Do your classwork at home. Do your homework in class

I found this TED video, below, from Salman Kahn, the founder of the e-learning company, Kahn Academy. After watching it, I knew there was something here for the enterprise.

Today’s video is different from the classroom movies in your school days. Back then your teacher wheeled in a TV-VCR or a movie projector. You, the kid, had to sit and watch until it was over. There was no fidgeting in those classes. Though we looked at classroom movies as a rare treat, the fact was, we got bored halfway through. More than likely in my case, I was ‘shooshed.’

Video has changed in so many ways since then. Now anyone can take a video and post it online. The ‘watcher’ is empowered as she wasn’t before: she can stop, rewind, comment on, add to playlists, ‘favorite’ and pass on to other ‘watchers’ in email and Twitter. The term for this is ‘lean-forward’ video. The watcher is engaged. She has as much control as the author. A lean-forward video has potential for the consumer, the student … and the employee.

Mr Kahn started uploading little videos of his lectures to YouTube. He immediately got some unexpected responses from the ‘watchers.’ They preferred his videos to the in-classroom lectures at school. Kahn decided to “flip the class room” and have the kids watch the lecture at home and do their homework in class. Comprehension soared. ‘Self-paced’ became ‘accelerated.’ ‘Lean-forward’ video lead to ‘lean-across-the-desk’ collaboration between students.

Can we ‘flip’ things in our companies? Could you ‘flip’ meetings by having people watch a presentation beforehand and then get down to active business in the conference room?  That’s pretty powerful. How many times have you sat in a meeting when presenter struggled to set up a PowerPoint on a projector, or worse, fumbled with an on-line Web conference? Why not record a narrated presentation, upload it, share the link with the meeting attendees? They can watch it in their own time and come to the meeting prepared.

Or better yet, not even have a meeting at all! Why not embed the video into a discussion thread and have people engage asynchronously? Think about it…

Here’s the TED video, below. It’s about 20 minutes long. Are there ways you could create lean-forward videos for your teams? You projects? Share your ideas!



Social Media Drives Creativity Inside The Enterprise

Employees surprise 3M (and themselves) with a video ‘gift’




Have you seen this video? 

Who did this? Why? The description doesn’t divulge much:

17 teams of 3M employees from around the world volunteered their personal time to create this video, a SURPRISE ‘gift’ to other 3M employees. We did this on our own, working ‘undercover.’ The video was released in a viral way inside the company on October, 2010. We’re now putting it on YouTube so we can share it with friends, family and retirees.

A year ago I saw a ‘lip-dub’ video from the Shorewood High School. Lisa Foote (@footenotes), a local, non-3M doyenne of mobile computing, ‘tweeted’ about it. I watched the video several times, transfixed. It is very uplifting and spirited. I could not watch it without smiling.

An entire high school — jocks, geeks, ‘emos,’ cheerleaders and even the swim team – filmed a single session in one shoot, backwards. Yes, I was taken with the students’ enthusiasm, but I was also amazed at the coordination. I wondered how so many students could cooperate together in five minutes and build something so brilliant.

Then the idea: could employees at my company, 3M, do something like that? Would we ever lip-synch through hallways? Could we be as brilliant as the high-school students were?

3M is like that school in many ways: it has ‘hallways’ (countries, business units) and a diverse population of 75,000 employees, worldwide. We’re pretty brilliant, too. 3M has a reputation for innovation and collaboration. The opportunity was there.

So, how to coordinate a company-wide, volunteer effort?

We relied on internal social media tools, specifically Lotus Connections and an internally-developed video sharing tool called 3M DIY Video Library. Connections’ Communities allowed for private discussion and debate. Connections’ Wiki managed group documents for project plans, team pages, storyboards and music strategy. There was a private community blog for announcements, status updates and weekly newsletters. Teams uploaded drafts of their video segments for comment (and praise) from the other teams to the video library.

I should add that all effort was ‘after-hours,’ voluntary and unsanctioned. Most of the seventy-five people have never created a video before. Few were familiar with Connections.



We sent an anonymous video invitation with very little information. This intrigued the kind of people we sought.


But those who accepted the private invitation “will you join us?” were willing to teach themselves.

Daniel Pink says employees will accomplish incredible things if given Autonomy, the chance to Master technique, and they believe in the Purpose of a challenge. The exceptional 3M employees in the project proved Pink right. People taught themselves how to create videos. Many used their after-hours time, personal holidays and vacation. They spent their own money, all to ‘surprise 3M.’

The team released the final video behind the firewall in October, 2010. Fellow employees, including executives, were delighted. And we now have permission to publish it on YouTube.


Project objectives:

  •  Surprise the company
  •  “Bottoms – up”
  •  Raise the spirit of each person who watches it
  •  Make 3M executives aware of how ‘cool’ the employees are
  •  Prove collaboration can happen with the social tools. Teach innovative people how to use them.


Other project facts:

  •  3M employees, only.
  •  All video had to internally developed.
  •  Oversight was team-only.
  •  McKnight had to be in each video segment, somewhere
  •  Theme: show McKnight how far we’ve come
  •  Encouraged: subtlety, things off to the side, mystery, exuberance
  • 75 people from the US, UK, Poland, Russia, Italy, Canada, Dubai, China and Singapore
  •  Most of the team members don’t know each other, have never met, and probably never will – in person.


I’ll be honest and tell you I was worried when the project launched. But I think we did pretty well for a bunch of amateurs. Don’t you?