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    Entries in training (10)

    Friday
    Sep222017

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 297 - Enterprise Learning and Development in 2017

    HR Happy Hour 297 - Enterprise Learning and Development in 2017

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Jenny Dearborn, SVP and CLO, SAP

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Jenny Dearborn, SVP and Chief Learning Officer of SAP to talk about enterprise learning and development, the role of technology, and how companies and individuals can best prepare themselves for the world of work ahead.

    With all the changes, dynamism, and challenges facing organizations as well as employees with respect to ongoing learning, skills development, and the need to prepare both our organizations and ourselves for the future world of work, the role of the learning leader and its importance have changed over time.

    From the era of 'formal' training, to design focused approaches, to the modern world of mobile and social learning, the need for organizations, and HR and learning leaders to continuously adapt and change has never been more important.

    Jenny shared insights from her perspective as the CLO of a large, global organization, as well as her years advising both individuals and organizations as they contend with important learning and development challenges in 2017 and beyond.

    Additionally, Jenny and Steve talked about their mutual love and admiration for super heroes and comic books, and geeked out about Wonder Woman.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    Jenny's upcoming book, The Data Driven Leader: A Powerful Approach to Leading with Analytics, Driving Decisions, and Delivering Breakthrough Business Results can be pre-ordered here.

    Thanks to HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulsewww.virginpulse.com.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Tuesday
    Sep192017

    A reminder that any 'skills gap' is also an employer's problem to solve

    Whether or not there is a true 'skills gap' crisis in the US labor market is certainly subject to debate. For every analysis that indicates that the pipeline of qualified candidates that colleges and other training programs are producing are not meeting the demands of employers for specific skills, you can pretty easily find other data that suggests the US has more than enough of available talent to meet most employer needs.

    But while the data and thinking around the existence of a true skills gap can seem contradictory, the investments and ownership by employers of the problem (assuming it is a problem), has tended to shift in one consistent direction. Namely, over time employers have tended to want to invest less in development, apprenticeship, and other initiatives for either entry level employees or for more experienced hires who require more advanced and specific experience and skills.

    Most employers these days, it seems, want new hires whatever the level or role to walk in to the organization immediately ready to be productive without needing long ramp up times and without having to make extensive and expensive investments in training.

    But what if the roles that the company needs to fill are so specialized, require an incredibly specific set of skills, and that these skills have been demonstrated and certified with proof of thousands of hours of practice? For these kinds of jobs, companies have to become more involved and invested in developing candidate pipelines you would think. It is either that, or face a candidate shortage, experience longer fill times, and likely suffer serious adverse businss impact in the form of lost revenue, poor customer service, and missed deadlines.

    One company, faced with exactly this recruiting and development challenge, and facing an extremely tight and competitive candidate market is doing almost exactly the opposite of what many companies have done with respect to investment in new hire development. They are expanding the market, looking beyond their normal sources for candidates, and most importantly, taking ownership of the 'skills gap' challenge.

    The company is JetBlue Airlines and the hard to fill role is commercial airline pilot.

    From a recent piece on PSFK on how JetBlue is trying to address this recruiting challenge:

    The airline company developed Gateway Select, a special training program for its pilots that took people with little to no flying experiences and turned them into pilots. The program worked out so well for the company that they are once again looking for new recruits. The first round opened in 2016, with 24 chosen applicants out of a pool of 1,5000, including a grocery store clerk, an accountant, and a baggage handler. Trainees will learn about meteorology, aerodynamics and aircraft systems, go through flight simulators, and get in the necessary 1,500 hours of flying experience.

    Think about that a little bit.

    One of the most specific, demanding, and important jobs in the world, commercial airline pilot, and JetBlue is essentially looking past traditional candidate pools and feeder programs, (mostly the US military which has their own pilot shortages they are dealing with), and taking ownership of their challenge by thinking differently about what constitutes a good candidate.

    If JetBlue is willing and able to train the 'right' candidates for pilot roles, even if they are currently accountants or store clerks, then what is holding you back in expanding your own ideas about candidates and their suitability for your open roles?

    Think about that when you post your next position for a finance or HR or marketing or operations role where you require 10+ years of relevant and specific experience doing exactly the same job that you are hiring for.

    If JetBlue can turn store clerks into pilots, then you too can think more expansively and creatively about who is qualified for your roles.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Jul272016

    VACATION REWIND: There are only 5 possible reasons for every business problem - Bar Rescue Edition

    NOTE: I am on vacation this week - please enjoy a replay of a piece from February of this year.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    There are only 5 possible reasons for any business problem - Bar Rescue edition

    Some folks who know me know that about a thousand years ago I spent a fair bit of time working in the Middle East - in Saudi Arabia to be precise. And these same folks also know that every one of my probably hundreds of stories I have told about my time in Saudi fall into only five major categories - it was really hot, we had to find gray market beer, I played rugby with a wild group of expats, we socialized with the (mostly Irish and Canadian) nurses from the local hospital, and sometimes you had to deal with some scary police/security people.

