Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 Annual Report

I didn’t always work for myself… As a corporate employee, I had yearly performance evaluations and other regular status updates. Now, I’m lucky if I can find someone to brag to. Hence this blog post! Here are the highlights of 2011….


A massive year of training

  • 36.7% growth on 2010 revenue 
  • 118 days of training delivered = 1012 man/days of training
  • 524 new people trained
  • Language split per course: 78% English, 22% French
  • Welcomed my 1000th trainee this year


Strong client base

  • New direct clients: Trafic, Interel, EMEA structure of a client who prefers to go unnamed, but for whom I worked locally before
  • Repeat work with other direct clients (CSC, ASE Europe, …)
  • Consolidated position as confirmed Kluwer trainer with 50.5 days delivered
  • Fired 1 client, added PeopleFirstMgt, less work with Cefora, only 1 day with Febelfin


Learning and development expertise

  • Learning + Development Round Table 2011 =  7 Belgian L+D managers from multinationals to discuss Infinite Learning ©
  • Animated round-table for Cefora on Infinite Learning ©
  • Spoke at Synergo conference on “New World of Work and Infinite Learning” as part of the Wallonia Semaine de la Créativité


Twitter and WordPress is a success and great fun

  • 313 followers on Twitter
  • +/-30 hits/day on blog
  • Busiest blog day = 133 hits (Build Your Presentation in 5 steps)
  • 6800 total hits on blog since start this year to today


Significant overhaul of web-presence



Invested a bit in self-development

  • Followed 8-day NLP Technician course with Kluwer
  • Read a lot of great books
  • Met a lot of great people
  • Spent a lot of time reading things via Twitter


Many achievements I am proud of

  • Ran 1st TwitterChat – 19 people attended, 130 tweets in an hour 🙂
  • Ran 2nd TwitterChat – no-one attended 😦
  • Published 2 times in Kluwer KnowHow, once in Cefora News, once on
  • Ran 1st Webinars since leaving Logica
  • Created #LearningMinutes concept for YouTube – most hits (103 to date) = Gosse Corstiaensen
  • Outsourced some of my own work: Cefora Stress Mgt training, brainstorming O-I, building workbooks, French translations
  • Swam in the pool in Barcelona, paid by client 🙂
  • 7 weeks summer holiday 🙂
  • Moved into farm 🙂 … wall fell down :-(…learnt how to fix it 🙂


…time for a break!

Thanks to everyone who had a part in all this – you know who you are!


What can you learn from Dora-the-Explorer about presenting?

If you’ve ever had the “pleasure” of watching Dora-the-Explorer you have already seen at least 10 times what makes Dora a great presenter… … is it the annoying girl voice? The overly bright clothing?


No: Dora does a great job of TRANSITIONS

have a look at this short film and you’ll see what I mean

  • In fact, DORA does this in every episode when she regularly pulls out her “map” to let the kids know what they are going to do today…


In a presentation, it is important to let your audience know where they are and where they are going. Dora does this at the very start of each episode and regularly throughout the episode. If you compare her behaviour to the diamond structure of an Inductive presentation, Dora gives us:

  • An agenda at the start (19 secs into the film)
  • A reminder at each transition moment (56 seconds and 1m18 secs into the film)
  • A summary at the end (1m40 seconds into the film)

In the film above, she implemented this agenda/transition behaviour IN one specific part of her “presentation”..


What is the effect of this?

If you’re a work-at-home mother or father, you already know: You can plonk the kids in front of the TV and for at least 20 minutes, they are stuck to Dora * Compared to other TV programmes or activities, Dora does a much better job. Why? Because she immediately and regularly answers the kids’ most regular questions:

  • Where are we going?
  • Are we nearly there yet?


…but what about adults? We don’t need Dora, right?

Wrong! If you are presenting, your audience is asking the same 2 questions:

  • What is your point?
  • Are we nearly there yet?


Good agenda and transition behaviour, coupled with an inductive presentation structure will help you to:

  • Get the attention of  your audience
  • Create understanding of your message
  • Increase retention during the presentation (they stay glued to the TV !)
  • Improve recall after your presentation

Thanks Dora 🙂


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* I know, I’m a terrible father 😦 ..but hey, I’m a great trainer 🙂


Social and Collaborative Learning – answering 2 questions from @isabeldeclercq of @kluweropleiding

In a recent blog post from @isabeldeclercq of @kluweropleiding her first 2 questions interested me:

  1. How do you overcome resistance to collaborative learning?
  2. What will be the role of managers in our future networked world?

