Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Power of Pull" chapters 3 & 4 Part 1

Chapters 3 and 4 address "Access" and "Achieve".  

[Partial recap of Chs 1 & 2 courtesy Barbara Smith-- see link in previous post. Nice discussion of "The Edge" from Mark Britz (@britz) at

Q9. How would you explain the difference between "push programs" and "pull platforms" to your boss/other?

Q10. How many "surface areas" do you have? How many would you say most people in your immediate world have? How can we increase those?

Q11. What do you think of the idea that we have a certain "disposition" to access and attract attention? Does that mean some will always be excluded?

Q12. Chapter 4 offers extensive discussion of the move to pull platforms. What are the implications for L&D? Consider things like traditional HR and management roles and training. 

Q13. From Steve Maul: "Arguments against “push” seem to focus on zero-sum game and that they were borne out of a contrived scarcity of resources.  Unfortunately, scarcity does actually exist in some circumstances - whether it be materials, human knowledge, skills or finance." Your response?

Reminder: We are discussing via HootCourse, but you can choose to publish to Twitter. If you are enrolled in the course, anything Tweeted with the hashtag #lrnbkpull, including quotes from your Kindle, will appear in the HootCourse feed. 
HootCourse can also be accessed via a mobile device at . 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Power of Pull Chs 1 & 2 Wrapup; Recap of Early Discussion

The first part of the Power of Pull discussion wraps up today. New questions tomorrow on Chapters 3 (my favorite so far!) and 4. 

Thanks to Barbara Smith for stepping up and recapping the first part of our discussion on her Collaborative Learning Today blog. She said it was ok to copy her post here, so here's an overview of our conversation on the first 4 questions.

"The first week’s questions from the LrnBk Chat on “Power of Pull” included the themes: Passion, Serendipity, Learning, and Creating Change. See

How do we help others find, leverage, and kindle passion?
To help others kindle passion in their work we need to address their entire environment: provide support, tools, and enable connections.  Convince people they can "pull" the information they need.  Show them how to go out and figure out how to do their jobs best.  Let’s help others marry their passion with their profession. 

According to John Seeley Brown, organizations must be re-crafted to serve the needs of individuals.  That will require serious change.  That sort of serious change can't come from the top down (that's PUSH).  It must come from within the organization with leader support.

How can we map passion to profession?
Let’s ask people what attracts them to the job and find out how the organization can facilitate connections that help foster that passion.  Perhaps we need to be doing “stay” interviews; find out how we can make the profession one someone can be passionate about.  Let’s invest time in genuinely *knowing* people in the organization, in the work path and outside of it. 

What did the Grommets learn about learning?
Grommets didn't focus on learning. They focused on their passion, their joy and through this they learned and improved their skills.  They learned by learning together, studying their performance and the performance of others.  Grommets made learning fun; learning happened as a byproduct but drove success.

What are lessons for those of us in learning and development (L&D)?
Learning requires performance feedback and practice. Collaboration and support are key elements. We need to build a way for employees to get access to knowledge flows when needed.  L&D needs to set up two way communication and sharing of best practices.  L&D must support and provide the platforms - creation spaces really moving away from command and control.  We are better together then we are apart.

How can we 'create' serendipity?
L&D can create serendipity for our employees by sponsoring events that bring people together who share the same passion.  Serendipity requires being "out there" constantly, in search of new ideas.  If you follow your passion, you'll be in a place to learn when it happens. You may not be expecting a payoff in your search but all of a sudden you have a serendipitous encounter.  L&D needs to facilitate learning experiences that allow for serendipitous encounters.

Creating change:  Saying "The edge transforms the center”, the authors assert that we need to start by working to change individuals, not institutions.  Do you agree?

We must change individuals.  Change comes from individuals working from the ground up.  How can an institution change if the individuals do not? Start with the people who display their passion and branch out from there."

We are using HootCourse for this discussion (we're course number 973). If you have joined the course, tweets with the hashtag #lrnbkpull will also appear there. You can likewise tweet from your Kindle using the same hashtag. And you can access HootCourse from your mobile device .

