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Books and chapters by Jay Cross


It's ironic, but while I am a founder of the unbook movement and now write primarily for the cloud, I've written several regular books and chapters in more than a dozen. I put as much of this online as possible -- because I want to propogate the ideas they contain. For the very latest, please visit the Un-book store.





What Would Andrew Do?
How to sell senior management on the value of learning.



DIscussion at Internet Time Community


Chief learning officers and training directors are struggling to convince senior managers they are making a difference and continuously improving. This takes more than metrics and math.

This un-book explains what a chief learning officer must do to get budget, keep her job, and make a solid contribution to the bottom line that is appreciated all around. It goes on to address how to boost bang for the buck.

Lots of articles have been written about “earning a seat at the table.” The advice of many false prophets is to learn to speak the language of business. Earning the invitation to sit with the grown-ups takes more than talk. To win at this game, you must become a businessperson, not just talk like one.

If you’re looking for accounting formulas, buy Accounting for Dummies rather than lingering here. If on the other hand, you seek to quantify and demonstrate value, you’re in the right place.



Working Smarter

Boosting Brainpower for Fun & Profit



Discussion at Internet Time Community


This is a book for business managers about applying common sense to the task of building workforces that improve performance naturally, without prodding. It’s about eliminating training bureaucracy that has failed to keep pace with the times. It’s a new way of looking at how people become competent in their work and fulfilled in their professional lives.

In the network era, brains replace brawn, and most work evolves into knowledge work. Using your brain(s) effectively becomes the key to prosperity and the ultimate corporate survival skill. This book advocates investing in brainpower in ways that demonstrably improve organizational performance.

Pragmatic and grounded in experience, this is a re-think of how upgrading an organization’s brains can increase profits, spur innovation, and help businesses prosper.

In today’s volatile, unpredictable times, brainpower and collective intelligence are the keys to corporate responsiveness and survival. While learning is ascendant, training is in decline, for workers are embracing self-service learning; they learn in the context of work, not at some training event divorced from work.






Learnscape architects nurture organizations to get things done as simply and naturally as possible. Diverse elements, held in equilibrium, make for robust, thriving, vibrant organizations. Learnscapes share many characteristics of the Web: simplicity, clarity, user-centricity, restraint, and attention to detail.


Self-service workers connect to one another, to ongoing flows of information and work, to their teams and organizations, to their customers and markets, not to mention their families and friends because they can easily navigate networks of “small pieces, loosely joined,” the conventions they know from the Internet.


Portions are being refined in What Would Andrew Do? and Working Smarter.


Working on the next conceptualization  in July 2009.

Old-style Published Books:



 Informal Learning 


People acquire the skills they use at work informally — talking, observing others, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal training and workshops account for only 10% to 20% of what people learn at work. Most corporations over-invest in formal training while leaving the more natural, simple ways we learn to chance.


Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs. Informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider.


Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. People new to the territory often ride the bus before hopping on the bike.


Traditional training departments put almost all of their energy into driving busses. For experienced workers, most bus rides are as inappropriate as kindergarten classes. Mature learners, typically a company’s top performers, never show up for the bus. They want pointers that enable them to do things for themselves.




Chapter 1: Out of Time

Chapter 2: A Natural Way of Learning

Chapter 3: Show Me The Money

Chapter 4: Emergence

Chapter 6: Meta-Learning 

Chapter 10: Communities.

Chapter 14: Unconferences.

Chapter 15: Just Do It








Implementing eLearning


 In this knowledge era, the constraint to innovation and success boils down to one factor of production: people. Companies in the forefront are discovering that human resources are the biggest constraint on business progress.  Technical talent and the ability to innovate are in short supply. The soft stuff is the hard stuff.


Competing successfully requires teams of inspired workers who are mentally equipped to make sound decisions on the fly…to initiate and innovate relentlessly…to execute on good ideas in a snap. The people you put on the front line with customers don’t have time to run every idea up the management flagpole.  You must equip them with the resources they need to do it right in real time.


It’s not the “e” that’s important. It’s not the learning that’s important. What’s important is the doing. If learning isn’t producing measurable performance and advancing execution of the corporate strategy, it should be redirected or abolished.


How much should you invest in promotion? Think of it this way. If 20% of your people are not participating in a $2,000,000 eLearning effort because they didn’t know about it or weren’t convinced it was for them, you’re leaving at least $400,000 on the table.


Find out what didn’t get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas, and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart.



Marketing Design







Chapters and Introductions



Blended Learning  Handbook



When Curt Bonk asked me to contribute a chapter to this book, I flat out refused. As you might guess from the quantity of top-notch authors who appear here, Curt is persistent. He asked me again, and again I turned him down, this time with an explanation.


