Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

What Kind of a CLO Are You?

Inspired by a recent post by Anand (who btw has just turned to become an independent Learning Consultant, give him a shout out in case you are looking for someone) where he categorizes variety of stakeholders who want to get on the LMS bandwagon as Yell, Yum and Yes.

In my view there are three kinds a CLOs implementing or having implemented a Learning Management System (LMS). They are the Learning CLO, Management CLO and the Systems CLO.

The Learning CLOs are all about learning and not so much about training. In fact they might not even care about LMS or other systems as long as learning is taking place. They look for social features in the LMS, they look for extending the LMS beyond managing and measuring training days. They also might have a hard time explaining to the CEO how they are measuring all the learning taking place in the organization.

The Management CLOs are all about trying to be in control of learning and training in the organization. They want roles competencies with defined learning plans for each individual. All training must be ‘approved’ and costs down to the last penny/cent/paisa must be booked to the right department.

Finally the Systems CLOs want to track everything, right from the training request to smiley sheets. They want everything automated, they want alerts for training launches, approvals, reminders, etc. They want reports that are automated and LMS with linkages with other enterprise systems.

No points for guessing which CLO might be the best. You need a good blend of all, Learning, Management and Systems.

Is Social Media Overrated for Brands?

A lot has been written about how social media is impacting brands. Eventually that would mean that what gets written on social media should start to impact the company’s financial performance. However I wonder if there is a critical size that once companies achieve, they will have less to worry about social media? For these brands, social media, or rather bad publicity in social media is perhaps overrated. Now it doesn’t mean that they should stop ignoring what’s written but it is unlikely to impact them significantly.

I came across these tweets by Vir Sanhvi. Now Vir Sanhvi is a renowned journalist, writer and reviewer. He has 771K followers on Twitter. So he tweeting bad about a large telecom brand should mean something. Quite a few people joined him in lambasting the brand. 

So what impact will Vir’s tweets and other related tweets really have on this brand’s performance? In my view, absolutely none!!!

Not just this, there have been numerous other brands that have been bashed in the social media. They call these social media disasters. And don’t forget the recent Flipkart 1 Billion Day disaster. However, it doesn’t look like these disasters had any significant impact on the companies’ performance.

I think social media is a great vehicle to get a brand started. It’s great for a new and small enterprises. I feel social media can make a brand, not necessarily break one, at least not a really big brand.

I think at the end of the day, we all know that everyone has a bad day. Shit happens, as they say. Social media has just become an avenue for us to bitch about something or the other, and perhaps it is overrated in its power to alter businesses. The brands should focus on their products/services. The social media will take care of itself.

Hiring Introverts and Extroverts

I recently became a little active on Quora. I came across a question there that caught my attention.

"As a decision-maker, when did you hire an introvert over an extrovert? Did you find them more productive or less?"

I think it depends on the role you are hiring for. I have seen that when hiring for an individual contributor role, I might be okay to select introverts. I might even consider introverts for roles like testing, editing, proof reading etc. 

I am more likely to select an extrovert for leadership roles, sales roles and roles that require a huge amount of teamwork.

Top 10 Technology Trends 2014

I was recently researching top technology trends and compiled the top 10 technology trends for 2014 from different sources.

While Internet of Things, Wearable Technology and Big Data are of course common trends that most people are predicting, I was surprised to find 3D Printing as a key technology trend to watch out for.

Here’s the compiled document with links to the original sources:

How to Decide Whether to Insource or Outsource Elearning Development?

I recently got a query on LinkedIn about needing help with decision between insourcing and outsourcing elearning content development.

I have a small request - is there a way to get a ball-park figure to develop one hour of e-learning content in India using rapid development software such as Articulate Studio/Storyline?

We have been doing e-learning development in house and our new VP of HR wants to consider the possibility of outsourcing it. I am in the process of doing a cost-benefit analysis and so, need this information.

