Virtual Ken Blanchard.

Author:Abraham, Tom
Position:Book Review

Situational Leadership II, online, 1999, Ninth House Network (800-304-4951, $50-$349.

In the not-too-distant future, we'll work in a training world where life-sized holograms animate practice exercises and satellites beam updated multimedia training to our palm-sized PC's. When that day finally arrives, we'll certainly be delighted, but we won't be satisfied. Why? Because again and again we've learned one fundamental truth: training media producers take too long to exploit new technologies.

It has, for example, been almost twenty years since PC's and VCR's first became practical tools for training. We've seen our share of entertaining and even powerful videos, but they're not fundamentally different from the 16mm films trainers once depended upon. We've invested in a diverse and effective mix of CBT programs, but their interactivity has seldom matched that of an ordinary computer game. How often have we seen a program that takes full advantage of the potential in both media?

Well, I've just finished a preview of Ninth House Learning Network's Situational Leadership II. For the first time, I can appreciate what I've been missing.


Most interactive programs rely heavily on text; they don't have the bandwidth to make full use of video. The Ninth House Learning Network uses a blend of technologies--typically end-user PC's, a dedicated server for streaming video, and the Internet for content--to deliver a mix of programs on topics such as situational leadership, innovation, self-management, communication, and team building. Featuring experts such as Tom Peters and Ken Blanchard, these learning channels are a successful fusion of interest-grabbing video and computer controllability--by far the most seamless video interactivity I've seen.

I explored a laptop demo of the Situational Leadership II channel, and while some features of the full network weren't loaded, I saw more than enough to whet my appetite. I didn't see their approach to 360 assessment, skill pre-testing, or the web "gallery" of supplemental materials, and I only skimmed the threaded discussions of the online "community." I did review in depth the major program elements.

In Situational Leadership II, Ken Blanchard introduces concepts via brief lectures, but an extended learning parable set in a bait shop reinforces each element in the model. An interactive puzzle supports each parable and gives learners an early chance to test...

To continue reading