The Agile Revolution

Linear thinking, prescriptive processes and standardized, unvarying practices are no match for today’s volatile product development environment–or any “exploratory” project, for that matter. As processes swing from anticipatory to adaptive, project management must change also. It must be geared to mobility, experimentation and speed. But first of all, it must be geared to business objectives.

Read More

The Professional Services PMO

One manager’s clients asked him to assist with improving the effectiveness of their PMO. They made it clear that the office was only responsible for the professional services arm of the business–and they weren’t prepared to discuss extending the scope of the PMO to include the product development team. Read on for more on this unique situation…

Read More

The PPM Promise

Why isn’t project portfolio management delivering on its promise in so many organizations, and what can be done about it? It starts with building a strong foundation of processes for idea generation, business case development, project review and selection. Here are guidelines for making it happen.

Read More

Collaborative Effort

Collaborative technologies have been looming on the horizon for some time, and now with fresh impetus from Web 2.0 and other developments, they are playing a greater role in the planning and execution of various business initiatives. That’s because application development requires many entities to coordinate their activities and collaboration–whether virtual or otherwise–and has become a ubiquitous way of software development.

Read More

Technology is the Answer! Now What Was the Question Again?

There is a plethora of choices out there and many companies are taking a hard look at newer Web service-based architectures and technologies to address deployment, performance and interoperability needs. However, many of these technology decisions are made well downstream from the business and, in some cases, downstream from application design and development. This minimizes their effectiveness and in many cases causes expensive IT initiatives to fail.

Read More

Topic Teasers Vol. 60: Adding to Agile Proposals

Question: In our attempt to move to an agile-driven organization, management has asked my team to be involved with responding to a proposal that, if we get it, could provide an increase of 50% in our gross income this year. Since we’ve always complained that we weren’t consulted before contracts were signed, now the pressure is on for us to be very wise regarding what we add to the company’s submission. Are there any rules of proposal development for agile teams?

A. Yes. Just like rules for creating speeches can make the difference between wowing the crowd and expounding to a bored audience, learn the correct way to write proposals. Hint: It is better to win the business than look good and have a fancy document.

B. Yes. Many colleges and universities have degrees in contract writing. At least one person on the team should have at least 12 hours of formal education before you include the team’s ideas in the proposal. The good thing is that this training can also be used for PDUs.

C. No. Those who become skilled in contract negotiation and responding to proposals are housed in a special procurement department. They have eked out their skill sets through years on the job. While you can sit in on meetings, don’t risk looking foolish. Always defer to their ideas and decisions.

D. No. There is so much political intrigue and price fixing involved in Request for Proposals (RFP) or other versions of how organizations solicit bids that not much depends on the actual proposal submitted by your organization. See if anyone on your team knows anyone in the potential customer organization who could leverage the decision to your advantage.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Read More

Operational Requirements

On development projects, operational issues should be factored into the requirements or you could end up with a product that meets all the business requirements but is too costly to maintain and support in the real world. To avoid this, consider adding a seat at the table for operations to participate in the requirements gathering stage.

Read More

Product Qualities Approach, Agile Style

Using product quality to deliver business value in agile development is vital. This article provides a how-to for progressive change agents interested in delivering products that generate measurable business value for their customers and stakeholders. You’ll learn how product qualities differ from functions, how to identify the right ones, measure them and use improvements to drive business results.

Read More

Agile in Software Projects: Where Does it Fit? Where Doesn’t it? What about Hybrid Models?

Agile is being adopted by many organizations to support the business goals of quicker delivery and lesser costs. This article provides an insight into the scenarios where agile would be a best fit; explains certain situations in which agile might fail; and also highlights the advantages of other software development methodologies and the best projects these can be used for.

Read More

Agile 2006 Roundup

Focused on delivering business value early in the project lifecycle through timely communication and response to requirements, agile development is one of the fastest growing trends in technology. More than 1,100 people attended Agile 2006 last month to learn the latest in agile techniques. Here are some show highlights.

Read More

Topic Teasers Vol. 94: Clearing Confusing Priorities

Question: Whether I’m working on an agile or a waterfall project, we always get an overload of features or activities to complete. In theory, it sounds easy to prioritize them; but in practice, that’s where most of our projects bog down. Defining the order becomes a politely disguised free-for-all. At the end, while we may be able to set up the project, I’m still not convinced that we have made the best long-term choices for the company in our selection of which items we have elected to implement. Is there a fresh way to handle these decisions?

A. The manager or product owner who pays for the project always has the final vote. Even if you know he or she is missing important viewpoints, you should accept those decisions and work your hardest to make them deliverable. If it goes astray, it’s not your problem.

B. A business analysis tool, the Purpose Alignment Model, may be a fresh insight for your management and your team into which items on a Scrum Backlog or a project management plan should be prioritized and which should be done with a minimal amount of cost and effort. Try this fresh approach for a new view of your project work.

C. Rapid application development (RAD), which uses fourth-generation languages and frameworks such as low-code development web applications, is a technique one can use across all industries and on all types of projects. Get a clearer look about the value of each product feature by switching to RAD.

D. Some purposeful activities in modern corporations are not appropriate for project management techniques. Only governmental and not-for-profit entities can gain value by their use, since the need to get a profit or any return on investment is limited in these types of organizational structures.

Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Read More

The Requirements Question

So, who is the right person or group to decide requirements during systems development? Sounds like an easy question, but to get to the real answer, you need to look at your overall business strategy and the IT/Business relationship. The bottom line: This isn’t for amateurs, and for goodness’ sake, don’t try this at home.

Read More

Complexity Measurement: A New, Comprehensive Metric for Project Management

If properly controlled and managed, complexity will become a critical factor for success in the development and implementation of projects. This paper describes how the complexity of any project can be measured. We will explain how, through its measurement, complexity can provide a significant contribution to management: First, as an early warning indicator that can forecast and forestall possible crises in time-sensitive situations; and, second, from a business intelligence point of view, allowing for identification of the main factors that generate or increase the level of complexity.

Read More

Repurposed Coal Plant Sites Empower and Revive Communities

Coal plants be gone. Power plant repurposing projects around the nation highlight the compelling case for redevelopment and use of cleaner energy. These projects also offer points of reference for policy makers, public managers, business leaders, and community stakeholders to retire power plants in their localities by fostering enterprises focused on clean energy. Industry analysts predict that environmental and economic factors, including new federal regulations, will lead to the retirement of dozens of aging coal-fired power plants in the coming decade. Many old generating plants occupy strategic locations in urban areas, often with access to valuable waterfront. These sites present tremendous opportunities for new civic and private uses such as riverfront housing, shops, and offices, as well as museums, parks, and other community amenities.

Read More

Feds Lead the Way in Making Training Evaluations More Effective

U.S. government agencies are taking heed to the recommendations outlined in a 2009 ASTD report, The Value of Evaluation. In 2009, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) published The Value of Evaluation: Making Training Evaluations More Effective, a report that revealed how well training evaluation was meeting organizations’ business needs. Responses to the 26 questions led to disturbing conclusions, particularly that “Only about one-quarter of respondents… agreed that their organization got a solid ‘bang for the buck’ from its training evaluation efforts,” the report states.

Read More

We Have Arrived…

“Investment in learning and development remained steady through one of the most challenging business years in more than a decade.” Despite a challenging economic environment, more than $125.88 billion was spent on learning and development in 2009. While the use of social media has skyrocketed in the last 18 month…

Read More

The Weary Middle

After a recent survey of 2,001 midlevel leaders worldwide, combined with additional contemporary data, Development Dimensions International (DDI) offers suggestions for organizations to prepare their midlevel talent to ensure business success in todays postrecession workplace. DDIs report, Put Your Money in the Middle, defines a midlevel le…

Read More

One to Watch: Wasuthorn Harnnapachewin

As a senior consultant for one of the top three coaching firms in Thailand, Harnnapachewin has been involved in more than 150 human resource development projects. Her experience working with clients from a wide range of industries has given her unique insights into the talent development field. She is passionate about helping businesses achieve sustainable growth through more effective people development.

Read More

World-Class CEOs Are Made, Not Born

(From Business Wire) — Experts devoted to the study of leadership point to character and competence cultivated over decades as precursors to success. RHR International, a leader in the field of senior executive performance, believes it is possible to accelerate this cultivation timeline as well as the development results. In part one (“Defining World-Class Performance Dimensions”) of a 2-part edition of its publication, Executive Insight, RHR International outlined the criteria that define world-class leadership performance in the Chief Executive position: Read more.