    Every story, no matter how it starts, ends up in one of those five classifications. In fact, over the years I got tired of telling, (and people got tired of listening to) the old tales, and now I just list the five categories. The details of any one event or experience don't really matter all that much anyway. But the categories are still valid.

    What made me think about this again was that over the long weekend I caught a few episodes of a marathon one of my favorite reality TV shows - Bar Rescue. If you are not familiar with the show, the basic premise is this: Veteran bar and hospitality consultant and expert Jon Taffer gets summoned to 'rescue' or help fix a bar or bar/restaurant that is failing, and possibly about to go out of business. 

    Taffer will bring in a team of experts like a master mixologist, a chef, and designers and construction crews that together help to renovate the bar, motivate and train the owners and staffs, and redesign products and processes in hopes of giving the bar a new start and (hopefully), keeping it in business.

    But what's the connection to 'Steve's boring Middle East stories?' you might be asking. 

    Well it is this: Just like my dopey stories, every major problem facing the failing business owners in Bar Rescue falls into five categories as well. Sure there may be some subtle differences in specific situations, and most of these disaster bars suffer from multiple problems, but at their canter, they are mostly, remarkably, the same.

    Every failing bar's problems fall into one of these five categories, (with some specific manifestations where I can think of some).

    1. Lack of leadership from the bar owners - shows up in a few ways on the show, my favorite are the owners that simply get trashed drunk at the bar every night and have no idea what is really happening. Other times the owners are part-time or 'hobby' owners and have other businesses or jobs that keep them from paying enough attention to the failing bar.

    2. Terrible hiring decisions - often this is the 'professional' bar manager that has no idea what he/she is doing. Also, lots of 'friends and family' hiring of people that are totally wrong for the jobs they are in or are taking advantage of their relationship with the owner to get away with doing substandard work.

    3. Lack of attention to maintenance and upkeep - these are the bars with dead fruit-flies in the bottles, accumulated grease covering everything in the kitchen, and tubs of expired and/or rotting food in the walk-in. It is actually kind of shocking what some of these failing bars have allowed to let happen - at times it even threatens the health and safety of workers and customers.

    4. Little or no understanding of the market/customers - time and time again Taffer and his team have to advise and educate the bar owners about the local neighborhood, the main drivers of potential traffic to the bar, and how the bar stacks up against the local competition. Typically in these situations, the bar owners have failed to recognize and adapt to changes - trends, preferences, and expectations of customers that are not the same as they once were back when the bar was more successful.

    5. Failure to understand the economics - this one is pretty common the show and manifests itself in a few ways. Sometimes the owners really don't know how much money they are really losing or owe. Sometimes they don't have a good grasp on the financial drivers of their business, like knowing what food or drink items are most profitable. Or they are getting fleeced by staff (or even themselves) by giving away too many free rounds of drinks and not realizing how much that is hurting the business.

    Just like my Saudi stories can be pretty easily classified, every failing bar's problems on Bar Rescue can fit into one of the above categories. And the the more interesting thing about Bar Rescue than my stories, is that these bar/business problems are pretty likely the same broad set of categories just about and business faces too.

    Issues with leadership at the top. Bad hires, poorly trained staff, people in the wrong roles. Failing to keep track of the basic elements needed for any kind of success. Not keeping up with market and business condition changes. And finally, not watching and understanding the finances. Every problem (pretty much anyway), fits into one of these buckets.

    Figure out in which one of these buckets that most of your business problems fit and you, like the Bar Rescue team, will know where to spend your time and energy making things right.

    Friday
    Mar202015

    The half-life of technical knowledge

    That thing you just learned about or acquired mastery of - it could be a piece of electronics or a programming language or a new HR or Talent Management system, or anything really - about how long would you estimate is the useful life of that newly acquired knowledge or expertise?

    One estimate,published in 1997, from the mathematician and engineer Richard Hamming suggests the half-life of technical knowledge is about 15 years. Since Hamming's conclusion was reached more than 15 years ago, the theory itself, as well as our own practical experience with the modern world, seems to indicate the 15 year useful life of specific technical knowledge is probably even shorter. It could be 10 years, it could be even fewer. You still (mostly) remember things, but as time passes the value of what you remember continues to diminish.

