I wrote a new chapter in my leadership manual - Path-Goal Theory

Path-Goal Theory of Leadership


Designing in the Linear... but Repeated

Prophet. "You value your ignorance of what is to come?"

Sisko, "That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day. And we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons or ideas, but to co-exist and learn."

- Deep Space Nine: Emissary

Harvest Moon over Lynnwood

Sometimes we think of linear design as strictly a step-by-step process that holds no possibility of using our imagination. However, the reality is that when we design in the linear an unlimited number of possibilities can occur. We generally try to set some sort of strategy with our design. With each new consequence that our strategy creates, the final design begins to take on more shape. But we never really know what will happen until we come to the end.

In contrast, dynamic design (nonlinear) is simply the repetition of a series of linear. This is because we are locked in by the concept of time — we exist in the linear. Of course, each repetition should bring something new or we will simply be repeating ourselves. The value of repeating the linear by bringing something new to it is that it brings the possibility of learning from new information. That is, our previous linear experience brought about certain consequences... some of them unintended, thus we now have new information that we can connect with our design.

“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” - Ira “Gus” Hunt.
The value of dynamic design is that it allows us to connect new information that we previous didn't have. Each repetition of the linear is called an iteration that normally comes in two forms:

  • Design or interpretive iteration — testing a learning method, function, feature, etc. of the learning or training process to see if it's valid.
  • Release iteration — releasing it to the business unit or customer even though it may not be fully completed or functional because we believe that it is good enough to be of use.
We have at least five design methodologies to use, depending upon our needs (see A Table of Five Design Models):


ADDIE normally uses two types of Procedural Analysis Methods. When the task to be learned is primarily overt behavior, there are set procedures to follow, and you have an expert performer, Behavioral Task Analysis is normally used. Since this is one of the more easier analysis to perform, few or no design iterations are required.

The Information Processing Analysis tool is used when there are both overt steps that require a set order and covert steps that require decision making of a yes or no nature (if, then, else), which means Flow Charts are good tools for this method. Since there are behaviors that cannot be seen, more design iterations are normally needed.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking often uses Rule Based Analysis Methods as there are no set procedure for performing the task and most of the task steps are normally of an overt nature.

Two forms of analysis can be used, GOMS Analysis and the Critical Decision Method. The task to be learned may best be represented by one or the other and sometimes both.

GOMS analysis is good if you can readily determine the Goal, Operations, Methods, and Selection rules (see Rule Based Analysis Methods). Since you have four main branches, mind or concept maps are good tools to use. Because the behaviors are mostly covert, several design iterations are normally used in order to fully capture all the required behaviors.

If you have an expert performer who has recent experience then the Critical Decision Method is a good method as it allows you to capture their stories in a case study format.

Agile Design

Agile Design is primarily used when the final product (learning or performance process) will take some time to fully complete but can be of use to the customers. Thus, release iterations are used as the benefit is that the customers will get part of the product without having to wait for long periods of time.

Both Rule Based Analysis and Procedural Analysis Methods are normally used, however the problem should be complex enough that it will take several weeks or months to complete the final product (if it only takes a short while there is little need to make constant release iterations).

System Thinking

The System Thinking method is for processes that will be implemented across several parts of the organization. Since each part normally has particular needs that must be met it often requires that trial tests (iterations) be run in each part to ensure it meets all the customers needs. The result of these iterations will determine the need, if any, for more iterations while the product is fined tuned for each part of the organization.

X Problems

We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. It is this unknown that defines our existence for it is at this point that we can expand the limits of our knowledge. The X Problems method is a good choice for this exploratory nature in us. Since it is exploratory, several design iterations are often required. In addition, release iterations are also often used if it is believed that what we learned so far will be of use to our customers.


If all you have is a hammer. . .


Then everything looks like a nice craft beer. . . or a nail:
Hammer and bottle opener

Nowadays we expect so much more from our tools:
Multi-tool Hammer

We expect them to be multi-functional. . . to include ADDIE and the Four Levels of Evaluations.


