Deduction & Induction – How do we actually learn best?

 

Hello there,

I started thinking (oh no…) why do we always want to understand “the big picture” first and then formulate our thinking based on readymade pattern someone else has come up with?  It has to do with our habits and thinking dating back to our school years. Since kids we have learned there is always some ready answer, theory or theorem that explains all. Wise people have told us what things look like and how the world functions.

We learn to trust there is always some higher authority saying what is right and how to understand and intepret the world. Formal school system and all the major educational institutions are built on assumption that we learn best when we are told how things are. There are books, lectures, seminars that utilise the same learning pattern. We are being told.

What if we would have been forced to use our brains a bit more? 

In logical thinking these models are called methods of reasoning typically deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Here is some background info for the layman – Click the link and search for Induction and Deduction /

Deduction & Induction: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/ 

Typically we want someone to tell us what is the theory or the model to intepret the phenomena we are trying to understand. From theory or “big picture” we drill down to further details, we try to find some evidence to confirm our newly learned facts and once found we are satisfied that model works. Using this deductive way is how typical learning solutions are built. And it works fine in many occasions however it utilises only some parts of our brain.  

In inductive learning process (inductive reasoning) we actually use more experience based learning. We observe, we follow, we try, we test and we gather different kind of evidences, opinions, facts and results to start formulating an opinion. We start to see some patterns and repeating behaviors, same test results coming more often. We start to develop a model to explain the phenomena and we start to work on theory that would explain what we experienced.

During those learning processes our brains work quite differently and ideal learning paths or learning experiences are built to utilise both deductive and inductive learning.

After some careful thinking and maybe even trying it out you start to see where these models work best.

We learn in different ways. There are people who can’t be told how things are. They need to be able to figure it out themselves. In some cases there are absolute truths or commonly agreed models we just have to accept.

But for the next time you start designing a learning process, learning experience or learning path… Think… Which one would be the better way to ensure the best and most relevant learning results…

There is no absolute truth here. Why don’t you try to model it for yourself? 

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What kind of role does HR play in an organisation ?

Image

Image source:

http://hcmtechvista.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/hr-tech-2010-recap-unsexy-but-critical-part-ii-hr-bpo/

What kind of role does HR play in an organisation ?

The picture above illustrates the thinking that has emerged during recent years. Many of us have read the books by Dave Ulrich and we may have seen many articles/ presentations  (e.g.  http://www.slideshare.net/zulmohd1/changing-role-of-hr-v30 ) and more books regarding HR role in the organisation and how HR needs to transform to support business better.

Underlying thought being that HR needs to partner with business. Full stop. I fully agree with this but somehow I also see the risk that HR is making a pendulum swing i.e. making a radical move and changing to totally opposite direction. It is all so sexy to work with the business and go along with whatever business wants. The balance in between operational responsibilities and business partnering needs to be found.

I think HR has a unique position and a role in a workplace with objectives & tasks that nobody else may look after. HR must maintain the functional expertise and drive it’s own agenda but align it well with company strategy and the needs of the business lines.

It is a delicate balancing act, taking care of the routine processes and operations defined by company’s annual cycle and being a part of strategic renewal & business driven operations.

I recently attended a HR Morning Coffee event by local training institution (many thanks to Tiina Kauppi and Jouni Hanhinen/ TAKK) and Tiina Kauppi had a simple but effective way to describe the responsibilities of HR organisation allowing it to maintain the routine tasks but still being a relevant partner for the business.

To me it resembled a classic pyramid of hierarchy (similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) where you need to satisfy the needs of the lower parts before you can move to upper layers of the pyramid. Assumption is of course that lower layers need to be defined and fully operational before you can move/ should move to more value adding parts and closer to requirements of the business. And don’t get me wrong, those basic building blocks and routines must exist and need to be taken care of without a glitch. Otherwise the other operations built on top of those will fail if the basics are not in order.

In short the pyramid for any HR operations would look like this, starting from the bottom layer:

  1. HR Basics/ “hygiene level” operations (HR processes & personnel mgmt topics)
  2. Performance management & continuous improvement
  3. Managing change, transformation and strategy deployment

Another way to look at it would be looking “HR roles” as defined by Ulrich:

  • Administrative expert
  • Employee champion
  • Strategic partner
  • Change agent

HR as a function ideally supports all of that but nature of those roles and related requirements are so different from each other that it probably calls for specialization. Segmentation can be done based on seniority levels but also on different nature and preferences people have. Seniority is needed both on operational side and on more business oriented HR (HR business partnering) side.

