Monthly Archives: May 2013

Liz Wiseman wants us to multiply

Liz Wiseman is closing ASTD2013. At this point in the day, the audience is tough. Most, like me, have already followed about 16 intense sessions with learning leaders from around the world on a variety of topics. Many have listening, tweeted and taken other notes, all at the same time. (And they partied all night. Every night.) Some are leaving for the flight home now. Others are actually sleeping.

But the message is important and its simple: We need to stop adding and start multiplying.

Why do some leaders drain talent, while others multiple it? Why do some leaders drive their people to burnout, whilst others release passion and turn Rick Lozano into a training rock-star?

Many people approach leadership (and human resource management) from an “addition” point-of-view. If I need to add more results, I need to add more people. If I want to add more revenue, it will add more costs. This is not going to work in today’s environment, says Liz Wiseman. today, resources are scarce, costs and being cut and more and more people are heading toward burnout. So we need to get a “multiplying” mindset. Or as my good friend and colleague Oisin Varian says ( whenever he can 🙂 “It’s not working harder, it’s working smarter.”

According to Liz Wiseman, effective leaders today function within a “logic of multiplication”. Instead of adding more, then try to create more connections. Like my friend at KPMG told me, managers try to help people function better in networks, providing access to new opportunities for development and more flow. Rather than trying to add (unavailable) resources, the focus is on utilisation of available resources. And not squeezing more out, but igniting more passion, creativity and collaboration.

Being a multiplier starts with how you see your workforce: Some leaders see highly productive people, working like crazy and immediately think: “Good.” Others look at those people trying to find ways to be smarter, more agile and more innovative.

Wiseman quoted CK Prahalad for saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s how quickly you access what other people know.” We live in the collaboration era. It’s all about mobility, connectivity, sharing and crowd-creation.

So what do multipliers actually do?

In her book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter”, Liz Wiseman outlines 5 main activities:

  • Talent identification and management. Managers who multiply work on identifying the core talents of people and try to find ways to put them to work. They extract all of the capability from all of the people. They become talent magnets.
  • They liberate the worker. From constraints, administration, micro-management. They give people space to breathe, work and grow. Think of the Google 20% and how other companies are adopting it.
  • To multiple results in a workforce, managers must create more debate. The power of “team-spirit” is in putting people together to create something new. Debate and conflict around traditions, processes and problems lead to something new. Consider De Bono’s 6 hats… By creating debate, managers get more buy-in and accountability for decisions.
  • In addition to challenging the status quo, managers who multiply create challenges for their people in order to stretch and grow them.
  • Multiplying managers give their people responsibility and invest in their success. This in turn, leads to more investment from the employee.
  • If you are interested in Liz’s ideas, read the book or watch the video:

  • Video trailer
  • …and this additional resource (PDF) gives a synopsis of the core ideas presented
  • Karl Kapp on Gamification

    Session W209 of the ASTD2013 ICE featured Karl Kapp, world leading expert on gamification talking about how gamification can improve learning.


    Gamification is the use of game-based mechanics or game thinking to promote learning, motivate action and solve problems.

    In the US, the military have used massive open online multiplayer games to define military strategy in Somalia, combatting problems with pirates. Others, like the fun theory folk, have used game mechanics to encourage people to use the stairs or recycle bottles or stop speeding. The applications are numerous. What can we do with this in learning?

    According to Kapp, many of the things we do in learning do not inherently tap into the natural motivations of the user. We invite people to partake in static learning environments and hope that they will get involved and change behaviour. Sitting in a training room, experts share models and ideas, we take part in reality-based exercises and try to integrate what we are learning. It can be a struggle to learn or keep the attention and effort of participants, many of whom would sometimes rather be elsewhere. If we used some game-mechanics in the same way companies like EA or the Angry Birds people did, we could do so much better.

    The first things Kapp told us is that great games are about interactivity and immersion. They are not about awesome graphics, or franchises linked to movies. In fact, some of the most expensive-to-develop games are vey disappointing for the user and do not result in much flow or satisfaction. In reality, game-based activities can be very simple. Like my experiment with gamification at the dinner table.


    So: It’s not about points

    Although games like Adobe’s “Level Up” up can work well, the first thing to know is that gamification is not (only) about adding points or leaderboards to show progress or reward people for their efforts. In a comedy conference moment, Kapp noted that if that was true, progress wars would be the most popular game on the planet. On a more serious note, he asked us to think about what happens at home and in schools when gold-stars are used to motivate children to behave well: It works at the start, but before you know it you are negotiating more-and-more rewards to get the same behaviour. If money, sweets, stars or points are the only tools you have to motivate people, you are doomed to fail. Gamification is much more than that. That misunderstanding is the reason why Gartner says many gamification attempts will fail.


