No Excuse for not Knowing, and for not Learning.

70-20-10 Learning

Although the 70-20-10 model for learning and development of Morgan McCall and his colleagues has been under discussion recently, I’ve always found it a useful framework. The model illustrates clearly that training can take different forms. It states that we learn roughly 70% from on-the-job experiences, 20% from other people and 10% from courses and reading.
And that last part has changed dramatically!

Learning Resources

Learning resources are no longer scarce. The time that this kind of learning took only place in a classroom setting is far behind us. And although classroom training still has its valuable applications, the Internet, portables, mobile devices, content commons, collaborative platforms, and so on make learning possible anywhere at any time. With the Internet there is almost no excuse for not knowing. There is almost no excuse for not learning. Of course we assume you have internet access and basic physical and social needs are satisfied. Those who are driven to learn can find many ways to learn.
Two years ago ago I started experimenting with digital audio recording technology (i.e. DAW – Digital Audio Workstations). First with Steinberg’s Cubase and now with Ableton Live. Both software programs are loaded with tons of features and possibilities. With no advanced knowledge I started learning step-by-step by watching YouTube instructional videos made by people ranging from semi-professionals up to – and most of the time – just very enthusiastic users and musicians. For the few very specific technical problems that I met, the different user fora brought a solution. It’s amazing and admirable how many people like to share their knowledge. OK, for some it’s part of their personal branding strategy, but you really see a lot of enthusiastic people just sharing their knowledge.

Learn, unlearn, relearn.

In our Western society, working on one’s employability has become a continuous occupation. Alvin Toffler already forecasted this in 1970(!): “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.
Bass players have their particular way to formulate this. Bass player and music teacher Ed Friedland nicely said: “I’m still learning new things every time I play. When you reach the top of one mountain, you can clearly see the other mountains that lie ahead”. Or bass player Charley Sabatino answering the question “What are your musical goals?” in the BassPlayer Magazine of July 2014 with “To continue to play, grow, and explore until 45 minute after they bury me.”
Speaking about a drive to learn …. If you are doing what you love, who cares? Mastery is about loving the process and the journey, not the ultimate goal.
See also on


Introduce some Jazz Crispness in IT

What we can learn from Jazz

On the 2013  Edition of  the Belgian ITSMF conference  I presented “ITSM, building blocks and what we can learn from jazz”. That year the conference theme was about building blocks and ITSM frameworks. We discussed the pro’s of using them but at the same timewe dared to ask if ITSM frameworks could become counterproductive in certain circumstances. Having experienced myself how counterproductive processes and frameworks can become for innovation and business agility -and being a musician myself -I found the comparison between a symphony orchestra and a jazz ensemble an enriching metaphor. And playing jazz music I think I was in a good position to do so 🙂 .
The jazz metaphor in business is of course not new. It has been used many times. I remember for instance John Kao’s book Jamming – The art and discipline of business creativity released in 1996. It was a great book on innovation and presented in 1996 a clear view on the would-be business approach. It was a correct view as we can see now.

Two speeds in IT

Pivotal in my presentation is that many of us have a preference to solve problems with a “left brain” approach. We think that – referring to the Cynefin model – we can solve complex problems with techniques and approaches we have used with success for simple and complicated problems. So there are two speeds in IT. We think that we can still address business needs with an industrial-speed IT approach. But contemporary business needs are complex. They cannot be addressed with an industrial-speed-IT approach. Instead we need a digital-speed IT approach. I would just call this business-speed IT.
So too often we apply the symphony orchestra approach. To create the symphony the conductor is the person with the overall authority. He pulls the individual parts of the orchestra together. The orchestra cannot do this on its own. There isn’t the ability to communicate across the stage or to even hear what other sections are playing.  Therefor the musicians arerestricted to playing their music scores. They need to rely on the conductor to make sense of the whole.
Now jazz music is created most of the time without a music score. There might be a lead sheet if melody and/or chords are not known by the musicians. Jazz is about creating music in real-time, being explorative and expressive within a certain concept (a framework if you like). Jazz is about listening and interacting. It’s about shared or servant leadership and challenging each other.
Here are some basic elements of jazz which we can use in our business environment as well.

Jazz Strategy

Create a clear framework (enriched with values & culture) with just enough rules and processes (KISS). Create emerging solutions by continuously listen for change and react.

Jazz Improvisation

  • Listening/interacting: the value is created in the interaction. In other words use the power of communication, collaboration, networking, knowledge sharing, etc.
  • Technique: develop and master your competences but let them loose again at the right moment. The real danger is in the continual cycles of process improvement and optimization of the wrong capabilities.
  • Experiment: No solo is perfect but good enough. Make the difference between doing things right and doing the right things. Use unexpected outcomes as an opportunity and create emerging solutions.
  • Small teams: There is multidisciplinary and no duplication. This facilitates empowerment and self-organization where everyone can lead by taking initiative. At the same time no team is an island and must be aware of the context.
  • Groove: Maintain momentum and create continuous progress by establishing regular cycles and steady rhythms. The agile project approach is that respect a best practice.

A new mental Model

The new mental model of IT should be based in the first place on a strategy consisting of a two-speed IT approach. It creates emergent strategies. It should at the same time apply improvisation to create agility. Here is how it’s done:

  • Listen and interact.
    Both lead and follow. Less control from IT will bring more value to the business.
  • Technique.
    Apply contextual awareness which means using more than one mental model or methodology.
  • Experiment.
    Embrace uncertainty. Error is not failure!
  • Small teams:
    Create small self-empowered teams (including Right-brains) with a strong outside-in view.
  • Groove:
    Work with short cycles to keep momentum.

In other words, let’s learn how to groove to the business rhythm.