Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Generation Y: Tips for Taking on the New Year

With the new year approaching I am focusing the next few blog entries on potential "Resolutions" that any of us can proclaim. As a Generational Enthusiast (I have no idea what that means but some people like titles), I will focus this entry on Generation Y. Like a previous blog entry, "Tips for Managing Generation Y", I will once again stress that if you are looking for rampant proclamations about negative perceptions about this generation or any for that matter, you are reading the wrong blog. I want to help build the bridge connecting the generational gaps, not push them further apart.

Tips for Managing Gen Y focused on how we (older generations) can create a culture conducive to productive and happy Gen Y employees. I'd like to change perspectives here and make suggestions on how Gen Y can become a productive asset to today's modern business. For my Gen Y readers, this isn't about assimilation (so don't click to another site). To the contrary, this is about getting your way. It's about proving you are as valuable as you say. It's about priming and setting the right amount of powder to catapult you perhaps even beyond your career trajectory. These are tips to make you successful.

The following are 10 ways you (Generation Y) can increase your value to your organization and employer:

1. LEARN TO LOSE: What the heck is he talking about? Some of you may be reading that and saying I am a winner. That is where I should focus. My response to that is I have never met a person in my life who didn't lose. However, the truly great ones, are the ones that lose well. You won't win every battle you fight. Life guarantees that. If you lose poorly, your value is diminished but if you lose like a pro, you may even increase your value beyond the winners. Look at the Jamaican Bob Sled team. Who won the gold, silver, or bronze Olympic medals that year?

2. LEARN HOW TO EMPATHIZE: The Greeks designed the communication model, Ethos, Pathos, Logos. Pathos helps us to understand the other person. To often we try to understand the other person from our perspective. That couldn't be more selfish. Understand them from their perspective. Hold off judgement until you can do that. To judge before you achieve Pathos is not a reflection of the other person. It is a reflection of you and a poor one at that.

3. LISTEN: This couldn't be place any more strategically behind empathy. I once read an author (who's name escapes me) define listening as the act of existing solely for the person speaking. What a powerful statement. To me it means my mind is clear from assumptions and open to facts and perspective. Listening is not an agreement of terms but a tactic to help you understand and gain position. Listening is also a play of offense not defense as it is often mistaken.

4. VALUE EXPERIENCE: I had a conversation with a Gen Y employee who was struggling with this. She was 23 at the time and I asked her if experience doesn't matter would it be okay with you if I replace you with a 13 year old. She was insulted and said how could you think a 13 year old could do a better job than me. I made my point by explaining how do you think an employee who is 45 sees you. Experience is extremely valuable and usually that is a lesson learned once you get the experience.

5. PRACTICE POWERFUL PERSUASION: If no one agrees with you, it doesn't mean their naive, it simply means, you did a poor job of persuading them. The Power of Persuasion is a skill that is up there at the top for leaders and managers. Without it, you may find yourself leading a party of one, you.

6. MANAGER YOUR TIME: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize. Time management is about decision making. You are deciding what should be your priority at any given time. Make no mistake, the time slot of NOW can only be occupied by one priority and cannot be shared. You are judged by your decision of what priority you place in the NOW time slot. Read my post "Multi-Tasking: Manager's Beware" to gain further insight.

7. KEEP THE CUSTOMER IN MIND: First, do you know who your (direct internal or external) customer is? If not that is the first question you need to answer. Everything you do, every task and decision should have the customer in mind. Keep the customer at the center of your work and it is unlikely you can go wrong.

8. BALANCE YOUR TECH BIAS: This is one of the greatest strengths of Gen Y but can also become your biggest obstacle. Your attraction to technology can isolate you from older generations who don't integrate it so willingly into their methodology. Its not right or wrong, its choice. You have to respect that to influence them. There could very well be a legitimate reason why tech may be the wrong option. Look at the film "Up in the Air" with George Clooney to open a great debate on this point.

9. BUILD YOUR REPUTATION: The accomplishments of your peers or predecessors don't belong to you. Your employers are judging you based on what you accomplish. This also holds true to the weakness of any generation as well. You should not be grounded or propelled by anonymity but by the thrust of your accomplishments. Build them and boast them to your employer.

10. INCORPORATE AGE DIVERSITY INTO YOUR NETWORK: What's the average age of your network? How many members do you have over 60, 50, 40, etc.? Gen Y seems to have an amazing tolerance for some traditional issues of inclusion (race, gender, religion, etc.). A need is for Gen Y to increase their tolerance of Age Diversity. Look to include the talent of these groups into your network.

11. ASK FOR HELP: (Here's a bonus point beyond the usually list of ten.) What I am not referring to here is asking Google, Yahoo, or Bing for help. Gen Y does an amazing job at that. Ask your fellow co-workers for help. This is an expression of the value you see in them. One person can instigate a difference but it takes a community to make a difference.

This list contains common themes of relationship, trust, collaboration, respect, etc. As I look back on it (despite being designed for Gen Y), I realize that these are tips for each of the generations. It makes me realize not how different we are but how similar.

You can follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing or @LiquidLearn

Friday, December 18, 2009

Using Sun Tzu's The Art of War

I was talking to a gentlemen at dinner last night. He was the CEO of a mulit national media company. We started to discuss some of the challenges that we all are faced with in modern business. Being management-centric, I voiced my opinions about how we are faced with a dilemma of performance malaise. Of course he wouldn't settle for such a broad statement so he asked for deeper clarity. Being the extrovert I am, I happily obliged.

I explained that we are being overwhelmed by a sense of status quo. Employees are looking to stay off the radar. They want to perform to standard but they don't want to take any risks for fear that failure may lead way to termination. He exclaimed, "what an awful outlook on the American Worker but... your right. I think I see it now that you put it that way." I was relieved that he agreed and didn't take his Martini to another table (I was enjoying a Johnny Walker, Black Label Neat if that matters) "So Terrence, how do I fix my company" he inquired.

