Managing change requires attention to both the process and the individuals affected.
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Successfully going through major transitions is nothing new for the U.S. government.
Learning professionals play a critical role in organizational change, but are not yet considered highly effective at providing change training.
In need of increased cross-departmental collaboration and improved student services, one higher education institution adopted a learning and development advisory board to champion organizational change.
Successful organizations are adopting change management as a fundamental skill, and viewing it as a competitive advantage. Does your organization have what it takes to achieve sustainable change? Research shows that 70 percent of all major change efforts fail to fully deliver. This is largely due to well-planned changes getting blindsided by people issues during implementation. In this session, you will learn how to leverage behavioral science and workforce analytics to support sustainable and…
From the ATD 2015 International Conference & EXPO: One of the most significant problems faced by organizations is how to deal with a competitive environment characterized by continuous and complex change.
In this interview, Walter McFarland talks about the latest research and best practices in organizational change as it relates to talent development.
How much is taught, learned, and shared through the stories your staff or organization share internally and externally? Have you ever wondered how to capture those stories in a way that changes how people think, act, or communicate?
Toni Handler, chief talent officer at MetLife, discusses how the organization is making great strides to understand the capabilities of our talent, further grow and develop that talent to meet the changing needs of the organization and the industry, and acquire talent where needed.
Explore successful change models that illustrate how HRD professionals can and should lead organizational change on every level from small incremental changes to quantum fundamental organizational change.
We all hear of change and change agents in organizational, national, and international contexts. However, resistance to change is as natural as change itself and hence, change agents need to ensure that what they are attempting is grounded and well thought of and executed. This article examines some approaches that legendary change agents have embraced in pursuit of their vision and mission.
This article presents a description of the Planned vs. Unplanned Changes and the internal as well as external factors as the primary forces dictate organizational change. It explains the taxonomy that results as a consequence of the combination of these two dimensions in the form of Planned Internal Change, Unplanned Internal Change, Planned External Change and Unplanned External Change.
This article provides a description of the process of Transition Management and its influence on the process of organizational change. The salient features of Transition Management are covered along with its key components.
Some large organizations that were bureaucratic in their organizational structures managed to bring about change in the way they worked. Lets understand the relationship between bureaucracy and organizational change.
The changes that the organizations introduced in during the phase of global financial crisis were systemic and fundamental in nature and hence there would be many reasons for people and employees to resist change.
In this article we discuss in detail about the role of people who can act as catalysts in driving change.
This article briefly attempts to discuss the Lewin’s Model of Change Management and its constituent components. It examines the applicability or relevance of this model in the present scenario along with the strengths and limitations of this Planned Change Model.
This article presents a description regarding how both internal and external factors influence organizational change and its relative interdependence for helping an organization survive and grow. External forces are the environmental forces of change and are beyond the control of an organization, but majorly influence an organization’s change management strategy. Whereas, internal forces of organizational change are the internal forces of change, which may help an organization in either prospering and remaining ahead of the competition or stay behind the competitive race.
This article identifies various reasons for using Action Research Model as a necessary Organizational Development Intervention for facilitating organizational change successfully. A description is provided on the major steps involved in the entire process of Action Research and the relative advantages of using this approach as an OD intervention.
What is Effective Organizational Change Management? PulseLearning presents 6 steps to effective organizational change management.
How can courage change your culture? Dan Schwartz outlines a few ways ground floor leaders use courage to change the way people think in their organization.
Implementing change in government agencies is possible. What does it take? A commitment to engagement.
This article describes regarding the interconnection between organizational vision, mission and change management. It provides a brief coverage on the role which vision and mission play in influencing the decisions of leaders and implementing change by analysing the strategic factors and environmental forces.
This article examines how organizational structure is determined by a variety of factors including the type of organization, the industry it is in, and the vision of the original founders and the continuance or break from such tradition. The key themes in this article are that the organizational structure often determines its adaptability of resistance to changes in the external environment. Further, the nature of the jobs and the work are also discussed in relation to organizational structure.
This article essentially attempts at identifying the inter-relationship between organizational learning and change management. It further discusses regarding the elements of organizational learning, key mechanisms which facilitate organizational learning and provides few business examples for explaining the process.
This article attempts to analyze various individual as well as organizational sources of resistance to change and their impact on the successful implementation of change. Individual sources of change are the subjective factors, personal habits, inherent fear or inertia and perceptual factors which may act as barriers to implementation of organization-wide change. Organizational sources are directly linked with various organizational threats, resource limitations, inertia from the groups and shortage of availability of right competencies and expertise.
How is the U.S. Air Force organized? See how its basic chain of command structure is laid out. This can change somewhat based on the type of unit.
When planning and leading significant changes, leaders need to be aware of and take action to eliminate the "marathon effect" of organizational change
Learn how government leaders can execute organizational change better, faster, and with fewer resources.
Equipping a new generation of change leaders with enhanced skills in talent development can improve organizational change outcomes, increase engagement, and build new capabilities in federal agencies.
Organizational restructuring and intensive process changes at OPTEVFOR present an opportunity for innovation and improvement. Enter Six Sigma.
During organizational change, employees frequently feel alone and disoriented. Here are four tactics to use to help them in their journey.
Employ these strategies to help cope with organizational change.
Use coaching strategies and communication best practices to support managers through organizational change.
Strategic vision, intentional leadership, and an organizational culture that supports disciplined, resilient talent management are necessary for sustainable change.
Pat McLagan is an advocate for organic and systemic organizational change.
Joshua Berkstresser proposes a three-phase approach to creating buy in for organizational change: listen, communicate, and involve.
