Are you an inclusive leader?

This article appeared in NZLawyer magazine in April 2013.2012-06-21 15.36.52

Inclusive leadership 
By Diana Ayling, LLB, Chartered Secretaries New Zealand Inc

The New Zealand Productivity Commission lists a number of factors affecting the attainment of productivity in different countries. Its website explains that productivity is a key factor in the progression of societies, and New Zealand has begun to lag behind other similar countries in productivity and performance. One of the factors affecting business and organisational productivity is the effective governance and management of organisations – whether government, businesses, community, or others. As boards have a responsibility for organisational performance, they should ensure effective management is a key strategic initiative for their organisation.  Read more….

Inclusive Leadership

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Attitude determines the keepers from the write offs!

I have previously written of the need to deliberately develop attitude in your team or your students. See How to get the X Factor. In this article from Steve Tobak, he identifies the very behaviours we should foster in our employees and students. The list makes a good discussion point for any group need to change their culture. 

See the full article from Inc here.

What Kind of Vibes Are You Giving Off?

You probably don’t know yourself as well as you think you do, and your behavior gives off distinct clues you’re not even aware of — but others are.

conversation circle

Getty Image

There’s a funny word we often use to describe people: “Normal.”

We don’t always use that exact word, but it’s what we mean when we say things like “Jason’s just a regular guy”; “Melissa’s your average, everyday worker”; or my favorite, “Brian puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.”

The truth is that none of us really know what’s going on under the hood with Jason, Melissa, or Brian. And that’s probably the only real way to determine if they’re actually “normal.” Unfortunately, even getting inside someone’s head doesn’t necessarily work. Think about it. How many of us really know ourselves?

That’s probably what led David Thoreau to write, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” After two years, two months, and two days alone at Walden Pond, he finally figured out that most of us struggle with who we are, how we fit into society, and what we modern folk call our issues.

Moreover, there are so many factors that determine our effectiveness and level of success in business, in the working world, that the word normal is rendered essentially meaningless. That’s why I say it’s a funny word. I can think of no adjective less accurate or meaningful in describing a human being.

Why is that important to know? Because, we’re all constantly assessing and being assessed by each other. And the sooner you begin to realize that your behavior gives off vibes you’re probably not aware of, the sooner you learn to recognize those vibes in others, the more successful you’ll be in business and in your career.

Wait, I bet I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t success all about knowledge, abilities, and experience? For people who are okay with relatively mundane careers, sure. But for tomorrow’s business leaders and executives, you can pretty much assume there’s a large pool of highly intelligent, capable, and experienced up-and-comers.

The differentiator, what sets stars apart from the pack, really comes down to behavior.

You see, some of us are very good at assessing people. Accomplished people usually have a knack for it.  We tend to group people in one of two categories: keepers or write-offs. If they’re keepers, we bring them in, work with them, mentor them, and nurture them. If not, we write them off. Simple as that.

To give you an idea of what differentiates keepers from the pack, here are a handful of behavioral characteristics that business leaders and executives are trained to look for in up-and-comers:

Keeper: Fire in the belly, competitive spirit, courage to take chances, expresses thoughts clearly, cuts to the chase, “how can I help you” and “can do” attitude, strong work ethic, smart multitasker, disciplined, achievement oriented, enterprising, makes things happen, makes commitments and gets them done, problem solver, decisive, passionate about work, hard worker, humble, sense of humor.

Write-off: Know-it-all, easily rattled when confronted, noncommittal, entitled, “it’s all about me,” thin-skinned, fearful of taking risks, divisive, boastful, overpromises, makes excuses, points fingers, acts out, flake, insubordinate, has to be right, trouble compromising, troublemaker, waits to be told what to do, unwilling to go the extra mile, fails to meet commitments.

Now, another reason why I think the word “normal” is funny is because most people are unaware of the vibes they’re giving off. To them, they’re “normal.” Well, guess what? To those who interview you, review you, do business with you, work with you, you’re not just “normal.” You’ve either got what they’re looking for, what it takes, or not. You’re either a keeper or a write-off.  Read more….

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I have been away from the laptop….

Hello everyone,

I have been very busy with other projects and have neglected this blog. I have many more posts in the pipeline, and I sure you will be interested to read them. In the meantime you might enjoy my article for The NZ Lawyer.


Governance, your online identity, and radical transparency
By Diana Ayling LLB, guest contributor, Chartered Secretaries New Zealand Inc

Personal credibility is a key factor taken into account by appointers when selecting directors and trustees to governance roles. Recent corporate news events have highlighted the strong connection between personal credibility and suitability for governance. Since 2008, a number of directors and managers in governance and management roles have fallen well short of expected standards of leadership and stewardship. Some high-profile examples include Rupert Murdoch, and son James, and various directors and managers of New Zealand finance companies. Once exposed to the public as lacking credibility or involvement in crime, such individuals are considered no longer suitable for governance positions. There is nothing new in the link between personal life and professional suitability, but there is something new in how quickly and easily credibility can now be destroyed.  Read more…

I will be back soon. Diana

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What would you choose? Loyalty or competence

Often in public and work life we see judgement clouded by personal loyalty.

So when choosing new members of the team are you looking for competence above loyalty?  What are the consequences of choosing loyalty over competence?

What do we know about loyalty and competence?  Loyalty is a value set, one that was identified by Mary Guy back in the 1990’s that transcends culture, time and place.   Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. (Wikipedia)  The problem with loyalty is not the devotion to a cause, organisation or service of a role, but loyalty to a person, can cloud judgement of both parties.  Practicing loyalty to a person, rather than an organisation or cause is a type of love, and this is borne out in the work of Josiah Royce in his 1908 book The Philosophy of Loyalty.  Loyalty to a person rather than a cause or ideal is dangerous, because having once pledged your loyalty it is difficult to change course even though you have misgivings about the integrity or motivations of the person involved.

Competence is not a value, but it is connected to values such as pursuit of excellence, accountability, and integrity.  Competence (or competency) is the ability of an individual to perform a job properly. A competency is a set of defined behaviors that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviors in individual employees. (Wikipedia)  Competency is a range of knowledge, skills and behaviours that support high performance.

What do people who are loyal or competent do?  Loyalty is about alliance and allegiance. It is practiced as support.  At work that is fine, if the support is for the organisation and its objectives, but it can become distorted when the loyalty is to a person.  We talk about blind allegiance, supporting anything that the person does without question.  By contrast, competent people bring their skills, and knowledge to the workplace to achieve the aims and objectives of the organisation. Highly competent people are of real value to the organisation.

We have already explored loyalty and competence in light of values.  Loyalty is a value while competence a behaviour. So in terms of your organisation and your team performance, you need to consider how much weight you will give to the value of loyalty. Personally, I would rather give more weight to accountability, respect for others, and responsible citizenship than loyalty. I prefer an open and accountable team, that can respectfully debate and discuss, to give constructive feedback, rather than one that agreed with me.

What sort of people do we want on our team? Who is going to get us the wins we need? The competent or the loyal?  You decide, but make sure you make an informed choice and make your decisions for the long term.  It may feel good to have a loyal team, but they will not bring much joy if they are unable to deliver in your key performance areas.

There are more resources below to further stimulate your thinking on loyalty and competence. You may like to discuss this dilemma with your team, colleagues and family. Listen carefully to their ideas, as they are full of wisdom.

Integrate elements of both loyalty and competence into your performance expectations. Decide in advance how you will manage disloyalty and incompetence in your team. Disloyalty can be fine, if it is based in good reasoning, and desire to support the organisation. It can be unacceptable when it comprises your or others capacity to carry out their work.   If you have incompetence, the first question to ask  is “What additional training and resources does this person need to become competent?” The next question is, “How trainable/educable are they?”  I can tell you from experience that you can develop the performance of a person with a good attitude, but it is near impossible with a person with who is actively disengaged from the organisation or team.

So this week, think about these two important ideas and how they work for you. Be observant, where do you see loyalty valued over competence, and where do you see competence rewarded and supported. I look forward to your thoughts.

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This is an important development in the future of work

Outsourcing to India

Outsourcing to India (Photo credit: markhillary)

Years ago companies discovered that since technology gave workers the tools to get stuff done anywhere, organizations could save money by tapping low cost labor markets. Outsourcing was born and along with it, it’s younger sibling and down home American alternative, rural sourcing. But now as costs are rising in top outsourcing destination, India, come companies are thinking on their feet to come up with a new way to keep costs down. The result is a mash-up of these two popular alternatives.  Read more….

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Are you thinking about the future of work?

Cover of "The Future of Work: How the New...

Cover via Amazon

There is no doubt the workplace is changing dramatically.  Here a few things you need to know about the changing nature of work. Increasingly workers are Telecommuting, and communicating with managers, co-workers, customers and partners using Skype, Google chat, Yammer, and Instant Messaging.  Web workers source and deliver their work on the Internet. Knowledge workers can work for different organisations around the world, without ever setting foot in the organisation HQ.  Increasing workers are being valued on their ability to contribute to team projects.  The person that can contribute the most is most likely the leader.  The future of work looks likely to be much less formal and hierarchical and much more performance driven.

Added to this is the rise of the Green Economy and the creation of a new set of Green jobs, related to environmental, and community sustainability.  The drive for clean energy and consumers’ desire to high end high tech goods will impact on the types of industries and jobs that establish themselves in your community.  New jobs are likely to be based in knowledge work, which is good for maths and science graduates, but also for those who can communicate across the medium of web technology. Health and education jobs will grow, as new technologies are adopted in these domains.

The essential skills for the knowledge work include the ability to manage the customer, organise people on mass, (Facebook fans), digital community management, project management, management of teams or teams of teams (tribes).  Lesser work will be contracted out to people who will work for less than you or I.

Organisational and personal values will collide. The Internet brings greater transparency in personal and business life. This will impact on organisations’ ability to attract high quality workers. Employees of the future will be more inclined to measure doing well, by doing good.   Their work will be much more visible to family and friends and workers will want to build a reputation for good work, in worthy organisations.  Personal values are more likely to affect career choices., so values such as honesty, integrity, responsible citizenship, respect of others, and accountability will be key drivers at work.

How will people interact at work? Knowledge workers will not exclude older workers, they will remain in the workplace, in part-time and flexible roles, consulting, contributing on a project by project basis.  Generation Xers and Y will be less loyal and more mobile.  Management will become more conservative as decision making is more transparent.  Decision making is likely to be more co-operative and less hierarchical.  Everyone, management, customers, workers, suppliers  will be connected professionally and socially.  Managing information and ideas across multiple channels will be a key business challenge. Identifying the source of original ideas will be a high priority. The boss will not longer be able to steal their employees ideas and pass them off as their own.

Disney was right, the world will become smaller, with technology breaking down geographical and societal barriers.  Workplaces will become much smaller, as they are currently costly to establish and maintain. More workers are likely to work from home, the coffee shop or local technology hubs. Houses will be smaller, but more high tech, with careful management of energy and connectivity.

Learning will be on tap and personal.  That is not to say personal interaction is not important, but it will have strong online elements, especially the tools of learning.  We will be able to learn anywhere, anytime, and this is going to make us more useful to our organisations.

What does this mean for us as workers, learners, managers and coaches? It means we need to anticipate constant change in our work and workplaces in the next 10 years. Anyone who works in a place that “stays the same” will be unique, and quite possibly vulnerable. We need to consider how to establish and integrate our own brand and brand promise in the new world of work. We also need to consider how our values stack up in a more transparent world.  Is our management style one, we would want our friends and family to know about and respect?  We need to become masters of project management and problem solving. To be flexible, self aware, and self managing. We will need to be able to take responsibility for our actions, and be producers of value rather than consumers of workplace resources.

There is plenty for us to think about in the next few years. Are you ready for the future of work?

Time: The Future of Work

The Future of Work by Thomas W. Malone.

Is collaboration tech bad for office autocrats too?

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The value of good data in assessing our performance

Image from bernsteincrisismanagement.comAt the beginning of any project or strategy, we take time to set our goals and performance measures. The performance measures are important as they will reveal whether we are successful at delivering on our goals or not. When setting our performance measures, I suggest you adopt observable outcomes, those are things which are apparent in outcomes or behaviours rather than perceptions and beliefs. So for example, if you are setting performance measures to evaluate the value of a new strategy you would look to gathering data on specific outcomes, for example, increased productivity, quality or profitability. These outcomes are often measured against previous years data, and are easy to obtain. Gathering data on behaviors is a little more difficult, unless you have in place specific technologies to track buyer, employee or customer behaviour. The data can be gathered, but it takes more time and forethought to execute well. I do believe there is great value in this information and at least one of your performance measures should be based on behavioural data. What your customers, buyers, team or employees have done or can be observed doing. To gather this data you may need audits, snapshots of activity or reviews. One of the strengths of these methods of data gathering is removing the element of self interest, that skewers the final results.

Project and strategy leaders have a strong desire to look good, but this is a double edged sword. We can all be tempted to include in our data gathering, feedback that supports our own position. However, this self interested data will look out of place in the overall results if it glosses over apparent weaknesses. So stay professional and resist the temptation to gloss over the project weaknesses. If you try to skewer results it will be apparent to your audience and your reputation will be diminished.

It is from the weaknesses and less successful elements of the project that we learn and grow. One essential element in this high level activity of project or strategy evaluation is leading with a culture of collaboration and trust, encouraging open and honest conversation and constructive feedback. To do this have the project team look to the statistical data, and the behavioural data. As they have been closest to the project, they will provide invaluable insights into what has worked well, and what has not supported the project or strategy. You can then analyse this data and provide a plan for further improvements over the coming months. Presenting both the successes and weaknesses of your project or strategy together with a plan for improvement indicates a high level of professionalism and accountability.

Over the coming weeks, the 2011 data will start to flow in your direction, and as we move towards the end of the financial year, profitability will become a hot topic in many businesses and organisations. Due to your forethought, and prepared performance measures you will have a range of data to evaluate your project/strategy or team performance, and now is the time to gather that data together to build a credible evaluation. The next stage is to think carefully how to present your data to your stakeholders. As you do this, consider your audience and your purpose and ensure your presentation aligns with your organisational goals. In this way your data will be easy to understand, and your suggestions for further development more likely to be approved. Best of luck for the reporting season.

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From training person to personal trainer

evolution of training
Following on from Jess Suter’s PR tips, Christopher Barrat gives the community a few more pointers for a more consultative approach to training.
If learning and development professionals want to have a real impact on their businesses then there is a strong need to shift the emphasis from being course providers to being development consultants.
Many have already taken steps down this path, but simply calling yourself a ‘business partner’ – as many have – is simply not enough. A new mental approach is needed; a more rigorous honesty about your existing ‘brand’ and a more focused set of actions as to how you target your stakeholders.

The Adult Mentality

Before you embark on this journey, you need to make sure you have the right mental approach. HR is not alone in this challenge – many other functions such as procurement and logistics can also suffer from the ‘cinderella syndrome’. This is where a group is doing good and worthy work, you are putting in the hours and hoping to be recognised for your quality and diligence, and hoping that this will eventually win through and get you to the ball. It won’t work. Many trainers will be familiar with the ‘I’m ok/you’re ok’ concept as well as the parent/adult/child positions of transactional analysis.
“If learning and development professionals want to have a real impact on their businesses then there is a strong need to shift the emphasis from being course providers to being development consultants.
Many functions who get into the cinderella position can easily slip into the attitude of ‘poor me’. Likewise in transactional analysis mode you would be adopting the role of compliant child, with only the occasional kick up into the critical parent role when you have had enough. Getting the adult position is critical to having a consultative approach. Only when you are firmly in that mode of thinking will people take you seriously as a partner.

Work out your existing brand

Here is a simple test: imagine you were to ask a few of your customers to give three adjectives that describe how they view your service – what would they say? Would it be ‘dynamic, insightful and invigorating’? Or is it more likely to be ‘low-key, useful and bureaucratic’?
It is important to take a cold hard look at the brand you have internally with your customers. You may not have to do any massive research; most of your own people will already have a good idea what your brand is, even though they may not like it. Once you have a view of this brand, you can start to work on it – how would you like your brand to be?
This also helps calibrate the gap you may need to close – if the gap is big you may need to take it one step at a time. Imagine if Ryanair decided to launch a campaign to say how caring and considerate they were. It’s too big a gap to have credibility. These gaps can be closed, and it takes time and consistent effort. Once you have a clear view of your starting point, only then should you progress to the next stage.

Targeting your stakeholders

Armed with your key brand messages you can then start the task of targeting your stakeholders to get them to think of you differently. Start by mapping out all your key internal stakeholders in a grid that matches the impact they can have against the strength of your existing relationship. This will give you some names – and it has to be individual names not departments – in the box where they are high impact but you have low involvement. These then form the basis of your plan, and you target them with specific individuals and contact points so you do not leave anything to chance. This can sound a bit like Jason Bourne hunting the office corridors, and that is no bad thing. It’s a time-consuming task with a high-value pay-off, so it is worth doing with rigour.


The final piece in the consultative sell is to consult. That means you are keen to ask questions around their subject: don’t offer solutions too quickly – make sure you have really understood their needs even if they were not very clear to themselves. Likewise don’t be too quick to offer solutions that are clearly already in existence. You may not be able to make every course bespoke, but just showing that you have tweaked something specifically just for them will help enhance your brand as a valued consultant who listens.
“Few things destroy a consultative relationship faster than when all the high-level talk and discussion is let down by simply poor delivery.
Lastly you have to make sure your core product delivery is slick and effective. Few things destroy a consultative relationship faster than when all the high-level talk and discussion is let down by simply poor delivery. If you don’t believe your delivery team is operating well, then your focus should be on them first before you start upselling your relationship to the wider company.
The good news is that there are pockets of excellence already out there – it is certainly very possible to do. With the right mental approach, a clear brand to develop and a targeted audience, a consultative relationship can flourish.
Christopher Barrat is a motivational speaker and communications expert to those in the public eye. He can be contacted at
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5 ways to keep your rockstar employees happy

By Daniel Debow, Rypple Oct. 15, 2011, 9:00am PT 4 Comments

Rock on

The Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View California, is legendary for its perks. Employees have access to unlimited free meals, haircuts, dry cleaning, massages, and even onsite medical care.

Yet earlier this year, when Google interviewed its employees about what they valued most at work, none of these extravagant benefits made the top of the list. Neither did salary. Instead, employees cited access to “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

Tangibles like salary and benefits aren’t enough to guarantee that your best and brightest creatives will remain engaged. Indeed, a recent landmark study by Arnold Worldwide of 3,000 employees and 500 executive leaders across a range of communication and advertising firms found that 30 percent of the advertising workforce say they’ll be gone from their job within 12 months.

Take Jill, an outstanding, experienced copy editor whom Agency X recently recruited at considerable expense from one of its chief rivals. Despite her outward success, she’s unsure how she’s performing, where she stands in the company, and how she fits into the overall goals of the agency. Her pay is great, she loves the Friday office happy hour, but over time, she finds herself feeling demotivated by the lack of communication, and checks out.

The loss of star performers like Jill doesn’t just leave a talent vacuum to fill; it also leaves a gaping hole in the bottom line. Indeed, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal calculated that it typically costs a company about half a position’s annual salary to recruit for that job ¾ and several times that if the position requires rare skills.

So how can your company keep its stars engaged? It comes down to creating a culture of communication — one in which employees know where the organization is headed, how they fit into these plans, and what’s expected of them. Here are a few key strategies your agency can employ to make this happen.

1. Create a culture of education

The average Starbucks barista gets more training in a year than the average employee in a communications company, according to the Arnold Worldwide study.

