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For the term "Writing Business".

Starting a Nonprofit – Best Skills

Starting a nonprofit is surprisingly similar to starting a business. Here are the basics of starting up, including incorporating, finding a name, writing a mission statement, and setting up a board of directors.

Plan Your Marketing Strategy – Best Skills

Having a marketing strategy can be life or death for a business. We’ll help you get started with developing a marketing strategy for your business and writing a formal marketing plan.

Starting an Organic Farm – Best Skills

Learn all about how to plan for a successful organic farm, from the soil up. Get tips about finding organic farmland, choosing the best crops, writing an organic farm business plan, and other organic farm basics.

What Happens When You Neglect to Create a Mobile Strategy?

So now that you have the building blocks of your strategy in your sights, it important to maintain focus. Now is not the time to get caught up in discussions about building your first app or what type of devices the IT department is going to be buying. You need to stay in the driver’s seat and craft the strategy to match the technology landscape of the community at large and also find a healthy mix of progress and protection to meet your business goals. What The Strategy Provides More than anything else, the mobile learning strategy gives you a compass on which to guide your team’s efforts (maybe more appropriately, a GPS). This aerial view of the mobile learning plan you have in mind prevents distractions. Think of wasted time in meetings, hours writing RFPs, designs and wireframes destined for failure. This strategy helps you continue making progress, not wasting efforts. It allows you to see the proverbial forest for the trees. The Trees Oh the trees! They’re beautiful! With mobile there are just many of them. Every time a new tablet comes out, a tree! With every OS or SDK update and beta distribution, another tree! A press release from a company regarding their plug-ins status on mobile, there’s yet another. You see where I am going with this, right? Reading mobile industry news sites is a great idea of course; it keeps you informed as to where the leaders are headed. Attending conferences and webinars is also a great thing to help you see where technology is going. However, to take a single news story or a single bullet point in a keynote speech and seize on it as the cornerstone as your entire strategy will surely lead you to ruin. Each of these aforementioned ‘for instances’ is insignificant in the bigger picture and should be weighed and considered in light of all the other news items, customer or user inputs, and so on in order to help create your larger strategy. When the trees keep popping up quicker than you can cut them down, you know you are in trouble. You’ll constantly be issuing statements to your management about what the latest development means to them and your work. You’ll start to lose credibility with your stakeholders and designers as well. You must elevate and think big! The Forest Step back for a moment and take a look at the trees from a distance. What direction is the wind blowing through them in your line of work? I’m talking about big ideas, concepts, and trends. Are tablets growing in popularity? Is a particular platform taking over or dwindling rapidly? Are users demanding notifications and content just-in-time? Are advanced hardware features like cameras, geolocation, 3D graphics, etc., a now expected featureset? Are regulations hampering progress in your business? Are the stakeholders ready to make decisions and contribute? Is the mobile web winning over hearts and minds in your IT department due to scalability and ease of deployment and support? These are the telling signs that let you understand where you need to spend your efforts. These signs show you the true shape of your forest. Until Next Time Now that we’ve gone over why a good Mobile Learning Strategy is important, what one looks like and you also have a good idea of what happens when you neglect to use one, we’ll talk implementation next week!