I did go through the Chapman Alliance presentation and Karl Kapp's articles - however, I felt that it is better to hear from a practitioner & expert from India.

I wish the decision of insource and outsource was as simple as cost comparison. First of all, it is really hard to get a ball-park figure to develop one hour or elearning. It really depends on many many things, including the partner you chose. The range of price for one hour of elearning in the market is very wide and could even vary 10 times. Cost could even be significantly more if you include video, game based learning and high end simulations. So you can imagine taking this decision itself will be hard.

While comparing cost of insource and outsource efforts is important, another big factor is that whether all the skills required to develop elearning content are available within the organization. How you are currently structured and what the current utilization of the L&D staff is within the organization will also play a big role in insource vs outsource decision. If the utilization is sporadic, it would make sense to outsource instead of carrying the cost of unutilized time.

You should also consider what you want to achieve in the long run. Are there tasks that are not being accomplished because the internal team is busy with content development? Are there key strategies that are being left unattended that might get the much needed attention if you outsource?

And finally, what’s the really the volume of development the organization wants to create in what timeframe will also play a role in determining insource or outsource decision. Is it a one-time initiative to develop a critical mass of content for the organization? Are there enough volumes to justify outsourcing content?

Hope the above provides you with some pointers to taking the decision.

6 Tips to Motivate Yourself

I am such a sucker for questions. So how could I resist when Mahindra Experience (@MahindraExp) tweeted to my handle, “@manishmo Can you share some tips that will motivate one to work harder and help them reach their goals?”

Here are 6 tips to motivate yourself to work towards your goals:
  1. Write your goals and make them visible to you all the time (e.g. pin them on your soft board).
  2. Break down your goals into smaller goals with timelines.
  3. Celebrate small successes in your journey to reach your goals.
  4. Share your goals with someone you trust. Enroll them to work with you on your goals.
  5. Assign time in your daily routine to work on your goals.
  6. Keep some time aside to reflect on your journey to your goals. Evaluate your progress and plan as required.

What are your tips to stay self-motivated?

Cool Augmented Reality Apps

Came across this video blog by Matt Gonzalez in which he talks about augmented reality apps. I tried three of these apps and found two of them quite cool.

Word Lens Translator app is a translation app that is really useful while traveling. You can just point to the words and viola, you get the translated version. Here's a sample of what I tried.

Augment is a little harder to master but once you do, it seems quite cool. You can select objects and place them on real time camera pictures to see how they might look at the place. Quite useful say when selecting some furniture or appliance and seeing how it will look at your home. How do you think this table lamp would look on my bedside table?

Layar is the third app I tried. Point the camera to a Layar-enabled magazine and it bring alive the magazine. You could potentially point to products in the magazine and buy them instantly online. I didn't find this very useful since I couldn't really find any Layar enabled magazine around me. The newspapers these days are beginning to come print QR Codes that you could point to and go directly to a website that might show you the video. Boring, in my view. If I wanted to watch a video, I wouldn't be reading the newspaper or the magazine. I think the really cool futuristic gadget would be the newspapers shown in Harry Potter movies, the ones where the video is viewed on the newspaper itself. Now that would be really cool gadget to have.

Watch the full video here:

Seven Survival Skills in Today’s World

I recently came across International Finance Corporation’s (IFC). It’s “6th International Private Education Conference, Rethinking Education, Shaping the Future, brought together thought leaders and investors in education from around the globe. On April 1-2, 2014 in San Francisco, USA, the delegates discussed how innovation and technology in education delivery and results measurement are giving us new tools for broadening access to quality education for millions of students around the world.”

Their YouTube channel provides you with access to videos of their conference.

The keynote address to the conference was by Tony Wagner. Tony Wagner “currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab. Prior to this appointment, Tony was the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, and the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade. His previous work experience includes twelve years as a high school teacher, K-8 principal, university professor in teacher education, and founding executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility.”