For employees, the single most important motivational factor was the ability to learn. Yet the study found a huge disconnect when it comes to perceptions about company training. While 90 percent of employees say they learn by figuring things out on their own, only 25 percent of executives think that employees learn independently.

To keep employees motivated, agencies need to build a culture of learning, where employees leave more enriched at the end of each day.

2. Provide regular, consistent feedback

Employee feedback is a critical part of the education process, and shouldn’t just be relegated to the annual review. To be effective, feedback needs to be specific and actionable. But that’s not always how it works.

In a study by Leadership IQ, 53 percent of employees said that when their boss praises excellent performance, the feedback does not provide enough useful information to help them repeat it. And 65 percent responded that when their boss criticizes poor performance, it doesn’t provide enough useful information to help them correct the issue.

Feedback, both positive and constructive, is most effective when given right away. Negative feedback given a month after the fact can lead to a passive-aggressive environment in which an employee feels powerless to act on the advice.

Think of it this way: no one wants to go a full day knowing their price tag was hanging from the back of their shirt, or the remnants of the salad they had for lunch were still stuck in their teeth. If an employee does something well, that activity should be encouraged. And if there’s room for improvement, they should be given the opportunity to learn for their next task.

3. Set time aside for weekly 1:1 meetings

At first, most employees and managers will cringe at the idea of yet another meeting. But instituting weekly 1:1 meetings can be the most important step you take to retaining your top performers.

In its quest to build a better boss, Google discovered that its worst managers weren’t consistent in their 1:1 meetings; some focused on meeting with people who were underperforming, while others met primarily with the top performers.

Consequently, Google implemented the best practice of 1:1 meetings with all team members.

These meetings can cover anything and everything ¾ from upcoming projects to the latest client news. With each week, discussions about goals, feedback, and concerns become a lot more natural ¾ unlike the awkward, starchy conversations during annual reviews. Over time, it becomes easier for both sides to raise potential problems and deal with them early on, before they fester into something destructive.

4. Manage the grunt work properly

Not every project is going to be awesome. That’s just the way business works. And chances are your employees understand this.

However, managers need to handle such projects responsibly and that means a few things. Boring projects should always be balanced with more stimulating work. Employees should always be told how any grunt works fits into the overall needs of the company (“If we do a good job on x, we’re hoping the client will give us their cool launch next year”). And specific parameters should always be set for the boring stuff ¾ meaning employees should always see light at the end of the tunnel.

5. Publicly acknowledge good work

All too often, managers see motivation in terms of financial compensation, but money is far from the only way to effectively reward talented employees. A 2009 survey by McKinsey Quarterly asked which incentives were the most effective in motivating employees. The top two responses were: “Praise and commendation from immediate manager” (67 percent), and “Attention from leaders” (62 percent).

Praise and commendation go a long way in making employees feel noticed and valued. And the impact of a pat on the back is multiplied when it’s done publicly. Through public commendations, employees not only feel the support and respect of their manager, but the entire organization as well (including top-level executives). Creating a framework for “social recognition” will encourage a culture of appreciation throughout your firm.

Keeping your rockstar employees on board has always been important, and don’t think that economic uncertainty will keep your employees around. Your company has worked hard to recruit some bright people and great talent; make sure an opaque work environment doesn’t drive them into the arms of your competition.

Daniel Debow is co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, a social performance management platform.

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by Daniel Stamp

Mismanaged use of email, smart phones and a battery of new wireless organizers in the workplace and at home can cause a “Digital Malaise”. This is a feeling of being powerless and unable to keep pace, leading to skyrocketing stress levels and decreased productivity. By the time we learn to use the latest software program or tech device we feel pressured to upgrade to the newest version.

Today’s technology offers fantastic potential but many people find themselves controlled by it. If you aren’t careful technology can actually increase your workload rather than increase your productivity. It can cause you to forget the skills that help you cope, manage and lead – literally causing a skills amnesia.

Here are the five symptoms of Digital Depression:

Stressed by accessibility: Being constantly available by the latest wireless device, means being constantly interrupted. Each call or message you respond to is diverting your attention from your key priorities. The inability to “unplug” contributes to increased stress.

Insecurity due to Digital Darwinism: An anxious feeling based on the belief that a technological evolutionary process is taking place and only those who master every program, every upgrade and every gadget will survive.

Continuous partial attention: An inability to concentrate on one task until completion – brought on by a 24/7 world with shorter deadlines and a faster pace. Urgent matters take precedence over important matters and time isn’t taken to reflect on decisions or “sleep on it”. Personal productivity declines as a result.

Victim of Device Creep: The pressure to acquire the newest wireless all in one cell phone-digital assistant-remote control device-to augment existing collection of gadgets and toys, regardless of whether it enhances productivity.

Cognitive Interruptus: A state of ‘permanent interruption’. Whether it’s the phone your iPad, Playbook or email alarm, every interruption deters you from your daily plan, increases your workload and sense of anxiety.

Here are several cures:

  • Schedule time to unplug yourself from the job, to unwind and maintain a healthy balance in your life.

  • Invest in new skills training just as you invest in new hardware and software.

  • Always consider the cost/benefit and return on investment before purchasing new technology. You should be able to specifically define how the technology or device will make you more effective at your job.

  • Identify your priorities every day. Use these as the basis of your daily plan and stick to it
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Acheiving project success with programme management

Programme Management is the coordination, negotiation, mediation and monitoring of a large number of projects to ensure successful outcomes for all participants.  Internationally there are some large programme which require high level programme management.

Roger Chou in his recent post from the Project Management Institute highlights the value of good programme management.  He says,

“A report detailing the impact of the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition estimates that Taiwan brought in more than US$1 billion during the six-month event. These benefits were created by synergy, which was cultivated through centralized program management.

The event had an organizing committee, which was set up like a program management office (PMO). Endorsement from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (IAHP) gave the organizing committee the freedom and authority to be effective. IAHP provided the committee with clear objectives, which allowed committee leaders to establish concrete goals for meeting stakeholder expectations.

The exposition involved 377 projects and more than 23,000 participants. With so many stakeholders involved — all of whom were eager to stage events, exhibitions, shows and displays — the event’s success required all of their coordination and cooperation.”

Roger explains that all of these stakeholders’ concerns needed to be understood and met. To achieve this an organising committee was established which worked closely with local tourism and cultural bureaus, as well as the government. The committee had to negotiate, mediate and monitor the projects, and assist the stakeholders to achieve their own benefits, so as to maximize the synergy effect. The committee provided an overall strategy, values and principles to the programme. It was the committee that developed clear objectives for each individual project.

This is where our six dimensional model offers so much value.  It gives each project clarity, in terms of:

Knowledge: The ideas and information to be conveyed.

Skills: The capabilities required for project success.

Values: The do’s and don’ts of the project.

People: Who to work with, what relationships to form, who to communicate with.

Learn: What resources, and support are needed to bring about successful outcomes.  How are these support resources to be accessed and shared?

Integration: Successful integration within the whole programme.

Those who have developed project management skills can scale up their expertise to manage large programmes. However, the principles remain the same despite the size of the programme. The six dimensional model should give you confidence you can design a successful programme with ease.

Achieving Success through Program Management


Roger Chou, PgMP

 on September 27, 2011 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

A report detailing the impact of the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition estimates that Taiwan brought in more than US$1 billion during the six-month event. These benefits were created by synergy, which was cultivated through centralized program management.

What do I mean by synergy? Cross-related projects benefit from efficiency and control when activities are combined rather than performed separately. The exposition is a good example of the kind of synergy that program management should bring — an example worth considering if you want to manage projects effectively within a program.

The event had an organizing committee, which was set up like a program management office (PMO). Endorsement from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (IAHP) gave the organizing committee the freedom and authority to be effective. IAHP provided the committee with clear objectives, which allowed committee leaders to establish concrete goals for meeting stakeholder expectations.

The exposition involved 377 projects and more than 23,000 participants. With so many stakeholders involved — all of whom were eager to stage events, exhibitions, shows and displays — the event’s success required all of their coordination and cooperation.

All of these stakeholders’ concerns needed to be understood and met. This was only possible through the organizing committee, which worked closely with local tourism and cultural bureaus, as well as the government. The committee had to negotiate, mediate and monitor the projects, and assist the stakeholders to achieve their own benefits, so as to maximize the synergy effect.

But it is not just strong, centralized management that ensures a program’s success. The program manger must also correctly identify clear objectives around which individual projects are organized.

As exemplified with IAHP and the committee, objectives of a program can only be defined from top to bottom, which requires a higher level of governance. Once the objectives of a program are set up, every project under the program shall be carried out in accordance with the objectives to ensure alignment between the execution and objectives.

What do you think? Does centralized management ensure a program’s success?

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Live online learning for improved business performance

Posted by Colin Steed in Learning technologieson Wed, 09/21/2011 – 09:30

  • We need to become more productive, more efficient and have better trained employees but with less budget.
  • Live online learning connects your trainers and the learners over an internet connection.
  • Live online learning can provide better and more effective learning experiences for our learners.
Online learning

Colin Steed looks at how to improve business performance and reduce learning and development costs by using live online learning.

In today’s economic climate, we all know that it’s vital to increase the business performance of our organisations to ensure that we can stay ahead. The only way we can do this is by ensuring our workforce is better trained and equipped with the skills to perform their job more effectively and efficiently.

But training our workforce is expensive isn’t it? Courses cost. Buildings housing classrooms cost. Staff on courses cost, with associated travel, accommodation, and the lost opportunity costs of them not being at their desk.
And yet, throughout the world we are witnessing learning and development budgets are being cut — deeply in many organisations.

“Webinars are quite passive for the learner, unless of course the presenter has the necessary skills to engage learners through frequent interaction.


So businesses are facing a huge dilemma. We need to become more productive, more efficient and have better trained employees — which means we need to do more training and staff development — but we have less budget at our disposal.

So how can we get out of this downward spiral? Well, there is a solution. In this article, I will show you how you can achieve your business performance goals whilst reduce your learning and development costs.  So, let me introduce you to live online learning.

What is live online learning?

Live online learning, sometimes called virtual classrooms, or synchronous training, is based on using a web conferencing system that connects your trainers and the learners over an internet connection.

All your learners need is what is on their desk right now – a computer, an internet connection and a web browser. Over this connection, your trainer can facilitate a live learning event – with audio, video, sharing documents, and so on – as though they were in the same room together.

So irrespective of where staff are located, they can connect to the live online training room.

But it’s not just about training – there are different ways to use the web conferencing systems – ways that will enable your organisation to be more productive and efficient whilst not taking out of your budget. Let’s look at three types of event.

Web meetings

Web meetings are the online version of the face-to-face meeting. In web meetings, the software is used for small groups to meet online to collaborate, share documents and make decisions, wherever the participants are.

Common uses for web meetings include trainer meetings, sales meetings, management meetings and so on, but the software has uses elsewhere; notably for system/software support, coaching, and mentoring.


Webinars are events where you want to distribute information or raise awareness to a large audience. A webinar is an online seminar, delivered by a presenter to an audience which may consist of many hundreds of people.

At webinars, the presenter conducts a presentation and invites questions from the audience. These events are primarily presenter-focused, inasmuch as the presenter is the main focus for the event, as opposed to an online classroom event which is learner-centred.

Webinars are very popular with organisations, allowing them to disseminate information to many learners at once. They are, however, quite passive for the learner, unless of course the presenter has the necessary skills to engage learners through frequent interaction.

Learning events

Learning events are training sessions with a small audience for providing performance-based outcomes. Learners are connected by the internet to the classroom. They are live facilitator–led events which use the web conferencing system to provide the facilities for live online learning sessions. This type of event is explicitly learner-centred as opposed to the “broadcast” or “presentation” approach of webinars.

Why now – what’s brought about the change?

But live online learning is not new – it’s been around since the 1990s. So why now? What has brought about this change?

During the few years, powered by the huge and rapid advances in technology and years of research into how people learn online, things have developed and progressed considerably. Notably, the following advances have been made which have brought reliable live online learning to everyone:

  • Nearly everyone has computer access at work and at home, as well as owning many internet-enabled mobile wireless devices capable of receiving learning events.
  • Most people now enjoy a fast internet connection through high-speed broadband both at work and at home, indeed even while they are travelling, by the advances in mobile technology such as smart phones and internet-enabled tablets, such as the iPad.
  • The web conferencing software has evolved into a reliable platform, benefitting from over 10 years of development and enhancement.
  • We have been provided with evidence-based research on how people learn online and the best way to deliver online learning events.

How could your organisation use web conferencing systems?

Let’s now think about how your organisation could use a web conferencing system to provide learning events for employees. Take a minute to jot down ways in which your organisation could make use of it for meetings, webinars and online classroom events.

Here are a few examples, but note these are just some of the available options:

  • Where face-to-face interaction is not critical. For some training programmes it is vital that the trainer is in the same room as the learners in order for the programme to be successful. Lab courses for hardware specialists, where learners physically build computer systems, training in self defence and wine tasting are some typical examples of where web conferencing would not be a good choice. However, in each of these scenarios, some elements of the training would be possible online; so always keep your mind open to reaping the rewards of online learning by combining it with other delivery methods.
  • Where your audience is dispersed throughout a geographic area. Where learners are not all located in the same place, the online classroom will minimise travel time and save on expenses for travel and accommodation. Therefore, any organisation with locations throughout the country – indeed throughout the world – would achieve some excellent cost savings using web conferencing systems.
  • Where the topic is sufficiently critical that all employees must complete the training. Although self-study instruction may be appropriate for teaching the content of, say, compliance training, the learners may not be motivated to complete the work. Where a topic is mandatory, using an online event as a follow-up to self-study will provide the impetus for learners to complete the requirements.
  • Where you have a new product or service and you need to update your entire workforce. Here is a great example of how using the online environment would be invaluable in getting product/service information out to your workforce more quickly and providing some cost savings.
  • Where your work group needs to collaborate. If you have a geographically dispersed work group that needs to come to a consensus, say to agree the sign-off for a new product, or agree sales targets, you can utilise web conferencing to allow the group to collaborate and share ideas and documents.
  • Where a company official or content expert is available for a specific time. Let’s say that your managing director needs to address all staff on the company’s results. By using web conferencing, all staff can see and attend the presentation. This is also true for when, say, a leading expert in your field is available for a particular time on a specific day.

Benefits to employers

The benefits to the organisation are many:

  • Reduced travel time and accommodation costs.
  • Staff spend less time away from the job.
  • Faster deployment of knowledge and skills.
  • Opportunity to provide training to larger numbers of staff – at a much lower cost to the business.
  • Events are measurable, trackable, recordable, and easy to link with other learning.
  • Minimal capital outlays – no need to “own” the technology.

From a learning perspective, users cite the following benefits:

  • Shorter and more focused courses.
  • Courses that are more interactive and collaborative.
  • Greater opportunity to practise either in groups or individually.
  • Ability to share with other learners.
  • Ability to learn without having to leave the place of work.
  • Ability to learn at a convenient time.
  • More likelihood of receiving “just in time” learning.
  • Probability of being trained more often and in a more timely way.

Challenges of live online learning

It would be wise to explain that live online learning is not the be all and end all of the problems you face in your business. There are no easy solutions in anything are there? And live online learning is no exception.
With all the benefits that live online learning brings to your organisation, there are naturally some challenges too.

By far the biggest issue is the trainer’s lack of the requisite skills in the live online environment. It is the biggest hurdle that we face today if live online learning is to provide us with the promise and opportunities that are there for the taking. So why is this?

Employers – and many trainers – seem to be under the impression that their training staff can simply take their classroom courses and deliver them in the in the online classroom. This is a misguided and totally incorrect assumption. To be able to deliver quality learning events in the live online learning environment, trainers need a complete new layer of skills and techniques which they must overlay on their classroom design and delivery skills. They will definitely need to acquire these skills and techniques, and practise and hone them well, before their first live online session.

Organisations around the world are recognising the value

Organisations throughout the US and Europe are now delivering learning events using the live online classroom environment. Clearly, those organisations are now incorporating it into their learning strategy.

Of those organisations who responded to the e-Learning Guild survey Getting Started with Synchronous Systems (2010), 85% strongly agreed/agreed that “management believes that these approaches are essential to their organisation”. Notably, almost 90% stated that they “believed that their live online learning can be as effective as their face to face classroom sessions”.

Before we close, I want to highlight that using live online learning for economic reasons isn’t the only reason organisations should be using it. In today’s economic climate, a trend being observed throughout the world is that many L&D departments are losing classroom space to save on property costs. But it is important to remember that cost savings are not the primary reason for adopting live online learning.

Live online learning can provide better and more effective learning experiences for our learners.  Our learners’ needs are changing too. Today’s learners want to learn in shorter timescales, they want learning accessible at the point of need, they want shorter sessions, and they want those sessions focused on the role they perform in the workplace. Which is exactly what training at the point of need is about and is the way successful organisations run their L&D organisations.

All of those goals can be met with live online learning – using the facility for either short on demand courses, company meetings, company-wide seminars, or as part of a blend of learning events. I hope that you can see the tremendous advantage that live online learning can bring to your organisation to achieve both your own and your organisations’ goals for the future.
Colin Steed is the chief executive of the Learning and Performance Institute. He has over 35 years’ experience in the IT training industry. Having spent ten years in the British Airways’ IT department, he founded the Training Information Network and launched the first magazine in the IT training field – IT Training – where he edited the publication until it was sold in 1998. He was instrumental in founding the Institute of IT Training, the world’s first professional body for IT training professionals and was appointed chief executive in 2000. Colin’s latest book, Facilitating live online learning, is now available. Find out more here.


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4 questions to ask yourself before scrapping a plan (and learning a lesson)

I’ve been thinking about when to pull the plug on projects that are not working.  We hope there are not too many of these.  If you have planned and designed well, using our six dimensional model then these ”scrapped plans” should be few and far between. However, sometimes, despite the best of efforts and intentions project do not work, and we need to back out of them gracefully, keeping our reputation and maintaining good working relationships.  Here are some wise words from one of my Twitter favorites, Renee Charney.

For the original article see

Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold’em. Great advice from an executive leadership coach.

By Renee Charney | Posted: September 23, 2011

I have an artist friend who oil-paints en plein air; he goes outside, sets up his easel and whatever he sees in front of him, he paints. It’s a very in-the-moment type of art.

I asked him one day if he ever wishes he had an “edit” or “undo” option in his paintbrush. He laughed and said, “Yes!” and proceeded to tell me a story about a time when he attended a workshop taught by a renowned painter.  On one particular late afternoon, my friend returned from a day of painting and the instructor asked how his day had gone. My friend said, “It was a ‘scraper.'”
“What’s that?” you might wonder.

A “scraper” is when an artist, unsatisfied with what he’s spent several hours toiling over, takes his trowel and scrapes everything he’s painted off the canvas, leaving it bare and wanting.

I can’t imagine how difficult a decision that must be, what it must have taken for him to recognize that all his time, and effort needed a do over. Maybe he learned something, maybe, he realized something; still, the work was gone.  And how and when, I wondered, did he know that the scene on the canvas in front of him had reached that point?

Then I realized that we all have our “scrapers.”

As HR executives and leaders we are constantly faced with such situations.  Maybe a training program isn’t working out the way we had hoped, or a recruiting strategy isn’t producing the results we expected.  How often might we hasten to scrape what we’re working on and begin anew?  And how do we know we’re not dismissing those efforts in haste? Might there be opportunities to stop, wait, and consider what should be preserved?

I submit that there are, and propose four questions for you to consider when deciding to toss or keep:

1. What might I have if I keep it as it is? Perhaps there is something of value or something someone else can use. It’s always worth taking a few minutes to think this point through.  Once scraped, whatever we’ve done is gone and we can’t usually get it back. Perhaps even asking someone else’s opinion would be worthwhile.

