Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Interesting Links (September 2008)

Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload

Here is a great paper that pulls together solid practical advice for managing information overload.

"Dealing with information overload has become a task for each and every one of us, and yet very few of us have actually stopped to think about the best way to do this. We know that we are interrupted. We know that such interruptions affect our work and capacity to think in an adverse manner. And yet, because of the very problem itself — the constant flow of information and tasks demanding our every moment—we do not stop mid-flow to assess and organise. 

Examining each information input in our lives, including the content, delivery method, and access device, will help us to realistically assess what it is we’re doing with our time. Consciously thinking about the effectiveness and desirability of each stream of information, and of ways to improve them, will help to get the best information to you in the best way"


Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Leadership Now highlights Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs - written by Bill Hybels with church leadership in mind. However, there the advice is highly transferable. Leadership Now focus on five of the 76 guiding principles that have shaped his leadership - this includes:

"Values Need Heat: When you heat up a value, you help people change states. Want to jolt people out of business as usual? Heat up innovation. Want to untangle confusion? Heat up clarity. Want to eradicate miserliness? Heat up generosity! New “states” elicit new attitudes, new aptitudes, and new actions. It’s not rocket science. It’s just plain chemistry. Which is a lot about heat….Over time, sufficiently hot values will utterly define your culture"


Balance Scorecards

The Palladium Group provide plenty of free information from their recent meeting - which includes practical insights on the use of balanced scorecards in work-class organisations.  Download the conference report here.


Millions of Britons regret their career choice

Reported by Management Issues - "Almost half of all UK workers, if given the chance, would have studied something totally different after leaving school and a fifth feel that as a result they plumped for the wrong career, according to new research"


Multiple bosses - do gender differences cause problems?

Kevan Hall highlights an interesting study here on Multiple bosses - do gender differences cause problems?  in his Life in a Matrix blog.

The study found
  • Women who had only one female boss reported more psychological distress (such as trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing on work, depression and anxiety) and physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach pain or heartburn, neck and back pain and tiredness) than women who worked for one male boss.
  • Women who reported to a mixed-gender pair of supervisors also reported more of these symptoms than their peers who worked for a single male boss.
  • Men who worked for a single supervisor, regardless of the supervisor’s gender, had similar levels of distress.
  • Men who worked for a mixed-gender pair had fewer mental and physical symptoms than those working for a lone male supervisor

interesting data ..... 

Friday, 5 September 2008

Performance Support vs. Training (continued)

My thanks to JD & Dave Ferguson for their comments to my initial post on this topic - and I fully agree with the comment "we should make clear the purpose of training (or any other intervention) -- improved performance"

So on reflection, I'd like to add a third theme to my previous comments on Performance Support.

It is well accepted that from a typical well-designed training intervention, some delegates will gain significantly and translate the skills gained into improved business performance, while others on the same class will gain little, or be unable to positively impact business performance with any new knowledge/skills gained.

[for more on this - see my enthusiasm for evaluating training using the methodology proposed by Brinkerhoff]

In my view we should expect the same from Performance Support.

...why is it that some truck drivers efficiently get from A to B using Sat Nav., while others using the same system end up stuck in country lanes ?!

When training & performance support are blended, those already using Brinkerhoff's 'Success Case Method' are likely to be gaining important insights on the relative importance of the performance support associated with the training being evaluated.

What is new - is that in situations where performance support is being used to replace 'just in case' training - there could be merit in taking a similar approach to evaluation (i.e. accepting that performance support does not yield uniform outcomes, but through understanding the enablers & barriers to it translating into improved business performance - we can get more from these tools) 


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Performance Support vs. Training

The August edition of the ASTD Training & Development magazine includes a thought-provoking article (page 23) titled 'Training is Broken'. The authors Bob Mosher & Frank Nguyen state "with training's limitations under scrutiny, it may be performance support's time to shine".

to expand further ....

"The problem with our information age is that even with the most successful of formal learning experiences, the amount of information needed to be effective, combined with the rate at which that information changes, makes many well-intentioned training efforts flawed before they are ever released."

Performance Support is defined as providing the right people with the right information at the right time. In other words: expanding just-in-time 'coaching' to replace (where appropriate) just-in-case training. For example, relying on the Microsoft paperclip comes to mind vs. seeking to learn up-front the full functionality of MS Word.

The authors advocate creating a 'total learning culture', and in particular:

"It is impossible to add PS (performance support) to your array of learning options without it affecting how you design and deliver training. PS enables competency in the way that training enables mastery. The two should not be kept exclusive"

My reaction to this is twofold:

Firstly: further thought needs to be given to the sequencing of training & performance support.

  • Depending of the learning objectives for the individual, it may be sufficient to rely on performance support to generate competence ... equally, it may be appropriate for a smaller segment of the workforce to be subsequently formally training to a higher level of mastery (which will in itself create a further channel of performance support for the rest of the workforce).
  • To minimise the costs/complexity of creating performance support, it may be more cost effective to provide a cut-down training intervention 'up-front' (to help all learners navigate how to find the support available, rather than relying on automated software). In this case training may be positioned to 'top & tail' performance support.

As the authors state "Changing the strategy from one of knowledge gain to one of knowledge application is the first key step".

Secondly: I'd suggest that consideration should be given to the consequences of different learning styles when creating performance support (as well as for formal training).

Honey & Mumford's work is generally accepted as a helpful model of categorising learning styles.

  • For Activists - it may be most appropriate to develop maps ... avoiding performance support (PS) adopting a 'telling' approach, but accelerating skill building by providing structure to the information required to be assimilated. For example: to accelerate networking skills - championing the value of organisational structure diagrams (e.g. linking such graphics with a company's 'yellow-pages' database of employees & their interests).
  • For Reflectors - it may be appropriate to link the guidance provided through PS with typical questions that would lead to expanding on the core 'answer'. For example: to accelerate networking skills - providing a report of the 'top five' colleagues citing a particular qualification within a company's 'yellow pages' together with a prompt to consider if additional key words may help refine the data.
  • For Theorists - it may be helpful to link the guidance provided through PS with sources of background information. For example: to accelerate networking skills - providing easy to access links to e-learning modules, books & articles from within a company's 'yellow pages' database
  • For Pragmatists - it may be helpful to ensure there are rapid e-learning modules / video clips / subject-matter-experts that can demonstrate the steps required. For example: to accelerate networking skills - providing video clips of accelerating a task through effective networking.

If we look to Performance Support (PS) to build a certain level of competence (and thus reduce the need for some forms of formal learning) do you agree that different learning styles matter ?