I wanted to tell him, "You hire me" but I decided to take the higher road. I told him, you find the enemy. He looked at me confused and curious. How can you fight what you can't see? You have to know what's causing the malaise. My experience points me toward anxiety. In these tough economic and political times, employees don't see their future. They're anxious and that anxiety causes mass paralysis across an organization's payroll. Then I remembered reading Sun Tzu's, The Art of War and explained a strategy he could take.

Needless to say I had a captive audience. I explained Sun Tzu's approach to overpowering his enemy, in this case Anxiety. He called it Attack by Stratagem. One of the rules under this caption is "Strength Against Weakness". "We give Anxiety its legs", I revolted. I am adamant about trying to help manager's put a face on this performance killer. Our fear fuels and energizes Anxiety. The only way to defeat anxiety is to destroy it's fuel source. Attack it's replenishment lines and cut it off from its garrison. Okay, perhaps my military background gets the best of me. But that thinking has helped me reduce obstacles to nothing more than memories.

In layman terms, attack the weakness of Anxiety. Too often managers look on powerless by the thrusting blow of change only to decide, there's nothing I can do about it. B...ologna (you can insert the appropriate explicitive). Here is what Anxiety feeds off of:
  1. a lack of information
  2. a lack of respect for each other
  3. a lack of courage
  4. a lack of ownership
  5. a lack of self worth
  6. a lack of accountability
  7. a lack of perspective
  8. a lack of focus
  9. a lack of leadership
I exalted to my captive audience of one, "CUT OFF THE SUPPLY LINE OF ANXIETY".

If you want employees to perform have your management step up and deal with the fuel supply. The previous list is a visual representation of the Enemy's (Anxiety's) weakness. Use your strength to attack it vigorously.

  1. Provide constant information
  2. Reward and encourage strategic risk
  3. Hold everyone accountable
  4. Celebrate success
  5. Coach failure
  6. Create opportunities for teamwork and leadership
  7. Keep everyone focused on the prize (laser sharp focus)
  8. Step up and encourage others to do the same
  9. Collaborate on decisions

This list is one to empower management. Anxiety is not to be dealt with passively. It can be nuetralized. You can use "Strength Against Weakness". Chip away at the sharp edges of Anxiety and you'll discover a blunt fragile enemy who will retreat away from your aggressive front line.

You can follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing and @LiquidLearn

Fridaylicious 2 - Underwater Volcanic Eruption

This is our second edition of the Fridaylicious posting. Last one was humor, this one is awe. Hopefully, we can tap into a few more emotions as we continue to post. What an amazing display of nature. This is a Youtube video of the recent underwater volcanic explosion. Wow.

You can follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing or @LiquidLearn

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rubber the Fabric of Poor Policy Design

Often during training a question is asked or a scenario is shared that has great value to share with others. During one of my public seminars, while discussing progressive discipline, an attendee asked, “How should I handle counseling an employee whom I don’t want to use formal discipline (for various reasons)? The question created a great discussion around standards.

The participant’s question came from a noble place but it screamed of potential problems within the organization. The flag appeared when he stated, “…I don’t want to…” I needed more information obviously and he shared that his employee was a good employee and hadn’t been late in the past (lateness was the performance problem). I asked him to tell me the policy at his company. He explained that lateness was not tolerated but the policy read that counseling lateness was “at the manager’s discretion”. There in lies the problem.

“At the Manager’s discretion” creates inconsistency throughout the organization. I suggested to him that another manager in the organization may interpret discretion to mean never, while you (the participant) are interpreting it within the context of extenuating circumstances. The answer to his question was that he should challenge the policies wording. Remove “at the manager’s discretion” and replace with steps that would be taken consistently despite the circumstances. The ambiguity of the policy minimizes its effectiveness. Additionally it invites the opportunity for potential litigation.

Learning Point: Policies should be consistent and clearly worded to avoid discretionary applications.

Leadership Behavior: Enforce standards consistently to clearly communicate the journey to success.

Leadership Principle: Success is achieved through the development and commitment to achieving standards.

Policy and precedent can create many challenges to management. Clarity and transparency seem to mostly rescue manager's from creating challenges and problems.

Follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing and @LiquidLearn

Monday, December 14, 2009

Leadership Lessons "From Up In The Air"

This isn't a movie review of my recent screening of George Clooney's newest movie, "Up in the Air", but more of a surgical dissection of a few of the leadership lessons I took away from it. Fear not, there are no spoilers so you still can see the movie, which by the way I did thoroughly enjoy. George Clooneys character and the situations presented were fairly realistic reflections of the anxiety that plagues much of today's business world. Allow me to briefly set up the movie.

Clooney's character works for a company who is contracted to manage the termination process for downsizing organizations. His job takes him all over the world, helping him in his pursuit of elite status with Frequent Flyer programs. Of particular note is the brilliant product placements throughout the film which almost serve as characters. Clooney's character brilliantly spins a termination into an opportunity for the films "victims". As Clooney mentors a Generation Y protege, we are taken on a journey of the frailty and victories of human relationships. So what does this have to do with leadership.

People are anxious today. Even those in the most stable of industries are seeing the dark veil of uncertainty as tomorrow's accessibility becomes more a question than an expectation. I had a recent coaching session with a young professional woman who was almost finding this state of anxiety paralyzing. She stated she was afraid to make decisions she would normally make without hesitation in the past. She feared the repercussion of failure in a time when companies are "looking for an opportunity to let you go". Her goals were starting to morph away from ambition and towards compliance. "Stay off the radar", was becoming her mantra. What a shame to see one of this company's most talented individuals do herself and her company this incredible disservice.

So what should the company do. Leadership is most visible during times of adversity. If it's not evident in your organization during these times, chances are your ranks don't contain many leaders. Here are some tips

LISTEN. Simply stated but often a complex execution. Clooney's character was cleaning up a termination meeting gone south (due to the naivety of his mentee). He read between the lines on the employees resume only to unveil that this job was a prison to the employee's aspirations. He restated this as an opportunity to follow that dream for the benefit of his children. The employee took pause to this. What are your employees aspirations and needs? Do you create opportunities to listen?