2. What is here that I’ve not explored? Sometimes we want to get rid of something because it doesn’t fit the purpose for which it was originally intended. In other words, a good idea or a good effort may simply be targeted at the wrong purpose. Is there another way to use this? A different kind of value?

3. How can I make sure I remember what I’ve learned? As my painter friend reminded me, there’s always something to learn, even from a failed attempt. If we don’t sometimes fail, it’s arguable that we never learn.  So I always take the time to jot down the few kernels of value that have come from my efforts — even if the value is noting what not to do again.

4. How important is this in the bigger scheme of life? All too often we let our egos and emotions guide us.  What will people think of us if we admit to a “scraper?” Will we feel like we’ve failed? Will others judge us? But that’s not what’s important. The key is the doing and the learning — at least as much as the achieving. I always try to remember this, and remind others of it, too.

Sometimes scraping is the right thing to do, but it’s important that we know why.  Asking these questions always seems to help me.  Are there others that help you?

Renee Charney is the founder of Charney Coaching & Consulting. The original version of this post was published on her website.

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Developing emotionally intelligent leaders

Cover of "Emotional Intelligence"

Cover of Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence

Aubrey Stuart of Kenexa highlights the importance of emotional intelligence and how to develop it in leaders.

Posted by Aubrey Stuart in Leadershipon Fri, 09/16/2011 – 09:30

  • Emotions influence everything we do in the workplace.
  • Emotional intelligence enables leaders to have more meaningful and effective relationships with their people.
  • Today’s work environment requires a leadership approach that recognises and appreciates how decisions will affect people.

Leaders often claim: “Our people are our greatest asset.” As companies aim to survive and thrive in the economic downturn, this claim is being challenged. Good leaders, however, recognise the value of having an engaged workforce. The real benefit of emotional intelligence is that it enables leaders to have more meaningful and effective relationships with their people.

So what is emotional intelligence?

There are many interpretations of emotional intelligence. Essentially it is the principles and values that dictate the thoughts and feelings behind our reactions, which guide our response patterns in different situations. Leaders who are emotionally competent are able to recognise these different emotional patterns in themselves and others, and to direct them in appropriate ways.

“Leaders might want to ask themselves: how do I prepare myself as a leader to give feedback, and also how do I prepare the individual to receive the feedback?

Daniel Goleman, author of the internationally best-selling book Emotional Intelligence (1995) claims that emotional intelligence is not new as Aristotle mentioned the importance of emotion in human interaction back in Ancient Greece. As Aristotle put it, those who have the unique skill “to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right way” will have the edge in all aspects of life.

How often do we hear of employees being dissatisfied with the way in which they have received feedback on their performance or with the timing of the feedback? Some leaders are unable to control the frustration and disappointment they feel about an individual’s performance. Others give feedback to an individual when that person is feeling at their most vulnerable emotionally. Leaders might want to ask themselves: how do I prepare myself as a leader to give feedback, and also how do I prepare the individual to receive the feedback?

Leading without emotional intelligence

A leader who leads without emotional intelligence might not be aware of the negative or de-motivating effect that their style of leadership has on the people they are leading. The leader may get results, however those results could probably be much improved by adopting a more flexible/situational leadership style.

A leader’s level of emotional intelligence is often made apparent in the way they communicate with people. Have they given any consideration to how to address people when delivering key messages? Have they considered the time, place, format (face-to-face, email, telephone)? Have they thought about how people might respond or feel about the message being communicated? Does the leader really listen to what is being communicated by their people? Do they really hear or care or do they just carry on regardless?

If you are not aware of what makes a person tick inside and outside work, how will you be able to motivate them to want to do their best? Are the values of the people you are leading in line with your values as leader and with those of the business?

A leader might have the attitude that they treat everyone fairly by treating everybody the same. However in today’s world, adopting that attitude and style of leadership will not meet the needs and expectations of today’s and tomorrow’s working population.

Developing a leader’s capability to lead with emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence has a part to play when assessing a person’s potential for leadership. It should not be used in isolation but along with traditional methods of selecting and developing leaders. This is because emotions influence everything we do in the workplace. Managed correctly, they can lead to enhanced team spirit and increased output. However, emotions can also have the opposite effect on a workforce.

One of the biggest challenges for a leader is gaining or having the respect of the people they are leading. One question I like to put to leaders is how far are your people prepared to go beyond the call of their normal duties and responsibilities? In a nutshell, will they go the extra mile for you?

As a leader there are always challenges and hurdles to overcome. To meet these challenges, you have to be aware of your own emotions and of the emotions of others. It has been suggested that observing the way a person interacts with their team members and other colleagues, on an emotional level, will give some indication of how they might act in a leadership role.

This creates the opportunity to identify any development needed to boost skills and attributes, to increase their effectiveness as a leader and to help them learn how to modify their reactions to difficult and challenging situations.

Employees are looking more and more for work-life balance and for meaning in their work. To motivate and develop people in today’s challenging work environment requires a leadership approach that recognises and appreciates how decisions will affect people.

Leaders who use the concepts of emotional intelligence can therefore have a strong impact. By understanding how and why people react emotionally to different situations in the workplace, you can implement change more effectively as you will be more responsive to the needs and expectations of the people you are leading.

Previous articles in this series:





Aubrey Stuart is a consultant at Kenexa Leadership, the leadership development specialist. He can be contacted at

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Transparency, privacy becoming necessary in collaboration tools

Image representing Teambox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

By Sep. 1, 2011, 12:59pm PT 4 Comments

Earlier this month, Teambox, the online collaboration and project management platform, recently added private elements to its feature set. Private elements are like Google+ circles for your work and are another signal that control over transparency and communication is coming of age.

In a press release, Teambox said that private elements “allows users to conduct private conversations within a project that can be restricted to certain individuals. This new functionality is ideal for internal teams that want to bring outside vendors into Teambox for project and task management, but also need the flexibility of private internal conversations.”

Screen shot of Teambox project

This is an eye opening combination of a collaboration tool supporting modern organizational practice – creating circles of communication. Transparency design choices are explicitly in the project management mix with the addition of private elements. Information can be transparent across all members of project — or not — as deemed appropriate by the project administrators and the task at hand. Karl Goldfield, Teambox vice president of sales and marketing, explained it to me with an example:

Wedding planners, like an Internet marketing lead, or any other general contractor, have lots of clients and subcontractors.  When it comes to certain things, you want open collaboration. A wedding planner doesn’t always want to filter [limit] information to clients and the florists or the caterers they work with. They invite the client to a project where they understand the different subcontractors they  can work with (for example, seeing all the information for all four possible caterers) — they all get to see things and discuss. Everyone is in this open place focused on working on what the client wants.

Think about that: The client, and all the bidding florists, caterers, etc. get to see the information from the others, though this level of transparency isn’t fixed. The conversation can go private, tighter circles can be created, perhaps as the bids come in, or perhaps only after particular bids are accepted.
Screen shot of private elements feature

I asked Karl about the response from the subcontractors.  Are they comfortable with this cross-organization, cross-competitor transparency?

Karl responded with a perfect Enterprise 2.0 answer:

People can already contact a [competing] caterer and find their pricing — and if [the competitor] wants to keep it private they can just not answer. But, if I’m a good wedding planner and work with a specific set of caterers and do 100 weddings a year and 25 percent of the projects come to you — I’m the caterer’s best buddy — even if 75 percent of the business goes to others. The caterer knows the final decision (the clients’) will be personal preference. This isn’t a question of the technology system, but one of the relationship.

Makes sense to me. Yes, I’d be giving information to my competitors, but I’m also learning through the process. If this work process brings us into a community, the benefits may outweigh any costs. We all become better caterers or florists.  We learn our own competitive advantages.  We have community members to cross-sell with and or to ask for help.

But not all wedding planners, Internet marketing teams, or other Teambox users may understand these community issues straight away. I asked Karl how Teambox helps people come to understand this. How do you help users learn how to manage all these options and strategic choices?

My goal for 2012 is an education campaign. Online videos, best-case scenarios. Eight to 10 core [types of users with demos on] how to make Teambox the central resource for communication…. We want to find ways of keeping the noise off your plate.

Karl had me think of two different types of project collaborators to clarify the information noise issue. The first is a highlevel manager who doesn’t want details. This manager just wants to follow a dashboard and a timeline — no drill down — as clean and quiet an interface as possible. That manager wouldn’t be part of the private elements until he or she asked for details and then the manager could be invited in. The second type might want a more micro understanding of how the project is going. It would take too much time to play middle-man with this manager so nothing in the project should be private; let him or her see everything as it happens.

Karl also talked about the evolution of how Teambox is used and how this helps people come to understand the value in their particular setting. Initially they might manage Teambox information completely from their email inbox (using Teambox’s notification and response systems). As their use becomes greater they will find value in managing Teambox content from the activity stream. But Karl suggests that you don’t push this approach to happen overnight. Let circle techniques evolve as use grows.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Yakkety-Yak, Don’t Talk Back: The secret to solving problems

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Posted by lsnon Wed, 07/27/2011 – 09:58

Originally posted at

Rhea Zakich, a young mother from Garden Grove, California, was unable to speak for several months after her doctor found polyps on her vocal cords. During her recovery period, she was afraid that the polyps might return. Worse, due to her inability to talk, she feared emotional estrangement from her family. It dawned on her during this time that “we all spend so much time talking…but we never really communicate.”

As a remedy, she decided to write down on paper cards a number of questions that she wanted to ask her husband and children. Before long, with nearly 200 cards on her hands, she realized that she could turn them into a board game.

So she played it with her family, and the results were surprising: her husband revealed for the first time how frightened her illness made him; her son, a bright student, expressed how he hated the constant pressure to perform well in school; the other son talked about how his brother’s constant teasing hurt him. At the end of the game, her husband said: “I’ve learned more about all of you in these twenty minutes than in the past five years.”

Several years ago, I played “The Ungame” and it was a genuine revelation. You had to think very carefully before you asked a question and that in itself was an eye-opener.

You see people like to talk, and mainly about themselves. A quick scan of Twitter shows that not only do people like to talk about themselves, but they like to appear wise and they want to be an expert.

So what? Well here’s the thing. When you have a problem, what do you do? One my friends believes “a problem shared is a problem doubled”. However, he’s in the minority. Most of the time when we have problem, we seek the counsel of others. You probably have an idea how to handle it, but you’re not sure if it’s the right way. So you chat to your peers and your manager and what happens? “Oh, I know exactly what’s happening there,” they say. “What you need to do is this…” It’s in our nature to want to provide answers. Some people are more forthcoming than others but essentially, everyone’s got an opinion.

The thing is though, they don’t know the whole story and they see things from their perspective not yours. Not only that, but their solutions are based on their experience, their skills and their context. So, when people say “If I were you….” what they really mean is “If you were me…” To fix your problem, you need to find a solution that will work for you. But how can you find solutions when the problem seems too complex to even define?

Ever heard of Action Learning? It’s an incredibly simple and powerful process. Notice I said “simple” not “easy”. It’s a challenging process but an incredibly motivating experience for anyone that takes part. Here’s what happens. The “set” is made up of 6-8 members, all of whom have a specific business problem. During the session, each person will take it in turn to work on their problem. When working on their problem (or “issue” – the name doesn’t really matter) they are known as the Problem Bringer and they sit in the hot seat (a bit like MasterMind, but without John Humphrys).

> The process looks like this

They take the floor and outline the problem they’re having. That’s the Introduction stage. Next comes the exploration stage. This is where the other set members (all sitting in a horseshoe around the Problem Bringer) ask probing questions in order to get to get a clear view of what the problem is. You see the problem you think you have may not be the real problem. It may be a deeper problem, or it may be a complete different problem all together! And the problem is, you can’t solve a problem unless you know what the problem is!

So once the Problem Bringer has thoroughly digested the questions and responded carefully, he or she comes to define the problem as they now perceive it. Then comes the meatiest part of the session – the Consultation stage – where the enablers ask questions of the Problem Bringer to help them generate solutions. This is where the “experts” have a challenge on their hands. You see the presupposition behind Action Learning is that the Problem Bringer is the ultimate expert in that problem, not the other set members (called Enablers). In the consulting stage – in fact throughout all the stages – the Enablers are only permitted to ask questions. They’re not allowed to tell you what to do. Trust me, it’s hard work! Questions in this stage will help the problem bringer unpack their problem, force them to look at the problem from differing perspectives, challenge their thinking and stimulate new insights, ideas to unlock a way forward. You can probably see now why the chair the problem bringer sits in is known as ‘the hot seat’!

The final stage – Action – where the Problem Bringer sums up what they are now thinking as a result of the questions they’ve been asked and commits to actions that they will take to tackle their problem.

As members become more fluent in Action Learning, their sense of empowerment is extraordinary. Think about the rules.

1. You bring the problem

2. You define the problem

3. You decide the best solution

4. You take the necessary actions

No one else can you tell you how to solve your problem – the responsibility is all yours. What’s great, however, is that your team mates help you work through the process by asking objective, challenging questions – questions you may be afraid to ask yourself.

Simon Leckie, Development Consultant for LSN, calls Action Learning “the best kept leadership development secret”. Why? First, it massively boosts the confidence of leaders in terms of their skills, expertise and the ability to solve complex problems. Secondly, it boosts teamwork, bringing together individuals from a range of business areas. LSN even facilitate Global Action Learning, in which the set is made up of delegates from different companies. Thirdly, it sets in place an ongoing process – which can be facilitated with your own internal resources – building confidence and ability through ownership.

Action Learning is an amazing tool and incredibly easy to use. All you need is a room, some chairs, a flip chart and a facilitator. The challenging part is for the Enablers to listen and question. Master that, and your biggest problems will quickly become your greatest opportunities.

Jez Fernandez

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Leading academic projects – A self-study unit

Project development stages
Image via Wikipedia

By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Understand the concepts and principles of academic project management.
  • Lead an academic project
  • Be confident in your capabilities and processes.
  • Lead your team, and reflect on your own performance.
  • Learn more about project management skills, and tools.
  • Integrate your project into your practice portfolio.

The diagram above explains the different stages of project management.

1. Initiating projects:

Here is some good advice in determining good and bad projects.

Spotting Bad Projects

As we’ve already discussed, many project managers aren’t involved in the discovery phase, where good projects are selected. As a result, an ability to spot the signs of a bad project is a valuable skill for the project manager to develop.

First of all, let’s think about some hallmarks of good projects:

  • They deliver big benefits, with defined metrics that specify the size of those benefits.
  • They’re important to the future of the organization (or, in management speak, they’re “strategically important”).
  • Sufficient resources are invested in them.
  • They have supporters within the organization.

We’ll talk more about the kinds of supporters you need, and the importance of having a sponsor for your project, later in this chapter.

The hallmarks of a bad project contrast rather predictably with those outlined above:

  • Projects for which no one has really identified the business benefit, or for which the closest you can get to a cost estimate is someone waving their hands in a the-size-of-the-monster-catfish-I-caught-last-summer type gesture are dangerous.
  • Projects that focus too heavily on the present and neglect the future are dangerous. Think of the buggy whip manufacturer investing in making his production lines faster and cheaper, rather than realizing that a change in direction was needed.
  • Insufficient — or nonexistent — resource investments in a project are another warning sign that you should beware of. Projects without budgets, people, or equipment are risky from the outset.
  • Projects that are being undertaken even though only a few people in the organization believe that they should be completed are the most dangerous of all. These kinds of projects quickly start to feel like everyone’s just standing around watching, and waiting for you to slip up and prove them right.

Projects should ideally solve a problem that has been identified and scoped out and discussed at length before the project was created. So before you take on a project find out as much as you can about what led to the creation of the project. You will need all the relevant documentation that has preceded the project so that you can understand the problem, and the strategic important to the organisation.

Tip: This information is gold, so make sure you store it in your project portfolio.
2. Planning projects

We are great believers in Fink’s integrated design model for any situation in which collaborative learning will take place.

To help you design your project we have six questions.

  • What concepts and principles will you and your team need to know for this project.
  • What skills will you need?
  • What values or standards will underlie this project?
  • Who will you need to work with?
  • What will be your role?
  • What will you need to learn?
  • How will you integrate this project into your existing work, and within the organisation?

The answers to these questions will help you scope your project. As you answer each question, add additional notes and comments. This will help you to organise and keep simple a potentially complex set of information.

3. Execution of projects

Essentially this will mean managing people and resources.

Let’s look at resources first. The resources you need most will be time and money. So it important to have a timeline to record all you deadlines and milestones. I highly recommend Mavenlink as a project management tool, and also Tom’s Planner for a quick way of the team keeping track of the project. The advantage of these online tool’s is that they can be shared with the project team. Similarly, Huddle is a great tool for collaborative teams.

In terms of managing people and projects we have some useful links.

Making projects work
4. Confidence and capability

Your confidence and skills will rise as you practice and develop your project management skills. In many ways project management is just like teaching a course, it does get better over time, and the more times you manage projects the better you become. What is key is that you make things as simple as possible and you place a high priority on communication.

What should you do when projects are going wrong

5. Leading the team

Here the key skill is communication. Ensuring that you are clear, concise and kind in you communications with the team and with stakeholders. A team leader needs to know when to consult, delegate, and decide. Your project management tools will allow you to do this, and plan consultation, delegation and decisions making events.

Projects and Will Rogers

Do you need to successfully delegate work?

6. Project management tools and advice

Finally, you will appreciate some wise advice on how to start off using your collaborative online tools.

Imagine you’re about to start a new collaborative, cross-timezone project and you are hoping to get the whole team on board with your favorite online workspace. Do you set up the whole space and walk them through each capability: group calendar, project management tool, resource library of helpful documents, collaborative editing, etc? Or, do you begin by sharing a single document that starts out as the agenda and develops into a lab notebook? Do you go for the stretch goal (full-blown on-line workspace) or the small win (starter collaboration document)?

While there is no single accepted way to kick off a group in a collaborative process, my experience and the available research says you should start small with a specific, achievable goal, rather than trying to implement a full technology platform at the same time as you’re organizing the project. Stewart Mader, author of the book Wikipatterns, says that you should focus on the work; help people see the value from the work and the rest will follow. Read more….

One of the best is Zoho Projects

7. Integration with your practice portfolio.

Finally, be sure to link your project to you practice portfolio. You may want specific parts of the project that you are proud of included in your showcase portfolio. A summary of the programme and outcomes will certainly be a useful addition.

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How to master the 3 moments of truth for long-term career success

In my recent work with teachers, business people and students, it has become clear, that many of us are needing help in getting that next job and performing well in a new position.  This is more complicated when we realise that our web footprint is an important part of the process.  So I was interested to read these ideas from Chris Perry.  He summarises three steps in applying for and attaining a new position. A carefully constructed web footprint is part of the process.  – Diana

chris perry portraitChris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career RocketeerMBA HighwayBlogaristo

Read more at:

Google recently launched Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, a powerful new ebook by Jim Lecinski, Google’s Managing Director of US Sales & Service.

  • The Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT for short, is the online decision-making point where today’s consumer determines whether to proceed in purchasing a product or service.

The Internet has not only changed how we, the consumers, decide what to buy, but also the way that marketers of products and services must promote their offerings to grow their businesses.

Before the digital age, the traditional product marketing model included the following stages:

Traditional Marketing Model

  • Stimulus: Person sees an ad or hears about a product
  • First Moment of Truth: Person goes to the store, finds the product and buys product
  • Second Moment of Truth: Person takes product home, uses product and responds to the experience.

