Adventures IN Building Learning Ecosystems

I left the teaching field in 2000 to become a game developer with the goal of building a game for a character I created about my dog, Murphy, who travels the world and solves mysteries.

Murphy and the Missing Panda – illustration by Flos Vingerhoets

Murphy’s adventures take place all around the world and he loves meeting new people and teaching readers about the places he is visiting. His nose always gets in the way of him solving the mystery right away because he gets easily distracted by bones and scents.

Even though Murphy lives in the animal world – he solves mysteries through finding something that is missing, that is the same way EdTech leaders need to think about finding better ways to train their employees and customers.



Continue reading “Today’s Learning Ecosystems”

What will 2018 bring?

My wife and I always recap the previous year after the holidays. Normally it goes something like this: “Need to lose weight, eat healthier, drink less, be happier and laugh more.” This year it was: “Thank god 2017 is over, what a year! 2018 has to be better than 2017.”

Let’s recap: New city, new job and new president. Lots of unplanned changes in 2017.
We moved from San Francisco to Seattle and where I joined forces at Tahzoo to support west coast businesses particularly with SDL web experiences and content, which meant going back to where I started my career in 2000.

The technology has improved and our world has become more connected. However, the strategy and projects pitfalls have not changed. Similar known unknowns and discussions among project teams. I thought by sharing the questions and our strategy this might help you and your teams.

This question comes up weekly:
How do we start?

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Considerations for Information Architecture Design when designing your SDL BluePrinting

The BluePrint™ design should take into account the entire web presence, starting with information architecture (IA) design. Information architects provide prototype models that include site maps and interactive wireframes. Once the IA is defined, the BluePrint™ design can begin by reviewing prototypes to determine where functionalities and data will live within the website. For example, developing an advanced location finder tool might be in scope for the .COM release. Other business departments launching in the future will want to use this technology, however will not want to be direct descendants of the .COM. Placing this functionality into the right publication within the BluePrint™ allows for reuse, without having to be direct descendants of. COM.

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SDL BluePrinting & Content STRATEGY

What Is BluePrinting™? BluePrinting™ is used by Fortune 500 companies primarily to leverage the use of global and local content within multiple websites, and is an out-of-the box solution that allows organizations to manage their multi-channel, multi-dimensional communication from within a single solution. The foundation of BluePrinting™ is that each publication (the highest-level directory structure) within SDL Tridion can be configured as its own unique site or as a parent/child structure that can hide, inherit, localize and publish data. This architecture enables your business communication professionals to effortlessly use shared resources across multiple websites, while retaining control over content that makes each site unique. When designed and implemented properly, BluePrinting™ can leverage and empower brand management, multi-channel microsites, information architecture (IA) designs, taxonomy, SEO/search, campaigns and editorial workflows. SDL Tridion’s BluePrinting™ technology addresses multiple needs of current organizations that use a variety of platforms to publish content for the web, mobile, social media and tablets. 


Six Key Areas

1. Multi-site management
2. Brand consistency
3. Brand relevancy & localization
4. Target audience marketing
5. Multi-channel management
6. Microsite rollout and management

Want to read more? Contact us for a copy of the SDL BluePrinting Whitepaper

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Customer Experience Management has been around since humans first started trading.  Therefore, to educate businesses on CXM we must look to history’s success and missteps.  My grandfather ran a car dealership after serving in World War II. He was not much of salesman and even less of a mechanic, yet his dealership was a huge success! How did an easygoing man who was challenged by the small task of an oil change manage to consistently win and retain business?

At the age of 13, I had the opportunity to find out! It was summer vacation and I began to spend my days going to work with Grandpa, observing him in his day-to-day at the dealership. His morning started with a walk through the body shop, the parts department, and the waiting room. As he meandered through the different areas of the dealership, he would talk with everyone, taking time to ask about people’s kids and the new paint job someone put on their house.  It all seemed very mundane, and, frankly, a waste of precious time. Who cared if someone bought a new lawn mower?

What I didn’t realize until later in life was that Grandpa wasn’t just asking questions, he was asking the right questions.  By the time we got to the waiting room he knew the client waiting for their car repair or receiving their bill.  He was able to answer their questions, listen to their gripe, or bring them into the showroom to show them the latest car like an old friend. Now, I can’t be 100% sure, but his client retention rate could have been 99%.  Later, when the business was sold, the client retention was noticeably less, because the new owner didn’t make time every day to take Grandpa’s slow stroll through the dealership.

Consider the following structure for Customer Experience Management Training:

  1. Success stories
  2. Success stories will showcase your company’s customer experience management wins.
  3. Use customer support, company blogs, competitors, and social media for resources.
  4. Horror stories
  5. Use as learning experiences to understand that making change is OK.
  6. These are key stories to focus on the morale that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you own up to them.
  7. Use in the same way as success stories but also take a look at where you competition is excelling.
  8. Role-play exercises
  9. Use personas – if you don’t have personas, development them!

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.

  1.      Persona’s allow the core team to make better decisions for the target audience
  2.      Persona’s help personalize data collected and assumptions
  3. Don’t use your mother or grandmother as a persona; look to your marketing teams and outside agencies.
  4. Go through the entire client journey with your personas over and over again.  i.e. Use client facing employees to help you with the Persona agenda (Sales, Pre-sales and consultants).
  5. Mentor panels
  6. Select a few key people within your organization who can help spread your company’s CXM message.
  7. Build a “train the trainer” program 1 – 2 days in length.
  8. Use cross division and diverse team members in your program.
  9. Develop bi-monthly panel-style webinars. Topics should include where you win and lose, followed by an extensive audience question and answer session.
  10. Learning Management System (LMS)

Learning Management systems are web-based portals that are role-based and configurable for education teams to assign tutorials, trainings, quizzes and assignments.

I’m a huge fan of using a LMS for training. It keeps costs low, there are no travel expenses, and it’s easy to upload new information. A LMS gives organizations the opportunity to provide materials and test teams knowledge on the message, vision and products used to improve the CXM journey.

  1. Keep your recordings to 10 minutes per subject – we all know why YouTube has over a billion users!
  2. Record your CXM message upload into a LMS to allow for company access.
  3. Ask your teams to take a quiz or upload an assignment on the CXM message.
  4. Work with your vendors and build product training to utilize all of your companies messaging, guidelines, case studies and surveys – it’s no longer about publishing PDF documents to the web. It’s about engaging your client and retaining them!
  5. Follow Learning Principles
  6. Absorbing
  7.      i.e. Reading, watching, listening.
  8. Doing
  9.      i.e. Answering, deciding, building, organization, gameification of activities, scenarios, simulators.
  10. Connecting
  11.      i.e. Stories, case Studies, round-tables, role-plays

In the example of my family’s dealership, the clients in the waiting room were in the midst of the buying cycle.  My grandfather didn’t go after them with the new luxury sedan. Instead, he addressed their current pain point.  Why were they in the waiting room?  What was their mood?  How was their experience so far with his dealership? By considering all these key factors before pushing new or other products their way, Grandpa created an experience that transferred into consistent sales and repeat business.  

May we all learn to take the leisurely walk through the waiting room.

This post was taken from my 1st blog site: