Monthly Archives: February 2012

Getting more FLOW (24 more ideas from trainees)

In a previous post, I listed the initiatives that training participants came up with for creating and maintaining more FLOW in the organisation. This post follows-up with 24 more ideas in 5 concrete FLOW  areas …


To get more FLOW, be sure everyone has a clear mission

  • Take the time to translate core company objectives/mission into each person’s function, especially when dealing with change or restructuring
  • As an individual, ask questions regularly to better understand how you align to the company vision/mission/values


…people need quality feedback if they are going to get in FLOW

  • Recognise and share success stories within the organisation
  • Talk about personal FLOW with own managers in status-updates or other regular meetings
  • Ask for regular feedback on your work


Teamwork and communication can help to build “self-worth” and success

  • Implement (or at least discuss) a “code of conduct” with colleagues that respects individuals’ FLOW needs
  • Ask for help from colleagues when you are out of FLOW
  • Inform your colleagues about your “high-energy” moments so that a) they know that that’s a good time for you to be working on most-important tasks; b) they will respect your need for concentration at those times
  • Avoid “indirect communications” – phone-calls and instant messaging in faster and more effective than email (but… see the part on “concentration”)
  • Learn how to say (and hear!) “NO” to (from) colleagues
  • Have time-keepers in meetings in order to help people stick to their personal priorities


Boost concentration at key moments

  • Turn-off email pop-ups .. or better still: CHoose when to read them
  • Close the door
  • Find a “quiet room”
  • Use ear plugs 🙂
  • Designate a room for conf-calls, rather than letting everyone on the floor follow the call !
  • Take the time to set priorities well … and stick to them
  • Install home-working possibilities for high-importance/high-concentration task moments
  • Organise office space by function


Find your balance between challenge and skills

  • Use job-rotation schemes to avoid bore-out
  • Create a strengths-matrix so that people know where to turn for help on specific topics
  • Hire more people (to avoid burn-out)
  • Decrease workload – outsource what is possible, even within your own organisation; drop useless activities/chores
  • Identify people who are bored and give them more of the work of people who are overloaded


Thanks for reading!


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Leverage the Obama Effect in Social Learning

OK, admittedly I didn’t really invent a new buzz-term. I just adapted the famous idea of 6 degrees of seperation (or Kevin Bacon?) to make a point: I “know” Obama!

…and so do you, probably. And if you don’t know Obama, you probably know many other interesting people. And that’s what makes social learning so interesting!


According to Jan Vermieren and Bert Verdonck in their book “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” (follow link for free download) the real power of any network lies in the 2nd degree. Not who you know, but who THEY know. You can see this in action in the picture below…

I know Andy, Andy knows “Milly from This Life”, “Milly” knows Jack Davenport, who was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who funds Schwarzenegger, who is in politics with Obama. Voila  ! 6 degrees!


Apply this principle to the learning world and what do you get?

  • Endless possibilities to learn FROM and TO other people
  • A network of experts at your finger-tips
  • Learning at the speed of the internet


If you can leverage this principle in your corporate or personal learning initiatives, you will be rewarded with:

  • Lower investment in learning initiatives that call on external expertise
  • Greater involvement from learning participants who use their own resources to help themselves and others learn
  • Deeper and broader levels of knowledge
  • More possibility to challenge attitude and ideas
  • Innovation?
  • Business development?
  • …etc…


For a simple, but concrete idea of using a Social Network in a formal learning initiative, read my other post here


Thanks for reading !



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Creating Strategic Action in 4 Steps

This blog post has been written as support for homework for participants from my training on “Creating Influence”.

…but the exercise described below is an excellent approach to defining strategic action for any mission you may undertake.


First, let’s describe “strategic action”

How is strategic action different to normal action? It considers one’s current position in close relationship to the mission. In this way, strategic action is focussed on high level priority-driven steps that are more likely to get us to where we want to be.

Example: Suppose I want to complete an IronMan race. I might be inclined to imagine that swim-training is the best action to undertake. But if I first do a good strategic positioning exercise, I might realise that my priority is in fact to first develop my business offer in order to earn more more so that I can liberate more time for training. If I don’t do this, I will have to a) squeeze in training in an already busy schedule and b) end up paying divorce costs due to marital negligence 🙂


Ready to think strategic??


STEP 1: Start by defining your mission

There is no sense in doing a positioning exercise if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve.

Example: If I ask you if I am strong, depending on what objective you imagine me working on, you may come up with completely different answers…

When defining your mission, be sure to use quality goals. Read my other blog post on PERSONAL goal-setting for some starter ideas..


STEP 2: …then assess your current position

One of my favourite tools for doing this remains the SWOT analysis. A good SWOT will give you ideas on recurring themes for improvement. Note: I said a GOOD SWOT !