Read More

Workers Agree: Company Culture Matters

(From Business Wire) — As many companies continue to focus on recession management strategies such as cutting costs and increasing operational efficiencies, Randstad’s latest Work Watch survey reveals company culture is a critical driver of business success. In fact, two thirds of working adults (66 percent) believe that company culture is very important to the success of their organizations. The survey also found that employees believe company culture has the greatest impact on employee morale (35 percent), followed by employee productivity (22 percent). Twenty-three percent of younger workers, ages 18 to 34, say it plays the biggest role in building job satisfaction. While company culture may be the secret weapon companies need to retain workers and increase productivity and morale, it has suffered during the past two years. According to survey respondents, 59 percent believe that recent economic events have had a negative impact on company culture. With layoffs, reduced benefits and wages, morale has suffered and many workers are feeling disengaged from their employers. “Companies that will perform well will nurture the factors that make their employees feel happier and engaged at work, more connected to overall results, and more motivated to make a strong contribution,” said Eileen Habelow, PhD., Randstad’s senior vice president of organizational development. “Going forward, companies can’t ignore culture. Rather, it should be addressed as a critical component of their overall business strategy.” Read more.

Read More

Why is a Mobile Learning Strategy Important?

With mobile learning getting a lot of interest recently (roughly 50% of businesses surveyed say they have plans to implement some form of mobile learning in the foreseeable future), it’s becoming clear that many companies don’t have a plan to successfully create a sustainable, robust mobile learning strategy. This is evidenced by the quick jump from talking about goals and roadmaps to the proverbial “We need an app for that!” conclusion that is being reached in meetings and boardrooms across all industries and company sizes. This rush to deploy without proper planning is a big oversight and will ultimately make it difficult to understand if your mobile efforts are successful. A mobile learning strategy can help give your work grounding and a solid base on which you can build. This approach helps you bring mobile in where it will provide the biggest impact. A metered, reusable framework is far more useful than a scattershot approach. When apps are pumped out and then discarded it’s often because they didn’t perform as expected. These apps likely don’t fix the problems that were considered but not dealt with fully during the design phase. Perhaps the app shouldn’t have been built at all. Maybe its focus should have been narrower, or altogether different than what it turned out to be. A mobile learning strategy’s importance is not only limited to savings during the design and development of the applications that may be created. Real, actionable metrics can only be established for individual efforts when the bigger picture is considered. What will you measure? How will you know when you are successful? What sorts of changes are you able to and prepared to make when you start to get data back from your learners? The creation of a strategy will allow outside stakeholders to help weigh in on your anticipated mobile learning efforts to come, giving your work a much needed validation. The strategy’s strengths will help build support throughout your organization, creating trust between your partnering departments and content creators allowing them to create great work. The concerns that could arise about the focus of the efforts or how it fits in with or aligns with other work will already have been addressed. This proactive approach works with other facets of business planning, why would mobile learning be any different? Over the next few weeks, we’ll investigate topics related to this, covering the building blocks for a mobile learning strategy, the effects of creating one, what happens when you neglect to create one, and then finally how to get started on implementing your completed strategy. Come back and check out our next installment.

Read More

What would you like to see in a Leadership Handbook?

Yesterday, we had a great meeting with Elaine Biech to start talking about a new project that we are planning for next year: a Leadership Handbook. Having worked on the ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals, I am excited to get the chance to expand that product into new areas (we are also working with Patti Phillips on a Handbook for measuring and evaluating, but I will talk more about that in another post where I will also introduce her forthcoming blog). Some of the ideas we tossed around in the meeting included at least three sections (development, characteristics/competencies, and tasks or roles of leadership). We came up with a huge list of potential contributors. We also thought about opening up the scope of the book to include chapters on leadership that focused on the military, politics, global politics, the ministry, as well as specific business sectors such as financial, healthcare, and so forth. As a bit of a news junky, the idea of opening up the scope like that sounds like big, juicy, exciting fun. (At least, until we get into the nitty gritty of editing, proofreading, managing the schedule, bugging the authors for answers to queries, and so forth!) At present, no outline exists, the topic list is wide open, and only a loose timeline is in place. Those of us who attended the meeting have been tasked with coming up with five to six contributor names or topics to give Elaine as fodder for her ideas, so I thought I would cheat a little and see if any of you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see covered in a Handbook on Leadership.

Read More

What Sales Teams Want

In order to determine what salespeople and sales managers want, we must first determine what they need to know. As markets, models, and buyer expectations have changed, so have the necessary knowledge and skills for the successful salesperson and sales manager. No longer are product knowledge, persuasiveness, and persistence enough. To truly understand what successful sales team members need to know and do, we asked them with our sales training research. ASTD Research surveyed 210 sales trainers and 179 salespeople during the summer. Overwhelmingly, respondents said that they value sales training and believe it to be very or extremely important. When asked about the skills required to be successful in their jobs, survey respondents indicated these top five: Respondents were also asked what kind of knowledge is required to be successful in their jobs. Valuable knowledge areas include: Accenture research found that although 146 of 244 executives from six countries said that the sales team plays the most prominent role in their company’s long- and short-term success, 41 percent of managers and executives from more than 2,500 sales organizations said that their salespeople are performing below expectations (Nightingale Conant/Andy Miller). This backs up our thought that we need a new approach, one in which the sales development and training needs of sales teams are viewed through a strategic and holistic lens. To be successful, this approach requires the alignment of all aspects of talent management, skills development, and sales process execution. Revenue goals must be aligned with business outcomes and business processes that are deliberately designed to allow salespeople to develop productive customer relationships and deliver appropriate solutions. Further, salespeople must be equipped and empowered to make decisions that benefit both the buying and selling organizations, and sales managers must be given both the time and the training to coach and develop their sales teams.

Read More

What Makes Successful Salespeople

What do sales coaches need to know in order to help their salespeople succeed? More importantly, what does a complete, well-rounded, super-star sales professional do anyway? Surely, if you cornered one of these high-performing sales professionals at a social event and asked them what they actually did as a sales professional, there would be more to it than “I help people.” What exactly is it that salespeople DO anyway? I’m talking about what they actually do, not what their company does or what their value proposition is, but what THEY DO day in and day out as a sales professional? To be a complete sales professional, their daily activities should be in support of creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. What are these daily activities? I have analyzed the outputs and deliverables of thousands of sales professionals. I found that these tasks can be grouped into eight key areas. The idea is to help them become highly competent (i.e. superstar) sales professional through helping them: 1. Manage Themselves – highly competent salespeople keep their personal life in check. They stay healthy. They set goals, they make plans for your future. They keep their finances in order. They find stress-reducers. 2. Manage the Sales Cycle — The highly competent sales professionals seek out continuous comprehensive training and education to support their sales process. You should also be able to initiate, plan, and execute a sales process in order for your product or service to be assimilated into the buying organization. There are many systems out there to choose from. 3. Manage Opportunities – Highly competent sales professionals understand how to identify, manage, develop, and close the right sales opportunities. To do this, they’re experts at opportunity planning, territory management, opportunity development, and closing. 4. Manage Relationships- Highly competent salespeople become a trusted advisor to the buyer only happens when the sales professional is successful at building relationships, communicating, distributing information, and influencing others ethically through collaborative dialogue. Building relationships within your own organization is just as critical. Make sure that you take the time to forge relationships with your support teams, delivery teams, management or any other party that is involved in your sales process. 5. Manage Expectations – Highly competent salespeople continue their relationship after the sale. Providing top-notch service to buyers ensures repeat business and a solid sales reputation. 6. Manage Priorities – Highly competent salespeople understand the crucial elements of managing personal time to achieve ones goals and objectives. Great sales professionals understand that they must define the right tasks for the day or month, prioritize them, schedule them and execute. 7. Manage Technology – Highly competent sales professionals utilize technology in order to maximize personal and organizational effectiveness. 8. Manage Communications – highly competent sales professionals understand their choices in selecting, delivering, and leveraging communications strategies and mediums in order to effectively get their message across. There are many people that wonder why sales professionals are “harried,” have short attention spans, are always too busy, or seem a “little flustered”. Perhaps by identifying and understanding these eight areas, you have a new found appreciation and an understanding of why? So the question is, does you sales coaching program help salespeople become better in each area? How can you help them understand which area they are the strongest in? Or which area they are the weakest? A well designed sales coaching program provided by a reputable organization can help sales managers and sales coaches build action steps and coaching programs that help salespeople improve in each area every single day.

