Monthly Archives: May 2011

4 spontaneous feedback moments this month

It’s always nice to get some feedback about positive performance… …even nicer when you didn’t ask for it!

This month, I had 4 particular spontaneous feedbacks from satisfied clients. Being a proud young man, I share 🙂


“After your training, someone told me I was a good listener. It’s the first time in my life that I am told that. Thank you!”

During the 2nd day of training, a physics PhD student came to tell me this. During day 1 we did my absolute favourite active-listening exercise (if you want to know what’s so special about it, mail me). He repeated his feedback again after day 3 of training. He learnt, he practiced, he implemented, he succeeded. Nice!


“Juste un petit mail pour te faire part de ma très grande satisfaction par rapport à ce training. Mr Dan Steer a fait preuve d’un professionnalisme et d’un investissement personnel absolument remarquable dans le cadre de cette formation.”

A trainee from “Presentation Skills” with Kluwer sent this in an email to his own training manager, who forwarded it on to my contact at Kluwer. He followed 2 days of training with me, delivered 3 presentations and learnt a whole lot of stuff he can now do. Satisfied!


“J’ai passé, aujourd’hui, un entretien chez [ – – – – – – – ] qui ont accepté de me prendre en stage l’année prochaine. Un grand merci pour votre aide! »

My 2nd favourite recent feedback, as it show the effectiveness of good networking: A few months ago, Epsilon sent a mass mailing to their members asking if anyone knew of a theatre-training company that might take a temp-student-worker. I connected Sylvain with Sabine and received this email some time later. I love it when a plan comes together!


“Hello Mr Steer. It’s Gerard here – you trained me in Mons in 2008. I wanted to give you an update and let you know that I finally did my Djembe concert. I don’t know if you remember, but we talked about my lack of confidence and my dreams to perform in public. You asked me what I would think if I got to 50 (years old) and still hadn’t done what I always wanted to do. Well: That won’t happen – I’ve done it! I wanted to thank you for the inspiration and all your help and belief.”

My absolute favourite feedback in a long time, received by voicemail. My wife listened to it and nearly cried 🙂 3 years after training, this guy came back to thank me personally for the boost and “wise-words”. I feel like a guru. Like !



…if anyone else wants to tell me I did a great job, feel free… 🙂

Thanks for reading,


Learn to play, play to learn

When I was at school, we used to have fun. Driving past the local school yesterday, I saw kids in the playground at 10.15am and thought: Why don’t I still get to play in the middle of the day?

According to Eric Lardinois, Belgian en “ludopédagogie”: “Business games help people to live the experience, improve recall… and enable training participants to deal with subjects differently” (Trends, 24th February 2011, Belgium).

According to Rudolph Steiner, play is essential to the development of children. What about adults? What can be achieved with fun and games?

Cases of free-time innovation such as those seen at Google and 3M are well documented: Give people a chance to play in the sandpit without the pressure of performance, rules and time and the results are great. But many people still dismiss these examples, saying: “That’s Google, that’s not us. WE don’t need it. We can’t do it. That CAN’T be us.”

Can it?

Here are a few play ideas I’ve encountered recently that CAN be used in different ways to help learn, relax, perform and amuse your people:

The benefits of play:

  • Relaxation / stress release
  • Connectivity, relationship building
  • Creativity
  • Right-brain/left-brain integration
  • The Eureka effect (when I stopped thinking about it, the answer came to me)
  • It’s just fun 🙂

In conclusion: Learn to play and play to learn!

Hope to hear more about what is happening on play-training from #ASTD2011. In the meantime, please add comments to share your ideas on playing to learn…

See for more learning and development resources or follow me on twitter

Thanks for reading!


Self-learning: Defining this competence for the future

If everyone is going to learn by themselves, we are going to have to help them. Any ideas on this at #ASTD2011?

Assume that @jpapakalos is right and the Facebook generation is going to go for self-learning. Does this mean that they are going to be any good at it? OK, they like to do things by themselves. But this doesn’t mean they will be successful!

