“Coaching is a luxury we can’t afford”

The title of this post is a direct quote from a recent training participant. This person works in a scientific environment and was taking part in leadership training in order to prepare for a new role as a cross-functional team leader. Let’s explore….


Defining coaching
“Helping other people to find their own answers to their own answers to their own questions”

…vs mentoring
“Giving answers to questions asked by people”


According to the literature and my own experience, coaching has several clear benefits:

  • Mike Noble, in T+D Magazine (March 2012) says that coaching leads to sustainable long term results and accelerates development towards higher performance
  • In my experience, retention and satisfaction or staff in an organisation improves due to personal development + motivation
  • John Whitmore (founder of the GROW model for coaching) argues that people will learn to think for themselves, taking responsibility for their own solutions
  • Coaching is in line with Dan Pink’s 21st century view on motivation and the human need for autonomy, mastery and purpose


In training, the argument against coaching (supported by several participants) was that “we don’t have time for coaching people. Our job (as team leader) is to ensure the work is done on time and to quality. We are assigned people to work on the project and it’s not our role to develop them.”


Coaching IS an investment on the long-term…

A directive non-coaching approach to leadership is right when people are starting up with regard to a task and don’t have the necessary knowledge and skills to help themselves. BUT when people have the ability to figure things out for themselves, coaching can be an excellent approach to build responsibility and initiative.

BUT it takes time!




In the above figure, we see the non-coaching approach to helping employees perform. In a given time-frame, many deliverables are achieved quickly.

In the following figure, a coaching approach to supporting employees is used:




This image (not literally) of coaching is what led to the initial trainee reaction on coaching: “We dont have time for that. We need to get all TEN things done, now.”

It is clear that the non-coaching approach give more “results” than a coaching approach in the same time-frame . BUT ONLY IF WE ONLY EQUATE RESULTS WITH ACHIEVING TARGETS.

If we equate results with motivation, responsibility, initiative, development, job-satisfaction…. The non-coaching approach doesn’t deliver much at all.


In addition, it is important to note 4 things (in addition to the benefits noted above) that will happen if we continue to coach our people:

  • They will get better in their jobs (develop)
  • They will learn to think for themselves (even applying self-coaching methods)
  • The number of times they come to ask for help will decrease
  • The time to coach will get quicker each time


In this sense, there must be a point at which the investment in coaching starts to pay-off. And THAT is key to this blogpost: Coaching is an investment in long-term development, not short-term results.


In his T+D article, Mike Noble suggests that if you really want to get managers onboard for coaching, convinced of its value and ready to invest, you will need to do 5 key things:

  • Help them understand the value of coaching, by showing them the benefits
  • Develop the coaching skill in the organisation
  • Set clear expectations with regard to coaching (sharing best practices, leading “from the top” with managers that “walk the talk”)
  • Assign people a coach
  • Reward the best coaches with the best jobs


Good luck!



On the way home… ASTD with Epsilon

Last week I spoke at a mini ASTD2012 ICE comeback conference for Epsilon. This blog outlines content and delivers references noted during the session..


To kick off the conference, I showed this small film montage (80 seconds) of the conference..

Before getting into my resume of the conference, I showed the results of my pre-conf survey on what my network expected from the ASTD2012 ICE…

..then I reminded everyone of what @fredericw told us in 2011 about transatlantic trends in learning + development.


I went to the ASTD2012 ICE to get information about 3 main things:

  • The future of the L+D profession
  • Creating engagement in today’s work environment
  • Current and future trends + what this means for learning


Here’s what I got from DAY ONE on the future of the L+D profession:


As Jim Collins said in his key-note, effective people have a “not-to-do-list” to help them think about where they should put their efforts. @innovativesarah Senior L+D Specialist from Google suggested the same thing for L+D professionals:

  • What can the learning population figure out for itself?
  • What should someone else be doing?
  • What should we just forget about?
  • How can L+D better work together with the rest of the organisation?


I shared some ideas about Infinite Learning and the 70:20:10 principle evoked by people like @charlesjennings and @C4LPT and discussed the idea that we should not think about either/or, but “and” (more on this in a future blog….). I also added that yes, “command + control” should exist next to “encourage + engage” because what we see with Blanchard and Hersey’s Situational Leadership model should be applied to L+D management as well… Its not because Generation Y likes self-learning that they can be left to do everything themselves! They might need some help…


DAY TWO was all about engagement for me…


First I shared some ideas from Kevin Cope on what L+D professionals should be focussing on.. Read the blogspot here or watch this short video introduction from Kevin at ASTD2012 ICE:


If you think in line of those 5 drivers, some specific investments definately make sense..


