The Official ASTD Blog
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8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees

March 13, 2012 13:00 by Ann Pace

(From LinkedIn) -- Great employees are reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, great leaders and great followers... they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but hard to find—qualities.
A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.
Here are eight qualities of remarkable employees:
1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.
When a key customer's project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there's a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it's not their job.
2. They’re eccentric. The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.
People who aren't afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.

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Embracing Open-Book Management to Fuel Employee Engagement and Corporate Sustainability

February 9, 2012 15:00 by Ann Pace

(From UNC Kenan-Flagler) -- When John Case and Jack Stack first introduced the concept of open-book management more than 30 years ago, the intent was to unleash the entrepreneur in every employee and to spur them—and their organizations—to better performance. Since then, countless organizations have opened their books and engaged their employees in understanding the critical numbers with positive results to their bottom lines. Although the original goals of open-book management were improved profitability and productivity, organizations have realized other benefits from the practice. These benefits include improved employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, motivation, innovation and corporate sustainability.

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DDI and LUMA Institute Partner for a Solution in Business Innovation

January 1, 2012 17:22 by jllorens

To meet the demand for innovation in organizations around the world, DDI and LUMA have designed a course to help mid-level leaders drive innovation
Monday, May 23, 2011
ORLANDO – In response to rapidly growing global demand, Development Dimensions International (DDI) and LUMA Institute have partnered to develop a leadership program to drive innovation in organizations around the world.  The program will be released in September 2011.
The hands-on, full-day course, Driving Innovation, combines the discipline of human-centered design with the necessary leadership actions required to help mid-level leaders create a culture of innovation in their own teams and organizations. The focus of the course is to help these leaders experience innovation challenges first-hand, equip them with leadership behaviors, practices, and methods they can use to replicate innovation in their own organizations.  Leaders learn to develop these essential skills in others and create a culture that fosters repeatable, sustainable innovation.
“Organizations can’t innovate without leaders who can drive a culture of innovation and who are catalysts, themselves, for innovation,” Tacy Byham, DDI’s Vice President of Executive Development said. “You can train leaders to set and model ideal conditions for innovation—and be a keeper of the culture that inspires and rewards their teams for coming up with and implementing new and differentiated solutions.”
The course combines DDI’s extensive experience in leadership development and how leaders can influence an organization's culture with LUMA’s expertise in human-centered design and how innovation can be fostered in the workplace.
“Organizations are no longer questioning whether it makes sense to invest in fostering an innovative culture. The question on every leader’s mind is and should be, ‘How do we institutionalize innovation so that we are doing it in a repeatable and sustainable way?’” says Chris Pacione, Director & CEO of LUMA Institute. “The answer lies in fostering pervasive competency in human-centered design which is the discipline of generating solutions to problems with a fanatical focus on the needs, desires and context of the people for whom we design.”
Research from DDI’s 2011 Global Leadership Forecast revealed that while innovation didn’t make the list of skills that leaders said they’ve needed over the last few years, it rocketed toward the top of the list of skills leaders said they’d need in the future.
The course tackles key barriers to innovation and equips leaders with the skills and methods needed to address those challenges.
Driving Innovation is the newest addition to DDI’s mid-level leadership development program Business Impact Leadership: Mid-Level SeriesSM, which includes nine courses that address the key challenges that mid-level leaders face.
DDI has spent the last 40 years developing leaders at every level—nearly 6.3 million worldwide—and helping organizations optimize their leadership talent and build a strong leadership pipeline at every level.
About DDI
Founded in 1970, Development Dimensions International, a global talent management expert, works with organizations worldwide to apply best practices to hiring/promotion, leadership development, performance management and succession management. With 1,000 associates in 42 offices in 26 countries, the firm advises half of the Fortune 500. For more information about DDI visit 
About LUMA Institute
LUMA Institute is an educational institute that helps leading organizations around the world enlist Human-Centered Design to drive innovation and make things better. LUMA helps leaders and teams get better at creating solutions driven by the needs, desires, and context of the people for whom they design.        Learn more at

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The Center for Work-Life Policy to become the Center for Talent Innovation in 2012

December 8, 2011 13:00 by Ann Pace

(From PRWEB) -- Today, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the CEO and founder of the Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP) announced a name change for both the CWLP and its flagship project, the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force. The announcement was made at the organization’s annual Summit which brings together senior executives from 70 global companies for a program centered on research and action.

Starting in January 2012 the CWLP will be called the Center for Talent Innovation and its flagship project the Task Force for Talent Innovation.

“These name changes are driven by enormous growth in the span, scope and stature of the organization,” says Hewlett. “Eight years ago the CWLP was a small, U.S.-based non-profit centered on women’s retention and acceleration issues, today it’s a global think tank with representatives in San Francisco, London and Mumbai and projects in Brazil, China, India and Japan. Our budget has increased ten-fold and our talent agenda has expanded significantly.

The mission of the newly named Center for Talent Innovation is two-fold: to drive ground-breaking research that leverages talent across the divides of gender, generation, geography and culture; and to create a community of senior executives united by an understanding that full utilization of the global talent pool is at the heart of competitive success.

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Blog: Building the Skills of an Innovator

October 12, 2011 12:58 by jllorens

(From 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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Innovation at the workplace

October 10, 2011 17:47 by jllorens

(From Telecommuting is an old idea which still has not gained traction because the need for human contact, sometimes intimately, is simply too strong to be severed.

WHEN we talk about innovation to improve our daily lives, many of the technologies, techniques and thinking revolve around the office and any building deemed as the workplace.

The office is a legacy of the 19th century, still strong in the 21st century with no indication that it is ever diminishing.

The office is also a legacy which is deeply aligned to the way we interact and develop social and technical skills.

That is why when we think of work, we inevitably think of the office, which may be a brilliantly lit edifice filled with creative people, mingling and exchanging ideas to create super products and services.

Or, it could be filled with people who do nothing but paperwork, answer calls, make marketing or investment pitches to unwary customers, or respond to customer complaints and grievances.

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Categories: Learning & Development | International

New Research from ASTD: Learning is Critical to Innovation

October 4, 2011 16:27 by Kristen Fyfe

Organizations of any size and industry need to innovate to remain successful. Whether it’s an iPhone-like breakthrough or a new spin on a traditional idea, if companies want to foster innovation they must have systems and strategies in place to encourage, develop, and sustain new thinking in every role in the organization.

In a new research study Learning to Innovate: Exploring Learning’s Critical Role in Fostering Innovation ASTD and i4cp (the Institute for Corporate productivity) examine the importance of innovation in business success and the ways learning influences it. Companies cannot hope innovation will happen organically. The learning function can and should play a critical role in developing and sustaining the innovative culture that is the hallmark of successful organizations. This report includes a synopsis of interviews with learning leaders who have successfully fostered and sustained innovative practices at high performing companies.

The study contains recommendations on fostering innovation. They include

• Have the learning function take a prominent role in innovation. Make sure any functions dedicated to innovation are solidly integrated with learning. Learning departments can also develop programs that foster innovation.
• Incorporate innovation as a competency in the performance management process.
• Don’t punish a well-thought out failure. Learn from the positive steps in the process.
• Job rotations and stretch assignments can allow people to think innovatively.

ASTD members can download a free whitepaper on the study. The full report Learning to Innovate: Exploring Learning’s Critical Role in Fostering Innovation is available on the ASTD store.

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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 -- 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 -- 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 -- 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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