ENGAGE IN RELATIONSHIP BUILDING. Your employees are feeling more and more isolated these days. Every time they don't see their managers, they started drawing their own conclusions. This fosters that "stay off the radar" mentality my mentee stated. It's destructive and a sure fire way to slow the progression of success.

COMMUNICATE. Information is gold in this day and age. As "Knowledge Workers" your employees need it. As a leaders, it should be a driving passion to provide it. Let them know what you know and what you don't know. They need a leader they can trust. Don't hide behind the curtain of uncertainty. Instead bast in the warmth of focus and direction.

CELEBRATE THOSE THAT TAKE RISKS. You need to grow today. This isn't the time to join your cowardly competitors who are hiding under rocks and regressing from the life force of business, growth. Growth is not waste. Help your employees see their potential by "Getting on the Radar".

Sure this list is simple, short and not a guarantee for longevity. It is a starting point though. Don't leave your future and that of your employees up to chance. Today is a time for Leadership. If you hear the calling, don your cape or magic lasso and step up to be the hero your employees need but more importantly deserve. To "Stay off the Radar" in the mist of this calling is a horrible tragedy. The calling is loud. Can you hear it?

You can follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing and @LiquidLearn

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Liquid Learn

Why the new name? You may be asking this question. Eventually, this blog will be moving to the address as a permanent home (not yet though). Don't worry, I won't move without letting you know. Our new home will be host to a wide array of learning information and opportunity. Along with my blog, you'll be able to access elearning courses and our LMS to help you track your learning.

We carefully chose the name. Today, liquid like water is portable and oh so essential to our life. Learning is to business as water is to life. That's where Liquid Learn (TM) came from. It's an exciting time at Workforce Performance Partners and we can't wait to share this with our fans.

Let us know what you think of the name and what topics we can write about to to help you become a stronger manager and leader.

Surf up to Liquid Learn and pour yourself a tall glass of learning.

You can follow Liquid Learn on Twitter @LiquidLearn .

Friday, December 11, 2009


This is an attempt at starting a tradition on Friday's to post a blog with no intellectual value but simply an opportunity to make the world smile. As a Generational Enthusiast, I'll make sure to note which generation provided us with this fine entertainment each week.

Today's blog is a youtube video of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody done Muppet Style.

Thanks for the contribution Baby Boomers.

You can follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing.

Remember, "Nothing really matters but mwah" as stated by the beautiful Miss Piggy.


Recently I read an article on a Stanford University Research Study that showed Media Multi-Taskers pay a mental price. I felt it was a worthwhile blog entry as so much emphasis and pride is placed on one's ability to multi-task. I personally have always been wary of those that feel they can do it all when, personally, I have trouble focusing (and no I don't have ADHD) on more than one or two main priorities. Ahh, but that is the difference. I am managing multiple priorities. Multi-Taskers aren't managing priorities they are trying to do several things at once.

The blog header read, "Think you can talk on the phone, send an instant message and read your e-mail all at once? Stanford researchers say even trying may impair your cognitive control." Following are a few of the researchers points:

  1. They didn't find any talent or gift that came from those that claimed Multi-Tasking proficiency.

  2. Low MTs (Multi-Taskers) had better memory than high MTs.

  3. High MTs have difficulty filtering out the irrelevant.

If I may be so bold to extrapolate this in my own words, High MTs may be problematic in many situations. The perception of skill with this activity in and of itself may handicap competence. I remember working with a former employee who always seemed busy. Every time I saw her at her desk, she was clearly occuppied doing work related tasks. Somehow she still struggled with her performance. After our investigation, we discovered she was trying to do too many different things at once. The quality of everything she was doing.... how should I say it, SUCKED. What a great case study against Multi-Tasking. We solved the problem by providing her with guidance on priorities and instructed her to only work on the priority at that moment. After a few months, she was doing more and performing better than she had when she thought her performance evaluation was based on her ability to Multi-Task.

So, here's the problem. As employers and managers, do we encourage and even reward multi-tasking? Do we even see its potential hazard? If were paying someone $15 per hour, do we want that investment focused on everything or the most important things? Should we deploy that $15 /hour on trivial distractions or on vital business growing ventures.

I am reminded of Stephen Coveys, 7 Habit of Highly Effective People. Habit 3 is, Put First Things First. Covey's Time Management Matrix (pg 151) helps to put the MT issue into perspective. "... Leadership decides what first things are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment -by-moment", Covey writes. High MTs may be missing leadership that helps them identify where their time should be spent. Are you (your employees) managing the approprite Quadrant?

It's time for all of us to focus on the critical and important and realize that if we miss the other stuff, we'll probably be better off anyway. Also, I didn't perform any other tasks while writing this blog entry.

Honorable mention goes to @ErickTaft who tweeted "Ignoring the details is the problem w multi-tasking. Leads to sloppy work & poor relationships."

You can follow me on twitter @TerrenceWing but only if its a priority : >

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I attended a one hour teleclass by the Los Angeles Chapter of ASTD on Networking hosted by Tom Henschel of Essential Communications. Clearly one hour hardly covers the complexity of networking but Tom discussed some critical points that are important when trying to complete your networking strategy. This blog will cover some of Tom’s key points.

“Networking is about planting, not hunting” was Tom’s lead in. He couldn’t be more on target. I can’t begin to tell of how many times I have been approached by someone at a networking event who wanted something from me, expected me to give it, and had never met me before. The balls on some people. For me, networking is more relationship building than anything else. My goal at any event where networking is an activity is to build relationships and get to know the people in the room, nothing more. I am not looking to sell them anything or even pitch an idea. Typically I reroute conversations away from me and I start asking questions about them. These questions derive from a genuine interest also. Which brings us to a second point made by Tom.

“Be Genuine when you are networking”. Tom seems to subscribe to the Networking School of Trust. A phony might as well walk around with a tattoo on his or her head saying, “It’s all about me”. I like to get into the mindset that I am at this event to prove that the people in the room are way smarter than me. This allows me to want to learn from them. Also, my listening skills become activated because there is no other agenda.