    What can you do to use gamification in learning?

    The possibilities with gamification are enormous, ranging from using one or two simple game mechanics to enhance the learning experience, to creating complete games as the entire learning solution, to simply piggy-backing on a non-relevant game to pass across important messages. Regarding this let option, Kapp told about one company that asks their people to play a simple online game for 2 minutes a day and during the this seemingly random game, a mini-quiz question related to safety and security pops up to remind them of important procedures. Nobody minds this corporate intrusion, because they are still having fun for 99%.


    What kinds of game-mechanics are we talking about?

    Again, there are SO many options. When I spoke at the Epsilon conference on the topic of gamification, I noted 9 game-mechanics that could be interesting to integrate in learning programs. The Wikipedia entry on game mechanics offers others.

    Kapp spoke about a few in detail. These are listed here… Concrete applications for your learning tracks and training are discussed later…

    • Context and story is used a lot in games. Players are immersed in appealing environments that makes sense to them. You can read about my user-experience with “Zombies, Run!” in this short article on the ASTD blog page: “The Gamification Experience – What Does It Feel Like?”
    • Missions and levels are used to “up” the challenge and give players something to strive for
    • Open-ended problems and mystery create learner intrigue
    • Fantasy is used to get learners out of their known environment. A game like “Merchants” can be used to create negotiation skills, whilst playing a venetian trader
    • Immediate feedback is used in games like Pacman to let you know all the time where you are and how you are doing
    • Characters and avatars can be used to improve motivation


    Simple game-based ideas for trainers and instructional designers to implement today

    • Don’t start training with learning objectives. It is a closed-loop that tells you what you need to know. It doesn’t intrigue. Try instead to start with an open-loop. Create a challenge that gets people involved and motivated. For example, give them a question or activity that gets them thinking immediately about a problem they have to solve.
    • Give people lives to lose. This gives permission to fail. When we get 3 lives at the start of a game, we immediately understand the assumption that we are going to die and that it’s OK.
    • Give feedback in different ways. This could be points and progress bars. Or it could be sound… Kapp spoke about security compliance training that used a big “boom” sound and the image of an explosion to reinforce incorrect behaviour and “scare” participants into not wanting to do it again!
    • Use characters and story in exercises that take people a little bit out of their natural working context
    • ..but don’t forget that those activities must be linked to the actual learning. Don’t use random challenges or ice-breakers.
    • When you use a game-based exercise in training, be sure to introduce it in the same way you would do any other exercise: Introduction, play, debrief.
    • Be sure to test, dry-run and retest your game efforts to get feedback on how they work and be sure you are using them to reinforce the right behaviours.


    If like me, you are wondering how to actually INVENT games, Kapp gives some simple advice in this short interview I conducted for Kluwer at ASTD.


    For more resources, check out:


    Evaluating informal learning or focussing on what counts?

    Session W112 is about to kick-off with Saul Carliner, Associate Professor of Concordia University (Montreal). On the last day of the conference, it is good to see so many smiley learning geeks still ready to soak up some information. And the big surprise already is that Saul is actually able to engage the audience… Even though he is an academic 🙂 Let’s go: “Evaluating Informal Learning”…


    For several years now, the learning world has been talking about the importance of “informal” learning. It has always been around and has always been important, but we recognise more-and-more today that most learning happens in an informal way. The question is: If learning is happening all by itself, without any control and design by learning professionals, (how) can we evaluate its effectiveness?

    At the start of the session, I had a chance to let the speaker know what was my own personal question today is: “Should we even bother trying to evaluate informal learning?” More on this later….

    First: Let’s be sure we know what we are talking about. What is “informal learning”?

    Defining it by saying its not formal learning is not good enough. According to our speaker, we need to be specific about our definition. My own approach to defining different types of learning has always been quite straight-forward. There are 3 types of learning:


    • 1 and 2 are examples of when the learner intentionally seeks out learning, in any way, sometimes training
    • In the 3rd example, the learning is non-intentional: Without a conscious effort and action from the learner, something is learnt.
    • I call “1” formal learning
    • I call “2” non-formal learning
    • I call “3” informal learning

    …today, our speaker refers to “2” and “3” together as “informal” learning and that is the subject of the session.