DAY THREE Future trends worth developing


According to Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, the automated “live to 100” super-structured big-data VUCA world means that people are going to need many new skills..



Personally, I did a lot of blogging and tweeting during ASTD2012 ICE. You can find many more resources from others on the ASTD2012 ICE collected back-channel resources page of @LnDDave or by following one of these links:


…now, go do some work!



Generation Y and New Intergenerational Issues, with Steve Gavatorta

In T+D Magazine (March 2012) from ASTD there is a great article from Steve Gavatorta concerning the arrival of Generation Y into management positions and the reaction of their baby-boomer direct reports. Any “young-gun” coming into a management position is bound to cause some upset for the more senior staff, but Steve argues that it is even worse this time, given the GenY tendancy to overlook some specific communication preferences of other generations (namely: face-to-face!). I contacted Steve with more questions, which he was kind enough to answer here…

(If you want to read the article first, follow this link…)


Intergenerational relationships have always existing in the workplace, just like intercultural relationships. Why is the emergence of GenY on the workplace causing so much “fuss”? How is the difference so different to previous generation-gaps?

I think the main reason is Gen Y’s strength and experience using technology – be it using advanced technological devices and/or social media venues to interact and communicate. Gen Y people grew up using these tools/methods to communicate so it is what “they know” and its comfortable for them. Meanwhile, other generations had to learn a bit later in life, so its harder for them to grasp and it’s not their main means of connecting and communicating…also some from other generations have also refused to advance with the technology/new communication methods – all of these reasons are creating a natural divide.


If we believe the communication experts, using non face-to-face methods for communications could lead to a lot of misunderstanding (GenY use these tools a lot). Add to this the initial intergenerational “culture” differences that cloud understanding and its even worse…. What do you think?

I agree wholeheartedly – this method of communication is creating the big divide…two things happen when people solely use non face-to-face methods to communicate: Firstly, messages can get misconstrued and misunderstood. Secondly, there is a missing human factor that gets lost as well (facial gestures, eye contact, tone, body language) which diminishes “meaning” in communication.  All these things lead to misunderstandings and “watered down” messages and leads to ineffective communication.

  Continue reading “Generation Y and New Intergenerational Issues, with Steve Gavatorta”

Plenty to learn to keep up with the future

Silicon Valley resident Dr Tracy Wilen-Daugenti knows what it is to work with experts of the future. Collaborating with some of the worlds sexiest brand-names, she has been researching the future of work, the technology and skills required and what this means for learning…

Watch out, there’s a lot to read here….


First, what are the trends we are seeing?

Globally-Connected World and Flat World Labor

  • In previous years, global business meant USA pushing its products out to other countries. Today, anyone can quickly create a product or service and market and run it with ease. In addition, we can recruit talent.

The scary VUCA world we all live in

  • Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous. For the military, life has always been like this. Now it’s like this for everyone.

Big data computational world

  • We are always connected. The amount of data we process on a daily basis is ENORMOUS.

Smart Machines and Automation

  • Everything can be done automatically today. And better done by the machines that by us. In California, Google is making driverless cars and applying for a permit to replace ALL traditional taxis. They say it’s safer and more economic.


  • Organisations are changing. Some are virtual, some are more collaborative. How do we design our workplace and workforce to be highly productive in the NWoW? That is other question.


With all of this going on, what are the skills we need?


  • Harold Jarche talks about the need to filter the information we face in order to understand it ourselves and to make our Personal Knowledge better accessible to those in our network
  • Talking with Hannelore from the VOV this morning, she underlined the need for critical thinking. Critical here means able to take the input and link it to one’s own reality, evaluating for value and applying for results

Ability to work with technology

  • Tracy showed us a nice film of how BMW is working with technology to improve how their mechanics work. The mechanics still need to actually fix the cars. But first they need to be able to collaborate with the machine.

Usage of new-media

  • People want new media. This we know. But how far is it going? If you print books, you know the answer to this question. If you run public services like trains and buses, you know this already.

