Tuesday, 29 July 2008

It's about time....

How many of you really take time out of your day to 'think'.

An interesting article from the BBC highlights how few of us actually do this but also how important it really is. Take a look to learn about how David Cameron, Barack Obama, Leonardo Da Vinci, Tony Buzan and more take this really seriously. Did you know that Da Vinci had a bed in his study so that he could take a nap......now there's a thought!

As Tony Buzan says: ""If you don't give the brain breaks, it will take them, in the form of loss of concentration, or what we call a mental breakdown."

I'm off for a snoozzzzze....

Monday, 28 July 2008

Why business is like....a climbing party....

Management Today had an interesting short story in their April issue. It highlighted an interesting point about Talent Management and the importance of giving people the opportunity to grow and develop. Sometimes it is not until people are given a chance that you can see their real potential.
The next time you despair of a 'talent deficient' team member, question whether their (or your) view of themselves may be stifling their real potential. Just because someone is struggling at something doesn't mean they don't have potential...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Being a Role Model....

Companies can define what competencies they want leaders to have but unless people actually live up to and demonstrate the desired attributes, behaviours and competencies then it doesn't really mean a thing.

Part of developing into a successful leader is identifying key role models (both in your own organisation and outside it) and to examine what they are actually doing. How are they behaving? How are they interacting with others? What are they actually doing? Be as specific as you can and then see if you can apply it yourself. Also take note of what isn't working and examine why.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Why do (or don't) people do what you ask them to do?

2) Why do (or don't) you do what people ask you to do?

It's also useful to think of yourself as a role model for other people. This helps raise your awareness around everything you do, to refine it and improve over time. Feedback of course is key to this - without it how will you know how effective you are being.

For me there are two perhaps less obvious (particularly for our US colleagues) role models that exhibit some great leadership qualities:-

Alex Ferguson, Manager of Manchester United Football Team ....no, not soccer ;-)

Alex is the probably the best manager in the history of world football having won more trophies than anyone else in English Football, with 21 years and 1000 matches of experience under his belt. In this time Manchester United has remained successful with numerous changes to the players over the years. The one thing that has stayed constant is him.

As with all great leaders Alex delights in the success of his team. He sets the direction, gets them 'on the bus' and instils such a strong belief in their ability that success is an inevitability. His passion for Man Utd is ferocious even after all these years. Witness him jumping for joy or spitting out his chewing gum - the reaction is always there! He protects and promotes his team at every opportunity but is never the one that takes the credit.

Whilst not a glamourous role model, Florence was an incredible leader and change agent - she left a massive wake wherever she went.

Florence lived in a time where women really were second class citizens and where war was a place only for men. Despite this Florence used her own influencing skills and sheer tenacity to force through changes in the nursing practices for soldiers fighting at the front lines. Her continuing efforts around health, nursing and hygiene saved not only thousands of lives but laid the foundations for general nursing practice around the world. An incredibily driven woman, Florence was never satisfied with her achievements and in true humble fashion is buried in her local church near Romsey in Hampshire. This is despite being awarded the Freedom of London and being the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit.

Both of these role models have achieved amazing things because they have been able to:
  • Paint a compelling picture

  • Move people to take action

  • Guide emotions and passion

  • Manage and maintain energy

For me they demonstrate the 'how' of leadership rather than the 'what'.

What does being a leadership role model mean for you?

(For more Great Leadership tips check out the new Leadership Development Carnival)

Crunch Time for L&D Budgets...?

The news is just filled with doom and gloom about recession and a general slow down in world economies. For most organisations hard times means 3 things:

- Cut back on travel

- Cut back on training

- Cut back on marketing

I was listening to a CEO only last week who joked:

"In the last quarter we need to be careful about our spend on travel and may need to look at our marketing budgets too. I assume that we already put a stop to training in June.....(cue an embarrassed snigger from the CFO sitting on the sidelines)"

Personnel Today posted an article recently "Training budget cuts predicted by learning and development managers". This surveyed 120 L&D Managers from Private and Public sector about their training budets.

"..44% expected cuts, while 54% expected budgets to remain stable and just 2% expected an increase."

This is probably not a surprise with non skill-specific, soft skills, team building and diversity training taking the biggest hits.

One of the surveyed managers summed it up:

"If you want to cut a leg off your organisation for short-term gain, then cut back on training. If you want your organisation to continue to flourish during an economic cut-back, maintain training standards and levels."