This blog post delivers my answers…


Q1 ….before answering, please note that it is slightly strange to talk about “setting up collaborative learning” and “overcoming resistance to collaborative learning” in a literal way. Its always happening anyway, so I think what we really mean us “trying to get an organisation to put its learning efforts into non-formal training” instead of good-old classroom stuff.


The resistance I encountered last time I talked about the power of informal collaborative learning in an organisation was as a consultant in a contact-centre last year. I think the problem was about a power struggle between “me” the outsider with “crazy outsider ideas” and the learning department insiders who knew best about how things should be done. It was the same as any “red monkey” being introduced into an organisation…. = Resistance from the “settlers” who want to keep doing what they have always been doing and keeping their hands on the control button. I think the mistake I made was to not identify and bypass the resistant people and seek out a friendly ally or champion. @isabeldeclercq answers this question herself: Find a high-placed champion and get them walk the talk, showing the way, giving “tacit permission” to others to invest their own time in learning and connecting and sharing good stories….

… and as I saw on Twitter the other day: Don’t be afraid to fire those 3 useless employees that are slowing things down 🙂



Q2 As I’ve noted before, the role of the manager of the future is to connect the dots.


We heard the same thing from @fredericw at #VOVbeurs : The leaders of #Enterprise 2.0 will seek out and multiple strengths within the network.


@Gosse_C from KPMG told me that their managers (even at lower levels) are no longer considered as mentors who must share their savoir-faire in a top-down way, but as “knowledge coaches” who help their people to find out the best quality sources of information within the network.


My aim is to position myself as a connector, not a teacher or trainer…

…so thanks @isabeldeclercq for being a good network member with a quality source of info 🙂


Thanks for reading!


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Active Empathy

We all know what active listening means, right? ..and of course, everyone knows what empathy is!

Well today I have coined this term: “Active Empathy”

Read on…


Empathy does not mean “seeing things from your point of view” …

When I started up in Sitel some years ago, the training guys told me that “empathy” was the key to call-centre client handling. They told me that you have “to see things from the point of view of other people”. But its not that easy!

Suppose I am looking at the world through my yellow glasses and you are looking at the world through your red glasses… If I come over to your point of view and look at the world, I will see it in orange! This is no good to anyone !

What we need first is to put our own point of view “on hold”. This “on hold” will allow me to get a better perspective of how you see things.


…but putting my opinion on hold is not enough to understand your point of view

Suppose then that I drop my own yellow opinions and come to have a look at things from where you are standing. What will I see? Who knows?!? …but I am still not wearing your red glasses, so it won’t be a world of red. What I need is to first look AT YOUR GLASSES and try to get a feeling for …. hear it comes … the key ….. your SITUATION, VALUES and NEEDS.

(If I get THAT, they I may actually later be able to look at the world THROUGH YOUR RED GLASSES. Or, as Harper Lee put it in “To Kill a Mocking Bird” ….”climb into their skin and walk around in it”)


Looking at other people’s Situation, Values and Needs requires real listening

In my training courses, I help participants discover the skill of real listening. To really listen, you need to do 3 things:

  1. Drop your ego and stop making assumptions
  2. Ask open questions
  3. Drill down to understand structural terms used by the other person

…we all know this, but its amazing how much we DON’T do it.


If you have actively listened and been truly empathic, its time for “active empathy”

It is not enough to understand other people. You need to SHOW you have understood them.

At Sitel, they told me that you should say things like “Ah-ha, I understand” and people will feel like you understand them. This point has been proven to be rubbish 100 times with my wife. No matter how much I say “I understand”, she still doesn’t believe me! (The fact it, I probably don’t understand her as I tend not to drop my ego much, but that’s another question…).

What is active empathy? Its SHOWING you have understood the situation, values and needs of another person. Showing WHAT you have understood….


Here are 8 key competences for active empathy

  1. Time, patience and a truly caring attitude
  2. Active listening (as described above) 
  3. Attention to detail (body language, reactions, phrasing, expressions etc)
  4. Don’t say you HAVE understood. Say WHAT you understood.
  5. Repeating and rephrasing structurally important words and ideas expressed by the other
  6. Usage of words and terms employed by the OTHER person when talking with them
  7. Matching the preferred communication style of the other person (with for example speech patterns, body language, level of detail)
  8. Collaboration: Work together for the greater good


In a nutshell, active empathy is:

  • Drop your ego –> Active listening –> Look at the glasses of the other person
  • Understand –> Show them you have understood


Thanks for reading!

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Don’t forget to assess results (Evaluating training, part 5)

This blog page is part 5 of a 5 part blog series on evaluating training. Follow this link to find the mother page (page 1).