If we are going to accept that people embrace social-learning, sharing and self-learning, we’re gong to have to make sure they are competent at it… Here is my first attempt at defining the self-learning competence:

  • Able to set and follow-up on learning-objectives
  • Knows own learning style and adapts self-learning process accordingly
  • Able to identify and embrace Infinite Learning © opportunities as they arise
  • Able to identify quality learning resources
  • Able to successfully network in order to find useful information in a given environment
  • Effective use of social-learning tools
  • Understands the importance of knowledge-sharing and effectively contributes to “the cloud”
  • Self-coaching, self-feedback and self-leadership skills
  • Memory, speed-reading and concentration skills
  • Ability to chunk-up, categorise and evaluate information

Your thoughts? Add comments!

Follow me on twitter or check for more learning + development ideas

Learning leadership in a culture of sharing

What is the role of learning leadership in a culture of sharing and Infinite Learning © possibilities?

On one hand, we have the wish for strategic measurement, development, implementation and evaluation of controlled learning initiatives. On the other, we seek to encourage pro-active employee-led knowledge sharing and self-learning. Where do learning people draw the line between directive top-down action, closely controlled to ensure business competence… and full delegation of the learning business to its customers and 21st century end-users? If Blanchard and Hersey are still right and we assume that our people are committed and competent to learn, then surely we must give away control?

But how can we do that and still keep things moving in the right direction? Are learning managers morphing into learning ambassadors? Will the role become obsolete, replaced by a whole community of self-learning managers? At ASTD2011, we will find a smorgasbord of best (and new) learning practices, tools and ideas. What interests me is who is going to make them happen and on what terms?

Follow me on twitter or check for more L+D resources

Thanks for reading!

Training does not imply learning

Simply following a training course does not mean that people will learn. Nobody knows this better than me. My first corporate training experience was a disaster and to this day, I still don’t know what I learnt.

In 2002 and after 1 year of maintaining an international Eurostar relationship, I moved to Belgium. Armed with my Philosophy degree, solid English language skills and 2 whole years of marketing experience (in addition to the arrogance obligatory for all 24 year old English men) I was sure I would find work in the European capital of Brussels. Why not?

3 months later and tired of moving boxes for a sports-article-distribution company, I took a job in a well-known international call-centre. During the interview they told me I was “team manager material” but I was nonetheless given the job call operator. Time for training!

For 2 months, I was subjected to the corporate torture of being talked at from 9am to 5pm. The subject: “Computers”. The learning objective: “Death by monotony”. Not a good start. Being English and being dissatisfied, I did the natural thing and complained. More on that later…

Now, if I am slightly more honest, I did learn 1 or 2 things, but nothing anywhere close to what was needed for the job and certainly not proportional to the 320 hours spent in what we came to refer to “the breaking room”. When I went live on the phone, my natural English politeness had been replaced by the standard bad-operator calling attitude we all know and love. And the level of computing knowledge required for supporting HP in their customer service activities had increased by approximately 1 bit (for the whole team). Fortunately for me, the calls didn’t come before I myself got a position as a trainer.

This story of bad training is slightly extreme and probably has more to with the lack of competence of my own trainer than with the method itself. But I still remain sceptical of the ability to integrate real learning with classical classroom training only and I continue to harp on about how things could have been so much better.

During the round-table meetings I have facilitated on the subject of Infinite Learning © I regularly ask people if they have already had training that didn’t lead to real learning. The answer is almost always “Yes”, even when the trainer has been informative, professional and expert in his field. The problem lies in one of two areas:

  • Either training was not the right approach
  • Or what happened before, during and after the training experience was ineffective

I am working on what can be done to improve things. But before we get to that and in case anyone is interested, here is my preferred definition of learning:

“Acquisition and integration of performance-driven competence”

…now, let’s make it Infinite!

Read the blog-post Infinite Learning © …a short intro

For more learning and development ideas, follow me on twitter or check out

Thanks for reading!

12 random things to remember when you present

I just sent an update to one of clients to let her know what her people replied to the questions “What did you learn?” and “What will you implement?” after Presentation Skills training. Thought it might be interesting to share…

Follow me on twitter for more learning and development ideas or visit

Thanks for reading!