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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Beware of Imitations

It's both exasperating and fun to watch clueless vendors misappropriate the term Workflow Learning. A case in point: ICUS, an "international elearning consultancy" headquartered in Hong Kong. ICUS offers a free seminar entitled Workflow Learning - The Key to System Implementation Success.

One of ICUS's selling points: "Find out what is Prairie Dogging and how has it become the accepted social norm for workflow learning." Ha, ha, ha, ha. Sam Adkins described prairie dogging as a head popping up over the wall of a cubicle to ask a question. This is a worst practice. Half the time, the prairie dogger gets no answer. When an answer is provided, it's often wrong. The workflow solution involves identifying expertise and facilitating collaboration.

This evening I came upon Tactics, purportedly an independent consulting outfit that is wholly Australian owned. Tactics partnered with ICUS in 2001. The partnership extends to copying ICUS's mistakes. Someone at Tactics is not so hot with the space bar, e.g.:
  • what is Prairie Dogging and how has it become the acceptedsocial norm for workflow learning
  • how to use technology and procedure based, role (or task)methodologies to formalise this informal learning environment
  • a practical demonstration of the Smart@ss technology forcreating, distributing monitoring and administrating informal learning
formalise the informal? administrating? And did they really name their software smartass?

We'll soon post mp3 recordings of the recent Symposium at George Mason University.


At 6:06 PM, Anonymous TACTICS said...

Your point about Prairie Dogging being 'worst practice' is absolutely spot on. Popping your head above a cubicle and asking someone for help is not workflow learning and neither did we say it ever was. This is a case of too little information being a dangerous thing. Do you really think that a company such as ICUS (let's put that in perspective - the largest elearning provider in Singapore. Note - not Hong Kong)) and TACTICS (a company that has been enabling companies to improve business performance for 17 years), would jeopardise their reputations and say that we recommend 'prairie dogging'??
The presentation (which has been a huge success I might add) looks at the accepted behaviour of people in organisations and how that behaviour is costing organisations a mint. But more importantly it looked at ways in which these common behaviours could be utilised to make the invisible cost of prairie dogging much more effective and learner centric. If you come from a learning background you would know that psychologically there are basically 2 steps to changing how people act and react:
1. Understanding their behaviour
2. Modifying their behaviour

The presentation highlights that this process is difficult and showed what the 'norm' behaviour within organisations is and how you could leverage from that behaviour.

The software and methodology used to leverage this is from one of the most innovative companies in this space - a Swedish company called Infocaption - who have developed Smart Assistant (SmartAss), a workflow learning tool that creates, deploys and manages content. You may be sniggering about the name but they have signed up some pretty big global organisations who are using the technology not just as a workflow learning tool, but also as a strategic knowledge managemnt and communications technology within their organisation and their client base. For a young company they are certainly rattling some cages and I must say from a marketing perspective I'll bet you remember the SmartAss name for a long time. It's actually Smart@ss.

TACTICS exclusively licenses the technology for the APAC market and has rebranded it to Smart@s because of sensitive people like your good self. Do you think someone like Richard Branson would've done the same thing at Virgin?

OK - I agree with you on the space bar thing, we have to get that fixed. Maybe those Dell computers weren't so cheap afterall!


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