General Session on Tuesday Afternoon at Masie’s Learning 2012

John Abele was the first one on stage. He has a background in medicine, but is now mainly focused on collaboration. He is the founding chairman of First. He shared a taxonomy of collaboration:

  • Facilitate
  • Command and control
  • Self organizing
  • Adversarial
  • Mass
  • Crowd Sourcing
  • Cascading
  • Pseudeo

Next he talked about the characteristics of collaboration leaders:

  • Lead without power (cede control to gain control)
  • Manage divas
  • Empower individuals and groups
  • Understand the power of theater

He applied these characteristics to Masie himself, leading to the following slightly hagiographic list: clothing as a court jester, humble self promoter, sharing learning leader, shameless persistence, interview style, frames, sets agenda, digs under the surface inoffensively, uses the power of theater, produces, curates, personalizes well, effusive complimenter, introverted extrovert, shares self reflection, celebrates political incorrectness, amazing connector, genuine, authentic, inclusive (always uses “we”), optimist and benevolent independent (so not part of the establishment).

Next up on the stage was Kevin Oaks from I4CP (which does the bulk of the research for ASTD). He has looked a lot at the difference between high and low performing organizations. They first discussed performance management and the performance review. Nobody really seems to like them. We know that the annual review is not the most effective way to do performance management. Managers need to do these hard discussions on a continuous basis. He sees companies talking about talent risk in the same way as financial risk. Kevin next references this Vanity Fair article about the Forced Ranking performance system at Microsoft. Next question: How do you manage a virtual workforce? This is a new competency of top leaders and we are still finding out how to really do this well. Kevin thinks we should use technology more here. He mentioned an example of a manager who would put a video station in a shared office and a video station in her home office so that people could just walk over to the station and talk to her in a “normal” way as if she was there.

Any blogpost gets better with a Steve Ballmer picture!
Any blogpost gets better with a Steve Ballmer picture!

Elliott Masie loves his Apple products so much that he showed a clip of of the new iPad mini. He is once again interested in the affordances of this particular type of device and buys them before he has a real understanding of those.

Martha Soehren is the Chief Learning Officer for ComCast. She received a spotlight award.

John Ryan is the president of the Center for Creative Leadership. What are some of the top challenges of top leaders nowadays? Suddenly all of them need to become global leaders. The CCL has done research into boundary spanning leadership (the whitepaper is here. They’ve come up with a new assessment tool on the basis of this research: the global six (this hasn’t been published yet). These dimensions are not valuable everywhere in the world: it depends on where you are whether they work. Some of the biggest mistakes that leaders make is that they only focus on people’s performance. You should focus on learning agility (innovating, challenging the status quo, taking risks, performance, make sure you never stop listening). John finished by plugging the WorkLife Indicator.

Could we have a realtime learning center in our own businesses?

The last speaker for the day is from the ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement: Lisa Toenniges. The ISPI focuses on performance that allows organizations to reach their best business results. She kicks off by saying how training should usually be the last thing you try to improve performance. Nice. She then lists a set of standard performance consulting things to look at.

This whole session felt a little bet too much like an incrowd talking on stage. A pity…