Read More

What is to Come in 2008

As I read the blog I’d like to post a few updates on our research and predictions for e-learning in 2008. 1. Social Networking is hitting the corporate scene, driving tremendous demand for informal learning, or what we call “learning on-demand.” The solutions organizations are looking for include blogs, wikis, and communities of practice. The CoP companies we talk with tell us that their businesses are booming (Tomoye and Mzinga being two which focus heavily in this space). We just surveyed 800+ worldwide training directors and CLOs and found that 83% feel they have a significant or urgent need to change their learning programs to deal with the learning styles of younger workers. And despite this need, only 35% feel that they have the tools and experience to do this today. What we expect to happen in 2008 is an explosion in the use of “self-published content”- that is solutions which enable learners to reach out and support each other. Organizations which do this today include Cisco, IBM, Symantec, Infosys, and many more. In fact, this is something which is relatively easy to do – if you remember that your role is to “facilitate”this content interchange, not “create content.” 2. E-Learning, as defined, is not as successful as one may believe. I have to say, I started working in e-learning before the term was coined and spent much of my career over the last 10 years in the development, analysis, and research in this topic. I figured that by now we would have “figured it out.” This is not the case. In fact, in the same research I cited above (to be published this Spring), only 19% of organizations feel they are doing a good job at building “high-impact”courseware, 13% at building simulations and other higher fidelity forms of training, and most surprising of all, only 23% feel that they are doing a good job at blended learning. This really suprised me. While many large organizations are doing quite well at this, far more are still behind the curve. I believe the problem is that the complexity of e-learning grows each year, and now we consider searchable content, audio, video, and web 2.0 interactions as “standard” for all internet applications. Content which is in the early 2000s “page turning” style has become very boring and hard to complete. Anyway, much more to talk about but I’ll keep this short. Please contact me at (510) 654-8500 or visit our website for more – we’re publishing our 2008 predictions this week. ( www.bersin.com)

Read More

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!

Read More

Watch Out! Your Customer is Evaluating YOU!

E valuating Customer Experiences To discuss and deliver a training program on “Evaluating the Customer Experience”, expect that your audience will give you highly charged feedback that is vocal, interactive, and filled with very personal testimony – positive and negative. Why? Depending on the customer service outcome, in any given shopping experience, organizational and human behavioral psychology are forced into one place – revenue gain or loss at the expense of an emotional consumer. Quantify Your Customers Buying Habits Managing the Sales Learning Function becomes an important factor here in successful training and development.With this in mind, it is even more critical now to watch carefully and evaluate the quarterly value proposition percentages and net revenues of a business against the customer experience. Sales and Customer Service Training Managers need to teach their teams the importance of learning to execute best practice behavior that ensures a positively outstanding customer relations experience. The result of not applying these behaviors at any random moment when interacting with a buyer or repeat customer can have dramatic negative results on a business brand that is trying to sustain a positive marketplace perception. The Customer is now a REAL Consumer Watchdog It is at this place, where the consumer has a lot of “power” over the company. Viral feedback, negative or positive, flies in the face of internet social economics where the consumer will post comments on Facebook and Twitter. Negative postings can severely handicap a brand, cash flow results and organizational effectiveness. It is extremely expensive to fix the perception of the customer. Negative customer feedback can derail the efforts of a well planned business strategy designed at increasing customer market share. The Customer is in Control Organizations are facing more intense customer service pressures, so Trainers need to make sure that soft skill competencies in customer, sales and service delivery are taught in ways that reflect positive business results. According to the Journal of Marketing Research, http://www.jstor.org/pss/3152082 “when a service failure occurs, the organizations response has the potential to either restore customer satisfaction and reinforce loyalty or complicate the situation and drive the customer to a competitor.” The ASTD Sales Training Drivers defines “evaluating the customer experience” as assessing the effectiveness and positive impact of solutions and then communicating the results to the stakeholders. Key actions include: identifying and using operational metrics that clearly express beneficial results that are understood and valued by solution stakeholders. (net promoter scores, total cost of ownership, return on investment (ROI) time to competence and productivity ratios.) Therefore, it is the Trainers responsibility to show how a total customer experience will influence customer perception, customer value, service quality and customer loyalty, as it relates to financially responsible business results.

Read More

Washington Press Corps Veteran Ilyse Veron Takes Helm of The Public Manager

The Public Manager, a quarterly journal about empowering government and developing leaders, announces an editorial change in the Spring 2011 issue. Washington press corps veteran Ilyse Veron will take over as editor, according to the journal’s publisher Carrie Blustin, while longtime editor Warren Master will assume a new role as Editor-at-Large. “For eleven years Warren Master kept readers on the leading-edge with innovative public management articles,” said Blustin. “We look forward to his continued contributions as Editor-at-Large, anchoring interviews for the journal’s new podcast series, sharing insights in his blog, Agile Bureaucracy, and presenting at our events.” “This change brings new opportunities to provide more timely content and perspective,” Ms. Blustin continued. “Ilyse Veron brings years of award-winning experience covering media, technology, and public affairs, including actions of every federal department and agendas of multiple presidents. And, she’s done it for CQ and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, among others.” Master’s final spring issue centers on public managers’ preparations for climate change. Ms. Veron’s first issue, due out in June, will offer a forum on 21st century government – its technology, performance, and talent management. The summer issue of the journal will launch Ms. Veron’s new column, Editorial Perspective, and other features. Ms. Veron joined The Public Manager after years of producing events, programs, and reports with MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, and she has already begun blogging and podcasting along with Mr. Master on management issues at www.thepublicmanager.org. Ms. Veron’s career began at The Brookings Institution, followed by years at Congressional Quarterly. In the mid-90s, she served as principal researcher on The System, a book by David Broder and Haynes Johnson. From 1995-2002 she reported for the NewsHour on national and business news, earning an Emmy award for coverage of the Justice Department’s case against Microsoft and recognition from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Since 2002 Ms. Veron has specialized in outreach and project management, working on citizen events and broadcasts such as PBS’ By the People and “Bernanke on the Record,” and she has developed content on various media platforms for nonpartisan nonprofits with a federal focus. Her freelance bylines have run on Scripps Howard Wire Service, Wired.com, Foxnews.com, and elsewhere, most recently in Education Week’s Digital Directions magazine. About The Public Manager The Public Manager is a unique, editorially independent quarterly journal about government leadership that works. Focused on empowering and developing leaders, it publishes ideas of experienced professionals about critical public management issues including budgeting and accountability, technology and innovation, and the people who make it happen. Additionally, with events and web postings, it fosters a community for current, former and future managers to share best practices and resources regarding federal challenges and professional development. The Public Manager allies with the Partnership for Public Service, GovLoop, Young Government Leaders, the Graduate School, the American Society for Public Administration, and others who serve career public servants. The Public Manager is published by The Bureaucrat, Inc., a nonprofit controlled affiliate of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). ASTD is the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development field whose members work in thousands of public and private sector organizations. The Bureaucrat, Inc. maintains its own corporate officer and Board of Director structure to guide The Public Manager.

Read More

United Kingdom: 9 in 10 Training Leaders Say Virtual Learning Will Tackle Skills Shortfall

(From Training Press Releases) — Concerns over skills shortages in the workplace have overtaken flexible working to become the number one driver for companies procuring live online learning resources like virtual classrooms and virtual conferencing, according a new study due for release next month. Produced collaboratively by learning provider REDTRAY and benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, the new study collates the thoughts, opinions and intentions of over 180 Learning and Development professionals across the UK. While delivering a better, more flexible environment for employees is the biggest challenge that learning and development experts want to address with online resources today, the new data suggests that training professionals are re-evaluating the capabilities offered by the technology they procure. They increasingly expect the Internet to work harder for them in more demanding business areas. Read more.