The Power of Us

For anyone who has heard me rant about the power of the Internet being it’s ability to connect people together on a scale previously not possible it is invigorating to see that the June 20th US edition of BusinessWeek is all about this topic. The cover story, titled ” The Power of Us” is an excellent article about how the Internet can connect all of us in new and exciting ways (there are also some online exclusives like Tour the Collectives of Cyberspace which are well worth checking out). Continuing this theme of collaboration Sam Adkins wrote an article called “Innovations in Collaboration” for the latest issue of the Chief Learning Officer magazine which is a great indepth review around the state of collaboration for learning (I have known Sam from his early days at Microsoft where he created the Microsoft Online Institute! (my first company, scholars.com, was a founding partner with Microsoft)). I’m happy to see that more and more people are starting to realize that the Internet is more than connecting people to websites, it is about connecting people to people to leverage their existing knowledge so we can learn/work better faster (for anyone following the writings of Jay Cross ( blog), this kind of collaborative mentoring is an essential part of his concept of workflow learning ( website)). Of course the challenge is that for collaboration to be effective it needs to be linked back to something, like an underlying event or topic (i.e. something that provokes collaboration versus being just passive). Collaboration for the sake of collaboration just doesn’t work anymore (just look at the state of the commerical social networking companies out there). Patti Anklam has it right when she talks about “object-centered sociality” in her blog posting ” Linking Out and Looking for Objects”. Effective mentoring (rant – collaboration to me is a guy using a nickname to go into an AOL chatroom to talk about essentially nothing; collaborative mentoring is about forming deeper long term relationships where something of value is exchanged) is more than technology, it is focused around optimizing the connections both between users and the collaboration technologies. You need things like eBay’s rating system or Amazon.com’s feedback forms when you start connecting tens of thousands of people together; the vast majority of whom do not know one another and thus have no context for evaluating interactions (this notion of trust and reputation). Heck, it is about making the whole process scaleable because the value of the network increases exponentially based on the number of using (basically known as the ‘network effect’) so you need a lot of people in order to get effective knowledge sharing occuring across all types/groups of people. You think learning objects (i.e. *content* objects) was/is exciting? Wait until this kind of collaboration gets (better) integrated into the process of learning! What do you think? Is the collaboration in online learning today good enough or do we need to improve it (or does it really matter?)

The New Social Learning is the Most Authoritative Guide on the Power of Social Media in Organizations

Most writing about social media focuses on how to use it for marketing, but there’s a much larger story to tell, according to Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner, co-authors of The New Social Learning, released this month. This is the first book to help organizations understand and harness social media to improve organizational effectiveness and learning. Co-published by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and Berrett-Koehler, The New Social Learning is for people who are interested in how social media helps people in organizations learn quickly, innovate fast, share their knowledge, and engage with peers, business partners, and customers. More so than any other technology, social media allows individuals to embrace the needs of changing workplace demographics and allow people of all ages to learn in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them. As Bingham and Conner assert, emerging technologies enable a new kind of “knowledge-building ecosystem with people at its core.” The new social learning reframes social media from a marketing strategy to a strategy that encourages knowledge transfer. At its most basic level, social learning helps people become more informed, gain a wider perspective, and make better decisions by engaging with others. Using examples from a wide range of organizations – including Chevron, the CIA, Deloitte, EMC, IBM, Mayo Clinic, and TELUS – The New Social Learning shows how people in organizations across the globe are using social media to collaborate and learn. “A major reason we came together to write this book is to help readers understand how to find new ways to make sense of the mountain of information coming toward them every day,” the authors explain. “We need new ways to filter content, to save information, and to learn from each other and our trusted sources. It is our hope that the new social learning – and the examples, recommendations, and lessons provided in the book – will take us all in that direction.” Tony Bingham is president and CEO of ASTD, the world’s largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field. Marcia Conner is a partner focused on enterprise collaboration at Altimeter Group, a firm that provides thought-leadership, research, education, and advice on leveraging emerging digital strategies. Connect with the authors on Twitter @newsociallearn, and read reviews, chapter summaries, and listen to audio clips at www.thenewsocialearning.com. Copies of The New Social Learning may be purchased at www.store.astd.org. For more information about the book, contact Kristen Fyfe at ASTD: 703-683-8192, kfyfe@astd.org.

