Monday, March 31, 2008

Your Human Workforce... during turbulent times.

Hello everyone,

I came across a great article today from the Vistage website. Vistage is the worldwide leader in helping chief executives take their careers—and their companies—to a higher level.

With the current strains on the economy, the stock market and financial institutions... companies are looking to make changes, cut programs, slash budgets and down-size.

Here is some food for thought of what to do and not to do with your Human Assets.



Tough Times: What to Do (and Not Do) with Human Assets
By Vistage Speaker Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

Day by day, the writing on the wall becomes clearer: The U.S. economy continues to shift toward possible recession, and international markets are seeing the effects as well. How will businesses survive? Maximizing competitive advantage is a must, and the first step is to reexamine your human assets:

1. First and foremost, remember that the best way to weather turbulent times is with the willing engagement of a focused, fired-up, capably led workforce. Avoid the moronic tactics so often invoked during a slowdown, guaranteed to make workers power back a notch or two. Things like knee-jerk layoffs (unless survival is truly at stake), poorly conceived pay cuts (especially incentive pay), and petty cutbacks. When you are forced to make painful cuts, remember – officers bleed first.

2. Don’t let fear cause your workforce to disengage. Asking people to be judicious about expenses is one thing - injecting an added dose of fear into the workplace is another. The degree to which employees are concerned about losing their jobs varies inversely with the degree to which they are concerned with doing their jobs, and taking care of customers. And they’ll be looking at the owners and CEO for telltale signs of fear…and of hope.

3. Don’t try to work your way out of a short-term earnings problem by “dumbing down” the organization. One of the first shoes to fall in a questionable economy usually lands squarely on top of the organization’s training budget. If you’re doing training that doesn’t need to be done, then you should stop it anyway. But the notion that we can somehow help the business by deferring necessary training is intellectually bankrupt. Think about that the next time you fly or have surgery.

4. Don’t (repeat, don’t) stop recruiting. If anything, redouble your recruiting efforts, and encourage your hiring managers to do the same. In case you didn’t notice, Warren Buffett, one of the savviest investors of all time, closed deals to buy two businesses the week before Christmas. He’s on a buying spree, adding solid businesses to his Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. The same principle applies to rounding up talented people. They’re out there. Go find them, and start a conversation with them now.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk candidly with your people about how the business is doing. Don’t delegate this. This is the CEO’s discussion to have. The one thing that distracts people more than anything else is not knowing what’s going on. As psychologist Karl Jung observed, “When facts are few, opinions loom large.” Every minute your folks spend wondering or worrying is a minute your customers are being ignored.

6. Crank up your “high touch.” Going through a difficult economic period isn’t just about business. It’s personal, too. This is an excellent time to show that you care by spending a bit more quality time with the people on your team, listening to them, and making sure they have what they need. Especially those on the frontlines. Don’t pry, but sharpen your awareness of special circumstances. Has a spouse been downsized? A mortgage foreclosed on? Watch for signs of added stress. Don’t play psychologist, but make sure your Employee Assistance Program is ready to respond and help where needed.

7. Pay extra attention to the customers you’ve got. Translate the meaning of that for all your employees. Too many businesses hunker down and go below the radar when economic growth slows. This is an ideal time to show customers that you care about them. If you do, chances are you’ll exit the current rough patch with better customer relations, and maybe more customers.

8. Smile. That’s right, smile. And do it often. The fact that things are getting a little shaky and people are scared (including maybe you) doesn’t overturn the principle that people prefer to be around those who are positive and optimistic. Your smile will lighten up folks around you little; they’ll get more done, and feel better about it, too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why Return on Expectations... ROE is What You Measure With Your Elearning Management Solution.

Most people consider ROI the most important thing to measure when it comes to determining if your training program, system or solution is paying off.

I submit to you that your ROE, return on expectations... may be a more important area of evaluation, initially.

From an ROI perspective your training program, system or solution should be evaluated based on what your “expectations” on measurement of success should be. For example, what are your realistic expectations regarding cost savings? How much money do you need to save for you to consider your program a success? What is the overall business impact of your training program? Is there improved productivity and how much of an improvement is needed for you to consider your program a success?

Once you determine your expectations, then you can determine your ROI.

Next, you’ll need to consider how the information you’ve gathered should be used. Will the information be used as a tool for budget justification, support for additional programs or perhaps a corporate case study/

How do you measure “training impact”?