Some people love routines and predictability where some people enjoy change and business driven challenges to solve. Rarely these qualities are found in one person which makes it difficult to master all of those roles in small HR function. That is probably why small company HR focuses on getting the basics right because they are the foundation to build on. And if that fails there’s very little point or possibility to focus on more strategic or more long term development things because one is constantly forced to firefighting and solving emerging problems.

When the foundation is sound and operational it leaves HR function more freedom to focus on performance issues, continuous development on wellbeing topics or employee engagement or even competency development. But even these can be counted as operational topics if they are not closely linked with company strategy or business transformation.

The true value add and business partnering starts only when operational issues do not cause problems and headache for the line mgmt and for the business. Then the focus can shift to e.g. supporting business transformations, renewal, change leadership and supporting strategy deployment to the last foothold in the organization.

I’ve been thinking can one HR person master all of that? And should she/he? Or would it be better to specialize and master one dicipline at the time since requirements and needed qualities are so different from each other. Is there a HR career path where you need to work your way from the operational stuff to higher levels?

Or do you even need to know all of the basics to be able to support business with change or strategy? There are many views to this I’m sure. I’d love to hear yours!

In any case I think the idea that HR should add more value to the business than just operational stuff is correct and desirable way to proceed. Business partnering would be the ideal state where HR better justifies it’s existence and moves from operational service provider status to more value adding function.

But you can’t make the quantum leap to business partnering without solid foundation and sound HR practices. HR team needs to work their way up with solid performance in HR core capabilities. The challenge is of course that one should not stay there either and sub-optimize all of the foundation level processes and tools to perfection. That is hygiene level stuff – it is expected that it works but it hardly provides the value add needed.

HR needs to come out of the comfort zone and engage with the more demanding HR challenges – strategic resourcing, strategic capability & competency development, supporting change and business renewal, ensuring fact based management and value based leadership in variety of demanding leadership situations.

It is great when company has well defined and well oiled machinery to tackle the annual cycle operations seamlessly and efficiently. But the biggest need for partnering and greatest support to business comes in situations where are no readymade answers nor processes but HR is there as an equal partner to address the issue and to be accountable partner for the business to solve challenges in “HR domain”. Succeeding in this is where the value of HR partnering is measured. Everything else is just an enabler for the success.

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What is meant by engagement and what can we do to boost it?

Hello there,

I started to do some research and studying on “engagement” since that appears to be one of the main concerns for HR and also for people working in various development positions. Keeping people engaged is essential for maintaining good performance levels and also retaining company’s top talents and other key contributors. In the most demanding businesses it is the people asset that would deserve more attention from the senior leadership.

The term engagement seems to be fairly loosely defined so I wanted to give this topic a go and look for some brilliant definitions first. In the latter part of my post I’ll share some of my thoughts how we can increase employee engagement via L&D operations. I will also share the list of my source materials from where I copied some of the definitions and examples for my conclusions. Many thanks to original writers for brilliant articles!

Defining engagement (borrowing here some clever definitions, I’ll share the original links in the end)

Definition 1:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.

Employee engagement does not mean employee happiness. Someone might be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are working hard, productively on behalf of the organization. While company game rooms, free massages and Friday keg parties are fun–and may be beneficial for other reasons–making employees happy is different from making them engaged. 

Employee engagement doesn’t mean employee satisfaction. Many companies have “employee satisfaction” surveys and executives talk about “employee satisfaction”, but the bar is set too low. A satisfied employee might show up for her daily 9-to-5 without complaint. But that same “satisfied” employee might not go the extra effort on her own, and she’ll probably take the headhunter’s call luring her away with a 10% bump in pay. Satisfied isn’t enough.

Definition 2: 

‘a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.’

The behaviours demonstrated by the engaged employee are:

  • belief in the organisation
  • desire to work to make things better
  • understanding of business context and the ‘bigger picture’
  • respectful of, and helpful to, colleagues
  • willingness to ‘go the extra mile’
  • keeping up to date with developments in the field.

NOTE! Engagement is two-way: organisations must work to engage the employee, who in turn has a choice about the level of engagement to offer the employer.

