Monthly Archives: June 2013

The trouble with passion and purpose at work

Passion and purpose. Everything you need to get started with motivation. Right?

Many HR professionals and leaders seem convinced today that the key to motivating workers is to unlock and release their passion. But will it work?

At the ASTD2013 ICE this year, I heard from 4 people about this topic and my first impression was one of inspiration (again) and awe (again) at how right they were, how amazing their stories were and how cool the results they got were. But today, no longer under the influence of conference-buzz, I’m not so sure. MAYBE only one of their stories is relevant…

 

Person number 1: Sir Ken Robinson told us that people need to find their “element”. The “element” is the true passion each person has that is the driving spirit of intrinsic motivation. Find it and work is no longer work – it’s joy for which you are paid. Sound great!

Persons number 2 and 3 Jon and Owen from “The Passing Zone”, confirmed Sir Ken’s speech: If you really love it and want it, just do it and great things will follow. They told me that it might be tough, but that you shouldn’t worry about going for it.

But how is this relevant for leaders and the HR folk who want to motivate people? I worry that it is not. Is it possible to use the idea of passion and purpose to motivate people in an organisation? Or is it a dream that will create lots of buzz, but ultimately go nowhere?

 

Maybe if we back-track a little and define motivation, it may help. Two possibilities come to mind:

  • Verb “to motivate” = to give someone a reason or motive to act
  • Noun “motivation” = something you have that drives you to act

Thinking of the verb, we could imagine that HR and leaders will need to find the ways in which they can push or pull people working towards awesomeness. In the past, they may have focused more on carrots and sticks, but today the tendency is to talk about unlocking passion and purpose. But how exactly are they planning on doing this? My passion is surfing … Good luck putting that to work!

Thinking of the noun, motivation is something you have (or don’t have). It’s not something you will give to me. If I am not passionate about accounting, you can’t make me passionate about it. And if you aren’t interested in my music passion in your company, we are in trouble…

 

So here is the problem as I see it: Passion and purpose is what motivates people and the best results come from finding it and unlocking it. HR and leaders need to release this passion. But you can’t give it to someone. So what do you do?

 

I see two approaches:

 

Person number 4 at the ASTD conference was Rick Lozano, who told us that one day his manager asked him: “What are you passionate about?” Rick replied “I like developing courses” and his manager said: “That’s not what I mean. I mean “passionate”…” Rick hesitatingly replied “music” and his manager instructed him to find ways to bring THAT to work.

Read my TU100 session notes here to find out what he did

This first approach is an example of a manager (leader, HR..) using the concept of passion to motivate someone and get better results. I love the story and seeing how Rick has integrated music into his work as a trainer is very inspiring. I just don’t believe that those kind of stories are so evident or possible in every job. If a call-centre agent loves stripping (I met one!) she can’t put THAT to work. And how can the average banker bring his love of circus, golf or fishing to work?

 

The second approach is, in my mind, the only real workable solution and probably the one intended by Sir Ken Robinson: Schooling for and spotting passion and recruiting passion for your company.

What would this mean? Firstly, it means that at school, we need to create environments that allow each individual amazing little human being to figure out what they love. Robinson spoke about this in his famous TED speech. To achieve this, we will need to let go of our wish to produce standardised “good” students who pass all the same tests to all the same standards.

Then we will have to help people who have found their passion to put it to work. We will need to help people to navigate the vast myriad of existing and future possibilities in order to find the place to add value to the world via their work.

And companies will need to do a better job of recruiting the right people for the right jobs. They would not recruit for knowledge and skills and spend their time trying to motivate people to be passionate. They need to look for the people who have the right passion and drive already and (if necessary) develop the missing knowledge and skills later .. ..whilst just trying not to screw up the natural motivation that is already there.

 

In my opinion, if everyone were doing what she really loved and doing it well the world would indeed be a better place. We need to help people find that passion before they look for work, then recruit to get the right people in the right jobs. The rest will follow all by itself…

Are you feeling passionate at work?

 

 

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Boldness, Decision and Action

Look at this picture. What’s wrong with it?

20130615-205046.jpg

Looks tidy, right? Nice Paul McCartney poster? Nobody died..

This is the small room at the bottom of the stairs in my house. Opposite the sofa you can find my guitars. Sometimes I sit and play there. The door goes through to the entrance of the house and my wife’s office.

But what is that pile of DVDs doing there? We don’t have a television in that room and “all my other DVDs” are nicely organised in their own little space.

 

THAT pile of DVDs is what is wrong with my life and what is wrong with the lives of many other people. THAT pile of DVDs is unfinished, indecision and procrastination. It is the annoying remains of a DVD-classifying and tidying job. No-one knows where to put them and no-one has made a decision. Every time someone sees them, small silent curses are made about what the hell they are doing there, followed (in my case) by mini-anxiety about having to deal with them, but not being sure what to do and where to put them.

