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Leading Change and "The Change Book"

March 17, 2011 10:55 by Kristen Fyfe

By Elaine Beich

When I interviewed John Kotter for a chapter on Leading Change in the ASTD Leadership Handbook, I asked him what competency was most important for a leader when it comes to implementing change. He said it was a “sense of urgency” and noted that the rate of change is increasing everywhere for everyone, and that rate of change is volatile.

The Change Book supports Kotter’s premise and delivers practical ideas for leaders. It is short, concise, practical, and something a leader can grab, read, and act on.

It hits the highpoints like the importance of sponsorship and how establishing metrics around any change initiative are vital to success. The authors note that leadership alone is insufficient to affecting real and lasting change and they give helpful hints on making sure you have the right team in place to implement the vision.

This blog is crossposted on The Change Book blog.

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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 6

November 25, 2009 06:15 by Elaine Biech

We’ve spent five parts of this series discussing how to develop a leadership handbook--or quite honestly, any handbook collection.

In this, the sixth and final installment, I will give you a sneak preview of the final product. To tease you into watching for ASTD’s Leadership Handbook--a sample table of contents.  The ASTD Leadership Handbook included 5 sections and 32 chapters.  I have not included all 32 chapters.  

I. Leadership Competencies

  • The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership                           Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner
  • Leading to Build the Team                                                           Patrick Lencioni
  • Leading Change: A Conversation With Dr. Kotter                    John Kotter
  • Getting Results: Leadership Competencies                                Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood
  • Engaging and Retaining Talent in Any Economy                       Bev Kaye, Sharon Jordan-Evans
II. Leadership Development
  • A  Leadership Development Strategy                                       Tacy Byham and Bill Byham
  • Worst Practices in a 360-Degree Assessment:                       Craig Chappelow
  • Leaders as Mentors and Teacher                                               Edward Betof
  • Learning on the Job                                                                    Ellen VanVelsor
  • Coaching Leaders to Lead                                                          Marshall Goldsmith
III. Attributes of Successful Leaders
  • Good to Great: What Leaders Do                                               Jim Collins
  • Unlocking the Mystery of Inspiring Leadership                      Jack Zenger, J. Folkman, S. Edinger
  • The Authentic Leader                                                                  Bill George
  • Leadership Ethics and Integrity for the 21st Century              Ken Blanchard
  • Derailment: How Successful Leaders Avoid It                          Bill Gentry
IV. Contemporary Leadership
  • Leading the Workforce of the Future                                         Frances Hesselbein
  • Globally Savvy Leaders                                                                Stephen Rhinesmith
  • Women in the Lead                                                                        Marian Ruderman
  • Leading Across Generations                                                         Joanne Sujansky
  • Leading for Diversity                                                                    Kay Iwata, Juan Lopez, Julie O’Mara
V. Broadening the Leadership Discussion
  • Why Leadership Development Should Go to School                    Lyndon Rego, S. Harrison, D. Altman
  • Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders for the Worlds of 2020               Lawrena Colombo, John Verderese
  • A Military View of Leadership in the Private Sector                 VADM John Lockard
  • Chinese “Sheng Yi”: Challenges for Chines Leaders                    Cheng Zhu
Next Up: Watch for delivery of the final productThe next installment is in your hands. Watch for publication of The ASTD Leadership Handbook and let us know what you think. . . 


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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 5

November 17, 2009 07:31 by Elaine Biech

We’ve focused on the content of The ASTD Leadership Handbook: how to select topics, how to ensure its usefulness, and how to guarantee quality. Let’s turn our attention toward the authors of The Handbook. 

This Special Opportunity

What’s it like to work with the gurus of our profession? Gosh, what can I say? Heady? Exhilarating? Humbling? Daunting? It is for sure all of these. 

