Competencies

Another reason your best people are about to quit

After reading this article, I couldn't help but to think hey- they left one out!

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You don't develop your people. Harvey S. Firestone said "the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." There are many competencies leaders should master, and developing those they lead is one rarely taught in business schools yet critical to your ability to retain top talent. More than giving your people a sense of where they can go in their careers which is mentioned in the article (see point #5), great leaders plan and assign learning opportunities that stretch the capabilities of their people. Leaders will ask their people where they would like to take their careers, and then actively seek training, e-learning programs, webinars, industry conferences, and other developmental opportunities for their people to grow. Show me a manager who doesn't allow time for their people to train and hone their skills, and I'll show you a demoralized team whose people will exit stage left at the first opportunity that comes along.

Alex Santos

Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Training as a competitive advantage

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After reading this post by Pam Woldow, I believe the legal profession might just be on the cusp of ushering in a new trend.  How long until your clients demand to know how you are cultivating young employees who can perform capably and cost-effectively and not using their projects as “basic training”?  During these difficult times, I hear anecdotally of many firms reducing their training budgets.  Though I don’t have any research on this (actually would welcome any on L&D/ Training budgets during this economic malaise), nothing drives demand like customers. It appears in this instance Kia Motors has taken it upon itself to vet the associates of its outside counsel.  Kia is doing this as a measure of how efficiently its legal vendors are providing legal services to the company.  This has enormous implications for companies that don’t invest in the on-going development of their people.  Using online skill/ competency assessment tools like Questionmark, your client may be looking at your staff before hiring you in the very near future in an effort to assess the value your employees add to a project and gives them another comparison point between your company and your competition.   Training records and competency audits will be used as differentiators when evaluating your proposals and your service/ product.

If you’re thinking- not in my industry, we’re too many points in the supply chain away from the end user.  You’re missing the point.

In today’s hyper-competitive and increasingly transparent global marketplace, firms who skimp on employee training will be found out and punished by the market.  And don’t be surprised if social media plays a part in ostracizing these firms and labeling them as second-rate players in their industry.  No longer will companies be able to get away with not developing their people and not face the consequences of their actions.  More importantly however, is the response by stronger companies to this move by Kia Motors.  HR leaders at the top of their game and playing a strategic role with a seat at the proverbial table will use these results by Kia Motors as another reason to double-down on their company’s investment in training.  And then, they will publicize that their people are the most skilled and knowledgeable in their niche and use it as a competitive advantage to gain even more clients in their market.

The choice is yours and the consequences stark for companies who do not choose wisely.  How is training viewed in your organization― is it an expense, an investment, or a competitive advantage?

Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Are you fluent in Wiki yet?

Wikis are one of the most underutilized tools in the instructional designer's toolbox. As trainers, it is imperative that we engage the learner beyond the classroom in order to effect real, permanent, and quantifiable changes in behavior. Yet, often times I find designers and trainers unwilling to engage their audiences beyond the classroom with this tool. Several reasons for this exist.

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Firstly, some training teams lament they are constrained by IT policies not conducive to collaborative tools. Some training managers have even asked,"

Can I implement a wiki bypassing IT altogether?" While the answer is yes, you can go with a SaaS vendor and be up and running in under ten minutes, it is advisable to not bypass your IT team and instead model the collaborative spirit you want to see in your workforce. You must be the change you want to see in the world, even if you sometimes feel like strangling your IT people.

Secondly, trainers and designers often lack knowledge of the power, flexibility, and ease of use of today's wiki software. Sure, we've all performed research on Wikipedia, but few designers and trainers have experimented with open-source wiki technology. As performance engineers and learning strategists, we must tinker with the latest tech and evaluate its utility for our learning systems. Failure to do so ensures we miss out on opportunities for our learners, as well as for our own development and understanding of the many ways technology is changing the training landscape. For far less money than many training teams spend on over-hyped learning management systems, it's time we spend a fraction of that budget on tailoring a wiki to engage learners and to supplement our training efforts outside of formal training events.

Finally, there are fears and misunderstandings of this technology. The main fear is of the unknown. While most people have used Wikipedia, it is but one example and not an ordinary example of what wiki technology is capable of. Yet, since it is the most common reference point for most people, many mistakenly draw conclusions about the technology from this vantage point. Fears of this technology range from how it can be used to support a community, to the cultural effects on the organization from having such an open and transparent technology available to all. Having a wiki in and by itself does not a collaborative culture make, and without content worth maintaining or people who care to maintain it no wiki in the world can grow and flourish.

The capacity to build and engage a community of learners is one which I believe will be essential to your relevance as an instructional designer, teacher, or trainer. In fact, “social learning” was already added to one of the nine existing Areas of Expertise in the ASTD Competency Model (middle tier). You can begin increasing your fluency with wikis as a social learning technology by downloading and experimenting with Tiddlywiki, one of the many open-source wiki platforms available. Tiddlywiki is a wonderful personal notebook you can use to familiarize yourself with the technology before moving to larger and more complex systems. Simply download it, save it to a place in your computer, and create a shortcut to it from your browser so that you can access it readily whenever you want to make a note.

I suggest you get started on building this competency and adding it to your repertoire sooner rather than later. As always, please don’t hesitate to write if you need help or have a question, we’re here to help you succeed! Would love your comments on Tiddlywki, or on your own use of wiki technology at your organization below- regardless of platform .


Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.

Is it time you change your job title from Instructional Designer to Learning Coach?

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We've been writing plenty lately on some of the amazing social technology that is evolution-izing workplace learning and performance. Yet, in speaking with fellow ID's, it's clear to me that Instructional Designer is no longer an adequate title for us in the corporate world. In the Instructional Design competencies published by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi®), one of the design and development competencies reads:

  • Develop instructional materials (Essential)

Anyone else have an issue with this thinking? Here are my $.02. Is it essential for a designer to develop instructional materials that address real and identified gaps in performance, of course. But this statement limits design and development work to "push" instructional strategies. I'd like to see competencies without this limitation.

I believe a better competency for a designer to posses in this day and age is:

  • Develop instructional materials, systems, and guidelines for learning to flourish formally, informally, and socially

Or something to that effect. Today's designer needs to not only be able to push learning out to the organization, but to encourage, compel, and make it possible for others to pull the learning they need in order to perform. In this regard, the role of the designer is evolving into what I feel is more of a "learning coach". At times, yes, you are developing instructional materials. But at other times, you may be moderating a product forum for your organization where learners are exchanging product questions and answers across the globe- and you are ensuring their information exchange is accurate and focused, while tagging it for future reference by others in the organization. In this scenario, you are not developing instruction, but managing a virtual environment where learners can teach and learn from each other.

I believe the role if the instructional designer is dramatically changing, and as professionals we must adapt or perish. No longer is learning hierarchically trickling down through our organizations, it is happening everywhere. As bearers of the learning and performance torch, we must enable our learners to learn what they need to perform, wherever they are, and on whatever device they prefer to access it. Our adaptation should include a revision of the competencies that encompass the skill set expected from each and every one of us.

What do you think- Has the profession and our roles changed sufficiently to warrant a revision to the competencies of every instructional designer?  How is your role changing at your organization?


Alex Santos
Alex is a co-founder and Managing Member of Collabor8 Learning, LLC, an instructional design and performance management consultancy. His firm collaborates with organizations to enhance the way they develop  and train their people. To learn more about Collabor8 Learning, click here.

Alex can be reached at 786-512-1069, alex@collabor8learning.com or via Twitter@collabor8alex.