    According to Hodkinson, Malcolm and Wihak, “informal” learning is about the following 5 aspects:

    • The process – how learning happened, ie: not in training
    • The learning location – where it happened, ie: not the training room
    • The purpose of the activity itself – either the learner took action in a non-formal way (“2”) or the learning was a secondary by-product of some other activity
    • The content – the type of content and platform was something other than formal/training
    • Consciousness – the learner may or may not have known that she was learning; “HR” wasn’t consciously controlling it

    Traditionally, how do we evaluate learning in organisations? Can we do this for “informal” learning?

    The framework most learning professionals have been using for some time is Kirkpatrick’s 4 Level evaluation model. In this model we look at how people react to learning, which knowledge, skills or attitude they actually acquire, how they behave after the learning and the impact on business results (in terms of key business drivers).


    When it comes to “informal” learning, some levels of this evaluation system are not so easy to achieve:

    • As an example, suppose you want to evaluate the satisfaction of on-the-job training (L1). Several problems may arise. Was the OTJ training announced to the people who would evaluate it? Did they know when it would take place? How many people were being trained on the job? If it is only one person, you can’t do a good statistical analysis of the results achieved in order to update and improve the approach.
    • In another example, we discussed the difficulty of assessing the learning taken from an online “help” system. Somebody has clicked on a page to read some “help” information, but who? Why? What did they think of the information? Could they use it? Did work approach and results improve?


    What can we do to evaluate this type of learning?

    Who is already evaluating “informal” learning in line with Kirkpatrick’s levels and how?

    Saul Carliner shared examples of some different organisations or professions we might not already have thought about and how they achieve evaluation of “informal” learning. These use Kirkpatrick’s levels to varying degrees. You might be able to use the same approaches:

    • Museums use interview-based techniques to find out from visitors what they thought of the museum and what they learnt. They leave visitor books where people can write down their comments when they want to. Museums with touch-screen information and interactive presentation systems can see who clicked on what, when and how long between the first click and second (which could suggest the amount of time spent absorbing information).
    • Marketeers have been struggling with the problem of evaluating their campaign success for years. The marketing blend consists of direct and indirect marketing, various platforms, multiple customer types and moments in time. Marketeers measure sales during an advertising campaign.
      Brand-recognition and brand-loyalty are regularly measured before and after campaigns.
    • Web-designers and web-masters have built various functions into their sites in order to achieve effective web analytics. It is possible to measure all sorts of different metrics to evaluate user behaviour.

    Some ideas of how to evaluate “informal” learning in the workplace

    Saul Carliner suggested some simple ideas for evaluating “informal” learning…

    Suppose we have an employee seeking a promotion. She joined an IT consulting company after getting a degree in web-development 6 years ago and wants now to show what consulting skills and knowledge she has acquired in the last 6 years, in order to get a promotion. But being a billable consultant, she hasn’t had the opportunity for any formal training since her induction to the company and nobody knows what she “did”; nothing is in the LMS. How can we evaluate her learning?


    What would you do?

    • By doing interviews and coaching your people, you can find out what they know. Clever interview techniques like STAR and intentional coaching methods like GROW can help us assess what our IT consultant learnt and did since joining the company.
    • Another approach you could use to see how people are learning is to put something in place to help your people create a work-portfolio that shows their development over time. Artists and musicians have been doing this for years: They collect drawings and track-lists that show what they have done and that indicate the acquisition and implementation of different knowledge, skills, attitude, behaviour and results.
    • As a side-note, my children’s school (Steiner) has a pedagogy which seems to outsiders far more informal than classical school environments. The standards are there, but we don’t see them so easily. Bearing in mind that the kids are able to create their own learning experience and do what they want in some disciplines, it could be difficult to assess their learning. What does Steiner do? They simply collect a portfolio throughout the year that represents the activities the children have done and the results these activities have given.

    But I think that what is going on in this discussion is in fact an example of something far more important and disturbing (dramatic music)….

    What struck me is that some of these methods are not new at all: Interview, coaching and assessments (for example) have been going on for years for all types of formal learning requirements. These can be used to evaluate “informal” learning as well. But:

    I have the feeling that people “worrying” about evaluating “informal” learning have been thinking only about the learning process and not so much the results. As learning and development professionals, many like to show the value of their work, as if they have to defend the learning they designed and delivered. But as we start to recognise that much of the learning process is not a result of designed and delivered formal learning work, things might get a bit scary for those same L+D professionals. How will I show what I have done (read: controlled) and how will I prove my worth? As we saw above (OTJ training and response to “help” pages) it’s difficult to get a good idea of how people respond to “informal” learning. My feeling in today’s session is that this bothers some people in the L+D profession.