To discuss change with John Kotter in his office at Harvard Square; to question Dave Ulrich about “getting results”; to write a note to Jim Collins; to receive a phone call from Frances Hesselbein; to have Ken Blanchard say “yes” to writing a chapter about ethics and integrity; to catch Bill George between books; to receive the first chapter from Len Goodstein; or to have Jack Zenger respond to an email in less than 12 hours. All of these are electrifying moments of this project—and in my life! 

I’ve started reviewing the work of these famous authors, and to say reading their chapters is stimulating is an understatement. Wait until you have an opportunity to read the final product!  

Working With Gurus

How do you manage folks with more important things to do than write a chapter for your book? Jim Kouzes, Bev Kaye, Bill Byham, Cindy McCauley, VADM Lockard, and the other authors—these are busy people with others constantly tugging at them. You need to make it easy for them to give you what you need. Clear guidelines helps. Ensure that they are writing about their specialty. Make the job as easy as falling off a log. Don’t ask them to do mundane tasks that publishing requires. Work with their administrative assistants whenever possible for something like turning color figures to black and white. When you receive a booklist with just the books' names, do the research yourself. Don’t bother them with the details. Create and maintain a communication plan. Touch base regularly and provide information to them as they need it--not in lengthy guidance at the beginning. 

How do you appeal to a guru’s willingness to work on a project? Build pride in the project. You can do this by ensuring they know how much you want them to be a part of the handbook. For example, I can’t imagine having a chapter about change without John Kotter being the author. Can you? I told him just that—and sincerely meant it. 

In the end, how do you work with a guru group? I think three things are important:

  • Make it easy and fun.
  • Do the mundane for them.
  • Ensure that they are proud to be a part of the project.

 In the end, editing this handbook is exciting. It is the best job anyone could have! I am honored and delighted to have such an exhilarating opportunity in my career. 

Next Up: A Sneak Preview of the Table of Contents


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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 4

November 9, 2009 21:59 by Elaine Biech

This series has covered various topics of creating The ASTD Leadership Handbook. How do you get started? What’s more important authors or content? How can you ensure practicality?  This week let’s consider how a leadership handbook can be high quality—be the best that it can be. 

How Can You Ensure Quality?

Those of you who know my work, know that quality is extremely important to me. Quality should be high on your list of everything you do—first, last, and everything in between. The Handbook will be written by well known gurus (Hesselbein, Blanchard, and Collins), include topics that are intriguing (“Leading Across Generations” and “Leading in Difficult Times”), and present tools that are practical (surveys, checklists, and assessment plans). This level of excellence must exude quality.  

As you can imagine the quality question is one that permeates everything that we do with this handbook. Here is our three-step plan to ensure that the practical and exciting content is high quality through and through.  

Three Steps to Quality

To ensure quality, you need to start with a plan. Here are our three steps to quality. 

Step 1: Set clear guidelines. Like any task, provide authors with clear expectations. Not just the logistics, such as length, font size, and layout, but also what they might cover in their content. Ensure that you are very clear about deadlines and don’t set them too far out. It doesn’t take long to write a chapter—especially if they are the experts, like our authors. Set a short deadline—that is close to their acceptance. 

Step 2: Start with the best. If you don’t begin with excellent ingredients right from the start whether you are baking a pie, building a house, or writing a book, it is nearly impossible to produce a high-quality product in the end. The authors for The ASTD Leadership Handbook are the best in class. They were selected because they are experts in the topic area they represent in The Handbook. 

Step 3: Stay organized. Quality is for the reader’s benefit. As I have worked through this project I kept the reader in mind. For example, the reader needs to be able to easily and quickly find things in The Handbook. I planned the chapter topics and then placed them in five logical sections. I ensured that the titles say what the chapter is about. I am working with Tora Estep, my most trusted editor from ASTD. Together we will ensure that every chapter is written clearly and error free. We’ll ensure that you have a reading list if you want to explore more about a topic. And finally, we will create an index that helps you easily locate content. 