Here are some key benchmarks you need to evaluate when determining if your training program makes sense... and the amount of emphasis you should place on each.
• ROI = 5%-10%
• Business Results = 20%
• Job Impact = 30%
• Learning = 70%
• Satisfaction = 100%

Questions to Evaluate:
• Did they like the course? What % of skills was new? Did they use the material on the job? Are they planning on applying the new skills?
• How much time does the new skill save? How many fewer errors are the employees making as a result?
• How much money can they save? How many new orders can they take? How many new files are they able to process faster?
• What can they now do that they couldn’t do before? What opportunities does this open up for the organization? Is there a $$ amount that can be associated with the opportunities?

So, making it simple – you should judge your program “heavily” on two factors... 1-) are they learning faster and are they using the new skills? 2-) are they satisfied with the program material?

You need to obtain this information through post-event surveys and follow-up surveys. Pre and post-follow-up assessments are critical evaluation tools that you should be using on an ongoing basis.

Remember... when implementing an elearning management solution or a computer based learning program – how you plan your program initially from set up... can make all the difference.

Think “program” not “course”. For your program you’ll need to plan the communication, how your training will be scheduled and delivered – and what the realistic expectation criteria is for evaluation of your program later.

Here are the critical items – the “blueprint” for your training program roll-out and evaluation.

1. Identify your target learners. Who is your group? What is the learning path? You identify them through manager surveys and online assessments.
2. Determine what learners need. What is the learning material for this group? How does it relate to your business goals or solving your business “gaps” or problems? Again the use of manager surveys, online assessments and having a clear understanding of the companies objectives.
3. Identify pre-requisite skills. What building blocks are needed? Determined through the use of learner surveys and assessments.
4. Preparing the learner for learning. This involves more one to one interaction through meetings with managers, conference calls and webinars.
5. Preparing the managers for coaching and supporting the learners. Again, this is done through conf calls, webinars and face to face meetings with managers
6. Scheduling and delivery. Determine what the proper mix of repetition and frequency is. How might your employees benefit from emphasized and timed delivery of certain material through automated engagement? Which material needs to be reinforced regularly and what is the timeline for that? What are the delivery mechanisms? Classroom, elearning, books, CD’s, DVD’s, webinars, teleseminars, collaboration, etc.,
7. Applying the learning. Evaluate how each employee learns. Are they auditory, visual or kinesthetic? Classroom observation is needed. Role plays and collaborative interaction should be evaluated. Learning labs and simulations should be implemented.
8. Providing support and reinforcement – can be evaluated with surveys, assessments, repetition and frequency of message through elearning delivery; group interaction and collaboration.
9. Tracking the learning – through your elearning management solution or LMS.
10. Ensuring learning is being used – through progress monitoring from your elearning management solution or LMS.
11. Keeping the learning current – by always evaluating your material through ongoing surveys, assessments and meeting with managers.

Know what you want to measure and why... before you implement you computer based learning program. Know what your realistic expectations are for evaluation.

Being smart up front can save you a lot of time, money and resources later.

George Ritacco

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008 : eLearning Technology

Great Blog Post from Tony at TechEmpower. Great stuff and solid predictions IMO. The focus seems to be "efficiency" in elearning and utilizing the right elearning management solution to maximize resources and productivity.

Here are some highlights: LMS/Talent Management Systems will continue to serve the needs of a select few... but not the masses. The masses will be looking for streamlined and cost-effective ways to deliver their training.

Articulate will continue to dominate the authoring tools market. We've always been an advocate of the Articulate suite of rapid elearning tools. (all supported in OmniTrackPlus 2.0).

And medium size vitual classrooms will get more focus and attention as organizations look to do more "virtual" ILT.

Check out the article below. It's good stuff.


The Big Question this month are Predictions for Learning in 2008. Here are my predictions, but realistically they are more about trends in eLearning and eLearning Software.

Prediction #1 => eLearning 2.0 - Increasing Pressure

It's safe to predict that you'll be hearing more and more about eLearning 2.0 during 2008. While large scale adoption will be slow, specific solutions aimed at particular audience needs will be more common. There will be increasing pressure on each of us to understand eLearning 2.0 for ourselves in order to apply it within our organizations (eLearning 2.0 - An Immediate, Important Shift). This will increase adoption of Web 2.0 tools by learning professionals (More eLearning Bloggers). It will also cause us to look more closely at Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective.

Prediction #2 => Virtual Classroom Tools - Meeting Tool + Second Life Lite

A medium size Virtual Classroom / Meeting Tool will announce features in 2008 that are not 3D immersive, but that are more like Mii characters in a 2.5D world. This will allow more natural kinds of interactions in classroom settings, especially for things like breakout activities.

Prediction #3 => Authoring Tools - Captivate and Articulate Will Dominate

It rhymes and it's an easy prediction that these two tools will dominate authoring. Interestingly, they both were originally considered rapid authoring tools but now are becoming THE authoring tools. Some lower-end, PPT + Audio tools will do well with none winning huge shares of the marketplace. Wiki + SCORM + Add-ins will become more common for easy authoring.

