Cefora HRM Day, 26th March: My session on New Ways of Learning

Today I am speaking at the Cefora HRM Day on the New World of Work and New Ways of Learning. This blog page delivers all references cited in that session. I hope you enjoyed the session!



…and if that wasn’t enough, have a look at this page, which outlines other posts I have written on social media, authentic training, ASTD2012 …


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ASTD 2013 Session TU306: Practical Use of Social Media in Formal Learning

On Tuesday 21st May 4-5.30pm I will speaking at the 2013 ASTD International Conference and Exhibition. My topic is the practical use of social media in formal learning. In preparation for that moment, this page delivers pre-session references with which participants can familiarise themselves. Following the session, I will use this page to list further references and resources for those interested in improving their formal learning with social media…


(This page is under construction, with regular updates)


If you want to join the LinkedIn group for ASTD2013 session TU306 please do. I started the learning prior to the session and it is continuing after, just as I would with any other formal learning moment, enhanced by social media.


There are many reasons to use social media in learning. Here’s a few ideas that will not be discussed in my ASTD 2013 session TU306:


Some interesting examples of social media in learning:


There are some great books about specific social media tools, that I really liked:


I’ve made a few Prezi presentations on related topics:


I will be adding more references here soon. Please bookmark this page. And don’t forget to email me to take part in the before/during/after social-media enhanced formal learning of ASTD 2013 session TU306 or to join the ASTD2013 session TU306 LinkedIn group.


ps – if you want to see all my blog-posts from ASTD2012 (I was a little hyperactive, as usual) check one of the links below… … or discover resources from other attendees on the ASTD2012 ICE collected back-channel resources page of @LnDDave :


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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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Anchoring learning

I just walked into a cloakroom at one of my clients and was struck by a smell of deodorant I have not smelt years. Immediately I was transported back in time to 13 years old, in front of my class at the beginning of a school day. I had just finished a sneaky cigarette before class (SO glad I don’t smoke anymore!). To avoid any trouble from the teacher, I had doused myself in Lynx spray-on deodorant (I think they call it “Axe” in Belgium). Even now, thinking about this moment, I can literally see the place of was standing in: Downstairs, just in the door, next to the office of the “head of lower school” surrounded by little uniformed people like myself. The same smell as today…

Proust would perhaps call this my “Madeleine” and the NLP folk would say I had “anchored” that moment in my memory via the smell. Whenever I smell that precise thing, I will remember that time, that place, those feelings. How powerful that sense of smell is!?!!


Can we use this for learning? Could we use anchoring to help people remember things they learnt?

In NLP, the idea of anchoring is well established and used in multiple applications. For example, if I were helping someone who gets stressed when presenting, I could use an anchoring technique to help them create a link between a calm successful good moment and a specific image (or holding two specific fingers together, or whatever….). Then, when they are preparing to present and getting stressed, they can just think of that image, or hold those two fingers together and they will get back that sense of calm and success.


How else can we apply this idea for learning?

Could we introduce specific images or key sounds (or smells?) or words during training, so that people can later remember what they learnt on cue? Or help reinforce all those good promises made at 4.30pm at the end of a training day? (Promises that are normally forgotten the minute they walk out of the door…). Would this work? How? Would it be ethical or would it be brainwashing?

For example, at 4.30pm on the last day of Presentation Skills training, I would ask participants to tel me what 1 key thing they will do differently next time they create or deliver a presentation. Perhaps someone answers: “I will be sure to repeat my money message at least 3 times during the next presentation” and another replies “I will use the diamond structure when I develop my presentation.” I might then ask them to spend a moment drawing a little image (whatever) which they might then even spray with a specific perfume. I ask them to spend time thinking about what they learnt and what they want to do next time, whilst smelling or looking at this image. The anchor is made.

Maybe the next day, they will go to the office and create a PowerPoint template with a first slide with their image on it. That way, the next time they open PowerPoint to make a presentation, they will see the Inge and remember all they promised themselves. In the other example (repeating message) just before they go to present, they might smell and look their image in order to remember to repeat at least 3 times the key message. Or maybe a colleague sits in the back of the room occasionally flashing a picture of the image to stimulate them.


