Monthly Archives: May 2012

Create or curate? That is NOT the question

To kick off ASTD2012 session M100, Sarah Bloomfield (Senior L+D Specialist from Google) says its tough to get up and talk at people so anonymously. That’s not her style and it doesn’t help her focus on us, the learners. That’s the topic of the session: Focus on the learner and the rest will follow…

..but can we really learn from Google?


Let’s see….


According to Sarah, the L+D world is changing. You know this… so don’t dismiss it too quickly as “Google-only-relevance”):

  • Learning participants are the experts
  • People prefer casual learning
  • Companies (and people) are evolving at hyperspeed
  • L+D departments are disconnected from their clients

In my world (Belgium, training sector) there is a little bit of stress about this in the learning community: If everyone is expert, casual, fast-changing and somewhere else, how can I help? Will my role become extinct?

“NO!” the minority answers. “You will become curators of content.” “Community managers.” “Nodes in a network of people who don’t need your expertise.” “The guide on the side.”

Sarah Bloomfield has a different vision. An holistic vision. (An Eastern “zen” vision?)
It’s not either/or. It’s both!


Creation or Curation?

In this social-media enabled New World of Work, should L+D people just curate everything, like some kind of super-librarian? NO

Sarah says its not really about what we should do, but what we should stop doing?

  • What should we stop designing?
  • What should we stop delivering?
  • What should we stop measuring?
  • When should we let people figured things out for themselves?
  • When should we let a need go unfulfilled?

Very often, enthusiastic L+D people hear a learning need and jump to the chance to make a programme. Sometimes, these programmes are terrible. Sometimes they are awesome. Sometimes they are simply not required…. (remember my blog on “22 learning design questions”?)

In the new world of (self-service social-media led casual) learning, it’s even more important to assess first when L+D should get involved and then how.

To figure out your answers to the “NOT” above questions:

  • First, get familiar with what’s already out there
  • Then start discussion with the people who need to learn in the organisation
  • Equip them to look after themselves
  • Redefine your measurement criteria to be able to really see if people are learning
  • Share ownership with the organisation

What Sarah suggests is that if you have done all this, you will know what IS left to create yourself. Creation AND curation. Not a dichotomy at all.


Have fun!
Follow me on Twitter


Sarah Bloomfield on the (non)consulting mindset of L+D professionals

In a fantastic follow up to my blog this morning on how HR + Learning Professionals should become more commercial, Sarah Bloomfield (Senior L+D Specialist, Google) bangs the nail on the head for me. I’ll steal this idea and call it “borrowed authority”….


Need I say any more?
Enter L+D 2.0
True business-driven consultancy.

Jim Collins’ 10 Top Things To Do

In an awesome and inspiring conference speech this morning, Jim Collins introduced us to the concept of Greatness by Choice.

To close his speech, he offered 10 things to do if you want to maximise your own (company) greatness.


1 Create a pocket of greatness on your own bus – a place where people can surpass the 4 levels of goodness (described in my other post) and become great

2 Put the right people in the right seats on your bus

3 Multiple your question rate: Learn to listen more, focus more on asking and less on talking

4 Confront the brutal facts. Don’t assess them. Drop your ego and just look at the facts. Regularly. Together.

5 Find and focus on your personal hedgehog – the thing you are passionate about, your top strength, that drives revenue

6 Commit to a 20 mile march… Not more. Know where you will stop. Be disciplined in sticking to the plan, even when its tough and certainly when its easy. Allocate your time and control how you spend it.

7 Get a high return on your next luck event …Luck happen to everyone, food and bad. Knowing what to do when it comes will make all the difference. Collins adds that you should know who is your “luck-rock” and cherish that relationship.

8 Develop and use a stop-doing list. Know what you WILL NOT do.

9 Create pockets of quietude in order to think (white space in your calendar)

10 Set a personal vision composed of 3 parts:

  • Your core values of a lifetime, that you would pass on to multiple generations
  • A clear vision of what you want to add to the world, such that it was worth having you in it
  • Have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Thanks Jim!