Prediction #4 => Less Authoring - More Web Pages

While we may want to use our authoring tools all the time, there's going to be more and more cases where clients (internal or external) are going to be just find with some web pages and maybe some embedded training snippets or an embedded fun Flash Quiz. Short, fast and to the point will be the standard. This will increase the discussion of the relevance of ISD / ADDIE (see also ADDIE Not Relevant?).

Prediction #5 => Mobile Learning - Continued Scattered Examples and Disappointment

This is going to be another somewhat disappointing year for mobile learning. While the iPhone and other mobile devices continue to proliferate and while the amount of web access via mobile devices will continue to grow rapidly (now approaching 20%), mobile learning solutions will continue to find adoption in scattered, specific examples. More podcasts and video casts for audiences with easy access, think students, remote sales forces, etc. Specialized tools for mobile professionals. But large adoption of mobile as THE learning platform still won't be there.

Prediction #6 => Metrics-Driven Performance and Learning Interventions

My article coming out in January will spark discussion around what is actually a quite common model. And because it ties directly to metrics that matter to the business, this will get significant attention during the year.

Prediction #7 => LMS => More of What You Don't Want

Large players will continue to move towards functionality in Talent Management - likely mostly features that you really don't care that much about. Luckily a few will also add in more community and wiki capabilities. Unfortunately, these will be even worse than Sharepoint, the solution you already hate. All of this will cause of to continue to ask Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS? Unfortunately, you can ask all you want, you will still be doing a lot of work with LMS products this year.

Prediction #8 => Serious Games - Seriously Sorry, Not for You

They will continue to get talked about A LOT. And people will continue to be interested and excited. Likely YOU will get to attend a session on them. But YOU won't get to build one, or buy one, or participate in one.

Prediction #9 => Niche Online Discussions

Based on a series of events (success of small group discussions at eLearningGuild in the Fall, success of the virtual conference with George Siemens, discussion with Jay Cross and others about a conference for people with more experience, and discussion by Luis Suarez about a targeted virtual conference), I'm starting to think that the way to go is to have frequent, more targeted online, virtual discussions on particular topics. The format of the virtual conference that George and I put together wasn't quite right - still a lecture - threaded discussions weren't quite active enough and the questions weren't focused. We need a targeted discussion. For example, I just had someone ask about using Facebook in a corporate context as part of on-boarding. I'll likely schedule a call with this person to discuss what they are trying to do. Why not have several people involved in the discussion? Why not record it? Is the barrier the lack of free access to the tools? The overhead of pulling it together? My guess is that it doesn't take much more to get it to happen with a small group than getting it to happen with two or three people. And the barriers are getting lower all the time. I'm thinking this is going to start happening - A LOT.

Prediction #10 => Knowledge Worker Skills - Just Beginning in 2008, Big in 2009

The discussion of knowledge work skills is going to be BIG ... We won't hear much this year, but in 2009, this will be something you'll hear in a big way.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Automated Engagement... Fast Learning, Longer Recall.

I wanted to share this concept with all of you before the beginning of the new year. 2008 could very well be the best year you've had as a trainer. That choice, is yours. Make 2008 the best year you can!

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Are Your Employees Happy to be Working With You?

Happy Thanksgiving All.

I wanted to share with you a recent article from Training Magazine. Job unrest is not a new thing. According to Patick Lencioni, there are definite "tell-tale" signs that can indicate a potential problem is on the horizon.

You can prevent job dissatisfaction.

As you take a day to spend with your family - look around the table and be thankful for what you have, what you've had... and what you can have - because you can.

Enjoy the article.

Signs of Unrest

Misery in the office is nothing new, unfortunately, but maybe bosses will get more adept at spotting it before it's too late. Patrick M. Lencioni, author of "The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and Their Employees)," notes workplace-misery truths and red flags:

• "A miserable job is not the same as a bad one. A bad job lies in the eye of the beholder," he says. "But a miserable job is universal. It is one that makes people cynical, frustrated, and demoralized when they go home at night. It drains them of energy, enthusiasm, and self-esteem."

• The first of Lencioni's "three signs" is anonymity, "the feeling employees get when they realize their manager has little interest in them as a human being, and knows little about their lives, aspirations, and interests."

• Second, beware of irrelevance, which, he says, "takes root when employees cannot see how their job makes a difference in the lives of others. Employees need to know the work they do impacts someone's life—a customer, a co-worker, even a supervisor—in one way or another."