Read More

UAE: Securing the right talent is one of the biggest challenges

(From BusinessIntelligence Middle East) — Finance Business Partnering is the way ahead to gain competitive advantage, according to a new report from ACCA and KPMG. The training, development and retention of the finance function is crucial to the success of an organisation, especially in the current economic climate, asserts a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and KPMG called Maximising People Power: Effective talent management in finance. The report emphasises that securing the right talent is one of the biggest challenges faced by Chief Finance Officers (CFOs), adding that the finance function must now take the opportunity to make a difference to their organisations’ success – whether in the public or private sector, whether in a listed multinational or small and medium sized enterprise. Ian Lithgow, partner, KPMG says: “The next decade presents a critical opportunity for finance professionals to help create and sustain long term value for organisations. But the challenge lies with employers to realise and leverage talent within their finance function.” Read more.

Read More

Turning performance reviews into a tool for greatness

Performance-review time often scares the willies out of both managers and employees. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I am currently reading the edited manuscript for Ultimate Performance Management by Jeff and Linda Russell, and I think they may be on to something…. The book is part of a new ASTD Press series, the Ultimate series, which is a spinoff of the ASTD Trainer’s WorkShop series and is designed to give you everything you could ever need to train people in a particular area. Other books that are currently planned for the series are Elaine Biech’s ASTD’s Ultimate Train the Trainer and Christee Gabour Atwood’s Ultimate Basic Business Skills Training. But I am getting off topic, I wanted to talk about Jeff and Linda’s book, which deals with transforming the scary once- or maybe twice-annual performance review into an ongoing development tool that enables people to go from “Eh, well, I am doing OK,” to “Wow! I am doing GREAT!” The book presents a series of workshop designs that transform the performance review from a single retrospective event into an ongoing, forward-looking development process. Jeff and Linda present a larger performance management framework called the Great Performance Management Cycle, which has much of its roots in ideas from Chris Argyris, Donald Schn, and others. Implementing the framework probably requires a fairly substantial change in the way that organizations manage their people, but has potentially huge benefits for employees, their managers, and the organization as a whole. This is because the ongoing coaching conversations that Jeff and Linda advocate enable employees to feel heard and be encouraged to do great things, managers are encouraged to help their employees achieve those great things, and the organization as a whole reaps the rewards of all those great things. The book primarily provides everything that a trainer or facilitator would need to facilitate workshops for managers and employees on the new performance management model, including lots of training tools, participant handouts, training instruments, and learning activities–all of which is good, practical, here’s-how-get-it-done stuff. However, for me, the heart of the book is chapter 2, which explains the theory and thinking behind the model and is a fascinating read.

Read More

Tips for Professional Success in a Down Economy

WARWICK, R.I.–( BUSINESS WIRE)–With the unemployment rate at 8.1% and climbing, many Americans face the interview process for the first time in years. Whether they’re vying for existing opportunities, or recently unemployed, many executives and senior management need to review and revamp their resumes to highlight skills and experience employers are seeking. Waffles Pi Natusch, President of The Barrett Group ( www.careerchange.com), says, “Now, more than ever, senior level executives need to re-evaluate how they are marketing themselves so employers take notice.” Natusch, an experienced speaker on executive level career development issues, offers the following tips for career success in a down economy: ( Read the original release at BusinessWire.)

Read More

Thunderbird Executive Education partners with Xenel in Saudi Arabia

Thunderbird, in partnership with the Xenel Group, has delivered the first three modules of an executive development pilot program for middle and upper-level managers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The program began in March and covered strategy, finance, marketing and leadership. It mixed classroom instruction and Saudi-based case analyses with hands-on involvement in real-world projects. The modules jointly blend the best of current academic research with a detailed knowledge of the Saudi Arabian operating environment. The role of professional development is shifting, according to Dr. Ahmed Gabbani, Xenel’s executive education director and one of those responsible for bringing Thunderbird and Xenel together. “In the past, its focus was to provide managers with management knowledge and prepare them for promotion, and it was also used for reward and recognition,” he said. “Today it is about moving it up a level in terms of business outcomes. As we all know, staying competitive in the global marketplace demands new skills and approaches to business.”

Read More

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.

Read More

The Economic Downturn: Learning’s Time to Shine

How can there be light during a downturn? By using their expertise, workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals have been given a torch, to help their organization survive the downturn and allow them to emerge in a stronger competitive position when the economy recovers. In the current economic downturn, organizations have been forced to use cost cutting strategies. Departmental budgets are being trimmed, with the learning function being no exception. Learning and development functions are not only being pushed to economize spending on learning activities, but to simultaneously continue to build critical skills and knowledge. A new report by ASTD and i4cp, Learning in Tough Economic Times, indicates that between a fifth and a quarter of respondents said that, to a high or very high extent, the down economy has had a negative impact on each of the following: However, there has been a benefit which WLP professionals need to monopolize, with nearly four-in-ten respondents saying that their firm placed a stronger emphasis on learning during this downturn than previous downturns. Organizations that place a stronger emphasis on learning were also more likely to point to higher market performance, highlighting the bottom-line benefit. Conversely, reducing learning resources during tough economic times was associated with poor market performance. Organizations appear to be learning from previous experiences and realize that eliminating learning opportunities can be crippling for an organization. One respondent to the survey used an impactful analogy to describe this from a previous experience: “turning off the educational tap leaves a company dehydrated with no ability to grow – no way to give the company nutrients”. Experts agree that during these economically difficult times, learning professionals have the opportunity to show the strategic business value of workplace learning and performance. Talent management has never been more important than during this economic downturn, and learning professionals have a significant influence over its success, with expertise in competency management, skills assessment, and organizational development. Thus, the onus is on WLP professionals to demonstrate learning’s effect on developing talent in organizations by ensuring there are processes in place to find, hire, and keep talent. WLP professionals need to partner and collaborate with organizational leaders to demonstrate how learning can positively impact corporate performance and ensure survival through the economic downturn and allow them to emerge in a strong competitive position when the economy recovers. Learning needs to focus on what impacts the bottom line and is business crucial, and a direct cause-and-effect relationship needs to be evident between learning initiatives and results. Source: Learning in Tough Economic Times (ASTD/i4cp) Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.

Read More

The Bottleneck – A Lack of Succession Planning in HR

We are all faced with a hobbling paradox. Most agree that employees make or break an enterprise, but the HR team often seems to be constantly catching up. Business leaders complain that they have to “break in” new HR people, and that individuals with HR degrees in college are not overly useful. Finally, when business leaders do praise HR, it is an individual person who gets praised, not the department. Obviously, this impacts Training and Development efforts directly. Any real effort to develop Big Skills requires a trust on the sponsor’s part and a competency on the deliverer’s part that too often are just not there. And any T+D efforts not around Big Skills is just treading water for the training group. As I work with global organizations, I have recently been aware of a staggering truth. Most HR groups have no succession planning for themselves. This is true even when HR works hard to create succession planning for every other part of the enterprise. If this is true, it both provides an explanation and a surprisingly easy remedy for the Hobbled HR group. And best of all, HR is already good at it: they know the tools of identification, rotational assignments, fast tracking, retention for strategic talent, partnering with business groups on critical projects, and global exposure. We have all heard the jokes about the lawyer who died without leaving a will, or the shoemaker’s children going barefoot. So maybe it is time for the doctor to heal thyself.

Read More

Technology and the Education Industry

Ever since the SnakeOil post a lot of us have been watching and waiting for the inevitable changequake to occur in the education business. Content is king The medium is NOT the message Analagous to the way technology – digitasl technology – has changed whole industries seemingly overnight The changquake in the recording industry – the music is what they want not the package you force them into buying music on demand music consumers vs music producers The changequake in the photography industry Edwin Land was right People want the picture and they want it now 90% of film development labs have gone out of business Kodak, an iconic company, almost went out of business (and still might) as they swing entirely away from the old analog model pf picture taking to the new digital photography This is extending into the film industry in ways not yet known until broadband big pipes become more widespread the telephone industry is in the crosshairs at the VOIP crossroad. same about to happen in the television industry technology again is changing everything television on demand without commercials television consumers versus television producers control of time – time shifting – anytime control of space – location shifting – anyplace content control – on demand when will technology channge the education industry to give us on demand learning anytime and anywhere? The pieces are in place. When will the information consumers tell the information producers what they really want? The technology will become part of the background. As musicians and producers are learning in the recording industry and television writers and producers and directors are learning in the broadcasting industry, it’s not the station that counts, it’s the show. It’s not the CD label or artist that counts, it’s the tune. So it’s not the educational technology that will count, it’s the content. And some of the gates will be – Interactivity and Engagement; Relevance; Timeliness; Ease of Absorption – Adopt and Adapt; Collaboration and Community of Practice; eMentoring and eTutoring (to carry the content from the formal end of the contuinuum to the informal side (where 80% 0f the learning occurs). What will help me learn to do my job when I need it the most? How can I access the knowledge right now? Who can give me the know-how when I will be on the job and need it by tomorrow?

