Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Interesting Links (April 2008)

The following article by Peter Honey (via the learning vendor Priority Management's website) provides a simple to read reminder on the need to recognise success in the workplace.

There is plenty of learning mileage in celebrating successes.

For example, people discover that:

  • Emphasizing the positive is a far more powerful motivator than emphasizing the negative
  • No news, ie if no-one says anything then it must have been all right, is not good news
  • You win some, you lose some, but either way it’s OK to ‘go for it’
  • Success is rewarded with the best reward of all; recognition
  • Things are successful for a combination of reasons rather than there being one single factor
  • Once you know the reasons for a success you can plan future successes even though the circumstances will never be identical
  • It isn’t healthy to be inappropriately modest and ‘hide your light under a bushel’
  • Celebrating someone else’s success gives vicarious pleasure from which everyone benefits
There are also helpful links to previous, related articles from the same author


The Role of Training in Continuous Improvement Initiatives

The attached report has been produced by http://www.trainingindustry.com/

Here are the Key Findings

  • The more involved the training function is with continuous improvement initiatives, the more satisfied senior management are with the progress their companies have made...
  • Of the methods used for company-wide improvement programs, Lean, Six Sigma, or a combination (32%) and TQM (29%) are used most frequently...
  • Active 'walk the talk' leadership from senior management is critical for ensuring the ultimate success of the improvement initiative...
  • The more specific the continuous improvement training, the better...
  • Most continuous improvement training should continue to be instructor-led but should be complemented with a blended approach...


This month Leadership Now highlights the book 'Why Should the Boss Listen to You?' in this article

The author, Lukaszewski describes how leaders think and operate and why this is important to the trusted advisor.

At the core of this book, he presents a seven-discipline approach to becoming a strategic trusted advisor.

  1. Be Trustworthy: Trust is the first discipline and the foundation for a relationship between advisor and leader or boss.
  2. Become a Verbal Visionary: The leader's greatest skill is verbal skill, and the leader’s advisor must also have powerful verbal skills.
  3. Develop a Management Perspective: To be a management advisor is to be able to talk more about the boss’s goals and objectives than about whatever your staff function happens to be.
  4. Think Strategically: One of the great realities of management is that the leader’s job is always about tomorrow, and almost never about yesterday.
  5. Be a Window to Tomorrow: Understand and use the power of patterns. A sophisticated advisor is one who can forecast tomorrow with some level of accuracy.
  6. Advise Constructively: Giving advice starts where the boss is and where he or she has to go (where the advisor is or has been).
  7. Show the Boss How to Use Advice: If you want to see your recommendations come alive, teach the boss how to accept and use advice.
For those in internal consultancy roles, such as HR Business Partners & L&D, I'd suggest that this advice is particularly helpful !


Six Drivers of Change

From the Harvard Business blog, here are the common themes surfaced from a panel discussion, titled “Innovation: Change Happens,” featured Dow Corning Chairman, CEO and President Stephanie Burns, Eastman Kodak President and COO Phil Faraci, and Procter & Gamble Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley. It was part of the Newspaper Association of America and American Society of News Editors “Capital Conference 2008.”

  1. The need for a crisis or some kind of “burning platform” to motivate transformational change
  2. A clear vision and strategy … that allows room for iteration
  3. A recognition that transformation is a multi-year journey
  4. A need to put the customer or consumer in the center of the transformation equation
  5. The critical importance of demonstrating to skeptics that different actions can lead to different results
  6. The need to over-communicate to employees, customers, stakeholders, and shareholders

solid advice from those with first-hand experience !


Maximizing your value to your organization

Also from the HBR Editors' Blog is an interesting article on 'Lessons from GE's Approach to Productivity'

"If it’s accepted wisdom that businesses should revisit their strategies and organizational structures and processes on a regular basis to ensure that they are still relevant, doesn’t it make sense to periodically take stock of how you’re spending your time? Given the current economic climate, there’s no better occasion than now to step back and make sure you’re maximizing your value to your organization"

In Summary:

  • Compare your calendar with the priorities
  • Be ruthless
  • Ask your team to do the same
  • Make time for your people and yourself.


and finally .....Nurturing Creativity

If you can spare 20mins, take a look at this movie on nurturing creativity - amusing and inspiring, especially when you have kids and have an interest in education...


