I have learned so much.

And I haven’t written anything down. Who am I? I used to blog all the time. I got my current job from a blog post I wrote. (more of the story here)

This past December I graduated with my Masters of Education, Technology and Leadership. I wrote about my FIRST semester in this post. (Oh my – I cant believe how fast/slow it went). I learned a lot in school. But probably not as much as I have learned this past year.

And by the last post I made it really doesn’t justify how much I have learned and been up to. Almost a year ago within a world I had no business being in I jumped in both feet. I leaned on a great coach, business adviser and consultant who became a dear friend. We tried things. Failed at things. Added new things. Took away the bad things and kept on adjusting. Like the angry birds method. “Aim. Fire. Adjust.”

So I guess thats what I will do with this blog going forward. Aim. Fire. Adjust.

I’d like to write about social enterprises because I see that every day. I’d like to write about my journey as a new manager (got lots of stories). I’d like to write about what its like being on the road all the time or how great it is to work from home (YOGA PANTS!). I’d like to write about the customers I see and the lightbulbs that go off. I’d like to write about what its like working for the largest software company in the world after working for a startup.

Is that OK with you? If that works – I will start there. 

No promises. But bug me to write more, ok?

And if you’d like to do a guest post let me know.

The Art of Engagement (part 3) – Keys to Engagement

In Jim Haudin’s Book, The Art of Engagement, he goes into great detail to lay the foundation of engagement tactics that are not only solid in proof but also in evidence. He gives you piratical advice that you can apply today – to the projects, change iniatives, technolgy advance and stratgy meetings you are setting up for next year.

From the other two posts I have written in reflection – Being apart of something big and Voices from the trenches –  this final post in this series is going to walk through Haudin’s keys to engagement. I, of course have social business on the brian and will be looking at these points with the social technology point of view, but they could honestly be applied to any strategic movement.

Keys to Engagement 

  1. Connecting through images and stories
  2. Creating pictures together
  3. Believing in Leaders
  4. Owning the solution
  5. Playing the entire game
  6. Allowing people to practice before performing

I may have written about this before but I will always be an advocate for imagery over beautifully crafted and highly strategic words. Think about drawing a picture. You can’t draw a picture if you haven’t thought about what you want it to look like in the end. Even if it is a simple picture, you still need to look at it from a bigger picture. Of course you could just start drawing and see where the pencil takes you, but don’t expect anyone else to understand what you are doing or to jump into the picture and help you.

Haudin uses a great activity, which I want to start using with the teams I work with. He calls it something to the effect of Napkin iterations. Providing a cocktail napkin to the team, encourage the team to draw their business landscape. As a team share what you have drawn then continue to iterate and build one picture until the picture accurately shows the current state (or future desired state). When I thinking about bringing social tools into the organization to help improve business velocity and accelaration I could not think of a more perfect way to misinpreret what that means, plus that could mean something different for each function of the business. If the goal is to move your business to faster and quicker results, how can we help visualize this and do it together? By creating visual iterations of the big pictures you as a team will be able to see if what you said really shows what you meant. Plus as with collaboration, your single idea of what the big idea is will be better with the ideas of your team.

As I work with many leaders in our customers organizations, I often ask them what they think is being discussed at their water cooler?

Some look at me with puzzled looks, as if they don’t have a watercooler. But we really talk about the conversations people are having and what they have done to contribute to them, or benefit from them. With the social tools, such as Yammer, they provide these water cooler conversations to become visible and actionable. Instead of their associates grubling behind the back and not doing anything about it, leaders truly have charge about them in creating the change.

When you begin to involved people to make their own conclusions and solutions about the strategy — they feel engaged.

Haudin writes, ” when conclusions change, behavioral changes often follow (p. 129).”

How can you encourage your employees to learn rather than take what is served to them to discover their need for the change. Think about the last time you showed a group the “answers” for the change and how that worked out? My guess is that if someone showed me the answers to a problem that would encourage apathy not engage me.

Thinking about your business. Do all your employees know the fundamentals pieces of your business? Like where the money comes from, where it goes and how much your organization keeps? If not what can you be doing to help them understand and see that at the very basic level. Sometimes people forget what it is like to be new or not understand. Haudin talks again about maps, and how no matter the skill level or the educational level of a person – they still have to be able to read your map.

The last thought about engagement is practicing. Now I go back and forth on this – practicing does not always equal training. It could mean that some people need more help than others and some need some advice with coaching. It means that people need the tools that get them to the next level. But practicing also means a sense of trust and safety to fail. This can mean huge results when thinking about decisions about the change.

