nic L: Elliot - I have to disagree with you! Social learning happens all the time - whenever people meet together to discuss and share. it is totally ubiquitous and at the root of our humanity. If we try to limit it to any kind of structured context we deny its power.

Elliot R: I think we are talking past each other as you are correct. I am referring to technology only as a potential enabler. My organization is trying to force informal learning into a formal learning category and measure it via social learning which I do not believe is a good use of time.

Gary B in reply to Nic L: Just curious, then is the learning different from the delivery method or are we in need of a different term that incorporates a larger more encompassing term - process -method?

Jane B: Hi Elliot (and how are you, by the way?) . I think your last comment here sums it up well. The idea that L&D can own, direct, and manage informal and social learning (and get credit for it) is causing lots of problems. They didn't own, direct, or manage that before, after all. We're just finally at a time when others are recognizing social learning as legitimate learning, and learners have tools and capabilities at their disposal to help them better get what they need, not just the content that is pushed to them. Agreed: Trying to force it into old paradigms is not a good use of anyone's time.

Nic L in reply to Gary B: Gary - for me the learning is the outcome which becomes visible in changed or improved performance at individual or organisation level. There are countless delivery methods - which are ways people address their needs and arrive at their learning.

Gary B in reply to Nic L: Nic, I agree with you that the "learning" is really the outcome that manifests in a variety of ways, but I'll extend your phrasing a bit further and suggest that the delivery is separate from the processing of the information that was delivered and maybe the whole "social media" "social learning" etc could multiple steps -- such as we use social media as the tool that results in social learning (I have no idea if we should name whatever intermediate processing takes place - probably not).

Elliot R: Gary, your comments echo my thoughts...social media as a POTENTIAL enabler towards social learning.

Nic L: Elliot and Gary - I agree with you both that the social media are potential enablers of learning - amongst many others. Social means when people talk to one another - so there are almost countless ways in which that happens. The social media present the L&D community with a fantastic new way to foster social interaction with a global reach which is focussed on learning. But the SoMe are not something we own in L&D - we just harness the vehicle to help people collaborate and learn. In situations where SoMe are not familiar it is an inappropriate way of pursuing our aims - and getting to a point where learning communities and CoP's will get involved via the SoMe requires sensitivity and a lot of energy to create an ambience that is confortable for learners.

Michael de Groot in reply to Nic L: Wow what a great discussion here. All really great stuff. The conversation here would make an excellent blog post. I will just add one small thing if I may. The days that organisations are carving up SoMe are numbered. See for me Social means it's owned by everyone and not just one department or one individual. I know it will take time for the penny to drop and we all like boundaries, which is the old military way of doing things. Over the next 12 -24 months (hopefully) it will be a battle for organisations to become more social, holistic and transparent. Those who get it will flourish. Others who don't will have frustrated employees. Am I making sense?

Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think | and it's out of date already...

Is Social Media a Fad or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?  Welcome to the Social Media Revolution | watch this great video by Erik Qualman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ0z5Fm-Ng

Stats from Video (sources listed below by corresponding #)
  1. By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers….96% of them have joined a social network
  2. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
  3. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  4. Years to Reach 50 millions Users:  Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
  5. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia (note that Facebook is now creeping up – recently announced 300 million users)
  6. Yet, some sources say China’s QZone is larger with over 300 million using their services (Facebook’s ban in China plays into this)
  7. comScore indicates that Russia has the most engage social media audience with visitors spending 6.6 hours and viewing 1,307 pages per visitor per month – Vkontakte.ru is the #1 social network
  8. 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
  9. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum
  10. % of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees….80%
  11. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
  12. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres (combined) have more Twitter followers than the  population of Ireland, Norway, or Panama.  Note I have adjusted the language here after someone pointed out the way it is phrased in the video was difficult to determine if it was combined.
  13. 80% of Twitter usage is outside of Twitter…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
  14. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
  15. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook…
  16. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube
  17. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles…some studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English
  18. There are over 200,000,000 Blogs
  19. 54% = Number of bloggers who post content or tweet daily
  20. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth
  21. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia you would earn $156.23 per hour
  22. Facebook USERS translated the site from English to Spanish via a Wiki in less than 4 weeks and cost Facebook $0
  23. 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content
  24. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands
  25. People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services  than how Google ranks them
  26. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
  27. Only 14% trust advertisements
  28. Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
  29. 90% of people that can TiVo ads do
  30. Hulu has grown from 63 million total streams in April 2008 to 373 million in April 2009
  31. 25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video…on their phone
  32. According to Jeff Bezos 35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available
  33. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news, the news finds us.
  34. In the near future we will no longer search for  products and services they will find us via social media
  35. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.
  36. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy Listening first, selling second
  37. Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertiser

Customer Service in Social Media

I am sharing with you my own personal experience of the impact of social media in customer service. Now my experience of conventional customer service was very poor, but via social media it was excellent.

Firstly a little bit of background.

I am a T-Mobile customer and have been a customer of theirs for about 6 years, when I decided to purchase my very first blackberry, when the Blackberry Pearl was released. I was with Orange ever since I became a mobile phone user, so it took a lot of convincing for me to move to another network.

The service I had received from Orange was superb.

Anyway I made the jump and that was it. I was equally impressed with T-Mobile's service and their agents did an excellent job. So it all worked out for me. I was a very late adopter in the Blackberry market, but felt with the smaller phone my wait was justified.

Now fast forward to September 2010 and for my Birthday I treated myself to an iPhone 4, and had an early contract upgrade, which was a real gift.

All seemed to be well and my first bill was a bit of a mess coming out of one contract and starting a new one. Anyway I decided to leave it for a few months and review it again to make sure all was well. I don't get paper bills, so I get a monthly text to let me know that the bill is ready online. I don't know about you but when I get that message I don't immediately jump online and check my bill so I ignored it for a few months. I did notice that although I am not a huge user, the bill appeared high so decided to investigate further.

I then discovered they had been overcharging me ever since my changeover for Blackberry Booster, which of course I did not need or indeed use on my iPhone! So I decided to call.

I will just summarise this quickly as I want to get on to the social media bit.

I initially phoned their customer services and connected with the Philippines and it was not a pleasant experience at all. Basically I could not hear them properly because of the line quality and on top of that the agent would not allow me to speak and if I did speak she would repeat back what I had said to make sure she understood what I had just said. This meant a lot of wasted 'yes that is correct' sentences on my part.

After a long while, when she finally realised she could not solve my problem, she ended the call by saying she would send my account for re-calculation.

I decided to share my frustration on twitter and I received a nice response from T-Mobile.

In the end I had to email T-Mobile to get them in the UK to call me to sort it, which in fairness they did quickly.

My bill should now be showing the correct figures. OK when I did check a few days later, surprise, surprise it did not. Better still they had given me an early termination penalty for cancelling my Blackberry booster. I have not had a Blackberry for 4 months now! After sorting that with the Philippines again, they confirmed all should be well. However my bill online was still incorrect, so I resorted to Twitter.

What I received from T-Mobile via twitter was a very fast and satisfactory conversation that was resolved to my satisfaction, whereas the initial telephone conversation I had was far from resolved.

For me it shows that Social Media can work and have significant impact on the Brand, providing it is done well and T-Mobile have done this very well on this occasion.