Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

The Year That Was 2009

Here’s a look back at the popular posts on this blog and where readers came from during 2009.

Top 10 posts:

  1. eLearning and Content Development Salaries in India. Also in the list were posts inviting participation in the survey and the 2008 salary survey findings.
  2. Rules for Kids and Teenagers for Facebook Usage
  3. Instructional Designer Competencies
  4. Getting Started with Instructional Design
  5. Learn and Lead (About)
  6. Blogs by Indian Learning Professionals and Companies
  7. Web 2.0 Quotient - version 1.1
  8. Indian Learning Professionals on Twitter, updated list here
  9. Innovation in Indian Learning Industry
  10. 5 Reasons Why You are Not Being Promoted

Top traffic sources:

  1. Google / organic
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Orkut
  5. Yahoo

Top referring blogs/sites

  1. Upside Learning blog
  2. eLearningLearning
  3. eCube
  4. Learning Circuits blog
  5. The Writers Gateway

Top search keywords that helped people get here:

  1. facebook rules for kids, teenagers and facebook, rules for teenagers, facebook and teenagers
  2. manish mohan, manishmo
  3. instructional design competencies, instructional designer competencies
  4. salary survey 2009, salary survey india
  5. shift happens 4.0, shift happens
(Data source: Google Analytics)

Top Learning Resources of 2009

2009 was a continuation of my journey of online self-learning. I share with you the top learning resources from my PLE (personal learning environment) for the year 2009. I have found these valuable in my learning during the year. This is definitely not a comprehensive list.

Here are my top learning resources for the year 2009 (in no particular order):

  1. Twitter has been one of the most valuable learning tool for me this year. You can find the learning professionals I follow here and here.
  2. Stephen Downes OLDaily newsletter – The best of online learning daily updates, the one email subscription you should have
  3. Workplace Learning Today, Brandon Hall – A great aggregator blog of happenings around workplace learning
  4. Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid E-Learning Blog. If you thought PowerPoint was boring, you’d be dead wrong. A great resource to learn to transform your elearning using PowerPoint and Articulate.
  5. HarvardBusiness.org Voices – various authors, very insightful management and leadership posts
  6. Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy has been a find this year. Great writing on leadership.
  7. Sumeet Moghe’s Free as in Freedom
  8. Zaid Ali Alsagoff’s ZaidLearn – The best lists, you can find almost everything here.
  9. Harold Jarche’s blog
  10. Ken Allen’s Blogger in Middle-Earth
  11. Clive Shepherd’s Clive on Learning
  12. Tony Karrer’s eLearning Technology
  13. Upside Learning blog started their weekly finds that have been very useful.
  14. Learning Practice by Vasan has had some interesting posts that got me thinking.
  15. Sahana Chattopadhyay’s ID and Other Reflections
  16. Tom Stone at Element K blog provides useful summaries of learning and development events and news. (Disclosure, I work for Element K)
  17. Gina Minks shares her Adventures in Corporate Education in her blog
  18. Ellen Behrens’ alearning or Association eLearning to be exact.
  19. Jane Bozarth's Bozarthzone has thoughts about the training and development field.
  20. Clark Aldrich On Simulations and Serious Games as the name says it all.
  21. e-Clippings (Learning As Art) by Mark Oehlert
  22. Informal Learning Blog by Jay Cross
  23. Karl Kapp’s Kapp Notes is another great resource for learning in 3D.
  24. Cammy Bean shares her Learning Visions.
  25. Clark Quinn shares useful Learnlets.
  26. Cathy Moore’s Making Change is a must for practical instructional design and elearning tips.
  27. Patrick Dunn’s Occasional Rants are not mere rants.
  28. George Siemens writes about learning, networks, knowledge, technology, community in elearnspace.
  29. Serious Games Market, another find this year.

For updates about technology, I rely on my Twitter network. If there’s something interesting, it gets retweeted around anyway.

I also developed interest in photography this year. Two photography blogs I follow are Beyond Megapixels and Digital Photography School.

I also share specific posts that I find useful. You can view them here.

Hope you find these resources as useful as I have found them.

Do Your Systems and Processes Promote the Right Culture?

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this Dilbert strip. It also got me thinking. Are your systems and processes promoting the right culture that you want in your organization? You may have the most sophisticated systems and processes but if they stifle creativity, prevent collaboration, encourage fiefdoms and generally make it hard to work with each other in the organization, I recommend relooking at them. It would be great if we designed the systems and process keeping in mind the organization culture we want to create. Start with the culture in mind and then build the systems and processes around it.

What is Innovation?

Talking about innovation always opens Pandora’s box (see comments on my post Innovation in Indian Learning Industry).

Wikipedia defines innovation as:

a new way of doing something or "new stuff that is made useful". It may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

According to Merriam-Webster, innovation is:

Main Entry: in•no•va•tion

Pronunciation: "i-n&-'vA-sh&n

Function: noun

1 : the introduction of something new

2 : a new idea, method or device

Another site RealInnovation.com says:

An innovation can be big or small. Brand-new or just a bit different, it doesn't matter. An innovation can be clearly complex or seemingly simple. Innovations are often thought of in terms of technical achievement, but can also be a design.