 

Check out the other (Being apart of something big) Part 1 or (Voices from the trenches) Part 2 of this recap.

Art of Engagement (Part 2) – Voices from the trenches

In my previous post, I briefly cover some ideas that Haudin talks about the roots or the foundation of engagement.

But what about the voices that matter. So the people in the trenches might not be engaged, but why? What is holding them back? In the book the Art of Engagement, Jim Hauden speaks to the voices from the trenches.

Before I even dig into that, I want you to check out the Disengaged Canyon. I found this a few years ago and have fell in love with the amazing way that the visual representation very accurately shows the organizations that I work with. Here is a short video but you can get the picture…

So what do these voices from the trenches say? How can you get them over this fear of actually engaging abd being a part of something big? So what is holding people back from just “getting it” and doing the right thing of accepting the strategy?

The voices (reasons) of why I can’t be engaged if…

  • I am overwhelmed
  • I don’t get it
  • I am scared
  • I don’t see the big picture
  • Its not mine
  • My leaders don’t face reality

These are things that change agents in the organization working with the senior leaders and managers should aim to overcome. The reality is if you don’t take a “strategy” off of someone’s plate, they might not be sure of what to do with the new one you just added. And then people just work to survive, forget looking at the big picture. Haudin uses the analogy of relevancy and communication. He talks about if your communication were similar to a stand up comedian, would you get a laugh from the crowd or would you hear crickets.  If you think people might not get it, what can you do to test it to the crowd? And what would the crowd do if they read/heard them?

Haudin compares the Big picture to a TripTik vs. a GPS.

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When you travel with your TripTik you always know “You are here”. You see the context and the surrounding areas. However when you use a GPS you are strictly dependent on the satellite connection and/or 3G. Now this isn’t a debate about which is better or not, but I have experienced this as well. If I travel somewhere and get a GPS I honestly have no idea where I am in relation to anything other than my specific destination. I have no sense of a bigger picture. And sometimes that hurts me when I am trying to get where I need to be because I have missed it. What maps could you provide your employees to better get the BIG PICTURE and so they know where the  You are Here sign is on the strategic journey of engagement?

Also imagine that the strategy or the process you are trying to change could be visualized to be on top of a puzzle box. What would that image look like?

This book does a great deal of explaining how important visualization is – because its hard to draw something that hasn’t been thought out in great detail. Going a bit further with the puzzle analogy, how complex is the “puzzle”? How many pieces will it have? Think about these things as you begin to get people to think about the big picture.

You can’t create beautiful powerpoint slides that force people to make the change or to make them more engaged. You also can’t force the “aha” moments. One of the key things I have learned from this book and that has been validated by the work I have done, is that you can’t turn on someone’s lightbulb for them nor can you make them change. You can, however, create an environment where the aha moment might take place and let it happen. You can help facilitate it and be there  to coach and mentor the people along the way. All I know is that I don’t change because someone tells me to, nor am I engaged because its the best for our business. I am engaged because I know what I do falls in line of something bigger than me and I have and understand the big picture.

What about you? What tools do you need to see the picture on the puzzle box? What aha moments have you recently had and what was the big revelation?

Art of Engagement (part 1) – Being apart of something big

I recently finished the Art of Engagement and I want to share what I learned and the highlights from it. Obviously engagement is a HUGE piece in organizations and their success. It’s what make the organizations tick, what makes organizations step up and beat out the competition.

Haudin does a great job of explaining how to take senior leaders,

“on strategic road trip that focused on looking through the windshield instead of in the rear view mirror… (leaders should) ride the winds of change rather than be blown away by them. (p. 11)  “

A huge aha and learning moment for me was the part when Haudin talks about the foundation of creation and executing stratgies around engagement.

“Success, competitiveness , and vitality were not determined by the sharpness of the vision of  and strategy of the brightest few, but by the learnings, understand and execution speed of the slowest many. (p.12). “

Haudin also talks about the basics in the first few chapters, or the “Roots of Engaging people”. These points aren’t new but they are fundamental to understand when people aren’t engaged and the reason why.

People want to:

  • be apart of something big
  • feel a sense of belonging
  • go on a meaningful journey
  • know that their contributions are making an impact difference

The example that they give in the book is how Disney leadership performs in the Main Street parade in Magic Kingdom. The new leaders get to see first hand  that their contributions are making a difference in their customers lives.

So that leaves me thinking, what could your organization do to give a similar perspective to your employees? What could you do to let them know and understand that their contributions, regardless of what their job is, are for a bigger purpose. Is it bringing them to a customer visit? Allowing them to sit in an industry event? What about bringing the outside in for a new perspective?  What could you do to help your organization share that bigger purpose?

