Monday, 30 July 2007

Ulrich Model of HR

L&D Professional working within HR departments will be very familiar with the 'Ulrich' model of HR - a three-legged stool separating out:

* Business Partners (also known as generalists or client consultants)
* Service Centres (focused on the 'back-office' transactions)
* Centre of Excellence (the specialist functions such as Recruitment, Compensation & L&D)

I know several colleagues have observed that Ulrich's model lead to a focus of 'who does what' - pulling apart these area of the HR profession. While all three areas are essential, the focus on splitting foundational vs. strategic roles can devalue the former. Similarly, while 'Business Partners' and 'Centres of Excellence' have strategic roles, clarity of how they blend together to support the strategy of the business 'client' is a source of potential confusion.

I'd suggest that the HR profession may be better served from starting with the frame of reference of a different three-legged stool:

* focus on enhancing current business performance achieved by colleagues/managers & leaders
* focus on enhancing planned business growth (building the talent required to accelerate the pace of planned sustainable development of the business)
* focus on building organisational adaptability (to help survive/thrive when unpredictable changes take place in the business environment)

This may result in more variety in how HR structures itself - but, I'd suggest, this would help build collaboration & common purpose across the different disciplines that the include L&D professional.

Discussing L&D interventions in terms of which of the three bullets (perform, grow, adapt) is being targeted could also help maintain a clarity of strategic focus

The Leadership Pipeline - Further reflections

The Leadership Pipeline (Charan, Drotter & Noel) describes a very linear process of a 'straight' pipe from 'Managing Self' to 'Enterprise Manager'

So can this book help guide L&D professional supporting:

* Player Coaches
* Managers who both 'Manage Manager' and are 'Functional Manager'
* Manager who are 'Functional Managers' but through large spans of control are not 'Managers of Managers'

I think the short answer to this is Yes, however it misses an opportunity to explore the implications in any depth.

So for example - if someone is promoted to a 'Functional Manager' role, what is specific to this role is a significant jump in requiring to demonstrate 'Business Acumen' and expertise in 'Executing Business Strategy'

This promotion may also be associated with introducing at least two layers of management betwwen the post holder and 'individual contributors' .. or if a very flat organisation, there may only be one layer.

Hence: I believe there could be merit in separating out any training and coaching on new 'Communication' skills that are key for 'Managers of Managers' - this part of the menu being added only if the two transitions coincide.

Put simply - I feel there could be merit in mapping transitions based on business role (individual, manager, leader, executive etc); and overlaying a parallel pipeline based on layers of the organisation (individual, manager, manager of managers, leaders of managers-of-managers etc).

Each transition will be a blend of the two pathways - but without the assumptions that every organisation fits (GEs) 7 layers.

The Leadership Pipeline - Reflections on a classic text

I recently re-read The Leadership Pipeline (from Charan, Drotter & Noel)

In my view this is still a classic roadmap for L&D professionals designing a curriculum. Each transition point represents an opportunity to target training towards accelerating performance in the new & different role.

What struck me most was a phrase (page 18) relating to the first transition from 'Managing Self' to Managing Others' which states:

'The most difficult change for managers to make at Passage One, however, involves values. Specifically, they need to learn to value managerial work, rather than just tolerate it. They must believe that making time for others, planning, coaching and the like are necessary tasks and are their responsibility'


I wonder if we do enough to test values - either to help tailor training, or to assess changes in behaviours.

Maybe pre-work for delegates for a people-manager training course should test whether the individual already values the future role of being a supervisor ...since training of tools & coaching on conversations are likely to be ineffective if the passion for getting results from others has not been generated.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Reflection - a vital part of learning ?!

