Meet the Authors of Learning Analytics: John R Mattox II 

Written by Explorance.

This Meet the Authors article is the first in a series of three, which will each feature an author of Learning Analytics: Using talent data to improve business outcomes.


  1. What books are on your nightstand?

    While I am an avowed bibliophile, I’m turning less often to books and more often to YouTube, mainly to learn tactical skills for a hobby like woodworking. However, here are a few recent books:

    • The Medici Effect
    • Midsummer’s Night Dream
    • People Analytics in the Era of Big Data
    • Origin
  2. What are the last great books you’ve read?
    • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
    • Chaos by James Gleick
    • Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
    • River Keepers by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
    • Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin by Stephen J. Gould
  3. Which genres do you especially enjoy? And which do you avoid?
    • Fiction—Quick reads with science or law (Creighton or Grisham)
    • Business books, particularly analytics or anything by Gladwell
    • I avoid teen vampire lit. Unfortunately, it is a category
  4. Describe your ideal reading experience.

    Generally, anywhere that is quiet. However, here are some specifics:

    • On a plane or traveling when reading Michael Creighton (except for Airframe) or Michael Lewis.
    • With my kids when they were young reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
    • On the couch, reading Gladwell so that I can share with my family
    • On D-Level, when reading technical books or in the Hut when cramming
    • In Key West on Mallory Square when reading The Old Man and the Sea
    • On a swinging bed on the back porch with crisp fall air when reading Diana Gabaldon
    • On any river or in any forest when reading Norman MacLean
    • Slightly intoxicated when reading the Cuba section of Islands in the Stream
    • In the kitchen when reading anything written by my kids
  5. What’s your favorite book that no one else has heard of?
    Short by Cortwright McMeel
  6. What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
    Too many to list. Books are the best gifts.
  7. What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
    I was a slow, impatient reader who would rather be outside playing sports or fishing. Tolkien was the most influential, followed by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
  8. Have your reading tastes changed over time?
    They have gotten broader.
  9. Which thought leaders in the field of learning or HR analytics, working today do you admire most?
    Jack and Patti Phillips, Jac Fitz-enz, John Boudreau, Judith Hale, Nigel Payne, John Doerr.
  10. What did you learn about yourself through the process of writing the second edition of Learning Analytics?
    There is always something to learn from your colleagues, whether it is domain knowledge, organization, or writing style. Good writing comes from hard work and a bit of luck.
  11. What do you think is the biggest disruptor on the horizon for HR and L&D organizations?
    AI and Machine Learning. The things that we take for granted as uniquely human capabilities—understanding data, interpreting meaning, writing stories—will become automated in the near future, pushing the human out of human resources.
  12. What do you hope that readers of Learning Analytics will take away?
    Two things in particular:
    • An appreciation that learning analytics is an art and science. It is not an unattainable, enigmatic topic practiced by an elite set of cognoscente breathing the rarified air of Mount Parnassus. It is knowable.
    • A realistic grip on the concepts and the confidence to apply them in the workplace. It is doable.


Read the second and third parts of this series.

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