    In session W112 of the ASTD2013 conference, we interchanged usage of the word “learning” freely between two different meanings: “What was done” and “what people are competent for”. If we focus on what was done to learn, we have an evaluation problem. If we focus on competence (and business results) there is no problem.


    So in fact the bottom line for me here = Who cares how people learnt? What matters is what they do and the business results we get. Forget your happy sheets and forget testing acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitude. Look at how people behave and the results they are getting and support that. As a profession, we need to stop getting caught up looking for ways to do what we always did in the past. It doesn’t work today. Not because things have changed, but because we are growing as a profession. We recognise that learners can (and do!) do things by themselves and we need to support them by creating a culture and environment that is open to all learning types and that supports sharing things and helps to capture the output of “informal” learning for the benefit of others with intention.


    As I discussed with my new-found friend @JD_Dillon today whilst pretending not to stalk Karl Kapp


    “2013 is about forgetting learning management processes and control and focusing on the user experience and business outcomes”

    Bringing some rock and roll to your training

    Rick Lozano is engaging people. Correction: He is ROCKING people. Literally. With a guitar!


    During ASTD2013 session TU100 we are learning about what the world of rock and roll can bring to training. Rick thinks that too much training is boring, dry and non-engaging. Here are 15 ideas inspired by rock concerts and the music world that you can bring into your training to create more energy:


    • Send a trailer introducing the key concepts of your training
    • Ask participants to introduce themselves by video before training
    • Make a poster pointing the way to the room
    • Shake hands with everyone at the door
    • Have some music on when people come in the room
    • Be creative with your materials, table gear, toys etc…
    • Use Vine App during training – ask participants to make a random stop-motion video
    • Gamify your training class by giving points for random things like showing up on time
    • Get them taking pictures of each other during training
    • Ask participants to go and record a mini-film (interview) of your problem on the work-floor, like a journalist
    • Take requests from your participants – ask them RIGHT NOW what you can deliver, tell or give right now
    • Get people to stand up. Do some energy-raising exercises.
    • Do something different for a minute. Just a minute. Anything.
    • Use to collect ideas during training
    • Create your own app with so people can share their experience after training


    The basic idea is that we can do more to engage people, thank them for their time and make learning more fun.

    My first worry was that people in Belgium might not dig it and I can imagine a lot of my colleagues saying “It’s too American” or “We’re engineers… This is stupid”. Well, let’s just see about that… To something and see if you can bring a little rock into your learning world.


    Thanks for the music Rick!


    If you knew your brain, you would develop talent differently

    Retaining and developing talent is not what you think it is.

    ASTD2013 session M106 was led by David Rock from the NeuroLeadership Institute. Based on the meta-research of thousands of Neuro-science studies, the NeuroLeadership Institute says that we can really do a much better job of helping leaders make decisions and solve problems, regulate emotions, collaborate with others and facilitate change.

    Today, we are talking about developing talent. To structure to his session, David spoke around his 50,000 foot view of talent development, which is a 5-step process…

    (Note: For what follows, I have not quoted the scientific research or resources referenced by David. Please contact him directly for that. Just take everything noted here as true, with the assumption that its all proven by the neuro-science.)

    There are different kinds of talent philosophy and you should think about your own

    Some people think that leaders are naturally born and there is nothing you can develop. You are either born “smart” or you are not. You can’t change much. With this point-of-view, giving feedback and “stretch-goals” is considered dangerous because there is no point trying to develop people. It will only make things worse. The brain feels threatened by such approaches.

    Others (like most of today’s attendees) believe that leadership competences can be acquired and developed. By using assessment and development, coaching, training, performance management etc.. we can help people improve.

    Interestingly, David Rock adds that each individual’s capacity for personal development may depend on which of these philosophies he or she believes in. We are primed to grow (or not) based on our perception and those with the growth mindset have, for example, much better more active brain responses to feedback and performance evaluation.

    You need to know which are the most important talents to develop in today’s leaders

    David says that in the past values, strengths, general and emotional intelligence were considered as the most important talents to develop in leaders.

    Today values, strengths and general intelligence remain important, but emotional intelligence is a turn-off phrase for managers. New talent ideas to develop include self and social regulation, adaptive intelligence, network intelligence and global mindset.

    But in addition, given our highly networked mobile connected environment, David adds that we must now pay even more particular attention to assessing and developing team talent. He says that collective intelligence is far greater than the sum total of the intelligence of its individuals. This is proven and must be remembered. I see an interesting link to what Shari Yocum said yesterday about analysing informal social networks

    Assess talent correctly

    David says that classic assessments may not be the best way to search out talent. Most of our approaches to assessment only assess people’s ability to do assessments. In other words, clever people who can spot patterns in the assessment process come out better.