Therefore, to successfully grow their sales, marketers had to ensure that they had effective and creative advertising (Stimulus), strong shelf presence with multiple facings and product displays at key retailers (First Moment of Truth) and product and usage experience quality that satisfied or exceeded consumer expectations (Second Moment of Truth).

With the evolution of the Internet and social media, the model has changed to include the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT.

New Marketing Model

  • Stimulus: Person sees an ad or hears about a product
  • Zero Moment of Truth: Person “googles” the product to learn more about its features and to see what other people have to say about it
  • First Moment of Truth: Person goes to the store, finds the product and buys product
  • Second Moment of Truth: Person takes product home, uses product and responds to the experience which may involve posting reviews or telling others about it.

Now in order to be successful, companies worldwide must also win the Zero Moment of Truth by ensuring their brands, products, services meet the expectations of their customers.

How to master the 3 moments of truth for long-term career success

Zero Moment of Truth

Invest some time and energy into being present online, being found online and coming across credible, competent and qualified in whatever career direction, function and/or industry we have chosen to pursue.

This could include many different tactics, including:

First Moment of Truth

  • Make sure you identify your personal brand and develop a short 20-30 second elevator pitch to introduce yourself, your brand and your value.
  • Practice networking online and in-person with others in your industry or field of interest.
  • Consider reaching out to new contacts for informational interviews, as well as practicing your interview skills with a mentor or someone you trust.
  • You may also want to review your work history and write out several experiences that feature your skills and/or accomplishments.

All of these activities will not only help you expand your network of contacts, but will also help make you more comfortable and confident presenting yourself and your personal brand when the time comes to stand out from the crowd in an interview for new career opportunities.

Second Moment of Truth

Once you get the job, you now need to perform and prove to your employer that they made the right decision.

  • Ask your managers and cross-functionals as many questions as possible, no matter how dumb they may seem, so that you can hit the ground running in your new role and support them effectively.
  • Establish a work-life balance early on that is healthy for you, as this will help motivate you to perform better in the long run.
  • Ask for regular feedback and act on your opportunities for self-improvement.
  • Don’t forget to ask for recommendations when appropriate, as these will help you later in your career.

Remember that everything you do to master the Second Moment of Truth, including work experience and skills, networking and recommendations, supports future passes through the Zero and First Moments of Truth.

Obviously, these are just some of the countless ways you can master these 3 Moments of Truth; however, using this model and thinking about your career as a cycle through these 3 moments may help you better prepare yourself for both career advancement and career satisfaction.

Read more at:

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Creating an online community for learning

Last week I wrote about my experiences in supporting teachers, and students to create practice portfolios. As a result of that work, I concluded there was a need for groups of learners to be able to work together in a shared online space. Now I do not mean a Learning Management System (such as Blackboard, WebCT or Moodle) but something they themselves control and manage themselves.

A number of teachers have raised with me the need for a simple online application where groups from within one class can work together. I have identified that staff groups who are working on academic projects also need an online knowledge based to ensure everyone knows what is happening and everyone has access to the key information.

The concepts and principles of online groups

In 2010 I wrote a paper, Is the Village Common in a Cloud, which I presented at the New Zealand Association for Cooperative Education conference in Palmerston North, New Zealand. In that paper, I referred to the ideas of Reynard (2009) who, identified the key challenge for educators is to ensure students have the confidence, learner autonomy and collaborative learning skills to participate in any learning community.  Reynard suggested this includes an online community.

In the United Kingdom Digizen is an organisation provides information for educators, parents, carers, and young people. It is used to strengthen their awareness and understanding of what digital citizenship is and encourages users of technology to be and become responsible DIGItal citiZENS. It shares specific advice and resources on issues such as social networking and cyberbullying and how these relate to and affect their own and other people’s online experiences and behaviours.   As part of their work they commissioned a report into the use of social networking services. The report from Childnet International (2007),  defines social networking services “…as Internet- or mobile-device-based social spaces designed to facilitate communication, collaboration and content sharing across networks of contacts.”

They note that while engaging in these social networking services students will:

Communicate with existing networks, make and develop friendships/contacts

  • Represent themselves online, create and develop an online presence
  • View content/find information
  • Create and customise profiles
  • Author and upload content
  • Add and share content
  • Post messages – public & private
  • Collaborate with other people

One of the concerns that many teachers, and students have about participating in online environments.  These are genuine and valid concerns that need to be addressed through learning more, practicing in safe environments. If you would like to know more about safe, and secure digital use, it is explained here in this short video.  There are very good support resources available from Digizen.

How to establish a safe online group?

After trying several different applications I have decided that Posterous groups in the best tool for a closed online learning group.  The tool is easy to use, easy to upload content and communicate with others.

Everyone knows how to use email, so getting started with a group makes a lot of sense.  The Posterous groups site will allow participant to upload photos, documents, videos and podcasts and they appear nicely presented for the whole group. Now all the key information the group needs to complete their project, or learning is available to everyone.  You can read more about the application here.

To help you get started, nominate a group leader, who will create the site.

Is the village common in a cloud


Childnet International (2007) Young people and social networking services, Childnet International Research Report reported on, archived at

Reynard, R., (2009, July 22, 2009) Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities. Blog posted to Campus Technology, archived at

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Practice Portfolios

Creating a practice portfolio requires you to review and adapt not just your activities and your practice but your values and beliefs about your practice.

See Peter Drucker for a reminder about who is responsible for our professional development. Click HERE.

Individual Development

The important thing is not that you have rank, but that you have responsibility

by Dr. Peter Drucker

The person with the most responsibility for an individual’s development is the person him or herself – not the boss. The best priority for one’s own development is to strive for excellence. Workmanship counts, not just because it makes a difference in the quality of the job done, but because it makes such a difference in the person doing the job. Expect the job to provide stimulus only if you work on your own self-renewal, only if you create the excitement, the challenge, the transformation that makes an old job enriching over and over again. The most effective road to self-renewal is to look for the unexpected success and run with it.

The critical factor for success is accountability – holding yourself accountable. Everything else flows from that. The important thing is not that you have rank, but that you have responsibility. To be accountable, you must take the job seriously enough to recognize: I’ve got to grow up to the job. By focusing on accountability, people take a bigger view of themselves.

ACTION POINT: Strive for excellence

Personal Benefits of Practice Portfolios

Dr Laurel Edmunds and Jessica Pryce-Jones have researched the issue of happiness at work at length and have produced the following definition from their findings:

Happiness at work is about mindfully making the best use of the resources you have to overcome the challenges you face. Actively relishing the highs and managing the lows will help you maximize your performance and achieve your potential. And this not only builds your happiness but also that of others who will be affected and energized by what you do.

From Happiness at Work


We have chosen a visual representation to explain what you are aiming for; that is, to create a showcase portfolio. This portfolio will demonstrate your capabilities to employers and clients.  However, before you can create that showcase portfolio you will need to keep a developmental portfolio for a number of years. A developmental portfolio will include your reflections of your practice. Some of these reflections will be very personal and you may not wish to include them unedited in a showcase portfolio. For these reasons you will need the bigger, private developmental portfolio, and draw from it to create your smaller, public showcase portfolio.

By the end of this forum you will be able to:

Understand the terminology, concepts and principles of practice portfolios.
Collect, select, and reflect on evidence for a portfolio.
Human Dimension:
Collaborate with peers, employers and stakeholders to support your portfolio. Create and maintain a practice portfolio for a range of professional purposes.
Learning how to Learn:

Access, evaluate and share resources.
Initiate and sustain a professional profile.

Integrate your portfolio within your professional practice.

My research for The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking found that before someone will actually meet you, they will have normally already have formed a first impression of you by looking at your online footprint. Yes, your online footprint – how many of us, actively manage our personal online footprint? Unless you have an active content marketing strategy for your career and/or business, your LinkedIn profile is most likely to be in the top three results when people Google your name. Don’t be under any illusions, the first step in any process to find out more about you will involve a google search. So, what does your LinkedIn profile look like? A shortened version of your CV? Or an active profile showcasing your personal credibility?
Heather Townsend is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking. Over the past decade, Heather has worked with more than one hundred partners, coached and trained over 1000 lawyers, accountants and other professionals at every level, within the UK’s leading and most ambitious professional practices.She specializes in working with professional services firms and is the founder of The Efficiency Coach.

Inspiration from Jack Zerby on Vimeo.


Portfolios have a language all of their own. So we are giving you some of the key words here before you start on your learning journey.

Practice portfolio: An all encompassing term for any portfolio demonstrating professional practice.

A narrative portfolio tells a personal story. Your portfolio should be written in the first person and tell your story.

A good portfolio should be a dialogue and record not only your voice, but also the voices of your clients, colleagues, peers, the community or key stakeholders.

Showcase portfolio: This is your ‘front of house’ portfolio where you demonstrate your career and achievements to a chosen audience(s). Who might these audiences be?

Developmental Portfolios This is your “back room”, where work that is not ready for publication is stored. This aspect of your portfolio captures your reflections as you develop as a practitioner. Treat this more as a professional development space where you prepare material for showcase portfolios.

Indepth reflective dialogue: You will need this to create a developmental portfolio. Here is a nice introduction to reflection. We also recommend this video to you on reflective practice.
Self managing professional: The aim of a teaching portfolio is to make you a self managing professional. For a quick intro and path to a career plan, read more here.

You may like to use portfolio as part of your annual performance management self evaluation. Here is a simple guide to self evaluation for performance management purposes. How to Perform Self Evaluation for a Positive Performance Review.

An Example Portfolio.

This example portfolio was created using Posterous The portfolio has both a blog and pages (or tabs) function. Click the side tabs to find out what each page could contain.
This portfolio was created using Blogger and can be found at
The portfolio has no pages, and uses only blog posts to showcase the work of the teachers.
Now to work and constructing your portfolio!


We are great believers in e-portfolios. We have created a Moodle site with loads of information. So check it out here.
e-Portfolios are not a new concept. In various guises, digital presentations of skills and competences, online records of achievement and action plans with opportunities for reflection have been in use in education for nearly a decade. Tools and systems built for these purposes are now numerous. So what is new about e-portfolios? Click Here for JISC Effective Practice with E-Portfolios.

Helen Barrett is the world expert on e-Portfolios. You can check out her website for tools and tricks.

Helen Barrett’s website includes a list of useful online web 2.0 portfolio tools.

E-portfolios (for managers, academics and others) are becoming increasingly popular around the world as a tool to enhance learning and assist with personal career development. Click HERE to access the lastest developments from the Flexible Learning Network in Australia.

Here are some online examples of e-portfolios from our e-portfolio Moodle course:

Some options for where to host your e-Portfolio

Jump on Google and search for options for hosting your e-portfolio. There are loads of options, some paid services (like this Ning), others free with advertisements.

  • Ning, which is where this site is hosted. Currently it’s US$2.95 per month for a basic ad-free plan.
  • LinkedIn. Originally for business professionals, it now has a number of ways you can create a portfolio of practice.
  • Facebook is ubiquitous but not only for teens! It’s increasingly used by businesses and organisations to profile their activities. You can have more than one online profile here if that suits your needs, e.g. one for your friends and another for your professional profile.
  • tumblr. is a blogging platform – “share anything, customize everything”. tumblr. allows you to post from your email and mobile phone.
  • Postess is a very simple form of online portfolio. You will have a few easily manageable pages. So for the beginner this could be a manageable platform. Students may also benefit from this platform.
  • Pebblepad is a paid service specialising in reflective e-portfolios.
  • webs provides free websites.
  • Posterous – “the easiest way to post and share anything”. Easy to customise and apply templates. Send your posts from email or mobile phone, then share them with your followers. Nice crisp finish.
  • Blogger A Google application. You can use your gmail address to login. A simple blogging platform, used by the best of blogging professionals, and allows pages as well.
  • WordPress: For the experienced only. A fabulous tool but quite technical.
  • Flavorsme One webpage, limited but simple, can draw all you online presence together.

Polishing your Portfolio

Your portfolio needs some input from others, your peers, and external stakeholders. Feel free to add documents, photos, videos, Powerpoints etc.

Printing your portfolio

There is software applications to help you print from a blog. See

Posterous Great Portfolios.

For some examples of education blogs built with posterous go to
and just to show that this is real and not faked
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5 Leadership Lessons from the Battle of Little Bighorn

George Armstrong Custer, U.S. Army major gener...

Image via Wikipedia

Chris Glennie, Assistant Director of Marketing (and amateur historian) for LSN, unearthed some valuable leadership lessons while reading up on the Battle of the Little Bighorn



This week (7th July) in 1876, news reached Washington, D.C., in the middle of the nation’s centennial celebrations, of one of the USA’s most traumatic military losses – the Battle of the Little Bighorn, more famously known as Custer’s Last Stand.

I’ve been reading up on this period in preparation for a family ranch holiday in Wyoming this August. The battle itself, the campaign that preceded it and the aftermath that saw most of the Lakota and Cheyenne surrendering themselves to reservation life within a year of their famous victory, have been much picked over by military historians. It’s not my intention to do the same here; during my preparation, however, I have been struck by certain aspects of the battle that resonate from a leadership perspective.

I am well aware of the pitfalls of drawing too many comparisons and lessons from different areas of human experience, but here are a few thoughts nonetheless:

Don’t get stuck in old paradigms. More colloquially: Expect the unexpected. Custer’s approach to the campaign, and the battle itself, was based on the totality of his previous experience, and all his actions flowed naturally and logically from that one place. Therefore, what he encountered on the banks of the Little Bighorn river – the size of the village, the number of warriors, the sheer state of readiness of the opposition forces – took him unawares. His preconceived ideas as to how things would play out – principally, that the gathered people would try to slip away without a fight – set him on a course of action that led to his eventual downfall.
‘Commander’s intent’ is paramount. It’s possible that Custer had a plan, but he didn’t make it clear to enough people what it was. One of the reasons we know so little about what really happened on Last Stand Hill – beyond the fact that there were no survivors to tell the tale – is that we know so little about Custer’s original intentions. This lack of clarity about his commander’s intent led to those around him in the battle area not being able effectively to improvise a response when they sensed things weren’t going quite as they should.
Trust and mutual respect at the top are critical. These were non-existent at the Little Bighorn. Captain Benteen was possibly the one officer who, when the actual fighting began, showed the coolest head (even taking a nap during the siege of Reno’s Hill). His lack of respect for Custer, however, and Custer’s reciprocal lack of trust in Benteen, meant that the latter, disastrously, did not rush to the former’s aid when faced with an unclear situation in which he had to make an independent judgement.
Focus, focus, focus. Custer split his forces into three, and allowed too much space between each of the separated units. Communication became next to impossible (and what efforts were made were critically hampered both by the lack of commander’s intent and the fact that they were reinterpreted by non-native English speakers). This lack of focus led to the weakening and eventual destruction of the troops directly under Custer’s command.
Strategy beats tactics. Sure, Custer made mistakes and paid a heavy price. He lost a battle. But the United States was not ever going to lose the war. The irony of the Last Stand is that in reality it was the Lakota and Cheyenne who had their last stand at the Little Bighorn. They had not the men, resources, food or any other of the wherewithal to resist the US Government for any sustained period of time. It was a great tactical win, but in the end, thats all it was. Strategically, it was irrelevant.

My final thought is this: It’s easy to do this in hindsight, to review and sift the evidence with a cool head, and make judgements from the proverbial armchair. The real measure of leadership is to make those cool judgements in the heat of battle itself, with a clear head, while dealing with considerable uncertainty – and even fear. There’s no room for hotheads in that situation. No room for grandstanding, for ego.

In the end, for me, Custer was a hothead; a brave one no doubt, even a charismatic one, but only in the game for the greater glory of George Armstrong Custer. But hotheads don’t just burn themselves out, they bring others down with them. Don’t be a hothead.

Chris Glennie, LSN

More information
Read up on the Battle of the Little Bighorn on Wikipedia

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Learning with unlearning

Confidence-based learning

Image via Wikipedia

The real voyage of discovery is not seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.  Marcel Proust

After I acquire new eyes, what do I do with the old ones?  Ramon Soto-Crespo, paraphrasing Freiderich Nietzsche

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The Queen in “Through the Looking Glass”

The problem we have, is that when introducing change programmes and organisational transformation, we need to address staff needs to learn, unlearn, and relearn.  As a manager, coach and teacher I often need to attend to the process of unlearning and relearning.

As I tune in to learners unlearning I need to attend to the old knowledge, assumptions and ideas that will not work in a new environment. I have found it to be beneficial to learners to be upfront and clear about this from the start.  Our staff, players, and learners need time to identify what they are discarding and why. It is worth listening to those things they want to hold on to tightly because they may indeed be valuable, and a key component in performance. Be attentive and listen carefully.  List the items that are being given away and those in dispute.

Sometimes our staff, players and students refuse to learn.  Should they be able to do this?  Yes, of course, it is their right, but one important attribute we would like them all to demonstrate is commitment to continous improvement.   Our role is to help them see the need to need to continue to learn if they are to improve their performance.  It is OK to have Off days and non-cooperative moments.  Unlearning can often have some moments of conflict, the skilled faciliator acknowledges, listens respectfully, and gives time for learners to find their own learning space.

What processes are going on while we are unlearning?  Hedberg, (1981) believed we were deleting while new knowledge was created.  Klien (1989) thought all knowledge was stored, and could be retreived at any time.  Wheatley (2006) believes the all knowledge is continually redefined, added to recomposed in a continous process.  She believes we are not losing anything but rather sharpening or softening the gaze.

It is our role to faciltate unlearning, to help our learners, analyse their current performance, break it down, and find the faults and correct it.  We need to be supportive and creative as we help them re- build with new components. We are often taking the assumed or the implicit and making it explicit.  Introducing learners to the six dimensional curriculum can help this process. The model can help them find coherence in what they think they know and do, and what they actually know and do.

In designing for unlearning think about the following,

Know: What concepts and principles are we learning?  Which ones are we unlearning?  Which words are we adding?  Which ones are we taking away?

Skills: What skills or parts of skills are we keeping? Giving away?  Acquiring?

Values: Which ones are needed now? Which ones are not working?

People:  Who do we need to form alliances with?  Who is moving into sharp focus?  Who is softening in our gaze?  Who is our host on this journey?  Who are our co-learners? Who are supporter’s and resourcers?  Who is playing the agent provocateur? (the agitator)

Learn: What do we need to starting learning?  What do we need to stop chasing?

Integrate: What are we bringing into our professional profiles? What are we moving to the background?

Opportunities for new learning arise in two different ways, firstly there is a genuine desire to bring about change, to create something new or achieve new results, secondly, we receive feedback which contradicts a belief we hold. Both events provide the opportunity to learn, and a faciltator can ease the learning with:

Regards: We must accept where our learners are, even if it is frustrating to us.

Awareness: We must acknowledge that it is our job to help them deal with the upheaval of unlearning.  We must do this openly.

Compassion: We must bring our compassion and more to this task.  Once we start the journey we must be prepared to walk with the learner to the end.

Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you to manage unlearning with your staff, players and students.

1. Establish the principles of unlearning.  A nice way to do this is to devise 10 questions that will serve you well through the process of unlearning and learning?  Questions like,What will we do when we disagree?  And How to we record our unlearning? are good places to start.

2. Create a picture of what the new learning will bring about. You can do this using a sketch, mindmap or  rubric. The important thing to to describe the qualities and nature of an exemplary performance.

3. Create some case studies to discuss. You may need to make them up, but case studies with dilemmas are a great way to get everyone talking.

4. Takes turns at ‘creating controversy” Let everyone practice arguing the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to new knowledge, skills and attributes.

5. Encourage constructive feedback by co-learners and supporters.  Set up supportive environments for giving and receiving feedback based on the premise that feedback is only given to improve performance.

