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ASTD Press releases new book that promises excellence in internal consulting!

March 10, 2011 15:13 by Tora Estep


“I don’t get no respect” could be a catchphrase for an internal consultant—but not anymore. A few days ago, ASTD Press published Consulting on the Inside, 2nd edition, and once internal consultants get their hands on this book and start applying its lessons, they will get respect in spades.

How are internal consultants different from externals? Well, let’s look at external consultants first. The external consultant—often perceived as having a lot of expertise, experience, and credibility—is brought in by senior executives to “facilitate a client-requested change without having the formal authority to implement the recommended actions.” He or she is often viewed as an objective outsider, someone who has a lot of broad business experience and knows all the latest and greatest business thinking. Often he or she is viewed as a hotshot who is trusted by the executive team to fix an organizational problem.  

Internals, however, sometimes seem to lack credibility and aren’t taken seriously. They can be viewed as having an agenda, as not being objective. Also, they lack the broad business exposure that external consultants gain as part of their everyday work. 

However, internal consultants do some advantages externals don’t have: They have deep knowledge of the organization—its culture, its lingo, its history, the ways things are done—which can give them an edge in getting projects off the ground because they know who to talk to and how to make things happen.

In Consulting on the Inside, 2nd edition, Beverly Scott and B. Kim Barnes provide all that an internal consultant could need to leverage their advantages and minimize their disadvantages. The book provides an eight-phase consulting model that allows for the often nonlinear and iterative nature of the internal consulting process.

One of the new additions to this second addition is a section devoted entirely to the interpersonal skills that are required for success in internal consulting (and in business in general). The skills that B. Kim Barnes brings her considerable experience and in-depth knowledge to include influence, negotiation, innovation, change, and team effectiveness.

And finally one the real values of the book are the tools provided both in the hard copy and on the web. These include meeting agendas, self-assessments, processes, models, flowcharts, and more.

So read the sample chapter at the Consulting on the Inside webpage, pick up a copy, and get some respect!


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What's coming up in ASTD Press books?

February 18, 2011 14:46 by Tora Estep

It's that time of year again. When we at the Press are scrambling to get books ready for the International Conference & Exposition, and somehow all of that content seems to run together into a big blur. So what I am working on that you can expect to see in Orlando?

First off, we've got the revised edition of Consulting on the Inside by Beverly Scott and B. Kim Barnes coming out in the beginning of March. In her endorsement, Elaine Biech says, "Expecting nothing but excellence from these two master consultants, I was not disappointed to see new models and valuable concepts intertwined with many of the practical tools such as sample contracts, agendas, team charters, and others from the first edition. Bev and Kim ensure your success from helping you define your internal consulting role, to overcoming the most common challenges, through ensuring successful implementation. They do this with the practical ease of consultants who really know their business. Consulting on the Inside sits obligingly on my bookshelf within easy reach at all times." In other words, this book is packed with tools and information; moreover, the authors have provided a wealth of web appendixes, which will be made available in a few weeks. I will be sure to post a blog when the webpage is up and running. 

Next is another revision. This time of ASTD Press's most popular book of all time: Telling Ain't Training. Authors Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps have revised and expanded this treasure while maintaining the relaxed voice and research-based content of the original. You can expect to see that one sometime in early May.

Rita Smith, vice president of enterprise learning for Ingersoll Rand, has written Strategic Learning Alignment, which provides a model that provides clear explanations of how executives in organizations speak and what they want, which will help leaders of learning organizations to communicate their value, get recognition, and make a difference. The book will be out in early May.

Last, but not least, I am working on a contributed volume called The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management. Edited by Pat Galagan and Kevin Oakes, the book features 17 chapters written by "gurus" and practitioners that will take you inside the concept and practice of integrated talent management. Topics covered include an overview of integrated talent management; recruiting; compensation and rewards; performance management; succession management; engagement and retention; leadership development; as well as section on pulling it all together. This book will also be available in May.

