Performance Consulting, Change- and Talent Management at ICBE

Today I attended the [Irish Center of Business Excellence] (ICBE) 2012 conference in Dublin, Ireland. I will blog about the following three talks:

Peter de Jager on Change

Peter de Jager talk was titled “Reducing Change to Seven Questions”.

According to de Jager everybody believes that “people resist change”. He then gave us many examples of how we all make big changes in our lives (getting married, bearing children, moving cities, changing jobs). Something like having kids is much bigger than implementing SAP. We embrace the former and we resist the latter. What is the fundamental difference between the one and the other? It is: choice. We don’t resist change, we resist being changed. We resist the most trivial thing if we don’t have control.

This means that the first question around change management will always be: “Why?”. The best thing to get people to accept change is to get them involved.

De Jager likes to reduce change to a set of seven questions:

  1. Why? Why is it necessary to do this? Don’t just tell me “because”. Why-questions seem to be taboo in organisations currently. We need to change this mentality and make sure that a real dialogue
  2. What’s in it for me? The problem with this is that it is not about you, because it is about the organisation. This is unfortunate because with any change it is top of mind of any employee. It requires some honesty from a corporation to address this question. If as a corporation you don’t know the answer, then at least communicate that.
  3. What might go wrong? We fool ourselves if we downplay the risk of change: there is always the change that something might go wrong.
  4. What will go wrong? There will be problems, guaranteed. Make sure you are prepared.
  5. What are your solutions?
  6. What will change?
  7. What will stay the same?

Peter de Jager has all the marks of an incessant self-promoter (I do realize I am on that journey too, but do hope I won’t get where he is). He presented without slides and clearly had told this exact story many times before. Unfortunately he still managed to lose me during his seven questions story. I am not even sure I captured them all correctly to be honest.

Nigel Harrison on How to be a True Business Partner through Performance Consulting

Nigel Harrison helps people adopt a consulting approach where they ask their clients what the problems is before they jump to solutions (what he calls solutioneering).

In traditional problem analysis we very often jump to solutions. The majority of the problems in our organizations is from previous solutions. Training is often one of these premature solutions. Harrison mentioned the conspiracy of convenience where everybody knows that it doesn’t deliver business value but it is in the interest of the learner, the trainer and the manager to act like the training is great.

His process for problem analysis works like this. Start by asking a few questions:

  • Who is involved in this problem?
  • What is happening now? This is about the current state.
  • What do we want to see? This is about the desired state.

If you do this you can start asking: What is the value to the business if we close this gap? (Don’t forget to ask: What is the cost of doing nothing?)

He has a very nice image of his seven step process for performance consulting (find some more downloads here):

7 Steps of Performance Consulting
7 Steps of Performance Consulting

This is a simple process, but it does need skillful application to be effective:

  • Building trust and support
  • Really get into your business goals outside of L&D
  • Drawing a systemic model with your client
  • Supportive challenge to quantify the problem
  • Creativity to develop integrated solutions

Common difficulties with the approach are:

  • Dealing with the pressure for solutioneering
  • The positioning of L&D
  • Own power and credibility

He closed his session by showing how easy it then is to connect learning investment to business value. If you can’t define the business value then Nigel suggest to stop spending the money on the learning intervention.

Yvonne Earley on Talent Management

Yvonne Earley talked about talent management one of the five strategic objectives from her employer Abbott. They have truly integrated talent into their business planning.

The three fundamental things about the program are:

  • Visibility of talent across the functions and across the divisions is really key.
  • How do we assess our talent and how accurate is our assessment?
  • How do we differentiate our talent? Our top talent should be in our strategic business critical positions so that they can have high impact experiences.

Everybody has a talent profile which serves as an internal resume/CV. The manager makes the assessment decisions around career trajectory, their potential (consists of aspiration, ability and commitment), performance, potential next moves, etc. (Leadership) Potential and Performance are rated in a 9 box two dimensional grid:

9 Box Grid: Potential and Performance
9 Box Grid: Potential and Performance

Their onboarding process is as follows:

  • Getting prepared (pre-hire)
  • Getting started (30 days)
  • Getting productive (60 days)
  • Broadening perspective (90 days)
  • Maintaining alignment (the first year)

Earley had an amazing amount of other slides with frameworks and diagrams. Abbott seems to be a very process heavy organisation!

Learning from the Outside, How External Focus Can Help Learning and Development

This presentation delivered on April 19 for the Irish Centre for Business Excellence Network tries to address why things are not changing fast enough in the (corporate) learning world by pointing out that we often fail to look to the outside. We rely on benchmarking without realising that this will never get us ahead of the game. We try to implement best practices rather than focus on emergent practice. Changing this requires finding our edge and trying to see what you can learn from there. For corporations and organisations the edge can be found in things like the consumerisation of IT, open source, experimental academia and the startup world.

You can download the presentation as a PDF or watch in on SlideShare:

[slideshare id=12599826&doc=120419learningfromtheoutside-120419040154-phpapp01]

I’ve used many sources to create the presentation. Here are all the relevant links in context.

In the past I have thought a bit about seredendipity and have written a few blogposts about the topic.

Bert De Coutere describes how Learning and Development is stuck in his blog post Learning got stuck in itself…. Steve Wheeler writes about the differences between upstairs (where the Learning Technologies conference was held) and downstairs (where the learning vendors could tout their wares) in his post titled Upstairs downstairs.

If you are interested to learn more about Omphaloskepsis, check out this Wikipedia article.

The following three companies (among many others) offer benchmarking in the learning space: Corporate University Exchange, BrandonHall and Bersin (their benchmarking data for 2011 is available here).

Youngme Moon has written a book titled Different in which she explains why products in a category all become alike. Harold Jarche reviews the book in a blog post titled Different – Review. In that review he refers to Tim Kastelle who lifts stwo diagrams out of Moon’s book in Be Great at One Thing. I remade the diagrams using the excellent Inkscape.

The Wikipedia page about the Cynefin Framework isn’t bad. Dave Snowden’s Harvard Business Review article about his framework and how it can help with leadership is titled Leader’s Framework for Decision Making (and maybe I should credit Mary E. Boone for once).

Automattic is an amazing company. They create and host the platform (more information). The Automattic creed is available on Matt Mullenweg’s website. Matt gets interviewed here. This map shows where all the “Automatticians” are located. Check out this page if you want to know more about Automattic or are interested in working for them.

If you want to know more about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) you should start here and then quickly move on to what Stephen Downes writes in his piece What a MOOC Does. The MOOC example I decided to reference in the presentation is Digital Storytelling also known as DS106.

The term Edupunk was coined in Jim Groom’s post The Glass Bees and quickly got its own Wikipedia article. Stephen Downes tied together a few good posts about the topic here and this article on BlogHer could also be a good start.

The big open online courses that are now fashionable and are starting to get a commercial face (Coursera and Udacity) owe their debts to MOOCs and the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

If you want to be kept up to date about learning technology “on the edge” then your best bet is likely to pay close attention to Audrey Watters’ blog Hack Education (not mentioned in my presentation).

Mozilla‘s mission page is here and it is worthwile reading their whole manifesto. Their Open Badges program is getting a lot of deserved attention and could always use more participants. You can read about all their learning plans on their Learning Wiki, this is also the place to go to if you want to get involved.

If you are interested in becoming more entrepreneurial and innovative, regardless of whether you have your own business or are working in a company/organisation, you can’t do better than read The Lean Startup.