In this video, Tony makes some very pertinent points. Knowledge today has become commodity, available on every Internet connected device. It is no longer a scarce commodity available only with teachers. Because it was a scarce commodity in the past, it was considered that the more knowledge one had, the more value one had in the market place. Today one doesn’t need a teacher to acquire knowledge. And so how can one add value to the market place?

Knowledge is one leg of the stool, which is easy to acquire. The other two legs are Skill and Will. Skill is about asking the questions, how to acquire new knowledge, how to solve new problems. Will is the motivation to use the knowledge and skill.

In his research with companies on what are they looking for in new hires, Tony discovered that the set of core competencies required are very similar, not just to get a job, but to be a continuous learner and be an active and informed citizen. The seven survival skills in today’s world are:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Critical Thinking is all about knowing how to ask really good questions, how to ask the right questions, not necessarily get the right answers.
  2. Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence: Teams are no longer led by supervisors. They are led by peers through influence.
  3. Agility and Adaptability: Schools are in complete contrast with this requirement of the world today with their unchanging environment and syllabus.
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurial-ship: Companies are not looking for employees who set 4-5 goals and meet all of them. They are looking at employees who set 10 stretch goals and succeeds 7-8 out of them.
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication: The kids can’t write today because they don’t know how to think. They are also not writing with voice, which is putting their passion and perspective in the conversation to be more persuasive.
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information: We need to teach the students to be able to search the Internet for information.
  7. Curiosity and Imagination

5 Types of People You Should NEVER Negotiate With

I am starting to follow a lot of sales blogs lately. One interesting blog I am now following is The Sales Hunter by Mark Hunter. In one of his posts he talks about 5 types of people you should never negotiate with. Useful categorization if you are in sales.

According to Mark, the 5 types of people you shouldn't negotiate with are:

1. The person who will take your offer to the decision maker.
2. The overly emotional person.
3. The committee.
4. The low-price champion.
5. The “we can’t give a decision as to when we will buy” person.

I have come across four of the five types of people listed above. I wasn't sure who an overly emotional person is. I haven't come across this type of person.

Read his full post here: 5 Types of People You Should NEVER Negotiate With

Dump the Bullets

Seth Godin shares some useful insights on why bullets don't work in presentation in his post Most presentations aren't bullet proof. He says bullets don't save time and don't make easier to remember things. 

Don't miss navigating to the link to his bulletless solution in his earlier post.

I find it so hard to resist using bullets in my presentations, though I must admit the most remembered presentation I made didn't have bullets. There must be some truth to what he says. Interestingly when I blogged about that presentation, I was inspired by Seth at that time too.

How Do You React To Customer Feedback?

Are you measuring customer satisfaction? Do you ask your customers (external or internal customers) to rate you on a satisfaction survey index? If you do, then how you react to customer interactions before the survey could define feedback your customers give you, or not give you for that matter.

If you rely only on customer satisfaction survey scores, you might be missing out valuable feedback that customers never give you in the surveys. You get feedback at all times from customers, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect. How you react to it defines how customers perceive your service as. If you don't listen to your customers during regular interactions, they are less likely to give you any feedback in customer surveys. They are more likely to stop giving you feedback. Worst, they will tell others about the bad service instead of telling you about it.

I am sure we work very hard to exceed customer expectations. But let's face is, as service providers (internal or external), sometimes we do get irritated at customers. We believe so much in our own service levels that we forget to see if these are still relevant for the customers. How we react to the inputs when a customer does give us some feedback changes the way we will receive feedback in the future. Sometimes inadvertently while responding to a customer feedback, we may put them off by disbelieving their feedback by telling them the unlikeliness of a service failure because of robust processes and systems. Instead of lauding internal processes, all that is really needed is to acknowledge the experience customer might have had.

So when you receive any feedback from your customers, first respond with a simple acknowledgement and apology of the experience. This is usually enough to turn the customer around. Later when you review the situation and identify the cause of customer experience, you can get back the customer with more details. This could even include things where the customer may have been at fault and things that you want the customer to change.