Of course, I am not the only person working on books at the Press. Ashley McDonald, who came on board only a few months ago, is working on a revision of ISD From the Ground Up by Chuck Hodell and 10 Steps to Successful Change Management by George Vukotich, both of which will be available at ASTD's International Conference and Exposition in May. And you show up to the conference, don't forget to stop by the store and say hi! I'll be there! Smile

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Categories: Celebrity Bloggers

Managing managers

February 11, 2011 15:31 by Tora Estep

IncMagazine just tweeted an article about how to manage managers that provides some guidelines for ensuring that the people you hire are helping you to grow your business. The article outlines these steps for managing managers:

  1. Set the vision: Make sure your managers know what they are managing toward.
  2. Document the details and communicate: Make sure managers have the details they need, both the hows (such as those found in an employee handbook) and the whys (such as would be communicated in the strategy). Meet regularly with them.
  3. Measure tasks. Alice Waagen, founder and president of Workforce Learning, provides some specific performance guidelines. (Alice Waagen has also written some Infolines for ASTD, including "Task Analysis," "Essentials for Evaluation," and "How to Budget Training."
  4. Manage behavior. The article notes that most employees quit because of bad managers and provides some guidelines for helping managers become better people managers.
  5. Finally, the best way to manage a manager is to coach him or her to fix his or her own problems, rather than fixing them yourself.

In the last couple of years, ASTD Press has published a variety of books with guidelines for becoming a better manager, including

To browse the ASTD Press collection of management titles, click here.

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More stuff happening at #TK11

February 4, 2011 14:10 by Tora Estep

So I started trying to capture some of what was coming out of ASTD TechKnowledge 2011 Conference and Exposition on Twitter yesterday, but so much is happening that I ran out of time. Here's some more information to report from there (for more collections of backchannel info, check out Misadventures in Learning):

  • Well, ASTD got a couple of digs about the use of paper-based evaluations for TK. I guess we'll need to think about that for upcoming conferences!
  • Michael Allen had a session about instructional design that generated a lot of comments (what's really cool is that he is going to do a book for us called Leaving ADDIE Behind that will be coming out later this year! Because I will be working on that book, expect to hear about it here!). Some representative comments:
    • The "rules" get in the way of learning. Who's to say how long it takes or what path students should take to learning?
    • People want to "do" things, not read about doing things.
    • We need to create experiences, not instruction.
    • ESD instead of ISD.
    • A lot of people were asking, "Is ISD dying as an instructional design tool?" Seems like Allen may be saying it is.
    • What's the last thing learners should be doing, and in what context? Then ask, what challenges will learners face?
  • Several comments came out of Marc Rosenberg's session on managing organizational knowledge in the age of Web 2.0:
    • KM is getting knowledge from people who have it to people who need it.
    • Most of what you know is NOT on the internet. It's in your head. Social applied to the internet makes it easier to get it out.
    • Most companies can't surface the creativity and knowledge their people have.
    • When you produce and consume information on the internet, you care about the quality and can easily weed out the crap stuff.
    • Training can extinguish people's ability; learning to learn.  
    • Stop waiting for this to be perfected. It will never be perfected.
    • Moving beyond elearning to eknowledge. Think big, start small.
  • Anders Gronstedt's session about using games, social media, and virtual worlds in the workplace got several comments:
    • Points, badges, levels, time-pressure, challenges, and rewards to engage.
    • Use gamification to get unstuck from the academic paradigm.
    • Skillset may be different but cost is transferable when designing in virtual worlds or using video.
    • Moving role play from classroom to virtual environment giving much better results.
    • Being inside the data lets you see patterns you wouldn't otherwise see.
    • No one ever logged in to Webex just to hang out. They do in virtual worlds.

Actually, just a general reading of the Twitter feed illustrates different ways that it can be used. A lot of people obviously signed up for Twitter for the first time and started asking questions about how to use it. @stevier and @TerrenceWing, obviously long time users of Twitter, explained that you have to use Twitter to really understand its value and arrranged a Tweetup at a nearby bar. @TerrenceWing and @ASTD pointed to The ASTD TechKnowledge Daily, an online newspaper reporting what's going on every day at TK11. Some folks missed meet to eat, so they made other arrangements. And a lot of people who weren't able to make it to the conference commented that they were glad to be able to get in some of the action through Twitter. So there are a few things you can get from Twitter: basically live reports of the action, opportunities to meet virtually and in reality with people, and tons of information from multiple sources.  

And that's going to be it for what's going on at TK (at least as viewed through Twitter) for today, but I will get back with some more summaries and comments on Monday! Have a great weekend, and safe travels to all conference attendees! Oh, and I almost forgot, for those of you who want more or weren't able to make to the conference, all is not lost! You can still sign up for the Virtual Conference!  

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Categories: Celebrity Bloggers | TechKnowledge

What's happening at #TK11?

February 3, 2011 16:01 by Tora Estep

ASTD's TechKnowledge 2011 Conference & Exposition started yesterday, and I have been keeping an eye on the Twitter feed to find out what's going on. Yesterday, Tony Bingham and and Kara Swisher did the keynote address. Cammie Bean liveblogged Tony Bingham's comments and Kara Swisher's keynote speech.