But quality doesn’t end with the publication date. It goes on. The website that will be dedicated to this book provides an opportunity for continuous process improvement—a key to quality. Authors will have an opportunity to update their chapters or the tools they have posted as they discover new and better ideas and processes related to their chapters. 

As you can see quality is built into The ASTD Leadership Handbook. It is indeed the foundation of this project. 

Next Up: What’s It Like to Work with a Guru Group?

  • What’s it like to work with the gurus of our profession?
  • How does it feel to review the work of famous authors?
  • How do you manage folks with more important things to do than write a chapter for your book? 

Check back next week for the answers.


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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 3

November 2, 2009 20:54 by Elaine Biech

The last post addressed how to develop a handbook’s table of contents and alluded to the idea that The Handbook will ensure that the content from our distinguished authors will be practical and helpful. How will The ASTD Leadership Handbook be useful and practical for you? Those of you familiar with my work know that I am all about practical. How can I help you take any content and easily use it in your day-to-day work? 

What Constitutes Practical?

We could turn to any number of definitions: adapted for actual use; results of action; engaged in judicious and sensible practice or work; adopt a means to an end; or others from many sources. The bottom line is that practical means you will be able to implement the content to accomplish something of use. 

To ensure that The ASTD Leadership Handbook is practical, we have asked the authors to contribute a tool that the readers can use to better understand the content, to implement the content with others (after all, you are trainers), or to adapt the content for actual use. 

What’s a Tool?

What’s a tool? Well that’s what our authors asked too. We suggested that a tool could be a template, worksheet, checklist, model, quiz, survey, or any job aid that helps the reader implement the content of the chapter. To make it as easy for our authors as possible, I provided few parameters. The tool could be:

  • Previously published or not.
  • Validated or not.
  • Relative to the entire chapter or focus on just one area.

The chapters and their accompanying tools are arriving every day. Here are a few of the tools you will have access to. These tools will help you implement leadership concepts you will read about in The Handbook.

  • John Kotters Eight Step Change Model.
  • Bill Gentry’s Checklist for Avoiding Leader Derailment.
  • Marshall Goldsmith’s mini Coaching Survey.
  • Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood’s Personal Leadership Proficiency Leadership DNA model, they call the Leadership Code.
  • Patrick Lencioni’s Team Assessment to help you evaluate your team’s susceptibility to the five dysfunctions of a team.
  • Bev Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evan’s “Jerk Checklist.”
  • Len Goodstein’s Applied Strategic Planning Model.
  • Ed Betof’s Checklist for Mentoring Leaders.

This list constitutes less than 1/3 of the tools that will accompany The Handbook. So what do you think? Do these sound practical to you? 

How Can You Use the Tools?

Here’s the best part. The tools will be found on a companion website. You will be able to download them. As long as you maintain the copyright and the “used with permission” state,emt on the tool, you will be able to use it for your daily work. Free tools! Now that’s exciting! 

Next Up: How to Ensure Quality

Respected authors are good. Realistic topics are good. Practical content is good. But what about quality? In my next post I will provide you with several ideas for how The ASTD Leadership Handbook will guarantee the highest quality possible.


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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 2

October 26, 2009 18:09 by Elaine Biech

Thanks for your comment to last week’s post, Jenn. I appreciate your vote of confidence. We ended last week with a couple of questions: Who would you select to author a leadership handbook? What topics would you select for a leadership handbook? How would you ensure that a leadership handbook was useful?

Which Comes First the Authors or the Topics?

Let’s address the first two questions: who and what? How do you start a project of this magnitude? Do you select the authors first? Or the topics first? This is one of those chicken or the egg questions. My process is not an “or” but an “and.” That is, I implement an entangled process that considers both at the same time and weaves back and forth, and constantly remaining open to other forces.

For example when contemplating the topic of leadership several influential and respected names immediately come to mind: Kouzes and Posner, Jack Zenger, Bill Byham, Ken Blanchard, Bill George, Frances Hesselbein, and others. In addition, several topics immediately come to mind: building a team, strategic planning, ethics, leading change, getting results, leadership development, coaching, authenticity, globally savvy, and women in leadership.

