Thursday, September 23, 2010

Until you set performance goals, you cannot become a performance organization

The the Sept issue of Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Bob Mosher tells us that instead of being a learning organization, we should build performance organizations. "We are in the performance business," he states. "Not in the knowledge-gain business." He is right, and most of us in the L&D field agree with this. However, I don't think we do anything about it.

In his column, Bob lays out three sound approaches to to becoming a performance organization. They are necessary conditions, but I do not think they are sufficient. There is a fourth approach that must be implemented or we cannot become performance organizations. We must set performance goals. In other words, the goal should be improved sales, productivity, or quality, rather than training attendance, programs delivered, or test scores.

Why don't we stick our necks out there and say, "We will implement this training program and our goal will be to improve sales of this new product by 30% or our goals will be to reduce customer complaints by 25%. As a matter of fact, I say skip Level 1 and 2. Don't even bother. If you conduct the training and customer complaints fall by 25% or more, you were successful. Move on to the next business problem to fix. Until we do that, we will remain in an insecure state of constantly trying to justify our existence. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: The New Social Learning

If your profession is learning and development, The New Social Learning is a must read.

Even if you are one of those people who are suspicious of social media or one who thinks social networking is a place for wasting time or if you think Twitter is a place where people tell you what they are eating for lunch, you will read the book and understand exactly how social learning is a new imperative for how we enable organizational learning. You will find this book to be a practical guide to implementing social learning in your organization.

At the end of each chapter, there is a list of common objections and how to overcome them. I found this to be the most useful part of the book. Just like a sales person needs to overcome objections from prospects, any organizational leader who intends to implement a new thing, must prepare for the inevitable objections that arise from the skeptics and curmudgeons. And there will be many. The list of objections and the ways to overcome them are, by themselves, worth the cost of your time to read this book.

The other idea that I infer this book is that people will learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it despite our best efforts to design and deliver training. Too many L&D professionals are hung up on the need to control the instructional design and training delivery process, believing that people simply do not learn properly, unless proper instruction is used in proper training delivery. Well this book is one step in the direction of proving that idea wrong. Our job is to not deliver instruction, but to enable people to learn what they need to learn to get their jobs done now.

Although the New Social Learning does not propose that instructional design and classroom training will be replaced (far from it), Tony and Marcia weave tales of companies that are using various elements of social and collaboration technologies to enable people to learn and most importantly grow and improve job performance….which is what this is all about in the first place.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: Social Media for Trainers

This is a book review that I posted on I publish it here for those who follow my blog and might be interested in this book.

I consider myself an active, knowledgeable, and savvy social media user in a professional sense, even though I am no expert, so there were times when I wanted to skip or skim certain section of Social Media for Trainers by Jane Bozarth. “What is Twitter? Duh, I know that.” “What is a Wiki? Please!” “Oh, I know this already,” I thought several times. However, if I had skipped these sections, it would have been a huge mistake, and fortunately (or luckily) for me, I slowed down and read. Hubris is a B#$%&!

Jane walks the reader through useful ways that a trainer can use social media to enhance and extend any training event or learning experience. The examples are not only useful, they are ideas one can implement almost immediately. There are so many great ideas that I tweeted that I was running out of margin space and ink as I took notes on all the good ideas I want to implement.

Trainers should devour this book. Instructional designers better implement the ideas from this book into their course designs or else. In fact, I would say that an instructional designer should not design another class without implementing the ideas in this book. It is that important to improving the effectiveness of training.

After reading this book, you will know exactly how to use Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, and Wikis to improve learner engagement in your training sessions and ultimately, performance on the job after training. Not only will you know exactly how to use these tools, but I suspect you will also know when to use each one.

This book is not for reading, it is for using. Bring a well-sharpened pencil or new pen.