Facilitating Change is a World Class Sales Competency that needs attention! This subject is so COMPLEX and CHAOTIC that it is very difficult to explain, manage or measure. As a Trainer, it is critical now for you to be able to understand how change affects your company and is reflected in your training. Let’s keep this SIMPLE! Your company is most likely affected by harder economic conditions today and will be driven to improve efficiency, productivity, and service quality. The training methods and outcomes you present to your employees will be a measuring stick for these improvement changes.Change happens CONSTANTLY and you must be able to ADAPT to it. Business Change – Sales Training In Sales Training, be sensitive to teach your team about the size and scale of any management decision. – small to large – and how it affects operation, sector, location, history, and employee population. Change is about moving an organization from a current position to a future condition, for the purpose of marketplace strategy and employee workplace performance alignment. Evaluating sales and marketing change strategies can be done by looking at other company case studies and ROI analysis. But, beware! “Tested” sales strategies and implementations that have been tried before by other organizations may not be the best one for your company or for your team to experience! Also, be careful to look at the effects of bringing in other Subject Matter Experts or Consultants who have had successful outcomes using “tried and true” methodologies that have worked for them in the past. These too may not work in your particular organization. Make sure that the new change initiative is a process to be facilitated rather than a plan that can be dictated to the employees The People vs. YOU! Facilitating change through people is very TOUGH because people are TOUGH and generally RESISTANT to anything that is different than what they are used to – especially if they have created a habit or routine that seemingly makes their life easier. People are more reactive than proactive and changing anything in their world (personal or work environment) can be confusing to deal with! However, through honesty and being straightforward about your change strategy, you can break through any resistance that people give you. The TRUTH will always set you free, even in business where money seems to be king over the people. Nothing could be farther from the truth! You cannot run a business without the power of people. The love of people is the root of successful business in sales! If there is a change initiative approaching where people are involved, brace yourself for the resistance. You can guarantee that too many opinions will be involved! So, like the good Boy Scout or Brownie, “Be Prepared” to brace yourself emotionally and intellectually for the upcoming change challenges presented in front of you. People present problems all the time at the top, middle or bottom of any organization – that will need to be dealt with if the company is to succeed overall. Many organizational studies say that the best change efforts are better left to employee engagement and creative teams rather than top down leadership. Many change efforts have failed because the company demanded the change process to be handled and controlled by corporate policy and procedure with little or no creative thinking allowed. According to Hank Garber, CEO of National Risk Managers in Long Island, NY, (email@example.com), one way to engage employees in facilitating organizational change is to “make your employees your partners in the process of change”. He also states that you can gain “greater and more effective communication- internal & external- by working to create a sales orientation that permeates every part of a business, leading to increased revenue, client retention, and loyalty by customers and employees. The focus of change should be for the betterment of everyone in the organization as it relates to increase business results that sustain organizational growth.
We spoke at the International Conference & Expo with Change Book authors Mary Stewart and Tricia Emerson. The two talked about culture, getting executives aligned with change initiatives, and why it’s all about the research. Q: Let’s first scratch the surface: Visually, The Change Book is a very unique business book. How do you feel this look and feel help to drive home your ideas and strategies? Mary: One of the big principles that we explore in the book is taking the learner’s point of view. One way to think about that is that we’re talking to people like ourselves, but we are also talking to people with a variety of learning styles. And we asked ourselves, what would we want to read if we were reading a business book about change. There are different kinds of people with different perspectives, different cultures and styles of learning. How do we incorporate both of those things: What do we want from a reader’s perspective? So we thought about that and we came up with a couple of different things: First of all, we are busy. So we don’t have a lot of time. If I start to read a book that’s very linear in fashion and it’s 300 pages long, I might not feel as though I’ve gotten what I should get until I’ve read the 300th page. So that might be an investment of time for me. So we wanted a book that delivered content in small packages – each chapter is something you can literally open up, read (each chapter is probably 3 pages long), and then you can close the book, and you’ve gotten something from it. Another thing is, we know a lot about some things and not others. What we thought about with our book is that maybe we want people to go directly to the topic they want to learn about. We want people to go directly to the table of contents and say, ‘For the questions I have, I want to look at this chapter or that chapter, and maybe that’s all I need for now.’ And they can skip the ones that they feel they have a handle on already. Tricia and I are both visual learners and so we didn’t want to rely too heavily on words. We wanted to layer the content. All people learn on different levels. Maybe some people are persuaded more by stories and metaphors. Some people (like us) are persuaded by visuals—if I can imagine the four quadrants of a model in my head, then I can remember it, and I can teach it. But if I have to read everything in a narrative form, sometimes it doesn’t stick as well. So we tried to layer these things: words plus visuals, plus stories, plus metaphors, plus tools you can use. So maybe one of those ways appeals to you, and that’s what resonates with you. We also need the ability to transfer knowledge to others so that we have something we can take away, and a lot of words on a page doesn’t really facilitate that. And finally, the last thing that we need at the end of a long day is something that’s grim and dry. So we try to make it kind of fun. If I’m reading a book about work, after work, I don’t want to feel like it’s more work! I want to feel engaged and have something that cheers me up. We wrote a book that we liked! Tricia: I think that if something is fun, the ideas will resonate. We wanted to be not only playful, but deep, and based in research. The challenge was that people already know a lot about this topic, so we said, let’s challenge them by capturing those ideas in a way that is playful and fun, but meaty. It would be easy to dismiss the book as a ‘puff’ piece because it is so visually pleasing. But because it is grounded in evidence, that was the fun part: Making the hard work seem fun. That’s what expertise is: Doing something really complicated and making it look easy. Q: You insert a bit of Jungian theory in the book in terms of “archetypes.” What inspired you to connect these ideas in writing about culture change? Tricia: As world-class ‘nerds,’ we’re always looking for research and seeing what comes out of the universities. There was work being done by a woman named Carol Pearson out of the University of Maryland. She latched onto her ideas as she was doing work with CAPT (formed by Isabel Myers who was administering her surveys from there). What I thought was compelling was that she was working with PR firms taking the research around stories and around Jungian archetypes and associating it with brand. The reason why archetypes are so important for change is that stories define who we are as people. I can define myself as a caregiver, or jester, or a hero, and you’re going to know exactly what I mean. So it goes primarily to who I am as a person. Carol was saying that organizations have similar story lines. If I tell you that I work for Google, you’re going to make some assumptions about me. If I say that I work at Apple, you’ll say I’m a creative anarchist, and wear black t-shirts to work [laughs]. There are assumptions based on that brand. That’s compelling because it attracts people whose personal stories resonate with the brand story. That’s how culture comes about. So whenever you start to implement a new change, you have to be aware of the aggregate of all those individual stories and how that plays out from an organizational standpoint. People often come to me and say ‘I want to change our culture.’ And I’ll say first of all, ‘Why?’ And secondly, I get them to understand that they are changing the course of a river. So there has been ‘water hitting those rocks’ for many years, and the truth is that that organization was created by a lot of people gravitating toward the story that it projects. So If I am going to go there and change the culture, I’d better know what that story is, and if I’m going to work within that culture, I need to understand the overriding culture and the substories. And if I want to implement change, I’d better bring some dynamite, and I’d better build some dams. It’s better to work with the course of the river than to try to reroute it! So I think it was a perfectly logical extension on the Jungiuan work into the culture arena. I think we in the profession need to be thinking very hard about that. Q: Harnessing the right kind of people power is a huge part of change undertakings, so how can change leaders combat the dreaded competing silos in shaping their initiatives? Mary: There’s a finding in sociology that people can be motivated by a superordinate goal. That means a goal that affects everyone, that is compelling and that is more important than the goal of one’s own group. One thing we talk about is not shying away from the pain of the current state of an organization. In thinking about moving from state A to state B, organizations don’t like to use negative messages that say, ‘things are going to be bad if we don’t change,’ and they say instead, ‘things will be a little better if we do change.’ We recommend that they do say those difficult things because that creates the difference between that terrible future we don’t want and the great future that we’re all moving toward. So that can create a really compelling sense of urgency in their organization so that they stop competing with each other and instead compete with ‘the world’ as a group. Tricia: It’s base-level. You see what people call “the common enemy” that’s an expression of the superordinate goal. Essentially, what we’re talking about is executive sponsorship. Leaders have to be aligned. Often, the first thing we do in embarking on a large change is to put the executives in the same room together and have them come up with the four words that define what this change is about. This is basd in political science and political commnication. We get them on message. Because if they are not in agreement, it’s not going to happen. It has to happen at the very beginning; at the very top. Often, what companies do in a change initiative is create communications (slides or memos) for their executives. But when you meet that executive in the hallway, they’re not on message. And it doesn’t come from the heart. People look to the senior executives during changes, and if they’re not talking about it, people are going to assume this is a flavor of the month, and they’re not going to pay attention. So the upfront conversation has to be about why the status quo is no longer acceptable. Systems theory tells us that we don’t change until the current system no longer works for us. We have to be clear that the current system is broken. People don’t want to say that, but we’ve got to get executives on point with that. Second, we need to say ‘this is what the vision looks like’—the ‘shining city on the hill.’ It has to be graphic. Then we show them the first steps. This is why we equip them with those four words. Also, groups self-correct. There are unspoken rules that are created when people come together. This is the concept of emergent norms. This is also true of cultures—unspoken rules. People eventually come to understand what’s correct and what’s not. And they behave accordingly. When you pull the executives together and have them come up with these messages, the norms come out. This is all grounded in research. It’s time for us to start employing these principles in trying to have an impact on our organizations. We tend to start with the learning solution, which is great because that’s how you sustain change. But it’s really about behavioral change first, and how you get the system to work to your benefit. Q: In a sentence, what is one pearl of wisdom you’d like your readers to go forth with after reading The Change Book? Tricia: HPI and change management is a field of discipline that requires study. People need to read more research! Mary: Change is hard, but don’t be afraid of the negatve stuff because you can make it work to your advantage.
In this session, you will be led through a structured approach to managing organizational change for talent. The session revolves around a simulated ‘lottery’ for a $100 Visa gift card.
About 60 percent of all organizational change efforts fail. And some authorities believe that the quintessential management competency for the future will be the ability to manage change. But how can change be managed? And is it even possible? Organization development (OD) has been around for a long time. But OD is not taught in most business schools, a fact that complicates matters when it comes to managers trying to lead change with and through people. Too often the project plan is elevated…
As a result of major changes happening within higher education, it is critical for higher education faculty and staff to understand the importance of organization development (OD) as a critical competency.
Change brings both challenges and opportunities. It can bring an organization together by uniting the team around a unifying purpose and vision, or it can create chaos. In this webcast, Mack and Ria Story will cover key leadership principles on leading and leveraging changes in organizations, communicating change and overcoming resistance to it, and implementing a strategy to unite the team around a unifying purpose. After attending this webcast, attendees will be able to: – Identify opportunities presented by organizational change. – Identify two methods for communicating change to decrease resistance to change. – Implement a strategy to unite the team around a unifying purpose.
Workplace learning and performance professionals understand that culture can easily limit much of what we need to do. But, because culture is hard to pin down in practical terms, let alone to effectively change for the better, it remains a baffling issue.
Alex Moore interviews Bill Adams and Tom Gaffney about their Public Manager article, “The Human Element in Lasting Organizational Change.”
It’s time to step up and realize that change must come from your ability to serve as the healer of the wounds that have been inflicted upon those within the business you serve.
Effectively navigating through change is essential to surviving it, but successfully managing organizational change is not easy. Roughly 70 percent of change efforts fail or are derailed, and the consequences are significant in both the short- and long-term.
This TD at Work job aid collection offers 10 tools to help you plan and guide cultural shifts and change processes in your organization.
Trainers must be comfortable with managing change to be effective organizational performance partners. Use this Infoline as a primer on change management tactics and the skills needed to facilitate change. This issue includes useful tools, hands-on examples, and models for change practitioners to use. In addition to a six-phase change strategy model, you will find a list of needed implementation skills, a performance issue analysis tool, and other important advice that will smooth the way of change and reduce barriers. Author: Stella Louise Cowan
Product SKU: 259904 ISBN: 978-1-56286-242-8
Pages: 16 pages Publisher: ASTD Press
The Change Book: Change the Way You Think About ChangeA practical, fun collection of tips, advice, and insights for anyone dealing with or managing organizational change.
The Burke-Litwin Change Model can help you analyze, diagnose and even predict the effects of changing organizational variable such as structure or systems.
This article discusses how visionary leaders need to ensure that their message is not lost once they retire or when the external environment changes. The key theme in this article is that the middle management is crucial to organizational success and plays an important part in being an interface between the top leadership and the rank and file employees.
Change is inevitable for any organization and especially so, when internal organizational structures have to be reorganized to keep up with the external imperatives. When such reorganizations and transitions happen, there are bound to be challenges galore, and this article examines some of those challenges and offers some insights into how such transitions can be handled well.
The article attempts to explain the meaning of the term psychological contract, and it’s interconnection with change management. Psychological Contract is described in an organizational context in this article, and its relevance is explained in strengthening workplace relationships, in analyzing human behaviour and analyzes the subtleties involved in the relationship between an employee and an employer.
This article provides a description about the Practitioner Model and Theoretical Model of Transformation along with its relative strengths and weaknesses. It further explains the commonalities between these two models and its implications on organizational performance.
Organizational change is usually accompanied by a battle between the change agents and those who prefer the status quo. Thus, this article examines how these battles play out with reference to real world examples. The key theme in this organization is that both change agents and status quo adherents have to be understood in a nuanced manner and change itself delineated in a deeper way rather than mere platitudes.