Discussion of questions 5-8 is still is still underway so please add your thoughts on facilitating the move from push to pull, how a leader can promote "pull", how organizations can foster "creation spaces", and how networking has changed. 

Check in tomorrow for new questions! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Power of Pull Chapters 1 & 2, Part 2

This is proving to be a fun discussion with lots of participants!  Here are some more questions, with help from Karen Burpee and Steve Maul. Remember to join us at HootCourse .

Q5. How can edge participants help to facilitate the move from push to pull? How to establish trust relationships between edge participants and organizations?

Q6. When an executive (or leader) wants to promote "pull" - what actions or behaviors best demonstrate the commitment? 

Q7.What are the ways organizations can foster “Creation Spaces” for optimal Pull?

Q8.Authors talk about 'old style' networking v. new. What has been your experience of that? What's changed, and what's been the result? Wrap-up questions Monday. We'll start chapters 3 & 4 next Wednesday, 8 am ET.

Can I get a volunteer to write up a recap of the conversation?

Thanks, Jane

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Power of Pull" Discussion Intro and Chapters 1 & 2 (part 1)

Here we go! Remember to join us via . You can choose from there to post your comments to Twitter-- or not. Hootcourse will add the hashtag #lrnbkpull . Most seem to be using Kindles so we will go with location numbers. Those with paper copies: there is no reliable calculator yet for matching Kindle location to page number, but we'll try to make sense of where we are!

As the introduction proved so interesting let's include comments from there here as well. The first questions are arranged around some general themes of the book: Passion, Learning, Serendipity & Creating Change:

Q1 Passion:  20th century institutions saw passion as disruptive and unpredictable. What arguments does"The Power of Pull" make in encouraging passion (think of the Grommets). How do we help others find , leverage, and kindle passion? How can we map passion to profession?

Q2 Learning: What did the Grommets learn about learning? What are lessons for those of us in learning and development (L&D)?

Q3 Serendipity: Think back on times in which you learned, really learned something. Or think of a significant moment of success. How much depended on serendipity-- a chance encounter with someone or an idea or event. What are lessons there for those of us in L & D. How can we 'create' serendipity?

Q4) Creating change:  Saying "The edge transforms the center”, the authors assert that we need to start by working to change individuals, not institutions.  Agree/no? Why/not?

More questions on Friday, 8 am ET. See prior post for details re rest of schedule.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New book chat on "Power of Pull" #lrnbkpull

Time for another Twitter-based book chat! Since his opening keynote at DevLearn 10, people have been fired up about John Seely Brown's "Power of Pull". It's available in hardback and for Kindle.

In order to keep from flooding the Twitter stream (and to keep others using the lrnbk tag from flooding ours) we'll use Hootcourse. You can sign in w/ your Twitter account at .  You need to choose whether you want to publish your comments to the Twitter stream (easy to turn this on and off).  Hashtag is #lrnbkpull; HootCourse will add this to your tweets.

To accommodate folks in different time zones discussion will be asynchronous. I'll post questions here (please send me your ideas for questions), then people can join in conversation via the Hootcourse link,

The book has 7 chapters of about 30 pages each, and people  agree that 2 chapters at a time will be manageable.


--Discussion of Chapters 1 and 2 will start on Dec 15. I'll post questions here at 8 am ET.

--Discussion of Chapters 3 and 4 will start on Dec 22. I'll post questions here at 8 am ET

--We'll skip the week after Christmas.

--Discussion of 5 and 6 will start on Jan 5. I'll post questions here at 8 am ET

--Chapter 7 and wrap-up on Jan 12. I'll post questions here at 8 am ET

OK? Details on this blog.

Discussion via HootCourse .Hootcourse will add hashtag #lrnbkpull.

Let's rock!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Your Favorite Book as a Kid?

From Jane Bozarth (@JaneBozarth): 

A couple of weeks ago I asked the Twitterverse:
“What was your favorite book when you were a kid?” 