    He adds that classic interview processes also fail for recruiting (or developing) real talent. The people who perform best in interviews are the people who perform best in interviews. In my own experience, I have seen countless engineers and techy people who fail miserably to express (read “sell”) themselves in interviews. But they would have otherwise been a good match for the competences required.

    Add to that the fact that everyone assessing the talent of others will be massively biased and its clear that these approaches to talent assessment are doomed to failure.

    What does David suggest? At the NeuroLeadership Institute, they recruit people by giving them concrete measurable tasks to perform that are as close to the reality of the work as possible. An editor is given a document with 100 errors and asked to edit it. A salesman is asked to go out on the floor and sell something. An engineer is asked to design something. As a side-note, reading “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?”, you can see that Google suggest the same approach…

    Develop talent. (And its not about performance management)

    According to David Rock, you can forget about performance management and performance evaluation. People are not happy with it, they say it doesn’t create any significant change in performance and rarely reflects employee contributions. This seems SO wrong. Why?

    Firstly, Rock says that humans are not wired for feedback. Getting feedback activates some of the same parts of the brain as dying (!!!). It is scary. And we are not capable of listening properly to people. Especially not if they are different to us. Which everyone is.

    Secondly, there is too much focus on the process within performance management and not enough on what happens during the actual conversation and dialogue. The Neuro-scientist knows that status, certainty, perceived autonomy, relatedness and fairness all have an impact on our (in)ability to have good dialogue. Which is one of the building blocks of effective for most performance evaluation moments.

    Finally, having performance evaluations once a year is not going to work. Intuitively, we already knew this.

    So what can you do about all this? David Rock says there is SO much we could do (and encourages you to read his research) but adds that if you could only do ONE thing today, it should be to help the leaders involved in talent development, performance management and evaluation to understand the impact they have on others and what is going on in the brain.

    Thanks for reading!

    Bring some Disney magic to your learning customers

    The ASTD2013 session M319 with Disney is packed. It’s hot (it’s Texas!) and there is a promise in the air of a great session on the importance of customer service in business and in learning.


    Disney is famous for its customer service. Many years ago, dear old Walt said that his people should “give the public everything you can give them”. Is this relevant for learning? If so, how?


    Firstly, a question: What is customer service anyway?

    The classic definition is about having the highest standards and meeting needs. At Disney, it’s about exceeding expectations through attention to details. In order to achieve this kind of service, you first need to have a clear idea of your own customer service values and mission. And then you need to act accordingly.


    Exceeding customer expectations

    Stu Levine shared a story about a small boy who lost his teddy bear at Disney, unknowingly leaving for home without it. When the staff found the bear in room 217, their customer-centric values came into action….

    Classic (poor) service would have meant putting the bear in the lost and found and waiting to see if the family calls. Unrealistic and unsustainable customer service would have been sending the top employee to drive the bear back to the boy’s home 1000km away and hand-delivering it to the boy with full-on Disney movie music and heavenly lights.

    What did Disney do? They took the bear to 2 or 3 attractions in the theme park and took a few pictures of it on the rides. Then they printed the pictures and put them in a box with the bear and a note saying “Sorry I was late home. Had a great time at the park.” Then they sent the box back home to its owner. The motivation for this? Well, for Disney, “even if its not our fault, its our problem.” According to Stu Levine, this “little Wow” is what Disney is thriving for in their customer service. They go the extra mile because they have a clear idea of their customer service values and mission. And then they act accordingly.


    It’s all in the details

    A major principle that Disney uses to deliver magical customer service is that in everything they do they put the customers’ needs and context first. In order to do that Disney relentlessly studies their guests and what they really want. And then they act accordingly.

    For example, one of the most regular questions that Disney theme park employees receive is “What time is the parade?” A bad customer service would be to answer that “It’s in the brochure you received on arrival.” Classic service would be to answer “It’s at 3pm.” Good customer service would be to answer that “The parade starts at Frontier Land at 3pm and it’ll be here by 3.15 so you want to be standing over there by the restaurant by about 3pm.”

    The Disney approach is to think about what the customer really wants (their situation, values and needs) and then to go the extra mile to deliver what really counts for them. This means not focussing on facts and process, but focussing on delivering real value to the customer: “The parade starts at 3pm in Frontier Land and will pass by here by about 3.15. But if you have the time to go over to Frontier Land now, there are less people watching the parade there and you can get some shade from the sun with your kids. The tram is over there, just about to go, but I’ll get them to wait a moment for you.”