The Campfire and the Sandlot

One can imagine the time in our pre-paleolithic history when formal learning consisted of two balanced parts: During the day, people with skills would show others how to do something. “Grab the spear here,” the teacher might say, taking the hands of the apprentice and putting them in the right spot. “Now practice in that sandlot over there by throwing it at that big tree. Keep doing it until you get it right. Then throw it at the smaller tree.” While at night, people around the campfire might tell of great adventures, including myths and legends. People would share ideas, and help their community expand their thinking. The best story tellers would gain bigger audiences and develop their own craft of narrative and suspense. Then came the technology of writing. And suddenly the balance shifted. Communities were able build on the written work of the past. Written work also scaled well, where the work of one village could impact villages all around it. The disciplines of accounting and drama evolved geometrically. Meanwhile, practicing in the sandlot didn’t change much. It was still a one-to-one activity. Since the technology of writing, many subsequent discoveries have further augmented the “learning to know” skills. Paintings, theaters, printing presses and books, photographs, schools, universities, sound recordings, movies, scanners, Google (and now, the Kindle) all turned our culture into masters of linear content, enabling both great artists and our own exquisite vocabulary around such catnip as plot devices, antagonists, suspense, and the hero’s journey, just to name a few. We can watch a Spielberg movie, a piece of campfire-style intellectual property that is the recipient of cumulatively trillions of dollars of investment and R&D, and evaluate it at a level of cultural sophistication that would awe citizens from a even a hundred years ago. And yet, in the “learning to do” area, we are probably worse than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. For teaching the simplest skills, we mirror our ancestors (“put your hands here”), and for the more complicated skills, we don’t have a clue. Ask a Harvard Business School professor to develop leadership (or any Big Skill) in a student and she will go into campfire mode with PowerPoint slides of grids, case studies, and so-called inspirational stories. The advent of flight simulators and computer games, however, have introduced technology around “learning to do” that can finally scale. Today, there is a robust, if nascent, set of “sandlot” tools that is receiving a significant intellectual investment of the current community, and is able to build on the discoveries of the past. Today’s “authors,” often game designers, can begin to create virtual sandlots where participants can practice skills, instead of just hearing about them (the theory of nudging a pinball machine to get a better score, from a campfire perspective, is trivial; the practiced application is where it is hard). And, correspondingly, an entirely new language is being developed. Gamers now effortlessly talk about end-of-level bosses, mapping Actions to interfaces, the attributes of Units on Maps, and what is good or bad level design. During the next twenty years, the sandlot technologies (the “learning to do” through games and simulations) will successfully challenge the campfire institutions of universities, movies, and books not only for the discretionary time of the community (which we have already seen), but for help in improving their quality of life. We are already seeing glimpses of the latter through Carmen SanDiego, The Oregon Trail, Age of Empires, America’s Army, Full Spectrum Warrior, Virtual Leader, and Brain Age. Will Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, is the first Shakespeare or Beethoven of this medium. In other words, people will engage in games not to play a super-hero, but to actually become more like one. And the balance between “learning to do” and “learning to know” may finally be restored.

Schools to be more like workplace says UK Education Secretary

(From telegraph.co.uk) Tens of thousands of pupils will be sent to colleges and a new breed of technical schools from the age of 14, where they will work “business hours” and attend classes for an extra two weeks a year. More professionals and business figures should be brought into mainstream comprehensives to help teach vocational courses, while companies could be paid to let their trainee staff attend lessons. The proposals are contained in a blueprint for vocational studies intended to put an end to the “scandalous” failure of state education to ensure school-leavers are competent at reading, writing and mathematics. More than half of 16 year-olds complete compulsory education in England without achieving a basic C grade in both English and maths, and most then follow what ministers have called “dead end” vocational courses. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, published plans which would see many work-related qualifications scrapped in favour of a new system in which employers play a much greater role. Read more.