When comparing the two lists, you can see there are some immediate matches: Bill Byham and leadership development; Ken Blanchard and ethics; Bill George and authenticity. But who can address the other topics? There is only one person who can be considered for leading change: John Kotter; likewise for getting results: Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood; and coaching: Marshall Goldsmith. Now we still have other leadership experts without a topic. Why not let Kouzes and Posner write about what they know best: the practices of exemplary leaders. The same is true for Jack Zenger: the engaging and inspiring leader; and Frances Hesselbein: leading the workforce of the future.

Rounding Out the Table of Contents

The table of contents is beginning to build. But what about the other topics that we deemed essential? Find the best and most experienced author you can. For example, Len Goodstein has been writing about strategic planning for 30 years or more, and didn’t Patrick Lencioni write a couple of great books about leadership and teams? Remember the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) has been doing marvelous work about women in leadership for dozens of years. In fact, should ASTD even publish this book without partnering with CCL. After all, look at the “L” word in the name! Nine CCL authors will write six chapters.

Well, you get the picture. This is how the Table of Contents for The ASTD Leadership Handbook was born. The end result is 32 chapters by 42 extraordinary authors. The chapters are starting to arrive: six are early, two authors have asked for extensions (that’s okay because I can’t read them all on the due date anyway), and several others have assured me that their chapters will arrive on time. To say that this is exhilarating is an understatement!

Next Up: Make it Useful

Next week I’ll address what we are doing to make The Handbook useful and practical for you the readers. Post your thoughts and I will work them into my comments.


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Creating a Leadership Handbook: Part 1

October 19, 2009 21:44 by Elaine Biech

What is a handbook? How does it differ from a book or compiled work of any kind? What’s it like to edit a handbook and how do you get started? Just over a year ago ASTD, released The ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals.  It introduces nine learning and development sections from assessment to evaluation, incorporating contemporary topics such as technology-enabled learning. Each of the chapters is written by a respected leader in the field who specializes in that topic. For example, who better to write about learning in the classroom than Bob Pike?  

The handbook, which I edited, also features several luminaries in the Workplace Learning and Performance (WLP) profession; some of them are the practitioners and the implementers of the content. One of the luminaries, for example, is Bill Wiggenhorn, the creator of Motorola University.       

A New Handbook is on Its Way

ASTD will publish another handbook: The ASTD Leadership Handbook, which will be available in September 2010. I will also edit this volume and thought it might be interesting and fun, over the next couple of weeks, to explore what it takes to create one of these volumes. 

I’ve written a number of collected works and a handbook is the most significant type in this class of books. What makes a handbook special? Its name alone implies that it will be written by respected authorities of the topic.  You also expect a handbook to be a collection of chapters that are related, yet unique in content.

As the reader you must believe that you will be able to turn to the handbook to find the most accurate as well as useful answers to a variety of questions about the handbook’s topic. As a reader who decides to invest in a “handbook,” you have high expectations. First of all, the price alone contributes to these expectations, since handbooks are often two or three or even four times the cost of most other hardcover books. The editor must interpret and deliver on these expectations to make it worthwhile. A handbook must be authoritative, complete, and useful.  

Authoritative.  A handbook must be written by authors whose work you respect and trust. When you pick up The ASTD Handbook, you hold over 2000 years of experience within your hands. You know the authors. You’ve read their work and have depended on their theories and concepts for years. Who would you select to be in the next handbook, The ASTD Leadership Handbook?

Complete. A handbook must be fundamental to the subject. Readers have an expectation of key topics that should be covered about the handbook’s theme. The ASTD Handbook, for example, covers essentially everything you might name in the WLP field. If you were editing The ASTD Leadership Handbook, what topics would you include? 