What are some of the takeaways from Tony's speech? Complexity will keep increasing, requiring leaders to become more creative. Mobile devices are and will continue to become a critical way to deliver learning (hm, maybe I should start thinking about upgrading my phone). Furthermore, new technologies are converging, creating whole new scenarios. What will that mean for learning professionals going forward? Learning is going mobile, and organizations are going to support more and more of that. That means ISD is up for a makeover. What else? Devices are going to figure out what you need, instead of requiring you to go looking for it.

Here are some of the frequent comments coming out of Twitter during Kara Swisher's presentation:

  • one of the top tech trends is the socialization of technology
  • information is every-changing, adding a level of instantness and thus changing the nature of information itself
  • everyone contributes, is an author; producers become consumers of content, thus improving the overall content
  • the masses are smarter than the elite; mistakes can be fixed faster
  • social changes the dynamics of how information gets to you; it's no longer controlled by gatekeepers
  • mobile is the future of everything; the geeks are right: We're moving to a Star Trek-like environment (oh, I guess I had better get some tall boots and mini-skirts...)
  • in a year everyone will have a tablet
  • people have relationships with their phones now
  • geolocation is another trend to pay attention to; it enables the real and the virtual worlds to collide--of course this has privacy implications...
  • everything is in the cloud; it makes sense to store everything in the cloud and not store it locally (allows you to pull it down from anywhere)
  • multitouch screens
  • how does this affect learning? The consumer drives everything.

I'll be back tomorrow with more from #TK11. To keep up with it in real time, follow the hashtag #TK11 on Twitter!

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Categories: Books | TechKnowledge

Wayne Turmel to present about online delivery

December 10, 2010 13:53 by Tora Estep

Wayne Turmel, author of the forthcoming ASTD Press book, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations, will have a webcast called Mastering Your Online Presentation Delivery on December 17 at 3:00 p.m. EST. The webcast will also be available as a recording after the event, so if you can't make it on Friday, you can view it any time after that.

I anticipate that this will be a fun and enlightening webcast, given the sense of humor (and empathy), Wayne reveals in his book. As Jim Kouzes says in his endorsement of the book, "what impresses me most about Wayne Turmel is his humanity. On every page he makes it clear how much he cares about you. He truly wants you to be successful."

So register for the webcast and check back soon for more information about the book.



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Is the skills gap threatening your organization’s competitiveness?

November 24, 2010 11:18 by Tora Estep

It’s a truism to say that a lot is changing in the business world: We’ve got ongoing economic problems, Baby Boomers preparing to retire en masse, technological innovations, and the rise of the Net Generation and social media to name just a few salient factors that have an enormous impact on the way organizations do their work. And all of these factors are probably contributing to the skills gap in your organization.

So what’s the skills gap? Basically it’s the difference between what your organization wants to achieve and what it actually can achieve given its current capabilities. Its implications include hampering the performance and growth of your organization and, worse, harming the economy on a global scale. 

A new Infoline from ASTD Press takes on the skills gap by providing a six-step action plan for managing that discrepancy between goals and capabilities. “Addressing the Skills Gap” summarizes much of the research that ASTD has done over the last seven years to identify the causes of the skills gap, which include economic conditions, changing jobs, Web 2.0 and the Net Generation, and the gap between educational attainment and the need for skills.

The skills gap action plan provided in the Infoline includes these six steps:

  • Step 1. Understand the key strategies, goals, and metrics
  • Step 2. Identify competencies that map to strategies and metrics
  • Step 3. Assess the skills gap
  • Step 4. Set goals and prioritize the path to filling gaps
  • Step 5. Implement solutions
  • Step 6. Monitor and measure results and communicate the impact.

To learn more about the skills gap and get case studies from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and IBM, check out “Addressing the Skills Gap,” Infoline no. 251011.

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Wayne Turmel takes the scary out of presenting virtually

November 18, 2010 15:51 by Tora Estep

Many people would rather gnaw their arm off than give a presentation. Add technology to the mix, and boy howdy, do a lot of people get scared—even seasoned presenters. Wayne Turmel’s forthcoming book, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations, can help both new presenters and seasoned pros get over their fear of presenting virtually.

Why is virtual presenting so scary? Well, first off, there’s the public speaking part, which makes many people very uncomfortable. But add to that the fact that so many people have been on the receiving end of bad web presentations, and that can have a seriously chilling effect on people’s desire to present online. Moreover, a lot of people are not familiar with the benefits and tools that virtual presentations offer, so they don’t know how effective and even fun web presentations can be.