Keep the close for another time. I paraphrase Tom a little here but in essence, he is stating that closing a stranger during networking is like, “proposing to a blind date when you first meet them”. What a way to lose trust (and not know what you’re getting into). It’s so hard to get trust and to waste it on a selfish agenda should be a crime.

Tom further gave a few tips on “ Elevator speeches”. As professionals, these are common and often an aspect of networking that sees the poorest performance from many people. For those reading who may not be familiar with this, the “Elevator Speech” is a high level and very short summary of who you are and the value you bring. You’re stuck in an elevator for about 20 to 30 seconds with the CEO of a company you would like to work for or do business with, what do you say to leave an impression before the doors open again. You can stare at the ascending or descending numbers or make the most of that brief but valuable time period. Here’s 3 of Tom’s suggestions on making your pitch memorable:

  • Use numbers and specific language - “I’d like to tell you three things about my company”
  • Use short labels – “I’m in the Talent Harvesting Business”
  • Make the pitch repeatable

So let’s summarize here. Here is the executive review of Tom Henschel’s teleseminar on Networking. It also includes a few other key points that I didn’t elaborate on.

  • Networking is about planting not hunting
  • Be genuine when you are networking
  • Keep the close for another time and event
  • Make your (Elevator) Pitch” memorable
  • When networking, think, “stop talking sooner”
  • Follow up with those you meet
  • Be positive
  • Forecast your question before the event

Networking can be a powerful skill. Like all skills, it takes careful preparation and flawless execution to bear a bountiful harvest. Thanks Tom for you tips and advice.

You can follow me on twitter @TerrenceWing.

Monday, November 30, 2009


This isn’t an article or even a blog site where someone else is complaining about Gen Y or any generation for that matter. I refuse to be that unproductive. I look for the solutions to channeling the talent of all generations into productive and profitable workplaces. We all are a piece of a puzzle whose image is only seen when we are all placed together in the right way. That being said, how do we welcome Generation Y into the workforce with eagerness to incorporate their talent and potential?

Like every generation, there is a distinct yet common dynamic to Generation Y. They are not lazy but simply don’t like wasting time. They are not disloyal but loyal to the right cause. They aren’t addicted to technology but believe in its power to make life more enriched. They aren’t selfish but are simply looking for their place in the world. They aren’t oblivious but are looking for the answers. Essentially, they really aren’t that different but they are misunderstood. Their place in the world and workplace is yet to be determined but make no mistake they are here to stay. So let’s address how to channel their talent.

The following are 10 ways to manage Generation Y.

  1. Be Sincere – They can spot a fake a mile away, whether it is within their ranks or outside. You are not one of them and they will never see you as such. What they will see is your value if you prove it.

  2. Be Part of their Network – They hate to fail and will lose trust in you if you put them in a “sink or swim” situation. They don’t think they know it all. What they feel is that they can get the answers to it all through their networks. Be present in that network.

  3. Provide Technology – Pen and paper is as antiquated as the horse and buggy to them. They express themselves through technology. This isn’t an addiction to the technology. What it is, a strong drive to find the most efficient way of doing a task.

  4. Allow them to Explore – Tell them what you want, provide recommendations and let them explore their options. They may find a better way of doing something that was hidden by the malaise of routine that perhaps blinds the rest of us.

  5. Communicate Standards – Sure they want to explore and innovate. More importantly, they want to succeed. You hold the key to that. Coach them so they understand what is needed to succeed. Don’t take their questions as insubordinate or arrogant but as their methodology for discovering truth and meaning. Which is what they are looking for.

  6. Provide them with Feedback – They are accustomed to hearing this and frequently. There is a need to depart from the type of feedback they are use to hearing. They are not perfect and capable of anything they put their minds to, which is what they have heard from their Helicopter Parents. The truth is they aren’t perfect and there are many things they are not capable of doing (just like all of us). When the feedback is negative it needs to contain a message of hope. They don’t want to feel the discussion is going to change their career trajectory but instead helps them to achieve it.

  7. Listen to them – They have innovative and even curious ways of seeing the world. Sure sometimes curiosity kills the cat but at other times it cures a disease or changes a life. The next great idea could come from the mouths of Babes.

  8. Trust Them – Give them exciting projects and assignments that clearly demonstrate you see their value. Provide them the needed support through the process. The exposure and meaning you help them discover in their work will create an advocate in them.

  9. Take the Time to Explain – “Do it because I said so” is a management strategy that is as useful as a square wheel. Even if you were victimized by this strategy when you were trenching your way through the labor force to management, realize today that it is extremely ineffective with Generation Y.

  10. Don’t Contribute to the Gap – Everyone is out there talking about how lazy this generation is. Opinions are a dime a dozen. One’s like that are only going to create adversaries and not allies. How successful have you been in the past working with a group of adversaries?
    Generation Y is misunderstood by many managers. The evidence of this is in the turnover numbers. Millennials have the ability to instantly reshift their loyalties and change employers instantly. Be careful not to blink. You may discover as your eyes open that you have another vacancy to fill. You don’t have to fear this because solutions are available.
This is not a conclusive list in any way, shape, or form. We haven’t even discussed encouraging their desire to change the world and the use of social networks (as well as so many more). With the exception of a few tweeks specific to Generation Y, my recommendations are a strong management strategy despite its application to Generation Y. Managers should adopt these tactics to encourage all four generations too reach their potential.

Follow me on Twitter @TerrenceWing

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Devlearn 2009 wasn’t my first conference but it was with the eLearning Guild. Their promotions and catalog of topics captured my interest at a time when I am looking for solutions to learning and training challenges. Since it was a gathering of “Learning Techies”, I expected an underground network of Twitter users who would undoubtedly share their thoughts on sessions they were attending, organize meet-ups via the viral effect of Twitter, and guide the niche to areas of interest throughout the convention. Historically, this had always been my experience with social media at many conferences. I decided I wanted more and identified my goals for the conference. These goals were:

Goal 1: Identify leading trends in elearning design and delivery to solve my challenges

Goal 2: Engage in the learning experience (One of the goals Twitter enhanced the most)

Goal 3: Network with thought leaders and practitioners in the training field.

