The Official ASTD Blog
Learning Industry News and Opinion

Apple Takes a Bite at Learning

January 24, 2012 14:30 by Ann Pace

(From Workforce.com) -- Apple Inc.’s newest blockbuster app, called iBook Author, will allow teachers, scholars and anyone else to create their own graphically compelling audio/visual textbooks.

This will revolutionize the educational and, ultimately, business learning industries. However, in the area of workplace training where behavioral change and not just the delivery of compelling information is vital, it lacks an ingredient that only organizational leadership and commitment can provide.

As to getting a sense of the new app’s strengths, if you have the right Apple gear, download it for free at the Apple store, then install E.O. Wilson’s free Ecology volume entitled Life on Earth, an Introduction. Tap on the cover and watch the science of nature come alive with video, sound and vibrant, full-screen illustrations. Content will be regularly updated, and users can underline key lessons and make notes.

Now, envision history chapters on topics such as the Civil War, which will include not only narrative but also audio segments, maps with 3-D battlegrounds, comments from leading historians and dramatized quotes from long-departed figures. Instead of reading about the assault on Fort Sumter, picture watching a brief video re-enactment complete with war cries, cannon shots, guns blazing and flags flapping. That will be a lot easier to remember than a few sentences of factual text.

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Blog: Building the Skills of an Innovator

October 12, 2011 12:58 by jllorens

(From huffingtonpost.com) The world has lost a great inventor and innovative thinker with the passing of Steve Jobs. In his short life, he managed to change the world through technological advances that no one could have ever imagined. Steve Jobs's ability to connect what people want and what he knew technology could do, and find creative solutions is what made him a great innovator. His problem solving capabilities and creativity are the same skills that drive innovation and are the skills young people need to be prepared for the jobs of the future.

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Talent Management Lessons From Apple, Continued: A Case Study of the World’s Most Valuable Firm (Part 3 of 4)

September 27, 2011 13:00 by Ann Pace

(From ere.net) -- Want to impress your CEO? Few CEOs wouldn’t mind having the innovation track record of Apple, so there is probably no quicker way to become an “instant hero” then by learning how Apple’s talent management practices have contributed to its success and applying those practices relevant to your organization. In this installment of the case study, we’ll look at internal branding, employer branding, and recruiting.

Steve Jobs and the management team at Apple have worked tirelessly to build a unique internal brand image at Apple that positions employees (at least mentally) as revolutionaries and rebels. Many years ago the organization influenced this internal brand by challenging employees to think how much more exciting it would be to be a pirate, rather than someone who followed the formal protocol of the regular Navy. It even flew a pirate flag over its corporate headquarters. The tradition of being revolutionaries is upheld even today with many supportive slogans including “Part career, part revolution.”

Apple is well known for using T-shirts, parties, and celebrations to build cohesion and to reinforce the internal brand as a ragtag group of revolutionaries. By getting employees to view their role as attacking the status quo, it helps to spur continuous and disruptive innovation. It has been successful in maintaining that internal brand image despite the fact that the top-down approach and intense secrecy run counter to its hatred of bureaucracy and all things “too corporate.” The external image further supports the internal brand.

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Talent Management Lessons From Apple: Part 2

September 20, 2011 12:30 by Ann Pace

(From ere.net) -- In Part 2 of this case study on Apple’s talent management practices, I look at its approach to innovation, compensation, and benefits, careerpathing, and online recruitment (its career site). Some approaches discussed are unique to sub-factions within Apple, as would be expected in any organization of significant size. It’s also quite rare for organizations that design, manufacture, and sell through direct retail to have consistent approaches across all units.

You should not be surprised to learn that the firm that made the term “think different” a brand uses talent management approaches that are well outside the norm. In addition to the lessons presented in Part 1, some approaches other firms can learn from Apple include:

Career paths reduce self-reliance and cross-pollination — in most organizations, HR helps to speed up employee career progression. The underlying premise is that retention rates will increase if career progression is made easy. The Apple approach is quite different; it wants employees to take full responsibility for their career movement. The concept of having employees “own their career” began years ago when Kevin Sullivan was the VP of HR. Apple doesn’t fully support career path help because it doesn’t want its employees to develop a “sense of entitlement” and think that they have a right to continuous promotion.

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Talent Management Lessons From Apple: A Case Study

September 13, 2011 14:45 by Ann Pace

(From ere.net) -- This past August Apple became the most valuable corporation in the world based on market capitalization, surpassing every firm in the technology industry and every other industry! As a consumer products company, its prolonged growth spurt is even more amazing because it has continued through economic times when consumers are reluctant to spend what little they have. Considering that Apple was near bankruptcy in 1997, its story is both extraordinary and noteworthy.