We have a new young Twitterer who set up her account just this morning, @coolsis2010 (she got an iPod touch for breathtaking success in elementary school), and I thought including her in this conversation was a nice way to introduce her to Twitter. It sent me back through the tweets, most of which I hope I found.
 If I missed yours please add it to the comments.

The Favorite Books, in no particular order and several with multiple votes, were:
Wrinkle in Time, Giving Tree, Harriet the Spy, Monster at the End of this Book, Bridge to Terabithia, Danny and the Dinosaur, Encyclopedia Brown.  Pippi Longstocking, Robinson Crusoe, Milly Molly Mandy books, Lion, Witch & Wardrobe, Starship Troopers, How to Eat Fried Worms, Superfudge, Mouse That Roared (book), Norse myth, & The Great Imposter. 

Harold and the Purple Crayon, Iliad & Odyssey, King Solomon's Mines, Pooh read by Dad, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Anne Frank, Bobbsey Twins, Island Blue Dolphins, Wind in the Door, Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, Stranger/Strange Land, Narnia, & The Hobbit.

Anne of Green Gables, 3 Singles to Adventure, Bobbsey Twins, Island Blue Dolphins, Wind in the Door, Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, Stranger/Strange Land, Ramona, Velveteen Rabbit, The Once and Future King, everything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,  and the entire Robotech series. 
Richard Scarry, Maltese Falcon, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anne of Green Gables, 3 Singles to Adventure, Nancy Drew, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Goodnight Moon, Little Women, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, My Side of the Mountain, and Carrie (yes, that Carrie).

Later I asked people what about those books were still present in their adult lives. Did they share personality characteristics with the main character? Did the books espouse values still present for them? I got fewer answers, but here are some: 

--In a couple of tweets, Tricia Ransom said, “Tikki Tikki Tembo (Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo)! If you chunk it they will remember --You do things because we've always done it that way- your kid could get stuck in a well because his name is too long."

--Mequel said he was like Meg in a Wrinkle in Time, always the late bloomer. 

-Txmischief said:  Love Pippi & her life philosophy! Sign on my office door says, "Shhhh! Deviant mind at work" & hair's been red since my early 30s

-Aaron Silvers combined a couple of ‘monster’ books with the line “I often get sent to the proverbial bed without my metaphorical dinner; sailing off to where the wild things are.

--Lisa Chamberlin said she’s like Grover in that she delights in discovery and a surprise.( Her new specialty is in discovering Skype emoticons.)  

--And I’ve lost the full tweet, but someone said “Velveteen Rabbit—makes me cry just thinking about becoming real." 

And me? My favorite was Pippi Longstocking. She reinforced the value of being a positive deviant and questioning the Rules (and stickin' it to The Man). And I'm a redhead b/c of her.
(It’s probably no surprise that now I love Flavia de Luce… and Lisbeth Salander.) And Pippi was right:  I really didn’t need to know no pluttification in order to have a successful adult life.

Have something to add? Feel free to comment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea: Wrap Up

One final question about Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea:

Q7 Mortenson was trained as nurse/medic/mountaineer. What can we learn from M in approaching problems, reflecting and learning on the fly?

And questions about next steps:
Shall we continue our digital book club on learning in practice? What book do you suggest that is especially about learning in practice? First person narrative has worked very well, but there may be other structures. Who is willing to lead the next round?

Comment here or please post ideas on the hootcourse site. On Twitter the hashtag is #lrnbk.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea: Part 2

Our discussion continues at New to the chat? Feel free to jump in and join us.

Questions for Three Cups of Tea, chapters 10 through 16:

Q4 What did we learn about working though channels in Mortenson's story? How is this applicable to L&D?

Q5 From Mortenson's experiences, what did we learn about working with SME (subject matter experts)?

