New Year’s Goals, Plans & Wishes

MP900309665Happy New Year!

Welcome back from the holiday craziness.  We hope you had wonderful holiday and new year celebrations and are all settling back into the groove of work.

Before you get too settled though, we’d like to stop and think about what we’d like to bring to & get out of 2013.

What are your goals for the year? What are your plans? Have you even thought about it, or are you just trying to catch up and taking it 1 day at a time?

Personally, I find it difficult to take the time out of the daily grind to think of the bigger picture and what I want to accomplish.  I do know that I need to carve out the time to get and keep myself organized.  When I get busy, I start letting that slip, and then I get more stressed because there’s so much to do AND I feel scattered due to the lack of organization – so that’s high on my list.  I’d also like to protect some time to reflect on things I’ve learned, and do some exploration and experimentation with those new ideas in my head.

Many of our colleagues have already thought of several things to think about, maybe they’ll be inspiring to you:

Let’s take some time together this Thursday to inspire each other!  Please join us Thursday, Jan 10th at 8am PST/11am EST/4pm GMT to share our goals, plans, and ideas about the fresh new year before us.  Hope to see you there!


Meg Bertapelle


People in the learning field regularly get tasked with things we aren’t too thrilled about. We’re told to implement a solution to a problem when we’re pretty sure that the stakeholder doesn’t have enough information about the problem to know what the solution is. We get told to build courses that have little chance of making a difference because they don’t address the real underlying problems. We’re asked to make amazing instruction out of horrible PowerPoint slides. And when we’re finally asked our opinion, our answer s are often ignored. Wait, maybe this is just my experience… or maybe not. That’s the topic of this Chat2lrn.

Cathy Moore, an eLearning thought-leader, posed the question, “Are instructional designers doormats? and wondered aloud how much of a spine instructional designers should have when working with stakeholders.

Until we started talking about the topic of this Chat2lrn, we didn’t realize that two of the Chat2lrn facilitators had independently blogged on this subject within a short while of each other. Patti Shank originally responded to Moore’s blog post with a posting of her own, “On being a doormat and having stakeholders (not) value our work,” and wondered why this seemed to be a universal experience in our field.

From Patti’s blog post: 

Imagine telling your lawyer how to practice law or your child’s orthodontist how to put together a treatment plan. But our stakeholders have no problem telling us how to do our work. That’s because (I think) our stakeholders think they only sort of need us. They know they can’t do it themselves but I think they don’t get what we bring to the table beyond the tools we use.

Judith Christian-Carter, another Chat2lrn facilitator, wrote a similar post, “I’m an Instructional Designer so respect me!,” and penned that many in her field

… feel unvalued, frustrated, demotivated, usurped and fed up. By nature, instructional designers are very good, if somewhat unassuming, team players, however for many a feeling of exclusion has become the norm.

Judith suggested that there are numerous reasons why we end up feeling undervalued, including project managers who don’t understand our jobs or who are too anxious to please clients at any cost, tools that dominate what can be accomplished, and situations where we are at the “bottom of the eLearning pecking order.”

The rationale for this R-E-S-P-E-C-T chat is to gather insights into the nature of and solutions to this problem. Reuben Tozman’s post, “Going Mainstream,” starts with the obvious:

… the only people that really care about our deeply talented pool of professionals and the wonderful things we can do for an organization is ourselves.

I encourage you to read what he has to say because I think it’s one core part of the solution. But there are obviously other parts of the solution… and that’s what we’ll be discussing on Thurs, 4/12/12 at 16.00BST/ 11.00EDT

Are you supporting performance?

All organisations are measured by their performance.  Measures of success vary, but all successfully performing organisations have business strategies in place that allow them to survive and sometimes even grow during tough economic conditions.  As employees and businesses begin to leave the comfort of “things known” and venture or are forced out into the untrodden lands of uncertainty and unfamiliarity, their need for support increases and  our ability to deliver appropriate support is increasingly challenged.

In our now constantly and ever more rapidly changing world, the recognition that learning is ubiquitous is now widely accepted, as is the recognition that it cannot be managed. So what is the place of a learning expert or a learning function in this new world? What does support mean and how can it be provided?

Learning requires to be inextricably embedded in the work stream. At its simplest people need to have the support tools or “sidekicks” as they are described by Allison Rossett  and Bob Mosher to help them perform tasks. Such tools need to be incredibly practical and accessible. It is often forgotten that learners are in complex situations back on the job and regardless of the quality of the training, application is always more difficult when in the work stream and away from the protected environment of the learning intervention.

Supporting peoples performance in the workplace can and should happen using the whole span of technology and learning theory that is now so easily available to us.  Whether it is a simple checklist of codes at the self-checkout in a fruit and veg shop or a pilot’s complex pre-flight procedure, or maybe a simulation for a surgeon to practice a rarely used operation before treating a patient, the tool needs to be directly applicable and be focused on successful performance of the task and the achievement of desired results. Access to a co-worker skilled and experienced in the task or to an expert coach is another form of performance support.

At an organisation level, recognition of the predominance of informal and social learning needs to be given prominence and supported accordingly. All of us who work in learning need to concentrate fully on understanding the business sufficiently so that we can apply our knowledge to performance and improvement of results, whether at an individual, team or organisation level.

It goes without saying that human capital is an organisation’s greatest and most fundamental resource, therefore for an organisation to perform at its best, its members of staff need to be performing to the best of their ability.

The more we can support people out of an understanding of their own and their organisation’s needs, the more likely it is that a beginner will become an expert, a follower will become a leader, and stagnation will transform to innovation.

So how well are we doing? In 2010 Capita asked senior business leaders in the UKs largest firms how learning and development was contributing to the organisations ability to perform.   The outcome of the research is worrying with only 18% of leaders saying that L & D strategy aligns to the overall business strategy.  There may be many reasons for this, but we have to address them. A recent unpublished American survey revealed the horrifying statistic that only 15% of executives would recommend L&D to their colleagues as a resource in improving business performance. We are a very long way from delivering the added value to the people and organisations who employ us, both in their perception and in our aspiration. If we fail, we will become isolated and increasingly irrelevant overheads that organisations will no longer afford.  Succeed, and we become central to the future.

#chat2lrn on Thursday 16 February will seek to explore what performance support means in practice, and how as learning professionals we can position and skill ourselves to provide that support…..hope you can join the conversation!

To help you get ready for our next exciting session, have a look at the following posts………….