Cross-cultural competency

  • In the past, cultural-competency meant travelling to another country, learning a few words and trying not to upset anyone. Today, its about leading and motivating people who work at distance. Influencing, making rapport, leading, correcting multi-national teams without face-to-face contact. CNN had this wired in 2008. Check out this awesome film…

Novel and adaptive thinking


  • In English, multiple-teamwork-skills. Teamwork is good, BUT: People cannot sit inbetween their four walls and do ONE thing. Functional expertise is still required, but it has to be broader. It has to touch at least generally on all the core business functions.


WoW! That’s a lot of stuff! What does it mean for learning + development people?

Firstly, longevity

  • You are going to live to 100. This means that you will need to stay more healthy, but more importantly it means that people need to find ways to maintain their work-value to the age of 80!


  • Due to the TransDisciplinarity trend, people will need help to navigate through and add-value in different functions.

People will have multiple careers

  • They will need to quickly grasp new technologies and apply new skills.


It seems we have some work to do….

For more information on Tracy’s ongoing work on the future working world visit www.apolloresearchinstitute.org

Increase learning engagement and effectiveness with Gamification

If you are looking for innovative, engaging and effective ways to get your people learning, linked to the current trends and New World of Work, this is the right session for you. ASTD2012 W102: Driving Engagement and Performance with Gamification…


Robert Pearson and Mary Myers kick off their session by underlining the idea that many of our innovations come from new and interesting fields. This particular one comes from the world of consumer entertainment. But why is this interesting for learning? Can we really learn something useful whilst having fun?


Firstly, be clear: This is not another GenY fad. Although GenY will love it, do not ignore this. According to Mary and Robert, we live in a society of gaming. We always have. People love to play games. Online, face-to-face, at dinner with friends or in a gaming-group with strangers. Poker, Monopoly, UNO, Pacman, World of WarCraft… Watch this film and you’ll see that mutatis mutandis, given the choice between game and no-game most people take the game.


What is going on when people play games? Why do I care?
Reason number 1: According to the Neuro-Scientists, when we play games the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine = Pleasure. Pleasure is good for learning.


Reason number 2 is more fundamental. It’s about human nature and the 4 basic drives of human beings: Drive to acquire, to defend, to bond and to create. Robert Pearson says that if I you want to create change (the business of learning) you have to work on ALL four of these drivers..


OK, I believe. Let’s get technical ….
Gamification is the application of game-mechanics to a non-game environment in order to bring about learning and behaviour change.


Game dynamics are the different elements that arise when we play games. Based on the kind of outcomes learners search in their game, different elements must be found in the game: For example, if you are interested in reward, the game must include points and the possibility to move to a higher level. If you are interested in other outcomes, use other dynamics.


Getting started with Gamification
As with all new trends, it is important not to start Gamification just because it’s cool. Start as with any learning need by defining the basic important learning design elements: What are you trying to achieve? What must people learn? Who are the learners?


These elements may already give you an indication of where Gamification could play a value-add role. Mary Myers has found that sales people at Ford taking part in game-based-learning worked faster through their learning programmes and more learners achieved certification than with non-gaming initiatives. The Ford certification process and demands was no different to the non-gaming predecessor. But the results were significantly better with Gamification.


John Chen, author of this book on Gamification and present in the audience asked: But what were the business results? Did Gamification actually make a difference to business results?

  • The immediate answer to this question is to repeat that Gamification is just/firstly a tool to a improve learning process/design. The initial learning design itself should already include the necessary elements to ensure business results.
  • The second answer is that Gamification is actually in itself a learning-results upgrade: People do learn better with games. They do acquire knowledge, skills and attitude more when stimulated in the ways outlined above.
  • Finally, Robert and Mary add that in fact, Gamification can be applied to many arenas (not just learning) to improve results. Have a look at this fantastic application (film) by Volkswagen on the use of gaming to help increasing respect of speed-limits…Speed Camera Lottery


More resources here:


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Thx for reading!


ps, Respectfully Yours

Walking back from the ASTD2012 ICE, the notion of respect remains on my mind. I wanted to share some ideas about differences I have seen and felt on an international and cultural level.

When I first arrived in Belgium I was loved by few, ignored by many and actively disrespected by some.