Q6 What lessons can L&D learn about cultural change from Mortenson?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea: Part 1

Our book chat on learning-in-practice continues with Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

The discussion will take place at

New to HootCourse? This will help:

  • Sign in at HootCourse to join the chat.
  • Questions will always be listed under "Hoots."
  • Uncheck the box "post to Twitter" if you want your comments to remain private to the book chat.
  • We will use the hashtag #lrnbk. HootCourse adds the hashtag automatically.
  • The chat is asynchronous to accommodate different time zones.
  • This learning is informal. Have fun.

Questions for Part 1, Chapters 1 through 9:

Q1 What did we learn about learning in M's first approach to fund raising for the Corpse school?

Q2 Did M follow some defined process to get the first school built? What can we in L&D learn from his first efforts?

Q3 What role does passion play in M's plan? What lessons can we apply in L&D?

Questions for Part 2, chapters 10 through 16, will be posted Friday, August 27.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Chat on Learning in Practice: Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea

Welcome to the latest LrnBook Chat on learning-in-practice, Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time.

The chat is asynchronous to allow for multiple time zones.

We'll begin with chapters 1 through 9 on Monday, August 23, and continue with chapters 10 through 16 on Friday, August 27.

To access the #lrnbk chat go here: To participants of the King and Gawande chats, note that this is a different Hootcourse number. Everyone (new or previous members) will need to sign in first to participate.

Discussion questions will be posted here as well as on the Hootcourse site. Click the Hoots tab to access questions there.

The hashtag for LrnBook Chat is #lrnbk. Hootcourse adds the hashtag automatically.

New to #lrnbk? Click here for context and background by @JaneBozarth.

Using Kindle? There's a tool that will help you match page numbers to APPROXIMATE Kindle locations. From your Kindle, launch your browser, and go to . The converter tool is at the bottom of the page. You'll need to enter this information about the paperback (Penguin edition, 2007):
Physical book pages 349
First chapter begins on page 7
Last chapter ends on page 331

@dbolen and @steelepierce will be leading the Three Cups of Tea Chat. They'll appear on Hootcourse as @lrnbk.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Next Book - Three Cups of Tea

We will roll out out next book exploring learning in practice on August 23 discussing Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Our discussion focus will be the same as the past two books - what can we "learn" about learning from Mortenson's story? What can we learn about the design process and developing solutions to the problems? What can we learn about organizational change?

We will use HootCourse albeit as a different "course number." To access this chat go here - Please bring other ideas, issues and questions from your reading via Twitter or comments. Oh, and have fun.

Thanks for participating and thanks to Jane Bozarth (@JaneBozarth) for her leadership.

Don Bolen (@dbolen) & M.E. Steele-Pierce (@steelepierce)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gawande: Final Question (August 9)

One last question: Karl Kapp posted this comment on formal learning they day we began this project. What's your response, now that we've finished King and Gawande?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gawande "Complications": Wrap Up

Q12. What role does instinct (or intuition) play in G's world (esp last chapter)? (thx to @dbolen for the question)

Q13. So what did we learn from G about how people learn?

Q14. What did we learn from G & King together about how people learn?

I haven't heard details on the plan for the next book but will let you know when I know.

Thanks to everyone for participating!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gawande's Complications Part 3

[New to this project? Details and overview here.]

The "Final Cut" chapter (p. 187) was so full of comments on learning that I don't even know where to start asking about it. Feel free to take add more questions.

Q10. p. 198 "In most cases, it wasn't technology that failed [but Dr. didn't] consider the correct diagnosis in the 1st place." Problem for L&D?

Q11. How can we help learners learn to better navigate decisionmaking, particularly when precise 'correct' answers may not exist?

More questions on Saturday; book wrap-up by Monday.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gawande's Complications Part 2

Gawande Pt 2 pages 109-186

Q8. What can Learning & Development learn about collaboration from Gawande?

Q9. p. 116 When Drs can't find source of chronic pain, tend to be dismssive of it. Do we/where do we see similar in L & D?

Feel free to throw out more questions.

We'll start the rest of Gawande on Thursday with wrap-up by next Monday.

Respond in Hootcourse, please.

Folks have indicated an interest in doing another book and the favorite is Three Cups of Tea. Don Bolen and Mary Steele-Pierce will be leading that one so I'll ask them to consider the schedule.