Change can be driven solely from the top. However, for continued success, change should come from within each employee and this can only happen when the organizational culture encourages each employee to contribute to the initiatives.
There are several organizational issues that could lead to failure of ERP projects. To minimize these risks, adoption of proper change and risk management process, plays a crucial role.
This article highlights the factors which are common for both private sector as well as public sector for successful change management across the organization. Further, examples on the organizational success stories as well as failures are provided, for understanding the key processes involved in a change management programme.
This article describes the essence of McKinsey 7S model, provides an explanation about the 7 key integrated elements and how it affects the organizational success or productivity. It discusses the applications of this model in an organizational context and describes the relative strengths and weaknesses of this model.
The change in the industry landscape from manufacturing to services has meant that the role of the HR function has changed as well. This article examines some trends that have emerged concomitant to these changes and how the HR professionals are now much sought after leading to many graduates choosing HR as their specialization.
Marketing agility is not yet another fad. Rather it’s an important component of business agility. It’s about responding to changes in customer behavior and preferences as speedily as possible. This article explains what marketing agility is and how it can be acquired.
The article under coverage describes the meaning of the phrase “Resistance to Change” and attempts to explore various reasons for resistance to change. An analytical interpretation is provided on various types of resistance to change and the possible outcomes on the organizational functioning.
This article explores the practice of organizational diversity across the world by comparing the western experience with that of the east. The key theme in this article is that whereas in the West, the basic norms are followed though there are exceptions from time to time, in the East, one needs a sea change in the attitudes to inculcate respect and prevent harassment at the workplace.
Every organization has a unique style of working which is often called its culture. Organization culture does not stay constant. It changes with time.
This article provides a comparative coverage on the role of Transactional Leadership and Transformation Leadership in Organizational Change Management. It further discusses the benefits as well as disadvantages of transformational leadership style and concludes with real business examples where transformational leadership contributed towards bringing a progressive change in the organization and revolutionized the business world.
External Consultants bring a fresh perspective to dealing with organizational issues and therefore are important for success of the change management programs.
Organizational Analysis from Stanford University. In this introductory, self-paced course, you will learn multiple theories of organizational behavior and apply them to actual cases of organizational change. Organizations are groups whose …
Read how to implement organizational change including where to start, creating strategy, communicating with stakeholders and getting buy-in
An organizational change effort was launched to stay ahead of the competition.
As the federal government seeks to maximize resources amid mounting deficits, organizational change is a top priority. In the private sector, the slow economic recovery is forcing companies to reevaluate their current business practices and explore new approaches for enhancing productivity and increasing profitability….
Given the disruptive nature of the work environment, evolving best practices come into play for leaders seeking to drive lasting organizational change.
Walt McFarland, Founder of Windmill Human Performance, LLC, and former executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, will serve as the 2012 Chair-Elect of the ASTD Board of Directors and will assume the role of Board Chair in 2013. Mr. McFarland created Windmill Human Performance after completing a one year sabbatical during which he studied human and organizational performance, multi-cultural talent management, and organizational change at several institutions and organizations including Oxford and Harvard universities and three Fortune 300 organizations. Prior to taking his sabbatical, Mr. McFarland built a $125 million Human Resource (HR) and Learning consulting business in the federal market for Booz Allen Hamilton. He has consulted for the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, Department of Defense, and National Institutes of Health among others. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Mr. McFarland led the HR and Change Management business of Hay Management Consultants where his clients included the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Marriott, and the Federal Reserve System. He served as an employee of the Federal Government, with his last role as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
At the base of the World Class Selling Competency Model Pyramid are (29) competencies in (4) categories. The categories are: Partnering, Insight, Solution, Effectiveness. Let’s break down the framework competencies that builds a world class sales team / organization. PARTNERING: Aligning Customers, Building Relationships, Communicating Effectively, Negotiating, Setting Expectations, Spanning Boundaries. INSIGHT: Analyzing Capacity, Building a Business Case, Evaluating Customer Experiences, Gathering Intelligence, Identifying Options, Prioritizing Stakeholder Needs, Business Context. SOLUTION: Articulating Value, Facilitating Organizational Change, Formalizing Commitment, Leveraging Success, Managing Projects, Resolving Issues. EFFECTIVENESS: Accelerating Learning, Aligning to Sales Processes, Building Business Skill, Embracing Diversity, Executing Plans, Solving Problems, Making Ethical Decisions, Managing Knowledge, Maximizing Personal Time, Using Technology.
ASTD’s learning and performance professionals are well-compensated, earning on average more than $35,000 more than the national average of $48,000. However, as with past ASTD salary surveys, men are earning more than 16 percent more on average than women. The ASTD market research department conducted surveys with more than 590 members in 2008, providing a snapshot of salaries across areas of expertise, job responsibilities, and industry. The top earners reside in larger companies, manage larger budgets, are more experienced, and have significant management responsibilities. Facilitating organizational change and managing the learning function are the top-paying areas of expertise, but human performance improvement and delivering training are increasing in importance and compensation level. As in past years, men are outpacing women in earnings (16 percent more), which is in line with the national average (17 percent). Men make more money than women at every level, with the average for men at $93,377, compared with $79,051 for women. The survey shows that more women are making $100,000 or more, but the men who are making $100,000 or more are making approximately $14,000 more than women on average. Read more in the upcoming May T+D.
Organizations that effectively utilize a leaders as teachers approach can realize six key strategic benefits. The first reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it drives business and organizational results by ensuring strategic business alignment between senior business leaders and the programs and services provided by the learning function. A leaders-as-teachers program that is aligned with strategic business and organizational goals serves as a type of organizational insurance policy for leaders who teach. The second reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it serves as a catalyst for the learning and development of the leaders and associates who participate as students in leader-led programs. This dynamic occurs in three ways: role modeling, creating a safe environment for feedback, and building networks. The third reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it has inherent development qualities for those who teach. Many leader-teachers say that they are not sure who learns more when they teach.the participants or themselves. They move out of their comfort zone. Job challenges of different types, sizes, shapes, and intensities are the “genetic material” that enables leaders to learn, grow, change, and develop. Teaching, for many leaders, is a very significant job challenge and one that also helps them to see new viewpoints. The fourth reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that leader-teachers have the opportunity to strengthen their organization’s culture and communications. Culture transmission and communications through leader-teachers occurs in numerous ways including role modeling, social networks, communities of practice, continuous learning and communication flow across geographies, businesses and functions. The fifth reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it enables them to serve as catalysts for business and organizational change through their direct access to a wide range of learners. The sixth and final reason to implement a leaders-as-teachers approach is that it drives numerous cost efficiencies by leveraging top talent. The leaders-as-teachers approach affords opportunities to deliver programs for “pennies on the dollar” compared with many other forms of delivery.