Sales Moves by Jeffrey Gitomer: Re-think your holiday game plan and name plan

Its beginning to look a lot like, Chris ah, er Its holiday time. When I was growing up, they called it Christmas. Now, in order to offend no one, they call it nothing. Sad. So, its shopping time, party time, vacation time, family time, gift giving time, bonus time, travel time, football time, basketball time, TV time, and now Facebook posting time. BUT ACCORDING TO LAWYERS AND HR DEPARTMENTS, ITS NOT CHRISTMAS! Easy to understand where bah, humbug! came from. With all of that, and the economy, and politics, and world unrest its time to sell, and celebrate. What will you be doing? How will you be selling? How will you be celebrating? How will you be getting ready for next year? Or are you just making your list and checking it twice? The holiday season is an emotional one. Time to reflect, time to remember, time to review, and time to reconsider what youve done in the past, so you can resolve what to do in the future. Many plans and goals are made during the holiday season some of them are even kept and achieved. Most, unfortunately, are not. Reason? Goals and plans made in the heat and the emotion of the moment are often not realistic. Im writing about this so you might take more time and put more realism into your next years list of proposed achievements. My planning and goal setting has always had the luck of the calendar. I start thinking and writing about the next year during December and January and decide what I will document as my goals on my birthday, February 11th. By then, the emotion of the moment has calmed and I am able to set them, having had a month to think about them. But lets get back to today and the holiday season. Santa (can I say that?) and sugar plums and holiday trees (what an insult to tradition). Hey, lets go out and build a snowperson. Just kidding. Heres what you need to be doing this holiday season. These are my personal recommendations for maximum holiday enjoyment, both in business and with family: Do not use auto-reply telling people your out of the office for the holidays. Either respond, or let them sit until you return. If I send you an email, I dont really care where you are or what you are doing. Send cards that are saved. Go to Ace of Sales (aceofsales.com) and send email holiday cardsthat rock. Thank your customers. Dont just wish them well. Change impersonal to personal. I want a card signed by people, not a printed corporate name at the bottom. Spend as much time as you can playing with kids. They relax you and bring you back to a less stressful time. They also tell you whats next. Remember a few years ago when they were texting and you werent? Ask them whats new. Then start doing it as soon as you can. Get together with the people closest to you and tell them how grateful you are that theyre in your life. Trade some memories. Tell them you love them. Offer some new ideas. Stay positive. Stay sober. And stay focused on family, not just football. Make peace with at least one person. Theres someone youll see during the season thats not your favorite. Talk it out and make it a better relationship. Youll feel great. Be your own Santa Claus. Make a list of gifts to buy, and put yourself at the TOP. Buy yourself something nice. Something you really want. Celebrate your past year and set the tone for next year. Select a local childrens charity and give them some books. As long as were talking Santa, be a real one. Select a local childrens hospital and visit with small gifts. Youll feel way better than the children you visited. (And they will feel great!) And as much as I want to keep work out of this writing, I cannot. Many people will be working, and this is an excellent time to set meetings, have meetings, make sales, and solidify relationships. Its the season, baby. Let it snow. Go out and work in it. Go out and play in it. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, CustomerSatisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email himpersonally: salesman@gitomer.com 2011 All Rights Reserved – Dont even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer . 704/333-1112

In India, Anxiety Over the Slow Pace of Innovation

(From the New York Times) – In the United States and Europe, people worry that their well-paying, high-skill jobs will be, in a word, “Bangalored” – shipped off to India. People here are also worried about the future. They fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite office of the West for the foreseeable future – more Scranton, Pa., in the American television series “The Office,” than Silicon Valley. Even as the rest of the world has come to admire, envy and fear India’s outsourcing business and its technological prowess, many Indians are disappointed that the country has not quickly moved up to more ambitious and lucrative work from answering phones or writing software. Why, they worry, hasn’t India produced a Google or an Apple? Innovation is hard to measure, but academics who study it say India has the potential to create trend-setting products but is not yet doing so. Indians are granted about half as many American patents for inventions as people and firms in Israel and China. The country’s corporate and government spending on research and development significantly lags behind that of other nations. And venture capitalists finance far fewer companies here than they do elsewhere. Read the full article.

How to Map Sales Alignment

A Practical Summary Map of the Sales Process. In aligning Sales Training Processes, we want to take a look at several areas that show “how” sales organizations can be operated with top efficiency. In our earlier post, Aligning the Sales Process, we discussed “Tangible Action Items”. Here is what the tangible action item list looks like in detail. Tangible Action Items Let’s dissect each one of these action items as it relates to Sales Training. 1. Opening – a single paragraph tothank people that provided the opportunity forthe proposal. The last sentence of the paragraph should list the primary value the prospect will receive by making the proposed investment. 2. Background – Companiesdon’t need you to provide them with a chronological history or a bunch of unnecessary facts. The bulk of this section should focus on selected facts concerning the specific business functions or departments that your solution will impact. 3. Current Situation – In this section you lay out the prospect’s business problems and the impact of the problems.in painful detail. Your goal should be to invoke your prospect’s negative emotions (fear, frustration, pain, etc.). 4. Desired Results – Your goal for this section should be to invoke your prospect’s positive emotions (relief, joy, satisfaction, etc.) by helping your prospect visualize the “desired state” for their business. 5. Business Impact – Justify the acquisition. What impact will your solution have on your prospect’s business? How will their operations and financial results change for the better? 6. Decision Criteria – If you don’t have a comprehensive list of the criteria that your prospect will use to make their decision, you probably shouldn’t be writing a proposal. List all of their decision criteria here. 7. Decision Process, Time Frame, and Budget -The purpose of including this information in the proposal is to make sure you and your prospect share the same expectations. 8. Next Steps – There should be specific next steps (and related time frames) that are expected to take place after you submit your proposal. List them here to make sure that you and your prospect are “on the same page”. 9. Closing – Close with a final paragraph that summarizes why your offering is the best solution for your prospect, plus a positive statement of expectation