In life, many people have their own “pile of DVDs”: The thing at the bottom of the to-do list that isn’t getting done, the dripping tap in the bathroom or the CV that still hasn’t been posted for that job opportunity.

These things remain unfinished and undecided as we procrastinate our way around them. It seems easier to ignore them than to take action. But they niggle away at our souls because they are not in their right place. When I wake up and come down the stairs, the first thing I see is those damn DVDs. And when I go to bed, they are the last thing that crosses my path before sleep.

 

In some cases, the consequences of inaction are quite small: The untuned piano and out of place DVDs will not change much. I don’t lose any sleep and nothing bad will come of it.

But in others cases, the consequences of inaction can be far worse: That niggling image of more important unfinished business eats away at you, causing insomnia and anxiety. What will I do about the wall that looks like it might fall down? How will I pay my credit-card bill? When will I finally get started on living my dreams?

 

In all cases, until there is a boldness, decision and action, nothing will change. The boldness is about daring to move forward with things. The decision is about what matters most, your priorities, the things you want out of life and how you want to feel about yourself. And action is about taking small steps towards satisfaction, one-at-a-time.

 

Sometimes it takes a shock to the system to force you into action: The wall falls down, the bank freezes your credit-card or burnout leaves you depressed and out of work.

In many cases, one of the following ideas might help:

 

Regarding my DVDs, it was Tony Robbins’ idea that got me started: I have been focussing on almost everything else in my life but those DVDs and what that means to me is the same as what my ever-fattening belly means: I am letting some other things go to shit. Action? [Pause from writing]

 

…OK… 30 minutes later they are gone. Some have been put in the children’s rooms.. Disney and The Gruffalo. The music ones have been put with my CDs. And the rest are in the big cupboard with things to sell on eBay. (That last idea is my answer to David Allen’s question: “What is the next concrete action I will take?”)

Whilst tidying, I contemplate the importance of Seth Godin’s idea and realise that it often seems easier to do nothing, plod along and get the same results. Going for gold is scary. What will it look like? How will it work? What if I fail?

 

But if you want to tidy those DVDs, fix the scary threatening wall or find the job of your dreams, you need a little boldness, decision and action to get you on track.

5 reasons why Dan Steer and Barney Stinson are the same person, by Christophe Schmitz

During a recent presentation skills training, one of my participants suggested I was like Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother”. At the time, this meant nothing to me, as I had never seen the sitcom. 2 weeks later, I received a spontaneous email from another participant of that training, Christophe Schmitz, containing this text-based presentation…

As a side note, I’d say he learnt well 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Presentation by Christophe Schmitz…

Hi and Welcome to this absurd “presentation”.

One well known rule to make a high impact presentation is “know your audience”. Dan spoke about this during his presentation skills training at CSC.

And what better way to know people in the audience than knowing their entertainment interests? It could be a song, a book, a movie or even a sitcom .. whatever … People like and retain such things because they recognizes themselves in it …  And it probably reflects their personality.

 

Most of Dan’s training “audience” at CSC were born in the 1980’s (except me and Dan himself). They didn’t know “Top Gun” [we will talk about this later ] but they did know “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM)

During training  … one of them said:

 

You know Dan, you kinda look like Barney Stinson in the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”

 

..but Dan didn’t get it. He’d never seen it. Hence this “presentation”.

 

So: Does Dan Steer look like Barney Stinson ? Let’s see…

 

 

5 REASONS WHY DAN STEER IS BARNEY STINSON

 

 

Similarity number 1: They both like tweetable messages .. and both love how the word “Awesome” sounds

 

barney stinson awesome

 

Barney Stinson once said awesome is the answer to everything (video)

What does Dan say?

Here’s just 2 excerpts from his blog

  • “Follow my blog by entering your email address… Its free and its awesome “

 

..and if you’ve ever followed Presentation Skills training with Dan, you have heard this word a hundred times!

 

 

Similarity number 2: They both have “Awesome” presentation skills

If you’ve ever seen Dan present, you know he’s great.

…but Barney Stinson elevates presentations to a religious level. For example in his insane theory called the “Ewok appreciation” he explains the only obvious reason why his girlfriend Nora couldn’t like possibly like Ewoks (video)

As a side-note:

 

 

Similarity number 3:  They both “Air graph” [*]

(*) Air graph” is to presentation, what “air guitar” is to rock ‘n roll : It’s the ability of an individual to draw graphs in the air using nothing but its fingers and arms to mime an invisible graph.

We all know Dan Steer does this regulary in training 🙂 Often in our late-night CSC training sessions, lazy-Dan would stay seated and sketch out an entire graph or model with only his hands.