Problems with Facebook Views

Just came across two very interesting videos that show how Facebook makes money twice over, once for getting likes and once for people to actually see your posts. Very much in line with what I have been observing. And it's not just for Facebook Pages. I see posts only from a very limited set of "friends" on Facebook.

Stay Young, Keep Learning

Tim Sanders recommends expanding your resume every year to avoid getting lapped up in the sport of business by those who do.

He writes in his post:

Youth is a state of mind, not a counting of years.  In my experience, the secret to eternal youth is lifelong learning...the constant expansion of one's resume of experiences and insights.  Henry Ford once quipped, "Anyone who stops learning becomes old, whether at twenty or at eighty. Anyone that keeps learning stays young." 

He goes on to say:
If you aren't expanding your resume every year, you are likely being getting lapped in the sport of business by those that do.  You can improve a resume without changing jobs.  You can add areas of expertise or new areas of project work.  You can add volunteer work, hobbies or interests. You can add professional associations you've joined and contributed to.  All of these additions give your career a sense of momentum, which gives you the confidence to embrace change. 

Read his full post here:  If You Don't Expand This Annually, You Are Getting Lapped

About Tim Sanders:
Tim Sanders is a rare hybrid of business expert and keynote speaker. Coupled with his passion, insight and research ability, Tim is able to move audiences to action when he speaks, give clients innovative solutions when he consults, and share knowledge when he writes. Through Tim's significant business expertise and people skills, his work is frequently featured in the media where he has earned the reputation as a people-centric business expert.

The Learning & Development Change Grid, by Don Taylor

Donald H Taylor, chairman of LPI, LSG & the Learning Technologies conference explains how Learning and Development Departments need to change their attitude to risk in order to keep pace with the rest of the business in today's modern world. He describes 4 quadrants in which L&D departments fit: Learning Leadership, Unacknowledged Prophet, Comfortable Extinction and The Training Ghetto and explains how and why all L&D departments should join the quadrant of Learning Leadership.

False Positives by David Small

A great post by David Small on Dan McCarthy's blog Great Leadership about serving your team with honesty, even when it’s uncomfortable.

"How often do we have members of our team that we say “good job” too, even though we know they could be doing better? Did you know you could be doing more harm then good by not pointing out their shortcomings? Here are four tips to build up your team without giving them false positives."

Read the full post False Positives.

Author bio:
David Small is the author of the bestselling book The Wandering Leader. In this book David explains how leaders don’t need to be perfect, but they should get things done. He focuses on seven areas of leadership that everyone can grow in; career, financial, social, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and family. David has been a professional ice hockey coach for over a decade and is an officer in the army reserves. David has guest lectured and been a keynote speaker at leadership events around the globe.

Don't be Afraid to Fail

Are you afraid to fail? Do you avoid taking on new assignments because you think you are not good at them? Do you think succeeding is more important than trying out new things?

If you think success comes from not failing, you couldn't be more wrong. Success comes to those who fail. Success comes from trying out new things, venturing out doing things you are not comfortable with. So recognize the new opportunities that come your way in the form of new assignments, new projects, new tasks that seem challenging. Go ahead and grab these opportunities. Don't be afraid, don't be afraid of failure.

What is Social Media?

Two keywords of social media are "Social" and "Media".

Social media is about being social. It is about connecting with your communities: customers, employees, partners, investors, service providers. It is about conversations and collaboration between these communities. You are not social if you are not having a dialog. Remember, monologues were never considered social.

Social media is also about using media to be social. In the very near past (and even today), conventional channels of media were more unidirectional and slow for two way communication. Communities are now conversing using the new media in form of various social network site. People are blogging and commenting everywhere. Use these multitude of media to connect with them and start a conversation.

Devices these days have made media ubiquitous and your communities are having conversations everywhere and at all times. You need to be available 24x7 to connect with the communities.



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.