Definition 3: 

There are two types of employee engagement—emotional commitment and rational commitment —with emotional commitment being four times more powerful than rational commitment in driving employee effort. Employees stay with their organizations when they believe it is in their self-interest (rational commitment). But they exert discretionary effort when they believe in the value of their job, their team, and their organization (emotional commitment). Some of the common elements of the many definitions of employee en­gagement fall into the following categories:

  • Social: Is this an organization where I feel involved, part of a good team; is my organization serving the community?
  • Intellectual: Am I able to grow? Is my job stretching and interesting? Do I know what’s happening? Do my opinions count?
  • Emotional: Do I care about the organization and feel I belong? Am I valued?

Definition 4: 

Employers want employees who will do their best work or ‘go the extra mile’. Employees want jobs that are worthwhile and that inspire them. More and more organisations are looking for a win-win solution that meets their needs and those of their employees. What they increasingly say they are looking for is an engaged workforce.

So what is employee engagement? It can be seen as a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values and a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be ‘required’ as part of the employment contract.

Why organisations are interested in employee engagement

Employers want engaged employees because they deliver improved business performance. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the links between the way people are managed, employee attitudes and business performance.

When employers deliver on their commitments (when by their actions they fulfil employees’ expectations) they reinforce employees’ sense of fairness and trust in the organisation and generate a positive psychological contract between employer and employee. 

The high performance or ‘black box’ model produced by Bath University builds on the psychological contract but emphasises the role of line managers in creating conditions under which employees will offer ‘discretionary behaviour’. The model recognises that employees have choices and can decide what level of engagement to offer the employer.

Organisations increasingly recognise the importance of their ‘brand’. Engaged employees will help promote the brand and protect the employer from the risks associated with poor service levels or product quality. Similarly a strong employer brand will help in attracting and retaining employees.

The easy ways to destroy engagement – the drivers of dissatisfaction

These are the basics. If these areas are not sufficiently met, employees will most likely be looking for another job.

  • Compensation
  • Poor leadership
  • Job Security
  • Safety
  • Fair Policies
  • Personal development opportunities (career progression, learning & development opportunities, on the job development opportunities)

How to build employee engagement – the drivers of satisfaction, effectiveness and engagement

These factors will satisfy employees but don’t necessarily make them effective. Employees who are only satisfied “do what it takes to get by.”

  • Relationships (manager, co-workers)
  • Interesting Work
  • Recognition
  • Opportunities to Grow

These items are critical if an employee is going to be able to provide a high level of contribution. These factors remove the limits that may hold employees back from giving their all.

  • Clearly Communicated Direction
  • Pride in the Work
  • Access to Information and Resources
  • Authority to Make Decisions
  • Personal and Professional Renewal

These drivers influence the discretionary effort given by employees. When these factors are met, employees choose to give their all in their work responsibilities.

  • Fit with strengths
  • Accountability
  • Values Alignment
  • Great Leadership
  • Stimulating Work Environment/Team

Profile of a Fully Engaged Employee So what does a fully engaged employee look like? These items represent some of the most common characteristics of those who are engaged. They…

  • Do their very best
  • Constantly learn and take calculated risks
  • Feel stretched beyond their comfort zone
  • Take personal satisfaction in their quality of work
  • Find work can be stressful at times but also rewarding and fun
  • Love their job!

Boosting employee engagement

Here are a few recommendations on how to increase employee engagement.

  • Make sure employees are in the right job where their strengths can be maximized.
  • Focus on management behavior. Many employees quit their manager, not their job.
  • Provide opportunities for advancement and communicate them regularly.
  • Measure it, communicate the results, and create action plans to improve it.

Please be aware that not every employee will “transform” into a fully engaged employee. With this in mind, focus on employees in positions that are most critical for success for your organization. Look at the factors that influence their engagement and find ways to make improvements. 

The ROI of engagement 

The ROI of engagement comes from what I (= Kevin Kruse) call the Engagement-Profit Chain:

Engaged Employees lead to

  • higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…
  • higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…

        
  • increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…
  • higher levels of profit, which leads to…
  • higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price)

As former Campbell’s Soup CEO, Doug Conant, once said,

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”

 

How can company address engagement issues – the right kind of leadership

The MacLeod report summarized the main drivers of employee engage­ment and related leadership practices as follows (MacLeod and Clarke, 2009: 75):

Engaging leadership: “Ensures a strong, transparent, and explicit organizational culture that gives employees a line of sight between their job and the vision and aims of the organization.” Such leaders are strategic, anticipatory, proactive, and people focused. They provide a clear strategic narrative about where the organization is going and why, in a way that gives employees information and insight for their own job.

