• Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    by David Allen
  • Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    by Robert F. Mager
  • The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    by Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart

    This book includes super helpful graphs describing 56 common dog breeds in terms of 13 traits, including playfulness.

  • Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    by Carol Lea Benjamin

    My favorite book on dog training.

Thoughts on instructional design, my dog, and life


Learning Environment

Mac Operating System Troubleshooting flowchartI recently read an article on MFA programs and was struck by the sentence “Teachers … must create an environment conducive to experimentation and to moving past self-censoring impulses.” [Is Happiness Possible in a Creative Writing Program?] This assertion seems to apply to managers as well as to teachers. I found myself asking, do I create such an environment when I design instruction?

One of my favorite projects to date is the Mac Operating System Troubleshooting computer-based training I designed. I specifically designed an environment that encouraged clicking all over the place. Who knows what delightful surprises you might find? There was no downside to clicking. Students were not punished for taking the course in whatever order they chose. They weren’t even punished for skipping content altogether. True, I couldn’t do too much about self-censoring impulses, except to present a visually delightful environment and to remove negative consequences for getting past that censor.

Most of my work lately has been for self-help. How does one create help such that users are comfortable experimenting and can get past that internal censor? Or is that the job of the product's user interface and flow, before the user even gets to in-product help? 

As a manager, teacher, parent, how do you encourage experimentation and getting past self-censorship?



I recently read Teaming as part of a leadership book club. Excellent book. I found myself drafting a new client intake form, incorporating some of what I learned. For example, going in to a first time meeting with a client, I asked myself “where does the problem lie in the process knowledge spectrum?” (Figure 1.2, p. 33, 229), and “is the team organized to execute or organized to learn?” (Table 1.1, p. 28).

Things to learn from first client meeting:

  • What are they trying to fix?
  • Is the local team organized to execute or organized to learn? What about the larger organization?
  • What should be my teaming approach?
  • How much certainty is there in the performance problem space?
  • Implications for how I approach/interact?
  • Where is the perceived performance gap along the Process Knowledge Spectrum?

Read the book! Let me know what you think, and how you might apply what you learned to your work.


HelloFresh Fun

I recently tried HelloFresh . It was such a fun experience I wondered if there was anything about it that I could add to my own recipe for creating fun learning.

This is what I noticed:

Choosing was fun

Choosing my three meals for the week was much more fun than my normal routine of looking at what’s in season on our local farm’s website and searching epicurious . HelloFresh presents the possibilities with enticing pictures. Menus

Though there were many options, I wasn’t overwhelmed with choice. I also found myself much more willing to try new foods.

For my first box, I chose Hawaiian chicken poke bowls, sesame beef tacos, and Tuscan sausage and pepper spaghetti. (Before this experience, I had no idea what a poke bowl was, I never would’ve thought to look for poke bowl recipes.)

First three meals

Unpacking was fun

Opening the box was like opening a Christmas gift. First box Festive packaging, engaging recipe cards, and hidden compartments.

Quality was fun

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The veggies, fruit, and meat didn’t feel skimped on. (HelloFresh sources ingredients  from environmentally friendly, sustainable, and family owed and operated purveyors which I value.) And I enjoyed noticing the subtly different flavors of everyday ingredients from regions different than my own.

Cooking was fun

I noticed a different approach to prepping and cooking than what I see in recipe books. The recipe cards include pointers like pull out all the tools, clean and dry produce. Preparatory steps I felt much more efficient.

Eating was fun

Sesame beef tacos I found some new keeper flavor mixes (e.g., Sriracha and sour cream). I experimented with new tastes. I got many more “Yum”s from my family.

How many adult classes have you been to that were chores? HelloFresh turned a chore into a fun experience and I’ve retained new skills weeks after first learning them.

What from the HelloFresh experience can I apply to chore-like interventions? Your thoughts?



Have you visited Pottermore lately? What a great example of a pleasing entertainment website. When I first tried Pottermore I was sorted into Slytherin House. I know, boo hiss. Still, I thought I’d stick with whatever intelligence and intuition the universe was applying. I recently had the chance to choose a new house because the J.K. Rowling organization changed the underpinnings of the site. I decided to stick with the original. So, I’m a Slytherin : ) I even knitted myself a Slytherin House scarf.

OK, so what’s the deal about learning? Well, maybe not about learning, but about exploration and enjoyment. There are tidbits, and opportunities to read on, just enough to get something without having to click further, unless you want to. The initial page is valuable in itself.

The other thing that’s interesting is that even though Slytherin is vilified in the stories, the website includes positive aspects. As there should be if the house continues to exist. It’s not all bad. Merlin was in Slytherin. Somebody is on top of things at this site.

Which brings me to another question: what would you do if you had tons and tons of money and if you wrote a series that made it big? How would you—or would you—expand on the world, create a world new readers can find and old readers can continue to interact with? What’s the goal (learning objective?) of Pottermore? What’s J.K. Rowling’s goal?


Tasks NOT for Dobby the House-Elf

What would you rather do yourself if you had a house-elf (as in from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels)?

Dobby the house-elf

I wouldn’t mind keeping the cleaners on, though I suppose Dobby might be able to do all they do, with magic and very quickly, but somehow it feels better to keep the cleaners coming.

I’m not sure whether I’d have Dobby make all our meals. I think I’d still like to cook something now and then, though I would sic him on picking up the CSA weekly box and coming up with menus to use all the ingredients every week. I liked the brisket I made; I wouldn’t mind making the occasional dish like that.

I think I would still like to do the grocery shopping, though if I’m not cooking I may not want to so much.

I would refill my fountain pens because I like to pick which color to use. I would still do the dogs ears, toes, and teeth.

I wonder if/whether my thoughts would change after having a house-elf for a while?