6. Deal with unexpressed emotions creatively.  You can invent ways of jettisoning their negative emotions, outdated knowledge and skills, for example have post it notes and a trash can. People can write down their thoughts and toss them in the can.  Encourge a Dear John note for things that are not longer needed, and are welcome note for incoming ideas, information, skills and values.

7. Create an online community.  The community will ensure that the conversation does not die. Closed blogs, are a great way of having the group work through something together, and increase confidence and capability.

Next time you have responsibility for bringing about major change, especially change in culture and values, think about it as an unlearning exercise. You may be surprised at the results that can be obtained with some planning and creativity.

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Would you like to be able to teach, coach or advise from anywhere at anytime?

We have just the product for you. It is called Zipcast, and it allows online meetings anywhere, anytime …for free.

It takes less than 60 secs! Promise!

Zipcast – changing the way the world conducts meetings
Have you ever wished you could jump into an online meeting from anywhere? Or wanted to start meetings instantly? Well, guess what, now you can. No need to download software or wait five minutes for a meeting to start. Open your browser and with one click you’re in a Zipcast meeting.

Zipcast is the new meeting platform SlideShare that lets you conduct inexpensive, secure private meetings and limitless free public meetings from your web browser. Everyone gets a personalized meeting room – if you have a SlideShare login, you already have a meeting room at Or you can get one for free here. You also get streaming video, audio and group chat for free.

As Rashmi explains here, Zipcast meetings are interactive and social and take place entirely within a browser window. Unlike older online meeting systems, no clunky screen takeover is required – you can keep other browser tabs open. You can invite people by giving them the meeting room URL via IM, email, Facebook, or Twitter. For a public Zipcast, chats can be shared on Twitter or Facebook.

Every SlideShare user has free access to Zipcast for conducting public meetings. Pro users get additional functionality like (a) ad removal, (b) private, password-protected meetings accessible only to people invited by the host and (c) audio conferencing.

Ready to Zipcast? Go to your meeting room to get started.

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Learning from problems

Ocean Swim Russell to Paihia 2010


“Don’t talk about learning or training at all; talk about solving business problems, addressing issues and finding solutions. In business the minute you say we have a problem in this area and this is how I can solve it, you will get buy-in as long as you turn out to be correct.”  Charles Elvin

This is great advice from Charles, who is director of the Centre for Professional Learning and Development at the Open University. He has previously held senior executive positions in major private and public sector organisations, with extensive international and cross cultural experience through living and working in the USA, across Europe and throughout SE Asia.

Peter Senge also gives some good advice about problems.  He says underlying problems generate symptoms that demand attention.  But the underlying problem is difficult for people to address, either because it is obscure or costly to confront.  So people “shift the burden” of their problem to other solutions – well-intentioned, easy fixes which seem extremely efficient.  Unfortunately, the easier “solutions” only ameliorate the symptoms; they leave the underlying problem unaltered. The underlying problem grows worse, unnoticed because the symptoms apparently clear up, and the system loses whatever abilities it had to solve the underlying problem. (Senge, 1990. p. 103)

We believe our six dimensional model has value in the problem solving process because it is a backward design process.  It helps learners to identify where they want to be and to what standard.  This can give clarity and vision to working through complex problems.  For example, consider a business, team or set of students that have become poor performers over time.  They were once confident and capable and producing good results.  Now they are locked in a cycle of under performance, defeat or as in the case of students, they have left the class.  (Non attendance appears to be a growing concern of teachers.)

The first step is to decide what you want to be able to do (skills) , and then decide to what standard (values). In the case of the work team, you will want them to meet their performance requirements and demonstrate professionalism and collaboration.  With the sports team, you want them to win, and enjoy the game.  If you are a teacher you will want your learners to meet their performance requirements (course assessments) and be engaged in their learning.

If you frame your problem is positive terms, it is easier to identify the solution. The work team needs to be rewarded for professionalism and collaboration. The sports team need to regain their sense of fun and enjoyment, and the students need to be engaged with their learning. Now the real work begins, thinking creatively about how to bring about cultural changes to create an environment in which teams, players and learners can be active and engaged. Key to this process are the underlying values that permeate everything.

We have explored designing for values in earlier posts, How to get the X factor.  Your team members, players and learners will need to receive and respond to the values you are requiring.  They will need to prioritise and commit to the values in their own lives, and finally they will need to demonstrate them in the team, on the field and in the classroom.  You will need to create an environment which embodies and rewards demonstration of those values.

Now you are ready for the remaining four components of our six dimensional model.  In the new culture and environment, spend time discussing the what is needed (skills) to perform. If the skills have not been mastered, put in place practice opportunities with lots of feedback and encouragement.

Knowledge remains important in any field so you may need to go back to the key concepts and principles that support your team, players and learners performance. People do forget and they do become distracted so regular exploration of key knowledge can really lift performance.

In terms of people keep collaboration and and respect high on the agenda. Encourage open and honest communication and be sure that everyone is trained in how to give and receive constructive feedback.

Learning, can be supported through online and face to face communities of practice. Here experts and practitioners share their knowledge with novices.  Specific problems can be addressed and the finding those solutions can be learning opportunities for everyone.

Integrating your efforts and energy together in a positive culture will bring rewards in performance. This may not mean that every part of the work team project is brilliant, or that your team wins every game or you have 100% attendance in class. What it does mean is that you have a much better chance of achieving improved performance.  Remember, you don’t stand a chance if you don’t take a chance.

Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. Double Day: USA

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Do you need to successfully delegate work?

We cannot do everything, and increasingly as web workers we are working collaboratively across time and space.  We need to delegate tasks and projects.  We have no choice than to delegate. So the challenge is to do this well, and have successful outcomes for all involved.

Using our 6 dimensional model here is what you need to do.

Know: Know what you want.  If you don’t know what you want, you can’t expect anyone else to. No one can be a “mind reader.”

Do: Express what you want clearly. It’s important to give people a clear vision of what you want. What are your goals? What do you need done? Providing instructions can be helpful too, but don’t overdo that aspect of it. The most important thing is that you express everything you want very clearly.

Values: Set expectations. It’s not enough that you’ve told someone what you want. Make sure expectations are laid on the table. “This will be successful if X, Y and Z happen.” And, “I need X, Y and Z finished by Friday.”

People: You need to trust those people you delegate to, otherwise you’ll worry too much, micro-manage and generally make a nuisance of yourself.

Learn: Let your people do it their way and give them as many resources as you can. Let people do things their way (remember the trust?) More importantly, provide enough flexibility that they can add their own flavor to the mix. Let them create. Let them add unique touches to what they’re doing and learn from them.  This is an opportunity for you to learn more about what they do well.

Integrate: Communicate and follow-up. Delegating doesn’t mean abandoning someone to do something until it’s complete. You want to be communicating throughout the process (rinse and repeat steps 1-4) and following-up with people to make sure everything is going smoothly. This isn’t about over-managing, over-analyzing and standing over people’s shoulders staring at their computer screens.  Communication is key, setting measurable mini-goals along the way, and carefully but not over-zealously monitoring progress.

In Susan Abbott’s post she quotes from a book by John Wood founder of Room to Read — “Nobody Ever Washed a Rented Car.” He didn’t originally say that, but when we think about delegating it’s a perfect statement.

The secret to successfully delegating work is to not just make people feel like the work is their own, but to actually give them ownership.  You want to tap into your team’s passion, interests and dedication.

Adapted from

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Leadership training – to educate or to change behaviour?

Cover of "Influencer: The Power to Change...

Cover via Amazon

Posted by Mike Levy in Leadership on Thu, 05/19/2011 – 11:00

Are trainers teachers in business suits? Do those who pay for leadership training want more educated leaders or people who do the job more effectively? These are questions that are really galling Robert Terry.

He has some pretty harsh words to say about an industry that spends little time on assessing its own value to the business world. He is a passionate advocate for changing behaviour rather than relaying knowledge – which is what, he says, many trainers do.

‘If you tell a drunk that his drinking is killing him, he may acknowledge that wisdom but he will be no further forward in becoming sober,’ says Terry.

Behaviour change

This simple analogy is important for leadership training. ‘You create a programme that helps leadership delegates to move from where they started to where the organisation wants them to be. Fine, but most programmes are designed by trainers along the educational model and the outcomes are learning objectives, which infers that the purpose of the programme is learning.’

Terry believes that organisations do not need more learned leaders but ones who do things better. ‘There is a massive distinction between learning, however noble, and behaviour change which takes a long time and involves many people other than the learner’s line manager.

‘This is often beyond the reach of the trainer – the desired objective is often too great and requires much more in terms of organisational commitment. If trainers can’t get this from the organisation, they get accepted as teachers rather than behaviour changers.”

“For every pound spent on learning, there should be at least another pound devoted to behaviour change.

Terry is keen not to be seen as a harsh critic of training. “It is hard to criticise trainers given the lack of backing that some organisations give. They are not often given the resources – money included – to change behaviour.  For every pound spent on learning, there should be at least another pound devoted to behaviour change.  This does not often happen and we can expect to see many more managers attending programmes where the principle outcome is knowledge rather than behaviour change.  I did an MBA, a long time ago and have no regrets, but just about everything I learned was knowledge and I can’t think of many things where the effort was invested in changing behaviour.”

Terry is currently the editor of the National Learning Transfer Survey – he was writing the latest synopsis as we spoke. ‘I wanted to find out what practitioners were actually doing in the name of learning transfer and conducted a survey among HR directors and learning and development managers – we had 550 responses.

‘We found an honest acknowledgment that the activities that would convert honest endeavour of L&D into improved workplace performance just don’t happen. This is very frustrating and makes them cross, but the key is to get support from the line manager – which often isn’t there. Line manager buy-in is a necessary precursor to change management.”

According to Terry, when organisations reach for the training solution, they do so more in hope than in expectation. They are aware of the need for the business to change and that leadership will carry the can for that transition and therefore they had better do something.

‘But I am not sure that enough is done in organisations to identify the hard-nosed ways that are needed for the outcomes they need. A large global electronics giant we did work for some time ago, wanted two very clear outcomes: shorter meetings – 45 minutes to be exact – and eleven weeks removed from their new product time-to-market. They had very clear metrics by which we were to be measured.

‘This demand is very unusual – it is rare for clients to articulate a specific measurable change they require. If all you can define are the learning outcomes in a training intervention, then what you get is a learning outcome. That customer with a clear view also told us they wanted to move from 10th in global market share to top five within three years. They focussed on the right business measures, and we could then identify the key behaviours that would get them to that point.”

Training industry waste

Terry says the amount of waste in the global training industry is eye-wateringly huge.  ‘The last estimate I read is that management and leadership development spend is around $40bn globally. Of this no more than four to 10 per cent of that learning content will find its way to the actual workplace. If you put those figures to the average finance director, he or she would laugh.’

The shortcomings of the training industry are the real frustration for Terry. ‘I am frustrated bordering on irritation. I would love to finish my career knowing that I had left my industry in better shape than when I found it. It has a serious responsibility that it does not do enough to shoulder.’

He is now working with people in the US on new support tools to help bring about changed behaviour. He recommends the book ‘Influencer‘ by Al Switzler et al. He also cites the work of James Prochaska, a clinician whose pioneering work in change behaviour has helped those with drug and alcohol dependencies. Prochaska shows that you can’t just tell drunks to stop drinking. Terry believes that a trainer in a business suit also can’t teach a leader how to be a better one.

Robert Terry is executive chairman at ASK Europe, a workplace performance consultancy, where he focused initially on major change programmes in banking and other financial services and the IT industry.  Since then he has developed a particular interest in the design and implementation of performance management processes. Robert is a former director of the Adam Smith Institute and editor of the National Learning Transfer Survey.

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You don’t know who you are until you know what you can do. What can you do?

Often when we work with staff or teaching teams we ask the question. “What is it that you want to be able to do?” or sometimes, “What is it that you want your students to be able to do?”. In the answers to those questions, is the key information we need to help teachers, teaching teams and students succeed.

In this article from GigaOM Pro, the author reminds us that we are known by what we do. He puts a strong case for ensuring that programme graduate profiles, and courses place emphasis on what students can do. That is not to dismiss knowledge, as it is essential for student understanding of underlying principles and concepts. However, students must be able to use knowledge in a meaningful way.  It is the same for coaches, mentors and managers. What is that you want your players, mentees or staff to be able to do?  Do you know how to do it? If not, how will your people learn? Who can help them learn? What experiences will help them learn?

We continue to recommend to teachers and programme development team the work of L. Dee Fink, in Significant Learning. Fink’s taxonomy ensures there is a balance of knowledge, skills, values, collaboration, autonomy, learning capability and performance expectation. Please take the opportunity to download Fink’s resources here.

And if you would like some great humour take a look at this, and skip the safety briefing at the beginning. (Did I just suggest you miss the safety briefing???)

What Do Don Draper and GitHub Have In Common?

In a recent blog post, Justine Musk, a well-known fantasy writer facing the challenge of writing a more mainstream novel, quoted Sir Ken Robinson: “You don’t know who you are until you know what you can do.”

That statement reminded me of a recent email conversation with some friends about the differences between education and learning. The big argument was the modern institutionalized education is packaging of certain lessons, classes and ideas, adopted for the median and predictable. Many of us felt that modern institutionalized education just packages certain lessons, classes and ideas, but in the end, what really comes in handy is what we learn along the way.

What I was taught in school and college has had little or no bearing on what I do for a living — that is, write. Sure, I learned grammar from my schoolteachers, but I learned how to tell stories after reading countless novels. Reporting skills came from reading magazines and newspapers. My Chemistry major may have helped me understand the properties of Indium Phosphide, but it has had little bearing on my ability to write about the business of semiconductors. All that, came from what they call pounding the pavement.

IDrive Online Backup: Don’t spend your time recovering from disaster.

Lucky for me, when it came to getting a job, none of my editors cared what school I went to — all they wanted to know was if I could report and get them decent, clean copy that didn’t require too much editing. As my clippings file grew, the college degree became less relevant. Today, when I evaluate someone for a particular job, his or her degree is a lot less relevant to me. What matters most is the journey they have taken and what they can do as a result.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not dismissing the value of fundamentals one learns in school. I’m arguing that we need to put more weight on one’s demonstrable capabilities than college degrees. This “experience” in the past used to make up a big portion of our resume. With the emergence of Internet as a platform, we are entering a phase where these capabilities will be on full display for others to see.

Whether it is from sharing designs, photos or links through Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, we are defining our reputation and identity. My colleague Mathew Ingram called it the web of reputation. Simply put, we are what we share. Is this behavior mainstream? Not now. Will it be? Absolutely.

As a result, the resume will become more than a mere sheet of paper, listing your previous gigs, schools you attended and degrees you got. I am not naive enough to believe that this is going to impact sectors that need says manufacturing expertise and precision, say making airplane parts, but it could help someone blogging about aeronautical designs stand apart. As our society starts to shed its industrial past and transforms itself into an Internet-enabled economy, one’s proven abilities will determine one’s hire-ability.

The GitHub Revolution

The technology sector, for sure, is at the forefront of this change. “Half of the people who work for GitHub don’t have college degrees,” said Tom Preston-Werner, founder of GitHub, an online repository that now boosts over 1.93 million git software repositories and counts over 680,000 members. “A commit (of code) to GitHub matters lot more to us than the resume.” Why? Because it is not about one’s educational pedigree, instead it is “proof of one’s capabilities.”

Preston-Werner, who in his past life created Gravatar, the web-based visual identity tool, is a firm believer that a programmer’s contributions to open-source projects is a better way to judge talent than skimming through 100 resumes. He believes that one’s weblog tells more about a person’s thinking capabilities than their college degrees. Tom is not alone. I know of a dozen startup founders who regularly spend time on GitHub, looking for engineers and programmers they can add to their team.

Like Github, another online community where capabilities count higher than pedigree is Dribbble, where designers both new and established share their creations. So far it has been in beta, but the service is opening its doors soon and it has the potential of helping designers show off their design skills, a far more important factor when it comes to hiring a designer, whether full time or for a project. The peer-reviews and comments from other designers are only going to help evaluate the design talent more effectively.

The brainchild of Dan Cederholm, a web designer who has worked for Google, MTV, Blogger and ESPN, Dribbble is described as a site by creatives for creatives. It has become a favorite hunting ground for web and mobile startups to find up-and-coming design talent.

And if you were thinking that this was a tech-only phenomenon, think again. Soundcloud is a German startup that allows musicians to create and share their music online and interact with fans directly. There are a lot of new artists who are going to be discovered because of this new service.

New Century, New Music

Forget these examples and let’s take a 360-degree view of our Internet-enabled economy. Quora, one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley is essentially a peer-reviewed knowledgebase. By asking the right question and responding to a question with a thoughtful answer, it is fairly easy for others to assess one’s capabilities.

Today, schools teach us old marketing and sales methodologies that work for an industrialized economy. Now imagine selling soda in this new world where media is not radio, newspapers and television but instead is represented by Facebook, Twitter, iPad and Android phones. Try selling to a crowd that believes anytime (anywhere, on any device) is prime time using the old techniques developed for mass media.

I am not surprised that Madison Avenue and traditional media companies are struggling to find a way to embrace the current shift from many unique means of distribution to a single network. The new medium needs someone who has the ability to leverage the Internet scale but also have a micro-focus at the same time.

The marketing whiz of tomorrow cannot get by with the skills of today’s marketing gurus. Instead, what brands would need are what some experts have called a growth hacker whose job is to use the networks, find growth and turn it into revenues and profits. There are no playbooks for this role.

One thing is for sure — you are not going to find him or her in a school taking a class for this stuff? Why, because educational “packages” of today are much slower to respond to this rapidly changing world. I would argue, that the next Don Draper is likely to be found on Twitter rather than on a college campus or on Madison Avenue.

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When you acknowledge performance, is anyone listening?

Audrey Hepburn £7

Image by drinksmachine via Flickr

Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you’re exactly the same.

Audrey Hepburn

When you acknowledge performance is anyone listening?

I ask this question because I have noticed on a number of occasions when a teacher, coach or manager is acknowledging performance, no one is listening.  Why?  It is all about audience perception. If the audience believes your acknowledgment is subjective (your opinion) they are not really interested.  If however the acknowledgment is objective, and based on real evaluation measures then the audience is much more interested in what you have to say.

As a teacher, coach or manager, you need to develop a reputation for giving feedback based on performance. When the players, employees and students know your praise is objective and based on known performance measures it will hold much greater value. We can all think of people in our lives who didn’t give too much praise, however, when they did acknowledge performance with feedback it was highly valued.

So how to give public praise? Taking our six dimensional model here are a few tips.

Knowledge: Know when it is appropriate to give private and public feedback. Ensure only praise is given publicly. Constructive feedback should always be given privately.

Skills: Giving meaningful praise is an art. You will become more skilled through practice. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

If you are giving praise, be sure to be personal, thank each person by name.  If it is not possible to name everyone at the time, be sure to follow up your praise in writing, naming each person. I am a great fan of the written “thank you” card as it personalises your comments.

Acknowledge the contribution of each person, and be specific, but do not give too much detail. You can say, “Thank you to John for managing the X project, which finished on time and under budget.” That is better than trawling through the details and people will remember John is the guy, who is good at managing time and money.

Always show how personal performance contributes to organisational, team or class performance. “Malia, your photographs have given our class portfolio a professional appearance”.   This is easy to do if you are clear about the performance criteria of the team, the project or the curriculum.  Just take some time to find the right words to express the benefits of the contribution.