Goal 4: Promote my expertise within the area of training design and content development

Goal 5: Have fun.

My goals were simple and fairly standard but having experience with many conferences, I realized there were degrees of success. These were hindered or helped by my motivation and conference logistics. Let’s face it, we can’t be in all places at the same time, or can we.

Following are the top 10 ways Twitter helped me meet and in some cases exceed my conference goals for Devlearn 2009.

  1. I was able to experience the content of several (concurrent) sessions while attending the most interesting (to me) ones live.

  2. I was able to maximize my precious time posting or reading tweets when speakers were less than engaging or informative. Not saying others weren’t interested in the speaker at those moments, I simply wasn’t and didn’t have to be held hostage listening to stories. As a presenter myself I will be sensitive to the potential karma coming back at me on this one.

  3. Twitter became my notebook where I was able to capture ideas, share them, receive back channel feedback on a tweet, create a deeper dialogue on the note and ultimately gain greater insight into the topic through the collective intelligence of those willing to collaborate on the initial idea.

  4. I became a part of the pre-conference community who built up the suspense of meeting each other live in San Jose, CA. This was the first conference I went to (of which I have never previously attended) where I was greeted by people who recognized my Twitter Avatar. I felt like I had been a part of the Devlearn community for years yet I was essentially a stranger to it.

  5. Some presenters, followed up post conference with responses to my conference tweets. This allowed the learning and networking experience to continue (at this point, indefinitely).

  6. My tweets (like everyone’s) became part of the conference (vibe, pulse, and voice) with people hovering around a monitor posted in the registration area. I was part of the learning experience, a contributor as opposed to traditional participation. This made me feel vested and a part of everyone’s learning.

  7. I was able to network with people who by the shear logistical challenges, we may never have met, virtually or not and been able to share our thoughts and experiences with each other. One of the presenters literally used my name when responding to a question I asked (live). In and of itself, no big deal, but he couldn’t see my name badge and later informed me he was wondering when I was going to start tweeting for his session. He recognized me from my Avatar. I was glad to oblige.

  8. I became part of the Devlearn experience as I participated in the live #Lrnchat session.

  9. I Met a wonderful group of people whom I hope will foster into a group of friends. Although spread throughout the world, I can read their tweets as if I am in a cubicle next to them listening to them tweet about their thoughts on Learning every day.

  10. Learned that if ever lost in a city one of the greatest urban navigators was a New Zealander who helped us find a hidden restaurant and gave us all a great story to go home with. It must be a middle earth thing. She didn’t even use a compass and I didn’t see any stars that night. Thanks @schnicker.

Some of the people I met live or virtual during the conference whom I feel are great resources for learning and development are (please forgive me if I left anyone out):

@bschlenker, @mrch0mp3rs, @koreenolbrish, @schnicker, @kelticray, @LearningPutty, @espnguyen, @marciamarcia, @quinnovator, @robrobertson, @safetysparks, @dr_kg, @badsquare, @aveyca, @srcrawf2, @Kelly_smith01, @gminks, @tonykarrer, @chrisstjohn, @moehlert, @xicanowan, @writetechnology @jeddgold, @kristencromer, @jenebean, @ranig2u, @shantarohse, @elearning @tim_m_martin

Twitter helped me enhance my live and virtual experience with Devlearn. There is still room for improvement though. I would like to see more presenters use Twitter to reach those who are not in the session or to make the general sessions more interactive. Twitter doesn’t have to be a post presentation summary but can be a way of building the live conversation. Twitter can also be a live sentiment reader when the speaker makes a point. The greatest value I experienced through the week was when the dialogue branch-expanded as opposed to a traditional linear conversation. Congratulations to the elearning Guild for making Twitter one of the informal keynotes who still has a lot to say and for helping me achieve my conference goals.

I can be reached on Twitter @TerrenceWing

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

15 Things I Learned about Adobe and eLearning

The following are my tweets from the Adobe Learning Summit on Nov. 9, 2009. The summit focused on Adobe products and applications designed to assist in the delivery of training and learning. Also included are tweets from the general session featuring Clay Shirky, author of "Here Comes Everybody".

captivate4 supports 64 bit utilizing WOW. unknown with windows 7. C5 should not have prob #astd #dl09 #als094:48 PM Nov 9th from TweetChat

flash still challenged to inc rich media. AIR has ability to solve #astd #dl09 #als094:44 PM Nov 9th from TweetChat

role play as a way 2 engage in adobe connect #dl09 #astd #als094:41 PM Nov 9th from TweetChat

penguin game as icebreaker with adobe connect #astd #dl09 #als094:39 PM Nov 9th from TweetChat

mobile aps 4 connect pro coming soon #dl09 #astd #als094:36 PM Nov 9th from TweetChat

S5005 Adobe Story - new tool for script writing and storyboarding, metadata management #dl09 #als09 #astd3:30 PM Nov 9th from TweetDeck

Avatar movie created using adobe products S5005 #als09 #dl09 #astd3:10 PM Nov 9th from TweetDeck

twitter widget available for captivate next month possibly #astd #dl092:21 PM Nov 9th from

S2006 instructor recommends #astd #dl0911:00 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat

S2006 content of learning games- scorekeeper tokens traps puzzles prizes, outcome reporter #astd #dl0910:57 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat


@kelticray Shirky was stating We aren't electricians simply because we change a lightbulb. SM creates acts of journalism. #dl092:50 PM Nov 9th from TweetDeck in reply to kelticray

media users r not journalist but instead, users creating acts of journalism #astd - c shirky #dl099:58 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat

media has moved from a source of info 2 a source of collaboration. #astd - c shirky #dl099:56 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat

unhappy and coordinated is an ingredient 4 a social media revolution #ASTD c. shirky #dl099:54 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat

a problem solved for 1 person on Sm is solved for all #astd -shirky #dl099:50 AM Nov 9th from TweetChat

The conference was oriented to the technical aspects of Instructional Design for eLearning. Adobe offers a suite of exceptional, industry leading tools. The key is that designers should feature learner content using the tools and not feature the tools as the star of the learning content.

