Elevator Speeches and Old Friends: A Perspective From South Africa

I welcome the chance to contribute to the Willmore Consulting Group blog. Joe, your comments and cautions about the relative merits of an”elevator pitch” and “audio logo” for performance consulting are probably an appropriate way for me to link up with you again, after our interesting discussion in Washington DC a few months ago, during the ASTD conference there. In fact, it was probably my old (correction: venerable? valued and versatile!) friends Jim and Dana Robinson who introduced me to you, as well as to the concept of a performance consulting “elevator pitch” back in 1981, when they first came out to South Africa on a combination honeymoon trip & “Partners in Change” analysis of our performance improvement strategies in the Edgars Retail Group, which covered over 300 branches in several Southern African countries. As the Edgars Group Training & Development Manager, I had met Jim at ASTD in Anaheim in 1980, as well as comparing our learning, goal setting and basic performance management approaches with what was being achieved in JC Penney, Sears Roebuck, and other US retailers.At that time, we didn’t even know what an “elevator” was, as we used “lifts” to get us up and down our buildings…….but Dana and Jim soon got us all reviewing the many organisational and leadership factors that were enhancing or inhibiting learning, motivation and results, in our complex company and society. The initial scepticism of divisional HRD and line managers about “what can these Americans teach us, after 3 weeks in Africa?”, was replaced by enthusiastic responses to their practical questions and assessment tools, which subsequently became embedded in the corporate culture……and Edgars executives became recognised as thought leaders in assessment centres and innovative merchandising. Continue reading

Why Organizations Should Test Employees

I met Joe a dozen years ago when I was working at ASTD and he was on the ASTD Board and a frequent ASTD contributer/presenter.  We collaborated on ASTD’s venture into the world of HPI when as the staff person responsible for developing the HPI Certificate Program I asked Joe to work with me on the capstone course and become one of our facilitators.  Over the years we have touched base a couple of times a year and I have always enjoyed talking with him about performance improvement stuff.  I am sure Joe will tell you that I enjoy pushing the envelope – I have even gone as far as to tell students involved in my old ISD graduate program that they are wasting their time if all they want to do is learn how to develop a better training course.  So when Joe asked me if I would be interested in writing for his blog my first question was “are you sure you really want to give me a venue for expressing my ideas?”  He said he was…so here we go.

I am going to start this blog entry off with what I hope is a thought provoking story. Continue reading

The Power of Workplace Learning! (Seven Tips for Professionals)

Use the power of workplace learning!
Despite their massive participation in various forms of formal education or training, most professionals confirm that they have had most of their learning experiences on the job. When asked where they had their most impressive learning experience, ninety percent of all respondents answered “at the work place”. Nevertheless, research shows that most organizations are showing a bigger interest in formal learning and training than in informal learning in practice.

Informal learning
Many managers and professionals learn informally on the job, without any intervention of school, university or training company. Sometimes learning experiences can be a result of executing challenging tasks under pressure. In other occasions informal learning takes place by observing, role modeling or copying best practices from coworkers. Informal learning is not structured, planned or managed. It does include purposeful activities like reflection, practicing, organizing feedback etc. however. Continue reading

So, What Do I Do For A Living?

I dread cocktail parties and social networking events. Not because I don’t like people (I do) or alcohol (in moderation, of course). What has made me anti-social is trying to explain what a Certified Performance Technologist is and how I possibly earn a living at such an esoteric line of work. I remember the time I told a middle-aged executive I had just met at a network mixer that I was in the field of human performance improvement. He paused, looked at me with a quizzical frown and replied, “So, do you do sex therapy?”

Well, no, actually that’s one human performance problem I don’t treat, but thanks for sharing your performance need. Continue reading