    Listening to Levine, I want to propose 6 simple ideas to help you deliver this kind of service

    When you read these notes, ask yourself: “What does this mean to me and how will I use it to improve my learning offer…?”

    • Know your values and priorities and use them as guiding principles to make service choices. In a Disney theme park its all about (in order of priority) safety, courtesy, show and efficiency
    • Do an outstanding job of getting to know your learners
    • Be aware of the impact you can have on the emotions of your customers. People might forget the details and might forget what happened, but they won’t forget the feelings they had.
    • Create the customer experience from the very first second
    • Pay attention to the little details. No one of them is by itself going to ruin the show for everyone, but every one of them has the potential to be noticed one of your learning customers. For better or for worse.
    • Make sure you can always deliver the answer to your learners most important 3 questions


    To wrap the session, a few wise words from Mr Disney himself:
    “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them”


    Good luck!



    Key learning design steps to get right, unless you don’t want any change

    Day 2 of ASTD2013 seems to be taking a theme and it is this: What we are doing in the learning doesn’t work!

    In session M200, speaker Francis Wade is helping us to understand why it is so difficult to create real change with learning programmes and to see what we can do about it. As an example, he is using a time management training case. Francis says that the dream of instructional designers and trainers is this: “If we figure out the behaviour and tell it to the learners, they will listen and they will do it.” But they don’t.

    They don’t listen because they are über-connected and under-attentive. They don’t have the time to learn and they are not motivate for new behaviours.

    And they don’t do it for several reasons:

    What you wanted them to do was not clear enough

    In my own definition, I say learning is the acquisition and implementation of knowledge, skills and attitude. Francoise Wade is interested in the “implementation” part of that definition that will help us to do it better, forcing us to work better with our learning design. According to Francis: “They haven’t learned anything unless you can observable, measure and coach new (correct) behaviour.” This means that before you design your learning, you need to be 100% clear on what behaviour you expect afterwards, to what standards and in which contexts. This will allow you to do a good level 3 evaluation afterwards.

    It wasn’t relevant to their own reality

    Most people don’t receive any formal learning on topics like time management until after the age of 20 years old. When they come to training, they come with a whole lot of baggage. Ignore that at your peril. Training that consists of shoving knowledge at participants and expecting it to be relevant will not work. You need to use the participants’ own experience as an integral part of the learning process so that they see how to integrate learning into their reality.

    You gave them what they asked for

    Managers have a tendency to ask for tips and some new knowledge in an attempt to solve business problems. Learning participants who complete some form of intake questionnaire will also tell you what they know or don’t know, do well and do badly, need and don’t need. But both the managers and employees are biased. And they are not learning experts. And they are impatient and unrealistic and demanding.

    Before you do anything, first see what they are actually doing right now and assess how this impacts the bottom line of business performance results in terms of 5 key business drivers. Now you have a solid benchmark of what is needed, instead of a Christmas list.

    You ignored them when they were most motivated to change behaviour

    It is not uncommon for trainers working on things like time management to run into participants a few weeks or months later and hear that “It was good and fun, but I haven’t managed to do anything with it yet.” All the good intentions that may have been built up during training are left aside when we step out of the room.

    Francis Wade says that it is important to have a post-training support system in place for participants, but that giving a set of tools to training participants for this doesn’t work. It would be better to encourage them to themselves create their own post-training support system. This will help them to tie their own needs and learning to their own context and resources and will be more motivating.

    As a side-note, read my ASTD post “before all that self and social learning, one last little training for everyone.”

    At the beginning of Francis’ session I thought I may have made a mistake with my choice, as it started to sound like I was hearing things I already knew about learning program design. And I did. And I still do.

    But am I doing them? Are you? And if not, why not?

    Thanks for reading. My trip to ASTD2013 is sponsored by Kluwer Training in Belgium. Be sure to check out their blog page for posts from my Kluwer colleagues at the conference and many other lent inning resources.

    Ken Robinson on your element, education and unique extraordinary life

    “One of the most influential thinkers in creativity today” says FAST Company
    “Knight of the royal realm” says the Queen of England
    “Keynote speaker to kick off the ICE” says ASTD2013

    According to Ken Robinson, it is early. Too early. Having spent the night trying to remember how to sleep, he is not sure it’s actually a pleasure to be at ASTD2013 today. But he is here. And he’s got a message to share.

    Referring to the chainsaw juggling duo The Passing Zone who introduced Tony Bingham’s speech this morning, Sir Ken reminds us that we each have deep talents and you have to work to find them. When The Passing Zone were at school, neither of them had an idea that they would spend the rest of their lives juggling. They didn’t get taught it at school and they would never have said it would be their future.