The extraordinary valuation is not a result of 30+ years of stellar performance. Apple has failed at many things. Its success isn’t the result of access to special equipment, manufacturing capability, or a great location, but rather superior leadership, access to great talent, and unusual talent management approaches.

Almost everyone in business is aware of Apple’s amazing product success and the extraordinary leadership of Steve Jobs. Some authors have described the firm’s approach to HR, but few have analyzed the firm close enough to identify why the approaches work. Visits to the headquarters and interviews with HR leaders convinced me that there are lessons to be learned from this company. After two decades of researching and analyzing Apple’s approach to talent management, I have compiled a list of the key differentiators.

If you are a manager at another organization and you want to duplicate its results, this case study will give you direction.

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That Warm, Fuzzy Apple Store Feeling? All Planned.

June 16, 2011 14:00 by Ann Pace

(From The Wall Street Journal) -- When you walk into an Apple store, every experience, from the welcome greetings issued to customers to the things running on the demo computers and iPads, is carefully planned.

In an attempt to understand the Apple Store mystique, the WSJ’s Yukari Kane hung out in stores, talked to former and current employees, and reviewed confidential training manuals. In doing so, she found out just how carefully Apple thinks about the smallest details.

As Kane explained to Stacey Delo in an exclusive WSJ video, employee training is paramount. A 2007 employee training manual has the stores’ “steps of service” laid out in the acronym APPLE where A stands for “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” P means “probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs, ” etc. Employees are even trained on what not to say. “They avoid saying the word, ‘unfortunately,’” said Kane. “If a customer mispronounces the name of a product they are taught never to correct them.”

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Apple, AT&T Pushing Tablets into the Workplace

October 20, 2010 21:37 by jllorens

(From www.itbusinessedge.com) Apple, of course, did not invent the tablet, but its tremendously successful iPad launch has taken the class of device, which previously had been struggling for face time like a B-list singer at a charity sing-along, and made it a star.

The next phase is upon us. AT&T said late last week that the iPad will be sold to corporate clients. This, according to the InformationWeek story, is unique: AT&T's move marks the first time a vendor has positioned the iPad as a business tool. Analysts said the strategy is likely to pay dividends as companies look to offer their employees computing tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives.

The traction tablets have gotten from informal use in the marketplace is in verticals such as health care and retail, in which people are highly mobile, especially within a building or campus. It will be interesting to see whether AT&T and Apple, and the carriers/vendors that will inevitably follow, will market to the most apt verticals or take a broader approach.

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New Book from ASTD: Former Disney Insiders Provide Roadmap to Organizational Excellence

May 5, 2010 10:31 by Kristen Fyfe

Want to create organizational excellence? Decades of experience at Disney and other Fortune 500 organizations are brought to bear in Lead with Your Customer, a book that goes beyond buzzwords and business theory and provides a practical roadmap to achieving excellence in an organization. This is not an academic book about business theories, but is a book about people—both external (customers) and internal (employees) — what makes them tick, and how truly understanding them can give a company the competitive edge.

Lead with Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence spells out a clear method for focusing on the right things to achieve world-class results and bottom-line success. This proven process of improvement knits together four key concepts to create a strategic foundation:

•Leadership excellence—how to use the groundbreaking World-Class Excellence Model to transform your business.
•Employee engagement—the importance of passion and providing products and services that motivate your internal customers.
•Customer satisfaction—creating a service experience that strengthens your long-term customer relationships and loyalty.
•Loyalty and long-term success—the importance of integrated integrity on real-world results.

From leadership self-assessment to the examination of core customer qualities, Lead with Your Customer explores how to understand people's motivations and leverage this insight to create an experience that serves internal and external customers. Examples from legendary organizations like Apple, Google, General Electric, IKEA—and of course the Walt Disney Company— provide excellent support for the World-Class Excellence Model developed by the authors.

Lead with Your Customer is written by Mark David Jones and J. Jeff Kober, who have decades of experience at Disney and other Fortune 500 organizations. Out of their proven success they developed their World-Class Excellence Model. Lead with Your Customer offers the opportunity to get an insider's angle on the great business successes of our time.

Lead with Your Customer: Transform Culture and Brand into World-Class Excellence can be found on the ASTD Store at www.store.astd.org.


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