Engaging managers: Are more critical in driving effort on a day-to-­day basis. “They offer clarity about what is expected from individual members of staff, what involves some stretch, and much appreciation and feedback/coaching and training. They also treat people as individuals, with fairness and respect and with a concern for employees’ well-being. They also ensure work is designed efficiently and effectively.” In companies that do this well, managers treat people as individuals, as full human beings. In Standard Chartered Retail Bank, for example, the task of managers in engaging employees is summarized as “Know me, focus me, value me.”

Employee voice: “Employees feel able to voice their ideas and be listened to, both about how to do their job and in decision-making in their own department, with joint sharing of problems and challenges and a commitment to arrive at joint solutions.” In companies that do this well, there is a constant free flow of ideas up and down and across the organization. That requires managers who are willing to listen to people and are not afraid of relinquishing control.

Organization lives the values: “A belief among employees that the organization lives the values, and that espoused behavioral norms are adhered to, resulting in trust and a sense of integrity.” In organizations that do this well, values and behaviors are aligned, creating integrity and trust. Any gap between these creates distrust and cynicism.

Organizational purpose: In particular, the nature of the organization’s purpose may have a differen­tiating effect on levels of engagement. Research by Holbeche and Springett (2004) into how people experience meaning at work found that an organ­izational purpose that focuses intensely on customers is more likely to engage staff than those focused on shareholders, profits, or a mix of stake­holder needs. However, it is essential that there is a clear line of sight to this purpose in people’s day jobs if the motivational effect is to be achieved. Bureaucracy and inconsistent behaviors, policies, and practices act as barriers and lead to cynicism and disengagement.

The HR/ OD response to engagement issues

The employee engagement agenda is a joint priority for line managers and HR. In particular, HR can help line managers by:

  • Coaching line managers
  • Implementing effective policies for work-life balance, well-being, and diversity
  • Developing inclusive employee voice mechanisms
  • Helping line managers to manage workloads and design roles and work to ensure that people have line of sight to the organization’s purpose and goals

In addition HR must:

Act on employee engagement survey findings. HR brings a method and structure to the system-level data from engagement surveys and other sources such as exit interviews, but the challenge is to individualize this so as not to take a one-size-fits-all approach. So, cut the data based on different groups who share the same (but different from others’) values and needs. Make sure employees know managers take their views seriously, and act on at least the most critical pieces of feedback. This builds trust and shows employees their views are heard and taken seriously.

Challenge poor practice. HR needs to ensure the company values are reflected in the standards set, and that these apply to everyone, including the executive team and the board. HR must have the courage of its convictions in tackling poor standards, especially where there are clear gaps between rhetoric and prac­tice on values.

Develop engaging management and leadership. Focus on building great leadership and engaging management culture. Address the key topics in talent management and building the company culture. Many organizations are facing potential talent shortages in years to come when global economy is recovering. Company needs to be focused on both retention and on building the talent and leadership pipeline. What helps is that the company is known to be a good employer with great leadership. There needs to be a compelling story on how company is looking after it’s top talent and how committed the company is to developing the top talents and ensuring career progression within the company and supporting other personal development aspirations.   

As the organizations gear up to deal with today’s more challenging economic conditions, there is growing recognition that the organization culture and the nature of management and leadership need to change to be more nimble and cost effective while retaining its focus on quality, customer, and innovation.

A shift is needed away from command-and-control management styles to leadership styles that are more focused on getting results through people. Employee surveys and straw polls indicate this, as well. With more limited resources, attempting to carry out the company imperatives without a change of management style is likely to be problematic. “We should be using the intelligence of many, not just the few. We need to create a highly engaged work environment and build the competence of our managers to create that work environment.”

How should HRD or L&D folks contribute to building employee engagement 

Quite a lot has already being said and many of the topics to address should jointly be looked after by line management, senior leadership, HR partners and HR development folks. However with limited resources at hand the companies need to prioritize where to focus on and what to do to address the engagement issues.