As I’m sitting in the cafe having a quick lunch, I can’t take the time to think of other applications in, for example, communication training or leadership. I’ll let you do that…

What do you think? Worth pursuing?



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Talent, competence and the need for vision, simplicity and action

In a difficult economic context, it is even more important to focus on competence development and even more important to identify the right people to retain. But how? During the HR Day of SD Worx, Jief Van Humbeeck offered a few ideas…


First things first: What do we mean by “competence”? My own definition is “the knowledge, skills and attitude required to deliver the required business results”. Secondly: What is “talent”? A simple definition is “a human asset we have today that can be transformed into future business results”. Now, what should we be doing to develop them…?

Many companies have a dictionary of competences: A list of what the worker needs to know, be able to do and be in order to create real business value. Listening to JF, I have the idea that the first rule of any effective talent or competence system is to keep things simple. If things are simple, people will be able to work with them. Too many companies have complicated competence system management systems that look good and complete on paper, but when it’s time to put them into practice people are lost and the system doesn’t perform.


The second rule for competence or talent management is that you have to actually do something with the system! Despite all good intentions and the wonderful processes we have for recognising talent and developing business competence, many companies focus short-sightedly on assuring business results today. HR cannot afford to forget to measure and develop competences and talent for the future. When reviewing people’s performance results, it is important to think about which competences led to those results and which competences need developing in the future. When working day-to-day, we need to look for talent. We need to think more about the future.


Ok, nice intro. Simple. I agree. But why are we talking about developing competences and talent today?

According to JF, today’s work market can be seen as a “war of talent”: Organisations are changing, downsizing and restructuring; employees are looking for new ways of working, real development and opportunities to grow; we live in a VUCA world. In this talent war, the questions of who has talent, who to keep and who to grow are key to success.


In our workshop, 24 HR professionals were asked: What do you think of all this? Does this talk to you? What are you doing to retain and develop talent?

What was surprising to me was the amount of cynicism toward organised and structured talent or competence management systems. I myself shared the story of my last employer’s over-defined and carefully controlled competence management system, complete with a competence grid, online meritocratic performance evaluation system and yearly benefits/bonus adjustments. Others talked about how HR professionals spend months creating a system only to abandon it as soon as a real question comes up about how to develop someone. Someone else added that many managers are not themselves competent for managing the competences of others.

…and we are certainly not missing a choice of tools! MBTI, 9 boxes, yearly evaluations, competence frameworks, succession management, 360-degree evaluations, assessment centres…


What struck me as important during the workshop conversation was the need for a clear business vision, the need to keep things simple and the need for HR professionals to “sell the system well” internally:

  • Having all these tools, whatever they may be, isn’t worth anything if they are not clearly linked to a clear business vision. What are we trying to achieve, what do we value, what do we want and who are we? Without a good idea of our answers to these questions, there is no point thinking about the measurement and development of talent or competence.
  • As things change, people move and different elements of the NWoW like flexibility, mobility, consumerisation, etc take root, we will need to keep things simple. This will allow us to really move, change and grow rather than get lost in details and time, ultimately doing nothing and going nowhere.
  • And HR professionals will need more-and-more to show the value of the system, the need to focus on other things than only today’s performance, the vision we have of development. If they can’t do this, managers will not be interested in helping. They will not see the value and won’t get involved, HR needs to learn marketing skills and how to brand their work.


In closing the workshop, we discussed the question: What are competences of the future that are always required? Even when tomorrow looks different to today, what knowledge, skills, attitude and behaviour will always come back? My own answer was the competence of open-mindedness, which I argue is not only an attitude, but the foundation competence for many many others, including some on this list. (More on this when my book on the topic is published…) But, hey, who am I? Here’s what the other participants had to say about core competences that will always be in demand:


Whatever is on your list, be clear on this: We cannot afford to put aside the identification of talent and competence development for a quick buck and focus only on short-term results. Certainly not in today’s economic climate and not in tomorrow’s either. Have a vision, keep it simple and make it happen.