    Think about the device that passed for what you called a smartphone in 2005. Remember how that thing worked? And even if you do, does that specific knowledge help you much today? Or how about the expertise you developed to help you navigate through that archaic HR and Payroll system your company used a decade ago. Any of that training and learning paying off these days?

    While it is no great bit of insight to conclude that technology is progressing more rapidly than even in the recent past, the question that results from that conclusion, just how can you attempt to stay relevant and knowledgeable in such a fast-moving environment is the important matter. How can or should you go about becoming more accustomed to learning all of the time, since as much as half of the knowledge we have already acquired becomes obsolete, in a kind of continuous cycle of degradation?

    Well, our pal Hamming had some really good ideas about that, and they have been synthesized and summarized in this excellent piece Ten Simple Rules for Lifelong Learning, According to Hamming, on the PLOS Computational Biology site. (Please don't ask me what I was doing on a Computational Biology site).

    You should really read the entire piece, it is not that long, you have time, but since I know you won't I will highlight the one 'rule' that stood out for me the most, especially since it sort of contradicts a currently popular idea that we should be open to and embrace failure.

    Take a look at an excerpt Rule 6, Learn From the Successes of Others:

    As Hamming says, because “there are so many ways of being wrong and so few of being right, studying successes is more efficient, and furthermore, when your turn comes you will know how to succeed rather than how to fail.” In addition, he notes that “vicarious learning from the experiences of others saves making errors yourself.

    The best part of that observation is just recognizing the almost infinite number of ways to fail and the extremely rare ways to succeed or to be 'right'. Maybe we have gotten too caught up in the 'embrace failure' cult since it is just easier to spot and experience failure in ourselves and in others than it is to attain success. Learning from success, even other's success, might get you where you want to be faster than always trying to extrude the value from your own failures.

    There are plenty of other great nuggets in the piece, (especially Rule 8. No Matter How Much Advice You Get and How Much Talent You Possess, It Is Still You Who Must Do the Learning and Put in the Time), so like I mentioned above if you are someone that needs to be concerned and able to keep current and proficient in today's complex world of technology the entire article is worth your time.

    Have a great weekend - try to learn something new!

    Tuesday
    Nov052013

    I'm comfortable not knowing

    About a thousand years ago I was a newbie consultant working for a large, (actually quite large), implementation services arm of a equally large software company. As the software products that our consulting and implementation services group were responsible for implementing numbered in the dozens (if not more), and they were each one reasonably complex technologies, the company enrolled all newly hired implementation consultants in an extensive 8-week training program that was affectionately known as 'bootcamp'.

    The bootcamp consisted of 8 hour days, for 8 weeks, taking all of the new consultants through the details and inner workings of the most commonly purchased of the company's applications, giving us a reasonable facsimile of 'real-world' problems that needed to be solved via case studies, and took us through what life as a traveling software consultant was actually all about. Aside - the job and lifestyle was equally better and worse than we all anticipated, but that is a topic for another time.

    But even over an 8-week period, the amount of technical, functional, business, process, and project management material that was presented to us was immense and fast-paced, and truly, there was almost no way to actually remember I'd estimate more than about half of it. The rest, and certainly the more important parts of the knowledge needed to become a good consultant would take more time to acquire, and work in the field with real customers to reinforce.

    All of this setup is to get to the point of this post. I don't really remember anything specifically from the content of the 8-week training bootcamp save for one sentence that was uttered not from one of the excellent instructors or experienced consultants that led our training, but rather from one of my fellow bootcampers.

    At the end of a long week of intensive work on some complex application and technology concepts, our instructor was making a final point about some detail or another, and she noticed a look of confusion on the face of a student in the front of the class. She paused, explained the point once more, and then asked him point blank, "Do you understand what I mean by configuring setting ABC in order to allow the customer to do XYZ?" , (the specifics don't matter, and I don't remember what they were anyway).

    The student thought about the question for a second then replied, "No, I really don't understand. But I'm comfortable not knowing."

    The instructor was a little taken aback, tried to re-state the concept, and hammer it home so that it clicked with the student, but she missed the real point of his response. It was not that he didn't care about understanding the point she was making, or that he would never understand it, but rather in that setting, with that specific point competing with about 3,000 other ones we'd all been exposed to in the last few weeks, that is was ok to not understand. He was comfortable (his word), with his ability to access reference material, draw on his network of colleagues, do some of his own testing, etc. in order to understand the key point when confronted with the problem in the future.

    He was comfortable not knowing because he was comfortable in his ability to think about the problem, access relevant resources, and apply what he'd learned more generally in order to solve this specific problem. He didn't need to know everything, Heck, no one needs to know everything.

    I like people that don't claim to have all the answers. I especially like people that are willing to admit that they don't have all the answers, but know how to find them. 

    And are comfortable with that.