eLearning and Soft Skills: What Went Wrong?

The promise of eLearning at the dawn of the new millennium was huge – people happily learning everything they needed to be successful in businesses and organizations in the digital age, from the comfort of their own computer screens. But that didn’t happen when it came to utilizing eLearning for soft skills – in particular, leading and managing people, with all the emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication skills that entails. People simply weren’t logging on and learning soft skills the way everyone thought they would. Return on investment began to be questioned, and everyone from learning professionals to end users expressed frustration. What went wrong? Continue reading

When Big Data Creates Big Stereotypes

Talent and HR departments everywhere are jumping onto the Big Data bandwagon, and with good reason. The promise of big data is mighty appealing one – better-informed decision-making that has a real impact on organizations. However, one dark side of big data is the potential for misinterpreting all that data. And that can lead to the creation of persistent stereotypes that hold people back, and color their perceptions of others. Continue reading

Zappos Zaps its Hierarchy

Zappos, one of the largest online shoe and clothing retailers in the world, recently undertook a radical reorganization. It completely zapped its traditional organizational hierarchy in favor of a radically flat structure called a holacracy. Holy hierarchy, Batman, no bosses? That’s right, there is no “leader” per se (though you can bet that for external purposes, Tony Hsieh will still be considered the CEO), or even job titles, if you can imagine that. A holacracy takes a very different approach to structure, decision-making, and distribution of power. It’s a very transparent approach that focuses on the work that needs to be done rather than the people doing it. Continue reading

Flash Teams

You know what a flash mob is, right? Wikipedia calls it “a large public gathering at which people perform an unusual or seemingly random act and then disperse, typically organized by means of the Internet or social media.” Is there a space for flash mobs in organizational life? On the surface, it would seem not so much. But what if you combine elements of the flash mob concept with something else like the hackathon, with its incredibly focused brainstorming to quickly solve complex challenges or problems? Combine the concepts of flash mob and hackathon and what you get for organizations is the flash team. Continue reading

When Promoting from Within Fails

There’s a surprisingly strong business case for promoting from within. Studies have shown that external hires cost more while at the same deliver fewer results in terms of performance. External hires are also more likely to either be laid off or leave the job by choice. Internal hires already know the culture and how things work, which means fewer headaches and more performance early on. That is, if they know what they’re doing. While the business case for promoting from within is clearly very strong, organizations can still make a mess of it. One area in which this happens all to often is in the sales department. Continue reading

Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change

I’ve been writing a series of articles here about change and how learning professionals in the 21st century must become engaged in Learning to Lead Change and then train others in the organization on how to go about it as well. They also need to understand the many forms of resistance that explain Why Change Projects Fail. In order to bypass or overcome resistance to change and be effective leaders of change, you need a decent model or framework to keep yourself on task and moving forward. Continue reading

Why Change Projects Fail

In a previous article, Learning to Lead Change, I argued that because of the increasingly rapid and complex nature of change in the lives of modern organizations, learning professionals must rise to the task of learning to lead change and then bring those skills to bear throughout the organization. Doing so, however, requires a better understanding of why change projects so often fail. Continue reading

Learning to Lead Change

Change happens. The problem is that the nature of change has itself changed in recent decades. It was in the late 1980s that leadership and change guru Peter Vaill coined the phrase “permanent white water” to capture the essence of change in modern times. In his book, Learning as a Way of Being: Strategies for Survival in a World of Permanent White Water (Jossey-Bass, 1996), that both the pace and complexity of change have increased. Continue reading

Big Data Training for Learning Professionals

As a learning professional in your organization, your days are consumed by figuring out the best ways to facilitate outstanding learning outcomes in your organization’s workforce. But when’s the last time you engaged in your own learning and development? If you’re feeling pressure from higher up in the organization to leverage big data for better learning but feel overwhelmed by that prospect, chances are good that you need to improve the analytical capabilities on your learning staff. Continue reading