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About Marc Zao-Sanders
Marc started his career in strategy. He then applied the skills learnt there to a number of small businesses. Over the course of this period he began to realise the shortage of basic business skills in the workplace and wanted to do something about it. And so the idea of Filtered was born. Marc is a co-Founder and the CEO.

100 Productivity Hacks

Posted on Nov 26, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

We could all be more productive. Between the daily deluge of digital distractions and our own bad habits and human fallibility, there is probably room for improvement somewhere. Thousands of articles, videos, tips and hacks have been offered by hundreds of experts. So how to separate the signal from the noise, and adopt practices that actually make a tangible difference to you?

We brought some method to the madness. We scoured hundreds of online articles to build a list of the 100 most frequently cited tips. We then consolidated a long list and ranked them to produce the Definitive Top 100 Productivity Hacks.

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Topics: Productivity

Cognitive ornithology & magpie

Posted on Sep 28, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

We changed the name of our product from globalfilter to magpie. Here’s why.

We never loved the name globalfilter. Since inception the product concept - an intelligent learning recommender system - has always been strong. But we couldn’t think of a name which really grabbed us. But we needed a name and globalfilter described what it did (the filtering of absolutely any learning), had our company name in the title and so we launched with that.

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Good business

Posted on Sep 28, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

Degreed acquired Pathgather this week. Two of the market leading learning experience platforms (LXPs), making it a big deal in our industry. Congratulations to both teams. We know and like them both. I suspect that this new, larger, combined entity will positively and substantively change how corporate learning happens around the world. As Josh Bersin said in his write-up of this deal, the LXP market is big already ($250m) and growing fast. It will soon be a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right.

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Indispensable

Posted on Sep 06, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

Least important --- Most important

Where would you place learning on this spectrum for your company?

 

I’ve been talking to a lot of financial companies recently about the L&D market. Opinions are polarised. Some see an outdated, overblown, superfluous industry that will soon be discarded or replaced. Some see a massive and growing market, ripe for another wave of disruption. Who’s right? Neither, entirely. Here’s why.

 

Indispensable, transcendent

In a constantly-evolving global economy, learning must be the main long-term business priority. Learning is a clear - and possibly unique - theme running through the megatrends of our time: artificial intelligence, digitization, extended careers, flexible working and individualism. These trends mean changes for businesses (eg digital transformation) which require a frequent reskilling of their workforces. Ray Stata, former CEO of Analog Devices, puts this well:

“The rate at which organizations and individuals learn may well become the only sustainable competitive advantage. Products can be copied. Services can be copied. Even processes can be copied. Things like Six Sigma are available on the open market. But if you’re learning more rapidly than the competition, you can get ahead and stay ahead.”

 

Learning is much more important than recruitment. Recruitment, the never-ending war for talent, is a zero-sum game. If company A gets the star, company B doesn’t. Learning is different; a rising tide that lifts all boats. Perhaps leaders should take a less tribal, more progressive and holistic view of human capability and how best to nurture it.

 

Many of the world’s most successful, long-termist leaders are emphatic about the importance of learning. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, emphasised this in an interview with Business Insider, “Going back to business: If that applies to boys and girls at school, I think it also applies to CEOs, like me, and entire organizations, like Microsoft. We want to be not a “know-it-all” but “learn-it-all” organization.” Jeff Bezos in his last annual letter to shareholders underlined the importance of high standards and teachable skills. Mark Zuckerberg started a book clubfollowed by millions of followers. In his final letter to shareholders, then CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, described the company as a ‘Global Learning Organization’ - the fourth page in particular is worth reading in full.

Learning is a large part of what makes us human. We are a rare breed of mammal which happens to be neotenic, ie we retain many juvenile (physical and cognitive) features. We therefore learn all the way through our lives and are blessed with a deep, nagging curiosity about a very wide range of matters.

Finally, learning is good for us. It’s linked to higher levels of happiness, income and social success.

 

And yet...