Note: This is a guest post from Michael Boyette from the Top Dog Sales Blog. Want to contribute your own guest post? Let us know! Trigger events are the silver bullets in sales, because they allow you to get in front of the right person at exactly the right time. Sales coach and author Craig Elias points to three types of trigger events. Each trigger signals a high probability that the company will eventually purchase new goods and services. Trigger #1: Executive moves Executives are typically hired to make a difference. And since top executive tenure tends to be short, they want to make their mark fast. They need to buy solutions and services in order to make that happen. And they need something new, because if the old stuff was working they wouldn’t be there. It’s also easier for new management to change suppliers. They can say that a previous vendor was a poor choice made by someone before them. Trigger #2: New funding Studies show that companies with new funding are up to eight times more likely to buy services than comparable companies that haven’t had a similar funding event. Funding is meant to drive growth, which means purchasing new solutions and services to help with sales, marketing, product development, operations, and so forth. It’s not just that they’re flush. Many times management is under pressure to spend new money quickly to show investors they’re doing everything possible to succeed. Trigger #3: Launches New products create demand for supporting products and services that fuel sales growth for the new product, such as marketing services, sales training, and e-commerce. New products often spawn the departure of personnel and other changes as people move on to newer projects. Product launches therefore create secondary trigger events, such as new funding and executive changes. Hitting the Trifecta Corporate acquisitions, by their very nature, involve changes in executive roles, which often ripple throughout the entire organization. They also involve changes in funding, with some groups doing better under the new regime and some doing worse. Like any other major organizational change, a merger creates multiple trigger events, each of which can be leveraged into a sales opportunity. How to Capitalize Use something as simple as Google Alerts to search for product launches or LinkedIn to follow changes in executive staffing. One Sales 2.0 application for this purpose is iSell, from OneSource, which informs you of the trigger event, and also provides context, such as information about the industry and the prospect’s competitors. The application provides you with enough information to have a relevant conversation the first time you talk to the prospect in response to the trigger. Michael Boyette is the managing editor of Selling Essentials newsletter and editor of the Top Sales Dog blog (http://rapidlearninginstitute.com/top-sales-dog). He’s also managed marketing/PR programs for DuPont, Tyco Electronics, and US Healthcare, among others. In addition, he’s authored ten books on a variety of subjects for such publishers as Simon & Schuster, Dutton and Holt. Contact Michael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(From PRNewswire) — A research survey conducted by consulting firm Chronos Consulting has found that more companies in the U.S. and worldwide are utilizing virtual teams to reduce costs, enhance productivity and attract wider talent pools in today’s volatile economic and political environment. Companies headquartered in the United States and Canada, and from industries such as financial services, oil & gas, telecom, cable, call center operations, consulting and transportation, responded to the survey. This cross-industry research survey identifies the top 8 benefits to organizations by using virtual teams as well as the challenges in utilizing them and provides compelling insight and practical recommendations to senior managers tasked with managing human resources and organizational change. It focused primarily on the HR function, but also included the operations and information technology functions at their points of intersection with HR, particularly when utilizing virtual teams. “Our survey was designed to identify the challenges, trends and opportunities provided by virtual teams for cross-industry organizations in North America, especially when dealing with organizational and human resource restructuring,” said Imaad Mahfooz, Managing Principal of Chronos Consulting. “Our goal is to use these results to answer questions like how the virtual team model should be applied to business and what are the top benefits of deploying these teams.”
Linda Hainlen reminds learning managers to look beyond just the learning event (or trees) and focus on the long-term organizational change (or forest).
Social learning is how people learn today, through their colleagues, social media, and technology. Learning and development professionals need to help employees connect with other people and information within and across organizations, so they stay engaged and keep up with industry, job, and organizational changes. This session will introduce the concept of social learning and the skills for becoming a social learner. You will interact with social learning activities, and will see a demo of a…
The criteria for success in important management positions have grown with the accelerated pace of organizational change, making it hard to fill positions created by organizational growth and the retirement of Baby Boomers.
Organizational change generates a range of emotions among employees, so learn to help them manage their responses as change initiatives launch.
When employees struggle going through an organizational change effort, leaders need to know how to guide them through to get results.
Learning professionals are in a unique position to uncover and take the lead on organizational change opportunities.
Good project management skills are needed for the launch of any learning initiative designed to support organizational change. This issue presents a project management process that will enable you to manage training projects, from conception to evaluation, successfully using the familiar ADDIE (analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate) model of instructional systems development. Samples of project schedules, estimates, and budgets will help you get organized quickly, while the job aid will help you identify the key resource needs.
A learning portal can be a simple online archive if you like, but today, your learning portal can be an engine for organizational change!
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Federal managers can anticipate mission changes, organizational restructuring, and austere budgets in fiscal year 2013 and beyond. The challenge will be to incorporate these into headquarters-mandated mission changes while creating and maintaining high-performing subordinate teams. The most successful managers will understand headquarters’ reality and be prepared to participate in decision making. They must provide well-reasoned alternatives aligned to established metrics and program assessment criteria.
Leaders at a large hospital learn that they may be responsible for organizational conflict following widespread company changes.
An interview with David Cooperrider, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University; and Chairman and Founder, Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Cooperrider is best known for his theory and practice of appreciative inquiry as it relates to corporate strategy, change leadership, and positive organizational scholarship.