29 Take Aways on Enterprise Learning in Virtual Worlds

The following are my tweets from the DEVLEARN 2009 Pre Conference Session on "Strategies for Enterprise Learning in Virtual Worlds. Special thanks to Koreen Olbrish of Tandem Learning and David Anderson from Articulate. The format of this blog simply gives some of the key learning points I gathered from the session.

Screenr is free ! RT @SafetySparks: and screenr - two useful tools for immediate screen casts. #dl09 #astdabout 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

When building in SL be sure to buy from vendors who let you alter and copy products #dl09 #dl09-p2 #astdabout 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

VW resource- ThinkBalm ,3DTLC, Karl Kapp, Tony ODriscoll, ASTD Island,Anders Grondstedt-train for success, mark Oehlert #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

K Zero is a consulting co on VWs. Here's their site #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

RT @mrch0mp3rs: OpenSim = open source platform to build VW -- It's free and open -- but you're building... everything #dl09-p2 #astdabout 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

Many virtual worlds only run on PCs. Sorry Mac Peeps #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

@kelticray Possibly! Can lrners trust u if they don't have basic ideal of who u r . Avatars rep U to various degrees #dl09 #dl09-p2 #astdabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to kelticray

@kelticray Some VW allow u 2 drop in2 existing avatars. SL has generic avator. Problem is you dilute ur interaction #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to kelticray

RT @mrch0mp3rs: Let me repeat - VW, working with SCORM, using LETSI Run-Time Web Services -- Fairmont Valley Room at 5pm #dl09about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

2 Hold users attention U must create opportunities for them to engage in their environment & with other VW users #dl09 #dl09-p2 #astdabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Developers must consider (User) Orientation for VW implementation #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Users give up on VW after 10 minutes if they can't figure it out #dl09 #dl09-p2 #astdabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Men and Women prefer different POV in VW. M 1st person - W prefer to see their avatar (I think it is a shoe thing) #dl09 #dl09-p2 #ASTDabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

RT @billbrandon: Happy Birthday to all US Marines at #DevLearn09! 234 years - Semper Fi! dl09about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

When we train in RW we don't use LMS why would we limit learning in VW because of LMS limitation? #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

What do you want to track and do you need to use your LMS? Are we limiting learning due to dependency on LMS? #astd #dl09-p2 #dl09about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

RT @briandusablon: "People don't hate change. They hate how you're trying to change them." - Michael Kanazawa #dl09-p5about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

Multiverse (VW) has an effective gaming engine. #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

Most virtual worlds do not track data in SCORM #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

VW effective interactive content - Collaboration, Process Improvement, Comm Skills #astd #dl09-p2 #dl09about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

Cost savings of VW conferences is a selling point for project. Savings incredible without loss of impact. #astd #dl09 #dl09-p2about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

IBM is very active in VW space. They import sims into SL. Use virtual teams and create community #astd #dl09-p2 #dl09about 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

e learning may be linear compared to non-linear applications of VW #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 11 hours ago from TweetDeck

Why build a classroom in VW when your learners can be trained on Mars or some other creative space? #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

VW force participants to become more active than other media forms (ie- away in SL) #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

VW has advantage of physical presence that webex and conf calls do not. #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

VW will integrate in 2 recruiting, retention, trning,learning,education, collaboration,hr,knowledge mgmt - 5 yr prediction #dl09-p2 #dl09about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

Virtual Worlds must exist in the absence of users - part of definition #dl09-p2 #dl09 #astdabout 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

Common denominator of group is to find the value of Virtual Worlds in L&D #dl09-p2 #astdabout 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

Overall, the session helped verify the potential and obstacles of learning in a virtual space. Ultimately, content rules and the Virtual World media can be an effective tool when used purposely. VW must serve the content not simply be a vehicle to amuse learners.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


At first glance you’re probably wondering is this blog about shoes. Maybe it’s about inspiration (you know footprints in the sand). Whatever the impression, it’s unlikely it would have anything to do with business, performance or training, right? What do footprints have to do with how businesses reach their goals or workforce performance? Also, if I am thematically building this blog site for Managers, to help them impact employee performance, am I off topic? Let me say a resounding, NO. Footprints are the marks of our interventions (training and performance).

Footprints are what we leave behind. But we should start every training and performance intervention with the footprint in mind. Every Manager has an array of tools that measures her worth to her team and her organization. Sales Managers receive marketing reports that measure prospecting efforts, closing efforts, margin, etc. A Factory Manager measures productivity of their laborers, production measures per time period, shrinkage percents, accident rates, etc. A Retail Manager analyzes customer counts and order sizes. I think you get the point. Each and every one of these measurements is a footprint of the sum total of steps we take to meet a goal.

A common mistake new managers and trainers make is conducting the needs assessment (the early step of Instructional Design) from the front end of the problem. In fairness, sometimes the higher powers that be, lead (or bully) the assessment in this direction. As a Content Designer, I have had numerous requests to create a training or performance intervention based on an assumption. This is a mistake. These assumptions typically mislead the inexperienced trainer. Examples of front end assumptions are requests to create Customer Service Training, Interviewing Training, Communication Training, etc. These broad strokes often miss the problem and the footprints remain the same. If you truly want to change the footprint, you must start with it first in the design process.

We just highlighted the broad strokes. They aren’t necessarily from a parallel universe but they need to be roped in. Let’s use Customer Service Training as our example. If tasked to design Customer Service Training, 10 IDs (Instructional Designers) would come up with 10 versions of the training. Potentially all could miss the footprint. If (hopefully when) conducting a needs assessment, you start with the expected footprint, there may be 10 different approaches but they all should lead to the right outcome. As we look under the Customer Service Umbrella, we see several potential footprints. These include uneventful surveys, decreasing repeat business, decreasing margin, missed sales opportunities, challenged order size, etc. So in actuality, the training isn’t Customer Service, it’s “How to Create an Eventful Survey”, “How to Increase Repeat Business”, “How to Increase Profit Margin”, “How to Avoid Missed Sales Opportunities”. These interventions (if designed with the right design principles) should get the results you’re expecting from the training or performance intervention.