Useful. A handbook by its very nature is written by gurus who have conducted research, identified theories, and produced volumes of knowledge on a narrow subtopic. Most of you, however, are too busy to unravel the entire string of research content. You want the nuggets of information, the how-to, and the go-do advice. You want answers to question and implementable ideas. If you were editing The ASTD Leadership Handbook, how would you make it useful? 

The editor’s job is to ensure that the handbook delivers the value that you, the reader, expect. The editor must ensure that the handbook:

  • Is authoritative, providing accurate content.
  • Is complete, delivering the answers to readers’ questions.
  • Offers practical information that the reader can implement.

Next Up: Who, What and How?

  • Who are the authors of The ASTD Leadership Handbook?
  • What are essential topics of The ASTD Leadership Handbook?
  • How will we make The ASTD Leadership Handbook useful and practical for you?
 I hope you will submit your ideas this week. Check back in seven days and I will give you a sneak preview of ASTD’s next handbook.



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The Upside of a Down Economy

August 16, 2009 21:50 by Elaine Biech

Well I read it again in USA Today: contradicting views of whether the economy is making a comeback or will stay depressed a bit longer. Who knows? Hopefully we all see the many positive things that have come out of this down economy. Here are a few. 

From a Business Perspective

  • Some of my clients have made difficult choices and let go the 10% of the people who were the lowest producers in the organization. While not pleasant, the recession forced long-overdue action.
  • Belt-tightening companies may be more amenable to telework, allowing more people to work at home. Two benefits to the company: it saves money on real estate, utilities, and other overhead, and it encourages their best employees to stay during these tough times.
  • It’s a great time to start a business. If you know you are going to start a business, start it now. Many people will not heed this advice, but if you do you will have a head start on your competition, and when the recession ends, your business will be that much farther along. Even though venture capital firms are holding cash now, they will be ready to invest as the recession winds down and you will be ready with your proposal.

From a Personal Perspective

  • Service is better. Have you noticed that store clerks and restaurant servers seem to be more attentive, helpful, and polite the past couple of months?
  • Great time to find bargains. With people second guessing purchases, stores have great prices on many things. And if you shop on the Internet, many offer free shipping.
  • It’s a great time to make a large purchase as well, such as buying stock or real estate. As for stocks, some are so low the only direction is up. I am sure I don’t need to tell you about the bargains in real estate.
  • It is teaching Americans to save again. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (here’s a visual) shows that while American savers were averaging 1% or less from late 2004 to early 2008, the average personal savings rate has more than quadrupled to over 4% in 2009. This is the highest in 10 years.
  • It’s become chic to repurpose—you mean like saving the bows off birthday presents like my Grandmother always did?

I save and I waste. I like a bit of all of it. That’s why I decided not to participate in this recession.  I certainly don’t mean to sound frivolous about this serious situation, however, the mantra in the farming family in which I grew up was, “Ya gotta spend money to make money.” Not that there was ever any extra money to fritter away. There wasn’t. It did mean, however, that you need to continue to invest; you cannot hoard and make money at the same time. Hopefully you have found upside opportunities in this down economy, too.

Please tell us about your "upside" to this down economy . . . 


Thank you to Jenn and Stephen for your ideas. I used both of your ideas for the online session this week and it was a success. In addition, the small groups listed ideas that we compiled and emailed to them after the session. I found that once I wrapped my head around the idea that we still need to practice good adult learning principles, whether the group is in a classroom or online, I was free to think of new ways to implement good techniques.


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Get Everyone in the Game

June 26, 2009 20:39 by Elaine Biech

Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for this blog. I will cover them over the next couple of months. I hope each of your received your bundle of books.

As trainers we all know how important it is to keep participants involved and engaged. Most of you can list dozens of ways to increase participation in the classroom. All of us should increase participation—or why are they called participants?  

