A few of my favourite posts for today’s new visitors

If you’ve just read Juana Lloren’s “Inside L+D” emailing to the ASTD Learning and Development Community, thank you for clicking on my name.

Wondering why she says I’m a “just a really good writer” (me too!)? Or interested to see a little more about from that wide variety of L+D posts? Have a look around or subscribe via the menu on the right.

In this short post, I’ve collected some of the more popular resources I think might be interesting to new visitors… Some of my favourites too.


L+D general resources


Social Media for Learning




Prezi, presentation and communication skills


(Self) Leadership Resources


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Neil Young on leadership, creativity, performance and people styles

I’ve been watching the special features of Jonathan Demme’s excellent capturing of Neil Young in”Heart of Gold”. These words from Neil reminded me of the ASTD2012 session of John Kao on innovation and jazz improvisation …and also got me thinking about leadership skills, changing environments, the way we manage people, creativity, the differences between people etc… I won’t make an attempt to deconstruct each of Neil Young’s sentences. Just read and see for yourself….


“These are songs that I’ve never performed before, so I have to remember all the words and keep on top of the band playing all the parts.

Remember, these are people that live in the moment. I mean, that’s why I play with these people. They’re not “reproducers”. They are creative people and creative musicians. They are not really supposed to do the same thing every time. So you have to give them room to be creative and still perform the same song in a way that’s reminiscent of the original record, kind of representative of the arrangement that we did on the record.

Some of the musicians are better at reproducing their parts within a framework and doing it very freely and feeling very good about them. Others can never do the same thing twice.

So you have to get them all together and that’s what happens… …you’ve got one shot… ..as soon as you start the songs you have to feel second nature about the song.. ..and that’s not easy to do with a song that you’ve never played before.. …it’s all new at that point.

These are all first time performances.”

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On the way home… ASTD with Epsilon

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


DAY TWO was all about engagement for me…


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


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


DAY THREE Future trends worth developing


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



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


…now, go do some work!



The Respect Effect Rocks Hard Rock Cafe

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



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

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


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

What threatens us? (Think about it)


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Pure respect.


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.


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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



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…)


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!


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Help! I can’t get past the firewall!!

Fresh off the plane and I grabbed my first victim…

Chris Frederick Willis ( @media1der ) explained to me the value of MS SharePoint as a learning tool. A social learning tool.

In my ex-corporate-employee mind, SharePoint is a boring static folder-based storage tool that people basically don’t use at work. Conversations with @coachwim already gave me the idea that this was a misconception: Apparently SharePoint can do many of the things social learners want: Rating, tagging, profiles, sharing, chat etc….


But why use SharePoint when there are so many other (free) alternatives?



Chris explained to me that my vision of SharePoint as a storage tool WAS probably true some years ago. But now it’s more a performance tool. SharePoint users can do lots of different things to streamline their working processes, from integrating with SAP databases, to chat, video sharing and basically anything else you can find on SoMe tools.


With 1 big advantage that my friends in the Belgian banks have already been telling me about: It’s inside the firewall.


…but is it sexy? Do people use it? Does it deliver?

Contact Chris and she’ll give you the answers 😉



Thx for reading


What my network expects from ASTD2012 ICE

ASTD ICE 2012 promises to be THE event for the learning community. Over 4 days, with hundreds of educational sessions, the International Conference and Exhibition is a fine opportunity to get up-to-speed on the learning world.

Having seen the agenda, I know what’s on offer.But what do people want? What is MY network looking for? What are the hot topics?

Over the past few weeks, I asked that question within my network and got replies from 45 professionals from the L+D world, ranging from Learning Managers in international corporations to freelance one-man-consultants like myself. Answers came in via Twitter, LinkedIn (including ASTDs virtual global village), email and face-to-face.

With a little help from my world-cloud generator, I was able to identify the most common answers, which I have summarised in this stand-alone sentence:


Let’s break it down….

Global and mobile learning
We live in a global marketplace. Even if we don’t do business globally, we can pull in learning from anywhere and push it out just as easily. The ability to do this “at the speed of business” (@charlesjennings) and on-the-move increases performance and efficiency. From a wandering salesman to a home-working consultant, the need to get learning on-the-go is becoming more and more important.

Performance solutions
As said enough already, learning does not equal training and training does not equal learning. Learning professionals must create performance enhancement solutions. Learning happens in rooms, on the web, in and out of the work flow and we need to be the “guide-on-the-side” (@C4LPT) that recognises, facilitates and supports the real-time need for enhanced performance results. More than ever, learning must be practically geared towards business results and actually get things done.

Social workplace
There is a lot of buzz in the learning world about the “New World of Work” in which we live. In part, this is the fruit of the global and mobile world I already mentioned. And it implies a cultural shift that is affecting learning. Traditional top-down learning solutions are still good in many moments, but other learning approaches may be more in tune with our working preferences. In the Kluwer Indicator 2011, we saw that employees learn most from their colleagues. The social workplace learns quicker than its non-social predecessor. It learns together. Examples like BT’s Dare-to-Share program that incorporate social media platforms to make peer-learning and quick and easy solution are becoming day-to-day.

2.0 signifies the process of “upgrade”. Regardless of what level the people in my network at currently operating at, everyone is conscious of the need to upgrade their working methods and approaches to learning. Continually. 2.0 is not seen as simply “the next version” but as the “upgrade mentality”. Learning professionals do want to know what the new hot topics are and what is trendy, but they also want to know how to always stay on top of their game, creating flexible changeable learning solutions that can deal with every tomorrow.

The community mentality is again linked to the social workplace and it’s mentality. It’s also linked to functions, needs, platforms. A community can be defined as a wide group of people with similar needs, functions and missions. They may or may not be working in the same company, but they share a common motivation. They may work in proximity. They might just get together from time-to-time like the HRMeetUp guys to create personal learning networks, share best practices and ask questions to other community members. Learning professionals can help to build the community spirit, bring people together, provide community tools and learning opportunities.

At the ASTD 2012 ICE, I will be checking out the following sessions amongst others to look for real stories, examples and approaches to global and mobile learning performance solutions for social workplace 2.0 communities:

  • ROE: The Ultimate Demonstration of Training Value, with James Kirkpatrick
  • …and the US Federal Government Best Practices Session on ROE
  • The Evolution of the Learning Model at BVBA, with CLO Ignacio de la Vega
  • Transformative HR: Creating Evidence-Based Change, with University SoCal Professor John Boudreau
  • Great Leaders GROW, with Ken Blanchard
  • Global HRD Trends, with the VOV and NVO2
  • Effectively Onboarding GenY professionals, with Alexia Vernon
  • Planning, Implementing and Measuring Social Learning, with the people from McDonalds
  • Developing Talent Outside the Classroom, with TalentGrow President Halelly Azulay
  • Follow me and my sponsor Kluwer for an update and I’ll see you there!