The Challenge-Learn-Innovate-Change-Know (CLICK) model has been designed to aid workplace learning professionals in developing knowledge workers and supporting personal and organizational transformation – one challenge at a time. Employee innovation is a very pertinent challenge in the workplace today. Most w…
The idea of workflow learning is surprisingly controversial. I attended the “Innovations in E-learning” symposium last week, put together by George Mason University, the US Naval Education and Training Command, and the Defence Acquisition University. I was interested in hearing what Jay Cross, Clark Aldrich, Harvey Singh and Ben Watson had to say about workflow learning, collaboration, and simulations, since these are things I have always been passionate about. Jay’s presentation, as usual, was delightfully challenging, non-linear, evocative, and provocative. But the presentation on “embedded learning” by Michael Littlejohn of IBM astonished me. He provided a well-structured overview of the practical deployment issues of embedded learning. My surprise was not so much at what he said, but that it was being said by IBM. If Big Blue is advocating it, then workflow learning has come a long way, baby. I did a piece on this on my own blog, and have already had a lot of back-channel skeptical feedback. In all that I have read about workflow learning, I have yet to hear anyone argue that it is not a great idea conceptually, but there are a whole lot of people who can’t believe workflow learning will ever work in practice. They are blinded by their culture. It reminds me of the mid-to-late 1990s when I was promoting online learning to a resistant training community, who could not believe that anyone would prefer a computer to a classroom, or that any online learning could be as effective as that delivered by a trainer. Many were also desperately afraid of having to re-invent themselves. At the time, my mantra was “it’s warmer on the web,” because I was trying to get through to trainers that online learning was all about connecting people, building communities, mutual mentoring, and sharing experience. To a largely techno-skeptical audience numbed by the self-indulgent atrocities of CD-ROM courses, online learning was never going to fly. The key that unlocked the e-learning Pandora’s box, unleashing a few gems within a cloud of pestilence, was a culture shift. Corporations started taking for granted ubiquitous desktop computing and internet connections, and started looking to leverage them to improve business processes and cut costs. Trainers started to get as myopically starry-eyed about e-learning as they had about PowerPoint. Workers started to appreciate the need to keep themselves current, valuable, and marketable because it became clear that companies were not going to provide more than the basic essentials. Training vendors saw a need to defend against more tech-savvy competitors, as well as an opportunity to broaden markets and raise margins. Quite a lot of learners had a few good e-learning experiences, mind-sets started shifting from resistance to acceptance, if not enthusiasm, and e-learning was airborne. Workflow learning requires similar, though probably more dramatic, organizational and personal culture changes. A major prerequisite for workflow learning is a culture that fosters collaboration and sharing, that rewards (rather than punishes) individual support initiatives, that builds a fundamental responsibility for informal coaching and mentoring into every employee’s job description, and that places as much value on time spent helping others perform as it does on time spent performing. Another prerequisite is a widespread personal attitude toward supporting others that values highly the giving of both time and knowledge – two things most workers jealously protect. It’s not about the technology or the processes (though of course they are important), because without the individual will and the corporate mandate, the technology will gather dust. To change corporate culture, you need to demonstrate to senior decision-makers how much money can be made or saved (preferably this quarter) as a result of the proposed change. If they buy into the financial reward, corporations can move mountains. But how do you formalize, in a way that bean-counters will accept, the ROI from something as apparently fuzzy and informal as workflow learning? IBM advocates thinking small and running a pilot. That may be a starting point, but it’s not a strategy. Do you need to get conceptual buy-in at CEO level and have a bold shake-up, top-down, in order to achieve any sustainable culture shift? Or do you abdicate and wait for a bottom-up worker-driven evolution that effectively bypasses formal learning systems? However you do it, without a culture shift away from the “me-focus” that most organizational review/reward systems instill, and toward a “we-focus,” workflow learning just ain’t going to fly! Godfrey Parkin
I had a high school teacher who observed that the male students seemed to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to be male students, and the female students seemed to spend a lot of time trying figure out how to get male students. As I work with companies implementing both social networking and simulation technology, I have observed a new hierarchy of needs. 1. Learning to Be People strive to know who they are. What do they like to do, and what do they hate to do? With whom are they most comfortable, or motivated, or depressed? Who are their role models? How can they get satisfaction and sustainability out of life? What are their priorities? What is a good day and what is a bad day? Where do they fall on the issues of the day? Is it better to be directive or participative? As people figure this out, they want to test this new personality out on the world. They make comments online, and post pictures. They speak up at meetings. They give suggestions and then orders of their co-workers, friends, and subordinates. They strive understanding and validation. To a large degree, this has been the drive of much of social networking and web 2.0, as well as pop culture, and “Cosmo” and Match.com self-tests. People today strive for self definition increasingly globally, not just defining themselves by where they live, where they work, or as a friend or enemy of the next door neighbor. 2. Learning to Do People then want to have a impact on the flow of their world – to change the course of activity in a positive way because of what they do. This is where the big skills, such as leadership, stewardship, project management, and innovation come in. This is where people put forth some blood, sweat, and tears, and experience ownership This is where simulations play a critical role. Immersive learning simulations, especially practiceware, have the ability to give people ten years of distilled experience in 15 hours. Sims develop an awareness of the all-critical “active knoweldge” trinity of: 3. Learning to Know At this point comes the learning to know. This might be cultural literacy/history, or organizational history, or trivia. This is where we try to make sense of the world we inherited – to piece together the giant puzzle. This is where books and the History Channel become so interesting. It is around this third category that academics has built both their curricula and their research process, one of the reasons I have so little hope for the role of Ph.d dominated Foundations to add significantly to the first two. I say again that what we teach is limited by what we can teach. The exciting thing about this new media order is that we have more power at our fingertips for development than ever before.