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Happiness and Gamification according to Michel Schwarz

Over the last few years, I have occasionally bumped into a very happy looking man during French-speaking learning conferences like the Epsilon Forum+ 2012. I also saw him once at a well-being conference I attended with my wife in Namur. His name: Michel Schwarz. His mission: Help make people happy. His company: Happiness (Inside Me). His tools: Neuro-science, open-mindedness and a little bit of gamification…


Michel. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog-interview with me. You are interested in happiness and you help people in companies to find their own inner happiness. How does that work?

According to many studies and some basic common sense, every human being wants to be happy. But outside of religious instruction and science of brainwaves there hasn’t been any solid training on how to get happy. As a result, for centuries people have been pushing a whole load of different products, services, movies, jobs etc.. as the source of happiness. But that always leads to a circle of deception and frustration: We feel we deserve happiness but don’t have it, then we have it and lose it again…. back to the next frustration!


So my trainings are based on neurosciences and giving each individual a simple understanding of how our brain, spirit and body create this feeling of happiness. Starting from that new awareness, participants start to better manage their own energy and motivation, understanding that the real sources of happiness are internal. They can make the difference between primitive and successful behaviour, discover what makes themselves work most efficiently, collaborate better… And this leads to better mental and physical health, cooperation, creativity, adaptability, leadership…



You mention this frustration people have and I think it is possibly a result of the fact that, living in 2012, we feel almost obliged to be happy. In my mind, it’s not as if life is particularly difficult. Certainly not compared to, for example, my Nan’s life during the second world war. Not being happy is like a “luxury problem”. So what can we do about it?

To get happier is certainly neither compulsory, nor easy. It has never been a priority for human beings to be happy in the past, because for centuries our entire (short) life was dedicated to survival. But in the new world of 2012, for those who have food, drink and warmth it’s important to understand the next step to reach a better life. We have many chances in 2012 that are new to humans: We can look inside heads and see how a brain works! We can see what’s in our blood and which behaviour and lifestyles make people happier. And we can compare this things with others, all around the world.


The main conclusion of all this is that happiness can be reached by all kinds of people: rich or poor, healthy or not, single or married.. We can all learn how to get happier, change our habits and even our brain, to feel more positive emotions and serenity! So I think the first important advice I can give is to encourage people to get involved in the pursuit of happiness themselves. Try to see, feel and understand what “turns you on” and seek out more of it.



You followed my Epsilon 2012 session on the gamification of learning and afterwards told me that you think the approach could be useful for learning how to be happy. How is that?

By its own nature, gaming creates happiness (unless you forget the pleasure of playing by only focusing on winning). Games are fundamentaly fun, even around serious topics. Fun creates open-mindedness. And open-mindedness allows for the creation and integration of new ideas. As you play, you feel secure. You are totally focused, in the present moment, so you stop brooding. Games are natural (ask your kids!). They help create pleasant emotions.


But in addition to these immediate gains, game-playing can help to create to anchor behaviour via positive emotions. If we can learn what makes us happy through game-playing and the play itself creates all these positive feelings, it is more likely that we will anchor that learning, remember and come back to it later.



Graduate in economic sciences and “neuro-comportementalisme” and passionate about psychology, Michel Schwarz is an entrepreneur renowned for his application of new technologies and his ability to share his knowledge. In his career spanning so far over 20 years, he has directed and inspired teams of 4 to 100 people without ever having the impression of working. Since 2010, Michel Schwarz has been sharing his experience via training and consultancy.



Re-engineering training

Reading the Wired “World in 2013” magazine, the opening article by inventor and businessman James Dyson got me thinking. He explains that real improvement (in this case, regarding “green innovations”) doesn’t come from obliging people to scrape the bottom of the usual barrel to save a few pennies. Real improvement comes from entirely rethinking our methods and tools to do things in ways that have not so far been done.


How can we apply this to training?

