Great post by Simon Caulkin.

Some excerpts:

Most managers assume that improving service increases cost. Wrong. Cost reduction is a by-product of focusing on value as defined by the customer.

Jack Welch called hierarchies places where “everyone has their face toward the CEO and their ass toward the customer.”

The job of managers is to make it easier for their people to respond to customers—and that only happens where those two meet.




Ken Robinson discusses the history (and related dysfunction) of education, the correlation between ADHD prescriptions and standardized testing, and other provocative points.  The entire discussion is animated by a person illustrating the ideas on a white board.   Whether you’re interested in information design, education or both, you should check this out.

This is an excellent article from eSchool News on the concept of flipping classroom learning — the idea is that passive lecture activity becomes homework while group work, discussions, and practice are done in the class with a teacher present to support/facilitate students.  Some excerpts:

“The main idea behind the ‘flipped’ classroom is for teachers to be available when students need them most. If I lecture for 30 minutes … in my chemistry classes, that would leave me about 20 minutes to assign homework and let students start on it,” he explained.

At that point, he said, students were left to their own devices to finish their homework and come back the next day for something new. What he found was that when students left his class, many either chose not to do the homework or gave up as soon as they ran into something that didn’t make sense.

“Then we would spend the next day going over questions instead of moving on. So what I was doing was using up valuable class time to lecture and then leaving them to figure things out on their own. That seemed like a very inefficient use of class time to me.”

Spencer began to create screencasts of his lectures using Camtasia the day before. Those screencasts then became the homework—and class time was for doing “homework,” or answering questions and doing labs/demos.

“I have now reached the point where, because of the screencasts, my students are all able to work through the curriculum at their own pace,” he explained. “Since I’m not lecturing in class, and students can access the information whenever they need, I can now spend that ‘extra’ time helping students one-on-one.”

The power behind the vodcasts, he said, is that students only watch when they need the information or are inspired to learn more. Class time is then dedicated to practicing and using their preferred learning style. This may be small groups, hands-on, problem sessions, or conversations with Yoos.

“One thing that I have learned is that students really resent ‘busy work’ now. If an assignment doesn’t directly lead to them understanding one of our unit objectives, it becomes obvious very quickly,” he said.

The Teacher Vodcasting Network is a site dedicated to this process.  This video does a good job of explaining:

This approach is gaining popularity in higher ed as well.  The National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) lists among the principles of its highly successful course redesign project:

  • the replacement of passive lectures with active online learning materials
  • the use of auto-graded, online assessments with immediate feedback
  • Greater student-to-student interaction
  • the ability to provide students with individualized support


Thought this was a good TED talk on the lack of productivity in the office.

While there are a lot of wasteful meetings and distractions at the office, I think it’s a little more nuanced.  A few things I’ve found helpful:

  1. If you share calendars at work, block out large chunks of your week to get stuff done.  This keeps people from imposing on your time with meetings.  I tend to do this at the beginning of the week,  so that if someone is planning ahead, they can schedule a meeting next week.   If a meeting absolutely needs to happen, I’ve found that people will call and see if you can free up time.
  2. Schedule 15 minute meetings at the beginning or end of the day.  This ensures that you’re timely and that everyone has large chunks of time in between.
  3. Fit the medium to the communication:
    1. Detailed plans for groups or summaries  – Email
    2. Sharing documents for review – some type of shared doc server
    3. Quick Questions – IM/Chat
    4. Anything involving conflict – Phone or Meeting
    5. Any complex topic where folks could misinterpret things – Meeting
    6. Status updates – Conf. Call

I had the opportunity to visit Brockton High last week on the same day that the NYT reporter of this article ( was there. There are a lot of theories right now on “what works” in education, but Brockton, against the odds, has stuck to the basics.

“Achievement rose when leadership teams focused thoughtfully and relentlessly on improving the quality of instruction.

Their culture is inclusive and proud, their standards are high and their staff is passionate.  I’m looking forward to working and learning from them in the future.

Good report from Nielson on designing with “the fold” in mind.  Summary:

“Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.”