Yet this past week as I prepared to facilitate an ASTD Online Learning event for which 250 participants had registered, I couldn’t imagine how to obtain ample participation. I created a practical handout and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation. ASTD was helpful, as were the In Sync Training producers: “Use the ‘Raise-your-hand’ feature.” “Take a poll.” “Vote using a green check for “yes” and a red “x” for no.” “Have participants use their individual pointer to select an answer.” “Use the whiteboard.” “Try the ‘chat’ feature.” 

I used all the features, but still felt inadequate in obtaining the participation I desired. I wanted to get everyone in the game. I wanted participation. 

This past year we saw a new level of participation coming from Apple. Getting everyone in the game is what Apple did when it opened its phenomenally popular App Store. The App Store opened early in the morning on July 10, 2008 and in less than a year has had in excess of one billion downloads of over 56,000 applications according to 148Apps, which keeps an independent running count. Developers (read participants) like this platform: it’s easy to work with, provides a comfortable development environment, and offers a friction-free payment system where Apple handles all the accounting drudgery for a 30/70 revenue split. Apple has raised the participation bar. 

What can we as trainers learn from Apple about participation? Make it easy to participate. Make it comfortable to participate. Make it pay off to participate. 

No one likes to sit on the sidelines and that appears to be doubly so for Gen Ys. So how do you as a Workplace Learning and Performance Professional get everyone in the game? What can you do to make it easy, make it comfortable, and make it pay off—especially during online training sessions? 

Get in the Game Yourself! How do you encourage participation and involvement in an online learning situation? Share your ideas with everyone here. 

P.S. I’ll be facilitating the same online session again in August. I would love to have your ideas to enhance participation for that event!


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Hot Tip: Invest In You--Guaranteed Free Prize

May 21, 2009 12:35 by Elaine Biech

A blog. Who me? Who reads these things anyway? I don’t want to just be more pollen clogging up the communication airwaves! ASTD has convinced me that I have something to say and that someone will listen. When asking for advice about blogs, I received this advice: 1. Use a compelling title. 2. Make it interactive. Therefore my initial blog includes a title that incorporates at least six powerful marketing words. (Read on for the interactive part.) 

Invest in You. As WLP Professionals we are often like the shoemaker’s shoeless children when we are vigilant about everyone’s professional development except our own. Stay on top of the profession including state-of-the-art practices as well as the fads of the day. Read journals, newsletters, and books; attend an ASTD Training Certificate program; read the training spam you receive; subscribe to e-newsletters—often free. Attend virtual learning events: webinars, teleconferences, and webcasts (also often free or for a small fee). And the most important thing you can do to Invest in You is to attend ASTD’s ICE. 

For the last quarter century I have religiously attended ASTD’s International Conference and Expo, fondly called ICE. I often hear ASTD members say they can’t afford it, because business is down, or because their company isn’t paying for it. I say that you “can’t afford not to attend!” It is an Investment in You. If you won’t invest in you, who will? 

Attend ICE. It is an excellent way to learn a great deal, get away to a great location, meet new people, renew past acquaintances, and attend sessions where presenters discuss new ideas and approaches. The networking is phenomenal and provides you with a ready-resource list in the future when you have questions. 

  • Invest in You.
  • Go to ASTD ICE.  You owe it to yourself.
  • If you don’t invest in you, who will? 

Guaranteed Free Prize. I want interaction. Those of you who have been in a training session with me know I like interaction, dialogue, two-way discussion. I want you to be involved in this blog. So, here’s the deal: I will award a prize to everyone who provides me with your business card at ICE on which is written a topic you would like to see in this blog. Please be sure your physical mailing address is on your business card. (Seems like a silly request, but you’d be surprised.) 

So, want a free prize? Interact with this blog. Look me up at ICE. Give me a topic to address in this blog written on your business card. Clear and fair? I have a third piece of advice for bloggers: Stay ahead of it; the next one is due before you know it. And that’s why I have started writing the next blog, “The Upside of a Down Economy.” 

So, regarding this blog:

  • Was the title compelling?
  • What topics do you want to read?
  • Will I receive your business card at ICE?

See you in D.C.!  


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