I told him I considered blended learning a useless concept. To my way of thinking, blending is only new to people who were foolish enough to think that delegating the entire training role to the computer was going to work. I could not imagine unblended learning. My first-grade teacher used a blend of story-telling, song, recitation, reading aloud, flash cards, puppetry, and corporal punishment.


Is it not nutty for a learning strategist to ask “Why blend?” The more appropriate question is, “Why not blend?” Imagine an episode of This Old House asking, “Why should we use power tools? Hand tools can get the job done.” For both carpenters and learning professionals, the default behaviour is using the right tools for the job. MORE




Implementing eLearning Solutions



Many of the benefits are beyond measurement. It’s impossible to pina value on increased self-confidence among the sales force or having a 24/7 channel to the very latest sales information and techniques. But some aspects are measurable. 


The time for sales people to achieve quota dropped from 15 months to 6 months. What’s the value of 9 months of additional sales time for 1,440 people? Given that these people have a quota of $5 million, that’s in the neighborhood of $5 billion. Calculating back from total Sun revenue instead of quotas puts the gain at $3.7 billion. MORE








Most companies are stuck in the past. In addition to their over-reliance on control, these organizations think business a zero-sum game; I win, you lose. They tend to have a black-and-white view of the world; things are rigid; the fundamentals still apply. Secrecy is competitive advantage; hoarding information is the norm.


On the other hand, to companies that embrace the future, reality is the unpredictable result of complex adaptive forces. Nothing is perfect; stuff happens. Cooperation is a win-win game. Relationships are all-important, and the more open you are, the easier it is to form them.


Companies are not machines; they are living organisms. Yesterday’s organizational teams are giving way to organic, self-organizing bioteams. 






Selbstorganisiertes Lernen in Internet



Shifting from the machine-age worldview to the age of connections is not revolutionary, for revolutions are rebellions from the past. This is more than just crazed intellectuals, new laws, and blood in the streets. This is a phase change, a break from the past to a

new way of being. We are at an inflection point in human history.


Machine-age consciousness no longer fits reality. Physical matter is not a cornerstone; matter changes when you look at it. Invisible, intangible things are more valuable than things you can touch. Quarks and the cosmos flaunt Newton's "Laws." Time is relative. Complex adaptive systems insure that nothing is certain. Everything is connected.


The unconnected, mechanical world had finality; things ended. In the connected world, everything is a perpetual work-in-progress. WYSIWYG is giving way to individual perspectives.


Our consciousness told us we were independent nodes; cogito ergo sum. We are transmogrifying into interdependent connectors; dead meat if unhooked from our ecosystems.





20, An Anthology Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of the Higher Colleges of Technology of the UAE




CONVERSATION HAS MAGIC to it. Dialogue is the most powerful learning technology on earth. Conversations are the stem cells of learning, for they both create and transmit knowledge. Frequent and open conversation increases innovation and learning. Schooling planted a false notion in our heads that real learning is something you do on your own. In fact, we all learn things from other people. People love to talk. Bringing them together brings excitement.


Academically, I made it through tenth grade studying on my own. After that, I couldn't have continued without participating in study groups. When you're taking part in a small group, you spend less time overcoming self made those people whose obstacles and more turning over the concepts of others in your own mind.


You give as well as get, and when you teach something to another, you plant it firmly in your own head.


In the Desert Survival Game, a classic organizational development exercise, a small group is told to imagine their small plane has crashed in the Sonora Desert. The task is to prioritize a list of items to help increase the odds of survival. First, each individual ranks the importance of things like the flashlight, the map, matches, and a compass. Then the group comes up with a consensus pri­oritization. Invariably, the group makes sounder decisions than any individual.


Two learners are almost always more effective than one. If two people go through a computer based learning experience together while sharing one screen, they learn more than if each went at it alone. What's a manager to do? Often the largest contribution is getting out of people's way, removing barriers, and, in the words of Tom Stewart (2003), "minimizing mindless tasks, meaningless paperwork, unproductive infighting"




Training form the BACK of the Room! 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn, by Sharon L. Bowman.



Roger Schank has a four-word explanation of what’s wrong with training: “It’s just like school.” School clings to vestiges of a by-gone era: Students get the summer off to help bring in the crops. Schools are literally an alternate reality, walled off from the real world to protect their “customers” (aka students), thereby guaranteeing that schools remain “out of it.” Teachers coerce pupils to learn rather than motivate them to learn. New graduates find out about the unspoken hoax: Outside of schools, grades are meaningless. Teachers are the font of all the right answers - hardly a stance for developing critical thinking. In the workplace, teamwork is esteemed; in school, learning with others is called cheating.


Training has adopted most of this bad baggage from school. After all, every trainer was brainwashed for a dozen or more years that this is how you learn.



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