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Learning Industry News and Opinion

New Study: Behavioral Capabilities Drive Corporate Performance

February 1, 2012 09:22 by vstgerard

(From Marketwire) -- Organizational capabilities greatly affect long-term corporate success, and none more so than behavioral aspects. According to "Organization of the Future -- Designed to Win: Organizational Capabilities Matter," a new Focus report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), behavioral attributes have high impact only when they're backed by strong structural capabilities.

The study, conducted in partnership with 12 management organizations worldwide, surveyed approximately 1,600 senior managers, seeking their input on a framework of 20 organizational capabilities -- both structural and behavioral.

The correlations showed that all 20 types of organizational capabilities have an impact on overall performance -- though clearly some have much more influence than others. "There's a definite bias toward behavioral factors -- in particular, leadership, employee engagement, and cross-functional collaboration," said research leader Fabrice Roghe, a Duesseldorf-based partner at BCG. "But the best performance comes when those traits are backed by structural capabilities, such as a strong organization design and rigorous business processes and controls."

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Categories: Research

Categories: Research
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Majority of American Workers Not Engaged in Their Jobs

November 15, 2011 10:36 by vstgerard

(From Gallup) Seventy-one percent of American workers are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. That leaves nearly one-third of American workers who are "engaged," or involved in and enthusiastic about their work and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner. This trend remained relatively stable throughout 2011.

These findings are from a special Gallup Daily tracking series conducted on an ongoing basis since the fourth quarter of 2010 to explore American workers' engagement levels. Gallup's employee engagement index is based on worker responses to 12 actionable workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. Further research shows significant linkages between engagement at work and health and wellbeing outcomes.

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Categories: News | Research

Categories: News | Research
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Steps for Learning Professionals to use to move from Training to Performance mindset

May 6, 2011 09:40 by MJ Hall

Given the proliferation of Tweets, discussion boards, web conferences, magazine articles, and conversations with colleagues, learning professionals receive myriad messages daily on what to do to be more aligned, collaborative, and relevant.   Lists of What learning professionals need to do abound.  While these are timely, relevant and great ideas, translating the What into a first-step How, and then designing an action plan for execution and follow through within an organizational culture, are much different – and more difficult.

As an example, consider several of the TO states in the From a training event to a learning journey list at the end:
• a guide-on-the-side (from a sage-on-the-stage)
• a member of a collaborative team (from a Lone Ranger)
• collaborating with work teams to co-create solutions for enhancing productivity (from Independently designing and delivery curriculum)

These are very different roles for learning professionals – and require different skills.  How does a learning professional steeped in ISD (Instructional Systems Design) and stand-up delivery of facts and information, e.g., a sage-on-the-stage, evolve into a guide-on-the-side?  This transition may be even more difficult if the sage is knowledgeable, skilled at delivery, and receives positive feedback for his/her current practice from participants.

Given the “from a training event to a learning journey” conundrum in the professional learning arena, the ASTD Forum has incorporated several how-to techniques, including the principles of Human-Centered Design (H-CD) to transition from a focus on formal training to a focus on performance on the job. According to Luma Institute, the essence of H-CD is creating something new where the activity is driven by the needs, desires, and unique context of the people for whom we design.   Human-Centered Design principles include a variety of tools and techniques that provide discipline to generating solutions to problems and creating opportunities to design the future through teams working together by:

• Observing human experiences
• Analyzing challenges and opportunities
• Envisioning future possibilities 

Generally, multiple tools are used in combination with each other and/or as part of an overall system to help create a new reality. Tools specifically combined to work together are referred to as a “method set.”   All tools in the “method set” are generally used consecutively, and, in practice, several method sets can be used for a project.  Human-Centered Design tools also enhance other problem-solving tools and methodologies such as Six Sigma, LEAN, Grove templates, and Action Learning. 