I do not wish to point a finger nor blame anyone but when stress levels are high, the urgency is there and something needs to be delivered right now people tend to look close to home… And guess what… The list of actions to boost engagement level looks very similar to overall development agenda we have seen before (but now we emphasize engagement)…

Let me take a pick of actions majority of organisations choose to address engagement issues (and they are doing the right thing of course but are still reinventing the wheel to some extent…):

  • focus on developing management & leadership to be more engaging
  • focus on performance issues
  • focus on more effective employee communication (instead of listening) 
  • focus on employee opinion surveys, pulse surveys and other metrics to get data how employees feel
  • focus on value discussions and behavioral indicators
  • focus on building the company culture (“the company X Way”)
  • some daring ones may even open up a dialogue with employees by using internal social media and blogging 

As I said these are all fine and justified actions but since I am a very development oriented guy I notice that one very important aspect is quite often missing from the list of actions. The reasons may vary from being very resource constrainted to cost savings but it seems many of the companies fail to address the individuals and development needs of the individuals. For obvious reasons many actions are designed to address the masses.

One important engagement driver that is often not recognised or addressed properly is the opportunity to develop one’s skills & competencies, the opportunity to grow & develop holistically and the opportunity for career progression. Many of the organisations reserve the opportunity only for top talents or for managers & leaders.

Why is it neglected? The need to develop & grow is listed in many of the definitions for engagement however in different ways:

  • Keeping up to date with developments in the field
  • Am I able to grow? Is my job stretching and interesting? Do I know what’s happening?
  • Recognition (e.g. being nominated for a development program?) and Opportunities to Grow on the job
  • Personal and Professional Renewal
  • Constantly learn and take calculated risks
  • Provide opportunities for advancement and communicate them regularly etc.

Of course those can be intepreted and handled in many ways. The most holistic framework for development opportunities is 70/20/10 model which addresses development in many desirable ways:

  • 70 – on the job development and learning (stretch assignments, action learning, problem solving, discussions and coaching with more senior (or junior) colleague, job rotations, shadowing assignments etc.
  • 20 – learning from verbal & written feedback (manager, coaches & colleagues alike), coaching & mentoring,  assessments, tests, self-assessments, certifications etc.
  • 10 – traditional learning (instructor lead classroom courses, seminars, interactive workshops, e-learnings, self study materials, study groups etc.) 

With 70/20/10 model it should be fairly easy to offer development opportunities for broader employee base that just selected top talents and people on the leadership track.

Of course that is just the traditional approach for L&D. In broader sense we should be talking about “employee growth paths” (e.g. Technical Expert Growth Path) which are combinations of functional career ladder, job profile- and role based learning paths and certain transitional development interventions designed to boost career progression and support career advancement by offering needed development opportunities. I’ll write a post on these growth paths later.

Another great and tested example of more modern and more inclusive L&D approaches are these Learning 2.0 thinking based facilitated/ managed online learning communities. Those can be open for anyone and can support variety of business critical development needs. These learning communities are very good tools for building engagement in the organization for many reasons. For one they bring together many aspects and drivers of employee engagement and can holistically support boosting the engagement in the organisation.

Facilitated online learning communities (utilising Web 2.0 and social media features internally) allow:

  • involving a whole company workforce into a open dialogue about important topics
  • possibility to get real time information and comms materials about company plans (e.g. strategy)
  • possibility to continue strategy dialogue and drill-in deeper with examples and Q&A
  • a channel for senior management to share their views and initiate an open dialogue with employees
  • building trust and transparency by providing equal access to materials and discussion
  • possibility to build and facilitate content rich learning streams with interactive parts
  • possibility to join forces, find like minded people and to do joint development online
  • cost efficient, measurable, effective and rapid deployment of business critical development interventions  
  • collection of employee opinions by surveys, polling, quizzing and educational gaming
  • possibility for every employee to get their voice heard 
  • possibility for every employee to “chip in” and proactively advance the personally important topics 
  • identification of change agents, key opinion leaders and other influencers based on activity levels
  • possibility to build/ renew company culture and nurture values 
  • etc.  

I will write another post of this facilitated online learning communities topic too.

There are many possibilities to drive engagement through personal development opportunities so those should not be neglected either. The use of these facilitated online learning communities offers a unique and rich opportunity to boost performance and engagement across the whole workforce.

The problem – it appears these Growth Paths, Learning 2.0 methods and facilitated online learning communities are not yet in HR playbook or in HR toolbox for driving renewal, change initiatives or boosting employee engagement. But they will come… 

As always your views and comments would be more than welcome!