On thing that my organization just did was bring in 3 of our customers from varying backgrounds. We got to hear their story, the pains and the success of their journey. We got to listen to how they were changing the way their organization was doing things. And it was cool. It sparked some realizations for myself, of where else could we improve engagement if we brought the outside in?

What are you doing in terms of engaging your employees? How can you help share the knowledge that you are learning and the battle scars you are learning from doing that such thing?

Part 2 I will talk about the “Voices of the Trenches” and the reasons why people aren’t engaged and what I learned from the book. Part 3 – “Keys to Engagement” 

A sense of urgency and questions to ask

I have been reading a bunch of books these past few months. One of them I just finished was A Sense of Urgency, by John Kotter.

Kotter explains urgency, but further explains that a false sense of urgency an organization might have is worse than complacency. Running from meeting to meeting and filing your day with activities to make it like you are truly busy busy busy. But, “A false sense of urgency, may be even worse than complacency because it drains needed energy in activity and productivity. (P 6)”. So a false sense of urgency is worse than complacency.

So what are you personally currently complacent about? Where has your organization grown complacent? Does your organization have a false sense of urgency?

Kotter clarifies that a sense of urgency is actually more feeling than it is intellect. “Underlying a true sense of urgency is a set of feelings: a compulsive determination to move and win, now.” … “Feelings are more influential than thoughts.” … “Great leaders win over the hearts and minds of others”… “Great leaders win the minds and hearts of others. Heart comes first.” (p. 45). Kotter further explains, “Our brains are programmed much more for stories than for PowerPoint slides and abstracts ideas. Stories with a little drama seem to be enjoyed by our feelings and, more importantly, are remembered far longer than any dry slide filled with analytics. (p. 54)”

How can you create stories around the issue at hand to create a sense of urgency? What personal stories can you use professionally to create the sense of urgency your organization needs today?

Kotter says, “With a culture of urgency, people deeply value the capacity to grab new opportunities, avoid new hazards, and continually find ways to win. Behaviors that are the norm include being constantly alert, focusing externally, moving fast, stopping low-value-added activities that absorb time and effort, relentlessly pushing for change when it is needed and providing the leadership to produce smart change no matter where you are in the hierarchy… Create the behaviors you want (p. 185).”

What about your organization culture, does it have a culture of real urgency?

“Focus on quick and easy…. Be opportunistic. Try something… Whatever you do, look for feedback. If an action does not help, abandon it. If it works well, consider doing more. Make something happen….  Raise the culture question: “Is the way we do things around here a barrier to ____?” (p.190-191)

In your organization, where can you focus on the quick and easy to build a sense of urgency?

I am going to continue to dive into some of the tactics in this book a bit deeper in blog posts in the future. This is just to get you thinking about change…

Read more: The Biggest Mistake Kotter sees

Rock and Role – What’s our roll look like in the future?

I know I just used the wrong type of “rolls” in the title. I always get a kick out of people when they use the wrong roll, role or wear and where, and hare and hair. I mean I think sometimes I am a bit dyslexic too. I can hardly spell  – but I think its because I have grown up in the spell check era – and anything that I have constantly spelled wrong, has been auto-corrected for me and I don’t know the RIGHT (or write) way to actually spell it (or sometimes it corrects itself!).

Anyways that was a tangent  – but I have been thinking a lot lately, mostly because it’s been the topic of a few different discussions and communities of practice about the ROLE of Learning and Development.

A few weeks ago, I was in a lunch meeting with a very intelligent man in the communications area of a huge R&D company. We talked about how his teams were struggling with their jobs – not in the fact that they weren’t doing them but they were realizing that they had lost control of the message. The real question is – did they ever really control it? I think the same goes for L&D  – when did this shift happen, or did we ever have control?   Were people not going and getting their own information when we didn’t have a formal class on the subject? Honestly, I think they were getting information elsewhere.

I haven’t worked in L&D for really that long – almost 3 years actually – so honestly who is to say that I really knew what the ROLE looked like – however I do want to have an impact in the way it looks in the future… But what do I want it to look like in the future? I really don’t KNOW. Does anyone? If you do, fill me in.