These tools can be used in collaboration with the learning designer’s client in assessing a need or designing a solution.  They can be used with participants in a learning experience.  Using these collaborative tools and techniques moves the learning professional from the “lone ranger” mode to a team mode tasked to actually design a solution for a work team.  And while it helps move the role from sage to guide, more importantly, it enables the learning professional to be a designer that uses tools and techniques to enable groups to:
• discover more about the situation/problem
• co-create solutions for the unique context
• work together to implement and facilitate a solution, and
• continuously improve performance .

For the first time ever, attendees at ASTD’s 2011 International Conference and Expo will have the opportunity to “experience” tools and techniques related to moving from the current “event” state to a future “journey “state.  Forum members and partner Luma Institute will offer four sessions, two on the 23rd (M122 and M223) and two on the 24th (TU122 and TU223).  We invite you to join in this historical and meaningful learning experience.

For more information on the ASTD Forum:
Twitter Hashtag:   #ASTDForum

For more information on the 2011 ASTD International Conference & Expo:

From Training as an Event

To Learning as a Journey

Training as an event

Learning as a Journey that is dynamic learning integrated with an employee’s work and results in changed performance

Trainer as a Lone Ranger

Business Partner as a member of a Collaborative Team focused on improving productivity

Training in Classrooms

24/7 access to myriad learning assets

Rigid Formality

Organic eco-system

“Sage-on- the-Stage”

“Guide-on- the-Side”

Trainer as the source of information and person doing the research

Learning designer creating an environment where the customer is the source of information and a major contributor to solutions all within the work context

Active teaching during an event

Active facilitation and continuous brokering of performance support tools that foster dynamic learning as part of the work


Engaged partners, employees, participants, collaborators, and problem-solvers


Work Performance integrated with dynamic learning at the point of need

Trainer working for the customer

Collaborative partner with a customer-team and serving as a coach and performance broker for learning tools

Single activity that employees “go to”

An integrated approach that includes the worker’s needs for doing the work within the culture of the workplace


Content within the real Context and as part of the culture

Designing and delivering curriculum

Collaborating with work teams to co-create solutions for enhancing productivity


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Categories: Conferences | Next-Gen Learning

The Learning Decade

March 22, 2011 13:20 by Kristen Fyfe

Sam Herring, co-founder and executive VP of Intrepid Learning Solutions AND the chair of ASTD's board of directors, has a great article on Fast Company titled "Moving Toward 2020: The Learning Decade" in which he states, "To be sure, not every company is a learning company; but more and more organizations recognize that learning can help solve the most vexing economic and financial problems of the day. As a result, we predict that the years leading up to 2020 will be known as 'The Learning Decade.'"

He goes on to say, "There are many reasons why corporations have decided to make significant investments in learning, even in these budget-constrained times, but here are what we believe to be the main drivers." His list includes: top line innovations, disruptive technology, competitive pressures, increasing speed, beyond commodity, virtuous circle, emerging markets, industry change, industry consolidation, brain drain, failing grade, return to growth, future jobs, knowledge workers, leadership vacuum, culture change, and unanticipated conditions.

It's an impressive list of drivers - and one you should read in full for yourself.

 An additional thought from Sam to close with: "Achieving prosperity in 'The Learning Decade' will present companies with many challenges. The good news is that learning and its derivative, enhanced performance, can help us innovate, grow the top line and emerge from the recent economic downturn stronger than we were before."

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Categories: ASTD in the News | Membership

March Madness: Prodcutivity Booster?

March 18, 2011 14:12 by jllorens

(From The most bogus estimate of the year came out last week. You know it well. It’s the one from Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a global outplacement consultancy firm, that estimates how much time the American workforce loses from paying attention to March Madness at work.

This year, the firm estimates that American employees will watch the tournament online for at least 8.4 million hours, which equals more than $192 million in wages. Last year, the firm told the world the number was $1.8 billion, by the way, which goes to show you how unscientific this number is.

The report gets a ton of press, but it’s rarely questioned. The horrible assumption that the firm makes is that it assumes that every minute we are “working,” we are productive, which of course is not true. Every day is filled with moments that we are doing something that our employers technically might not be paying us for.