Therefore, footprints come before the step. Start the beginning with the end in mind or use the end to start the beginning. We can probably say it a half dozen ways. When designing an intervention, training or performance, to gain the greatest impact, identify the measurement your training will impact. Perform every step of the design process around these measurements. Your instructional objectives or the task analysis should, no must be heavily if not solely influenced by the expected footprint your training is to leave behind. This makes your product more potent and also helps to sell the concept to the customer and the end user.

Workforce Performance Partners is proud to bring you this series of articles to help you achieve your performance goals. We would love to hear your comments. You can post comments on our forum (use the article title to find the post) at

or email us at

To receive notices of future articles visit us online. Also sign up for more tools to help you manage performance.

Workforce Performance Partners also offers public and in-house seminars on Training topics. Visit us online or call to learn more.

Workforce Performance Partners
6080 Center Drive, 6th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 242-5233

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Performance Radical

Imagine an organization run by peak performance. As you begin to reverse engineer the moving parts, you will probably see precise systems, strong managerial controls, and a bunch of radicals. We’re not referring to those destructive types that tear down progress. We’re referring to those that are the catalyst for positive change and improved performance. We call them Performance Radicals (PR).

The Performance Radical is a valuable employee or member of a team who has a heightened awareness of performance. We’ll define performance as the ability to move from past goals to meet or exceed the present and future goals of an organization. As a training professional it is essential we recognize this group of employees. They are our subject matter experts (SME). They help us define our performance and training objectives. Their participation in the training process gives credibility to the final product and helps to ensure buy in from all levels of the organization. They are an organization’s star performers and by their very nature they stand ready to lead their teams to success.

Sounds too good to be true? We don’t think so. They are not the end all too every corporate woe but they do act as a catalyst whose specialty assists in helping the organization grow. It’s similar to the role of a bolt being so critical as a part of a system that holds up a structure as large as a skyscraper. Its absence weakens the structure and makes it vulnerable to collapse over time. We will explore the PR, its value to the organization and how we can harness their skill and talent to meet and exceed present and future goals.
The Performance Radical is our hedge into the innovation of performance. Their skill, talent, and commitment are the starting point for best practices. Their success can inspire others to action. They advocate positive change and their attitudes are contagious. Motivations will vary but they are committed to streamlining work flow and technique to maximize output. Perhaps they do it to create more personal time or maybe they are energized by the challenge of change and the success of the organization. Their motivations may vary but they are undeniably a resource to helping an organization meet their goals.

THE PERFORMANCE RADICAL IS OUR HEDGE INTO THE INNOVATION OF PERFORMANCESome would call this a mythical character along the same lines as a Centaur. Their powers are the stuff of legends but no one has ever walked side by side with one. This may be true for a half man half horse, but not for a Performance Radical. Chances are strong that you, the reader fall into this category of performer. The PR can be recognized by 4 basic skills.

The Performance Radical is very systematic. They have a mastery of the steps involved in completing the tasks they are employed to perform. They can push the limits of the system to help it change and grow to accommodate progress.

While working with a major retailer’s distribution chain, I saw the clarity of this skill with one of their warehouse workers. We’ll call him Hal. He wasn’t a supervisor but you could see an informal recognition his peers would give him. I was curious so I researched a little further. His supervisor as well as many or his peers ranked him among the best in the warehouse. So, what made him the best, I thought. His performance reviews were all top ranked. His daily performance logs were all above goal. Then I observed his work.

He was very focused. He would leave the office for the warehouse in his electric lift and never needed to retrace his steps. He was as linear as they came. Other lift operators would move back and forth throughout the warehouse, even returning to the office for various reasons. Not Hal.

Hal had developed a streamlined version of the role of a lift operator. I felt compelled to discuss my observations with Hal. He was more than eager to share. He explained that his system started with the “sort” (process of sorting labels for the order picking process). The office clerks did not know the job of the order picker and therefore sorted the labels the most efficient way for them. Hal showed how a simple shuffle of labels allowed him to avoid traffic jams with other operators which slowed down productivity. He was always the last to leave the office for the warehouse. Now I understood why. He spent 5 minutes re-organizing the work of the clerk to help him be more efficient. Hal also wanted to know where the bulk of the day’s orders were coming from. Basically, he was building awareness of his co-workers to stay out of their way. I think it was more to keep them out of his way. Hal had worked out a system that allowed him to maximize his productivity. Eventually, Hal’s system was adapted by the office clerks and the other order pickers. Productivity quickly improved for that department.

The Performance Radical is analytic. They understand the fundamental problem and will make solution – oriented recommendations. The GAP of what should be done versus what is being done is crystal clear to them. As trainers we can put countless hours into the needs assessment of a performance gap. The Performance Radical is at ground zero of the problem and has an insight that is costly to ignore.

During another consult, I was working with a sales organization. The company was measuring performance on sales and calls made. Katie was struggling to make both her sales and call goals. After
THE PERFORMANCE RADICAL IS AT GROUND ZERO OF THE PROBLEM AND HAS AN INSIGHT THAT IS COSTLY TO IGNOREspending the morning observing her, we sat down over lunch to discuss her views. She was surprised I wasn’t coaching her. In fact, she said she was feeling a little uneasy at how quiet I had been, almost ambiguous. I asked her if she thought I was the expert at her job. Hesitantly, she said no. I agreed. I asked her to give me her impression of the problem.

Katie spewed out a few sales numbers and other metrics. She had about 10 charts that she measured every aspect of her job she could. After about 20 minutes she stops herself and says,” You really want to know the problem.” My answer was obvious. She had a large geography compared to most of the reps within her district. She was logging in several hours of windshield time compared to her peers. Once a week she would have to drive for 2.5 hours each direction to a small remote town. She explained that the company’s expectations required she make the trip. If she didn’t, it would affect a heavily considered performance metric. Because of the drive, her whole day would be dedicated to this town and its limited potential. The drive also prohibited her from doubling back during the week to hit those target areas that were more accessible and profitable. After she explained the problem, she stated she had a recommendation.