The short term view that many (but not all) organisations take to training can potentially have a damaging impact longer term. I know from my own experience that if training budgets are cut this can have quite an impact on moral and communicates quite a negative message to the work force.

I would be interested to hear from others in the world of L&D - are your budgets being cut.....?

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Using Twitter for real business value...?

Twitter has been around a while now and has become an established social networking tool. As with all new concepts the way that people use them can often surprise the people who originally came up with the concept.

I have been thinking about how Twitter could be used to help support learning and development activity. I found a really interesting paper here (and also inserted below) by Dr Gabriela Grosseck and Carmen Holotescu (of the University of West Timisoara) that provides some background to Twitter along with a discussion about how Twitter could be used in an educational environment. It provides both advantages and disadvantages and is certainly worth a read. (On an aside note, having used the internet for 15 years it still amazes me how it provides access to so much information!).

Below is an extract detailing some of the potential uses for Twitter in an educational environment:

Conference or as part of a presentation or workshop. Twitter can provide a simple way for attendees at a conference to share thoughts about particular sessions and activities with others at the event and those unable to attend. Twitter works well for an undercurrent dialogues, being a way to organize, give quick updates, and rapidly point to resources.

For reference or research (almost the entire edublogosphere is connecting via Twitter). Higher education (especially) is using the technology to relay important information to students in a more timely manner.

Facilitating virtual classroom discussion by using @username. It directs the ‘tweet’ at the intended recipient whilst allowing every student to also see it.

Twitter facilitates a Personal Learning Network (PLN) in the edublogosphere. In this context students can ask questions of those they only know online [Belshaw, 2007].

Reference services (in libraries). People could "follow" a Twitter account to learn about library events, new books, or get responses to library user questions.

Here is the full paper:

Read this document on Scribd: Can we use Twitter for educational activities?

For me, here are some other ways that Twitter could be used in a corporate learning environment:
  • To help embed learning after a specific intervention: For example, people receive some quality training and then return to the work environment to apply it. To really help embed it they need support and would benefit from sharing experiences. Twitter can help people feed off each other whilst providing access to experts for advice and support.

  • To support a talent management community: Connecting a community of like minded individuals and faciliting a focused way of communicating with them.

  • Facilitating a learning culture: Encouraging people to share experiences with each other, offering tips and advice. You could choose to 'follow' the subject areas you are most interested in.

  • Supporting performance management: Providing the ability for Performance Managers to share ideas, request advice etc with/from each other. Particularly useful if they are geograhically dispersed.

In addition I can see lots of uses amongst project teams and sales/bid teams to help them communicate and stay in touch with each other and the rest of the organisation. The fact that it utilises SMS is a real advantage I think.

Please let me know how our organisations are using it or your thoughts on how Twitter (or other social networking sites) can be used to support a corporate learning environment.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Carnival of Learning and Development

Step right up folks because the Learning and Development Carnival is coming to town...

The world of L&D has always been an exciting place to live....it constantly changes so quickly! I am looking for contributors to the First Edition of the L&D Carnival. This could cover anything related to L&D including the use of Web 2.0 tools, learning styles, coaching, personal development, elearning etc...

The first L&D Carnival will be early August, please submit your posts using the carnival submission form by July 31st.

Irrelevant posts will be automatically rejected. A link back is a must to promote this carnival on the web. Please submit one recent (last 2 weeks) post along with a brief (1 line) description.

Thanks and I am looking forward to receiving your contributions!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Blended learning..again

The topic of how we define what blended learning is back again and it looks like it is still up for debate. There seem to be two camps:

1) Those that focus on the different types of media that can be used to facilitate learning - video, elearning, audio etc
  • 2) Those that focus on the different way that people learn and providing a mix of offerings that cater for different styles as defined by people such as Honey and Mumford or Kolb

Clive Shepherd had some interesting updated thoughts on his blog recently highlighting the importance of social contexts.

Also Ontrack International are having a Blended Learning week starting 4th August with a web-based seminar (or webinar) on a different topic taking place every day - and it's offering 120 free places. A variety of experts are lined up - see here for the list.

I posted my own view a month of so ago, including the results of a mini survey via my Linked In network.

I would be interested to hear your own definitions and comments on what blended learning means to you.....?