..and Barney Stinson definitely has the same skill (video)

 

barney stinson air graph

 

Similarity number 4:  Awesome Synthesis capabilities

Just like Dan Steer can resume your entire presentation of 15-or-more minutes in one minute, Barney Stinson can recap the entire sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” in less than one minute (video)

Similarity number 5:  They are both huge TOP GUN fans

If you’ve never seen Barney suit-up Top Gun style, watch the video here

…and everyone knows Dan Steer’s famous iPhone ring: “Top Gun Anthem Instrumental”

As I said in the introduction, movie interests can tell you a lot about people’s personalities 🙂

And so, to end this “presentation” (as Dan told us to), let’s summarize the 5 similarities:

  1. Tweetable awesome expressions
  2. Awesome presentation skills
  3. Awesome air graphs  !
  4. Awesome synthesis capabilities
  5. Awesome TOP Gun passion

In conclusion… Dan Steer and Barney Stinson are the same person !

And that is why knowing your audience entertainment interests can be of major importance

Thank you for your attention

Christophe Schmitz

 

 

ps from DAN: When I read this post, I thought I must check out HIMYM and I’m hooked. Thank you Christophe 🙂 Barney IS awesome 🙂

LinkedIN Praise for ASTD2013 TU306

If you are wondering what this post is all about, read the introduction post here

The following are comments from the LinkedIN group associated to my ASTD2013 ICE session TU306: Practical Use of Social Media for Formal Learning.

You can also see the tweets here..

Thanks for reading!

D

 

Hazel Jackson started a discussion in my LinkedIn group for TU306:

What was your highlight from Dan’s session in the ASTD conference yesterday? Mine was his energy and the ability to keep over 100 people in the palm of his hand at the end of a long learning day.

 

Here are some answers from the group…

  • Joelyne Marshall • My highlight was the looooonnnngggg list of resources he provided. Anyone can incorporate SoMe into their training – big or small. Thanks for asking!
  • Amy Kinnaird • Yep. Great resources and ideas for before, during and after training. Oh, and the box of chocolates I won was pretty cool, too!
  • Gloria Ortiz, MS IPT • I have to say that the resources are the biggest takeaway that I had in the training. I know that I will be learning for the next few weeks as I go through everything. Also, the resources being online mean that it is easy to share with people who had to stand out in the hall and couldn’t get in.
  • Lisa Metcalf • Dan opened up several doors for me regarding SM. So thank you, Dan! The practicality of using SM with our learners without it requiring heavy technical knowledge was exactly what I needed to see in action. My experience is that people try things without purpose and it turns people off to all things SM, which has happened to me many times. Now, I feel like I will be able to find the happy medium.
  • Carol Pickering • Dan sparked so may ideas on how to use SoMe before, during and after training. Can’t wait to have the opportunity to implement some of these. Even got our HR staff excited about using SoMe in the onboarding process! Dan, next time bring English sweets and chocolate!!

 

ASTD2013 TU306 LinkedIN group

Praise for my session TU306 at ASTD2013

The response to my speech during session TU306 at the ASTD International Conference and Exhibition in Dallas this year has been overwhelming and extremely touching.

 

Over 20 people took their time on Wednesday to interrupt my attempts to stalk Karl Kapp and steal JD Dillon‘s iPad charger with handshaking, thanks and congratulations. Several people said TU306 was the best session they followed, one told me I was destined for conference greatness and another said I ought to be on the keynote stage. I have received invitations to speak in France, Switzerland and even New Zealand …although the latter was not sure she would fly my kids out too 😉

 

What follows is a blatant attempt to blow my own trumpet, but also serves as a thank you to all who took the time to positively stroke my ego via Twitter during and after the session…

 

Please read the following posts:

 

…and if that wasn’t enough compliments for me, I had a few mentions in post-conference blogs of other people:

To collect references related to my session on the practical usage of social media in formal learning:

 

Finally: If you want to read my posts from other people’s sessions at ASTD2013, just click on the ASTD2013 tab in the menu top-left.

Thank you again for your support.

 

See you in Vegas for TechKnowledge 2014 and Washington DC for ASTD ICE 2014!

D

Twitter praise for ASTD2013 TU306

If you are wondering what this post is all about, read the introduction post here…

The following are tweets received during and after my ASTD2013 ICE session TU306: Practical Use of Social Media for Formal Learning

I’ve put in italics before each tweet the Twitter handle of the person who sent it

You can also read feedback on the LinkedIN group here…

Yay for me 🙂

 

Some words of encouragement before the session

 

Praise received during the session

 

Praise received after the session

 

Thanks again everyone!