Strategic Workplace Learning in the Public Sector A little less than two years ago on this blog, I entered a curmudgeonly post on “The Non-Strategic State of Workplace Learning” (See Agile Bureaucracy, June 16, 2008 – http://community.thepublicmanager.org/cs/blogs/agile_bureaucracy/archive/2008/06/16/the-non-strategic-state-of-workplace.aspx ). My snarky premise was that even though since the mid-90s government at all levels had begun requiring strategic goals, measurable outcomes and periodic reporting on results, “this shift (hadn’t) yet made a noticeable dent” in aligning training and development investments with agency mission or management priorities. For example, I noted, “In a post-silo organizational culture, Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) would be fully involved in the organization’s strategic planning and management systems (and such T&D) activities would be (integrated) to meet priority challenges.” Designing Strategic Leaning Efforts I also speculated that indicators of this integration might appropriately include the training community’s involvement in designing learning efforts to: foster an organization-wide performance culture improve oversight and accountability behavior recruit, engage and retain young professionals – among other priority HR challenges help IT professionals and non-technologists alike keep pace with expanding E-expectations help managers transcend boundaries of federal, state and local governments and foster collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit sectors assure that transparency becomes an organization-wide value help agency managers plan to share responsibility for achieving results – with other governmental levels, internationally and the private sector prepare managers for and respond more collaboratively to catastrophic disasters Again, the unflattering picture I painted two years ago didn’t include much evidence that the T&D community even had a seat at the table on these matters. To be sure, some of the feedback (and blowback) I received suggested that I had painted too bleak a picture. (After all, even the Dutch Masters included a few swatches of thick, white oil paint on their invariably dark canvases.) Nevertheless, few colleagues – trainers, HR leaders, and other public management professionals – could point to instances where training figured as an integral part of strategic public sector initiatives. Strategic Workplace Learning Observed Well, in searching for such illuminating examples, I’m beginning to see some light. In fact, the theme of the summer 2010 issue of The Public Manager is strategic workplace learning – with likely articles featuring case illustrations from such government organizations as: the US Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; and New York State, among others. Moreover, many of these public sector workplace learning innovations will be presented in interactive or workshop-style sessions at the American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD’s) 2010 International Conference & Exposition to be held in Chicago, Illinois, May 16-19 ( http://www.astdconference.org/ ). Here are brief highlights from just two of these training efforts – both involving the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA): Enabling Success in Afghanistan: Building Cultural Expertise at the US Department of Defense As the United States geared up to send thousands of troops into Afghanistan, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) faced the challenge of preparing hundreds of intelligence analysts to enter the country knowing something of the history, culture, politics, and governance of the region. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Expertise Training Program was developed to deliver cultural expertise training to intelligence professionals and operations personnel across the Intelligence Community and US Department of Defense. This case study considers how the DIA responded to a time-critical, far-reaching problem that crossed agency and coalition lines. It examines how to meet the need for an immediate solution while addressing questions of funding, format, location, and ideal content – in effect, how to create and evaluate a sustainable model for preparing employees to operate in a range of countries and cultures. Creating a Collaborative Culture at the Defense Intelligence Agency After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the members of the Intelligence Community (IC) needed to transform from a stove-piped culture, where employees viewed knowledge as power, to a collaborative culture, where employees saw knowledge sharing as their personal responsibility. Creating such a culture begins with an effective onboarding program. In 2004, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) leadership directed the development of an orientation and acculturation program to bring together all junior-level, professional-grade employees, regardless of job responsibilities. The 5-week program develops an understanding of how all elements of the DIA work together to support US National Security objectives and Department of Defense operations, and to collaborate with other Intelligence Community (IC) members. This program is innovative among IC onboarding courses by its attendance policy, the length of the course, the curriculum, and the instructional methodology. DIA recognized that new employees could be effective change agents and designed its onboarding program to help establish a knowledge sharing culture. The recitation examines training techniques DIA has used to foster a culture of collaboration across organizational lines, explores the challenges within organizations that inhibit collaboration, and identifies the role of senior leadership in transforming the culture and the onboarding process. Share Your Observations In subsequent posts, I’ll be sharing more examples of how government organizations are aligning training efforts with strategic agency goals. If you know of other examples of how public sector organizations have begun to align workplace learning efforts with priority mission and management challenges, please let me hear from you. Better still, encourage trainers and managers in these organizations to comment on this blog directly and weigh in with their own best practice T&D stories. I’ll make sure to share these examples with a larger audience.
How Will You Give Your Sales Force the Competitive Advantage in a Knowledge-Based Selling Environment??? Wednesday, February 22nd at 1:00pm E.T. Success in the future will go to those salespeople who are positioned in the minds of their customers as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and solution providers — and who are an active, visible presence in the marketplace. As a sales or training leader responsible for optimizing sales performance, your role will likelytransition from skill-builder and product-trainer to “brander”, where you will help your salespeople design and implement strategies that leverage their insight, capabilities, knowledge, client successes and more. Join David Topus and team members Diane Crompton and Jennifer Eggers of the TOPUS organizationfor the one hour webinar “Selling with Brand Power” as they lay out what may very well be the last frontier of branding — a future where salespeople themselves are a central part of the company’s value proposition, and differentiation comes from how well they are positioned, packaged and promoted to customers. Learn… 1. What dynamics are causing this shift from skills and product knowledge to personal brand as differentiator 2. What a well-branded salesperson looks like 3. How social media presents new opportunities to achieve competitive differentiation 4.What tools are available for raising salespeople’s visibility and credibilityin the eyes of customers 5. The cultural and organizational considerations in building a well branded sales force 6. What this means for you as sales or training leader, and how you can turn this evolving opportunity into a game-changer for your sales team David is a nationally-recognized consultant, trainer and soon-to-be-published author who has been helping companies and individuals communicate their value propositions more effectively. Since 1990 he has worked with hundreds of companies and thousands of salespeople across dozens of industries in sales messaging and readiness. He wrote and produced the Victory! sales training curriculum used by Fortune 1000 companies around the world, and was the founding general manager of ExecuNet’s personal marketing services group. HIs first book, “Talk to Strangers; How Your Everyday Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life”, is due out in April from John Wiley and Sons. As he so aptly describes it, he “takes the mess out of people’s messaging and put the art in their articulation”. Register for the webcast here: https://astdevents.webex.com/astdevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=598653884