I'm traveling this week (Univ Wisconsin Conf on Distance Teaching & Learning) but will check in as I can.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gawande's Complications Part 1 Wrap-Up

We'll start Part 2 on Tuesday. I didn't get any answers about scheduling the rest of the book. As Part 2 deals with Gawande's residence, let's just keep going straight through.

For wrap-up on Part 1, @steelepierce asks Q7: Q7 Gwande's description & of conferences (9000 surgeons). How (or not) are conferences L&D experiences? Agree with his assessment? (This was a #lrnchat topic a few weeks back. Check the transcript if you're interested.)

Several folks have asked that we continue this project. Books suggested so far are Moretenson's Three Cups of Tea and Ogilvy on Advertising (not available for Kindle so will take a few days for most to get).

Dave Bolen and Mary Steele-Pierce will be leading the next discussion. Please indicate in comments HERE or on the Hootcourse site which book you prefer. (They won't see your answer if you just DM me).


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gawande's "Complications, Part 1, Day 2: July 29

[New to this project? Details and overview here.]

Q4. p. 30: “You can't train novices without compromising patient care.” What implicit ideas does G offer that might minimize that?

Q5. p. 46 Gawande refers to himself as "doctor as guide". Do most Dr.s you know see themselves that way? Agree/disagree that this shld be role of Dr.?

Q6. G notes that even when machines can do something perfectly, we cling to idea of ‘human touch’. Do/where do we see this in L&D?

REST of Gawande Part 2 is shorter than Part 1 and deals less with Gawande's residency. Shall we talk about Part 2, say, from Monday 8 am to Tuesday 10 pm, then the rest of the book from Wednesday through Friday? Respond via comments here, please.

Note that I am traveling next week and will post Qs as I can. I am up for ideas for questions but so far no one has suggested any.

Also, several have asked about the next book. We didn't choose one. Do you want to continue? If so, we need ideas for books. Also: I'll want someone else to serve as, or help me as, leader for the next one. I might be willing to lead another sometime, but want to try it in Google Wave. Respond via comments here, please.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gawande's "Complications" Part 1, Day 1 July 27

New to this project? Details and overview here.

Conversations are asynchronous to accommodate those in varying time zones. We'll start discussion of Gawande's Complications on Tuesday, July 27, at 8 am ET. We'll begin with Part 1 "Fallibility" and will use hashtag.

As before, we'll be working in Hootcourse.Check 'hoots' first for tweets from me. Note that you can choose to keep your tweets within Hootcourse or publish them to Twitter. You can change this as often as you like.

QUESTIONS Gawande Part 1, Day 1, July 27:
(Due to the Twitter character limit let's refer to Gawande as "G", ok?)

Q1. After reading G, what are your thoughts on the practice of apprenticeship? How is apprenticeship different from mentoring?

Q2. G.'s perspective on talent is in stark contrast to King's. Your thoughts on talent now?

Q3. What ideas does G. offer about the 'right kind' of practice. (See the new heart procedure story page 29 and hernia clinic story p. 39.) Lessons here for L&D?

I plan to post the remaining questions about G. Part 1 on Thursday morning.

Feel free to bring up other issues/ideas. I am always up for additional questions so please add them to comments here or DM me on Twitter.

READING ON KINDLE? I am using the Picador 2002 paper edition since I already owned that. There's a tool that will help you match page numbers to approximate (I repeat: approximate) Kindle locations. From your Kindle launch your browser, and go to . The converter tool is at the bottom of the page. You'll need to enter this information about the paper book:

Physical book pages 269
First chapter begins on page 11
Last chapter ends on page 269

Jane Bozarth @janebozarth

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Chat on Learning-in-Practice: Gawande's "Complications"

New to this project? Details and overview here.

Conversations are asynchronous to accommodate those in varying time zones. We'll start discussion of Gawande's Complications on Tuesday, July 27, at 8 am ET. We'll begin with Part 1 "Falliblity".