Cheers,

Sami

And those promised source materials links and original articles – again many thanks to original writers who deserve the credit:

 

 

 

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Good to Great – a philosophical change in thinking development

The process – mandatory recurring performance and development discussion

In most of the organizations employee-manager discussions are carried out regularly to assess individual performance and to verify reaching of personal objectives. Hopefully there is an opportunity for personal development planning (PDP) discussion as well to identify current and future development needs and wants. Typically there are questions like “where do you see yourself in five years time” or  “are there any training needs you have identified” or “I think you should take this project management course just in case”… because others in the team have taken it too….

Framework for discussion, process itself and topics are slightly different in every workplace and I trust the organizations to find a way to conduct these discussions in some way. I guess the first step is to ensure these discussions do happen and it is not all manager planned and driven. There would need to be a respectful and open dialogue in between the two to accomplish some sort of common understanding of current state and how to move on to the future with jointly agreed goals and plans. Company objective and purpose for these discussions is to have some structured way to monitor and steer performance and ensure there is at least one mandatory opportunity for confidential discussion in between the manager and employee. In case these discussions are just one more  step in annual cycle of people process without true genuine attempt to create value for the company and individual there is very little point in using them as a vehicle for building satisfied workforce. If the only purpose of the development discussion is to “tick the box” for completion then a company may not understand the value of the competent and engaged workforce. Not to mention the benefits of maintaining and developing company’s core capabilities and core competencies to ensure business success now and in the longer term.

Having a proper performance and development discussion regularly is not enough if it does not lead into planned and agreed actions to address identified themes. Many companies just identify the development need but fail to initiate any proper action to correct performance issues or to offer any decent development actions. Stating the problem or the need to develop without any tangible means to tackle the issue is simply not enough. It may satisfy the needs of the process and used tool to document the discussion and needs but it fails to deliver the solutions.

Good to Great

In some more advanced organizations there are some predefined core competencies or skill sets that are set as requirements for certain roles or for certain job profiles. These requirements naturally vary by function, by position or seniority level. It is fairly easy to assess competency levels of employees against these predefined criterias, identify developments needs and hopefully agree some actions to address the needs. Many companies do this and are satisfied with the outcomes. This is however fairly mechanical model and in many cases fails to address the real development needs and wants of an individual. It simply states the competency gaps in between the desired state and assessed level of the employee competence and proposes the competency gap to be closed with some appropriate action. This may work fine but it fails to see the individual and emphasizes more role based competencies. From purely learning & development perspective this would probably be fine since there is an approved method to structure desired competencies and match development needs against those. But looking at the situation from broader perspective there are many more aspects of developing people and building competent, experienced, motivated and engaged workforce with clear long term career aspirations and long term development themes to address more holistic needs rather than isolated set of competencies. I will come back to this topic later on in following blog posts.

There is one dilemma that has bothered me for some time. Why do companies (the ones to even bother to do this properly) spend so much time and resources on identifying competency gaps and deciding on action plans for the weakest skills to move them on a next competency level. There is something fundamentally inadequate about this.

So much time and energy focused on improving weakest skills to become mediocre at best. And moving on to next weak skill and so on. Why do we focus on weak skills ? What good are they bringing for the company. I do understand that in some cases a senior SW architect may need to improve his presentation skills due to increased customer and stakeholder encounters but is that really the core competence worth spending the entire development budget and time? There are plenty of examples where we just develop people because they are weak in certain competency or skill set. No matter if it actually increases company performance or the core capability to do business.

Good to Great (by Jim Collins’ book) is a philosophy that applies to developing both core capabilities of an enterprise or taking care of the invaluable people asset a company has. In neither of these cases should the development opportunity to be wasted on improving the weak skills and capabilities. The emphasis should be on understanding the business critical core capabilities and -competencies and developing those to be the best in class. Instead of developing everything to mediocre state focus on improving the good capabilities and competencies to great or even to excellent world class state. Good to Great!