Finally, don’t forget to assess results

We do learning for a reason. It’s not enough to say “let’s do a training” and people always invest time, money and effort for a reason. If you can’t show them the return on investment in terms of concrete business results, forget about it.


The question of HOW to do this has been around for ages in the learning world. My opinion is that we should not stress too much about it:

  • Be clear from the outset what we are trying to achieve (see other blog post on “learning design questions”)
  • Agree what measurables (fluffy or precise) we are looking to improve in terms of results (profit, sales generated, number of difficult conflict situations)
  • Measure them at an agreed point in time before and after learning
  • Correlate results and draw conclusions

It’s the last part that tends to bother people, as they worry that their conclusions are not really conclusive…. But who cares? If we create a learning initiative because we want better results and then we HAVE better results, don’t stress !


Hope this was interesting (longest blog series yet?)

Re-read the other posts if you want to…



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Assessing behaviour (Evaluating training part 4)

This blog page is part 4 of a 5 part blog series on evaluating training. Follow this link to find the mother page (page 1).


If you want to assess behaviour, you need to observe and talk to different people

Kirkpatrick’s 3rd level of evaluation is about behaviour: What is the learner DOING after learning?

I think the best way to assess this is to observe the learner in action, but you can also ask the learner (much later after training) and ask other people (mostly a stakeholder or manager, but could be a 360° evaluation).


In order to do a good job of assessing behaviour vs. learning, you need to do 3 key thing:

  • Have a set bunch of “observables” and “numbers” criteria to measure
  • Take a base-measure of how the learner behaves BEFORE the learning initiative
  • Measure again afterwards


Ethical questions arise as to whether or not you should tell the learner when you are doing the assessment. I’ll stick my neck out here and answer “NO” – most people tend to put in more effort when they know they are under the spotlight and I also want to assess attitude when doing Level 3 assessments.


This blog series is split into 5 parts. Choose one of these links to read more…



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Evaluating what people learnt (Evaluating training, part 3)

This blog page is part 3 of a 5 part blog series on evaluating training. Follow this link to find the mother page (page 1).


If you want to assess learning, you need to test competence

The way I define competence gives an immediate idea on how to measure it:

  • “Having the necessary knowledge, skills, attitude and resources to achieve (business) results”


This means that assessing competence will require:

  • Knowledge assessment, using tests for example
  • Skill testing, either in a controlled environment or on the job (I prefer the latter)
  • Attitude assessment, which would be mostly done by observing behaviour and having conversations with people

We don’t talk about assessing resources here… that is only included in the definition to note that people cannot be expected to DO things if they don’t have the resources (unless the competence is proactivity 🙂


This blog series is split into 5 parts. Choose one of these links to read more…



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Happy sheets (Evaluating training, part 2)

This blog page is part 2 of a 5 part blog series on evaluating training. Follow this link to find the mother page (page 1).


If you are talking about level 1 evaluations (“happy sheets”) these are my current favourite questions:

OPEN questions:

  • What is your opinion of the training?
  • What did you learn?
  • What will you do differently in the future?


Some people will go further on each of these questions, asking things like:

  • What did you find good? What did you find bad? What do you think of the duration? What did you think of the trainer etc etc…

If you are planning to create reports on these elements to compare different learning providers and track progress in trainer-performance, these questions can be interesting.

Personally, I use happy-sheets to see how I can improve in my own work as a trainer, so I want to reduce admin and increase useful feedback. I just really want to know whatever THEY want to tell me.. .. so I levave it quite open.


My current favourite CLOSED questions are:

  • Was this added-value for you?
  • Would you recommend it to others?

Short and sweet – I don’t like to measure things on scales anymore. Let’s cut the crap and get to the heart of it. Thankzs @Gosse_C from KPMG Belgium for this idea some years ago…


What about 1 to 5 and 1 to 4 scales?

Some people want to know whether you should use a 5 point scale or a 4 point scale. Tough one..

  • First response is generally that a 4 point scale obliges people not to “sit on the fence” and show their real preference. As a Learning + Development Manager in the past, I used a 5 point scale and can’t really say “people always scoring 3” happened a lot … so for me, this is a theoretical question, rather than practical. As a side note, I told my team of trainers that 3 was not acceptable anyway – we wanted 4s and 5s !
  • Let’s assume we did use a 4 point scale – does it work? In my experience as a trainer, I didn’t see anything under “good” and “really good” in the answers. Is this simply because I’m so good? 🙂 I’m not convinced… SOMETIMES what I saw was someone scoring “good” (3) but adding lots of negative comments. For me, this meant that they just didn’t dare to put bad, but really the perception was bad… you need to be careful that you scores represent reality …which is why I don’t use them and prefer only the OPEN and CLOSED questions noted above.