We hear a lot about how learning does not imply training (and how training does not even imply learning). We also hear about how social and informal learning is on the rise. But reading Dyson (with the assumption that training for the right reasons is still good) I’m wondering:

  • How do we currently deliver training?
  • Where have we been scraping the bottom of the usual barrel in vain attempts to get some improvement?
  • What are the main structural assumptions of how training is given and how can we re-engineer them?


My first thoughts…

  • Some of my clients try to add more people to training all the time or reduce costs by driving prices down.. barrel-scraping or actually trying to improve training ROI?
  • Most of the trainers I know pretty much do things in the same way, although some better than others and with varying degrees of interactivity, exercises, discussion etc…
  • There are definitely some kind of “rules” about what “good training” looks like and I suppose this view is quite consistent around the profession


Dyson gives the example of how we try to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to just do less of the same things they always do. His example is of how we ask people to use less plastic shopping bags. With all the effort we put into doing less of the same thing, we can save a little bit of cost or increase a little bit of efficiency. In the plastic bag example, if everyone reuses his bags, we can save the “bad emissions equivalent” of 300 flights from London to New York.

BUT if we reengineer other more important things and radically change the way we do them, we can have much more impact. Dyson gives several examples, including one from the world of aviation… check it out!


How can we re-engineer training to provide innovative change and major impact?

I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m going to be working on it on 2013. The first thing I will do is list all my assumptions about training and make an intellectual attempt to kill my sacred cows.

What follows is the beginning of the list of fundamental elements of my training sessions that are in principle open to reengineering:

  • The trainer is the one who comes with the majority of expertise (even if his style does not imply directly sharing this)
  • The trainer architects the learning solution, often without the participants
  • Training happens from 9 to 5 (more or less)
  • Participants are provided with training materials by the trainer
  • Group sizes are restricted based on some reasons
  • Within one group, all participants follow the same basic training contents and agenda
  • There tends to be 1 or 2 trainers for a “normal sized” group
  • Typical day plans include 4 sessions of +/- 90 to 100 minutes


What other assumptions are in play? How do you give your trainings? What seems to have always been done in the same way? What fundamental truths are open to re-engineering?

Please leave a comment and share your ideas. Maybe you already re-engineered the basics and have good ideas to share…?



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Hubert De Neve from IMEC on “Learning at Work”

IMECs chief learning man Hubert De Neve introduced the Kluwer Meet and Greet this afternoon with a look at Learning at Work. This post tells his story (in the first person)…

What have I seen in 2 decades of learning?

The changes seen are mostly related to the different ways in which organisations have changed over these last 2 decades:

  • “Scale” becomes “Functional Business Units”
  • “Standardisation” becomes “Customisation”
  • “Fixed job descriptions” becomes “Flexible workers”
  • “Financial capital” becomes “Human capital”
  • “Operational control” (by management) becomes “Competence Management”
  • …and what does this mean for the business world on a larger, global view?
    We are no longer in the Industrial Era, but in the Knowledge Era.

    What does this mean for Learning Professionals and HR people?

  • HR is moving away from controlling processes (payroll, benefits…) towards real learning consultancy. Learning people need to get better in touch with the core drivers of the business, learn how to consult and bring real value solutions to the organisation.
  • HR people need to change their vision of the employees they are serving. If employees are no longer industrial workers who do the same fixed function in the same fixed way, needing control and discipline, then how we serve them needs to evolve too: Creating opportunities to become truly flexible in their work, providing the same business results in less time.
  • We need to stop trying to fit people into boxes of “required competences” and train them to have those and move towards recognising the individual strengths of each employee and leverage those to create real value
  • What is coming next?