    The Passing Zone love what they do. They have passion. What is your passion? Sir Robinson says that every person IS something. Every person has talent that speaks to them, that animates them. When we find that something, we will never work again. We will do what we love and get paid for it. It will change everything.

    But if you want to discover that passion and talent, you have to create the right environments. He adds that many organisations do not do this. Schools neither.

    The school system created during the industrial revolution is supposed to get everyone learning the same things in the same way. As Robinson said in his famous TED talk, the school system was not designed to help a young child discover the joy of juggling, or to feel the wonder of balancing accounts. Or to help a top-class concert pianist realise that, in fact, she wants to be an editor.

    Ken Robinson tells us that we are facing an education and happiness crisis. In the US, more money is spent on education (per head) than any other country and class sizes are smaller. Yet more people drop out than anywhere else and less people graduate. And if that wasn’t worrying enough, Robinson also tells us that in the US more drugs are sold for depression and psychological issues than anything else. People are unhappy. And people NEED to be happy.

    Why is this? Why are we not making it through school and coming out awesomely happy, working in line with our passion and talents? What can we do about it?


    Firstly, Ken Robinson wants to remind us that we are unique. Since the beginning of time, there have probably been around 100 billion people on Earth. And they have all been different. No-one on Earth has ever had the same life you are leading right now. And never will. As the Dalai Lama said to Ken Robinson at a recent Vancouver conference on world peace through inner-peace: “The fact that you are alive at all is a miracle. So what are you going to do with it?”

    Secondly, you have to realise that you are responsible for making your own life. You are given life …but you are not given your CV when you are born. Your own story, successful or not, is a result of your own talent, personal disposition and circumstance. Ken Robinson underlines the importance of this last point and says that we need to create circumstances in which people can flourish, discover their talents and make them grow. We can all be creative, we can all do something special and people need to be given opportunities to explore.

    As the folks at the BlueMan Group say “If ordinary people can find their element, extraordinary things can happen.”

    Think about it.

    DANs closing questions:

  • If you are in learning and development, what can you do to create learning environments that stimulate real creativity and drive people to flourish and bring out their element?
  • If you are a parent, how you do the same for your children?
  • And if you are not awesomely happy yourself doing what brings you strength, fulfilling your own personal quest and working in line with your own personal element, what are you going to do about it?
  • ps Check out my Daily Dallas Weather Reports on

    Thanks for reading.
    Please come to session TU306 and share this article.

    Tony Bingham (still) encourages you to go mobile (again)

    Following this morning’s Acrobatic Stunt Tempting Death with the awesome and funny comedy juggling duo The Passing Zone, ASTD President Tony Bingham opens the second day of the ASTD2013 ICE in Dallas.

    What’s on Tony’s mind today?
    According to Tony Bingham, the “me, me, me generation” is having an impact on how we do learning today. Our new learning participants have grown up on fast self-service mobile connected learning. They don’t want to sit in slow static training classes, 6 months later than they asked for it. The traditional model of static HR-organised boring learning is not going to work forever. We need to deliver a new learning model. Generation Y will prevail. Are you on the train?

    …and it’s not just the kids
    Tony Bingham tells us that even if it is the younger generation that has forced us to be aware of new (learning) needs, the issues are relevant for everyone. He asks if anyone still thinks that mobile is going away, despite the fact that there are more mobile devices in commission that humans on the planet. He encourages the learning community not to pass-off mobile as a fad that will go away, or use the “fad-argument” as an excuse for inaction. And he tells us to take more action. At the moment, not enough people are taking up the opportunity: Only 31% of learning organisations utilise mobile to deliver content. Mobile IS here to stay and it’s a great opportunity.

    On a personal note, I heard this same point from Tony Bingham last year on day 2 and apparently it was on the opening agenda in 2011 as well. This begs the following questions:

  • Are the folks at ASTD the only ones who think we should adopt mobile?
  • Or are learning people all late adopters?
  • Or am I just impatient, unaware of the natural adoption curve of any new technology (it will take another 10 years….)?
  • If you ARE going mobile, here are some tips:

  • Make learning lessons short and easy to digest
  • Keep your visuals simple
  • Don’t include too much actual “interaction” with the device during the lesson. This causes problems when implementing across diverse device types.
  • Don’t let the IT and risk departments brush off mobile learning and “bring-your-own-device schemes as any more risky than other things, like laptops, USB sticks, email and phonecall. Separate what is confidential and what is not and for what is not, think about what you can push-out with mobile.
  • Identify the early adopters and work with them
  • Read the ASTD literature on the topic
  • Think mobile. Put it in your design approach, at least asking the question: Is mobile relevant here?
  • Thank you Tony!

    ps I had the chance to speak with Tony prior to the conference. You can read the interview here.
    …and don’t forget to watch the Daily Dallas Weather Reports live from ASTD2013 on

    Analysing and evaluating informal social networks

    ASTD2013 session SU301 is all about informal networks. Many learning professionals have heard that informal networks are extremely influential, also “producing” the vast majority of learning in an organisation.