Hot Tip: Invest In You–Guaranteed Free Prize

A blog. Who me? Who reads these things anyway? I don’t want to just be more pollen clogging up the communication airwaves! ASTD has convinced me that I have something to say and that someone will listen. When asking for advice about blogs, I received this advice: 1. Use a compelling title. 2. Make it interactive. Therefore my initial blog includes a title that incorporates at least six powerful marketing words. (Read on for the interactive part.) Invest in You. As WLP Professionals we are often like the shoemaker’s shoeless children when we are vigilant about everyone’s professional development except our own. Stay on top of the profession including state-of-the-art practices as well as the fads of the day. Read journals, newsletters, and books; attend an ASTD Training Certificate program; read the training spam you receive; subscribe to e-newsletters – often free. Attend virtual learning events: webinars, teleconferences, and webcasts (also often free or for a small fee). And the most important thing you can do to Invest in You is to attend ASTD’s ICE. For the last quarter century I have religiously attendedASTD’s International Conference and Expo, fondly called ICE. I often hear ASTD members say they can’t afford it, because business is down, or because their company isn’t paying for it. I say that you “can’t afford not to attend!” It is an Investment in You. If you won’t invest in you, who will? Attend ICE. It is an excellent way to learn a great deal, get away to a great location, meet new people, renew past acquaintances, and attend sessions where presenters discuss new ideas and approaches. The networking is phenomenal andprovides youwitha ready-resource list in the future when you have questions. Guaranteed Free Prize. I want interaction. Those of you who have been in a training session with me know I like interaction, dialogue, two-way discussion. I want you to be involved in this blog . So, here’s the deal: I will award a prize to everyone who provides me with your business card at ICE on which is written a topic you would like to see in this blog. Please be sure your physical mailing address is on your business card. (Seems like a silly request, but you’d be surprised.) So, want a free prize? Interact with this blog. Look me up at ICE. Give me a topic to address in this blog written on your business card. Clear and fair? I have a third piece of advice for bloggers: Stay ahead of it; the next one is due before you know it. And that’s why I have started writing the next blog, “The Upside of a Down Economy.” So, regarding this blog: S ee you in D.C.!

Help Write a Book! ASTD Author is Looking for Social Learning Tips, Tricks, and Tools

Darin Hartley, author of 10 Steps to Social Networking for Business is writing a new book on social learning and wants the input of learning practitioners who are using social learning every day. Here’s Darin’s message: I am working on a follow-up book to 10 Steps to Successful Social Networking for Business (ASTD Press, 2010) called: 101 (or so) Tips, Tricks and Tools for Social Learning (ASTD Press, 2012). The market is saturated with books on social media and networking in general, but there are fewer books available on the practical application of social learning. Many of you are interested in leveraging social media for learning but aren’t sure of some of the capabilities of the technology or your own capabilities to implement. You want to use the technology but might not be clear on some ways to harness the power of these systems to help support learning readiness in your organization. This book will be full of ideas (101 or so) for lots of ways to implement aspects of social media into your learning and performance programs. In the spirit of these technologies, and because, I believe that real-world practitioners, like yourselves will have the best, most practical tips, I’m reaching out to you for your input. Please send me your social learning tips, tricks, and tools-I have created an intake survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GMKFC5B The survey can be used to gather contact information and the highlights of the social learning best practice you want to share. The best part of this is if your input becomes part of the book, you will be recognized in the book, as well as receive a copy after publication! Join our Facebook fan page to receive updates and special offers.

Hate networking? Then have I got a book for you!