The last bunch of people (who shall remain nameless) most likely disrespected me out of suspicion and fear, as noted in the session with Paul Meshanko and Jim Knight today. They didn’t know who I was, what I wanted or what I stood for. They didn’t understand me, my preferences or my behaviour. I came from “nowhere” and couldn’t express myself in ways that related to their own experience. Even worse: I didn’t know anyone they knew…

Those who ignored me probably felt the same things, but were not hostile. Just aloof.

When I started as an independent trainer, I was interviewed by a training company who asked me: “Who have you worked for?” If I had been Belgian, I suspect the question may have been “What school did you go to?” Nothing I could answer would satisfy my interlocutor’s need for some kind of familiarity. I was alien.

When I wanted to say “Yes, but here’s what I can do” it didn’t mean anything.

This highlights my first point, which we can learn about in more detail from Trompenaars’ book “Riding the Waves of Culture”: For some cultures, respect is not about who you are and what you can do, but who you know and where you come from.

According to Trompenaars, in other cultures respect is associated with what you can do. These are the “achievement cultures” (as opposed to the “ascription cultures” referenced above).

What I find interesting today, here in the USA, is the level of respect I have been accorded by all the americans I have run into. I am called “Sir”. People turn to face me as soon as I arrive near them, smile and ask sincerely how I am doing or what they can do for me. This is much closer to the kind of respect Meshanko and Knight discussed today. Their respect for me is not based on who I am, where I come from or what I can do. They simply respect me for being another human being.

This is one of the values that Hard Rock Cafe lives by every day: “All is One”

Taking my reasoning one step further, I realise that the respect I have spoken of for the first 8 paragraphs of this post is not actually “respect”, but rather “esteem” or maybe simply “tolerance”. Real respect is an attitude that of hospitality and “going-toward”. That’s what I feel every day here in the USA.

The Respect Effect Rocks Hard Rock Cafe

It turns out that the man with the coolest haircut at the conference also has a message. And a partner in crime. The hair belongs to Jim Knight, recently-ex-longstanding-Training Director of Hard Rock Cafe. The partner is Paul Meshanko, author of the book “The Respect Effect.” Paul has promised us that we are going to learn about respect and organisational performance in a whole new way. We will leave with a new “Ah-Ha” moment about respect…. Here we go!



First things first: What are the traditional reasons to focus on respect?
Many organisations think they should focus on respect. Some sense of social justice or willingness to limit legal responsibility obliges companies to work on respect, via diversity initiatives and other corporate solutions to disrespect.

I once worked in a company whose HR department had the recruitment objective to bring in a blind lesbian African American… To show diversity to the outside world and to show we are an “equal opportunities employer.” This is NOT the kind of respect we are talking about.


Paul Meshanko suggests that there are far better reasons to focus on respect.
Anyone who has already learnt a little about stress management knows that as soon as we feel threatened by something, we are not able to function properly. The frontal-lobe shuts down. We are no longer creative. Things take more effort. And we get bad results.

What threatens us? (Think about it)


The example Paul gives is about dealing with people who are different to us. As soon as we are faced with people who aren’t like us, there is a potential for fear and suspicion, which leads to avoidance or even hostility. The opposite of this would be curiosity and a kind of “going toward” or true hospitality.

The list of reasons to feel suspicious and fear is endless and probably very personal. What is important to know is that when it happens we lose creativity, motivation and results.


So, assuming we agree that a focus on respect is cool, we might want to work on it. But with all the things we should be working on as L+D professionals, what’s the business case for respect? Enter Jim Knight

Reason number 1: The current generation of workers holds high respect in high esteem. Higher than before. If you want to keep them, you’ve got to respect them. Disrespect costs in recruitment, learning + development, and lack of productivity. Cash.
Reason number 2: Customers demand respect. They don’t come back when they don’t have it. Disrespect costs in marketing to find new clients and bottom-line profit.


What do we need to do to get this culture of respect?
The first most important thing noted by Jim Knight is authentic values-driven recruitment. Respect your own values and don’t accept any less than perfect alignment when you bring on new people. By having people who are true to your mission and values (because it’s their mission and values too) you will increase retention and they will work harder. And when houve got the right people you have to talk to them, listen to them, thank them, develop them (and whatever you do, don’t yell at them!)