As before, we'll be working in Hootcourse.Check 'hoots' first for tweets from me. Note that you can choose to keep your tweets within Hootcourse or publish them to Twitter. You can change this as often as you like.

Friday, July 23, 2010

King Last Bits Day 4: July 23

King wrap-up today! Please change topics, ask any additional questions, etc. Discussion is via Hootcourse

Q9. What was the purpose of the long section on the car accident? What did King learn from that experience?

Q10. Any comments on levels of performance in L&D? (Competence/mastery; Storyteller v. Literary artist)

Q11. What is (or not) the value of narrative/storytelling in crafting useful learning experiences for learners?

Q12. What did you learn about how people learn?

We'll start Gawande Tuesday 8 am ET. Comment here with any procedural suggestions/other. Thanks-- Jane

Thursday, July 22, 2010

King Part 2, Day 3: July 22

Q7. Would you agree/disagree that, based on King, "learning" is a mix of the formal and informal? Why/why not?

Q8. What do you think King learned from writing this book? Does/how does 'teaching' something teach the teacher?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

King Part 2, Day 2, July 21: Questions

Q4. King says "The writer and reader meet halfway". Is this true elsewhere? Doctor/Patient? Trainer/Learner? Other? Implications for L&D?

Q5. King touts the importance of reading bad stuff as well as good. Why? Is there value in that for other endeavors? L&D?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

King Part 2, Day 1 July 20: Questions

Part 2: Let's say up to p. 256, where the "Postscript" (mostly about his car accident) section begins? We can address that part on Friday.

Q1. Compared to the 1st 1st part of the book, did the 2nd part surprise you? Why/why not?

Q2. Based on Part 2 of the book, what do you think King would say if asked about formal learning?

Q3. King says you can’t turn bad writer into a competent one. Are there limits to “learning”?

REMINDER: We'll start Gawande's Complications on Tuesday July 27. ("Part 1: Fallibility")

Friday, July 16, 2010

King Part 1: Questions

Posted Wednesday, July 14
Q1. What were some of King’s critical learning moments? Why critical? Did they seem important at the time? #lrnbk
Q2. The 1st ½ of the book is essentially autobiography. Why do that in a book called “On Writing”? Purpose? #lrnbk
Q3. What did King have to learn about writing that had little to do with actually writing? Is there a message for L &D here? #lrnbk

Posted Thursday, July 15
Q4. King defines self not as a literary artist but a “good storyteller”. Does L&D have trouble distinguishing types of performance? #lrnbk
Q5. Based on PART 1 of book, what do you think King would say if asked about formal v. informal learning? #lrnbk

Posted Friday, July 16
Q6: How did part 1 influence/change (or not) your thinking about how people learn? #lrnbk
Q7) Why (or not) is the focused reflective process useful to learners? their instructors/trainers/teachers? (or not) #lrnbk
8)How much of what King learned came from chance or casual encounters with others? For the rest of us? Implications for L&D?

Friday, July 9, 2010

LrnBk Chat on Learning-in-Practice: Part 1 Join Us!

Those of us in training- and learning- related fields spend a lot of time talking about how people learn. We discuss theories of adult learning and brain science. We debate the validity of concepts like “learning styles” and for the life of us can’t come up with a very good way to measure what or how much someone learned. Among the debates , growing more heated lately, is on the matter of formal v. informal (or unintentional, or at least unstructured) learning. L & D controls the former, but the latter depends a lot on the culture, and the immediate environment, and the boss (if there is one), and the rewards and punishments associated with performance, and … well, the list goes on. Even more challenging: The learner may not ever think of himself as a “learner” who is “learning”, and so may not think to write it down or talk to someone else or pay more attention for next time. There’s also a lot of skepticism about the idea of the “autonomous, self-directed” learner. People learn all the time, every day. They may just not always be learning what the training department wants them to. (Example: I once had a learner say, “I didn’t have time to finish the reading for this week’s class. I was at a Home Depot workshop on how to build a deck. And then I built it.” Don’t tell me he wasn’t self-directed.)