It is a nice touch to look forward when giving praise. A mention of how this contribution will serve the person in the future is an added bonus. “Sam, your top wicket taking performance is sure to put you in contention for a representative spot”.  This forward focus demonstrates that our relationship with the person or team is ongoing, and we will take a continued interest in their performance.

Finally, a nice “Thank you”, finishes your praise with authenticity. Where I live in the world, it is not only acceptable but expected that some physical expression accompanies your praise. A hug, a kiss or maybe both is fine. Here in New Zealand, we are very comfortable with this culture norm, however, I realise it is not appropriate in all cultures and situations, so check it out in advance.

Values: The reason we give praise is to acknowledge performance. This is part of your role as a manager, coach and teacher. Authentic praise is both elegant in delivery and of value to the recipient.

People: Who are you praising? The people who’s performance matters to you. This will be your players, your team members, your students. and your self.   Praise is the public acknowledgment of all the hard work that the person or group has put into developing their knowledge and understanding, practicing their skills, demonstrating your key values, working with others, and on their own, learning, and contributing to overall performance. Take a good look around. Who has performed in the last month, week or days?  Have you thanked and praised  them? If you, have performed well, have you acknowledge this to yourself.

Learning: You can learn a great deal from watching others give praise. You can collect and keep some good examples to give you inspiration in the future.  Be aware that this is an area of ongoing learning for a manager, coach or teacher.

Integration: Giving praise is just one more tool in your toolkit. Make sure you use it often. Practice your skills and before long your will have a reputation for being the person everyone wants to listen to!

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What should you do when the project is going wrong?

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

Image via Wikipedia

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874 – 1965)

Do you have that feeling of going from one failure to another? Do you feel that all your projects are out of control? Your team is not performing?

We have a few ideas based on our six dimensional model, for checking out our projects, finding out what components are not working and getting everything back on track.

1. Knowledge:
What information is stored in your resource base? Is it being accessed and used? If not, then make it a priority to have all the key documents uploaded and let the team know they are there.

2. Skills:
Is everyone performing their role? Does every staff member regularly update the team on their activity? If not, go to the team member and be sure they make a substantial update. If they are unable to do this, find out what their training needs are, and provide them with support.

3. Values: When was the last time you updated the stakeholders or the team on progress?  If it has been a while, then you should send out your update soon.  Remember to include invitations for further discussion or clarification.

4. Learn: Check that the learning resources are being used? If not, ask the team what further resources would be of value to them at this point in the project.

5. People: When was the last time you acknowledged and rewarded the performance of team members and the team as a whole? It doesn’t have to be big, but regular acknowledgment and genuine thanks are important.

6. Integrate: Have you tracked the progress of your project. What have you noticed?  Are some aspects behind the time line, are some hardly started. You need to roll up your sleeves and get alongside any part of the project that is falling behind. Your team members need your help and support.

I have really enjoyed this article below, which gives a health check for projects.

5 Serious warning signals for projects.

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Projects and Will Rogers

The Will Rogers and Soapsuds statue at Texas T...

Image via Wikipedia


“If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.” Will Rogers (1879-1935)

I couldn’t agree more. Projects need the leader to be intrinsically involved through out. It is not enough for sustained performance to merely brief the team and then ride ahead of the herd.  If you do this, it will not take long before the herd has drifted off, your project is set for failure, and your reputation in ruins. So what to do to ensure projects, and the head stay together?

Taking our six dimensional model this is what you can do to keep the project on track.

1. Knowledge: Ensure you resource base is trapping knowledge and learning as it is occurring in your project. Documents, data, images and timelines should be shared.  I believe the real bonus for projects is micro blogging from the team members. Micro blogging is short updates and sharing of resources, images, and files which support the programme. Facebook has micro blogging as status updates, Twitter  as Tweets, but your project platform is bound to have a way for team members to quickly update the team on their progress.  Make good use of this to ensure your project knowledge is retained and shared to support your team members performance.

2. Skills: Your team will be developing their skills as they work on the project. Everyone will be learning and identifying individual learning needs. Your project platform should have a place to store the esssential “How to”s for the project. These could be anything from how to share a document, to how to update the project schedule. Sharing skill development will enhance the performance of the whole team.  Make sure the how to’s are embedded in your application platform.

Be sure each member of the team is carrying out their role, and if they are having problems provide support early. Each team member must be able to contribute to the best of their ability.

Updating key documents and schedules are important skills for your team, as it communication and identifying and sharing problems and barriers. Be sure you have place for your team to not only do their work, but report on it.

3. Values: The key values underlying the project should be reported on with regularity. This is your responsibility. Each week the project leader should be informing the team of the progress made in the five key areas of the project. This could be achieved with a regular update from your platform application. It will soon be viewed as important and relevant information for the team and read with great interest.

You may like to update the team on what’s new in terms of activity, knowledge, skills, values, people, learning and performance measures. This will keep your update consistent and keep everyone on track. Always include an invitation to ask questions and to seek more information or clarification.

4. Learn: Keep the knowledge base up to date and easy to use. This may mean you need to regularly annotate and index the project resources. The pay off for this activity is “just in time”.  The project team will find them “just” when they need them, and this resource base may well prove to be of value in later projects.

5. People: Encourage the team to share what they are achieving independently and collaboratively. If any of your team are quieter and shyer make sure you check in with them, and add their contribution to the project. Keep the conversations in the project going throughout and always reward and acknowledge achievement, contribution and performance.

6. Integrate: Track the progress of the project on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the timeframe. Be sure you know what is happening in the project at any given time, and be able to report this within the organisation. Again regular reporting will inform key players, and stakeholders, and remove confusion and suspicion. These are good reasons for taking time for good communication in a variety of different ways.

If you are a teacher or a coach you can take exactly the same approach using your application platform to support knowledge, skills and values resources, learning and collaboration of your students and players.

So before you hop back on your horse to ride ahead, take some time to plan using our six dimensional model, and use it to glance back at the herd from time to time.

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Making projects work

Project Briefing Basics

Many project briefings take place around a meeting-room table, with everyone involved in the project present.  There are physical brief papers — background information, a written brief document, and so on. And there is time to describe the project, flesh out details, respond to questions and clarify points as necessary.

However, increasingly briefs are given to disparate team members in a virtual space. The team leader must trust that the team members have read the briefing documents they’ve shared online. And unless they have video chat, the team members must try to understand entirely from written words — rather than the cues of voice and gesture — what the team leader wants, and what the other team members expect.

Perhaps the biggest, and most subtle, challenge of remote briefing is for the team leader to ensure that all team members receive the same information. There’s a reason why briefings used to see all team members in the same room at the same time, and it wasn’t convenience. Briefing everyone simultaneously ensured consistency of communication, and of comprehension.

It allowed for a single, united understanding to be gained by the project’s various players. Stakeholders might realize in the meeting that they had different expectations, and would be able to thrash those out on the spot. In engaging with a discussion of the project, rather than simply digesting the information they were given, team members were able to identify and rectify gaps in their knowledge.

Taking old-school briefings as an ideal, here are a few ideas for making your next virtual, distributed briefing a success.

1. Brief everyone at the same time

It’s important to brief all project team members simultaneously, no matter where they’re located. Whether you give everyone access to documents in advance of the briefing meeting, or you unveil them once you have everyone together in a virtual space, don’t leave anyone out of any stage of the briefing.

The briefing process is where the foundations for project success are laid. Get this right, and the project outcome is more likely to meet — or exceed — expectations.

2. Have a briefing meeting

Just as important is to arrange a real-time conversation — IM, phone, Skype, web conference, whatever — with all your team members so that you can deliver the brief in person.

Providing access to documents and sending emails to answer questions is nowhere near as effective as a real-time meeting in which your team members can collaborate to garner the information they need. A live, personal exchange is much more likely to give you the chance to shape team members’ expectations for the project appropriately, and to allow your team to reach a sort of group consciousness about the project.

3. Explain overall goals and personal goals

The overall project objective will only be met if individuals reach their own individual goals. To work most effectively, each team member will need to know what the others are doing — who’s producing the outputs they require, at what time, and how those outputs will fit together.

You can silo off the different responsibilities if you really want to, simply procuring each team member’s input as you need them and gluing them together at the end, but that approach obviously negates the possibilities for creative collaboration between disciplines, and reduces the likelihood that your project will exceed its goals.

4. Address each role individually

Don’t assume that project team members will be able to infer what you want them, or their colleagues, to do. Everyone needs to know what you expect of them, but they also need to know exactly what the other team members will be doing, who they can ask questions of, and what kinds of skills and experience are available within the project team.

Outline each team members’ roles and responsibilities in the brief (documents and meeting), and explain what each person brings to the table — why they were selected — for this particular project.

5. Explain how the project will work

This step isn’t just about Gantt charts, budgets and deadlines: it’s also about who’s online when, the tools you’ll use to manage project components, the timezone, language and cultural considerations your team members need to make, and so on.

Creating a team culture, whether your team members operate in the same office, or in different countries, takes some doing. If you’ve made certain plans to establish close, smooth-running, productive working relationships that fulfill team members as well as the project brief, you’ll want to explain those clearly — and invite feedback and contributions — from the outset.

Taking our 6 dimensional model, you can plan your briefing simply and easily. You will be able to make all the key information available, and check in on any gaps that may exist in the project plan and how these might be filled.  The model will also help you answer the “why” questions and set out expectations around standards of performance for each member of the team.

In many project team briefings, the team is unclear about the strengths, skills and talents of the other members of the team, and there is no clear “hub” where information is made available to team members. That is where online tools become so valuable to virtual teams. Huddle is a good example of an application that encourages people to work together across time and space.  The model will help you to identify the skills of each team member, and to ensure everyone has access to and can use the online hub.

Of course, this is only the commencement of the project, and the skills required to see a project through to successful completion will be the subject of another post.

By the end of your briefing team members will be able to

Knowledge: Explain the concepts and principles underpin this project.

Skills: Carry out their role, and understand the roles of others.

Values: Identify the key values for this project and be committed to them.  Understand their performance measures.

Learn: Know their learning needs. How will they find, evaluate and share resources for this project.

People: Effectively work both independently and collaboratively to achieve the project outcomes.

Integration: Understand how this project contributes to the overall performance of the organisation.

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Now you can add us to your iGoogle page.

Add to Google

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So you want to be a better coach, manager and teacher?

The answer may well lie with Google.  Suprised?  Well, Google have undertaken an extensive programme to discover what knowledge, skills and attributes their managers need to support employees performance.  The project was code named Project Oxygen, I suppose to breath a life force into both managers and employees at Google. The project gathered data from Google’s employees, and that data was extensively analysed by hand.  As a result Google Rules were born.  There is a great deal that coaches, managers and teachers can learn from this project. After all, we are all trying to get the best performance from our people.

What is important for us at Six Dimension, is how these rules fit within our 6 dimensional model.

A good coach, manager or teacher will be able to;

Knowledge: Formulate a clear vision and strategy for your team.

Skills: Empower your team, listen to your team and have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.

Values: Be a good coach, productive and results-orientated, and a good communicator,

Learning: Helpful to employees with career development.

People: Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being.

Integration: Empower your team to meet the team vision and strategy by being a good coach and communicator.

If you are serious about being a better coach, manager and teacher, then this is your plan.

Here are a few more tips.

You will need to ensure you know the concepts and principles underlying you discipline in order to develop a clear strategy.  You will need to develop your active listening skills and technical skills in your discipline. You will need to develop perspective on your work, and resist micro managing, instead learn to identify, assess and manage risk in your workplace.  You will need to develop your skills in giving and receiving constructive feedback.

You will need to become a good coach, and communicator. You will need to understand the knowledge and skills which underlie these roles. In addition, you will need focus on productivity and results, you will do this by learning more about project management and setting and evaluating performance criteria.

You will help your players, employees, and staff with their career development, by placing a strong emphasis on their learning. They will need a plan very similar to yours if they are to grow and perform.

You will need to take an authentic and genuine interest in the people in your team. To do this you will need to develop your emotional intelligence. You will need to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with others.  You will need to identify what you need to do for your own well-being and use that to understand your players, staff and students well being.

Drawing all this together, you will be the good coach and communicator who empowers their team to meet their vision and strategy.

In creating their Google Rules, the staff at Google also identified risks for new coaches, managers and teachers.

1. Trouble transitioning into the team: This will be apparent when the person does not have the knowledge, skills and attributes for the role. They will struggle when trying to perform the role and learn it at the same time. They will quickly feel dispirited and disengaged. People from outside the organisation may not have the same values and this too, can lead to misunderstanding and confusion.

2. Lack of consistent approach to performance management and career development: Good coaches, managers and teachers put their egos aside and help their people understand how the organisation works, and coach them on their options to develop and grow.

3. Spend too little time managing and communicating: I have written about this before, you must know the four boulders in your bucket. These are your four key priorities and you must deliver on them. For coaches, managers and teachers, this means sitting beside your people and working with them, physically and metaphorically to help them achieve the four boulders in their bucket. If the thought of doing this fills you with dread, you need to rethink you role as a coach, manager or teacher.

So thank you Google, for giving us the benefits of your research, it helps us as coaches, managers and teachers understand and prepare for our role.

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Are you developing these 11 skills in your students, staff or players?

Back in 2009 I found this article by Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman. They have a weekly column in US News giving all sorts of good advice to students and parents.  In the articles Lynn and Jeremy identify 11 skills students will need  to master, no matter what is their career path.  I couldn’t agree more. Here’s the list.

1. Write clearly and forcefully.
2. Systematise and organise data.
3. Research.
4. Present material orally.
5. Take notes.
6. Meet deadlines.
7. Work on a team.
8. Get along with the boss.
9. Multi task and time manage.
10. See a big project through to completion.
11. Think creatively.

We have arranged each of these requirements into our six dimensional model with some interesting outcomes.

Clearly, skills are in the greatest demand, closely followed by the ability to learn, and get along with others. Values are important as well, as persistence and commitment are needed to see a large project through to completion.  The knowledge component is empty, and this is not to say understanding of concepts and principles is not important is just that they need to be complimented with real skills.

So what does this mean for us, as teachers, coaches and managers?  We need to ensure we are teaching new skills to our learners.  To do this, we need to provide instruction, examples, support and feedback. Most importantly we need to give our learners opportunities to practice their skills, and provide them with constructive feedback.

So, ensure you are developing your learners skills in writing, note taking, time management, multi tasking, and presentation. Give them opportunities to work in teams, and with a designated team leader. Set them tasks in which they need to find, evaluate and share information. Set them substantive projects with multiple outcomes and levels of complexity.  This type of practice will  prepare your learners for better personal performance, and ensure they can continue to grow and reach their potential.

Related articles:
Are you ready?
There will always be storms know how to sail your ship
Using six dimensions to create great leaders at work.

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Are you thinking of adding Facebook to your web 2.0 tools?

This article first appeared

As a teacher, coach or manager, you are probably wondering whether the world’s biggest social networking service may be of use to you.   The big advantage of Facebook is that is easily takes an offline community to online.  The flexibility of social media is tempting, as it creates a unique opportunity for teachers, coaches and managers to establish communities of practice that support our students, players and employees.

There is no doubt the most popular social network application is Facebook (Hew, 2010). From your own experience you will know that managing a complex and varied interactions, with students, staff and players is demanding.  You can be forgiven for being keen to find an open, easy to use, and widely accepted online application to support your key functions, of design, assessment, facilitation and evaluation.  Facebook is the online application widely used by students, staff, and players.  It may be a tool to relieve some of the demands of managing interactions. But really, can Facebook facilitate an online community of practice?

What is an online Community of Practice?
A course, a programme or a project can easily be identified as a community of practice, (Ayling, 2010). Relationships between participants allow the domain, the community and the practice to develop and grow. The participants share commonality in their interests and passion for their activity or work. Moving to an online community of practice should bring together people who share and generate knowledge into a mutually supportive environment, (Misanchuk and Anderson, 2001). The online community is likely to be driven by individual members who desire to share experiences, knowledge and ideas. The unique aspect of the community is the way in which the members use the technology, and particularly how they engage with social networking services such as Facebook (Wenger, 2009). The real advantage is the opportunity for social interaction to support learning.

So what are the benefits of Facebook?
More recent research by Isacsson & Gretzel,  (2011) has demonstrated positive use of Facebook in support of collaborative learning projects.  Facebook illustrates the potential of social media in creating engaging learning environments. The study situates the theoretical discussion of the value of edutainment and the promise of social media to foster self-directed and social learning. The findings provide good foundations for the conceptualisation of social media use in education and practical implications for educators who would like to integrate social media in their teaching, coaching or managing.

Facebook provides the opportunity for engagement and collaboration in a wider learning community.  Interestingly, research indicates students are no more likely to engage in Facebook than they are with any other online learning tool (DeSchryer et al., 2009).    Participation will depend upon a clear articulation of the advantages of social networking services, training in appropriate behaviour, managing personal and professional self, and ensuring personal safety. Antoci and others  (2010) conclude that through both face-to-face encounters and online networking, the stock of the Internet’s social capital will continue to increase. Educators have to decide whether they want to invest in the creation of this social capital.

What are the challenges in using Facebook in my work?
Reynard (2009) and Hayman (2009) have identified the key challenges in using social networking in educative environments. Hayman (2009) identified the greatest challenge to online communities is participant’s willingness to ‘present’ ideas publicly. In preparing participants for the online environment (Reynard, 2009) the teacher, coach or manager will need to ensure participants have the confidence, learner autonomy and collaborative learning skills to participate in any learning community. Everyone will need to have the same skill sets to fully participate and gain benefit from the community of practice.

What will I need to do to make this work?
Your role, if you are ready to accept it, will be to identify and foster the key skills for participation and collaboration in the online community of practice.   Following the ideas of Blogger, Marcia Connor (2008) you will need to foster skills including traditional literacy, research, technical skills, and critical analysis. You will need to encourage and develop your student’s, players, and employee’s skills, knowledge, ethical frameworks and self-confidence to participate in contemporary society, which includes an online community of practice.

Understanding why people participate online provides useful clues for the design and facilitation of the of your Facebook page. Kollock (1999)  and Noff (2008) have found motivations include:

  • Exchanging of information and ideas
  • Acknowledging of expertise or contribution
  • Supporting the community
  • Belonging to community
  • Sharing commitment to the community

From our reading a number of themes and issues have emerged that will need to be addressed and investigated if Facebook is to be used as an online support your activities.  These issues are complex and variable depending on the age, digital and foundational literacies of your participants.  The first issue is resistance to online social networking services. This resistance is based on a number of reservations and concerns including, privacy, appropriation of ideas and property (intellectual) and online based learning communities of practice.

The second issue is the presentation of online self, particularly the tension between private and public self. Included within this topic are concerns about digital and foundations literacies, and appropriateness of participation.  Teachers have genuine concerns about using Facebook in higher education. Roblyer et al. (2010) explain that “Unless this tendency changes and faculty perceive Facebook and its sister technologies, both current and those to come, as additional opportunities for educational communication and mentoring, SNSs (social networking services) may become yet another technology that had great potential for improving the ….education experience but failed to be adopted enough to have any real impact.”  We hope that doesn’t happen.

What are the big barriers to introducing Facebook in my work?
Everyone will share concerns about the use of Facebook. As Hewit and Forte (2006) explain students must balance the potential social gain with the relinquishing of some control over the presentation of self. Students mainly use Facebook to keep in touch with people they already know.  In an academic sense they use it to share lecture notes, ideas and to be informed of academic activity (Bosch, 2009).  Kolek and Saunders (2008) have found that Facebook is preferred by women and therefore, women are likely to be more receptive to use in education.  Lampe et al. (2006) report Facebook was used to keep in contact with friends from high school rather than make new connections in fields of study or profession.