 

L&D has a tarnished reputation. Corporate learning content is often considered to be copious, uninspiring, or low quality. As a result it is used little and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts. The predominant technology underpinning L&D - the Learning Management System - is built on antiquated technologies, light years from the addictive, consumer grade experiences we enjoy away from work today. Compliance hasn’t helped. That for a decade compliance drills have fallen at the feet of L&D is a shame for everyone. The work of training and learning teams has been stained by that association. And so it is that CLOs rarely have a seat at the boardroom and the voice of L&D is muffled.

How to unpick this paradox?

 

I think we can unpick it by separating L&D supply from demand. Demand is massive and growing:

An evolving knowledge economy of a quarter of a billion knowledge workers who are re-skilling at shorter and shorter intervals but over longer and longer careers practically guarantees the shape of this chart, perhaps permanently.

 

But the supply side has historically disappointed and in many cases, continues to do so. We’ve been slow on the take-up of new technologies and content is mostly pretty dry and sometimes obsolete. Couple this with the fact that the benefits of learning - though axiomatic - are enormously difficult to measure. We have the perfect storm for a paradox: learning is both the most and least important thing we do at work. Break it down to unpick the paradox: supply looks bad; demand looks good.

 

But notice that the apparent paradox is starting to unwind anyway as consumer-grade influences, AI and other digital breakthroughs finally start to touch on this thing of ours.

 

Is any of the above of any use to you?

Perhaps you can use some of it to get your CEO to play ball. Try to persuade her or him to issue a statement about the importance of investing in the workforce of the firm (and feel free to repurpose any of the arguments presented here). The case will be even stronger - as we have been overjoyed and slightly surprised to see with certain global clients - if your CEO commits to and shares some learning activities her/himself. This will make all your L&D battles easier, from getting sign off from budget holders, to getting learners, to learn to proving ROI. There are gains to be had by all stakeholders: employee engagement, external PR, financial return.

 

And in this way, you may shift the importance needle to the right.

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Topics: Work Technologies, market, Learning, Learning & Development

Klopp, leadership & learning assets

Posted on Sep 01, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

Liverpool lost the final of the Champions League on Saturday night, 3-1 to Real Madrid. Beyond the result, the manner of the defeat was difficult for Liverpool: their best player was injured after half an hour; they conceded three freak goals (one stupendous bicycle kick and two terrible goalkeeping errors); for the last hour Real were clearly the superior side and the outcome felt inevitable.

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Metrics, medicine, magpie and Marc

Posted on Feb 28, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

We think a lot about how to measure how good a recommendation is at Filtered. While there is no one ‘right’ way to assess this, having metrics that attempt to quantify how well our algorithms are performing helps us make progress. They let us build a sense of what works well, what doesn’t, and whether changes we make are improvements or otherwise.

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Kind recommendations

Posted on Feb 28, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

Kindness is at the heart of the recommendation. It’s one person saying to another, I see your situation and I think this thing can help you. That gets lost in an era of mass, computerised (and often low-quality) recommendations. But I’m talking about why, really, recommendations (and the members of the genus: suggestions, tips, hacks, help, advice, counsel) are offered in the first place. We’re able to make a good recommendation when:

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L&D-on-Slack

Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

Share. Relax, be open. Advance the world, not just us.

That’s one of the official behaviours we encourage here. And it’s one of the reasons we launched globalfilter for L&D professionals in September last year, to advance the understanding of learning issues amongst learning professionals. That went well: 2,000 learning professionals have already signed up for the free service. So today we’re augmenting that with a dedicated Slack instance.

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Topics: Learning, Work Technologies, skills

Not AI

Posted on Feb 19, 2018 by Marc Zao-Sanders

 

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Human Intelligence

Posted on Dec 07, 2017 by Marc Zao-Sanders

As Donald Rumsfeld reminded us in 2002, human knowledge may be divided into known-knowns, known-unknowns, unknown-knowns and unknown-unknowns:

Learning can be thought of as the migration of items from the two quadrants on the right to that on the top-left.

All four quadrants are fascinating - the ingestion and assimilation of countless sensory data (Known-Knowns), its encoding and storage (Unknown-Knowns) and our insatiable, life-long thirst for knowledge (Known-Unknowns) - are all rich subject areas in their own right. They are also all limited in some way by the human brain. Unknown-Unknowns are not limited.

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