    Yet HR people traditionally put most of their efforts into formal processes, communications, learning or training initiatives and well-defined communities of practice or functional/organisational charts. We like to control and measure things and when we hear about anything informal, we imagine ourselves as potentially helpless.

    But in fact, HR and learning professionals can really have impact on organisational performance and development by taking the time to analyse these informal networks and use findings to support succession planning, engagement, knowledge sharing…. Shari Yocum tells us how.


    Learning and HR professionals have a lot of tools at their disposition, but key business results still need improvement

    Our speaker tells us that despite the myriad of tools available for learning and development (performance reviews, to training, succession planning, coaching and assessments…) many business leaders still don’t see HR as a trusted partner who actually gets things done. They say that HR needs to better focus on the key business areas that create value. As Kevin Cope might say in session W310, they need more business acumen. And according to Shari Yocum, effective analysis of informal business networks will help those same HR people to become strategic partners who lead change, developing leaders and cultivating the organisational culture. Sounds good! Lets go…


    Why are we talking about informal networks and social network analysis today?

    We are shown a video of Gini Rometty, CEO IBM, who reminds us that we are now in a knowledge era and that it is not processes and conveyors belts that create great results. It is people. We need to “understand the social network not as [our] water-cooler, but as [our] new production line.”

    In that culture, the informal networks that exist across the functional and divisional organisation charts found on the intranet have a massive impact on the way things actually happen. They can make or break change initiatives. They can communicate for you. They learn by themselves. A “conversation with Jim” affects me more than anything I might receive from HR or the CEO.

    At the moment, according to Yocum, many HR tools help us to understand individual employees and their function, problems and needs. But they don’t get far enough into the network to which the person belongs. Yet that network is massively important.


    OK, it sounds good, but what exactly are we talking about here? Let’s define some network terms…


    Yocum defines a network as a structure made up of a set of actors (such as employees) and a complex set of ties between them. This network consists of:

    • A node, which in human organisational terms would be the employee
    • Links that may be weak or strong, direct or indirect, reciprocal or not
    • Hubs, which can be considered as a node with a lot of connections going through them

    Different parts of the network are considered as more central (relevant or important) than others. This might be based on proximity to others or their position in the network “flow”.


    Specific nodes within a network can be seen as:

    • Bottlenecks to success, which is considered here as how things flow through the network
    • Unsung heroes who do invisible work” that supports the network, but may not be seen in the organisational charts
    • Key people on who others depend. If removed from the network, others in the network find themselves without the connection they need.
    • Brokers connect 2 or more others who would not otherwise naturally be connected
    • Isolated people, that seem un-connected


    Networks within themselves can be evaluated in terms of (non-exhaustive list):

    • Density, sparsity or clique-y-ness
    • Cohesion: Highly cohesive = a high-level of reciprocity
    • Structurally unsound, because there are holes in there
    • With multiple attributes of varying importance
    • ..etc etc…


    For more information about the different elements of a network, here are some references:


    What can be done with social/informal network analysis?

    According to Shari Yocum, effective network analysis can show many extremely important things in an organisation. Without much analysis skill, you could easily see:

    • Who is likely to be dissatisfied due to insufficient network (no-one to go to for answers, blocked from important functional nodes)
    • Who has a lot of influence in a network
    • Who represents a risk to business success, should leave the organisation (structural hole)
    • Where business results are slowed down (bottlenecks)
    • Which parts of the organisation are most likely to grow and learn “all by themselves”
    • Which departments are thriving and which are slowly dying
    • Where and how human resource deficiencies are having an impact on performance
    • What might be the impact of relocation or promotion
    • Which people could create better results in another part of the organisation
    • Which departments or people should be “copy/pasted” into other areas of the business

    My own feeling listening to Shari is that this list of applications could go on and on. The concepts of network analysis seem very important to me today. AND I am starting to see a trend today on “seeing the bigger picture” in terms of the organisation and its performance. More on this later…


    Thanks for reading.
    Please leave a comment or subscribe to the blog.


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