Using Facebook to support learning will be a new use of a familiar tool for many participants.  Be sure, everyone will require training on netiquette for Facebook in a professional setting.  Facebook has the facility to create groups, so that professional contacts and personal contacts can be separated.  Participants will need training in creating and managing groups, so they can separate their personal and professional selves.

How do people use Facebook?
Christofides and others  (2009) report that students spend approx 40 minutes per day on Facebook. Not everyone will be willing or able to commit to Facebook on a daily basis. Facebook is likely to compete with other communication tools including email, intranets and websites.  Lewis and West (2009) have identified that students view Facebook as fun and not part of serious study or professional networking.  This may conflict with your expectations.  Madge et al., (2009) have found that students are beginning to acknowledge that Facebook could be used for learning purposes.  This behaviour tended to be initiated by the students themselves rather than teachers.  However, Ophus and Abbitt (2009) report that 85% of students have never used Facebook to communicate with an instructor.  Selwyn (2009) only 4% of postings relate to academic use. It is however, likely that students, players and employees will be more open to social networking services for  administration than learning purposes. You will need to decide which if any of these purposes suit you.  It could well be that Facebook enhances the administrative side of your activity but not the learning.

Christofides and others (2009) also  found Facebookers disclose more about themselves on Facebook than they do in casual conversation.  They post personal information such as photographs, birthdays, email addresses, hometowns and relationship status.  However, Lewis and West (2009) found that women are more likely to have private profiles than men.  Interestingly, Mazer et al., (2009) found that teachers who disclose more about themselves on Facebook to their students are more likely to be considered as trustworthy and caring than their counterparts.   That may be a good reason to get involved.

So there you are, a brief but up to date summary of where Facebook is placed in education and the creation of online communities of practice. We know a number of people are considering the move, and some have already made it. We would love to hear about your concerns, and your lessons learned from using Facebook to create online communities of practice.


Ako Aotearoa, (2010). Strategic elearning development at Unitec. Ako Aotearoa: National centre for tertiary teaching  excellence. Retrieved from

Antoci, A., Sabatini, F., Sodini, M., (2010). See you on Facebook: the effect of social networking on human interaction, MPRA University Library of Munich, paper number 27661.     Retrieved from

Ayling, D. (2010). Is the village common in a cloud? Cooperative education and social networking, New Zealand Association of Coooperative Education conference proceedings, Retrieved from

Bosch, T. E. (2009). Using online social networking for teaching and learning: Facebook use at the university of cape town. Communicatio: South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research, 35(2), 185-200.

Chistofides, E., Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2009) Information disclosure and control on Facebook: Are they two sides of the same coin or two different processes?  CyberPsychology  & Behavior, 12(3), 341-345.

Connor, M., (2009). The new media skills. Message posted to Fast Company.Com. Retrieved 10  March, 2010 from,

DeSchryer, M., Mishra, P., Koehleer, M., & Francis, A. (2009) .  Moodle vs facebook: Does using facebook for discussions in an online course enhance perceived social presence and student interactions? In Gibson et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of society for  information technology & teacher education international conference 2009 (pp. 329-336). Cheasapeake, VA: AACE.

Hayman, A., (2009). TCC 2009: Using social networking tools to build learning communities: A case study of the Punahou Technology Lab School

Ning. Blog posted to Z(e)n Learning. Retrieved 10 March, 2010 from,    %20networking-tools-to-build-learning-communities-a-case-study-of-the-punahou-technology-lab-%20school-ning/

Hew, K., (2011) Students’ and teachers’ use of Facebook, Computers in human behaviour, 27 (2011) 662–676, retrieved from

Hewitt, A., & Forte, A. (2006, November). Crossing boundaries: Identity management and      student/faculty relationships on the Facebook. Poster presented at CSCW, Banff, Alberta, retrieved from,5

Isacsson, A., & Gretzel, U., (2011) “Facebook as an edutainment medium to engage students in sustainability and tourism ?”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 2 Iss: 1

Kolek, E. A. & Saunders, D. (2008). Online disclosure: An empirical examination of  undergraduate facebook profiles. NASPA Journal, 45(1), 1-25.

Kollock, P. (1999). The economies of online cooperation: Gifts and public good in cyberspace.     In M.A. Smith & P. Kollock (Eds.) Communities in cyberspace, (pp. 220-242) New     York: Routledge.

Lampe, C., Ellison, N., & Steinfield, C. (2006). A face(book) in the crowd: Social searching vs. social browsing.  In Proceedings of the 2006 26th anniversary conference on  computer supported cooperative work (pp. 167-170). New York: ACM.

Lewis, J., & West, A. (2009). ‘Friending’: London-based undergraduates’ experience of  facebook: New Media & Society, 11 (7), 1209-1229.

Madge, C., Meek, J., Wellens, J., & Hooley, T. (2009).  Facebook, social integration and informal learning at university: ‘It is more for socialising and talking to friends about work than for actually doing work’. Learning, Media & Technology, 34(2), 141-155.

Mazer, J.,  Murphy, R., Simonds, C. (2009)  I’ll See You On ‘‘Facebook’’: The effects of  computer-mediated teacher self-disclosure on student motivation, affective learning,     and classroom climate, Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 175-183.

Misanchuk, M., & Anderson, T. (2001). Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration.  Proceedings from the Sixth Annual Mid South Instructional Technology Conference, Tennessee, TN: Mid-Tennessee State University.  Retrieved from,

Noff, A. (2008). Why people participate in online communities. Message posted to The Next   Web.Com. Retrieved 10 March, 2010 from,

Ophus, J. D., & Abbitt, J. T., (2009). Exploring the potential perceptions of social networking systems in university courses. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 5(4).  Retrieved from

Selwyn, N. (2009) Faceworking: Exploring students education-related use of facebook. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 157-174.

Reynard, R., (2009, July 22, 2009). Beyond social networking: Building toward learning communities. Blog posted to Campus Technology.  Retrieved 10 March, 2010 from,

Roblyer, M.D., et al. 2010. “Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites.” The Internet and Higher Education, v.13 (3):134-140.

Wenger, E., (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E., White, N. & Smith, J.D. (2009). Digital habitats: Stewarding technology for communities. Portland, OR: CPsquare.

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Kerfuffle over evaluating performance.

All Whites win Supreme Halberg Award

I am sure you are all aware of the commotion in New Zealand over awarding the Supreme Halberg Award for 2010  to the All Whites football team. The problem appears to be confusion over evaluating performance of individuals and teams. This confusion is present in education just as it is in sports awards.

When it comes to evaluating anyone or team I am always reminded of these lines from F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s Great Gatsby.

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

This quote always reminds me that in evaluating performance we need to consider where we have come from to where we are now. We need to ensure we are not comparing apples with oranges. In education terms, we need to know where are students are at before commencing their study, so that we can track their performance over time. We need to ensure our performance criteria are clear, and observable and integrated with our learning goals.

I used to teach evaluating personal performance to students, who were going out into industry to be placed in business. As part of their assessment process the students self-assessed their own portfolios. It was essential the students understood the concepts and principles of evaluation and had the opportunity to practice their knowledge and skills.

Apples versus Oranges

We always used the same practice exercise, evaluating oranges. The students were asked to identify four characteristics of an orange to be exported to Australia. We asked students to ensure their criteria were objective and observable. Naturally, students chose characteristics of size, shape, colour and smell. Then we tested our criteria. I would have a bag of oranges and hand out one to each group. They evaluated and graded the orange according to a pre-agreed points system. I always had one apple to evaluate as well.

It always amused me that the students were so consistent in their grading. As we lined up our oranges from best to worst, it was clear our criteria had served us well. Inevitably, the apple was last, and the poorest performer.

Those same skills can be applied in any situation where we evaluate another person’s work or performance. This is particularly relevant to student assessment, and why we must take great care with designing assessment items, marking schedules and feedback mechanisms. It is important to our students that any evaluation of their work or performance is fair, and valid.  Here are a few questions to help you with evaluation processes.

1. What do you want  your students to be able to do?

2. To what standard or level do you want  your students to be able to perform?

3. What knowledge, skills and attributes must be demonstrated?

4. Who are you assessing? An individual? A group? A hybrid of individual and group work?

5. What resources do your students need in order to perform? Does everyone have access to those resources?

6. How does this assessment fit with the learning outcomes of the course? Does it assess one or more outcome? Is their equal emphasis on the performance of each outcome?

In any situation, where we evaluate we need clear criteria. Whether we are assessing student performance, the performance of a colleague (peer observation of teaching), our team performance or our own performance, we need clear and agreed criteria.

The criteria can help us to establish student progress over time. Our evaluative criteria can inform a short diagnostic assessment at the commence of a course, to establish the knowledge and skill levels of students. Tracking progress over time helps us determine who has made the greatest progress in a year or semester of study.

So before you start off on your next task, assessment or project take time to establish a clear set of evaluative criteria.  These will serve you well, in evaluating the performance or yourself or others.

Cross blogged from

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There will always be storms, know how to sail your ship.


Image via Wikipedia

(For someone close to me who is starting off in worklife – Diana)

This wise advice I found on a sign in a store in Kennebunk Port Maine. It reminds us that we need a skill set that will serve us in changing times and changing conditions. Strangely few of us consider developing ourselves for the future. We are generally more comfortable focused on the present.  And to be fair the present does give the immediate results. However, I have worked for years with people who wanted to successfully prepare for their future, and they did this very well. Here are some of my observations.

Firstly, these people worked out their passions and interests, and they had a clear understanding of the values they wanted to embody in their work and personal lives. This part of the preparation did not always come easy, many people had struggled with personal, family and professional disappointment before they identified and articulated the “do’s” and “don’ts” of their future.  However, once identified these values became the “x” factor that carried them through tough times (boring, frustrating, non productive) to success.

Secondly, theses people identified both the knowledge and skills they would need to succeed. They may not have known all the complexity and detail but they had a broad understanding and interest in the concepts. This made it easier for them to focus their attention on learning more and becoming increasingly capable in their chosen field or profession.

Thirdly, they had a supportive network of people who understood and enhanced their choices. Initially, this group may have been very small, say one or two people. However, over time the group grew and changed. The group was made up of individual contributors who all brought something small, but powerful to the person. One person may have contributed “a good ear” to listen to problems. One person, may have acted as a professional mentor, and one person may have provided free child care. All contributions were of value and greatly appreciated.

Fourthly, the person became smart at collecting, selecting, reflecting on and directing resources towards their own success. I have known as many systems of doing this as I have people, but everyone had a system that worked for them. Some systems seemed chaotic to me, but they worked for the person, and I cannot argue with that. However, today I know that I can support and contribute to individual’s personal growth by suggesting a portfolio as a resource base to enable someone to collect, select, reflect and direct.  Even better than that, I can suggest an online portfolio, that has a range of privacy features. To find out more about performance portfolios click here.

Now here is the hard bit. Everyone of those people did some of the tough stuff.  They were disciplined in two things, practice and reflection. In other words, they practiced their knowledge and skills until they had attained a high level of performance and competency. Secondly, the regularly reflected on their own performance and sort feedback from trusted others. They used this evaluation to improve their performance and hone their practice. They never lost sight of their core values, and they learnt how to sail their ship through all kinds of sea.

We can learn from these simple processes. Take 10 mins of quiet time to work out the answers to these questions.

1. What do you want to do?

2. What do you definitely not want to do?

3. What three values are most important for your future?

4. What knowledge will you need?

5. What skills?

6.  Who do you need to support you? What can each person contribute?

7. What will you use for a resource base?

8. What is your plan for practice? Reflection? Who can assist with this?

If you would like some assistance in setting up a career portfolio contact us.

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Surviving “Retreats”

At this time of year there is an unusual level of activity devoted to “retreats“, “away days” and “strategy days”. Many managers believe that taking the team out of the office for the day, and having them engaging in games, scenarios, presentations, and brainstorming, will somehow magically set the tone of success for the year ahead.

I am doubtful about the success of “retreats”.   The danger with “retreats” is that they fail to tap into the talents, knowledge and passions of staff.  Some activities are timewasting, and disengage staff.  I am much more in favour of daily, weekly, and monthly focus on;

  1. Preparation and Planning
  2. Participation
  3. Performance
  4. Evaluation and reflection.

I think one day, once a year is not nearly enough to set the tone of performance for a team.  Ultimately, it is the discipline of the four activities listed above on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, that will ensure the success.  However, if you are absolutely determined to hold a “retreat” in 2011 here are a few tips.

1. Be honest with yourself and state clearly what it is that you want the team to acheive in the long term. Is it improved performance? Better relationships and communication? Developing a culture of learning? Whatever it is, be clear, specific and honest with the team.

The “retreat” is the Preparation and Planning part of our four step process. Devote the day to preparing and planning for achieving a long term goal.  Later, you will follow up the “retreat” with processes that foster participation, encourage and measure performance, and regularly evaluate and reflect on progress.  The “retreat” is a beginning, and not an end.

2. In the first session of the day, share the goal, and explain it. Discuss it at length. Answer any questions honestly and respectfully.  Have the team agree standards for performance of the goal. For example, if the team is to improve performance, what are the standards expected? Is there to be increased professionalism? Greater attention to detail? Improved customer service?

You will need at least three of these values to underlie your plan. Getting the standards out front first focuses everyone, and they will have a greater understanding of the long term goal.  These standards will form part of your later participation, performance and evaluative processes.

3. In the second session, have the team identify everything that needs to be done to achieve the long term goal. Listen carefully. There will be big things and little things that need to be done. All is important. Make sure everything is recorded. Identify where there is agreement and where there are alternative points of view.

4. In the third session, identify everyone you will need to help the team achieve their goal. Identify the people and their roles. Work out how relationships will be created and nutured. Plan for regular communication to everyone involved. Agree who will communiciate and what they willl communicate. Work out how you will obtain feedback.

5. In the final, and last session for the day, identify all the resources you will need to acheive the long term goal. Ensure learning is a key part of the resource gathering process, and that all information can be shared and built in an online community.  Ensure you know what is needed and why.

6. Thank everyone for their time and contribution. Promise to feedback on the day as soon as possible. Let staff know where information can be found and how they can track the progress of the plan.

After the retreat you will need a smaller and representative working group to refine and distribute the plan. They will commence processes of participation, performance and evaluation and reflection. Ensure you have the right people. This core group will be responsible for ensuring the success of the process, but not the plan. All staff are responsible for the success of the plan, so ensure you give regular feedback and support.

Using this simple model your “retreat’ the day will be worthwhile in terms of achieving your goal.  More importantly the model is respectful of your staff, their knowledge, skills, passions and interests.  It is their contribution that is vital for long term success. So forget the brainstorms, presentations, games and scenarios, and set the tone with respectful and productive work.

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Are you needing some new ideas in 2011?

As the new year starts, we are often involved in planning pursuits, everything from corporate strategy to the family holiday. Here are some good ideas to help you get off to a good start. I am also a huge fan of this very simple planning and prioritising model designed by Nancy White. Find out more here.

Nancy suggests we do five things to prioritise our activity. This is helpful for any group or team needing to plan for the year ahead.

1. Appreciate that everyone has something to contribute. Everyone has different strengths, knowledge and experience. It is our diversity that makes us strong. So gather the team together and appreciate that together we can create some great plans and make dreams come true.

2. Assess, discuss and rate where your strengths as a team lie. It may be that you have everything you need in your team.  Give everyone the opportunity to contribute and participate. Listen carefully to each other. Work to further your strengths, and this will lift our overall performance.

3. Prioritise, and work out where you want to put your energy. Do you want to do more of what you already do well, or do you want to work on an area of weakness?  Remember to keep things in balance. You cannot solely work on weaknesses nor solely work in your areas of strength.  Agree which areas need attention, and agree when this will occur.

4. Reach out, firstly to each other and then your wider community.  Find out who you can learn from and who you can share with. If the community does not yet exist you may need to create and foster it. Seek out people that have the knowledge, experience and values you need.

5. Connect, share, learn and improve. Make sure everyone has all the resources they need.  Create your resource base and communication base online. Use shared calendars, wikis, blogs and other applications to keep everyone informed, collaborating, participating and engaged.  Work out who you need to work with in your wider community and  ensure you draw them in. You will find it easier to get funding and support when your external stakeholders have an active interest in your work.  Learning is key to improving your performance so make it easy to learn.

Good luck with the planning.  In the next blog post we will discuss goal setting.

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Diana Ayling

I am a performance developer and academic adviser, in Auckland, New Zealand.

via Diana Ayling.

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Are you ready? we commence another year of activity, and face our first set of challenges, it is a good idea just to check we have everything we need.

1. Does your team fully understand all the important terminology, concepts and principles needed for both technical and tactical performance?

2. Does everyone on the team have the skills? Have they practicised and received feedback to improve their skill level?

3. Does everyone on the team understand and live the key values? Is everyone clear on the do’s and don’ts?

4. Are all the key relationships in place and working well? Are the communication lines clear? Have you tested them? Are they working?

5. Does everyone have all the resources they need to support their performance? Do you have a “one stop shop” for all relevant information? Can you easily update it? Can everyone on the team contribute to it?

6. Does everyone understand the goal and the performance measures? Have you set the first evaluation point for the team?

If you need help with anything on the checklist please contact us for assistance.



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How to acheive sustained high performance without your Blackberry


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Over the holiday season, many of us are away from technology, and some of us go through angst. However, as suggested in the article below, new tools do not always make us more productive.

Mobile devices can put us “on duty” 24/7 and that does nothing to help us achieve a work/life balance.  When we are “on duty” and clearing emails on demand, we are not being our most efficient. We are more efficient when sitting at our computer clearing emails in a block of time devoted to the task. We have greater speed and ease of access to supplementary resources.  We also have less distraction so our responses are more considered and careful. This aids with increasing the quality of our work. When we have more time it is easier for us to discern requests that belong to us, and deserve our commitment and action, and those that do not belong to us, and can be moved on quickly.

The people we work with prefer us to focus on the quality of our work rather than speed. They also want us to build constructive long term relationships with colleagues, customers, and contacts. To do this, we need to ensure our email responses are professional, and this means they are clear, concise and kind.  So taking time over our communication is important. We want to communicate well, be brief and be approachable.

There are some useful resources to support improved online communication via email, SMS or text. Bear in mind the requirement to be clear, concise and kind, and think about the perspective of the receiver rather than of the sender.  Professionalism is the key to communication.

Read the article below and the postscript, and feel free to comment or add your own resources.

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Are you feeling pressured by social media?

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We are all overwhelmed with demands and tasks from time to time. If you are feeling overburdened, then declutter, and simplify. Stephen Covey asks us to identify the four key boulders in our bucket at work and to focus on them. So before joining or continuing yet another social media network, ask yourself if this is going to help with one or more of the boulders in your bucket. If not, then give it a miss for the moment.  Take some advice from Webworkerdaily.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the strain of the onslaught of information brought about by social media tools. Even though I’m sure I qualify as an information junkie, increasingly I feel that I’ve surpassed the limits of the amount of information I can consume.

In trying to tackle overload and meltdown, two modes that seem to be part and parcel of our digital social communications, I tried to return to some common sense, something I think we’ve almost left behind as things move so quickly around us. Here’s what I’ve come up with, and I welcome your ideas as well.