Now, what about those other levels of evaluation? Learning, Behaviour and Results?

Asking participants what they think about these things is good, but not enough!


This blog series is split into 5 parts. Choose one of these links to read more…



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What questions should you asked to assess training? or What is the best way to evaluate training?

(This blog post is page 1 of 5 …scroll to the bottom for links to the other pages)

Did I really just dare to answer this question? After years of debate? Yes, I did ! And why not .. maybe my opinion is worth something to someone….

I saw this question in a recent LinkedIn discussion from the ASTD group, raised by Kim Schweitzer. Again, there is SO much to say! Actually, the question was about “feedback from the audience”, but I adapted it slightly to talk about other things…

There are SO many questions that can be asked and approaches that can be taken to evaluating training – I’ve seen a lot as both a Learning+Development Manager and a freelance trainer. And the conversation goes on… so I will not try to play the expert here, but just outline what I think are the key issues.


Let’s start at the beginning…

What is key is to first be clear on WHAT you want to assess: Satisfaction? Learning? Behaviour? Competence? Return on Investment?

..then you need to ask WHEN you will do this

..and then: What will you DO with all this information?


Regarding WHAT you want to evaluate, consider Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of evaluation:

  1. How did they react to training?
  2. What did they learn?
  3. What do they do differently?
  4. What are the results?

…see this link for more information


It’s my opinion that only level 1 can truly be assessed with a satisfaction form (happy sheet): How did they react?

We might say that we can assess levels 2, 3 and 4 with a happy-sheet, but I disagree. You can only assess what they SAY they learnt, do, achieved (which is perhaps also worth asking, by the way).


The rest of this blog is split into 4 parts. Choose one of these links to read more…


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How much room can be left for improvisation in training?

This post outlines my reply during a recent Epsilon Group LinkedIn discussion on “improvisation of training content. The question asked by Pascal Denhaerinck * of ONE Management was:


* You can can find Pascal on Twitter

This is what I replied (although I won’t quote all the previous comments here…)


I focus not on content or on “key messages” but on “desired learning outcomes”

That way, I can:

  • Avoid being the expert who comes with things to impart on the non-experts, but rather a facilitator of learning. Someone who helps the others discover things for themselves…
  • Keep myself concentrated on the end-goal, when we go off in different directions


My particular definition of learning : Acquisition and Implementation of Required Competences

  • Competence is defined as knowledge, skills and attitude
  • Since people acquire competences in different ways, we need to be open to facilitating learning in whichever way is suitable for the participants. Partly, this means being able to detect that style/need before training and partly during training. This will always require flexibility.
  • I think the need to improvise will be more necessary with regard to dealing with attitude and skill learning, than with knowledge. Knowledge sharing can be planned much more precisely (although we will of course need to leave open moments for verification and Q/A).


As we move into the creative GEN-Y 21st century, participants will accept less and less that we come with a script for training

See this short film of a recent young training participant David Smeets (“what is important is that it is not led by a table of contents, but by our needs ….. …and that the trainer is not just an expert”)


The trend now is toward “consumerisation” of learning, at least, according to @ASTD @fredericw @janlaurijssen @C4LPT and the Internet Time Alliance.

  • People will try to create their own “learnscape” where they can get what they need in the way that suits them.
  • If this is in training, then (according to @angler) we will need to modify our approach training to include “features that make hanging out on social sites compelling” (commenting, rating, profiles, tagging, rich media). You can see more on this on my Prezi “Social Media Social Trainer” here – note that the Epsilon session on 14th FEB 2012 (French) will be on this topic.


Then there is the question of leadership styles ….

If you believe in situational leadership, you know you need to adapt your style based on the development level of people. In training, this is applicable in the following way:

  • If participants are motivated, but non-able and non-knowledgeable, you will need to direct them (meaning more prepared content).
  • If they can be coached, you can simply come with a learning objective and get them to figure things out themselves, with your help asking the right questions and supplying a rich learning environment where they have resources and time available
  • Maybe you can even delegate learning 100% – just give them 8 hours and a mission!


And Motivation 3.0 has an impact on training as well…

Regarding DRIVE, if you buy into @DanielPinks ideas on Motivation in the 21st Century (see famous RSA animation on the subject ) then motivation = autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Apply this to training and you need to give participants:

  • A clear mission
  • The chance to figure things out for themselves
  • The possibility of improvement (meaning, time, tools and good feedback process)


Finally, don’t forget: Qui dit apprentissage, ne dit pas forcement formation (meme si c’était le question de depart ici).

…you may also see that I didn’t deal with “implementing” learning here, but that’s for another evening 🙂


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