Follow me on Twitter


Jim Collins goes from good to great.. by choice

Monday morning 7th May, ASTD2012 first general session… Ambiance of a rock concert… David Gray playing loud on the PA… Film camera men installed to capture Mr Collins’ speech on why some companies thrive despite chaos, uncertainty and luck… The answer? They are Great By Choice…


According to Jim Collins, “good” is the enemy of “great”. For the last 25 years, Collins has been at work researching what sets the truly great companies apart from the others. His numerous books and combined 6000 years of corporate evidence have outlined those differences.


What doesn’t make the difference?
According to Collins, circumstance is NOT the main ingredient. Greatness is found in some companies in some sectors, where others fail in the same circumstances.


What is the X-Factor in leadership? What is it that we need to be developing?
According to Collins, good companies have in common a hierarchy of 4 capabilities: Individual abilities, Interpersonal abilities, Managerial abilities, Leadership abilities…

What the great companies have is another level: This one goes to 5…

Level 5 = Humility, combined with will. The humility to not assume you know best and the will to surround yourself with others who do.


This first basic great leadership quality is complimented by a very particular way of functioning. A way of making choices based on 3 things:

  • Fanatic discipline
  • Empirical creativity
  • Productive paranoia

If you have this humility and make choices based on the 3 above things, you are set for greatness.


What to know more? Read the book 🙂



Thx for reading



The perfect learning platform = Mobile + Brain

According to ASTD President Tony Bingham, the role of L+D has never been more important than it is today. Despite (or because of) unemployment issues, CEOs of leading companies are changing their strategy to work even more on employee attraction, development and retention.

One important element in this strategy (that we are all aware of) is the massive arrival of the millennial generation and their 3rd hands…


One Cisco report says that “online communication is challenging face-to-face communication as the number one method of interpersonal collaboration”. Another report states that the importance of devices and the information they carry is rivalling the importance of money.

Tony Bingham underlines: We need to leverage mobility in learning with these devices.


Not convinced? How about this for a statistic?
By 2015 over 300 million school children across the planet will be carrying a mobile learning device. And they will be expected to learn with them. And they can.
All they need to learn is a finger!

What do the Millenials want? What they need, when they need it, with immediate practical impact.


Still not convinced?
According to the ITU (International Telecoms Union) over 5 billion mobile devices are in action on planet Earth…. for only 7 billion humans! We are connected.. ..and this media MUST be utilised in learning.


Tony Bingham says that mobile devices compliment our brains: Our brains are excellent at recognising patterns and implementing them into our reality… …but rubbish at finding and remembering stuff. Mobiles + brains = perfect learning platform.

Despite challenges to mobile learning like budget, integration and security issues and IT infrastructure, Tony Bingham is convinced.

The Millenials are convinced.

Are you?


HR needs to go commercial

Day 1 of ASTD2012 ICE left me with one core feeling regarding the future of HR: We need to get commercial…


I consider the commercial spirit as “positioning your offer in terms of the position of the other person”.

Applied to HR, this means that HR professionals will need to be able to better do 3 key things:

  • Understand their business/internal clients in terms of situation, values and needs
  • Be able to create a service offering that responds to those things in terms of real benefits
  • Be able to express their own position in terms the business can understand and accept


At ASTD2012 day 1, several ideas came up that support this idea of the need for a commercial spirit in HR:

During the session on management trends Michael Stallard told us that we have to work hard to motivate people to accept the need for certain HR-loved approaches (like coaching). Kevin Eikenberry just tweeted that HR won’t succeed in winning business mind-share if they can’t market their services in terms of value. Alfredo Castro told us that we need to better brand things.

During John Boudreau’s session on Transformative HR the idea of innovating HR services like recruitment to better answer real burning business issues like “supply and demand” was coupled with the idea that HR will have to change it’s relationship to the business: Get out of the “central/top-down push model” that obliges services and solutions not-aligned to the business. Move to a user-centric approach that is embedded in the real practical reality of the business.

Another idea evoked by Boudreau and in line with Castro’s comment on branding is that HR will need to be better at story-telling in order to convince the business partners of the use of intangible things that, by their results-driven nature, they may not naturally be inclined to accept.


Sounds like marketing to me!