With regard to your customers, Jim Knight says you’ve got to treat them like it’s a first date. Every day. Treat everyone like they are the boss, the president even… the most important person in your air-space.


From my side, it’s interesting to reflect on my experience at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver this week. I’d never been in HRC before. I can’t wait to go back. Literally. It was AWESOME! I can tell you the name of my “server” (I want to say “new friend Bryan”). I bought a baseball cap and a key-ring. They played “Jeremy” for me. They played it louder. For me. Because I don’t hear so well and they knew that.

Pure respect.


Onboarding GenY: Breaking old habits to build new habits

Alexia Vernon kicks off her session by admitting that yes, she is a member of Generation Y. Don’t get upset. She also has some experience and she has a vision… Let’s see what it is.


Why is better onboarding so important? Why this talk? Aren’t we doing OK? According to Alexia Vernon, the first day of many young professionals joining a new job looks a lot like this:

  • Sit in reception and wait for a while unsure what to do
  • Go to HR and fill in all the paperwork
  • Boss walks in after 3 hours and says “Sorry. Crazy day for me. Joust keep yourself busy and I’ll see you tomorrow…”


Alexia asked us to imagine our own first day at work, first job. What was it like and what advice would you give to your boss?

At my table, I heard from:

  • A first-dayer at HP who was given a big book and told to “Read This”. She sat and read for hours.
  • Another person was left waiting in a corridor area for the morning because the facilities guys hadn’t made her pass-card yet
  • I actually remembered my first day at secondary school – I arrived in the wrong clothes!
  • …and my first job, when my boss WAS present and spent the whole day with me (awesome!)


According to Alexia Vernon, most people see the onboarding process as a simple collection of things designed to handle compliance, processes, facilities, training and development. What onboarding should be about is building habits. Habits that are in line with the company and the joiner.



With regard to GenY, onboarding processes are awesomely important because by the end of day 1, most GenYers will have decided if they will or will not stay with the company in the long-term. What is important for young professionals is not responsibilities and tasks. It’s not benefits and holiday-booking processes. What GenY joiners care about is fit-to-culture, purpose and company culture.

What does your onboarding process focus on?


Many of the non-GenYers might be inclined to think that they should therefore simply do the opposite of whatever they do at the moment. “GenY is just the opposite of everything I am.”

NO. Sitting with @innovativesarah , I was happy to again hear the idea of “NOT EITHER/OR but AND” Sarah told me its the “Zen Generation”. We need the middle ground…


What does Alexia Vernon suggest for a good day start? 10 top tips:

  • Focus on the big picture, not the minutia
  • Help them to dive in to things, to get started and productive – the rest will figure itself out later…
  • Help create autonomy. GenY wants to feel that they can take things into hand, move on and have impact.
  • Give a focus for the first week
  • Make it clear what success looks like in their job
  • Give them tools to find what they need themselves
  • Make sure you give constructive feedback and what is and is not working – this will ensure that the habits they WILL create in the first 90days are the right ones
  • Ask about , care about and do something with the opinion and input of new joiners
  • Be sure to stretch them …just a little out of their comfort zone …to keep them in flow
  • Help them to learn how to communicate well in the workplace *

* note from DAN: Watch this space for a future guest-post-interview with Steve Gavatorta on how GenY needs to communicate better


…oh yeh, and one other thing:
Proactively answer all questions about lunch 🙂


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Visit www.infinitelearning.be

Thanks for reading


Getting to the high ground of innovation through jazz improvisation

John Kao, serial innovator and organisational transformation expert kicked off day 3 of the ASTD2012 ICE with his innovation concert … With enthusiasm and expertise and an approach somewhat similar to “VH1 Storytellers” he helped the 8000 delegates to understand more than the “hand-waving” cheer-leading side of “Yes we need innovation”. He answered the question: “Yes, but HOW !??” …Kao’s short answer to the question? Jazz!


According to Kao, traditional music gives traditional results. Jazz brings something new.