Read More

Talent Mgmt Strategies in Recession and Recovery

Providence, RI ( PRWEB) March 17, 2009 — HR Technology Solutions, the developer of the HRToolbench online suite of HR applications designed specifically for small and mid-sized organizations, has announced the release of a white paper titled, “The Day After Tomorrow: What steps should you take to prepare your company and its talent management practices for the inevitable economic upturn?” This white paper provides guidance and direction for business owners, executives and human resource professionals who are seeking talent management solutions suitable both for a difficult economy today and improved prospects tomorrow. “Many business leaders are wondering what initiatives they should work on today to guarantee future success,” said Robert Levy, president of HR Technology Solutions. “This paper shows them how to develop an effective talent management strategy that meets their workforce needs during a recession and gives them a competitive edge when tomorrow’s recovery comes.” With insight from leading human resources practitioners and consultants, this paper discusses how development of competencies should be the basis for any talent management initiative, and drafting comprehensive job descriptions based on competencies will prepare a business to meet its current and future talent needs, among other advantages. This paper discusses how to build that strategy, including: ( Read the entire release on PRWeb.)

Read More

Survey: The Best Companies for Leaders Demonstrate How to Weather Economic Storms and Prepare for the Upturn

(PHILADELPHIA, BUSINESS WIRE) The world’s Best Companies for Leaders-among the world’s most respected-are focused on developing leaders who will not only survive and thrive in the current financial crisis but will be well positioned for growth once the economy improves. The 2008 Best Companies for Leaders survey-conducted by management consultancy Hay Group and Chief Executive Magazine-identifies the top 20 best-in class companies (see below) as well as the attributes that make these companies known for great leadership. The research suggests a number of best practices to help organizations and their leaders navigate the significant challenges brought on by the economic downturn as well as key tips to prepare for the upswing. Surviving the downturn When asked what organizations value the most in leaders, 83 percent of the best in class organizations as compared to others said “execution”. Organizations value leaders who can achieve results through others. These leaders create a climate in which people know exactly what is expected of them. In ideal times, the survey results showed, people value authoritative and democratic styles of leadership in comparison to the other four styles of coercive, affiliative, pacesetting and coaching. In tough economic times, employees’ desire more communication and clarity around goals. They want their leaders to become more visible and to be leading from the front. Typical leadership styles which accomplish this include authoritative with some coercive and pacesetting when needed. During tough economic times, best-in-class companies create clarity, encourage development, drive accountability and recognize successful leaders. 65 percent of the top twenty companies on the list hold senior managers accountable for commitments versus 36 percent for all others. 63 percent create a sense of purpose for employees by communicating values versus 43 percent for all other companies. 45 percent honor leaders within the organization versus 32 percent for all other companies. In addition, 62 percent of respondents indicated that matrixed roles are increasing in their organizations. Managing in a matrix poses its own set of challenges, including the need for collaboration, creating a cohesive team, not having authority over resources, managing conflicts over differing agendas, goals or priorities, and minimizing confusion over roles, decision-making and accountability. Hay Group says that there will be an increased emphasis on the skills needed to work in a matrix environment. Relationship building, influencing, adaptability, interpersonal skills and collaboration skills will all be more important in the future workplace. “The conventional top-down chain of command is yielding to decision-making that’s spread across business units, executive teams with far-reaching authority and other activities that reflect a brave, new, flat business world,” said Rick Lash, Hay Group’s national practice leader for leadership and talent. Preparing for the upswing The Hay Group/Chief Executive survey reveals that the top 20 best companies for leaders make leadership development a priority. 70 percent of the top 20 companies say they have a formal process to identify individuals for leadership roles, versus 37 percent of all companies. 65 percent of companies say that talent management is driven by a clear business strategy versus 39 percent of all other companies. 55 percent have formal programs to accelerate leader development versus 34 percent of all other companies. “What we have been seeing in these uncertain times is that organizations are not pulling back on their development of leaders, primarily because organizations recognize they don’t have the depth of leadership they need to meet future demands,” said Lash. “This year we have seen the best in class organizations become more focused, investing their assessment and development on their best leadership talent, rather than providing across the board development for everyone,” he said. “The Best Companies for Leaders are making serious investments in leadership development,” said Lash. “Development opportunities include special projects, assignments, and online training programs.” Hay Group is a management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. We develop talent, organize people to be more effective and motivate them to perform at their best. Our focus is on making change happen and helping people and organizations realize their potential. We have over 2600 employees working in 85 offices in 47 countries. Our clients are from the private, public and not-for profit sectors, across every major industry. ( Read entire release.)

Read More

Succession Planning Presents Challenges for Most Companies

Future success for any business depends in part on who is leading the business, yet according to new research from the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) the majority of companies admit their efforts in succession planning are weak. As the global economy struggles out of the recession it is incumbent on business leaders to identify key positions, critical knowledge and skills, and the talent needed to meet short- and long-term goals, as well as put in place a working process for developing and advancing employees in the succession pipeline. Despite this demand only 14 percent of companies surveyed by ASTD said their organization’s succession planning efforts were successful to a high or very high degree. ASTD surveyed leaders from 1,247 organizations for its new study Improving Succession Plans: Harnessing the Power of Learning and Development. Key findings include: The study also offers recommendations for creating metrics, candidate selection, and key practices to cope with barriers to effective plans. A “Lessons Learned” section shares some of the wisdom gained from study respondents. Improving Succession Plans: Harnessing the Power of Learning and Development is free to ASTD members and may be downloaded from the ASTD Store at www.store.astd.org.

Read More

Study: Long-held view of ‘bell curve’ in performance measurement proven flawed

(From Indiana University) — The dreaded bell curve that has haunted generations of students with seemingly pre-ordained grades has also migrated into business as the standard for assessing employee performance. But it now turns out — revealed in an expansive, first-of-its-kind study — that individual performance unfolds not on a bell curve, but on a “power-law” distribution, with a few elite performers driving most output and an equally small group tied to damaging, unethical or criminal activity. This turns on its head nearly a half-century of plotting performance evaluations on a bell curve, or “normal distribution,” in which equal numbers of people fall on either side of the mean. Researchers from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business predict that the findings could force a wholesale re-evaluation of every facet related to recruitment, retention and performance of individual workers, from pre-employment testing to leadership development. “How organizations hire, maintain and assess their workforce has been built on the idea of normality in performance, which we now know is, in many cases, a complete myth,” said author Herman Aguinis, professor of organizational behavior and human resources at Kelley. “If, as our results suggest, a small, elite group is responsible for most of a company’s output and success, then it’s critical to identify its members early and manage, train and compensate them differently from colleagues. This will require a fundamental shift in mindset and entirely new management tools.” Read more.

Read More

Student Day Premieres at ASTD 2010 International Conference & Exposition

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) announces the premiere of Student Day at the upcoming 2010 International Conference & Exposition to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, May 16-19. On Student Day, May 18, students enrolled in human resource development (HRD) programs may attend the conference and exposition free of charge. Included in Student Day offering are: In addition to these activities students will also learn about ASTD’s John Con Student Membership Scholarship. ASTD will offer six student memberships and one international conference registration as part of the scholarship offering. Applications for the scholarship will be accepted during the Fall 2010 semester for 2011. Student Day is sponsored by ASTD’s Academic Partner Program which serves the higher education community – students, faculty, and staff – with learning and development resources that have been proven to make an impact in business environments. The Academic Partner Program will feature a series of sessions at the ASTD 2010 International Conference & Exposition geared to HRD faculty and department heads. There will also be a Faculty Forum and special Higher Education Networking Reception. For more details on the higher education offerings at ASTD 2010, or to register to attend, visit http://www.astd.org/ASTD/Partners/Academic/app-conference.htm.