A comment I posted on another blog recently generated a reaction to the passing mention of Kolb (which I was using to illustrate my view that blogging supports reflection, which in turn is a critical part of consolidating learning).
link to blog

[as an aside - I really like the concept that was generated in the comments of Blogging as 'Knowledge Fusion' ]

Hence .... from the book 'Informal Learning' by Jay Cross - I found this analogy relevant to the positioning of reflection in the learning process (or cycle):

'Reflection is a vital part of learning. Its like editing is to professional writing. If your writing is going to be the best that it can be, you must revisit your work to tighten up, squeeze out the awkward parts, fix the grammar, and otherwise polish it. If you want to retain and use what you learn, you must revisit it. .....'

page 106-107

Monday, 16 July 2007

Three Segments of Learners (explored via a powerful metaphor)

Jay Cross in his book 'Informal Learning' provides (in my opinion) a very powerful metaphor for exploring three segments of learners.

He describes the categories as:

  • NOVICE WORKER - directed
  • MATURE WORKER - self-directed
  • SENIOR WORKER - helping other

which I equate with:

  • NOVICE - for whom formal training is well suited to drive learning
  • COMPETENT - for whom coaching is well suited to drive learning
  • EXPERT - for which peer-to-peer dialogue (including blogs ?!) is well suited to drive learning

see my first posting -

Acording to Jay Cross:

  • Formal Learning is like: 'riding on a bus'
  • Informal Learning is like: 'driving a car' (for self directed, mature workers) & 'riding a bicycle' (for senior workers)

He states 'Training departments are adept at creating bus routes: often they have little to do assisting drivers and bikers'.

What struck me about the metaphor is that the learner who is 'Competent' is self-directed (ie has, or needs, increased freedom to take a journey - compared with the 'Novice' bus passenger).

Equally, compared to the 'Expert' cyclist they need some form of engine/propulsion to help them get to their destination. The cyclist, on the other hand has both the freedom to explore non-conventional or unchartered routes, AND is self-reliant on propelling their progress. how do we as Learning Professionals assist the drivers & bikers ?


maps - illustrating options (quickest routes vs. scenic routes to a known destination)

training in how to drive/ride (focus on building competency in handling the 'tools' for transportation)

providing motivation & encouragement (especially to self-powered cyclists)

....and I'm sure there are a lot more ideas this metaphor can stimulate (given time/reflection)

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Reflections on ASTD 2007, part #2

A further theme I focused on at ASTD was the perennial challenge of metrics and measures of Learning.

While I wasn't able to attend the Kirkpatrick session, a colleague provided the following insights (thanks Marianne):

  • Don't skip any levels - hence don't overlook the importance of 'smile' sheets
  • You cannot do meaningful Level 4 evaluations on Leadership programs or team-building (as there are too many other variables affecting the results/ROI). Level 4 is best suited for Sales Training.
  • For Level 3 (Behaviour): Survey &/or interview one or more of the following: boss; subordinate; peer; others. Measure before/after if practical.
  • It is 'nice' to have a control group, but this is not always practical.
  • Get as much reaction as you can in the least amount of time ! - so use a 5 point scale & use a scale with comments as optional.

Robert Brinkerhoff also presented on 'Training Impact Evaluation That Senior Managers Believe and Use: The Success Case Method', based on his recently published book 'Telling Training's Story' (Berrett Koehler 2006).

The main argument here is that a training intervention is likely to have a predictable Impact Distribution.

  1. Those who did not try the new skills/knowledge at all
  2. Those who tried the new skills/knowledge but reverted back to old ways resulting in little/no benefit
  3. Those who tried the new skills/knowledge and achieve positive worthwhile results

So rather than look for the average outcome, seek to understand & communicate what separates out those in category (3).

In doing this it becomes possible to demonstrate that:

  • The training intervention CAN work
  • The training intervention DOES work when the following factors are in place.

...the latter often being outside the 'control' of the L&D team (eg the actions of the delegate's own manager)

Moreover, if the % that fall into category (c) are determined, and the value of the outcomes they achieved quantified it is easy to illustrate not only the overall ROI, but also to full potential of the training (and all points in-between).

In my view this approach of stepping away from average data, will be very powerful in helping position L&D professionals as consultants: ensuring we have the data to illustrate the responsibilities of leaders, managers and the delegates to achieve the full potential ROI from learning services.