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Archive for the ‘Behavior Change’ Category

Micro-Learning for Performance Improvement

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

My free provocative ideas online webinar, use micro-learning techniques to change behaviors and improve performance  is scheduled to run January 15 at 1pm ET. I will talk about how knowledge cards can be used to structure a rapid and low-cost approach to creating social mobile content that changes behavior.

According to the host, Training Magazine, there are currently 684+ registered attendees. If you cannot make it, I will be moderating a discussion forum that will run after the webinar. It will include a recorded version of the event, additional background materials and an opportunity to share application ideas and even draft knowledge cards. You need to register to participate but it is free.

Hope you can join me in the event and participate in the discussion forum.


Over Determine Your Change Effort

Monday, October 28th, 2013

To make change stick you must over determine the outcome you want. That means applying many strategies and tools to the job rather than just one or a few. You need to find ways to tap intrinsic motivation, rewards, peer pressure and environmental factors if you want to change individual and group behaviors.

While this may seem like over kill to some, research supports the over determined approach to change.  For example, a Sloan Management Review article, How To Have Influence, found organizations that used 4 or more strategies to drive a change where 10x more likely to achieve the outcomes they wanted. For a more general argument about the need to over determine your change effort check out  Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change.

You see similar results in the personal behavior change space. For example, Baylor College of Medicine conducted a study that showed people that used more tools to lose weight achieved a greater loss.  It was not a 10X effect but it was a 5X effect varying from 4 pounds for zero tools (self directed) to 20 pounds for those using three tools (weight watchers program, apps, etc.).

So the questions is not so much what are you going to do to make your change work – but what 4 or 5 things working together will make you change stick?

Source of  Weight Loss Graph PR Newswire


Provocative Ideas Webinar on Micro-Learning

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The training magazine network is hosting a provocative ideas webinar that I am giving on using micro-learning techniques to change behavior and improve performance.  It will run for free on January 15 at 1 pm ET for an hour.  Hope to see you there.

Session Description:

Micro-learning is the tiny bursts of learning we do every day to solve problems, make decisions and improve performance. All training involves a micro-learning phase if the goal is behavior change and ROI. Trainers tend not to emphasize this last mile of learning because it is too personalized, short lived and entangled in work. Learn how new technologies and methodologies are changing that.

Discover a new method for including micro-learning in training which breaks learning content into its smallest relevant chunks called knowledge cards. Successful examples and demonstrations in leadership, innovation, teamwork and emotional intelligence will be presented.


Cognitive Design Entry Wins M-Prize

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

“The entries came pouring in from every corner of the world—real-world case studies and bold hacks tackling the intersecting challenges of redistributing power and equipping and energizing people to lead even when they lack formal authority.”

Using Micro-Learning to Boost Influence Skills in Emergent Leaders


The BodyMedia Personal Data System

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Changing behavior requires measurement and timely feedback. Getting accurate data and keeping track of your progress can take a lot of effort.  Sometimes that effort is enough to derail your behavior change effort.  To address that problem a number of companies are offering personal body sensors and software to help make measurement and tracking much easier. We have covered some of these in the Cognitive Design blog, for example, see Using Data to Change Behavior.

A reader recently sent me a note about BodyMedia.  It includes an armband with multiple sensors and associated software. The senors measure your motion, heat flux, galvanic skin response and skin temperature.  You get data to guide behavior change around weight, fitness and sleep management.   Data is collected and displayed in a dashboard called the activity manager.  You can access it from from a smart phone and other devices.

There is some research that supports the claim this system changes health behaviors.  You can get the armband and 3 months access to the software in the $100-$150 range. After that the activity manager (software) costs you $7 per month.

Very interested to hear from other readers that are using BodyMedia.  How easy was it to build into your daily life? Is it changing your behavior?


The State of Creativity in the US

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

There is little doubt that creativity and innovation plays a  big role in the US economy.  Translating new ideas into better ways of working and market-busting products and services is a serious engine of value creation. Few debate that but many debate how well the US is doing with innovation.  Some argue we have a creativity crisis while others argue we are on the cusp of an innovation-driven economic revolution.

A recent column by  Geoff  Colvin in Fortune Magazine, A Mighty Culture of Innovation Cannot Be Taken For Granted, offers some interesting insight into the debate.  Quoting two global studies he  notes that the US scores high in innovation and that countries that do better tend to be much smaller.  The US is the best large and innovative economy by far.   Mr. Colvin also suggest that the reason for that is culture.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that by some measures it looks like the US’s culture of innovation is eroding.  For evidence he quotes the World Values Study that ranked the US 10th on placing importance on “thinking up new ideas and being creative”. More alarming is the finding that Torrance test scores have been declining since 1990.  The Torrance test has been used to measure the level of creativity in US students for over 50 years.