I am pretty sure that the value add of the development discussions and company wide development efforts would be much higher if the emphasis and focus of the actions is on business critical core competencies. Instead of random development needs and actions here and there…

I’ll come back soon with a post on how core capability development is different to competency development and how those to should be intertwined to build a more holistic development framework to support sound business and enable faster and better business transformations and -changes… The key my friend is in systems thinking…

I would be glad to see some comments so I encourage you to leave a comment (especially if you know me dear reader…)

Cheers,

Sami

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Few wise thoughts regarding leadership by Daniel Sokol

A few wise things learned in business – borrowed from Daniel Sokol:
1. Never be afraid of hiring someone smarter than yourself.
2. People tend to do what’s expected of them.
3. When you hire someone to do a job, let the person do it.
4. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong.
5. Praise in public and scold in private.
6. Quality doesn’t cost ‐ it pays.
7. Fix it right the first time ‐ it’s only going to cost more in the future.
8. When you can’t or won’t see the problem, you can’t fix the problem.
9. Listen ‐ you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

Quoting Daniel Sokol’s wise words I learned today from Linkedin

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Sami’s blog post in Finnish / Front Kilta @Sovelto

Hi my Finnish speaking readers,

I am blogging also in Finnish in Sovelto Front Kilta blog @ http://kilta.sovelto.fi/front

C U there,

Sami

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What happens if I train my people and they leave?”

A better question is what happens if you don’t train them and they stay?
Please read an interesting and valid blog post on the topic on Linkedin – Just click the argument (image) above!

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Is it time for Learning 2.0 ?

Hi there,

Would it be time to start investing in people? Many companies claim their biggest asset is the people working for the company. If that would be the case I’d be very happy and I would think what a forward looking people practices they must have. Unfortunately many companies blurting things like that do not actually walk the talk. Quite the opposite. 

In any case I would be hesitant to buy any services or products for that matter from any company that neglects their most valuable asset – competent, motivated and engaged people.

Some companies say that they are afraid their people would leave for another job if they would train them. Which is actually worse – to train your workforce and see some of them leave OR not to train them and see all of them stay… The other choice is to see some renewal and growth and the other choice is to valuate your operations as “dead in the water”…  

Now I do understand that under current economic situation many companies have their immediate priorities elsewhere. They are struggling to survive or to maintain a healthy level of profits to keep the operations alive not to mention ensuring independent decision making. Their sight is on upcoming weeks and months without any detailed longer term thinking other than company strategy may vaguely state.

At some point it would be wise to start planning ahead and trust that economy will start recovering and company & it’s workforce might need new capabilities and fresh thinking to overtake competition or even to stay on par with what is going on at the marketplace. 

Many have downsized L&D departments or staff working on people development. There is no easy way to start ramping up operations with minimal staff.

One has to start thinking alternative more modern ways to educate workforce, develop company’s strategic capabilities and to innovate something new. It is needed to outperform the competition and to re-engage and retain the workforce at the critical moment when you need them.

Welcome Learning 2.0!

Learning 2.0 is about online learning communities, best practice sharing, co-creation of value for the workplace, strategic capability development, learning enabled by the use of technology to support the masses in their quest for modern learning opportunities. It is about finding the link in between strategy and related development needs, enabling and engaging people to discuss and share what does the strategy mean for them. It is about cloud learning, personal learning environments and the use of social media and Web 2.0 functionalities in education.

But it is not just about business strategy and serving deployment of that with technology. It is about engaging people to learn together, sharing what is valuable for them at the workplace learning and to share the valuable experiences about adapting the learned things to practice at the workplace. Learners taking part of the responsibility to produce shared learning experiences and materials to benefit the whole community.

In short Learning 2.0 is an evolution of thinking, next phase in learning methodologies and -philosophy and these are supported by increasing use of technology and services. It is not solely about individual learning, it is about communities and shared learning experiences online. It is also a modern way to learn at the workplace. Evolution of learning and development with needs of the workplace in mind adapted to the needs of the communities and individuals. Deployed in fast, democratic and cost effective way to enable modern workplace learning.

This blog post was an attempt to open the dialogue regarding Learning 2.0 and new ways to support workplace learning. Next I need to describe in more detail how do we build these opportunities since it may not be self evident…

But I wanted to post something to get this started… Not the best post I’ve written but I have tried to write this many times and also scrapped the text… This time I decided to publish no matter what… But since I am not fully satisfied I need to continue the story soon. There is plenty of material since I have presented in many seminars already regarding this. But why is it easier to talk than write brilliant blog post about it? Beats me…  

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Sunset in May, Lake Näsijärvi, Tampere, Finland

Brilliant colors

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Sunset in Tampere Finland April 8th 2013

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Sunset in Tampere Finland April 8th 2013

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