So: I set the first HR marketing challenge. Let’s start with a little bit of self-branding!
How about a new name for HR?

The king is dead. Long live the king!


Thanks for reading.
(If it doesn’t make any sense, blame jet-lag…)


John Boudreau says HR has to change it’s approach

ASTD2012 session SU300 was delivered by Dr John Boudreau, Research Director of the University of SoCal’s Centre for Effective Organisations. He introduced the concept of Transformative HR and his research on its meaning and application.

In a session full of data (much of which I didn’t really understand) and some great examples, one core message stood out for me:

  • The world has changed a lot…but the HR approach, time-spending and business-input hasn’t
  • If HR is going to add value in the future, it won’t be from incremental improvements in classical ways of working …it will be from a drastic change in how we develop business performance
  • Here’s 2 simple ideas for HR professionals to consider in order to achieve this….

    Stop delivering raw data that adds to the corporate information overload…
    Deliver stories and examples that speak to them and their business issues

    Instead of approaching recruitment in the classical way of desperately trying to deliver new hires immediately because the business says “I need him now” adding that “I can’t have too many people” with the additional demand of “Make sure I don’t end up with too few people”…
    Get business leaders to think of human resources in the same way they might think of resources in a supply chain (“the right amount of people in stock for the market of today and emerging demands of tomorrow” and “the ability to move resources from one place to another”)

    More good food-for-thought.
    Awesome conference!

    That’s all folks!

    ASTD faces the content-crisis with community engagement

    Following the ASTD Annual Report Meeting tonight at #ASTD2012, I see that the issues for ASTD are quite similar for two of the companies I have been hanging around with in Belgium recently:

    • One of them is a leading provider of training (not Kluwer) focused on delivering expert content and who also prints books
    • The other is a leading publisher

    Now, its important to note that ASTD is in good shape financially: In 2012, with good membership and a mixed revenue-stream ASTD made 2.6 million in net profit.

    Also nice to see is ASTDs vision/mission, which is in line with my own: “Make the world work better”

    …and they have great values: Communication, Teamwork and People


    Sounds great, no? So what’s the issue?
    Simple: Bloody generation Y and Social Media ! (again)

    ASTD (like both of the companies noted above) publishes books.
    People don’t buy books like they used to.

    ASTD (like both of the companies above) delivers content.
    People can find their own content (easily).


    On a strategic level, ASTDs answer is quite straight forward.

    To face the competition from SoMe tools, ASTD must:

    • Engage members more – go to them, get them involved, create partnerships and relationships based on dialogue
    • Enrich content and offers to offer an added-value on what is freely available elsewhere
    • Relevance, relevance, relevance – ASTD will filter, makes-sense-of and curate content to improve the link to members’ reality
    • Offer endurable and scalable products and services

    To make this work, ASTD will work around the idea of interest-based communities, led by community managers. Those managers do not necessarily need to be experts, but people who can create trustful dialogue with community members.


    If you’re in the business of content, this is good food for thought!


    Thanks for reading
    Follow me on Twitter


    Learning Agility – the “X-Factor” of our future leaders

    Challenges, speed and competition in the marketplace never cease to increase. With this ever-trend of more-and-more and harder-and-faster, future leaders will need more than ever to have Learning Agility. The subject of #ASTD2012 session #SU218 with Vicki Swisher of Korn/Ferry International…


    Before we start, here is a screenshot from the awesome ASTD2012 iPad app where I followed Vicki’s presentation: Learning Agility is defined as…


    It can be used to distinguish between high performers and high potentials – people who might be suitable for leadership roles in the future


    What does Learning Agility look like?

    One of the things that people with Learning Agility do is to question their mental models. They kill sacred cows. During the session, Vicki asked us to consider and draw a particular situation: “Two men are found dead in a cabin in the woods.”

    Here’s what I drew:


    Vicki then asked: “How did they die?” It turns out that they didn’t die from a gas-leak (as you might think from my drawing!) They died in a plane-crash!

    If you (like I) immediately associated “cabin” with a wood cabin, then you probably failed to make the “fresh-connection” required to come to the answer. Making “fresh-connections” is a key part of Learning Agility.