An article on America.gov says:

Innovation is invention plus introduction.

Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development describes innovation as:

means coming up with new ideas and approaches that break new ground, push the boundaries and open up new ways of doing things.

I am beginning to think that innovation is relative. Each person is probably innovating in their own ways, some more than others (they find a new way of doing something perhaps). Each organization is innovating (they must, to stay in the business) in different areas like better ways of doing things (process innovation) or just building new products (product innovation) or providing new services. Countries are probably considered to innovate probably when many companies from the country are seen to be innovating.

An important aspect of being innovative is to be seen doing innovation. The larger the scale of comparison, the more impact the innovation must have. As an individual in your organization, if you can get the work done in difficult circumstances, you might be considered innovative. Or if you keep generating ideas and dialog you can be considered innovative, even if the ideas don’t result in a final product. As an organization it is harder. You can start by winning awards in niche segment and be considered innovative in that niche. To be considered innovative globally, the organization needs to have achieved recognition from outside its niche area of operation.

Grand things won’t happen on their own. If I want the organization or the country to innovate, I will start small, start with myself. I will keep innovating in every small thing and won’t wait for the ultimate game-changing innovation to come to me as a spark of brilliance. And I won’t worry about the definitions.

Photo by:

Innovation in Indian Learning Industry

Will Thalheimer wonders what is the state of innovation in the Indian learning and performance industry in his recent blog post. He comments on the NY Times report on India’s anxiety over the slow pace of innovation and wonders what the situation is in the learning industry. Will Thalheimer is a learning-and-performance consultant and researcher who specializes in helping clients build more effective learning interventions.

I guess it depends on what we call innovation. No I am not getting into an academic debate on what is innovation, primarily because I am not good at it. I do believe there is innovation happening in the Indian learning industry. Much of the innovation is focused on solving problems closer to home. These may not always be visible to the world. Some examples:

  • NIIT and TIS win Brandon Hall and CLO Magazine awards regularly. Other Indian companies in this year’s award list were Aptara and Servetium.
  • Harbinger and Upside Learning have learning products that are competing with the best and are now quite visible in the US.
  • NIIT’s Hole in the Wall is a key innovation in how children learn and has the potential to solve the India’s huge problem of educating the masses. The model is now being adopted and implemented in many developing countries, not just India.
  • NIIT, Educomp, Edurite, Everonn are making significant inroads in introducing ICT and elearning in school education system.
  • NIIT has been using innovation in curriculum and technology to overcome the problem of shortage of faculty in smaller towns and villages as part of its, not so publicized, affirmative action.
  • It is hard for companies like Infosys, Wipro, HCL etc. to hire and train tens of thousands each year and put them on the job without innovating in training practices. Some awards by these companies:
    • Wipro: 2009 ASTD BEST Award
    • Satyam: 2008 ASTD Training Management
    • Infosys BPO: 2007 ASTD Training Management
    • Reliance Industries Limited: 2007 ASTD Organizational Learning

Of course, Indian companies aren’t innovating as much as they can or should. Why?

  • We did start with ‘low cost’ advantage, a tag that’s hard to shake. One, Indian companies need to learn how to demand more from customers. And two, at the end of the day, low cost is indeed an advantage they will continue to play on it.
  • Indian industry is traditionally a service industry and has grown significantly doing exactly that. So product development has not been a priority for long. If companies continue grow doing one thing, there’s less of a motivation for change.
  • We don’t know how to package things well. That means presenting ideas, creating white papers etc. For some reason we don’t seem to pay enough attention to creating a really good document or presentation. This lack of packaging is visible in everything, from emails to project reports.
  • Indian industry has been focused on volumes. You could debate that there is process innovation. I mean whatever said and done, there is jugaad* required to get large volumes done. But yes, we haven’t quite been focused on product innovation until recently.
  • We aren’t really focused on academic research (at least I am not aware of it). There is very little connect between academic research and workplace implementation, though I suspect that’s the case in most other countries too.
  • We don’t know how to sell consulting, research and innovation well. We also don’t have high profile visible individual consultants/experts. I guess Thiagi and CK Prahalad are Indians innovating but don’t quite count as India innovating. It may be some time before an Indian from India is awarded the CLO of the year award.

Innovation is happening in India, definitely. Can more happen? Of course! Should Indian learning industry be worried? I don't know. There will be companies that will continue to push our low cost envelope to the western world. But with the western economies slowing down, and the opportunities now becoming visible within India, I am guessing we will be seeing much more innovation focused on the domestic industry. Not all will be visible to the western world. We are a shy lot and still learning to market ourselves better.

* Jugaad n. /jü-'ga-d&/ (जुगाड़): an improvised or jury-rigged solution; inventiveness, ingenuity, cleverness.

Do you ‘Get’ Social Networking?

What came first – chicken or egg?

Most people don’t get benefit of social networking because they don’t have a large enough network. And then they don’t build their network because they don’t get the benefit.

Have patience. After all if it takes 10,000 hrs to become an expert, how can you expect to get benefits from social networking by simply creating accounts on various social networking services but not actually using them?



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.