  • Generation Y wants it all now (including the fun) and we will need even more to find ways to accommodate that in what we provide at work
  • We need to incorporate differ technologies, media, devices and approaches to learning. Granularity that allows each person to serve himself.
  • We all know that social media is important for learning, but in the future apps on smartphones will be a major part of workplace learning
  • We will need to bring even more meaning to our people, in all it’s sense. As @danielpink says in his book “Drive” a sense of purpose is a major source of intrinsic motivation for people in the New World of World. Workers need to identify with the mission, vision and values of the organisation. That will bring passion and that will bring real great work!
  • …that’s where I stop. Hubert is speaking 3 languages and I have to save some brain power for my own speeches later 🙂

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    Experimenting with Gamification at the Dinner Table

    If you believe the experts, Gamification is a good way to motivate participants towards new knowledge, skills and attitude, increasing engagement and effectiveness. I wrote about this during ASTD2012. Read here…

    In preparation for my Kluwer talk on the topic of Gamification (Meet + Greet, October 4th) I decided to test some simple game mechanics at home. This post provides guidelines for Gamification, explained via this short lunchtime experience…


    First, don’t gamify things for no reason. At my dinner table I have trouble getting my girls to eat “everything”. Today, upon presenting the stoemp with broccoli and salmon, the reaction was unanimous: “I don’t like that!” ..so I wanted to motivate them into a different attitude and behaviour.

    Secondly: Clarify concrete objectives or expected outcomes. Easy! I wanted them all to eat at least 3/4s of the entire plate, evenly spread between stoemp and salmon.

    Third: Consider who is going to play and choose the right motivators. My eldest girl likes to win. She needs “conflict” gaming elements that allow her to do better than other people. My other two daughters respond better to game elements that allow for self-expression. Personally, I wanted to see some collaboration between them all..


    Create your game

    The objective of the game was clear: Clear your plate before the time runs out (my eldest interpreted this as “beat your sisters as well”).

    Design the game structure and how to play. I created a game whereby “rolling a dice” would tell you which part of your “food-man” you could eat. First, each player was allowed to turn their plate of food into a “food-man” consisting of 4 legs, a body and a head. This element of self-expression created much amusement!

    Here’s what my 3yr old made…

    I also asked them to make 4 pictures that could be screwed up and used as a “dice-mechanism”.

    The rules…
    On each turn, players lucky-dipped which part of their “food-man” they had to eat next…

    If you got a leg picture, but had no legs left on your plate, you couldn’t eat. Otherwise, you had to eat what the lucky-dip said!

    Throughout the game there were 2 feedback elements that kept motivation up: Social comparisons and time feedback.

    If you finished your plate in the allotted time you won. This meant that everyone could win, making it a “self-competition” game rather than “conflict-based”.

    Personally I didn’t design much for the collaboration aspect, but I was surprised: At one point, my 7yr old lucky-dipped a leg, but with no legs left on her own plate, she ate some of her little sister’s salmon for her!


    If you have designed your game well, then you will be easily able to measure results. This experiment resulted in all plates 100% clean in a record time with no moaning from any children. Awesome!!


    I am experimenting with games for training and learning that implement these simple ideas.

    Imagine what you could do to:

    • Motivate employees to
      reduce paper usage
    • Encourage posting on internal social-media based knowledge sharing platforms
    • Cut company costs
    • Create Intercultural connections in a multinational corporate environment

    …all your need is some simple game mechanics and a little creativity!


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    Testing, a great way to learn

    North Sea. Beach. Rain. Children siesta. Revise for motorcycle theory test!

    Last week I went to take my motorcycle theory test. I didn’t revise and didn’t have a clue what was waiting for me. I failed by one point on 50… …but I learnt what I knew and didn’t know and what the test looked like (lots of technical stuff about motorbike tyres!!). This week, I am learning by testing.


    http://www.feuvert.be has a nice practice test section which allows you to test yourself on all types of questions in tests that are exactly like the real test. You can check your answers at any time and find extra technical explanations of why you were right or wrong.

    So I’m learning by testing. And I’m getting better every time!


    What’s my point? Testing is a great way to learn.

    As a test-creator, consider the following elements to get the best out of your test participants:

    • Authentic testing is relevant to the subject being learnt
    • Content, questions and answers should be presented in a variety of formats
    • Participants should be able to quickly get feedback on their performance
    • Gamification elements like social comparison, leader-boards, variable time-limits and progressive knowledge levels improve motivation to take and retake tests

    That’s all I had to say!
    …back to my revision 🙂


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