    In addition, people with Learning Agility:

    • Are curious quick thinkers
    • Work with good basic-principles (rather than pure analysis of “facts”) …a bit like the “Elementary Worldly Wisdom” Charlie Mungur is known for
    • Seek diverse experiences to learn from, rather than sticking only to what they already know


    2 reasons why Learning Agility so important (today)

    • Jobs are getting bigger and the supply of talent is getting smaller
    • People are getting to senior management functions much earlier than in the past. As a such, their experience is not so high. But they still need to be able to perform in senior roles.


    Vicki Swisher also gave some ideas about how we can develop Learning Agility. Since its a behaviour, Learning Agility is something that can be observed AND developed. We need to develop people in 4 key areas:

    • Mental agility – curiosity, the ability to think differently, to be creative
    • People agility – the ability to seek out, connect to, learn from and work with other people; active empathy
    • Change agility – not being afraid of red monkeys, open to change, asking open questions to look for new solutions, able to adapt
    • Results agility – motivation for and skill for tough challenges, resourceful, willing to be pushed out of own comfort zone


    ..and we need to develop them differently: High-potential future-leaders need to be given a wide breadth (not depth) of learning opportunities and challenges. Let them lead diverse projects, build in job-rotation opportunities, assign them coaches from across the business….



    As a side-comment, chatting with my Japanese neighbour Noriaki “Wassie” Washimi it occurred to us that HR and Learning people absolutely must have Learning Agility if they are to successfully work across a broad-spectrum of business areas and issues.

    So: Go. Develop. Be agile.


    Thanks for reading
    Follow me on Twitter
    …or visit



    Aligning management development to today’s trends

    What managers need to do has changed. We live in a new world of work. The challenges are different and so must be our approach.

    In session SU102 of ASTD2012 a panel of 3 experts * in management development shared their views on trends today and what’s coming up in the future…

    * see bottom of post for link to more info on the panel


    What are the trends today that are having an impact on management development?

    Kevin Eikenberry says that a major issue today is dealing with virtual teams. How do I deal with having a team that spans across continents, time-zones, cultural borders? Working with people who are not my employees, but for whom I take the lead in a project…?

    Michael Stallard says that the growing buzz about employee engagement is turning into real development initiatives these days. Making emotional links between employees and companies is of utmost importance if we are to keep the 75-80% of “unengaged I-come-for-the-money” workers actually involved and ready to innovate and go the extra mile…

    Alfredo Castro thinks that diversity in the workplace is a huge issue and that it is widely misunderstood. People tend to associate “culture” with countries, but it’s bigger that than: Generation gaps, preference-gaps, political gaps…. these all have an impact.


    So: What do we have to do to deal with these issues?

    Kevin Eikenberry says that highly-strung, busy managers feel these problems, but don’t always understand the root of the problem. We need to educate them. We need to help them to be skilled in coaching, virtual team management, intercultural communication….

    Michael Stallard adds that it’s not just education that we need, but also motivation. People have to believe in the skills they have acquired in order to put them to work. Sharing best practices and rewarding efforts will send a clear signal to people that this is what we want. And when they actually do it, they should be rewarded (or at least congratulated).

    Alfredo Castro suggests that we have to be open to a little risk-taking if we are going to change. If managers feel that they must always and only work towards short-term results and if they fear to get things wrong, they will never try.


    What guidance do the experts give for success in doing those things?

    Alfredo Castro says that we will need to brand “intangible things” like coaching and communication so that people see the added-value. (My personal reflection is that learning people will need to be better marketeers).

    Following up on this idea Kevin Eikenberry adds that this added-value will have to shown in terms of results in the business. (It needs to be Level 4 in terms of Kirkpatrick).

    Michael Stallard says that the learning function will need to better collaborate with people IN the organisation. We won’t be paying to bring people in from outside as much as we used to, so the role of learning people will be to more-and-more help to develop and guide internal people so that they themselves can development their own people.



    Some simple ideas. But good stuff. Excellent 1st session at ASTD2012.
    (Hope my iPad fingers did justice to the panel!)


    For more info on the panel, check these guys out:

    Thanks for reading!


    Follow me on Twitter