What do I wish that this role looks like in the future? Facilitator of behavioral change.  Now thats a BIG job. Training is a basic building block for change, but its not the only thing that facilitates change. “Training” comes in all sorts and sizes and methods. Social, informal, on the job, just in time, classroom, lecture, workshop, webinar, webcasts, sessions, presentations, activities are just the beginning. I think the role of L&D professionals is going to have to help the business facilitate change. And work WITH them to figure out what the best methods are to combat resistance and to get people on board to head down the path to success.  Also I know that training is not always the solution and you have to be armed and ready for people who think that training should be able to solve everything.

For example, a recent conversation with my new manager went like this:

me “People need basic training on our product.”

manager “ok – lets make a video blog. “

me “uh? no. thats not really… ” and I lost the attention of my manager.

He wants a quick fix. And unfortunately there isn’t one.  Sorry. Change is hard. Getting people to switch from one thing they are used to and to do something different is really hard. To say that a video blog is going to train them, isn’t really THE solution. (what the heck is a video blog anyways??) This may be apart of the solution. But back up and let’s figure out what the problem is first. And I don’t think there is a one size fits all type of solution for my role. I do know adults (myself included) like to get their hands dirty  rather than listen to someone talk through 40 slides.

So in my own honest opinion some key things we will need for future for this role is:

  • Change Management background, skills, knowledge and anything else related to change
  • Having an open mind – without limiting to what people may need
  • Communication skills
  • Business acumen and business process knowledge.  I am not an expert by any means but the time I spent learning Purchasing, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Accounts Receivable and General Ledger stuff has proved invaluable. You have to know the business and different areas. No question about it.
  • Planning – get the bigger picture down on paper – but be OK if it needs to tweaked or adjusted.
  • Technology savvy. There is really no way around this, it has become an expectation, especially in social media.
What about you? What skills do you think are needed for the L&D role in the future?

Global Pilot Groups for eLearning

I wanted to post something this week about a project I worked on last year. I have been meaning to write about it for awhile, because it was something that was truly new to me in all ways.

I created an eLearning course from an instructor led course. Doesn’t sound too terrible…. Backing up – this also was a HUGE change in the way that our company does purchases (aka “Shopping Cart”). The instructor who was leading this course was awful. There were HUGE training gaps, mis information, poorly written guides (11 pages of BS)… and more. After seeing some of her reviews – I vowed if any one ever wrote something like that about me – I would hang up my ambitions for training.

I did some things that I normally don’t do for eLearning projects, but now I will do going forward. It took more time, but it was well worth it.

  • Storyboarded – I know how important this has become when creating elearning. Alot of times the way that a in-class instruction is set up, isnt necesarly the right way to set up an elearning. I began to white board, chunk and story board the topics and slides and activities. I also wrote a script (only after my second time recording the voice over for the whole thing…). By doing this type of preparation it made it easier to communicate to the SMEs of how the final course would look like.
  • Created an Elearning Plan – I created a timeline with the different events that needed to happen before this could be rolled out successfully. I thought about who would be invloved, what timing would be considered, how we would communication to different stake holders and so forth. My allowing myself time to think about these things – I took time to gather information without skipping certain groups.
  • Internally Tested – with our LMS! – As learned the hard way from previous projects — we tested  the course once it was in its beta stage within our LMS. This was important to test it that it was passing scores correctly, gaining access and everything was working properly. This sounds easy, but it wasn’t. We learned that for whatever reason our LMS cant support SCORM any more (something I used and put in there for about a year) and now it only works with AICC. No idea what changed.
  • Pilot Group – I asked my SMEs and instructors for people who would be good candidates to test this eLearning. I work for a global country, so the cultures had to be taken into consideration when rolling this out. Usually our pilot groups consist of users right around the corner from myself. But since this was going out to eveyerone, I needed to make sure it was culturally sensitive to our European associates as well as our Malaysian associates.  They were provided instructions and given 2 weeks time to complete the eLearning. They also had a survey to complete asking about navigation, culture, language, content etc. This provided myself with alot of insight into the users.
  • Regional Feedback Sessions – For each region, I held a feedback session. I created spefific questions I wanted the different users to answer (such as how many PRs do they normally submit a year, did they attend insturctor led training, what was their job at my company, etc) and then I had them answer what was Tempting, what they Liked and what would they Change. Each of them had opportunities to answer these questions and provide feedback. One of the biggest things I learned, is that the associates were glad that someone cared about their feedback and they were making a difference. Which, honestly – I did care! No one in northwest ohio could have provided me the feedback the global teams did.
  • Changes Made – After looking through the meeting notes and surveys – I created a presentation of the reactions, feedback and changes to be made. This was communicated not only with our pilot group but also with some senior leaders. This was important for myself and the participants to know that their feedback was taken into consideration and something was done about it. I made the changes that had been noted as the most important ones for the final roll out.
  • Tested Again – After the changes were made the SMEs, Insructors and my internal team ran through it again to make sure everything was good to go within our LMS.
  • Communication! – We communicated in local newsletters, our intranet announcement section, our internal blog, front and center of the log in page. (Basically we plastered it!) Also we informed the people that would get asked about it the most and created a template response for them to respond with when an associate asked about the training.