Wayne Turmel dispels those fears and explains in clear and friendly terms how to plan and deliver great virtual presentations that get results. The 10 steps presented in the book are

  1. Identify your objectives and outcomes
  2. Learn the platform
  3. Create a project plan
  4. Work with others
  5. Create compelling content
  6. Create visuals that support your presentation
  7. Sharpen your presentation skills
  8. Rehearse
  9. Present and multitask effectively
  10. Follow up and keep learning.

Here are some of his pointers from Step 2, “Learn the Platform”:

  • Before trying to learn the platform yourself, participate in as many webinars and online presentations as possible (there’s no shortage of free presentations out there). See what good presenters do (which you’ll want to emulate) and how poor presenters fumble (so you never perform the same way in front of any audience). Notice all the different tools and functions other presenters use, and imagine how they can help you in your presentations.
  • Roughly speaking, 90 percent of the platforms perform 90 percent of the same functions.
  • When demonstrating a computer application or training people in its use, one of the most powerful things you can do is let them use the tool themselves. To do this, you need to give an audience member “presenter” status. Many presentation platforms allow you to change the presenter at any given time. WebEx, for example, allows you to pass a little “ball” icon to a new presenter by simply right-clicking on a person’s name and hitting the “make presenter” button. On other platforms you can right-click on a person’s name and make him or her the presenter.
  • Many platforms allow you to keep transcripts of the chat screen, so if people ask questions you can’t answer during the presentation, you can get back to them later with an answer.
  • Don’t try to circle things with your mouse using the highlighter tool—it’s too difficult. Most platforms have a circle tool (as well as a box tool) that will create perfect circles around what you’re trying to highlight. With a little practice, you’ll be able to place the tool perfectly and, with a drag and click of the mouse, draw a perfect circle (or rectangle).
  • The no-show rate for a free marketing webinar is about 50 percent. You exponentially increase your viewership by making your webinar recording available after the live event.
  • A great way to create human connections but not make yourself crazy is to use your webcam to introduce yourself to the audience and then turn it off when you begin the body of your presentation. This will save bandwidth (reducing the chance of something freezing up for you or your audience) and also free you from worrying about what you look like while presenting. In cyberspace, no one needs to see you scratch your nose.

The book features lots more tips, tools, guidelines, and worksheets that will help you become a great virtual presenter fast. 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations will be available for purchase at the ASTD store in December.

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Jane Hart tells all about using Twitter for learning #sociallearning

November 12, 2010 14:58 by Tora Estep

I just came across Jane Hart's blog Jane's Pick of the Day, which has lots of useful and interesting information about using social media for learning. She also co-hosts a Twitter discussion about learning every Thursday; search #lrnchat on Twitter for more details. What really caught my eye was her guide to using Twitter for learning, and if you haven't come across it yet, you should definitely check it out.

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Learn about using social media, part 2 #socialmedia

October 29, 2010 16:20 by Tora Estep

Yesterday, I wrote about the social media training session that we had here at ASTD and described a few companies that are doing great jobs at engaging their audiences through social media. Today, I am going to talk about what I learned about using Facebook and Twitter and a bit about what we are doing inside ASTD with Yammer. (Please note that I am not covering everything; this is already a long post.)

The first lesson about using social media is that there isn’t really a “right” way to do it. The ways people use it are constantly evolving, and the platforms themselves are constantly changing. But you don’t have to keep up with every change to make it work for you and your organization.

What you do have to do is be authentic, ready to engage with people, and consistent. What people want to see when they follow an organization or “like” a company is a lot of activity with frequent updates, but they don’t want to hear canned messages; they want to hear someone’s voice. The authentic voice is the key to social engagement—people like to feel as though they have an “in” with the company they are following, that they have some sort of connection with real, live people on the other end.


Facebook is probably one of the most dominant social media sites out there. More than 500 million people are on Facebook, and it’s one of the best ways to create engagement with your audience. Why? Because Facebook is more about conversation than Twitter, which is more broadcast-oriented. Facebook allows you to connect directly with your audience by enabling you to respond to questions, to comment on what people are saying, to start discussions, to post pictures and links that your audience may find relevant, and so forth. (To be clear, Twitter does allow a lot of these things, but it’s more organic on Facebook.)

The important thing to remember when you create a Facebook Page is constant attention and interaction. Don’t just throw content on the wall and hope that people are getting it. Ask questions, try to find out what people are looking for, be a resource. And don’t just promote your own products and ideas, share what other people are doing that could be valuable to your followers. Seth Godin had a great blog post about reasons for sharing ideas. 

And once again—I am going to keep reiterating this—be real, use your own voice, and have fun. Talk to people! Do it often!


