Monday, September 11, 2006

2001: A year of key learning

Since '01,  9/11 has been a time to reflect on what I learned in 2001.  We bought the DVD "The Concert for New York" and watch it every year.  What did you learn?

I learned many things in 2001, but one thing stands out above them all...
July - My wife and kids vacation in N.Y. with family (without me)...visit the wold trade center.
August - Our house burns down
September - N.Y. World Trade Center attacks...sister-in-law watches from nearby rooftop.
October - My third child, Grace Ellen Schlenker, is born 10/4
November -  The Family went to Disneyland...(I highly recommend it after any major terrist attack!)

Actually 2 things:  The first, and most important, is that FIREMEN (and WOMEN) ROCK!  Never have I seen more proof of that than in those months of 2001...both personally (my house) and around the country (N.Y.).

The second and key theme of this post is this:
Life is about people!  That's  all.  You were probably waiting to hear something profound..."Yeah Brent, so? That's such a, duh?!"  Maybe it is, but think about how many times you may have relied on a "system" or a "process" to help you?  And how much you hated (yes, hated) the person behind the counter, or on the phone, because their system didn't match your need? 

People don't normally let people down, its the defined business processes, and systems that people attach themselves too so they don't have to face the realities of dealing with natural human emotion and conflict:  Systems create the easy out for people.  "I understand your situation, but there's nothing we can do."

For me, the effects of those months lasted LONG into the next year:  fighting the insurance company, caring for children and a new born, dealing with contractors,  and facing the fears of post-9/11 life.  The people of Intel poured our their hearts in giving to me and my family in our time of need, and to the people of NY in theirs.  But the Intel system, a slave to its processes, defined me as "below expectations"...I believe my wife would beg to differ.  The people of Intel were generous, giving, and forgiving (when I needed time), however, the system was not.  Friends and family were there for us when we needed them, however, the insurance system and the systems of those they contracted with were not.  During the attacks of 9/11 many of the systems did not work, but the people did.  The firemen kept going back.  Do you get the picture? 

Gut instinct, experience, and human nature prevail when the systems fail.  I guess we call that tacit knowledge.  The explicit knowledge we know of any system is useless when that system fails...or when a situation does not fit nicely into that system.

For some reason we like everthing to be very black and white, IF this, THEN do this(explicit knowledge, right!).  Life and Learning is not that clean.  It's messy.  Learning is messy.  Learning isn't about our perfect little instructionally sound systems, and our technologies.  eLearning1.0 took us down that path and it was wrong let's face it...WE, WERE, WRONG!  Web2.0 technologies bring us full circle...its back to being about the people.   People connecting, people communicating, people collaborating, people sharing, people being creative and publishing freely for the world.  It's what the internet was supposed to be. 

So stop thinking about Learning2.0 as a new toolset...It's so not about that!  Learning2.0 is about people.  The tools simply allow us to do what we do best...and that's connecting with other people to support, share, and learn with each other.

2001 taught me a lot.  Let's not forget.  But let's also move forward.

BTW - The precision with which the Phoenix Fire Department worked on that night was an amazing sight to behold.  The fundamentals of fire fighting were being executed flawlessly, and they still took the time to pull pictures off the walls and protect them with tarps while fighting the fire.  Even as more trucks arrived on the scene there was a seemless integration into the process.  It was an amazing experience...but quite a bummer too.
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