Another tool I really like regarding personal influence is the network influence-grid proposed by Jo Owen in his book “How to Influence“. He suggests that for all the people in your network, you need to assess them in terms of whether or not you have a good relationship with them and whether or not they have power (to help you in your mission). A network influence-grid therefore has 4 quadrants…


When the people you know are mapped out in their relevant quadrants, you will better focus on people who are realy useful (top-right) or think about how to better leverage the existing relationships you have to get what you need.


STEP 3: Now, look for priority areas for action

I find that if I have done a good job of assessing my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, when I look at the results there are recurring and linking themes. These are the things to work on. Don’t worry about action yet, just look at which things seem to come back and back.

For example, in my last SWOT exercise I saw that:

  • My network was very complete
  • …but that I wasn’t using it well enough
  • I have great references for training work
  • …but never ask for referrals
  • There was an opportunity to better develop my own client base

An obvious priority strategic action: Leverage own network.


STEP 4: When your priorities are clear, plan baby steps

I am finally reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen right now. One of my clients said it was a great book, but I thought: What else could there be to learn about priority management? In the first 10 pages I had my answer:

Turn unmanageable TO-DO lists into “next concrete action” (baby-steps) lists.


In the scope of our exercise, this means asking 2 questions for each of the priority strategic actions noted previously:

  • What would be an ACCEPTABLE outcome?
  • What is the NEXT CONCRETE ACTION you need to take?


If you’ve followed the 4 steps ahead, you should have some good ideas to get moving with.


Good luck!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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SoMe for Learning Managers – Practical Case no1: Formal International Social Learning

As you may have seen, I’ve already posted 2 practical SoMe usage cases for Trainers (1) (2)- these will continue soon … This one is for the Learning and Development Managers out there wondering how they can formally use SoMe solutions to support a social-learning initiative. The options are endless, but some of the people I meet are “startless”, so here’s 1 concrete idea…


First things first: Set specific learning objectives to work with

The following example is from a company wide Project Management learning initiative that incorporates several social learning moments and draws upon usage of some free Web 2.0 tools.

Several specific learning objectives were set for the whole group and sub-groups were asked to work on one or other specific objective, reporting back to the bigger group. An example objective is :

  • “Be able to identify, analyse and measure common human-risk factors in international projects”


Then get your L+D guys to stimulate some social learning action!

  • Communication using email to all learning participants outlining the desired learning objectives, working sub-groups and sub-group missions
  • Sub-groups are defined with a mix of participants from different business groups and countries in order to maximise connectivity and intercultural collaboration
  • LinkedIn or Yammer group set-up for all participants
  • Internal learning consultant named as contact point for additional questions and support
  • Initial basic knowledge/content on how to run risk assessments delivered via Wikipedia and YouTube (example video)
  • Individual group participants invited to use their personal internal  + external networks / groups to gather information and intelligence on potential human risk factors in international projects – this is done using any means, but could also include Yammer or LinkedIn, for example
  • Sub-group works together online at distance to create a Prezi presentation to bring together their findings and reflections and create together a 30 minute presentation on their topic
  • This process is run by several sub-groups during a given time-frame, each with its own specific learning objective, like the one noted above
  • Following completion of the task, all sub-groups convene in a Skype/Net-Meeting environment to share their findings and present to each other
  • An internal expert mentor and/or coach is present in order to give feedback and stimulate further reflection
  • Following the presentation/meeting day, all participants (from the larger group) are knowledge-tested using SurveyMonkey on the different objectives presented
  • Other follow-up activities are planned as usual to assess competence and implementation of learning


The possibilities really are endless. I hope this blog will help someone to get started with their own reflection and take one or two small steps toward social learning with social media.


Your comments are welcome,

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SoMe for Trainers – Practical Example no.2

Nothing annoys me more as a trainee than sitting in training listening to everyone say what THEY think of something before the trainer gives the “right answer” or whatever answer will be used as a common framework for the next 2 hours…

Why do trainers do that? If there ISN’T a right answer, then I can agree its worth sharing people’s attitudes. But if there IS, please just get to the point!


If you are interested in the Authentic Learning principle that we shouldn’t get things in the classroom that can be found OUT of the classroom, then this simple SoMe proposal might interest you:

  • Prior to training, make a survey using a tool like *
  • Ask future participants to share in advance their ideas on a given topic. For example: What do you understand by the word “motivation”? or “What are the key elements of effective teamwork?”
  • Prior to training, merge these answers into your training materials (PPT, workbook, whatever you have…)
  • In training, show (quickly) the answers you already got and move onto what will be used as your framework in training


* As advice, I would note that if you are doing this a lot, upgrading your surveymonkey account is well worth the investment in saved admin time…


Another better more social option

  • Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer or some other platform to ask the same questions.
  • Invite future participants to join a group and discuss a point in advance
  • That way people will already see the answers from other trainees before getting to the room…


This SoMe solution is good for time-saving in training and to allow you to focus on more ROI-yeilding activities. I don’t say discussion is bad, but sitting listening to others for NO reason IS bad.


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