I most definitely fall into the camp of folks who have an intense dislike of networking. Count me squarely among those who has always thought it’s “phony, self-serving, fake, inauthentic, superficial, conniving, manipulative, and useless.” Only I had a time and project management training session on Tuesday in which the facilitator placed networking and relationship building into box II of the urgent/important grid, thus designating networking important and not urgent-one of those things that I should really spend my time on if I want to make the most of my time and my life. Only The facilitator advised us to think about where we want to be in five years and identify the people we need to know to get there. Because knowing the right people is how to get there. Ugh. OK. Fine. I will try to spend more time on networking-even though it feels like pulling teeth. Without Novocain. On a high-wire. OK, so not that last one. Then I remembered, hey, didn’t ASTD Press co-publish a book by Devora Zack with Berrett-Koehler called Networking for People Who Hate Networking? Maybe I should check it out And then I came across this blog post by Meghan Casserly at Forbes.com about the book. Hm, convergence. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? So, I got a copy of the book and started reading, and I am already hooked and convinced that there may be something to this thing you call networking. After conveying the common viewpoint that networking is “phony, self-serving,” and so forth (see above), Zack explains why it’s worth your time to bother with it. She answers the question, “What is at stake?” with “Only whatever you want to accomplish in your life. No biggie.” Sheesh, all right, all right, already. Just tell me what to do, and how to do it. And Zack does. Explaining that the standard rules of networking don’t work for everyone, she provides a new set of guidelines for introverts, the overwhelmed, and the underconnected-guidelines that play to introvert strengths. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I already love it. For one thing, if you are an introvert you may have internalized some of the common perceptions of the introverted-shy, quiet, anti-social, awkward, sedentary, uninteresting, slow, dull-which don’t exactly make you feel too good about yourself. She makes you feel a whole lot better by explaining the strengths of introverts and how you can play them up to have fun networking (wow, what a concept) and get ahead. (And she doesn’t do it at the expense of extroverts, who have their own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, this book is not just for introverts; it has plenty of good information for extroverts as well.) Another benefit of the book is that she provides practical tips for different situations. One example is the platinum rule, which states, “Treat others how they want to be treated,” and is a whole lot more effective than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with people. Other examples are effective ways to manage the job search, benefit from business travel, and plan your own networking events. Finally, there is her tone. Reading the book is a blast. Her writing style is fun, funny, and insightful, enabling you to recognize your own quirks and foibles with a laugh and allowing you to own your strengths. OK, now I want to get back to reading the book and planning my approach to world domination through networking. Oh, I meant my approach to achieving success. The book is Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected by Devora Zack (Berrett-Koehler and ASTD Press, 2010).

Groundbreaking Book Explains the Power of Social Learning for Organizations

Most writing about social media focuses on how to use it for marketing, but there’s a larger story to tell, according to Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner, co-authors of The New Social Learning, set for release in late summer. This book is for those who are interested in how social media helps people in organizations learn quickly, innovate fast, share their knowledge, and engage with peers, business partners, and the customers they serve. Co-author Marcia Conner spoke on the subject of social learning today at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. Co-published by ASTD and Berrett-Koehler, The New Social Learning explains why classic business models, which assume that relevant information is created and shared through management or training, isn’t enough today. There’s too much to know and make sense of, too little time to gain perspective, and information changes too fast to dispense. A virtual water cooler becomes a gathering place to share ideas and ask questions beyond the limits of formal organizations, company meetings, or classrooms. Using examples from a wide range of organizations-including Deloitte, IBM, Mayo Clinic, TELUS, and even the CIA- The New Social Learning shows how people in organizations across the globe are using social media to collaborate and learn. More so than any other technology, social media allows us to embrace the needs of changing workplace demographics and allow people of all ages to learn in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them. And, as the authors assert, emerging technologies enable a new kind of knowledge-building ecosystem with people at its core. Connect with the authors online at http://thenewsociallearning.com .

Criticizing the person versus criticizing the idea

One aspect of Virtual Leader that I have liked is that it forces players to differentiate between criticizing ideas and criticizing the people who sponsor them. And yet, the exact mixture of the two provides a lot of additional information as to how raw, even how religious, the conversation is getting. A post I made on schools and business hating each other definitely hit a bit of a nerve with some people outside our community, posting in. But no topic raises such primal emotions as talking about post-literacy. The very idea that books are “just” a technology, three steps forward and one step back (my own working definition of any technology), strikes some people as blasphemous. It comes off as anti-book, as if being pro-automobile is the same as being anti-walking. One friend asked me not to use the phrase around her. We are going to have to begin talking about post-literacy. The irony is that as we explore the topic, our love for reading and writing will become more heightened, not less.