Read More

Strategic Workplace Learning in the Public Sector – Part II

My last post on this blog highlighted two recent public sector training efforts that demonstrated strategic alignment with priority agency outcomes – both in the US Department of Defense ( http://community.thepublicmanager.org/cs/blogs/agile_bureaucracy/archive/2010/03/29/strategic-workplace-learning-in-the-public-sector.aspx): enabling success in Afghanistan by building cultural expertise at the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) creating a collaborative culture at DIA through an effective onboarding program in which employees learn that knowledge sharing is their own personal responsibility Other Public Sector Case Illustrations Here are brief highlights from other government training efforts that tackle a wider array of challenges – many of which will be featured as articles in the summer 2010 issue of The Public Manager and presented 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/): Business Analysis Center of Excellence: NY State Office of the State Comptroller This case illustration explores the New York State Office of the State Comptroller’s intensive, cross-agency learning experience aimed at more effectively aligning business analysis with management initiatives. With the assistance of an outside management consulting group (ESI International – www.esi-intl.com), the state organization developed key strategies – including coaching and mentoring programs complemented by skills assessments and other learning programs that continue to refine business analysis (BA) best practices. Education Transformation for Results: Sandia National Laboratories This case study at Sandia, one of the US Department of Energy’s prestigious national labs, demonstrates an approach to begin the process of transforming corporate education into an effective education partnership between an organization’s executive and line management and its HR organization. Sandia Labs’ focus on fostering a learning culture drove its transformation of the Labs’ education process to enhance individual capabilities and behaviors that produce tangible results. It offers a blueprint of how a line management and human resources team, commissioned by the organization’s leader, can create a charter, establish a plan, gather and analyze data, prepare and present recommendations to executive management for action. Practical concepts, checklists, and tools are explained as application opportunities, and innovative approaches to obtain and sustain executive engagement and partnering early in the transformational education process are identified as essential success factors. Pushing Management’s Buttons to Improve Performance at the US Coast Guard This case study highlights several of the most powerful, but under-utilized, approaches to improve workplace performance. The old maxim: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” rings true in the workforce performance field. If all you have is a training solution, then everything is a skills-and-knowledge problem. Yet, research and common sense have demonstrated that oftentimes the performance problem isn’t with the people in the organization, but with the organization itself. This experience brings focus to many of the areas the organization’s leadership should examine before assuming a problem will be solved through training. It includes real-world examples and case studies from the US Coast Guard on how a true performance perspective results in quantifiable and cost-effective returns in individual and organizational performance. Share Your Observations I’ll continue sharing examples of how government organizations at all levels are aligning training efforts with strategic agency goals. If you know of others that align workplace learning efforts with priority mission and management challenges, please let me hear from you.

Read More

Strategic Sales Training

It’s time for some new thinking in sales training. Clearly, there is a need for more comprehensive approaches to increasing individual competency and building sales capacity. The current approach just isn’t working. Let’s look at some of the newest trends in sales and sales management, and how they can help: Talent management. Studies have shown that a deliberate approach to talent management, including the recruitment, selection, orientation, engagement, and retention of top sales performers, results in annual sales force turnover of less than 10 percent (BPT Partners). Top sales organizations focus keenly on the proper identification and selection of new sales team members who have the best fit for building the sales team. That means they fit withing the sales culture, selling system, and types of products being sold. S kills development. Training is conducted with the purpose of helping salespeople increase their knowledge of the business and developing higher level skills, not just focusing on one element of the sales training mix such as product knowledge. Sales leaders coach and develop their team members. Sales process execution. Once equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills, salespeople must be free to use them. They must be permitted – and expected – to take initiative, use good judgment, and make ethical decisions. Yet, 81 percent of sales organizations say that they don’t have a consultative sales process or are not following the one they have. Foundational selling skills. Skills such as presentation skills, speaking, closing, and follow-up – seem to be less important in today’s selling climate. Don’t get me wrong, salespeople do believe that addressing tough customer requirements, leveraging industry knowledge, and troubleshooting complex business problems provide the right customized experience for the buyer. Salespeople can provide value to buyers through a collaborative approach that co-creates a solution through a complex sales cycle. These approaches require salespeople to develop a wide variety of skills to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of the market and of their offerings. A competency model can help to define and guide that development. A competency model. A sales competency model can serve as an objective foundational starting point that can help to forecast and address knowledge and skills issues that arise due to the changes in markets and demographics. Consider the impact of a younger workforce: Will the only gap be one of turning knowledge into skill? How will companies turn the raw, undeveloped abilities of these younger players into consistently applied talent? What resources do we have for the bright, knowledgeable sales-team member who lacks the interpersonal skills to form lasting relationships with customers? And how will we address the loss of accumulated knowledge and years of experience when our most senior salespeople retire – many of them within the next five to ten years? If the experience of maturing workers is important to a company’s success, how can that experience and expertise be captured and transferred to younger, less experienced workers? Sales trainers, sales managers, and company executives must be more concerned with providing a holistic learning and development progression rather than relying on ad-hoc sales training activities. Furthermore, management must take a more proactive role in promoting the importance of this development and supplying adequate resources. Right now, many companies’ leaders are getting in the way of their sales teams’ success: In response to the ASTD survey, 44 percent said that there was a lack of management buy-in to sales training in their organizations, and 42 percent said that management’s short-sighted focus on results was an obstacle to successful sales training. To engineer world-class sales performance, sales team development must be holistic, all-encompassing, and proactive. There must be a paradigm shift in thinking, from “sales training” to “sales development and performance.” Sales training must quickly and deliberately evolve from a sometime activity by sales managers to an intentional, qualified effort that is directly tied to business strategy and measured according to business outcomes. Its practitioners must be knowledgeable, dedicated, and guided by a competency-based approach. A quantum shift to sales development and performance will bring sales team members together with professional sales trainers to create positive, progressive change by balancing human, ethical, technological, and operational considerations. A competency-based approach can help organizations attain business outcomes and results by focusing on sales-team member knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and actions in relation to the workplace environment. For example, a competency-based approach allows sales development and performance professionals to work with a hiring manager to select new employees who demonstrate the agreed-upon competencies and expertise required to be successful in the position. These competencies then become part of the performance management system to monitor and evaluate the individual’s performance on the job. Finally, these competencies serve as the basis for guiding future development. A competency-based approach applied to the sales organization can provide a firm foundation by which sales team members can develop. With this approach, development efforts aimed at helping sales team members gain basic skills, technology skills, or even management skills are designed to be immediately applicable. Salespeople must continually develop new skills in order to contribute to the growth of their companies. The only way for companies to grow and compete in a rapidly changing global business environment is to have a skilled sales team that is innovative, understands the economic environment and marketplace, and is driven to excel within their industry. This requires the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. The tools and systems created by a competency-based approach to sales-team development can help organizations overcome many of the barriers cited here and maximize the potential of their sales force.

Read More

South Africa: Lack of Skills Hinders Mining Sector Growth

(From AllAfrica.com) Johannesburg – THE growth of SA’s mining sector could be hampered further by a serious lack of professional skills, according to a survey by executive recruitment firm Landelahni Business Leaders, released yesterday. The shortage of skills in the sector coincided with an upturn in the global economy and a recovery in world commodity prices, which meant that the South African mining sector could miss out on the full benefits of the recovery. The local mining industry is already battling higher production costs, and the strong rand during much of last year has seen most miners unable to optimise margins despite higher metals prices. Landelahni CEO Sandra Burmeister said what was even more worrying was that the local industry had lost much of its skills development capability. Read more.