Background The New York State Office of the State Comptroller (NYSOSC) in Albany maintains a broad scope of responsibility unmatched by similar offices in the United States. As the state’s chief fiscal and accounting officer, the Comptroller is a separately elected state-wide official whose primary duties include managing and investing the State’s cash assets, auditing government operations, paying all NYS employees, reviewing State contracts, overseeing the fiscal affairs of local governments including New York City, and operating two of the state’s retirement systems. As an agency charged with monitoring the effective financial operation of numerous other agencies and entities, the NYSOSC understands the need to carefully maintain its own project management (PM) and business analysis (BA) capabilities. Therefore, the Office engages in regular self-assessment and performance improvement in these areas. The ChallengeNYSOSC has built a reputation for continually advancing project management best practices through its PM Center of Excellence (CoE). However, realizing that enhanced business analysis practices can also increase project success and user support, as well as heighten customer satisfaction, the agency has sought, since 2006, to improve its business analysis practices by instituting a Business Analysis Center of Excellence (BACoE). NYSOSC performance improvement programs had primarily benefited PM teams prior, and support had not been available for the advancement of BA teams. By promoting BA competencies, knowledge management, enterprise analysis skills and practices similarly to the PM program, NYSOSC sought to achieve comparable, positive results. Strategic PlanningThe agency’s cross-division Business Analysis Work Group completed a strategic report in 2006 presenting the benefits of advancing NYSOSC’s use of business analysis and making next-step recommendations, including the launch of a BACoE. In 2007, the second phase of the project was launched to begin to develop and support business analysis as an organizational resource. Kevin Belden, Deputy Comptroller and CIO, and Kirk Schanzenbach, Director of the Program Management Office (PgMO), were executive sponsors; and Barbara Ash, Assistant Director for BA in the PgMO, was the project manager. The project team consisted of numerous representatives from BA units across the agency. To provide counsel on industry best practices, and to resolve issues that were impeding progress, the project team enlisted the help of ESI International. “Having worked with ESI in the past to build our project management and business skills capabilities,” said Schanzenbach, “we were confident that they were the best partner in achieving our BA goals.” ESI began by working with NYSOSC leadership and the project team to outline unifying objectives for BA and PM skills areas, including the need to: The Solution In cooperation with ESI, NYSOSC determined the key strategies to ensure a successful program. Foremost among these were: To support the program launch, ESI designed and delivered a two-day, project kick-off workshop that centered on the program’s four-part learning framework and targeted development of knowledge, skills, ability and attitude. Day one introduced the program to senior management and focused on developing best practices in alignment with BACoE operating standards. Executive activities included competitive, interactive group exercises that helped to define and prioritize goals around developing the BACoE. Day two introduced the program to front line business analysts and ensured a common understanding of BA concepts and executive directives. Following the kick-off, the team worked in subcommittees on project deliverables, received best practice advice, and exercised skills and competencies through coaching exercises. Special attention was also given to evaluating and treating such problematic areas as standards and methodologies topics for the BA group. “This intensive learning experience was very well received as a serious enhancement to the traditional instructor-led effort.” said Ash. “Participants also felt that it accelerated the program launch significantly compared to previous programs.” Toward Change In the early months of the program, ESI participated in regular group meetings and calls in order to provide coaching and to reinforce goals and specific training targets. While ESI continues to deliver essential counsel, the NYSOSC has quickly achieved the competency to offer coaching and mentoring using internal resources. Other significant program accomplishments and benefits to date include: Championed by executive sponsors Belden and Schanzenbach and project manager Ash, the internal team continues to recommend and oversee BA learning programs and progress, as well as support the advancement of BA maturity.
New Research Reveals That Candidates Seek More Employment-Related Content On Companies’ Social Media Sites
(From PRWEB) — Bernard Hodes Group, a leading provider of integrated talent solutions, released the results of a new research study focused on the utilization of social media networks by companies interested in sourcing and recruiting new talent. The study, entitled “The Employment Conversation: How Employers & Talent are Meeting on the Social Web,” additionally reveals how the online population utilizes social media for seeking career-related information. Among the most interesting findings is that only one-third (32%) of those surveyed and searching social media sites found an employer presence containing helpful job-related information. “Our research supports the importance of a social media presence from a recruiting and branding standpoint,” said Alan Schwartz, president and CEO, Bernard Hodes Group. “Companies must be committed to nurturing their social web presence and ensure that they are connecting with potential candidates in an honest and authentic manner.” According to human resources professionals who participated in the Hodes study, the biggest challenges to deploying social strategies for recruiting purposes are managing internal training and resources needed for implementation, convincing co-workers or superiors that it is a worthwhile endeavor, funding, and organizational reluctance to change. Read more.
This week in a delightful discussion group called Business Creativity (an international but essentially Indian Yahoo group focused on Human Resources), the moderator challenged the list with a multiple choice question in the form of a human resource case study problem (essentially, whether or not to grant paid leave to Don, an employee seeking to further his education on company time). This provoked some interesting feedback, but most of the contributors stayed strictly within the implicit reasoning of the initial choices. I saw this discussion as an opportunity to review some of our classic pedagogic strategies and made the following reply, highlighting some points about formal and informal learning as well as CoPs: I see this exercise as a first phase of creative thinking, and this for three reasons. In other words, questions like this can be a springboard for creativity so long as we accept to think outside of the box and even aim precisely for that by pushing the cases further and, if need be, to their breaking point. Two of the techniques we use in training where an activity starts with a multiple choice are: 1. to use it to brainstorm on ANY and ALL kinds of similar cases within the experience of the group of learners, who then must account for as many elements of context as possible (including, for example, personality issues, social networks, etc.), all of which allows us to discover the importance of these “social reality” issues. In other words, the learners fill in the missing context from the initial case by relating it to real, known contexts. This actually helps, on another level, to build group and individual confidence and to create the reflex of relating what would otherwise be considered as “canned wisdom” to their own very real human context. 2. to go back through a deconstruction phase and find out why each of the initial choices was proposed (i.e. what kind of reasoning lies behind them — including the good reasons that lie behind faulty choices — but also, what was the didactic strategy of the author of the question! – a process which often makes people think on a different and highly stimulating level). These are processes that work well within a group of learners in a seminar but aren’t easy to apply in an online discussion group, where the level of mutual knowledge and personal trust is impossible to assess. They also work well in CoPs (Communities of Practice), which is the major theme I’m now working on, in conjunction with informal learning. As a case in point of the deep compatibility between formal and informal learning, multiple choice questions — the simplest of teaching tools — are highly formal but can provide occasions for lively informal learning. We maintain, of course, that in all configurations people learn mostly from informal exchange, but — as Jay Cross, the leading light on the subject, insists — that formal learning can be structured in such a way as to encourage it. Unfortunately, that still rarely happens. At the end of the day, my answer to Don (in my own context, not the abstract one proposed in the question) would be to throw two questions back to him: what do you need to learn and what are you expecting to learn from the course you want to enrol in? I wouldn’t try to dissuade him from taking the course (and discussing how that fits in to his work schedule), but I would try to better understand what his goals are and how they correlate with mine (i.e. the organization’s). I would use the knowledge gained from this exchange to understand in what form what he needs to know professionally exists (or fails to exist) in our real work context. I would then look at ways in which three separate things can happen: This would probably lead to the definition of one or more CoPs, as well as the integration of Don into one of them. Of course, everything I’ve said above focuses only on the learning side of the problem, which certainly wasn’t the initial intent of the question. But I hope this serves as a demonstration of how something as formal as a Multiple Choice Question built around a specific learning point (in this case, how to manage work time in relation to personal and organizational goals) can stimulate creative contributions. That works, of course, only if the trainer’s attitude is also creative. Unfortunately, many trainers are still thinking in terms of pre-established “teaching points” and fail to recognize what I would call “lateral wisdom”. There’s increasing reason, however, to believe the old school is losing ground and new approaches to learning — first as a complex personal, social and professional goal, then as a process — are truly emerging. The process has always been put first, but the priority of goals is finally being recognized, at least in some quarters. And that should lead to some unexpected new conclusions.