Sunday, 27 April 2008

E-Learning (HRD 2008)

The E-Learning seminar was sub-titled '... will blogs, wikis, socials networks and virtual worlds change the future of learning ?'

This workshop was led by Clive Shepherd (e-learning consultant), Kate Day (Cisco) & Richard Jordan (Ernst & Young).

Here are a few quotes from the workshop handout that struck a chord.

'every user of the Web has the opportunity to become a contributor as well as a consumer, a writer as well as a reader, a teacher as well as a pupil' (Clive Shepherd)

'Using collaborative technologies, we can recreate learning environments that are based upon communities of practice and which provide the specific information that the individual or group requires to be successful' (Kate Day)

'Web 2.0 matter most for organisations not because of any intrinsic value in the technology. It matters simply because your employees of the future, your customers, will expect you to offer them an environment where interactivity and being connected are the norm..' (Richard Jordan)

I was struck by a few things:

Firstly - as the sub-title of the seminar demonstrates - RSS readers do not get much airtime when there are these discussions on Web 2.0 technologies (in this workshop this technology was only mentioned via the Q&A). Equally, I have yet to find someone working within large organisations who feel they get too few emails ... and thus the concept of receiving yet more info is a major barrier to seeing the advantages of Web 2.0. I'd suggest that RSS readers are the key that will unlock the door to Web 2.0 - and as such deserve a higher profile in such awareness sessions.

Secondly - HR is having to reach outside of our own profession to gain the insights provided by Web 2.0 subject-matter-experts (two of the HRD panel started with the statement 'I'm not a HR professional..'). Equally, our profession IS where significant expertise in change-management exists. Hence, while there is a lot of talk around organisations adapting to accommodate the 'digital natives' by providing them with connectivity akin to Facebook & Bebo, there is little said about the significant opportunity HR has to be the strategic driver of Web 2.0 within organisations. A key point being that for organisations to thrive they need all colleagues connected (allowing new, inexperienced staff to benefit from the mentoring of the 'wise old-hands'). As a profession I'd suggest that we need to be proactive, as I commented previously.

Finally, we need to think more about the psychological contract the 'digital natives' will expect of organisations. In other words, in an era where a-job-for-life no longer exists - how much investment will colleagues want to make in blogging & building knowledge networks unless they are transferable between roles & organisations. What will be a good balance for Web 2.0 technologies behind & outside of organisational firewalls ?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Leadership is above all, courageous

For all those involved in training Leaders here is further 'Leadership Gold' (via Leadership Now )

  • Leadership is the willingness to put oneself at risk.
  • Leadership is the passion to make a difference with others.
  • Leadership is being dissatisfied with the current reality.
  • Leadership is taking responsibility while others are making excuses.
  • Leadership is seeing the possibilities in a situation while others are seeing the limitations.
  • Leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd.
  • Leadership is an open mind and an open heart.
  • Leadership is the ability to submerge your ego for the sake of what is best.
  • Leadership is evoking in others the capacity to dream.
  • Leadership is inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute.
  • Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.
  • Leadership is your heart speaking to the hearts of others.
  • Leadership is the integration of heart, head, and soul.
  • Leadership is the capacity to care, and in caring, to liberate the ideas, energy, and capacities of others.
  • Leadership is the dream made reality.
  • Leadership is above all, courageous

Also see my previous post on this book

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Value of Learning (HRD 2008)

At last week's HRD conference I was invited to provide a brief case study in support of the presentation on 'The Value of Learning' given by Martyn Sloman of CIPD.

Last year CIPD, in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, undertook a focused project on 'the value of learning'. This resulted in several tools being created - most notably 'Instrument 3: Establishing the most relevant appropach for your organisation'.

The tool defined four approaches to assessing the learning value contribution:

  • Learning function efficiency measures
  • Key performance indicators & benchmark measures
  • Return on investment measures
  • Return on expectations measures

My key points - from our experiences in introducing a global 'bite-size' training curriculum (of 90 minute skill-boosters) - included:

  • The tool encourages a systemic, balanced-scorecard approach to evaluating (and more importantly - improving) the value of learning. This ensures consideration of both factors that are important in managing key stakeholders, and those used internally within the L&D team to promote continuous improvement.
  • For Learning Function Efficiency measures: we have found it helpful to critically appraise the tutor:delegate ratio of courses ... so for 'skill boosters' running classes with a 1:20 ratio (vs. longer classes with a typical 1:12 ratio). Similarly, working in a global organisation seeking to 'leverage scale' ... there is significant benefits to be negotiated via volume discounts on unit costs (where training classes are provided by an external partner).
  • For Key Performance Indicators: in my experience this is a difficult area to establish 'quantifiable' measures directly correlated with L&D activities - however it does drive consideration of whether the L&D approach is supportive of an appropriate psychological contract with employees. 'Bite Size' classes have proved a popular format in helping colleagues reconcile the tension between wanting to invest in class-based self-development, but also needing to stay focused on delivering on current performance goals.
  • For Return on Investment measures: I'd suggest that it is probably more rewarding to focus on understanding the extremes (ie why the same class will be highly impactful for some delegates, but not for other colleagues), rather than just measure the 'average' return achieved. Through understanding the enablers & barriers for achieving high business impact attributed to the training class provided, L&D can then act to help more colleagues get more from the course.
  • For Return on Expectations measures: As highlighted by CIPD, this is probably the most important of the four types of measures. A colleague of mine introduced me to the phrase 'cheque-book & calendar' - to reflect the tangible signs of senior management support. Hence the fact that senior managers have funded & hosted additional 'bite-size' classes within team and focus-week events (ie outside of the core L&D curriculum) can be seen as a clear sign that there is 'satisfaction' with the value of these courses.


From past articles on this blog on L&D metrics - also see: Reflections on ASTD 2007, part #2


PS - HRD was a great opportunity to network with 'old friend' and meet fellow L&D professionals. More reflections on HRD in coming weeks !

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Leadership Gold

Here is the Table of Contents from Leadership Gold the latest book from 'leadership guru' John C. Maxwell.

Table of Contents
Searching for Gold

1. If It's Lonely at the Top, You're Not Doing Something Right
2. The Toughest Person to Lead Is Always Yourself
3. Defining Moments Define Your Leadership
4. When You Get Kicked in the Rear, You Know You're out in Front
5. Never Work a Day in Your Life
6. The Best Leaders Are Listeners
7. Get in the Zone and Stay There
8. A Leader's First Responsibility Is to Define Reality
9. To See How the Leader Is Doing, Look at the People
10. Don't Send Your Ducks to Eagle School
11. Keep Your Mind on the Main Thing
12. Your Biggest Mistake Is Not Asking What Mistake You're Making
13. Don't Manage Your Time-Manage Your Life
14. Keep Learning to Keep Leading
15. Leaders Distinguish Themselves During Tough Times
16. People Quit People, Not Companies
17. Experience Is Not the Best Teacher
18. The Secret to a Good Meeting Is the Meeting Before the Meeting
19. Be a Connector, Not Just a Climber
20. The Choices You Make, Make You
21. Influence Should Be Loaned but Never Given
22. For Everything You Gain, You Give Up Something
23. Those Who Start theJourney with You Seldom Finish with You
24. Few Leaders Are Successful Unless a Lot of People Want Them to Be
25. You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask
26. People Will Summarize Your Life in One Sentence-Pick It Now


With the clarity of the titles to each chapter - and the powerful insights they convey - I wonder if there is any need to read the rest of the book !

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Interesting Links (March 2008)

When the Red Phone Rings: Three Questions to Ask in a Crisis

This recent article from Harvard describes the scenario:

“It’s three a.m. and the phone rings. Who do you want to answer it?”

CEOs receive these early morning calls. Sometimes it's a fire in a factory. Sometimes it's a product recall. Sometimes it's a kidnapped employee being held for ransom in a foreign land. Sometimes it's a senior executive who has gotten himself into trouble.

Be it a president or a corporate executive, the first thing that the leader should do is ask questions. These three questions are recommended:

  • What is happening?
  • What is not happening?
  • What can I do to influence the action or outcome?

read more about this here


Jon Ingham provides an interesting post on Emotional Intelligence on his blog.

He states

'Perhaps the reason CEOs discount social skills is that they don't see them improving - and perhaps the reason for this is that organisations have put too much focus on social skills themselves, and not enough on the other underpinning abilities' (i.e. self-awareness & social-awareness)


This link provides a 5 minute on-line Foundational Level presentation on the options for 'Learning 2.0' ... the use of Web 2.0 collaborative tools to facilitate workplace learning.