Computer Game Design as Horizontal, not Vertical, Activity

Universities are teaching courses on computer game design at both the undergrad and graduate levels. Increasingly, courses are also focused on not just entertainment games but educational games as well. Deakin University in Melbourne Australia runs a unit on “Playful Learning Environments.” Columbia University’s Teachers College has a course in games and education. The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has an Edutainment program. Danube University in Krems, Austria, where Post-graduate teacher education is their core business, has a Game Studies Course in their Master Programs in Educational Technology and Educational Leadership, as well as various seminar type courses outside of their Master Programs. These are all major breakthroughs, of course. But the next breakthrough will be when “simulation and game design” is not taught as a vertical skill, like Russian History, Clinical Psychology, or Biblical Archeology, but a horizontal skill, like researching or writing, even public speaking. The tools and philosophies of simulation design allow better and sharper knowledge capture and sharing than the scarily blunt instruments of the writing, taking pictures, and even making films (although they all have their place, primarily to set up learning and to reinforce it afterwards).

ASTD 2011 Interview With The Change Book Authors

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.

5 Lessons from the 2010 Webinars

It’s hard to believe, but the end of the year is almost here (it’s even closer when you think about how Christmas brings everyone’s personal and professional life to a screeching halt). While each of us reminisce about the past year and plan for the next one, here are five quick tips we’ve learned from the 2010 webinars. 1) People Will Listen Better if You Use a Story (Five Ways to Use Business Storytelling) People like stories. Storytelling allows you to be personable, captivating, and persuasive. Even if you’re not planning on writing the next Great American Novel, this can still help you train. Because let’s admit it: no one wants to be trained using only facts and figures. Business may live in a world of facts and figures, but it’s only a smaller part of a universe made of emotion. Stories enable you to make emotional appeals to people. If you use them in training, people remember your point better because they can relate to it. So, to make your point clearer instead of having it lost in a swirling storm of numbers, use a story to explain it! 2) Always Do Your Homework (How to Select The Right Sales Training Provider) I know it’s hard to believe, but planning usually pays off. So if you have to outsource your sales training, you should plan to spend a great deal of time beforehand preparing. For starters, instead of letting the provider decide what you need, try to get an objective assessment of your situation either inside or outside the company. When you do finally select a provider, work closely with them to not only develop a plan of action, but also to plan metrics to establish the ROI. After all, you’re going to be responsible for explaining that to your supervisors; why shouldn’t the provider be responsible for it too? 3) Sales Training Doesn’t Just Involve the Trainer (Sustainable Sales Training) Just because you train a salesperson doesn’t mean that they need to listen. What this means is that unless change is institutionalized, it’s often lost, with most training lost less than 90 days after the program. What’s one great way to make sure that training sticks? Train the sales manager first. After all, the sales manager is the person that the sales team works the closest with. If you can get the sales manager to reinforce the new behaviors even when you’re not around, you have a much better chance of seeing successful training. To adapt an old clich: teach a salesperson and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach their sales manager, and you’ll feed them for a lifetime. 4) Your Team Isn’t Using LinkedIn Enough (LinkedIn for Sales) That statement might sound rash, but think about it for a second. LinkedIn allows you to prospect for the key decision makers within an organization (use the advanced search option to set location and job title). You can also use it to make cold calls warmer by checking to see if you know any of the same people the person you’re calling does by checking second or third degree connections. And most importantly, it can replace business cards. Because after all, when someone gets promoted/leaves that company, that card is almost useless to you. But because of LinkedIn’s dynamic nature, it’s almost like having a constantly updated rolodex. So are you still sure that you’re using LinkedIn enough? 5) For True Sales Transformation, Focus on All Parts of Your Business (From Functional Support to Strategic Business Partner: Maximizing Sales Training ROI) The first step in true sales transformation is defining what everyone’s roles are. By doing this first, you can not only manage expectations for the entire process, but also enable everyone to hit the ground running. As a plus, by making sure everyone knows what they’ll be doing, you’re also helping them take ownership of it. While you’re improving and streamlining operations, don’t be afraid to ask for customer evaluation too. All too often, companies will gear new policies and processes for making it easier to work within the organization. To avoid this pitfall, make sure to garner outside evaluation too. What are some of the things you’ve learned during 2010? What are your expectations for 2011? Let us know in the comments section!

Great Leaders Are Lifelong Learners

Mark Miller, a business leader, bestselling author, and communicator, began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Today, almost 400,000 copies of The Secret are in print, and it has been translated into more than 20 languages.


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