Read More

Skillsoft Study Reveals CEOs in the UK Are Willing to Pay Extra for More Training in Less Time

Skillsoft recently announced the results of a study which reveals that in the current global economic climate, CEOs increasingly believe in the value of learning, with 93 percent of business leaders in the United Kingdom stating that they will either maintain or increase their training budget over the next 12 months. Only 13 percent listed cost as their most important consideration. The study, conducted by OpinionMatters on behalf of Skillsoft, surveyed 503 CEOs of businesses with more than 250 employees, across 13 business sectors, on topics that included recruitment, leadership, learning, succession-planning and staff turnover. Reflecting the time constraints in today’s competitive business marketplace, 42 percent of the CEOs interviewed for the study said the length of a course was a more important deciding factor than its content. They prefer shorter courses that require less time and allow for employees to remain productive while receiving necessary training. “This research shows that business leaders increasingly appreciate the value of learning,” said Kevin Young, managing director of Skillsoft EMEA. “However, while training budgets themselves are not being cut, the time businesses have available to undertake training sessions is clearly shrinking. Courses need to be more succinct and to-the-point than ever, delivered in highly relevant, bite-sized pieces. Cost may not be a priority for the CEO, but it will and should matter to the training and development team, and we work hard to set the standard in cost-effective learning with a measurable ROI,” Young added The study also found that measurable return on investment from training mattered most to only seven percent of respondents. Also, the format of delivery was largely irrelevant with only six percent listed this as an important factor in choosing training. But the study did show that innovative technologies are starting to impact the workplace, with 61 percent of CEOs responding that they have a mobile learning strategy in place, with 24 percent planning to embrace mobile learning in the near future. A detailed analysis of the research can be found in the latest Skillsoft whitepaper titled CEO perspectives on people: leadership, recruitment and skills which can be downloaded on http://www.skillsoft.com/emea/documents/Research_Whitepaper_A4.pdf

Read More

Singapore Positions To Be Global Talent And Leadership Hub For Asia

Developing Singapore as a home for local and global talent will be a key strategy in the next phase of growth, says Minister Gan Kim Yong at the opening of the human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI). The HCLI will offer a unique value proposition in helping companies translate the best talent and leadership ideas into practical strategies to support business growth, he added. Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Manpower, “Singapore – The Global Talent and Leadership Development HUB for Asia” at The Official Opening Ceremony of The Human Capital Leadership Institute at Nepal Hill: Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen Last September at the Singapore Human Capital Summit, Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Human Capital Leadership Institute, or HCLI, by the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Management University. This morning, I am pleased to join you for HCLI’s official opening, and share with you how HCLI will help position Singapore as a global talent and leadership development hub in Asia for Asia.

Read More

Sen. Brown debuts work-force training bill

(Business Courier of Cincinnati) Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation to support the development of specialized work-force training programs at two-year community colleges. The Northeast Ohio Democrat said the legislation, known as the SECTORS Act, is needed to support Ohio’s emerging bioscience industry. SECTORS is an acronym for “Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success.” The bill was first introduced in 2008. Brown and co-sponsor Olympia Snowe, a Republican Senator from Maine, re-introduced the bill Wednesday. In support for the new legislation, Brown released a new report showing that Ohio now has 1,100 bioscience companies and research institutions, four times more than it had 2001. The industry is expected to add 700 new jobs over the next several years. ( Read the original article.)

Read More

Selling Sleuth? The Secrets of Gathering Intelligence

Gathering Intelligence – An Insightful Sales Competency Business is an intelligent game and to win you have to gather intelligence about the marketplace. As a Sales Trainer, you will teach the sales team gathering intelligence as a sales competency. Your sales training program will present them how to define, analyze and learn about competitors, products, customers, distributors, industries, technologies and field research. Much of this teaching analysis should integrate and accentuate your sales management curriculum. It will also show how environmental and macroeconomic intelligence data is used to make financial decisions. Talent management and organizational development strategies are also linked to business intelligence when teaching sales strategies. According to Sales Training Drivers, once you acquire intelligence, you can: So, what do you do once you have gathered the intelligence and want to use it in the classroom? Keep your Competition Close In sales, gathering intelligence will be a big asset to assessing prospect problems. First you can isolate the data to come up with qualifying questions that give you answers to pain challenges and budget constraints. Use the data to create a behavioral question interview that will help you keep the prospect engaged in objective conversation to uncover weaknesses that you can solve with your product or service. Now, you are on a real fact finding mission with your prospect! Implement action oriented blended learning tools into your teach back that keeps the class motivated on isolating and organizing the business resources effectively. The best way to keep the class on their heels is to turn the learning function into a real world test role play! Establish ROI with all sales data points Another hard line sales management learning objective would be to use the intelligence to teach the class how to design an ROI analysis report that will sell a Decision Maker. That will always get the class up and moving! Focus on gathering business intelligence that is of interest to the decision makers you are calling on. For example, look at all the companies in your selling market that have had a sales decrease, but could really benefit from your product or service in terms of making or saving money. Why are they experiencing a sales decrease? Formulate a short ROI analysis outline using resourced intelligence to raise an eyebrow based on what you think you can do for that prospect to increase their revenue, productivity and performance.

Read More

Scotland: Contact Centres Resolve to Raise Employee Engagement

(From Business Wire) — The Customer Contact Association (CCA), the leading independent authority on contact centre strategies and operations, says a drive to boost employee engagement in contact centres will unlock greater productivity and lead to happier staff and customers. CCA’s thought leadership agenda supports organisations who employ some 30% of the one million people working in contact centres in the UK. CCA has completed an authoritative industry census in which it emerged that an overwhelming majority of organisations described their contact centre employees as mostly committed. However, it identified room for improvement to boost the proportion of employees described as ‘very committed’ from the current figure of 18%. CCA Census 2010-11, which canvassed the views of 246 respondents (the majority of whom work for organisations employing more than 1,500 people globally) found that 73% of organisations describe their staff as ‘often committed’ while a minority of 8% said staff are ‘rarely committed’. CCA Chief Executive Anne Marie Forsyth said: “Front line contact centre staff are living through taxing times, frequently bearing the brunt of customer concerns and complaints as well as worrying about job security. Despite these pressures, employee engagement is relatively high among our membership. CCA is leading a drive to help members raise the bar on engagement levels even higher in order to deliver consistent world class service.” Forsyth added: “We need a renewed emphasis on people issues to reflect the seismic change taking place in customer contact. Performance throughout the recession has been good – our census shows that 82% of our members have had ‘very active’ engagement with customers and 79% are committed to personal development of employees. We’re proud of what members have achieved in a cost-cutting environment and we’re collaborating on strategies designed to boost performance even further.” Read more.

Read More

Sam Herring of Intrepid Learning Solutions Named Chair of the ASTD Board of Directors

Sam Herring, co-founder and executive vice president of Intrepid Learning Solutions, Inc., will serve as the 2011 Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Herring joined ASTD’s board in 2008 as a director and served as chair-elect of the board in 2010. At Intrepid Learning Solutions, Mr. Herring leads the firm’s major client relationships as well as marketing and product management functions. He is recognized as a “Who’s Who” training industry thought leader by Training Industry Inc. He previously chaired ASTD’s selection committee, and served on the advisory committee for the ASTD TechKnowledge Conference & Exposition. “It’s an honor to assume this position,” said Mr. Herring. “ASTD plays a hugely important role guiding the future of the learning profession, which has never been more important. Coming out of a global recession, our world faces many challenges that leaders responsible for learning and development are uniquely positioned to solve. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board of directors to help ASTD set a vision for learning in the 21st century, and provide the resources to help organizations realize that vision.” Mr. Herring is a frequent speaker at universities and leading industry conferences and seminars, where he speaks on topics including designing effective corporate learning strategies, trends in learning technology, and best practices in vendor selection and outsourcing. He is a past director of New Futures, a Seattle-area children and family services agency, and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. In 2008, Mr. Herring was recognized as a top young business leader through the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” awards.