In the corporate world, our approach business-music is akin to the following traditional music approach…

  • We get a mission statement (play this)
  • We get a cheat-sheet of where to our fingers to make the sound (training)
  • We get some encouragement from our manager (motivation)
  • We get a little bit of applause when we do what we were asked (feedback, salary)


Where does this approach take us? (No answer offered here… 🙂 )

Kao adds a little more explanation as to how the above example is different from Jazz Innovation and adds that, fortunately, it’s something we can define, encourage and enable at work…


Innovation is creativity applied to some purpose in order to add value

Or in terms of jazz music: Creating new notes in the moment, that satisfy the demands of the audience, but bring something new, going somewhere we’ve never been before…


What are the capabilities of innovation? What is it we need to encourage to help bring innovation to life?

The first thing Kao offers to help here is the idea of using innovation to some solve tension in the environment. An example of this tension might be the dichotomy of structure and invention: Fit in, but do something new. Stick to the rules, but leave from for freedom and modulation.

To bring innovation into the organisation, we need to help people understand what it means to fit in (bringing the big picture) but leave them room to modulate their environment. In Dan Pink’s Motivation 3.0, this might be about giving a general sense of purpose + autonomy in order to allow people to move towards to mastery..

This is NOT possible for people in the organisation when the level of risk associated with moving freely around is too high. If people don’t feel like they can make mistakes, they will not dare to take on the risk of trying something new.

The third ingredient of jazz innovation is the idea of diversity in teams and environments. Kao showed a great slide of the Star-Trek team and compared it to MBTI profiles. The Star Trek team boldly goes where no man has gone before because of the complimentarily of knowledge, skills and attitude. Innovation is not possible without diversity.

Community and context are also important for innovation at work. As Maslow told us years ago, a relevant social context is fundamental to create feelings of self-esteem and to deliver feedback. People need the opportunity to get together with their peers, bounce around ideas like jazz musicians and hear from others about what is good… and bad … in their ideas.


Awesome Kao keynote!


Off to the Alexia Vernon session on Onboarding for GenY….

If you want to show value, you’ve gotta have business acumen

ASTD2012 is evolving nicely for me and certain themes are starting to form. My focus today is on the future value of Learning+Development people to the organisation. According to Kevin Cope “Business Acumen” is one of the big missing links in the skill set of many professionals… …that includes Learning+Development people. Once you understand the core drivers of any business, you can get to work on them, create and show your value.


There are 5 basic business drivers that your people ought to understand… ..and 5 basic business drivers you need to influence with Learning+Development.


Your oxygen supply, more important than your mother, the king of all business.

Is cash good? Yes? Is lots of cash good? No? How much cash should you have? Enough to cover expenses, Capex and a little more for a rainy-day…

What does this mean for L+D? How can we have an impact on the business cash situation?

  • Increase retention – recruitment costs too much. Stop it.
  • Pay slower and get paid faster
  • Reduce costs


Lots or little, you’ve got to have profit. Not-for-profit organisations too. If you are making less then you are spending, you will not fulfil your mission. Simple.

To increase profit you can either increase your price or decrease your costs.

What does this mean for L+D? How can we have an impact on the business profit situation?

  • Improve sales training
  • Onboard faster
  • Reduce costs



An asset is defined as anything you own that can be useful. You can measure your asset situation in terms asset “strength” and “utilisation”.

What L+D be doing to develop the asset situation? How can we have an impact on the asset situation?

  • Reduce under-performing assets
  • If you don’t need it, don’t order it
  • Measure the output of your assets


Growth is commonly defined as an increase in your business performance. It’s important for 3 key reasons:

  • Shareholders want it
  • The desire for growth pushes people to innovate
  • It attracts the best and brightest people

Why does L+D care about growth? How can we help drive growth?

  • Develop good leaders and high-performers
  • Get involved in culture-shaping and acquisition integration
  • Anticipate workforce staffing – you need to understand the business


There are 2 types of people: Employees and customers. These are the people that will bring you all of the other 4 key business drivers (cash, profit, assets, growth)

What does the business-savvy L+D professional need to do on the subject people? Maybe you think

Regarding employees in the business that you need to develop:

  • Create good leaders
  • Build engagement of employees
  • Help people understand the big-picture

Regarding your customers:

  • Anticipate the future needs of your customers
  • Assume your customers are not entirely satisfied. Get closer to them.


At the end of the session, things got interesting: HR people tend to focus on people; CEOs focus on growth and profit; Finance focuses on profit and cash. This is a problem.

Making a business case for your learning initiative? Focus on the right people. The ones who have to back it.

Show your business acumen!


Thanks for reading!