#Proud

 

 

5 Tips for Game Design and Learning, from Julie Dirksen

During the Wednesday morning ASTD2013 session with Karl Kapp, we were “sold” on Gamification for learning. Session W306 with Julie Dirksen filled in some of the design gaps.

If, like me, you believe gamification for learning is worth exploring, you might be getting started on your first attempts at game design. When you have your basic idea for a game or how to bring game-mechanics into a learning initiative, what do you need to keep in mind to be successful? What specific game design principles must be followed? Julie Dirksen suggests the following….

 

Feedback mechanisms have to be used well

Dirksen says that to create good learning you need to give extremely frequent feedback, in diverse ways.

EA sports games are designed so you have to make a decision every 1-2 seconds and you get feedback on this every 7-10 seconds. Knowing where you are and how your behaviour has impact on results is important to keep players in flow. Flow is one major reason why gamified learning is more motivating than non-gamified learning.

As your game starts, build in feedback mechanisms that help players to learn how the game works and how they can progress. This approach is also used a lot in video games. The player is taken through simple situations in order to learn the rules of the environment and how to control her actions. When enough feedback has been given to really understand the basic principles, we can throw in something to take them to the next level of the game.

Another important element in giving feedback is to make it seem more “consequential”. This means that the feedback style itself is linked to the context or impact of the behaviour that leads to it. The example given is of a safety/security training: Instead of giving a simple verbal or text-based feedback that says “wrong answer”, players get a big noisy “BOOM!!” sound with a scary message about having just blown up the facility. In this way, the feedback style is linked to the desired learning and the environment in question.

According to Dirksen, these kinds of feedback approaches are far more effective than random badges and points that go no-where.

 

People only give their attention if they want to

When Dirksen asks “How long can you pay attention to something?” the participants of session W306 are careful not to give big numbers. Thinking of our own school experience and what trainers tell us in “Presentation Skills” training, we know it can’t be too long and we answer “about 10 minutes”.

“But it’s not true”, says Dirksen, adding that “some people watch all 3 extended “Lord of the Rings” movies back-to-back at the cinema.”

The fact is that if you give players/learners/spectators what they want, they will give you their attention. In my opinion, the following 3 ideas will help:

 

People respond best to relevant rewards they get now

Dirksen spoke to us about the way rewards should be used in gamified learning.

In much training, participants don’t really realise “what is in it for them” until quite late in the process. And the rewards that are given for learning or game performance (feedback or other rewards) are not given until quite late, maybe only after the game. But psychology and everyday life show many examples of how people focus more on immediate rewards and less on rewards that comes later. The obvious example is of smokers who choose to have un-healthly pleasure now over health (or lack of bad-health) later. The major exception to this basic rule is that if the reward appears to be very high, we will be willing to wait for it. (And the further away the reward is, the bigger it needs to be.)

So unless you have a really good pay-off, bring in game rewards early on.

Rewards also have to be meaningful to the learner. Random badges, points and prizes do not improve game performance over time. Dirksen gave the example of how the inherent reward of the learning itself in a maths class could be better tailored to fit participants by using problems and examples that are related to their own reality. For example, for future entrepreneurs who need maths training, rather than creating a random maths game, you could create a maths-game around the ideas of successfully running a business.

 

This last point reinforces another Dirksen tip: Match game deliverables to desired behaviours and business deliverables

Dirksen showed as a simple game created for call-centre learners who needed to remember not to give away sensitive information to competitors who might call them pretending to be clients. In order to achieve this, they were asked to play a game where different logos floated down the screen and they had to shoot the ones of their competitors. Although the first look might suggest this is fine (it reinforces the idea that competitors are “bad”) Dirksen said it failed on several levels:

  • In reality, call-agents do not see the logos of their competitors when they call. The game did not involve the actual behaviours they should look (or listen!) out for.
  • Most call-agents do not have guns at work 🙂 The winning game behaviour did not match the desired real-life behaviour.
  • The game-behaviour was very aggressive and might encourage call-agents to be aggressive towards any competitors they did encounter in their calls.

 

Challenges must be incremental and in line with the players current competence

If I place my daughters by the tennis court opposite the Williams sisters, not only will they lose, but they will likely find it very stressful and not learn very much. To be effective with gamified learning, challenges must fall within the “flow-zone”…

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According to Dirksen, much traditionally training falls into the boring side of the chart, not because it is inherently boring, but because of the lack of challenge. Using a gamified approach, we can create challenge, but we must be careful not to go too far too quickly as this can bring stress to the learner. And as competence rises, so must the gamified challenge…

 

Having listened to Dirksen and Kapp at the ASTD2013 ICE, I had the opinion that many elements of my own training could be dramatically improved by the use of game. But even if I don’t want to gamify things, I think it is important to align training with these principles of feedback, attention, reward, deliverables and challenge.