Read More

Sales Moves by Jeffrey Gitomer: 12.5 predictions and challenges for a great 2012

PLEASE NOTE: These are not economic predictions. They are based on my personal observation and first-hand knowledge of sales forces across the United States their present situation, and their future hope based on market conditions and readiness. And please DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELVES. Rather ask yourselves: Am I ready to win more based on these predictions and challenges? 1. PREDICTION: More business will be available as the economy begins to surge and the elections become a reality.CHALLENGE: Are you ready for an increase in business, not just with product and inventory ability but with better attitude, mood, friendliness, and morale of the entire company? 2. PREDICITON: There will be pricing challenges even in the wake of greater business. CHALLENGE: Now is the time for PROFIT. You have left too much money on the table for the past two years. Create a better value proposition, and use it rather than having to justify (and perhaps lower) your price. 3. PREDICITON: There will be an emphasis on 3rd party purchasers and buying groups in order to leverage pricing. CHALLENGE: Build value-based relationships that the customer would lose out on if they joined the group. Get testimonials from customers that decided not to participate. 4. PREDICITION: Full participation in business social media is no longer an option for your company. CHALLENGE: Counsel your counsel and determine what you CAN do. Do that as fast as you can. Your plan must include all forms of business social media, and interaction with customers one-on-one. Need examples? There are plenty of them online right now. One of them may even be your competition. 5. PREDICITION: Full participation in business social media is no longer an option for you personally. CHALLENGE: Set up a business Facebook page where people can Like you and invite all your customers to begin to comment on your products, service, and impact of ownership or service provided. Your LinkedIn connections must exceed 501 and you must have at least 10 recommendations. This makes your image look powerful, structured, and reputable. Twitter must attract 500 followers, and you must tweet twice a day. Your YouTube channel must have at least 10 testimonial videos that use the most searchable words in your business category. Your blog is the real-world outlet for yourself and your customers make it valuable and interact with customers one-on-one. 6. PREDICITON: Your personal reputation and brand will play a greater role in getting a sales meeting and getting a favorable decision. CHALLENGE: Google yourself to establish your base in January. Then take WEEKLY actions to enhance your status. Get testimonials. Volunteer for charity. Speak in public. Post on your blog. Get others to praise you. And build your reputation one action item, and one good deed, at a time. 7. PREDICITION: You will need to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition (in the mind of your customer) to be greater than ever. CHALLENGE: Begin by asking yourself and your present customers what differentiates you from your competition. Then take actions to widen the gap. HINT: The ordinary things are a great start. Use Ace of Sales emails ( www.aceofsales.com) to begin the process. 8. PREDICTION: Your company will finally (after three years) begin to provide sales training. CHALLENGE: Is the training relevant? Is the training acceptable to your sales team? Is the trainer acceptable to your sales team? Does the training incorporate the voice of your customers? Is the training working? 9. PREDICITION: You will lose more than one sale to an inferior competitor. CHALLENGE: Find out why and fix it. HINT: It aint price! 10. PREDICITION: More face-to-face meetings will be necessary to build relationships, or you will become vulnerable to the competition. CHALLENGE: Double your existing face-to-face meetings from last year, and double your networking hours. 11. PREDICITION: Breakfast will be the new lunch. CHALLENGE: Your connections, relationships, and even your prospects are crunched for time. The two-hour lunch will wane. An early morning, 30-minute meeting over coffee will net more and better results. Set a goal of three breakfasts a week. 12. PREDICITION: Your sales plan/goal/quota/numbers will be much more attainable. CHALLENGE: The business is out there for you to earn. Your perceived value, your perceived difference, and your reputation will determine your numbers way more that your price. 12.5 PREDICITION: Your personal dedication or rededication to excellence will reach new heights. CHALLENGE: Allocate three hours a day to YOU. Allocate an hour for social media and personal branding. Allocate an hour for customer interaction. And allocate an hour for reading and study. You will have to allocate more time for personal development and training because the new challenges require new knowledge. If youre looking for a game plan, if youre looking for a success plan, Ive just given you one that will make 2012 more than you could hope for. All you have to do is WORK HARD. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction 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 him personally: 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

Read More

RWD Partners with HP to Enhance Support of the Application Lifecycle

BALTIMORE, February 22, 2010 – RWD Technologies, LLC (RWD), a global company that develops and implements human and organizational performance solutions, today announced integration between RWD uPerform and HP Quality Center. As a new Silver Partner within the HP Enterprise Management Alliance Program, RWD now enables organizations to combine the content generation and management capabilities of RWD uPerform with the quality assurance and software testing capabilities of HP Quality Center. A typical application lifecycle follows a development and implementation process composed of several phases, multiple teams, many documentation outputs, and a plethora of content systems. This current way of doing business often translates to significant and redundant effort to create and manage project documentation. By introducing RWD uPerform early in the application lifecycle, organizations can save time and money via one-time capture of steps in the target application to produce both learning and testing output. One of these outputs, a test script, can be uploaded to HP Quality Center for use by test teams during current and future application rollouts. Read more.

Read More

Robert Todd Joins ASTD Board of Directors

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) announces that Robert Todd, ?What If! Technology Director, is joining the Society’s Board of Directors for a three-year term, 2012-2014. Mr. Todd is passionate about applying the latest innovations in information technology to enable innovation capability in the business, nonprofit, and academic sectors. He has more than 15 years’ experience in learning content and technology development. Prior to joining ?What If!, Mr. Todd served as the Director of Technology Enabled Learning at McKinsey & Company where he built the organization’s e-learning capabilities. Before that role, Mr. Todd was the Practice Lead for Convergys Corporation, a global outsourcing company, where he was responsible for product definition and market strategy for the company’s learning outsourcing business. He also served as director of product management and director of course development for DigitalThink. Mr. Todd played a leadership role in the development of e-learning standards and served on the board of directors for the IMS Global Learning Consortium. He was the director of technology for the San Francisco Multimedia Institute from 1996-2000 and has lectured and written instructional texts on multimedia and technology enabled learning.

Read More

One Version of the Future

Per Mindy B’s request, here’s my version of our future. I can elaborate a little now. As to a longer focus on workflow learning, we have several members of the LCB Blog Squad who are very involved in such efforts. I’ll encourage them to post some of their thoughts. Jay Cross and Tony O’Driscoll laid out a more detailed vision of workflow learning in the February Training. From a very high overview, I think we’ll see changes in what learning interventions are and changes in what the Learning and Development function does. Supervisors at all levels will be held responsible for the development of their employees. My growth strategy (versus developmental plan) will be focused on building my strengths and will be a matter of public knowledge so my colleagues will be able to help me meet my personal goals while we work together. Employees will be given opportunities to learn whenever, however they need. Let’s say I’m a marketing director with budget responsibility for my department. A week from today there’s a meeting to launch the budgeting process for next year’s budget. When I logged onto my work portal this morning my tablet PC reminded me of the meeting with to do’s from my supervisor’s memo. It also has organized last year’s budget, my budgeting notes, a guide from finance on corporate budget strategy for this year – with my bosses reactions and directions included. My system also gives a list of requested initiatives from my notes for meetings with my business partners, industry benchmarking numbers for similar initiatives and a reminder that I never took the training for the forecasting component of our new financial software – with a link to the online training. Outlook has even identified that my staff can meet with me at 3PM on Monday and is holding the time on everyone’s calendars waiting for my approval. Finally, I have my comments regarding budget processes for each of my direct reports culled from our reviews over the past year, L&D’s suggestions for materials to share with each, and coaching tips for me. To guide the development of interventions that anticipate employee needs, we learning professionals will have to become proficient in systems thinking, business processes, change management and strategic planning. We’ll get so close to our business partner that we’ll become one of them. Needs analysis will truly be about what is needed and what the best solution(s) is – not the best training solution. Assessment will become focused on helping employees develop self-awareness of what they need to know to execute on their business objectives and pave the way for where they want their careers headed. You asked who the vendors will be. Some will be the vendors you know today – SumTotal, GeoLearning, SAS, Oracle, etc. But don’t be surprised if you’re learning business process tools from Hyperion or Verity, synchronous meeting tools from Interwise or Skype, team/community enablement tools from UberGroups or Google and data mining and content management tools from Documentum or Fatwire. So what do you think Mindy? Are you prepared for the change?

Read More

Ohio: Need to match jobs with skills of region’s workforce

(From Dayton Business Journal) Solving the mismatch between available jobs in the Southwestern Ohio area and the skills of the region’s workforce was a main concern for a panel of five regional leaders at the Regional Development Forum in West Chester. Keynote speaker Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development, stressed the importance of the success of the state on the people in Ohio. She told the 250 people gathered at the Savannah Center that companies are happy with the region’s work force and work ethic, but the firms need employees with more technical skills. Read more.

Read More

New Zealand: New subsidy to boost workplace productivity

(From The National Business Review) — The government has announced a fresh initiative to boost workplace productivity. The new ‘High Performance Working’ initiative will provide a pool of $1m per year to fund a network of specialist business consultants, who will work with businesses to promote more effective use of time and skills in the workplace. “Achieving greater employee engagement and developing sound workplace practices is crucial to growing a successful business,” Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said in a release today. It is expected that about 70 firms per year will receive between $10,000 – $15,000 in consultant services under the new scheme, which is designed to complement New Zealand Trade and Enterprises’s new training and development voucher programme. Read more.

Read More