MERLOT 2013 Classics Award

I'm honored to announce that Big Dog's Leadership Page won a MERLOT 2013 Classics Award for developing an outstanding, peer reviewed online resource.


It is recognized as an exemplary model for business.


Flat Army: 3-33 Learning Model Verses 70-20-10

I have been reading Dan Pontefract's new book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, and can honestly say it is an excellent and insightful book for developing a collaborative and open leadership organization. The part that grabbed my attention the most is the section in chapter 9, Learning at the speed of need, which discusses the 70-20-10 learning model (while I have a great interest in all of Dan's topics in his his book, learning is my primary field of interest).

Dan notes that there is no empirical evidence that learning maps to the 70-20-10 model, even though practitioners often cite it as a fact. It was developed in the 1980s when command and control was at the heart of leadership—think of Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, and Roger Smith who more than likely thought that Learning/Training Departments were solely for their bidding and could offer very little for them personally. Thus the model is based on the the very thing that many learning and development practitioners are trying to get away from—hierarchy organizations. In addition, the model was developed before the Internet, thus it does not account for the numerous technologies that have aided formal learning, such as just-in-time learning, elearning, virtual learning.

I would also add that while some have pointed to Where did the 80% come from? as further proof that the 70-20-10 learning model is valid, when I researched the listed references on the page that give low percentages to formal learning, such as Raybould who proclaims that formal learning only accounts for 10% of the learning, I discovered that the authors provided no evidence at all. Such citations seam to imply, “I saw it on the Internet so it most be true.” On the other hand, the references that provide higher ratios for formal learning are the most evidence based.

The 3-33 Model

Dan provides what I see is a closer approximation of the learning ratios: 3-33, which stands for 33% the learning is formal, 33% is informal, and 33% is social. What is most interesting is that the research behind his model revealed that when the learners were asked to give the percentages on how they thought they learned, the numbers were very different than when the researchers actually discovered how the learners did indeed learn. This coincides with other research that indicates what learners are able to judge about their learning experiences (see Learner Self-Assessment Ratings).
3-33 Learning Model
graphic by Dan Pontefract

One of the other major errors of the 70-20-10 model is that it places reading in formal learning. Since when did reading a book become formal learning? Dan of course places it under the correct type of learning in his 3-33 model... informal. The 70-20-10 error seems to again coincide with the command and control culture that was most prevalent in the 1980s—the top leaders viewed writers as part of the elite who they could trust and learn from, while the learning/training functions were viewed as something to command and control, rather than trusted partners.

All in all, Flat Army is a very good book that deserves a special spot in in anyone's library who is interested in collaboration, leadership, and learning.

DISCLAIMER: While Dan and I have exchanged comments via blogs, I have no other interests in the book.

NOTE: While I seem to be kind of harsh on “command and control” it is mostly because of the audience I write for. I'm retired military so my real view of command and control follows the military view, which vastly differs from layman's and others point of view. See my writings on Leadership, Management, Command, & Control.

What are your thoughts on the two models?


In Memory of My Loving Wife

Kyong Cha Clark
As you probably noticed I have not wrote any new blog posts or tweeted for quite some time. My wife passed away last November. I knew this would come sooner or later as she had an advance stage of cancer that was diagnosed in January of last year. I thought I was better prepared, but Kyong and I have been married for over 39 years and soul mates for over 40 years  (it was both our first marriage). Thus it came as a bigger shock than I thought it would.

Kyong was willing to fight the cancer as long as she could maintain a certain quality of life, but said when it was time to go, she wanted to go. On November 6th she came down with pneumonia and was taken to the hospital with a low blood oxygen  level. They gave her forced oxygen and antibiotics, which quickly brought her oxygen level up to normal; however, the next day it started dropping again to an unsafe level and we decided it was time to put her on comfort care. Our daughter and I were both at her side when she passed peacefully away.

I had to drop off the virtual social grid as I was quite busy taking care of her, our home, and running my business during the last few months of her illness and then it took me quite some time to get over the grief of losing her. It's time to reenter the grid.