For a counter point check out Fast Company’s 10th Annual Innovation by Design Issue.  A major theme is how the US consumer is putting a premium on great experiences and products with high design content. Design thinking  both reflects an innovation culture and transforms an innovation-driven economy.

Of special interest to readers of the Cognitive Design Blog is the section outlining where is designing going next.  Margaret Rhodes points out:

“Thoughtful design doesn’t just enable our habits; it pushes us to improve behavior making us more economical, reflective and responsible”

Designs that offer us an opportunity to achieve lasting behavior change in areas such as health, ethics, personal savings and being green offer tremendous potential for creating social and economic value on a macro scale.   Delivering such changes requires a deep understand of how human minds actually work and puts cognitive design at the center of the innovation economy.

So what is the state of creativity in the US? Is it on the decline or swelling to new levels?


Materialistic Thoughts Trigger Impulsive Behavior

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The Journal of Consumer Research is a excellent source of insights into how our minds work.  Why and how people buy things is the most studied forms of psychology on the planet.  Many of the insights go beyond the context of making a purchase and are therefore useful to cognitive designers working in all areas.

Take for example the recent article on how entering lotteries might undermine self-control:

“The author investigated why materialism leads to poor self-control and found that materialistic thoughts are specific and concrete, and that the more materialistic thoughts a consumer has, the more likely he or she is to demonstrate a lack of self-control. Prior research has shown that when people’s minds are occupied with concrete thoughts, they tend to seek immediate gratification.”

This has clear implications for cognitive designers working in behavior change.  You can access the entire article HERE.


SmartWatch Buzz – platform for behavior change?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Venture Beat is offering an early look at Samsung’s SmartWatch. It has a camera, is focused on wellness/fitness, integrates with the phone/tablet and has internet access.


Cognitive Design Entry Makes Finals in M-Prize

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

The M-prize is a management innovation contest run on the MIX and sponsored by McKinsey & Co and the Harvard Business Review. It is actually a series of prizes aimed at reworking our management models and practices for the 21st century. I submitted some cognitive design work I did with knowledge cards for the leadership everywhere M-prize. It was picked as a finalist!

Here is the entry:

Using Micro-Learning to Boost Influence Skills in Emergent Leaders

Please take a moment and check it out.  

Any likes, shares or comments it receives should help in the final leg of the competition which ends August 30th. You can like or share with a click but leaving a comment requires registering with the site.

Read about the other finalists on the Harvard Business Review site:

What does post-bureaucratic leadership look like?

Cognitive design has a big role to play in the management models for the 21st century. You can see aspects of it at work in many of the entries.


Micro-Learning as Key to Soft-Skills Development

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Every year organizations and individuals spend billions of dollars and countless hours to develop soft-skills. These include personal productivity and interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, creativity, assertiveness, influence, self control, time management and the ability to work well under pressure.  Often developing soft-skills are part of a larger attempt to build even broader competencies in areas such as leadership, innovation, emotional intelligence or personal effectiveness.

Building soft-skills means reading how-to books, taking seminars, being coached and doing developmental exercises or projects. While such efforts can  lead to increased motivation and conceptual knowledge they often fail to produce behavior change and improved business or personal outcomes.  I have dramatized the situation for a hypothetical training class below.

While most participants in the training class will give high marks to the experience (happy! score on evaluations) and pass a quiz demonstrating conceptual knowledge, few will achieve lasting behavior change that translates into improved organizational or personal outcomes (e.g. increased sales or weight loss).

The question is what are the people at the lower right of this graph doing that others are not?

They are showing a positive deviance that we need to understand. They have mastered a technique or small set of vital behaviors for converting general advice and how-to knowledge that they glean from reading and training  into new outcomes.  If we can understand and replicate that we have an opportunity to dramatically improve the impact of our investment in soft-skills.

I have conduct several studies aimed at answering that question. The results are clear.  People getting the most out of soft-skill development efforts are able to take the macro-scale concepts and techniques taught in books and seminars and break them down down into small short experiments they can try in a real setting on a regular or daily basis.  In short, they are natural born micro-learners or they have coaches that are.

I am going to discuss these studies and how we can use the results to improve the impact of soft-skills development at the Online Learning Conference in Chicago that runs September 17-19 at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. I will be doing three speed sharing best practice sessions on Thursday morning 8:15-9:00 am. You can access the supporting handout HERE.

Hope to see you there.