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Categories: News | T+D

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Survey: U.S. Workers to Receive Largest Merit Increases Since Start of Financial Crisis

February 25, 2011 14:20 by jllorens

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--U.S. employers are planning to give employees this year the largest merit increases since the start of the financial crisis, according to a new survey by Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW), a global professional services company. The survey also found that the hiring freezes that were put into place during the recession are beginning to thaw, especially for professional and technical workers, and positions that require employees with critical skills.

The Towers Watson survey found that companies are optimistic and are budgeting merit increases of 3.0% for 2011. That compares with the 2.7% merit increase awarded to employees overall in 2010 and is the largest merit increase since before the financial crisis when increases typically averaged 3.5 – 4.0%.

Though the horizon is brighter for most companies, the survey also found that 5% of companies plan to freeze salaries for all workers this year, the same percentage as last year. However, 13% of companies plan to freeze salaries for executives while 12% plan to freeze salaries for hourly workers. Both figures are down sharply from 2010.

“Most companies have turned the corner and are now in a much stronger position financially to recognize and reward employees, especially their top performers,” said Laura Sejen, global head of rewards consulting at Towers Watson. “Throughout the recession and even afterwards, companies made it a high priority to provide better rewards to those employees who performed at the highest level and made the highest contributions to their organizations.”

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Survey shows workplace tardiness declining

February 24, 2011 12:25 by jllorens

(From WASHINGTON - We all have things that keep us from getting to work on time occassionally. Traffic jams, oversleeping, or getting stuck in a long line for coffee often become road blocks to remaining punctual on the job.

But according to a survey by Careerbuilder, workers are making a better effort at getting to work on time. Careerbuilder says the change in workplace behavior may be due to the poor economy and fear of losing their jobs.

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Pitts: Workplace Politics Can Strengthen Teams

November 17, 2010 12:06 by jllorens

(From BBC crew striking the set for the London edition of the Politics Show, which is broadcast from the Greater London Authority’s debating chamber in City Hall.

When most people hear the phrase “organizational politics,” they react very negatively. They see politics in the workplace as forming clicks and another way to keep those who go against the status quo labeled as an outsider. People also think that it’s a toxic dynamic that allows manipulative behaviors for people to get what they want by stepping on their co-workers’ backs. But not every instance of workplace politicking is a selfish maneuver to win.

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Categories: News | T+D

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Study: From Boston to Beijing, Professionals Feel Overwhelmed, Demoralized

October 20, 2010 19:31 by jllorens

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An international survey of white collar workers reveals that information overload is a remarkably widespread and growing problem among professionals around the world, and one that exacts a heavy toll in terms of productivity and employee morale.

The survey of 1,700 white collar workers in five countries – the United States, China, South Africa, United Kingdom and Australia – found professionals in every market struggling to cope and looking to their employers for customized solutions. On average, fifty-nine percent of professionals across the five markets surveyed say that the amount of information they have to process at work has significantly increased since the economic downturn. Given the rising tide of information, it is not surprising that a majority of workers in every market (62%, on average) admit that the quality of their work suffers at times because they can’t sort through the information they need fast enough.

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Categories: International | News

A Cure for the 'Been There, Done That' Syndrome?

September 22, 2010 17:03 by jllorens

(From Workforce Management) Children’s Hospital of Orange County recently launched an effort to shore up customer service and propel itself into the top echelon of children’s hospitals in the country.

But the Southern California hospital faces a big obstacle: the “been there, done that” complacency of employees who’ve seen previous attempts at culture change fizzle and die.

To make its “Journey to Excellence” initiative stick, Orange, California-based Children’s Hospital of Orange County (also known as CHOC Children’s) is using both established and unconventional tactics. Mandatory training workshops for leaders are combined with novel, once-a-month performance discussions with each employee.

The company also has adopted performance-based pay for managers to hold them accountable for instilling the desired behavioral changes.

In addition, the 2,400-employee medical center is trying to hitch the quality-improvement program to two major developments: a merger with the University of California, Irvine, and a $565 million expansion at the Orange campus.

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