• The third sign is something Lencioni calls "immeasurement," which he describes as "the inability of employees to assess for themselves their contribution or success. Employees who have no means of measuring how well they are doing on a given day, or week, must rely on the subjective opinions of others, usually their managers, to gauge their progress or contribution." So, in other words, if you let them know their misery is not in vain, they may never be miserable in the first place.

What are you and your employees thankful for this holiday season?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Upside Leverage and the "Training" Business Driver

Do you know who Jay Abraham is? He is the world's highest paid business consultant. I've been studying Jay's teachings for a year now, something I think everyone who is in business for themselves or a professional sales person - should do. You can learn so much from Jay's business philosophies.

The reason for this post is that I wanted to share his insight on Upside Leverage and how Upside Leverage and his 9 business drivers can revolutionize your business growth potential. More specifically, how his third business driver - TRAINING... and having the right attitude towards training (what, how, when, why, etc.,) can influence one of your biggest capital investments - your investment in your people... and allow them to go from average or mediocre performers to superstars.

Upside Leverage is about how you get an activity, an investment, an opportunity, and an effort of people or creative intellectual capital to produce for you and your business at a much higher, bigger, better more profitable yield or result that it otherwise would.

Here is an exerpt from Jay and his philosphy on the third business driver, Capital.

From Jay Abraham's Special Report - Nine Drivers, Upside Leverage and Exponential Business Growth....


This includes your human capital, your intellectual capital and your financial capital. Human is basically the people who are working for you - the people that are there. If you can get everybody performing higher you've got incredible leverage. How do you do it? Well, there are three or four easy ways to do it.


Every dollar you spend in training will produce on average 20-200 times return annually in yield. So, do you train your people? If so, how often or frequently?

Do you train your selling people in formal professional consultative selling? Doing that will improve everyone's performance in the category from 20-2000% and keep them performing at these levels. Do you train your office staff in all the skill sets needed to perform at superstar levels?

Are they the fastest they can be at reading? Or are they the most proficient possible in typing? Are they the most skilled in time management? Are they the most effective in efficiency or productivity?

If you can get each of your people 10%-50% better in each of those categories, you've just doubled or tripled the effectiveness. Or you'll be able to achieve the same result for one half the staff, time or cost - and you can reallocate or remove 20%-30% of your staff.


That's from the master. Your investment in your human capital can never be taken lightly. The right training, delivered in the right way, systematically and with positive reinforcement, repetition and frequency can make all the difference in realizing a great training ROI.

Have a Happy Halloween.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The 10 Commandments of an Elearning Management System.

Are you ready to embrace elearning as a tool to enhance your training program?

Before you invest in the right elearning management system for you – it’s important to do the research.

Because elearning is a 5 billion dollar industry... you should know that there are thousands of solutions out there for you to pick from. With such a large pool of tools, how do you know which one is right for you?

Not every system can help you. Some systems are very large, complex and expensive. Others are very small, simple and cheap. The scale is vast. Some are priced according to the number of users. Some charge a flat fee for using the system. Some are hosted solutions and others are software implementations.

What works well for some, may not work well for you and your specific needs. There are many benefits to using a “hosted” tool over one that is “purchased” and integrated into your own Intranet infrastructure.

You need to know which will work better for you, before you spend a dime.

What I would recommend you do first is to identify your business goals and objectives and start the research on elearning management systems that fit those objectives.

Need help? Here are the Top 10 Commandments for the right elearning management system.

1. Thou shall be able to create courses or course folders in a systematic approach, to keep your training program organized and simple to access.

2. Thou shall be able to add documents to those folders (WORD documents, PDF’s, EXCEL spreadsheets, videos, etc., easily, quickly and seamlessly.

3. There must be an examination tool to “test” their knowledge.

4. There must be a powerful mechanism to create elearning presentations that engage and interact with your trainees for a full-contact experience

5. You material must identify with the four modalities of learning (everyone learns differently... reading, listening, watching, experiencing). Your material must “speak” to everyone, regardless of how they learn best.

6. Thou shall be able to create surveys – to elicit feedback from your group

7. Thou shall be able to create certifications and performance appraisals

8. Thou shall be able to have people register for your classes when training offsite or running an instructor-led classroom.

9. There must be a robust tracking system that scores and tracks performance in real-time, saving you time and money.

10. Depending on your business infrastructure – you’ll need to decide whether to go with a hosted or non-hosted solution.

Again, because each system is different – there’s no guarantee what you’re going to get – if you don’t’ first do the research.

And so when investing in elearning, it is important to identify these 10 items first before you explore and head into other areas and options. These 10 items will ensure that you have a strong foundation for your elearning management system and program.