Real Life Tin Can Anxiety

There’s alot to get excited about. I’m just not sure everyone’s excited for the right reasons. I’m also not sure that our industry will really get what there is to be excited about. Cause (and here’s where I’m coming from) the degree to which you are excited should also be the degree to which you feel anxious. And I don’t see anxiety. I see the excitement but no one is talking about the fact that we don’t know how to use this new power given to us. We don’t. We just don’t. Know why? We have to completely reskill and rethink what were doing…NOW! It also means that if your having the right conversations your now talking to your marketing people, your business analysts and the dreaded IT department because you want to throw code into existing systems that is going to get data for you that you can use with what you build. And what you build needs to look something different than what your building now.

Perfect example. This happened yesterday.

Talking to a company that wants us to build courseware that improves product sales. Cool. I blogged a little about this over here. So what do we start talking about? We talk about whether there are any tools in place now that will help individual sales people see their own sales trends, see their strengths, weaknesses, etc? Well this discussion brings us up the corporate ladder now to the people who are directly involved with the operations and sales. Cool. We explain that we want to use actual data as part of the learning process. We want users to be exposed to where they see success and where they don’t. And we want to tie that experience into performance support and performance improvement. Essentially we need to go into existing systems that collect sales data and put some code in so that we can grab that data in a certain way and build experiences around it.

Whoaaaa there buddy. You mean training is gonna fuck with actual business systems….the same systems that make our company tick?

We show them a mobile application that we built for another client that tracks activities new hires complete. Its a self logging tool. We built the tool because part of the objectives for that build were to get people getting up to speed quicker (I know crazy eh? Instead of training what they should do we give them a checklist that exposes them to their own performance). A checklist that constantly reminds people what to do and also sends corporate brass information about how quickly people are getting their stuff done made sense.

We also showed them the line of code in Tin Can that tells me someone has checked something off:

  "verb": "interacted",
    "inProgress": false,
    "context": {
        "extensions": {
            "title": "Don’t forget to bring your enthusiasm and pride! ",

See where it says ‘title’: Dont forget…. Thats a little piece of data about what I’ve checked off in my checklist. The checklist is one thing (performance support). Learning from it, is something else.

I also showed them another app where I’m answering a questionnaire and showed them this:

Reuben Tozman answered ‘Questionnaire/8: Do you have a Mortgage?’ with response ‘No

    "definition": {
            "description": {
                "en-US": "Questionnaire/8: Do you have a Mortgage?"

Know when you have to fill out insurance forms and they ask you this?

I showed them all of this so that they understood I can plug into real systems, get data that feeds experience itself as a learning tool. Sorry…pause…what did I say there? Let me repeat. I want to use experience as a learning tool. Thats right, I’m not building anything other than exposure to experience as the learning (off my freakin rocker). I want to expose people to what they do while on the job, so that they can learn from themselves.

In any case….off topic. The real point here is that I’ve opened a really great can of worms that is going to freak out alot of people cause I want to mess with REAL FUCKING SYSTEMS. This my friends is a kiss of death. It is going to take so much time and so much effort to get in there that the excitement I feel when I think about potentially really being part of ‘increasing sales’, not just training people is mitigated by the fact that to do that I have a Mt Everest size task ahead of me.

This isn’t about being able to track what we build now more granularly, or being able to track local stuff, or social interactions (maybe some of this). Its about building stuff into the real world, the world that people naturally interact and making experiences we can learn from thats really the piece to get excited about. If your like me and do get excited about that then you’ll also understand that its gonna be a while before we get there.

Kris Rockwell made sensors talk Tin Can. That gets me so revved up. But imagine his conversations with the business people that he wants to mess with the sensors as part of a learning experience (It probably went very well)?

Isn’t this where we should be looking? Is it just me? Shouldn’t we be sticking our noses into the business to say I don’t want to build training. I want to use experiences happening in the workplace and work with those.

To make this whole situation really nerve wracking, you have to decide what to track, whats valuable, meaningful and why. You need to build your own dashboard and visualizations. You need to understand data science and become a data scientist. If this doesn’t freak you out, maybe it is just me.


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