One of the best grad school courses I took was “The Reflective Practitioner” that, among other things, taught me to keep an eye out for examples of learning-in-practice and reflection-on-practice; my own, yes, but also that experienced by others. Two of the best examples I’ve seen have come from popular recent literature. The topic of reflective practice, as well as the idea of informal learning, have led me to mention these books several times in Twitter and Facebook conversations. Last week someone suggested that we do a book chat on them, and asked me to lead it. So here we are. Read on for an overview of likely discussion themes followed by The Plan for the conversation.

Stephen King’s On Writing

DISCUSSION OF THIS ONE ENDS on July 23. Some themes we will likely explore: There is a movement in current popular business literature away from the idea that talent is important: Can one be a good writer without talent? With practice, could anyone be a Stephen King? Can everything be “taught” and “learned”? Apart from writing skill, what does one need to learn to succeed at writing? King chooses to spend nearly the first half of the book mostly on autobiographical details. Why? King writes partly with the intention to teach the reader. Does it matter to hear from a teacher who has actually done what they teach? King says, “The writer and reader meet halfway.” Is this true in other fields of practice/ work roles?

Atul Gawande’s Complications

DISCUSSION OF THIS ONE BEGINS JULY 27. Some themes we will likely explore: Some argue that only "formal" learning has value, that informal learning is too unstructured and learners too unreliable to learn on their own. But can everything be taught in a classroom, or a lab, or on a simulator? Can a physician learn to practice without, finally, engaging with real patients? Is it reasonable to think a learner can know everything before starting job? Unlike King, Gawande must learn to act in situations that truly are life and death. What is the reality (or, rather, UNreality) of putting someone into a work role and expecting them to enact performance 250,000 times without making a mistake? At one point Gawande must make decisions about health care for his own critically ill child. What did he learn from that? Gawande writes sometimes not specifically of his own learning but of the learning of his entire profession – for instance, the medical community has had to “learn” to deal with good performers gone bad. What has L & D “learned” in the last 50 or 20 or 10 years?

The overarching question: How does a person "learn"?

Discussion will be asynchronous to accommodate those in different time zones. We'll start on July 27 at 8 am ET with "Part 1: Fallibility".

Note: There are no chapters titled “here is my thinking on my reflective practice”; that is implicit throughout both books. Often it will be up to you, the reader, to decide when and whether learning has occurred. These are neither “how to” guides , although King is closer to that than Gawande. Rather, they are reflections of a person learning – sometimes intentionally, sometimes not—recognizing that learning has occurred, and reflecting on that experience. In King’s case, the learning occurs mostly via serendipity: he has a college degree so has formal education in writing as it is taught in school – same as most of the rest of us-- but otherwise has very little formal instruction in “how to be a writer”. He talks a lot about learning as he goes. Gawande, on the other hand, pursues years and years of formal training, then reports on learning to put that into place with real live human beings.

Also, this is not really a "book club" kind of thing. We're not looking at technical skill or whether we "liked" a book or not. The focus is on each book as an example of learning-in-practice and reflecting on that.

Here is how the chat will go: We will be using a Twitter app called “Hootcourse”. This will aggregate all the tweets in the conversation. The interface has tabs so you can easily filter by all tweets, tweets with questions, tweets with links, and just my (the leader) tweets. You can also choose NOT to publish your tweets to the public twitter feed. This will help keep our followers from being spammed all week with lots of comments about a conversation that doesn’t interest them. Of course, people are welcome to make their own public if they wish.

The discussion will be asynchronous to accommodate time zone issues.

Disclaimer: This is evolving and it all could change…. Another disclaimer: King swears. Gawande sometimes talks about icky stuff. Read at your own risk.

The chat is at . Start with the “hoots” tab to see just my tweets. We will use the hashtag #lrnbk – be aware that Hootcourse will add that automatically.

Discussion of King ends 10 pm ET on Friday, July 23. Discussion of Gawande begins Tuesday, July 27.