  1. Pare down. You do not need to join more than a few social networks to do most of what you need to do in your work. What are the core networks you use on a daily basis? Which ones can you live and work without? My shortlist: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook — not necessarily in that order. For my work, these three are critical. The rest I can ignore and not feel my work — or life — will suffer.
  2. Turn off. How many pings do you get per day? How many are just “good to know” versus “mission critical?” And how many make you think “now why do I care about that?” Turn off the ones you don’t care about. Now turn off the ones that are just “good to know,” because I’m sure you cannot point to one that has totally changed your business or your life. Those are the ones you usually either come across anyway or someone you know and trust sends to you. Frankly, I’ve been shutting off all pings except for the ones that say “go there now” or “do this in 10 minutes.” Those are reminders, not invasions of my limited brain space.
  3. Designate time. If you are checking your emails, Twitter, Facebook and the rest of your networks more than several times daily, you are being controlled by your impulses to check, check, check to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Trust me, you’ve missed a lot of things, but you’ve also missed nothing at all. If it isn’t your job to monitor the social mediasphere for a client, you’re falling into the trap of “always more and never enough.” Remember that we all survived quite well before tweets and updates. Be discriminating and methodical. Dawn Foster covered this topic in “Do You Need to Keep Up With Social Media.”
  4. stock.xchng image by nkzsFilter Better. We’ve covered many filtering tools to bring the firehose of social information down to a more consumable flow including more recently “Filtering the Social Web With ShareThis” and “Stay Informed: Topic-based Reader Roundup.” But a good noise filtering system doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the madness under control. Filtering tools can bring down the noise decibels a notch or two but often we tend to fill our filtering tools with a never-ending list of keywords and search terms, so the end result may be a bit more targeted but no less overwhelming. Narrow your searches terms to a few mission critical terms, and be more specific to cut through the clutter.
  5. Step away. If you find yourself consumed with your social networks and endless updates, push the computer away and step away from your desk. Go for a walk. Have a conversation with someone face-to-face. Read a book or a magazine. Write a to-do list with pen and paper. Have a snack (healthy, of course). Eschew bits and bytes for tangible atoms.
  6. Go cold turkey. If you’re really struggling with managing your information intakes, just stop. Go a few days completely disconnected. No cheating. Pay attention to life. Listen to people. Quiet the roar of the firehose. Don’t worry, you won’t just survive. You’ll thrive. Then return to the social web refreshed, with newfound perspective.

None of us will die without social media. But life could pass us by if we let it take over our lives.

How do you stop the social media madness in your work and life?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

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Using six dimensions to create great leaders at work

Are you a leader?

Great business leaders know that there is a lot more to becoming a leader than simply being assigned to the role of manager. A manager is primarily an administrator. The job of a manager is to run a section, group or division of an organization and the role is an important one. The skills associated with this administration take years to develop and the position is earned. However, it does not automatically make you a leader.  A leader earns his title by getting others to follow his vision. Both roles are extremely important within an organization and the employee who excels in both becomes an organization’s most valuable asset.

We agree and taking these ideas we have developed a simple guide for leaders to develop their own performance and to be more effective at the things that matter.

Where are using Fink’s taxonomy in this process.

Leaders will need to be able to:

Knowledge: Understand the concepts and principles of innovation, goal setting, evaluation of performance, in-depth reflection, trust, fairness and transparency.

Skills: Set team and personal goals, and performance criteria. Be honest and fair in their dealings. Be positive and focused on the future.

Values: Demonstrate fairness, and transparency with individuals and teams.

Learning: Access, evaluate and share resources to support personal and team performance.  (We strongly suggest using online communities of practice to create these resource bases)

People: Manage their own performance and that of their team using key performance criteria and reflective practice.

Integration: Create a personal and team environment of trust, innovation, and effectiveness to lead at work.

We do not think this is a particularly easy plan, it takes discipline to become experts in all these different dimensions. To support you in your journey to become a leader we will be providing more resources to support these ideas, and you can see an effective online community of practice at

Adapted from

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How to get the “X” factor

How to get the “X” factor: Teaching, coaching and advising for attitude

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Image via Wikipedia

Attitudes, they say, are contagious. The question is – are your’s worth catching? writes Anendra Singh in the Northern Advocate 8 October 2010.

Teaching, coaching or advising for attitude is incredibly hard. However, all over the world their are teachers, coaches and advisers doing just that. What is their secret?

The first step is to include your values and attitudes into your learning programme. It was Benjamin Bloom back in 1956 that identified learning took place in three areas of development: cognitive, affective and pshycomotor. Teachers are often most comfortable in the cognitive domain teaching terminology, concept and principles. Sports coaches are often most comfortable in the pshycomotor domain of physical movement, coordination and motor-skills. However, the affective domain is the one that unlocks the ‘x’ factor, the values and the attitudes that carry winning teams through tough times.

To address Anendra’s question, you must first identify the values or attitudes your team needs. Choose them not for the easy times but when times get tough. Think about values like courage, patience, work ethic, determination and respect. Take those values and design them into your programme.  Write a learning outcome which addresses your values in your context.  For example, “Demonstrate courage, determination and persistence when under pressure”.

Now look to David Clarks’ map of Bloom’s revised taxonomy for ideas on how to facilitate learning for your outcome.  Clark suggests a staged approach.

1. Receive and respond to the phenomena: Explore the words, give examples, discuss, and create light hearted role plays.

2. Value and organise the behaviours: Discuss and agree their importance, and identify actions and words that will illustrate the behaviours. (These form your performance criteria.)

3.  Characterise the behaviours: Internalise the behaviours emotionally, socially and personally.  Have your learners experiment with these behaviours, and reflect on them. Ensure your learners’ assess their performance against their own critiera. Give them feedback. Have your learners practicising until these behaviours are second nature.

As a teacher, coach or adviser you will be providing guidance and support throughout the process. It is time consuming, sometimes difficult, but enormously rewarding. Remember, attitudes are contagious, just ask anyone who has participated in a winning team, what they remember most is the culture of the team. It is your role as a teacher, coach and adviser to set that culture and foster it through learning in the affective domain.  When your team next faces tough times, it will be good to know they can draw upon the “x” factor.

Related articles
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Acknowledging the work of L Dee Fink

Much of our thinking about improving performance came from our success in working with teachers and students using L Dee Fink’s approach to programme and course design.  However, we think that these principles can be extended beyond their original purpose and be used to develop performance in any given area.

We think you cannot beat Fink’s approach to good course design. In fact, if you have a better approach we would love to hear about it. So please share.

The advantages of Fink’s approach are:

  1. Integration of the graduate profile knowledge, skills and attributes in the course.
  2. A strong design phase that means less work in the assessment, facilitation and evaluation phases.
  3. Clearly identified learning goals that guide the teacher and the student.
  4. Good practice in feedback and assessment.
  5. Clearly, identified “substantive” assessment that assesses a number of learning goals at once.
  6. Active learning experiences for students, and plenty of learner practice.
  7. Development of rich learning experiences where significant learning can occur.
  8. The practice of in-depth reflective dialogue.
  9. Development of logical course structure and instructional strategies.
  10. A strong focus on communication with students.

To find out more download the PDF.


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Coaching for Extraordinary Achievement

7 Oct 2010

Coaching for Extraordinary Achievement

This article struck me as being wonderfully complimentary to the work we do with individuals and teams who want to manage and improve their own performance. We use integrated course design to provide a  structure and framework for performance.  However, I think the ideas of partnerships, discovery and accountability effect provide another level of explanation for our work and our methods.

The Difference Between “Good Enough” and Extraordinary Achievement, and What It Takes to Excel (How Runners Succeed)

I know quite a few runners.  For a few years, I was even a coordinator and back-up announcer at the finish line for the Austin Marathon.  Perhaps you know the typical runner’s behaviors:  “Nope, I can’t stay out tonight.  I have to wake up early tomorrow to get in my five miles before the sun comes up,” and, “I’ll just have tea with lemon, no beer tonight.”  Yet, that’s not even the half of it.  Many of the runners that I have gotten to know well are always conditioning themselves for the next race and marathon.  That’s where the intensity of intention and commitment really seems to be evident. 

I think we’ve all heard how professional athletes need to condition themselves, train and practice with fortitude to succeed—and how athletes understand that they achieve more efficiently and perform better with the accountability to and leadership of a coach.  Well, I’ve heard that anecdote so many times that the novelty has worn-off and, I’m like, “So what?”  Yet something about what is going on with the non-professional, amateur, neighbor-next-door runner piqued my interest…  I wanted the answer to a couple of questions about the runners’ lifestyle:  Why do you run?  Moreover, why do you run races and marathons?  The answer to the first question is what you expect:  Runners run to be fit, feel good, look good, relieve stress and be healthy.As a professional dedicated to the development of personal empowerment and human performance and productivity, the answer to the second the question is particularly intriguing to me:  Why do you run races and marathons?

It seems that running simply to maintain wellness and achieve the basic goals of improved self-image and various levels of fitness is not enough to keep many runners inspired and motivated to continue running.  They want, perhaps even need, more significant milestones to achieve:  Completing a marathon.  Improving upon past performance by running faster with less fatigue and better efficiency than previous performances.  What’s more, there typically seems to be a reward of improved self-confidence and pride in accomplishing these more significantly burdensome milestones.Therefore simply put:  It’s not enough to run for feeling and looking better.  To stay in the game of running for maintaining the essential benefits, the quintessential runner also needs to race and compete if even to only compete against his/her own past performance.Of course, being an Achievement Coach, I have extrapolated the extraordinary intentions and commitments of runners to application in most, if not all, human pursuits for achievement and success. The lesson to share here:Enough!  Enough with “fine” and “good enough!”

Greater inspiration and, consequently, greater self-motivation is derived from stepping-up your game.  So reach higher, define grander goals, and step-up your game!  I’ve thrown down the gauntlet.Now, very often, due to human nature being what it is, the novelty of solo/self-driven motivation lessens over time and leaves us again feeling uninspired, unaccountable, and disempowered.

Ready to step-up your game?  Engage a coach.  Why does coaching work?  The obvious benefit is:  A professional coach is a “performance and achievement specialist” specifically dedicated to helping you identify the ideal strategies and solutions to be personally empowered and achieve objectives.  In addition to the obvious benefit, I have also identified at least three fundamental principles that explain why coaching works.

The power of the Coach-and-Client relationship originates from three effects that are grounded in the competency of the Coach…Firstly, the “Partnership Effect” of Competently-coached Collaboration is an association made by a Client of Coaching.  The association made by the Client is immediate and yields a state of awareness, clarity, and reflection.  In effect, a greater capacity for acknowledgement and discovery results for the Client from knowing that the Client’s ideas and observations will be considered, evaluated, and reflected back to the Client.

Secondly, the “Discovery Effect” of Competently-coached Collaboration allows for the discovery of answers and questions that cannot otherwise be ascertained when someone endeavors to arrive at solutions alone.  An especially dramatic byproduct of the Discovery Effect is the transcendence of the Client from not merely seeking knowledge which the Client already knew that he did not know, but to exploring knowledge that the Client did not know that he did not yet know.

Lastly, yet as significantly, the “Momentum of Accountability Effect” of Competently-coached Collaboration creates a state of responsibility and action—where the Client does not settle for that which does not work—yielding faster turnover of methods and action-plans and resulting in the earliest possible discovery of the best methods, processes, and action-plans to achieve the most desirable results.  Ultimately, results that may have or may not have been arrived at by a Client alone are achieved with greater momentum in partnership with a competent Coach.Pick up the gauntlet.  Step-up your game.  Contact me, and let’s create the extraordinary together.~   ~   ~
Achievement Coach Greg Kilgore
360° Achievement Coaching
Providing a 360° Perspective, Strategies, and Coaching for
Personal Empowerment, Professional Productivity,
Business Growth, and Extraordinary Achievement

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What are the Edupunks and Eduprenuers doing?

8 Oct 2010

What are the EduPunks and Edupreneurs doing?

Here is a good example of what the edupunks and edupreneurs are busy creating. This website, which if free, teaches all kinds of basic concepts and principles that kids need to keep learning. I was interested in how arithmetic averages was taught and found the information refreshingly clear and easy to follow. The graphics were a great addition.

The site is very usable, and learning comes in some chunks or bites, which are easy to digest. The site is not pretending to do anything other than deal with knowledge and it leaves the teacher to provide the opportunities to practice new knowledge, and ensure that students are developing key attributes. So with the help of the edupunks and edupreneurs teachers are no longer fountains of knowledge but facilitators of learning and development. Isn’t that a nice change?

So, if kids can access this basic learning free, what can we do in the world of adult learning to ensure key concepts, principles, ideas and information are understood?

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Hello world!

Six Dimensions

Dimension 6 is an easy to understand and apply model for improving performance in just about anything.  The model is specifically designed for young adults and those at the beginning of their career to perform and advance, but it could be used by anyone at anytime to learn and develop new knowledge, skills and ways of being. The model allows learners to identify what they want to know, do and be.

We have already used this model extensively in our work with teachers and students and we invite you to check out our many examples at

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Big projects with many people are the least productive

My inbox in ASANA

My inbox in ASANA

It will come as no surprise that the larger the team, the less effective. Small focused teams are more efficient, particularly when everyone on the team is clear about the timeframe for the project, knows their role and responsibilities and there is a good communication method. Read more about this amusing phenomenon of big team performance here…

Recently, I worked with a team struggling to perform their normal everyday tasks and to work as a team. Upon some investigation, I found they did not have an agreed schedule, a list of tasks or an effective communication strategy.  The tragedy was that everyone is the team had something to offer but they had no way of working together. Team and personal  performance was compromised.

Over the weeks I introduced my favorite small team tool ASANA. It worked well to help focus the team on the time frames, allocate the specific tasks, and share information. The team was able to watch their own progress, and they made a great leap in terms of group productivity.  The most important part of the process was the concept of transparency.  Nothing was hidden and everyone had everything they needed to perform at their best.

If you think ASANA might work for your team, find out more at The two minute videos demonstrate how the simple tool can be used in a variety of ways.


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Designing Business Qualifications for 21st Century Learners

Business and Skills

Have they got what it takes?

At present there is an under-utilisation of skills, talent and expertise in New Zealand’s organisations. Just ask anyone who works in a large organisation, and they will tell you then getting people productive and performing is a real challenge. Without these skills our nation has an uncertain and less than positive future. However, with some forethought and planning the future can be very different. The answer lies in relevant and useful business qualifications for graduates.  21st century business people need relevant and useful qualifications that will ensure their performance and success in the first five years post-graduation.  The knowledge, skills and values gained through business qualifications provide a foundation for graduates to lead New Zealand’s future.

To ensure business learners are engaged in their learning, it is essential that both the qualifications and the curriculum they study are relevant and useful. L. Dee Fink, an education leader, has developed a 6 stage model to capture the essentials of relevant and useful qualifications. These include:

  1. Knowledge: The qualification identifies the concepts, principles, ideas and information essential for graduates’ participation in business.
  2. Skills: The qualification identifies the skills graduates need to have mastered prior to entering into business
  3. Values: The qualification identifies the attributes, characteristics and qualities of a successful business person in their field and requires the graduate to demonstrate these in their learning.
  4. People: The qualification recognises graduates will work with a range of different people in their organisation and provides them with the skills and understandings for effective practice with others.
  5. Learn: The qualification acknowledges graduates’ need for current and continued learning, and develops their learning skills.
  6. Integration: The qualification recognises graduates need to integrate theory and practice, real and virtual, academic and real world environments for successful practice.

This model provides a simple, symmetrical, sustainable and engaging curriculum  for the development of qualifications and sets a foundation for significant learning experiences for learners.

Business and Knowledge

Beyond skills there are a range of ideas, concepts and information needed to be both competent and capable in business.   There are two overriding concepts which must be included and understood if the goal of improving economic outcomes in New Zealand is to be achieved.  These are the terms “performance” and “productivity”. It is my belief that in New Zealand organisations we lack the language to have the important conversations at to what performance and productivity means in an organisation, how to measure them and how to innovate and adapt to improve in the face change. Performance, when we identify it,  should include organisational, team and personal performance. Productivity should measure the impact of the organisation on people, the planet and  profitability. Sustainability and profitability are key concepts which should be included in each qualification. Graduates without an understanding and an ability to work with these key concepts in an organisational setting are unlikely to contribute to a more productive New Zealand in the 21st century.

Here are some skills we can develop in our business students.

Legal astuteness

Legally astute graduates have the ability to identify and pursue opportunities in their organisation.  They know how to use the law and the legal system to increase the total value created in the organisation. In the past this has been an area of weakness in New Zealand organisations. Graduates will understand the value of commercialising ideas and contracting for the sale of products and services. In addition, legally astute graduates have the ability to identify, assess and manage  business risk.

Global connectedness

Global connectedness encourages graduates to think and consider issues from international perspectives, to apply international standards and practices within a discipline profession or vocation, make connections across geographical boundaries and cause graduates to consider their place in the world.

Professional skills

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterise or mark a profession or a professional person”; and it defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”  These definitions imply that professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes, and, together, these attributes identify and define a professional.  Graduates with professional skills have confidence, are capable, can apply their knowledge, establish relationships with their peers and have good career prospects. Such attributes include honesty, respect for others,  accountability, fairness and pursuit of excellence.

In the past we have struggled to espouse and enact affective behaviours in business qualifications. However, the challenge of enacting and assessing affective behaviours should not detract from the importance of the inclusion of values in qualifications.

Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leadership is the concept that can set New Zealand apart from the rest of the world in terms of performance and productivity.  Inclusive leadership has been viewed as a particularly important factor that influences creativity and innovation in organisations.  Outstanding leaders create a climate where people are engaged, feel valued, respected and connected.   These leaders ensure their people are fully included in decisions and processes and actively contribute new ideas and ways of improvement.

Inclusive leaders utilise emotional intelligence and knowledge of the value of diversity to leverage their colleagues and peers overall effectiveness and contributions. Inclusive leaders can lead and manage global and diverse teams where inclusion and empowerment are priorities.

Business graduates have a unique opportunity to explore and practice inclusive leadership in their organisations. Rather than viewing New Zealand’s diverse workplace as a challenge, it can be  viewed as a unique asset supporting overall performance and productivity in organisations.

Effective Communication

Effective communication skills encourage graduates to think and consider how to communicate within their practice, with sensitivity to their purpose and audience. It includes the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.  It is an essential business skill.

Enhanced Learning skills

Graduates with enhanced learning skills are empowered to take responsibility for their learning by acquiring, creating, curating, collaborating with others, and sharing their knowledge.

 An essential part of enhanced learning skills is the ability for graduates to reflect on their practice and performance. Enhanced learning skills are important for learning and workplace success and continued career development.  Graduates with enhanced learning skills can solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

Information skills

Graduates with information skills can answer questions, solve problems, and support innovation and creativity.  They have the ability to define a problem, locate information, select the best quality knowledge, organise and present their ideas.  

Thinking skills

In “How to Create and Develop a Thinking Classroom”, Mike Fleetham writes:
”  in our evolving world, the ability to think is fast becoming more desirable than any fixed set of skills or knowledge. Graduates with thinking skills can analyse  problems, make decisions, and are innovative and creative. They are valuable in the workplace as conduits of change and ideas.

Work integrated learning

Work integrated learning opportunities encourage students to develop their capabilities in a supervised study related environment. Graduates who have work integrated learning are more likely to be employed and to develop their reflective practice and enhanced learning skills.  They can use their skills and knowledge to lead projects to enhance organisational productivity and performance.

For anyone who works for an organisation or owns a business these skills are critical for organisational success.  Peter Senge, in the Fifth Discipline writes, “..many organisations espouse a commitment to fostering personal growth among their employees because they believe it will make the organisation stronger.”  The skills outlined here are a beginners baseline, they will provide a foundation of continued learning, growth and development. It is the responsibility of our business schools to provide them through relevant and useful qualifications.

Read more here…
Lack of financial nous threatens SMEs

Where is New Zealand Inc going wrong?

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