 

Since this go-live of October we have had over 150 associates log in, take the eLearning and receive access from it. My next step is to survey these associates to see if the eLearning  is meeting their needs. And if not what can we do to help them.  I know this was a lot, however we knew the impact was going to be large and far reaching and it needed to be done correctly.

Do you do all of this for your eLearning roll outs? What other things do you do? What do you skip on? What should you be adding to your roll outs?

 

Traditionally Changing….

 

It’s always different when you experience it first hand. Change is hard.

This year was the first year that I didn’t celebrate Christmas with my family, instead I went to my husbands family. There wasn’t an option to do both bc of distance and energy. Anyways – rewind a bit to my years of growing uo and celebrating Christmas.

My family is known for the traditions at Christmas. We knew what we would eat and when, which church service we were going to go to on Christmas eve, when to open our stockings and what treats we would have after Santa. We are a food and lots of presents family. And games of course. Some Christmases, when we were little we even did plays and skits and songs for everyone.

 

This year it was different. We celebrated christmas at my house last year bc it made sense bc of the wedding, so it was only fair to switch up thanksgiving and christmas the following year (meaning this year).

My husband’s family doesn’t have traditions and each year it’s different. Also there weren’t many presents under the tree, and stockings only for decoration.  I survived, but it was different. I felt like I was on the verge of tears all day long, not because I was sad, but just coming to the realization that life is starting to really change. 

So I really started to think about this – change- piece again. Often times I embrace change with wide open arms… But this one I don’t know if i can let go… I get antsy with life wanting to  GO GO GO and for whatever reason that is…. This tradition, of Christmas eve and day,  I want to hold on to… As long as I can. I hope that in my job now I can truly see how hard some changes are for people.

What things are you holding on to? What is an area of your life that you just can’t change? What traditions are you not wiling to let go? But….What should you be changing?

Changement

Changement…. That’s a made up word in English (i guess its a french word.. no wonder I thought it was OK to type). But lately the term change management has been on my mind so much that I made it into one word. Like I have spelled it as the title of the blog post, without realizing what I was doing.

Change management play such a huge role in training. Its almost the first step and the training is a by product of the change management approach. We have dedicated change management people on my team and its been great to learn from them. They have been really focusing on things that a trainer also had to focus on, without the title. I remember working on a project before SAP and the change management was so huge. I mean, your solution should be user friendly enough that your customers don’t need trained right? Not the case with this project. But I felt like I couldn’t devote enough time to the changement because of the amount of training documentation that needed to be done. The changement piece brings about the right stakeholder in the room to make decisions about the change and get the word out. Training piece of the pie helps by working the change into the training. You could say that training is basically a form of changement. Or that’s what I have come to think anyways.

Your customer desire training because of a change they are expecting to see – whether it’s performance, system, behavioral or some other change. It stems from that. The thing that I have seen is that people dint think the change is that big of a deal and they don’t do much about it…. That’s when issues come into place. I think that sometimes changes with for example a system can really shake  the identity of the employee.

An example of this came last weakened when I was painting with a good friend and she was telling me how distraught her sister was at her work. Her sister is a nurse and they are rolling out a mobile system that the nurse have to enter the patient’s data so that way next time they come in their vitals, allergies and everything is already in the system. Sounds really cool to me, however my friend went on to explain that it’s really caught her sister off guard. She gets it, about being up to date with systems and technology, but how does this system make her a better caregiver to each and everyone of her patients? She has been an amazing care-giving for many years without THIS so why now? Her sister is going through identity crisis at 52 wondering if she really was meant to be a nurse at all or if  she should hang up her scrubs now while she is ahead.  As she was telling me this story I knew what was missing…. There wasn’t any one managing the change that would affect their workforce. No one understood why, and why now, and the Whats in it for me, and the reasoning. The target group wasn’t involved in building the solution, thus took no ownership when it finally became the reality.

This happens all the time, but what should organizations do about it? What are your organizations doing about that changes that come into the work place? Or is your organization mature and not changing anything anytime soon? do you have dedicated people focused in change and the impact it will have on your organization? What do they do? I would love to hear your thought or stories of good or bad changement