Twitter is one of those things that you don’t really get until you’ve tried it. And maybe not until you’ve tried it some more. I mean, 140 characters? Really? What can you say that’s meaningful in 140 characters? And why would you want to read it? I certainly didn’t get it at first. But I signed up for an account and messed around a little bit—and then messed around some more.

It wasn’t until my husband got stuck in Vienna, Austria, during the Eyjafjalljökull eruption back in April that I got it (and yes, I do know how to pronounce it—my father was born in Iceland). I would click on this trending topic trying to find out what was going on, what news was out there, and what people were saying about it. I started finding links to gorgeous photos of the eruption, maps of airport closures, and all kinds of other stuff (including jokes about Iceland firing off a volcano at Great Britain as revenge for the banking debacle).

Suddenly I was starting to get why this was cool. I looked at various topics that were interesting to me, like food and cooking, and found lots of chefs that I like, so I started following them. I started following my favorite newspapers, which tweet headlines of the day and I can click on links to the stories I want to read or just get an ambient awareness of what’s going on out there. I don’t have to know where to find everything that I am interested in, because a lot of it comes to me.

I also found that it was an unmediated, uncensored way to get a real sense of what real human beings are doing and saying out there (even though that’s not always great, but you have to take the bad with the good).

It’s also fun. Who doesn’t want to hear directly from their favorite celebrity from time to time? Or hear what people are saying about the new movies that are out?

Once again, there are no real rules for success when it comes to using Twitter but here are a few ideas:

  • To start, sign up for an account and start following people. Lurk. Find out what other people are doing. Click on trending topics. Search particular subjects. Just see what’s out there. You don’t really have to do anything at first—just try to get the hang of what it is and get a feel for what you can find out and what appeals to you. When you see someone do something you like, don’t be afraid to try to emulate it. If you come across posts that are interesting to you, re-tweet them. 
  • Don’t forget to check out Twitter’s own 101 guide for businesses. They have lots of tips and ideas for using Twitter to connect with your audience.
  • If you’re in an organization with multiple departments, don’t spread yourself too thin. When ASTD first started using Twitter, we sort of went crazy and started lots of Twitter accounts for different departments or for different events (using social media is definitely a trial-and-error kind of thing). The problem is that all these different accounts are hard to keep up with—and the constant attention rule is true for Twitter just as much as it is for Facebook. Also, it takes some time to build a following, so you want to try to concentrate your efforts.
  • If you want to get a conversation going about a specific event, use hashtags (#). Some hashtags to try are #astd, #L2010, #lrnchat, #elearning, #socialmedia. When you click on a hashtag in someone’s tweet, you will get a display of every post that includes that hashtag. So, for example, while Learning 2010 was going on a few days ago, I would regularly check #L2010 to get everything that people were saying about that conference. Using hashtags is also an effective to create an audience for your own tweets if you don’t already have one. If you put a particular hashtag in your tweet, your message will be read by everyone who is following that particular topic.
  • Find an application that helps you monitor your Twitter traffic. TweetDeck and HootSuite are popular applications (and they are free!).
  • Some cool ideas suggested in the training session are creating events on Twitter. For example, ASTD’s Chapter Services has bi-weekly chapter chats that are popular, and something we may try in the near future is to have a Twitterview with an ASTD Press author.

Update: In her 2009 story on Learning Circuits, Pat Galagan also talks about using Twitter for learning.


Finally, I am going to talk a minute about what ASTD is doing with Yammer as an example of things that your organization may want to try. Yammer is a social network for use within organizations. This allows all the members of an organization to be in contact with one another, but to restrict information flowing out to the general public. It works a little bit like Facebook in that you can post brief messages and people can comment on them in turn. What it does for us is connects all different parts of the organization that may not have all that much interaction typically. In our training session, our facilitators Jennifer, Anthony, and Kristen asked what we liked about it. Some of the responses included

  • sharing interesting stories, information, and links that everyone may not be aware of
  • finding out what other departments are doing
  • creating a more personal connection with people in the organization you may not interact with very often
  • recognizing others for the work that they do in a public forum
  • discussing topics of interest and getting different perspectives
  • finding specific information or getting access to specific resources (for example, someone may throw out a question like “Does anyone have a copy of this book?” and they will have an answer in no time).

For more information about social media, a sample chapter from Darin Hartley’s book has a table that lists some of the platforms that are available. You can also check out Beth Kanter’s blog about how nonprofits use social media to create change; CMSWire’s website, which aggregates articles on social media; a variety of social media groups on LinkedIn, or just do a search for social media on Google and see what’s interesting.

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