The potential for greater sales in this remote area was very limited. However, she agreed that these customers do have relevance and should not be ignored. She felt they did not need nor did they expect to see her weekly. Once a month would be more than sufficient for their needs. If she were to adjust her schedule she could free up 3 days a month to service larger accounts. She even outlined which clients she could double back on throughout the week. Katie understood her business, the performance gap and the underlying problem. Her solution was simple and effective. Her routing adjustment trickled to other territories and that district was able to exceed several of their performance metrics.

The third skill set the Performance Radical has is experience. We could argue that experience is more a value than skill. Therefore, we’ll define experience as the ability to do a task (or job) continuously for an extended period. As you identify most Performance Radicals, you will clearly see their veteran status. They have done their job or a specific task for a long time. Their daily work almost becomes a subconscious reflex. Although I wouldn’t recommend it, they could probably do it blind folded. Hal was a 12 year veteran in warehouse operations. Katie was a sales representative for 7 years. Both had experiences that helped them formulate best practices. Experience also helped them to identify that there was a problem, an obstacle that was preventing them from exceeding expectations.

Finally, the Performance Radical has the skill of entrepreneurship. The ability to make decisions to deliver a valuable product or complete a critical task. They own the business. They own the problem. They own the solutions. These performance warriors are heavily vested in success, theirs’ and the company’s. The state of the company, the limits of the system, and the restrictions of their leadership will deny this skill. Hence it could be stealthy. If a PR is unable to make decisions, this skill will not be enabled to its full potential.

Mark, a store manager for a retail chain was a PR I had worked with a few years ago. He showed strength in all the other skills but entrepreneurship was evasive. He was performing well within the organization but there were some challenges which were limiting him. While trying to identify the problem, I decided to explore the team dynamic of Mark, his peers, and his higher leadership. Mark was tasked to prepare his store for a major holiday. The task was layered with multiple assignments from building displays to creating staffing models and more. Mark seemed more than confident that he understood all the specific and implied tasks of preparing the store. He even understood the value of the promotion to pushing his sales forward. Mark totally owned the process and started to build his plan. He met with his department managers, solicited their feedback, created an action plan, and submitted it to his district manager. Everything came to a complete halt for 5 days.

Mark’s district manager (DM) was a hands-on manager (not necessarily the best at enabling his subordinates). He was responsible for 7 stores. His guidance was that he wanted to meet face to face with each manager and his staff to review their plans. The meeting would last about 3-4 hours. This meant that the he could do 2 per day. The problem is that nothing could be put in place until the DM approved the plan. Mark was the last store on the DM’s tour.
With a weekend in the middle of the tour, the DM would not visit Mark’s store for 5 days. The project needed to be completed within 12 days. The DM was essentially
THESE PERFORMANCE WARRIORS ARE HEAVILY VESTED IN SUCCESS, THEIRS’ AND THE COMPANY’Srobbing this store of almost 50% of its preparation time. Mark approached me and said, “This is typical but there are some things I could do.”

Mark had already informed all his department managers to contact the stores that were already beginning their preparations. He told them, they need to find the consistencies of each store’s plans. Basically, Mark was banking on the predictability of his supervisor. As each department had learned more about the other stores, they tweaked their plans. Generally, all the preparations Mark and his supervisors were doing prior to the DMs visit were fairly safe. The higher risk tasks that could be halted by the DM were minimal. When the DM had finally met with Mark and his team, they had placed product orders for their displays and staffed that evening to begin building and preparing the store. The DM ultimately made minor changes. Mark’s entrepreneurship was heavily limited by the DM but he was still able to meet his goals.

The DM and I had lunch after the meeting. I asked why Mark’s store had to lose 5 days of preparation. He gave a variety of answers, all of which I questioned their validity. Ultimately, he simply was a control freak and wanted to make sure everything looked the way he wanted it too. I challenged him to question the efficiency behind that decision. By the end of the conversation, he had embarrassingly admitted that he was micro-managing. We discussed ways to avoid this. Despite the limitations the DM placed on Mark, he rose to the challenge, owned the business and met his goals. This DM did not manage Mark effectively to allow him to potentially excel at the task.

Manage is a word to use delicately when referring to the system that creates the best environment for the PR. As we have discussed, the PR does not need conventional management. This generic form of management may restrict and control the PR which is counter-productive. The Performance Radical has needs that will enable her to excel.

· The PR needs to be challenged.
· The PR needs to be rewarded.
· The PR needs to be respected
· The PR need to be consulted
· The PR needs to be coached
· The PR needs to make mistakes freely.
· The PR needs to be held to a high standard
· The PR needs moments of autonomy to work through problems.

We often think of our star performers as those needing the least attention. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Training can be used to develop your employees into Performance Radicals. As with all training there are specific goals and objectives. Following are a set of fundamental goals to help you develop training to strengthen your PR candidates. At the conclusion of your training, the trainees will be able to:

1. Identify the organization’s Mission, Vision and Business Objectives.

2. Identify business objectives of their level and at least one level above.

3. Identify the task and standards that directly impact business objectives.

4. Demonstrate expertise in performing the tasks that directly impact the business objectives.

5. Conduct evaluation of performance at frequent intervals and create a record of such.

6. Discuss bench mark learning and challenges with peers and supervisors in a formal setting and create a record.

7. Present outlook to higher management.

The PR is an important tool to helping the organization exceed its expectations. Her value is precious to her immediate team, supervisor, the organization and especially you the trainer. As a trainer, you must form a strong partnership with the PR during every phase of your training design and execution. When properly mentored and coached, the PR helps the organization understand its limitations. This knowledge ultimately helps organizations remove barriers and allow their teams to become Radical.
Workforce Performance Partners is proud to bring you this series of articles to help you achieve your performance goals. We would love to hear your comments. You can post comments on our forum (use the article title to find the post) at

or email us at

To receive notices of future articles visit us online. Also sign up for more tools to help you manage performance.

Workforce Performance Partners also offers public and in-house seminars on Training topics. Visit us online or call to learn more.

Workforce Performance Partners
6080 Center Drive, 6th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 242-5233